She was wonderful, down to earth, and real. She even was having end-of-the-humid-day flat hair. I love her. My hair does that, too.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Hillary was honored last night by Planned Parenthood for her work on women's health issues. I love this picture of her with that little piece of bang flopping over her forehead.
The honors just keep coming! By now everyone must have heard that she will be the Speaker at the NYU commencement at Yankee Stadium. The NYU students are overjoyed. I would be, too.
On her way back to D.C. from Mexico, Hillary stopped off in Dallas to share with her friend Kay Bailey Hutchinson in the "Stories from the Top" event at the Women's Museum there. I could not embed the video, but if you click here you can see the video clip.
Friday, March 27, 2009
She began the day with a surprise stop at the Basilica of the Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Then she proceeded to her scheduled events.
Then she proceeded to her scheduled events.
Afterwards she held a press availability and was wheels up again.
Roundtable With Indigenous Students
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateMexico City, MexicoMarch 26, 2009
MS. ORTEGA: (Via interpreter) Good afternoon to everyone. We want to say that we’re very sorry for the delay, but I’m sure that this has given you a little more time to get to know each other.
To the most distinguished Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it’s an honor for me to welcome you to this room and to this very special event. I’m a former scholar – Fulbright scholar. I was able to go to the United States twice and finish my graduate studies there. I’m also a not-so-recent militant in favor of international education because I feel that it is an occasion of privilege to insist, to reiterate that the best face we can give the cooperation between our peoples and our governments is without a doubt science, education, the arts and culture, and the great enterprises of humanity.
No one in this auditorium or in the country or even in the United States ignores the value of building democracy and good citizenship. This building requires that we decisively expand the opportunities that we give to our young generations to improve their lives and to improve the lives of their families through learning from each other and through the knowledge that they generate together.
In tune with our times, we cannot imagine quality education without a strong stress on interculturalism and internationalization. This is an indispensible dimension for dialogue, for recognizing each other, for rebuilding and for learning.
Of course, we have consolidated Fulbright programs already, and they’re in the hands – in very competent hands. They’re very traditional, very relevant for scientists, for academics, and for the professionals in our countries. But more recently, we’ve been provided these flexible, close, and sensitive – and programs that are sensitive to the needs and wishes and hopes of our indigenous peoples.
Without detriment to quality and also based on solid competition, they have been developed to develop skills, to be able to increase those skills, and to share those experiences through the demonstration that it is possible to take on social problems and to overcome adversity, and that it is feasible to make progress through our efforts.
Programs that have delightful acronyms, like SEEDS, TIES and the short-term visits have been extremely effective, and here we see the demonstration of that. It is in these brilliant, strong, courageous young people, full of possibilities, where the impact of our best face in cooperation is shown. They are the ones who day-to-day are working on opening up those avenues. They’re working to open up the roads that will allow us, without a doubt, to open up a new phase of even better quality in the relationship between our countries.
Secretary Clinton, these young people are here to talk about their experiences, but also, above all, to share the effects they’re already feeling and they’re making in their communities and the difference they’re making in their perspectives.
Thank you so much. They’re all yours, Madame. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I want to thank Sylvia Ortega for not only those very kind words, but much more importantly, for her leadership in education and her strong belief in cultural exchanges, educational exchanges, and investing in young people. And I appreciate the opportunity to meet with some of the young scholars who have gone to the United States to study, to hear from them personally about their experiences. And it’s a great honor to be here in the National Palace of Fine Arts, such a magnificent structure but also a real tribute to the cultural legacy as well as a promise of continuing global contribution by Mexican arts and crafts and culture in every walk of life. So I thank you for letting us present this program here today.
As Sylvia said, we are highlighting on this trip of mine, my first to Latin America as Secretary of State, the importance of the breadth and depth of our relationship. There are so many issues that are important to the United States and Mexico that we work on together, but it is more like a family than two countries. We have so much in common, we share so many common concerns, and we share a common future. And there is no more critical aspect to that future than the young people here in Mexico and in the United States.
So I wanted to highlight today this very important program that provides a partnership between our two nations and enables students to travel to the United States. We believe strongly in the Obama Administration in the significance of education for the individual, but in the multiplier effects of education for a society. And it is important to help young people like those on the stage with me to realize their own God-given potential through hard work, through the opportunity to pursue an education. But this particular program is special because it focuses, as Sylvia said, on indigenous youth. And that is a special interest of mine, to make sure that the programs supported by the United States are aimed particularly at young people here in Mexico and elsewhere who might otherwise not have the opportunity. So I am looking forward to hearing about their experiences.
Our first student is Elia Bautista. She’s from Oaxaca. I want her to talk about her experience. She is a 1994 alumnae of the Mexico-U.S. Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange and has a Master’s in International Affairs from American University in Washington, and was the first educational outreach advisor for the Institute for International Education in the state of Oaxaca starting in 2006.
So would you please talk a little bit about this experience and the importance of it? And what made you decide to pursue a Master’s degree in the United States?
MS. BAUTISTA: (Via interpreter) Thank you, Mrs. Clinton. Before thinking about going to the United States, since I was a little girl, I was very much impressed by the English language, and then later I had the opportunity to teach Spanish to many U.S. students. And I realized that these were people with a lot of discipline, excellent students, and I was especially struck by the reasons why they were such good students.
For example, one of the things that impressed me was that in Mexico we didn’t like doing homework very much, so when we were given homework by a teacher we’d sit down and say, oh, now we have to work. But when, as a teacher, I did not provide homework to my students in the United States, they were angry. And I thought, well, something here makes them work, and I wanted to know what their motivation was.
And aside from that, of course, it’s well known that the U.S. education system is very good, especially at the higher level, and so I was really very much interested in going there and studying international relations. Washington as a wonderful location to do it. I think it was the first time and perhaps the only time that I’ve seen that the local papers on – gave – on the first page have domestic news. In Washington, everything was international instead. And it was something that struck me enormously.
And I think that motivated me very much, in turn, to motivate other students so that they could go to the United States and do this. Now, through the international education office we have in the state of Oaxaca, I have this international opportunity and I appreciate it very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, how have you found to motivate students in Oaxaca to want to pursue their educations and even to do what you did, perhaps go to the United States to study?
MS. BAUTISTA: (Via interpreter) It’s very important for us as Oaxacans, because ours is a state of a lot of migration, it’s very important for our people to know that they have the opportunity not just to travel to the United States, to live and work there, but also now the new generations, the young people like these young men and women, have the opportunity to study. It’s something which in our states, especially the southern states, did not exist. So the idea sells itself. It’s obvious that now they don’t want to go and wait tables or, say, go through hardship trying to cross the border, but now that the opportunity exists to actually be mainstreamed into a multicultural group, study there, to go an important place like the United States and learn from its educational system.
So there is a generational difference here which is already having an impact on our people. I am extremely impressed when I look at the statistics and see that parents who are not very educated at all or they’ve had no education practically and through these programs their children get a Master’s degree or a Ph.D. in the United States.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s a wonderful story. And I know many of these young people come back to Mexico, which is especially important.
I want to turn now to Miguel Arias Martinez. He’s from the Tzoztil community in the state of Chiapas. He participated in a USAID SEED program on strengthening rural primary education at California State Polytechnic University. He’s now a teacher and advisor for indigenous education for the state of Chiapas and is working on teacher training.
So, Miguel, tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you go to the United States to study.
MR. MARTINEZ: (Via interpreter) Thank you so much, Secretary Clinton. First of all, it’s a great honor and a privilege to be with you right now and to thank the Government of the United States and Georgetown University and the SEED program that I was able to participate in, as well as our ministry and Rosalina Morales Garza, who is here, our General Director of Indigenous Education who provided us with the facilities to be able to enjoy this scholarship.
