He was born in 1946 in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain. He studied law in Madrid and Barcelona and practiced from 1970 to 1986 in Vitoria. He was councilman in Vitoria (1983-97) and president of the government of the province of Alava (1987-91). Buesa was of also deputy lehendakari (president) and secretary of Education in a coallition PSE-PNV Basque government from 1991 to 1994. From this position, he steered the process that moved the Basque-language schools (ikastola) into either the Basque public education network or the Basque private education sector.
Fernando Buesa was married and had three children.
At the time of his death he was the leader of the socialist party in Alava and the socialist spokesman in the parliament of the Basque Country. Fernando Buesa was killed by the terrorist group ETA while he was walking through the university campus in Vitoria on the 22 February 2000. The car bombing also killed his bodyguard, the ertzaina (basque policeman) Jorge Díez. The killing inspired a celebrated documentary by the Basque filmmaker Eterio Ortega Santillana, Asesinato en Febrero (Killing in February).
His brother, an economics professor in Madrid, has become politically active analyzing the economic implications of eventual Basque independence.
The sports arena home to the Vitorian Baskonia basketball team was named Fernando Buesa Arena after his death.