First of all, when I went to the United States, I was able to perfect techniques in four major areas: strategies; to acquire learning skills in young children, say between five and seven; also, the importance of bilingual education. I am an indigenous grammar school teacher, and so we take part in bilingual education. You have bilingual education in the United States as well, and I thought that there were a lot of very important things to point out in that area. Third was the use of didactic material. In the United States, it’s managed with a different approach. We in Mexico handle it in a slightly different way, but when we put both approaches together, we can improve our techniques. And the final area I want to point out is professional leadership, the leadership of teachers. Teacher leadership is something that we have not gone into in depth. Not just in our country but in a number of countries throughout the world, it really hasn’t been dealt with too much.
However, in the management of indigenous teaching in my state, these two activities are being carried out. The first is to train and constantly update our supervisors and area directors. We have 17 area directors and even more supervisors, and we are training in pedagogic leadership techniques and also in training. And in providing training to that leadership group, we are reaching almost 4,000 school groups between grammar schools, preschools, and even middle schools at indigenous education levels.
At any given time, we are training 317 young people who are new teachers in the state of Chiapas. Those 317 attend to approximately 1,000 students, and we’re training them as well in leadership techniques, professional techniques, aside from techniques and strategies to learn how to read and write, and always stressing the importance of teaching in the indigenous language, which for us is of fundamental importance.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think you made a very good point about how we’re stronger if we learn from each other. And when you talked about integrating strategies that are used in the United States and used here in Mexico, I think that creates a better opportunity for teachers to reach every child. And I must say your enthusiasm suggests what a good teacher you would be. (Laughter.)
I want now to turn to Reyna Luz Santiago Batista from the Mixteca community in Oaxaca, who participated in also the USAID SEED Program at Mount Hood Community College in Oregon, where she studied natural resource management. And I know that she has a particular interest in the education and role of women and, in fact, is currently working for an NGO that emphasizes women’s empowerment, health, education.
So what did you learn about the role of women during your educational exchange in the United States?
MS. BATISTA: (In Mixteco.)
(In English.) This is my native language. It’s called Mixteco. And I want to, first of all, to thank all of you for this opportunity and for coming here today. And I want to give my special thanks to the United States Government, to the SEED Program of the Georgetown University, and for all of you for being here today. So now I want to answer my question.
(Via interpreter) I think it’s very important to see the role that women have in the United States, in particular what I saw in the United States is that women are very independent, they constantly fight for their dreams, for education. They worry about the welfare of themselves, of their families, of their communities. I had female colleagues who worked and studied at the same time, and they also helped out with their communities.
And that to me has been an example, an example I want to follow, because especially here in Mexico indigenous women sometimes have less opportunities. And I think it’s very important for us to begin to seek opportunities like the SEED scholarship and Start-to-Study, and then move forward. And I think that we women can also make a contribution to the welfare of our communities and our countries.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have no doubt that you are doing that and you will do that. Because trying to make sure that opportunities are equally available to men and women, to boys and girls, is a continuing commitment of mine and of my country. And we want to work to bring educational opportunities to more indigenous women. So I thank you for the example you’re setting.
MS. BATISTA: (In Spanish) Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Now, let me turn to Telmo Jimenez, who is from the Mixes community in Oaxaca. He participated in the State Department’s study for the United States Institute Program for student leaders in Washington, D.C., last year. And he’s pursuing an undergraduate degree in anthropology at the Autonomous University of Oaxaca. In fact, he received a national youth award in social work, delivered by President Calderon, and is the coordinator of a new center in his hometown.
So you’ve already done so many things and have been recognized for your leadership and your commitment. What did your participation in the Leadership Institute contribute to your understanding of leadership and to the work you’re doing now?
MR. TELMO JIMENEZ: (In Mixes.)
(Via interpreter) Good afternoon. I want to thank everyone who made this event possible and especially the United States, which gave us the opportunity to go to the United States. I was in Amherst, Massachusetts at the leadership seminar for young indigenous students.
The work I’ve been carrying out goes back a long way. For many years, we’ve been working with children, young people, and adults in educational programs, in informal intervention outside of the schools, and through multicultural and artistic activities that also add to the training they receive at school.
That has given us not only the basic tools to be able to continue working with more young people, but it’s also given us – it’s provided a broad perspective on the problem that we’re dealing with within the communities.
The opportunity we were provided by going to the United States was very comprehensive. It wasn’t just about the theory behind all of this, but we went into community practices, we saw civil associations, NGOs that work with the communities over there, and that provided us with tools to be able to take on or better understand the problems we’re facing in our own communities with our young people and children where each of us is working in the various indigenous communities.
And that’s been a major force in being able to continue working with them and to show our leadership, not only at the level of our communities but also outside in our projects in other neighboring communities within the states or in other states. That’s been – that’s provided a strong impact to us, and you can hear it in the words of my various colleagues here. I think that the projects we’re working on are of transcendental importance in our communities because we don’t just attend to specific problems or – we also generate responses that help in global problems. And that was one of the greatest experiences provided, and also one of the greatest tools the United States gave us to be able to deal with these problems, and somehow being able to help our people in our various communities.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s an excellent description of what an education should do for a community. As we said in the beginning, of course, we want individuals to have these opportunities. But it’s very important that they then be fed back into the community itself and create even more chances for other people to take advantage of education and cultural experiences. So thank you for that excellent description.
Let me now finally turn to Adriana Roque, who is from the Ñah-ñu community in the state of Hidalgo. She also participated in the State Department’s program for student leaders last year. She’s an undergraduate student at the National Pedagogical University in Mexico City, where she is pursuing a degree in indigenous education. And she, too, assists with the equity and gender portfolio at an NGO in her home state, where she developed assistance programs to allow pregnant teenagers to continue their studies, something that is also very important that I worked on in the past as well.
And I think that with your first trip to the United States, when you went for the program – and I’m wondering whether your experience there impacted or affected your professional goals and the way that you want to work within and help your community.
MS. ROQUE: (In Ñah-ñu.)
(In English) Thank you for this opportunity.
(Via interpreter) My opportunity in the United States, yes, was the first time I went – I traveled outside of Mexico. And although it was a very short time there, you can see there’s enormous diversity in the United States, a level of equality that is often not reflected in our own communities. Being there provided me with the opportunity to be able to see that we shared two important elements, teamwork and respect. This, as an indigenous group, has allowed us to live, or to survive for much longer, but also in order to be able to provide help through these projects and to be able to understand who else other than us can have access to such opportunities, each language, each culture, is a different way of seeing the world. And we share global problems, even though we’re at a more local level. The fact that our cultures or our language could be lost lead us to being – to not being able to resolve our own problems. And so I’ve always been concerned with trying to help others, especially my own people. I take part in some youth projects that have to do with women’s equality issues, an issue of great concern to me.
But preserving our mother tongue, in this case an indigenous tongue, is very important. Unfortunately, that discrimination towards people still exists today – those people who speak an indigenous language, and it should not be so, because you lose perspective. And I think that that could help enormously to overcome the problems we have, not perhaps at the level of our communities because ours is a global society, but as you said, we’re working together, and the relationship is not so much diplomatic as it is the relationship of a family.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s an excellent statement. And I particularly appreciate you referring to teamwork and respect. That’s important between people, individuals, between families and communities and between countries. And I also liked what you said about how each language and culture helps us as humanity see the world differently and adds to the overall understanding of our human experience. So I thank you for that.
Sylvia, do you want to add anything after hearing these remarkable young people speak?
MS. ORTEGA: You know, I don’t think so. They made their statements very powerful.
(Via interpreter) I think the important thing would be to see that if there is an investment that pays the best dividends and on an extended basis, it is education. It is the acquisition of those skills that make us better people, better citizens, and better – more understanding of each other. Because deep down inside, that’s what it’s about. It’s about effectively building interpersonal relationships, family relationships, or relationships between countries. It’s going to depend on how well we understand each other. And to understand, you need to learn. And to learn, you need to generate knowledge. And that’s done much better, it’s true, with respect and as a team.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that you can see very clearly how impressed we are with these young people. And there are more like them sitting here in the audience who have pursued education and are not only furthering their own personal goals, but contributing to their communities as well. And so I am pleased to announce a new educational partnership in Mexico, the English Access Micro Scholarship Program. It will begin this month in Atlacomulco. It’ll later expand to Oaxaca and Chiapas and Mexico City.
This program will provide two years of training in English to 100 Mexican students. We’re hoping that this additional program will help even more young people expand their horizons, acquire new skills, learn what will give them a better future and then enable them to make those investments in their communities. I could not agree more with Sylvia, who has spent a lifetime working in education, that, you know, investing in an individual is the best investment we can make. And parents and families do the best they can to invest in their children, but very often there are many obstacles to being able to make those investments. Governments invest in their people, but often it’s challenging to do that to the full extent that we would like.
So we think partnerships for more educational experiences and opportunities is a very tangible way for us to deepen and further the relationship between our countries.
I told the officials with whom I have met today how personally proud I am to be the Secretary of State representing the United States and being able to come here to Mexico. When my husband and I were married, we honeymooned in Mexico. (Laughter.) We have very pleasant memories of Mexico. We have vacationed in Mexico. When he was president, we had official visits to Mexico. And we have Mexican friends who we treasure. So we are very, very happy to see this relationship growing stronger.
And so for me, working with your government and working with the people of Mexico is not only a public responsibility, but a personal privilege. And I look forward to hearing more about these remarkable young people, and knowing that they are making such good use of their education. And hoping that in my country as well as in Mexico, we can finally arrive at a point where no child’s dreams are denied, where it will be up to every single child to decide what he or she is willing to work for. And to go back to the point you made about how hard people are willing to work, but that that work will be rewarded. And we are working to achieve that in the United States. And I am very impressed and delighted to see the efforts that are represented on this stage by these young people. So please join me in showing your appreciation to these young students and to the others who are here, as well as to their teachers and the officials of the Government of Mexico who are supporting their education. (Applause.)
Remarks At The Simeprode/Benlesa Biogas Plant
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateMonterrey, , MexicoMarch 26, 2009
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much for the honor of participating in this occasion. And I appreciate the very informative remarks that the governor just gave us. I know very well that we are witnessing here a partnership for the future. This is a partnership of people, of institutions, of the private sector and the government all working together.
I want to acknowledge some of the people who have made this possible. Mr. Jorge Padilla, the president of Simeprode; Nora Calderon, the private partner from Benlesa; of course, the foreign secretary, Secretary Espinosa; the Ambassador from Mexico to the United States, Ambassador Sarukhan; the governor who just spoke so effectively about what it is we are trying to achieve together; and of course, the representatives of the university who have demonstrated by their signing today that they are part of building this common future. And it gives me particular pleasure to see this cooperation between three great universities here in Mexico and the University of Texas at Austin.
This partnership is an effort to find solutions to an urgent 21st century challenge. And this memorandum of understanding expands an already strong effort underway to bring together the best talent, ideas and research available on both sides of our border. Addressing climate change and clean energy is not only a building block of economic recovery; I believe and President Obama believes that this will be an engine of economic growth for the 21st century.
Yesterday in my meetings in Mexico City with President Calderon, with the foreign secretary, and with other members of the government, we talked at length about a competitiveness agenda that both of our nations can pursue. This would be a collaboration on a range of issues, and none would be more important than clean energy. That is how we will create the jobs of the 21st century, not only through biogas, which is what you do here, but across the spectrum of clean energy from solar to wind to ethanol to geothermal power.
This will advance our mutual goal of expanding renewable energy and reducing carbon-based emissions. It is also a form of security. We have spoken a lot in the last two days about security. And of course, we know we’re talking about the threat from lawlessness and violence when we say security. But energy security is also important. Being self-sufficient insofar as possible, creating energy from the earth, ensuring it is green energy is something that both of our countries are committed to achieving. Right here, we see clean energy being created from solid waste, clean energy that powers street lights and offices, that powers the metro rail and so much else.
This goes beyond anything we have in the United States, Governor. And this partnership that you have created here between the public and the private sector is a model that we and others will look towards. Mexico’s goal for emission reduction and for meeting a sizeable portion of your electricity needs through renewable energy is another model of how nations can move toward a low-carbon energy future, clean energy jobs as well.
In our own country, the Obama Administration is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and we are calling on the Congress to help create a cap-and-trade program. The United States, under President Obama’s leadership, will work with Mexico under President Calderon’s leadership to build consensus as we move toward the United Nations Conference on Climate this December in Copenhagen.
Yesterday, President Obama sent a letter to President Calderon inviting him to participate in a major economies forum to pave the way to Copenhagen so we can have the greatest possible success there. These negotiations provide a crucial opportunity to create a global framework. And when those meetings are held, Mexico will be a leader because of the steps you have already taken and the commitment that your government has made. And there’s no better example than the plant we are seeing in action here today.
We believe that Mexico and the United States not only face common challenges, but also common opportunities. And we think by working together, we can achieve a cleaner, healthier planet for successive generations, and build a green economy that will create millions of new jobs for the 21st century. So I am here to witness and pay tribute, to really celebrate what has already happened in this state. And the results are going to be noticed far and wide.
This is an advanced, state-of-the-art plant. We do not have anything like it in the United States. I know that this is not the kind of event that gets headlines, but this is what should get headlines in America and Mexico. The Mexican people and municipal government should be looking and saying, how can we do what was done in Monterrey. And the United States should be looking and saying, what can we do to try to achieve the same level of production of electricity from solid waste. That’s how we will learn from one another. We will borrow ideas, we will cooperate through our great universities, through our local governments, our national governments, our private businesses. That is the way of the future.
You know, there are many problems we have to solve and we will be stronger in solving them if we do it together. So I am delighted to be here to have the opportunity to witness this along with the governor and the foreign secretary. But also I want to pay tribute to the people who made this happen and the people who work here and keep it going and produce this clean electricity. That’s what we want to see all over Mexico and all over the United States. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
Digital Town Hall at TecMilenio University
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateMonterrey, MexicoMarch 26, 2009
SECRETARY CLINTON: I am both delighted and honored to be here with you this afternoon. I am impressed by this campus and by the enthusiasm of the young people whom I met as I was coming into this room. And I thank them, even though they’re not here with us, for being part of this digital webcast town hall. And it’s exciting that we can use technology together on a tech campus to connect up with one another and communicate.
I want to thank Marco for his kind words and his excellent presentation. I want to also thank very much Mr. Zambrano, who eloquently described the mission of this university, and of course, Tech de Monterrey and the extraordinary role that it has, and now along with TecMilenio will be playing in the development, growth, and prosperity of Mexico.
I am delighted to be joined here by my counterpart, the Mexican foreign secretary, Secretary Espinosa, who has spent a great deal of time with me yesterday talking about a range of issues that are important to our country. Also to Ambassador Sarukhan, thank you for being here as well. We had excellent meetings, and I appreciate their both coming to Monterrey.
I also want to acknowledge Governor Gonzalez Paras. I just met with the governor and some of his staff about the border cooperation going on between a border state such as this and others along both sides of the border between the United States and Mexico.
You know, for millions of people in my country and yours, Mexico and the United States are more than good neighbors, more than trading partners. They are places of shared customs and ancestral heritage, of common history and a common future. Indeed, Mexico and the United States are, in many ways, one family.
Our people and our nations are connected by the busiest border in the world, a robust economic partnership, a firm commitment to democratic values, a common ecosystem, and a vibrant exchange of cultures that has been nurtured by generations of immigrants and their families.
Today, these ties are being put to new tests as we attempt to seize the unprecedented opportunities of a new century while also addressing its urgent threats, including a global economic crisis that has spared neither the United States nor Mexico, and amplifies the already serious challenges we share.
I’ve come to Mexico this week because the United States, the new Obama Administration, believes that the relationship between our countries must be even stronger in the future than it is today. And to make it so, we are committed to a partnership built on comprehensive engagement, greater balance, shared responsibility, and a joint attention to hemispheric and global issues.
Comprehensive engagement, because making the most of this century’s opportunities, and addressing the complex problems we both face, from security to economics to immigration to climate change, demand all the tools that we have at our disposal.
Balance because strong partnerships are based on listening, learning, and mutual respect.
Shared responsibility, because the United States and Mexico can do more, and do better, to meet our shared challenges.
And greater outreach across the hemisphere and around the world because to achieve global progress and prosperity, we must rely on global, not just local, approaches. And where they don’t exist, we must work together to invent them.
This is especially important in the 21st century world in which we live. We are now linked to peoples and nations throughout the world in ways unimaginable even a generation ago. The interdependence between Mexico and the United States is so much greater because of our historic, economic, geographic, and cultural closeness. That’s what makes our relationship unique. And it’s why it deserves our best thinking and our commitment, especially involving young people like the students here, so that together we can forge a more prosperous, peaceful, and progressive future.
You know, it is the custom in my country that when we elect a new president, the first foreign leader that new president meets is the Mexican president. And President Obama continued that tradition when he met with President Calderon before he was even inaugurated. I’m very pleased that President Obama will be coming here in just a few weeks. He will also see President Calderon at the G-20 summit next week in London, and again at the Summit of the Americas at – toward the end of April in Trinidad, Tobago.
So over the past two days, as I have had such productive meetings with the foreign minister, with President Calderon other leaders committed to this broad partnership, we’ve discussed a range of issues. I’ve also met nongovernmental organizations and citizens forming collaborations beyond government that improve people’s lives and contribute to a sense of possibility and potential, even for those who sometimes find themselves on the margins of society. I know that Mexico, like the United States, understands that the only way we will be successful in this new century is through concerted action and partnership with others. Perhaps it was possible at one time to ignore other countries, other cultures, other societies, but that no longer is possible.
And I know that one challenge that we will work with you to address is drug trafficking that has terrorized some Mexican communities, especially those along the border. And I join my voice to all those who know that this situation is intolerable for honest, law-abiding citizens of Mexico, my country, or anywhere people of conscience live. This affects not only the government, the law enforcement, the military, the judicial system of Mexico and the people of Mexico, but of the more than 60 million Americans who live in U.S. border states. That is why I have been very clear in my time here. The United States recognizes that drug trafficking is not only Mexico’s problem. It is also an American problem. And we, in the United States, have a responsibility to help you address it.
Traffickers use guns purchased in the United States to fight each other and to challenge the Mexican military and police. Their enterprise is financed in part by our country’s demand for drugs, which sends up to $25 billion a year in illicit drug profits back into the hands of the drug kingpins. Drug profits are propping up cartels financially allowing them to continue their campaign of violence and lawlessness. Earlier this week, the Obama Administration announced a comprehensive plan to increase security along our border, including more officers to stop the illegal flow of guns into Mexico.
We are closely working with Mexican leaders through the Merida Initiative. And through this partnership between our nations, the United States has pledged $1.4 billion to train and equip Mexican law enforcement, facilitate the gathering and sharing of information, and help to strengthen your judicial system and public institutions.
Before coming to Monterrey this morning, I visited a police base in Mexico City to see the technology that Mexico is already using to assist with law enforcement. It’s an effort that has been enhanced by the Merida Initiative, but it’s one undertaken by the Calderon administration, and I was very impressed by what I saw. The dedication, the high morale, the commitment of the young men and women who are prepared to risk their lives for the country they love was inspiring.
Yesterday, I also announced the creation of a bilateral office where Mexican and U.S. officials can work together in Mexico City to coordinate our efforts to fight drug trafficking. And the Obama Administration intends to provide more than $80 million in urgently needed funding for Blackhawk helicopters to enhance the capacity of Mexican law enforcement officers. I saw some of those Blackhawks at the base I visited this morning, and heard firsthand about how it is helping to right the disadvantage that law enforcement has had, given the military assault weapons and the other ways that the drug cartels have been spreading lawlessness and violence.
We are committed to supporting the Merida Initiative and other efforts initiated by the Calderon administration, by the Government of Mexico, and supported by people across the political spectrum. Everyone whom I have met has told me that this is an issue that goes beyond politics. This is an issue that goes to the heart of what Mexico will be and what kind of security can be given to the next generation of young Mexicans to build their futures, create their lives, start their businesses, raise their families right here at home.
I know that there are problems. There are problems in any country. I spend my time thinking about the problems in my own country as well. Every country, just like every family, has problems. Anyone who tells you they don’t, check to see whether they’re from outer space. (Laughter.)
So I have had very fruitful discussions with Mexican leaders who are committed to
strengthening public institutions, to rooting out corruption, to helping make sure that the
judicial and police reforms passed in recent months will come into full fruition.
But this is not just a problem for governments. This is the responsibility of citizens as well as leaders. It’s the responsibility of business people as well as generals. It’s the responsibility of academics as well as police officers. It is a mutual responsibility. And it’s particularly important for the young people of Mexico who have enormous power right now to strengthen your democracy, to call for more reforms, to shine a bright light on corruption wherever you might see it, and stand up with those who are doing right. Mexican young people can be a transformative force at this critical juncture in your country’s history. And I urge you to seize this moment and join your voices in this struggle.
When one thinks about how important it is to tackle corruption and drugs, that’s not the only solution. There is so much more work to be done. Progress can only take hold if it is built on the foundation of economic growth and material improvements in people’s daily lives. One of the biggest challenges facing democracies everywhere – and I include my own country in 2009 – is we must demonstrate unequivocally that democracy produces positive outcomes for hardworking people who get up every day and do the best they can to raise their children, who go to work, who work hard, and deserve to have that hard work rewarded.
So we will support efforts to create jobs and expand education and healthcare and bolster opportunities here in Mexico, because we think that’s not only a challenge we share as fellow democracies, but that your prosperity and security is absolutely connected to our own.
The global economic crisis has reinforced how closely our economies are linked. More than a billion dollars in goods and services pass between our countries every single day. Twenty-two states in the United States depend on Mexico as their first or second export market. So when Mexico’s economy rises, millions of people in the United States see their incomes rise as well. And the same is true in reverse: The United States is Mexico’s number one trading partner. And we, therefore, have a major impact on the strength of your economy here in Monterrey and across Mexico.
We must do more to ensure that the benefits of trade are more evenly distributed, and President Obama is committed to doing that. There is no question that our economic pact with Mexico has increased prosperity for both nations in the past. But now we are seeing the flipside; when one of us struggles, the effects are magnified and mutual. Slowing trade flows, job losses in both nations, a falling peso, the dwindling remittances that Mexican immigrants send home to their families – these are all evidence of our connection.
But it’s also true that if we don’t demonstrate that trade between our countries benefits people at the bottom, then people begin to wonder, where is the money going? We’re having a similar debate in the United States right now. Where did all the money go? We know that people are losing their jobs. Unemployment is climbing. Government and citizens together must answer the questions that people legitimately ask of their elected leadership.
So we have to begin by getting our respective houses in order. President Obama has taken unprecedented steps to address our economic crisis by correcting deficiencies in our banking and regulatory systems, and stimulating our economy to produce jobs and get America back on the track to economic recovery. Here in Mexico, President Calderon has led the push to strengthen your country’s economy by announcing three stimulus packages in the past year, including a comprehensive infrastructure development plan. Both of our presidents have voiced strong support for continuing our policy of free trade and open trade as part of a broader competitive agenda.
That is the right response, but we also have to recognize that we must demonstrate the benefits broadly so that people believe that this is in their interests. Building a strong economy does not only mean implementing smart policies from the top down. It also means advancing opportunities from the bottom up; the material conditions of people’s lives, whether they have access to education and healthcare, enough food to eat, shelter over head and a decent job with a fair wage, speaks to our capacity to raise our children prepared for global citizenship, to build a workforce that can compete in a global economy and have communities that are safe, secure, and prosperous.
That is why economic progress must be measured in more than trade flows or currency values, but in the real meaningful improvements in people’s daily lives. I believe education is the foundation for that kind of progress. Yesterday, I was pleased to meet with students and teachers from indigenous communities throughout Mexico who have been given the chance, through a scholarship program, to study in the United States. They didn’t come from families that had a history of education. They didn’t come from affluent families. But what that experience meant for them was so moving to hear.
They talked about how they had learned what they could give back in their own communities. They found the voice and the strength to take on issues like gender inequality. They were prepared to be leaders. I was privileged to announce a new English language program called Access, again focused on talented but not well-off Mexican students, to make it easier for them to learn English and to participate in foreign exchange programs. We want to dig deep into our two societies to find the talented young man or young woman who might otherwise never find his or her way to this campus; who might never, in my own country, have a chance to go to college. We are losing talent every day because of inequality, because of lost opportunities.
And I am strengthened by my experience in seeing the results of what education can bring, not just to individuals and their families, but to communities, societies, and countries. We also have the opportunity to amplify the impact of nongovernmental organizations and civil society because of new technologies. The State Department is working with several companies, including Google and YouTube, Howcast, and AT&T to develop innovative ways to use networking technologies so we can put more power in the hands of citizens, giving people online tools to track corruption or report on the activity of cartel members without risking their safety.
Young people around the world are poised to lead this kind of innovative citizen empowerment, which is why the United States is supporting a summit here in Mexico of Alliance of Youth Movements, to connect up young people working to end to end violence throughout Latin America, whether it’s domestic violence or dating violence or lawlessness in the streets of your community, we must all take a stand against violence. And this is a new tool that will help.
We are supporting efforts like this because we know we’ve got to continue to look outward, not retreat inward in the face of the economic crisis. And Mexico, too, has adopted this view. And I want to congratulate the foreign secretary and the ambassador and others in the national government for being a powerful voice on humanitarian issues, particularly the ongoing crisis in Haiti. As the chair of the Children and Armed Conflict group at the United Nations, the Mexican Government has led the call to stop the use of child soldiers worldwide. The United States is eager to work with Mexico on these efforts, and look forward to Mexico’s presidency of the United Nation’s Security Council next month.
There’s also a tremendous opportunity for partnership in developing clean energy. This is another area where Mexico is a leader. Last December – December of 2008 – Mexico became the first middle-income country in the world to pledge a 50-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This was a visionary step that Mexico took, and it is one that other nations, including the United States, can learn from. Mexico has also committed to producing more than a quarter of your electricity from renewable energy sources in the next four years.
Now is that possible? Well, we won’t know until we try. Mexico has all the ingredients for making it possible, potential wind energy, ethanol, biogas, modernizing the oil industry, cutting emissions, increasing energy efficiency. Clean energy will move both of our nations closer to a healthier and safer environment, and create green jobs. This is an issue where young people, again are leading. We need to be doing everything possible to generate new good ideas. You know, there is a college, a university in New York, Cornell University where some of the young people there are going around to restaurants and collecting used vegetable oil and filtering it and using it to power their cars. I mean, it smells like french fries going down the road. (Laughter.) That should be very attractive to a lot of people.
I will be visiting later this afternoon the Benlesa biogas plant, where universities from Mexico and the United States will sign an agreement to expand our collaboration on clean energy research.
Now, despite all the ways that I think our nations and our peoples are on the same wavelength, we will not always act as one. Like all families, we will have disagreements. We have different backgrounds. We have different cultures. But meaning that we are family gives us the opportunity to disagree without jeopardizing our fundamental bonds.
So we should remember as we pursue this broader and more equal partnership with Mexico, that whatever our differences, we will always work hard to resolve them. We will work jointly with our Mexican friends to find solutions that arise in our trade relationship, including rules on trucking and agriculture, but we won’t lose sight of our overall advantage if we continue to support free and open trade.
We will discuss how the United States should achieve comprehensive immigration reform, and we won’t waver from our shared goal of an immigration policy that is effective and humane. The United States is a nation both of immigrants and of laws. And the millions of Mexican Americans have enriched our culture, our understanding of the world, and indeed, our national identity.
Last night in Mexico City, thanks to the minister, I met with a group of remarkable Mexican women. And over a wonderful dinner, we shared stories and perspectives, we talked about our concerns and our hopes for the future. And we talked about a lot of important issues, but before long it was clear that what we really cared about is what kind of lives we led, what kind of people we were, how our families were doing, and what was happening to our children. That is the ultimate tie that connects us. And it’s what gives me so much hope and optimism.
We will always face difficult days in a life, in a family, in a community, a country. But believing that we can do better tomorrow, resolve that the most important task of any country is the preparation of the next generation. To plant trees that we may never sit under so that they can shade our children and our children’s children. And that is the kind of future I hope we will make together by harnessing our energy and our talents, innovative spirit, we will create a better world worthy of every single child in America and Mexico. And we will provide the opportunities so that each and every one of those boys and girls have a chance, if they work at it, to live up to their God-given potential.
We may have a border between us, but we have a common purpose. And if we believe in that, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish together.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
Thank you. Now, I think the students have prepared some questions. If I’m not mistaken, I was told there were going to be two live questions and two questions perhaps over the internet.
MODERATOR: This question is from someone in the audience. And the question is: Is there a bilateral educational program to stop narcotrafficking?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a great question. Is there any bilateral educational program to stop narcotrafficking? I’m not sure there is, but I think there should be. And I think we should work together on that. But there are ways that young people can educate themselves and each other against narcotrafficking and the damage that it does. And as I said in my remarks, using the modern tools of communication, of networking, gives people anonymity to be able to talk to your friends if you choose, to alert them, to let officials know about things you hear and you see, as a way of being a virtual education and empowerment project. And we should think about how that could be accomplished. Because clearly now with the new tools at your disposal, information can be communicated instantaneously and it could very well be extremely helpful in your country’s fight against narcotrafficking, and it could be helpful in my country as well. So we should think about ways we can create that, innovate around it, and then disseminate it.
QUESTION: What role can university students play to improve bilateral relationships between the United States and Mexico?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think there are a lot of ways that university students can both participate in bilateral relations and take them to another level. I would like to see many more exchange programs and connections between young people and university students in both the United States and Mexico.
We – I had mentioned that we’re going to have a youth summit in Mexico City for young people from around Latin America this summer. Coming together, both virtually over the internet and in person, to network and find out what we can do together, I think, is a tremendous opportunity and I’d like to see more and more of that, and university campuses can – and can support that. I don’t know if you have exchange students from the United States here at TecMilenio, but I think there should be a lot of exchanges that go on. So we are going to, in the State Department, look to create even more of those kinds of bilateral exchanges.
MODERATOR: Madame Secretary, from Campus Guaymas, why did you come to Mexico?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’ve been coming to Mexico for a long time. And I said yesterday in Mexico City, I came here on my honeymoon before most of you were born, and – (laughter) – which is always a sobering thought. And I came back often with my husband to vacation and I’ve come on official business. I’ve lost track of the number of times that I’ve come to Mexico over a number of decades now.
So it’s a great pleasure for me to come to Mexico anytime. And coming as Secretary of State, representing the United States, is an honor. And I particularly wanted to come very early in my term as Secretary of State so that I could convey a message both from myself and from President Obama about the kind of relationship that we will work to achieve with our Mexican partners and friends.
As I said in my speech, we have so much in common. Yes, we have differences, but what binds us together, in my view, is much greater and more important than what separates us. And in the world we inhabit together, in the small space on this planet that we share, we have to do more to not only understand each other, but work with each other, solve problems, and seize opportunities so that we will improve the lives of the people in both of our countries, and I’m committed to doing that.
MODERATOR: This is a question from Rafael Montenegro from Campus Ferreria. Does politics have a moral responsibility regarding education? If yes, what is that responsibility?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s a wonderful question: Does politics have a moral responsibility for education, and if so, what is it specifically? Well, I certainly believe that, you know, politics in a democracy is a tool that we use to choose our leaders and make decisions. And it’s not easy. As Winston Churchill, I think famously said, you know, democracy is the most difficult, complex system of any invented except all of the others. And it is what we use to try to choose our leaders.
And I think part of the obligation of any leader chosen in a democracy is to have a moral commitment to the education of young people – and I would even go so far as to say continuing education – so that as our world becomes more challenging, people lose jobs, they need to be retrained. There are new frontiers to science, research and technology that we cannot cross if we’re not better educated. So I believe that you can know a lot about any society by looking to see how they value education. And it’s not just rhetorical. It has to be practical; you know, what are we doing to help young people get to the starting line without being disadvantaged.
You know, for many years, I was a very active member of a group called the Children’s Defense Fund in the United States, and we saw our job as trying to, you know, even out the odds. You know, a child like my daughter, whose parents read to her every night and who had the very best education we could obtain for her and who had so many other opportunities, you know, just had such an advantage over a child who is born without parents who have that kind of experience and capacity.
And yet, I am convinced that talent is evenly spread throughout the world, but opportunity is not. I think if you were to go into the homes of the poorest of the poor in my country or your country or any country, you would – if you could imagine the future for every child, you could look at these children who look like they have no future, and if they had an education and if they were given the opportunities that Bill and I gave to our daughter, they could be the president of this university.
But opportunity is not evenly distributed. So it is the moral obligation of a democracy to get the thumb off the scale and give people a chance to compete in a meritocracy. And it is something that I believe with all my heart. You know, both my husband and I are the products of, you know, public education, and in both of our cases, a parent – my parents didn’t – you know, my father went to college on a football scholarship, which I was not going to get. (Laughter.) And, you know, my mother never went to college. But they both believe in education, and, you know, Bill’s father died before he was born and his mother didn’t go to college, but took nursing courses by correspondence.
If it hadn’t been for our being able to get a good public education and have teachers who encouraged us and parents who believed in education, you know, we wouldn’t have had the wonderful educational experiences that we enjoy that set us up for the rest of our lives. So there’s no doubt that, you know, tending to the education of young people is at the core of any democracy. And we have to do more to translate that into a reality around the world.
Thank you all. Is there another one? Is that it?
SECRETARY CLINTON: One more? Okay.
MODERATOR: This is a question from Tomatillo Hernandez Pisano from Campus Colima, and the question is: At this moment, what is the most important issue, in your opinion, in the relationship between Mexico and the United States?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t think there is one important issue. I think it’s been unfortunate that the courageous fight that Mexico is waging against the drug cartels has gotten so much attention to the exclusion of all the other issues. Is it important? Absolutely. Do we have to do everything we can to defeat the criminals? Of course we do, and we will. I have no doubt about that. But that’s not the only issue. There are many other important issues. That’s why I’m calling for a comprehensive agenda, because while we’re working on defeating the drug cartels, we want more educational exchanges. While we’re working to solve some of our trade problems, we want more infrastructure built on our borders so we can increase the flow of trade. We just have to keep working on everything. We can’t stop and just focus on, you know, one issue. We have to be constantly asking ourselves: What does the future look like? What happens after we finally end the drug cartels’, you know, violence and lawlessness and they go back to being, you know, just criminals, or they’re captured or killed or whatever happens to them? We still have to keep working together.
So I want to, you know, make that very clear that we have a very broad and deep agenda that we’re going to be working on together, and I’m looking forward to that.
One more? Okay.
MR. TEAL: Hello, Madame Secretary. Welcome. Next we have a question from – sent via text message. For more information on how you can send text messages to the Secretary, or a question or a note, from anywhere in the world, please visit www.state.gov.
And this text comes from Ruth in Florida. Secretary Clinton, will you discuss the issue of Mexican trucking into the United States and its implications for safety and national security, especially in light of the drug cartels? And what is our position on this subject? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are working with the Mexican Government to work out a resolution of the concerns that have been raised by the United States Congress that we think we can answer. But we shouldn’t just take Mexico trucking and act as though that’s the only issue that we have to worry about going across our border. You know, millions of people go back and forth across our border in cars and trucks and buses and trains and airplanes and boats and every other – on foot, every other way of getting back and forth, maybe bicycles, roller skates, I don’t know.
And we have to have better surveillance along our border of cars and every other form of transportation going both ways, you know, coming from the north to the south, and going from the south to the north. So if there are legitimate questions that have to be answered about how we move goods and services and people across our border, then we have to answer all of them.
And the question of Mexican-registered trucks has to be resolved, but it has to be put into the broader context of what we’re going to do together to make sure that anything that crosses our border either way is not carrying drugs or weapons or laundered cash or human beings who are being sold into, you know, trafficking. We’ve got to be aware of that on every front. So I want to look at this broadly, and that’s one of the reasons why Secretary Napolitano and Attorney General Holder are coming to Mexico in a few days to talk about how to implement the announcement that the Obama Administration made about how we’re going to provide more surveillance, how we’re going to have a better system for finding out what’s in those cars. You know, I mean, we can worry about what’s coming north, but Mexican people are worried about what’s coming south. You know, assault weapons, bazookas, grenades. I mean, we’ve got to get together on this.
So that’s why I don’t want this trucking issue to act like it’s the only concern, because we’ve got this border that we have to secure and prevent from causing problems on either side for our people. And the trucking issue we’ll resolve, but the broader question is how we’re going to have better surveillance and interdiction and more officials on our borders to work with our law enforcement on both sides to prevent criminality that will affect the lives of either Mexicans or Americans.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
Since her swearing-in, Hillary has "hit the road" in her big blue bird three times. People the world over are greeting her with delight - especially men of all stripes (who can blame them?). Hillary was in Mexico this week. Like her previous visits to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, her schedule was packed with public appearances and tours. Among the places she stopped was the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. (I so remember the last time Pope John Paul II was there).
This Basilica commemorates the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. Juan Diego was carrying a message when the Virgin appeared and told him to ask the bishop to build a church in that spot. Juan Diego arrived, carrying his cloak (tilma), at the bishopric and conveyed the message. When he opened his cloak, it was full of roses, and a picture of the Virgin was on the inside. The cloak is on display in the Basilica that now sits on the site. In the picture above, Hillary receives a red rose from the rector of the Basilica, Monsignor Diego Monroy. Appropriately, Hillary is wearing a beautiful red suit. In the beautiful picture below, you see Monsignor Monroy gesturing toward Juan Diego's actual cloak, preserved to this day since the 16th century. The miraculous image is venerated throughout Latin America. Hillary offered a bouquet of white roses to the Virgin. What a wonderful visit! I am sure the Blessed Mother is smiling down on our Hillary.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Remarks at the Women Leaders Dinner
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateMexico City, MexicoMarch 25, 2009
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I want to thank all of you for gathering here this evening. I thank the Secretary for a very well-planned day that enabled us to discuss a broad range of issues and concerns. And I thank you Margarita for being here, for your kind words. And to all of you, I want to reaffirm how committed President Obama and I are to this relationship which we believe is strategic, comprehensive, broad, deep, and very personal.
We share a set of common values and experiences, we share a common space, and we share a common future. And it is our great hope that we will, over the course of the next years, demonstrate a capacity to work together, unparalleled in our past, to solve problems, but more importantly, to seize opportunities and build that better future.
I have a personal privilege in being the Secretary of State at this moment in our country’s history, and it is, for me, very special to be here in Mexico. I did want to come to Mexico as soon as I could. Some of you may have heard that my husband and I honeymooned in Mexico. We came back often to vacation in Mexico. He came back as President and I came as First Lady to Mexico. I’m a little worried that my Administration back in Washington may think that my coming to Mexico is not work, but pleasure; it always has been.
But today, I come both personally committed to our relationship, and carrying the message of a new Administration that feels so strongly about building that strong foundation on which we will stand together. And I especially appreciate the opportunity to meet with all of you. I hope we can have a real conversation, because I wanted not just to have an official dinner, but to hear what is on your minds, what we can do together, concerns that you have. This is a diverse group of very accomplished women. It has been a real commitment of mine to meet with women around the world, because I have learned a lot and I always feel that you learn more by listening than by talking.
So I want to again thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to have such an early dinner. (Laughter.) And I look forward to returning with President Obama in just a few weeks, and then to – and doing the hard work to realize the promise that we all feel about the future. So let me raise a glass to the government and people of Mexico, to the democracy and promise of Mexico, and to the friendship and partnership between the United States and Mexico. Salud.
# # #
Remarks With Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa After Their Meeting
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateMexico City, MexicoMarch 25, 2009
MODERATOR: (via interpreter.) Good afternoon to all of you. We have here with us today State Secretary of the United States, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, and the (inaudible) First Ministry of Mexico, Ambassador Patricia Espinosa. Both will be conveying an initial message right now, and then after that we shall go into the question-answer period.
FOREIGN MINISTER ESPINOSA: (via interpreter.) Good afternoon, friends, and the media. Before anything else, I would like to thank, in a very special fashion, State Secretary Hillary Clinton, for having accepted my invitation to visit Mexico. I welcome the fact that this is a meeting taking place a few weeks after she took office, Department of State of the United States.
Your presence in Mexico has a special importance, since this is the first trip to Latin America, a little before President Barack Obama will also be visiting Mexico. After a very intense agenda of activities in Mexico City today, Secretary Clinton will be traveling tomorrow to the city of Monterrey, where she -- where I will be having the pleasure of being with her. And I would also like to say that, as you know, today Secretary Clinton has made a courtesy visit to President Calderon, where they discussed multiple topics of the bilateral agendas; for instance, migration, trade, competitiveness, border development, and security. It was truly an extremely fruitful conversation; a very interesting conversation they held, and that’s the reason for our being delayed a few minutes. And we would like to thank you for your understanding, and thank you also for being here to be with us in this press conference.
In the dialogue we held this morning with Secretary Clinton, we have coincided on the importance of the topic related to migration, and we’ve also coincided that this is a key issue that unites our two countries. We are going to be working together. We’re going to be working together in the following years so that the migration phenomenon may be a phenomenon that will be benefiting both of our nations.
In highlighting our full respect for the United States legislation and the sovereign process of that country and the legislative process of that country, I told Secretary Clinton the concern of the Mexican Government due to the situation that our co-nationals are facing in the United States. And I also highlighted the importance that we give the legal framework of migration issues so that it will respond to the migration reality and the need to change the climate that Mexicans now live in the United States.
The bilateral agenda between Mexico and the United States is a very broad agenda, and in them, the economic issues have, of course, particular importance, especially today in this context of economic crisis at the international level. We’ve coincided as well in this environment on the need of concentrating our efforts on being able to have our regional competitiveness increase as a means to promote the well being of our respective countries. Here, I also wanted to highlight the will to work together, to work together so that we can accomplish conditions that will allow for the full compliance, commitment that we have taken upon ourselves in NAFTA, as countries of NAFTA, with certainty in each one of the different provisions, including the topic related to motor transportation. The border has been a key aspect, a key issue in our conversations. We’ve also expressed our willingness to invest with determination on border infrastructure in short, medium term, so that we can integrate, and thus be able to turn the border into a pull for competitiveness, to increase competitiveness between our two countries.
We also talked about the importance of cooperation and the maturity we have been able to get in our fight against organized crime, as well as the convenience and the importance of continuing, and in a more profound manner, the implementation of the Merida Initiative. We have said that the high-ranking level group of the Initiative that met for the first time in Washington last year will be holding this year as well another working session, if possible, if the agenda so allows it, with all the participants here in our country. And the different working groups, the coordination groups that are working on security issues, the groups we’ve been able to create greatly reflect the bilateral character of our focus based on the principle of co-responsibility. And later on, in a working session with the attendants in this Foreign Ministry and some members of the cabinet in terms of security issues, we’re going to go into a greater detailed discussion on this.
We also had the opportunity of talking about the world situation and we coincided on the role that our countries are now called to play in the multilateral fora in a particular manner, in the United Nations, and, of course, especially also now during our membership in the Security Council of the United Nations as non-permanent members.
And we also spoke about the participation of Mexico in the relevant fora; for instance, the case of G-20 and the G-8, G-5 dialogue. And in this sense, we also agreed to continue increasing our collaboration and dialogue within the framework of those fora. And Secretary Clinton will continue with a very intense agenda that shows her interests for Mexico, and the very broad gambit of issues that unite our two countries, in terms of education, for instance, culture, social development issues, entrepreneurial and the environment, of course.
This visit is and has been a -- it is, today, although she will still be with us in Mexico for approximately 24 more hours, a little bit over 24 more hours -- but it has already been, this visit, a very successful visit. And let me also say that the Governments of President Calderon and President Obama will coincide in the following four years, and that is why both governments, both administrations are determined to consolidate our relationship as a true, true partnership at the strategic level, a strategic partnership.
I would now like to give the floor to State Secretary Hillary Clinton, who does not require really any type of introduction, because she is one of the most important women of the political life of the United States, and also a very close friend of Mexico. Mrs. Clinton, you have the floor. Muchos Gracias.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Secretary Espinosa. I appreciate that kind introduction, and I’m also grateful for your invitation to visit Mexico for my first stop in Latin America as Secretary of State.
The Secretary and I had a very productive conversation about a broad range of issues. As she has just described, we are looking forward to working together in the months ahead on many of these issues on behalf of our presidents and our countries.
President Calderon has demonstrated great courage and dedication in working to shape the future of our continent and our hemisphere. And I bring greetings from President Obama, who looks forward to coming himself to Mexico in just a few weeks time.
Our two nations know each other very well, and with good reason. This is one of the most important relationships that exists between any two countries in the world. We are part of the same family, we share this continent as our common home, and we will inhabit a common future. That is why the United States and Mexico need a strong and sustained partnership, one based on comprehensive engagement, greater balance, shared responsibility, and joint efforts to address hemispheric and global issues.
We need such a comprehensive agenda in order to make progress on the economy, on energy and climate change, on security, immigration, education, health, and other areas that are of great importance to our two countries and our two peoples. During this trip, we will be discussing many of these topics. And I am pleased to announce several measures that will help strengthen our partnership with Mexico and move us both closer to our shared goals.
First, the global financial crisis has reinforced how closely our economies are linked. If there was any doubt before, there should be none now. We rise and fall together. We know that commerce between our nations is and will be a crucial part of our economic recovery. I want to thank President Calderon, Secretary Espinosa, and the Government of Mexico for the important role that you are playing in helping to shape the G-20 agenda.
In order to facilitate legal trade and travel between our nations, the Administration has set aside $720 million dollars for modernizing border crossings. That money will help encourage commerce and travel by making the gateways between our countries more efficient.
I also want to speak to the issue of security.
Now, our relationship is much bigger than any issue, including this one. Yet the criminals and kingpins spreading violence are trying to corrode the foundations of law, order, friendship, and trust between us and that support our continent. They will fail. With bold leadership from President Calderon, we are working together to provide the people of our nations with the security they deserve. Under the Merida Initiative, a program conceived by Mexico and embraced by the United States, we have now committed hundreds of millions of dollars to training and equipping Mexican law enforcement, and strengthening Mexico’s judicial system and democratic institutions.
Part of being a good partner is being a good listener. The Mexican Government made clear to us its urgent need for additional helicopters to take on the drug traffickers, and we are responding. And I am pleased to announce that the Obama Administration, working closely with Congress, intends to provide more than $80 million in urgently needed funding for Blackhawk helicopters for Mexican law enforcement. These aircraft will help Mexican police respond aggressively and successfully to the threats coming from the cartels.
We are also announcing the creation of a new bilateral implementation office here in Mexico, where Mexican and U.S. officials will work together, side-by-side, to fight the drug traffickers and the violence which they spread. We realize that drug trafficking is a shared problem. I have discussed with the Secretary and with the President what the United States can do to reduce the demand for drugs in our own country, and to stop the flow of illegal guns across our border to Mexico. And I reported to them on the major steps that our government announced yesterday.
Coming to Mexico soon will be Secretary Napolitano and Attorney General Holder to discuss in greater detail what we will do to reduce gun smuggling from the United States to Mexico, and other measures including equipment and surveillance that will help address violence on both sides of the border.
We are confident that with the courageous efforts undertaken by President Calderon, the Government of Mexico, the military and police of Mexico, and the people of Mexico that the efforts undertaken to strengthen this country’s response, to stamp out corruption, to build strong intuitions, will succeed. And we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you as you undertake all of these actions.
Even as we focus on these urgent challenges, let us not forget that our relationship is far greater than any threat, and that our people share an unshakable bond. Mexico has supported the United States at many critical moments in our own history. I will never forget, and I want to thank the Government of Mexico and the people of Mexico, for the help you gave us after Katrina. The Mexican army was there to help provide food and support to people who had been evacuated from that terrible natural disaster.
I thank you for the help that you give on a regular basis, with wildfires in California or tornado damage or flooding in Texas. We have an ongoing, absolutely important, unbreakable bond, and that’s what I want to reiterate today.
This is a significant moment in the history of our continent. Yes, we do face many serious challenges, and we can’t just talk about them; we must act to meet them. But this is a moment of great opportunity. Tomorrow, I will be visiting a state-of-the-art clean energy plant in Monterrey, a plant that, frankly, is more advanced than most, if not all, of the plants we have in the United States. I will be witnessing the signing of agreements between the University of Texas and Universities here in Mexico to further and deepen our energy partnership. I will be meeting with indigenous students who are part of exchange programs here in Mexico, with families and institutions in the United States. So let us build on this cooperation, on comprehensive engagement, balance, and, yes, shared responsibility for a new century of cooperation and progress together that will unleash the boundless potential of the people of Mexico and the United States.
Thank you so much, Madame Secretary.
MODERATOR: (In Spanish.)
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I’m going to ask several questions made by the press here, so I would just ask you to bear with me. First of all would be President Obama said yesterday that if the plan to secure the border fails, the U.S. is ready to take further steps. What are these further steps? Does that include a militarization of the border, or even a U.S. military presence in Mexico? That would be the first.
The second would be will the U.S. take any steps to prohibit the sales of automatic weapons to other countries, and is the Obama Administration ready to tackle the second amendment in the U.S.?
And finally, the third question would be about the helicopters. The Mexican Government has actually bought helicopters in France because of the delays faced with the Foreign Military Sales Program. Could you elaborate on that?
And finally – (laughter). Sorry, a lot of questions. The Department of Defense announced that it’s going to help the Mexican Department of Defense with $13 U.S. million dollars to liberate areas controlled by drug trafficking corporations here in Mexico. Do you believe that parts of Mexico are under control of the drug trafficking organizations? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much. We have made a commitment to assist the Government of Mexico in its struggle against the drug traffickers, and we have accepted that this is a co-responsibility. We know very well that the drug traffickers are motivated by the demand for illegal drugs in the United States, that they are armed by the transport of weapons from the United States to Mexico; and therefore, we see this as a responsibility to assist the Mexican Government and the Mexican people in defeating an enemy that is committing violence and disruption that is very harmful and which is something that all people of conscience should attempt to defeat.
What the President said is a shorthand for our commitment. We have not made any decisions, as was announced yesterday on National Guard along the border. We are working to provide more support for the Mexican military, the Mexican police, as well as other governmental institutions, and we will be guided by what the Mexican Government believes is working, what is appropriate, and how best we can proceed to support Mexico.
We believe that we have announced a plan to use every tool at our current disposal through administrative actions to track illegal guns, to arrest and punish those who are trafficking in illegal guns, to share more information with the Mexican Government so that they can also track and seize these guns. Obviously, I am someone who supported the assault weapons ban which was passed in 1994, but it was passed with an expiration date and it expired ten years later. I, as a senator, supported measures to try to reinstate it. Politically, that is a very big hurdle in our Congress. But there may be some approaches that could be acceptable, and we are exploring those.
Certainly, the export of assault weapons and illegal weapons is something that has grave consequences for Mexico. And we’re going to look at whatever is possible that we can do ourselves within the Administration, and we will explore with Congress other steps to take.
With respect to the helicopters, I am well aware that our long process of approval was cumbersome and challenging for the Mexican Government. We’re going to see what we can do to cut that time. We want to provide these helicopters to the Mexican Government. We think they are a necessary and important tool in the fight against the drug cartels and criminals. It’s also suggested to us we ought to look at this more generally, that it takes too long from a decision to delivery, and we’ll see what we can do to shorten that.
I believe that the fight against these drug cartels is something that the Mexican Government is making great progress in expanding and demonstrating the strength of the response, and I don’t believe that there are any ungovernable territories in Mexico. But I remember very well when we had such a crime wave 15, 20 years ago. There were many parts of cities in our country that people didn’t feel safe going to, that they didn’t feel safe leaving their homes. People felt imprisoned because of the criminals on the streets of America. So we know what it is to be intimidated by criminals. And we fought very hard to lower our crime rate, to disarm our criminals, to improve our policing, improve our judicial responses. And we see it as a similar struggle to what Mexico is now engaged in. So are there neighborhoods in Mexico where people are afraid to walk, as there were and are still even in my own country? Of course. But that’s why it’s important that we join together to defeat the violence and the criminal gangs so that people here in Mexico can feel safe in their own homes, their own neighborhoods, their businesses. And that’s what President Calderon and the government is attempting to achieve.
MR. WOOD: Next question is from Mary Beth Sheridan from The Washington Post.
QUESTION: Thank you. Secretary Espinosa, I was wondering if you could comment on – does Mexico – how does Mexico feel about the steps that the U.S. has announced? Does this meet your expectations or not? And a second question. You have rejected the idea of Mexico as a failed state. Are there any parts of Mexico where you would not feel comfortable taking Secretary Clinton? Thank you.
FOREIGN SECRETARY ESPINOSA: Well, first of all, I would like to stress that we are engaged in this really broad cooperation and the Merida Initiative has really meant a qualitative change in our cooperation in terms of the fight against drug trafficking and in general against organized crime. So – and we are very conscious that this is a process where each of us – and this is how the Merida Initiative was conceived – involves actions that each of us has to take on its own territory and many measures that we can take through cooperation that we can – the objective is really to strengthen the capacity, the capabilities of the Mexican state to face this common threat.
So in that sense, we recognize. And I have stated yesterday also in some press conferences that I had, the actions that were announced yesterday go very much along the line of the kind of cooperation that we have been trying to build upon. We have raised the issue of trafficking in arms from the north into Mexico many times. We have raised also the issue of bulk cash coming into Mexico and going into the hands of criminals.
So we are really – we recognize very much these efforts that are now being undertaken by U.S. authorities, and we are also looking forward to receiving Secretary Napolitano and the Attorney General in the coming days, where they will meet with their counterparts and where they will continue to go deeper into the consideration of all these issues and how we can improve. Of course, there’s always room for improvement. There is room for improvement here, there is room for improvement in the U.S., and there is room for improvement everywhere.
I have rejected also the idea that Mexico is a failed state, and I have stated that it is very clear for anybody who comes to this country, for any person who lives here, that this is a democratic country with strong institutions, with very strong leadership, where the citizens can really have a normal life every day. Of course, like in many parts of the world, and Secretary Clinton was just referring to some situations that were faced in U.S. cities, in some cities some time ago. As is normal, you have to be careful. You have to take precautions. You have to be very conscious of some risk and some possible situations that may arise. But absolutely, we are – I think there is no reason why anybody could say that Mexico is a failed state and that institutions are not working properly.
I would like Secretary Clinton to come very often to Mexico, and I would like to take her to many, many very beautiful places that we can share here in our country. Of course, there are some places where I would not take her, and I believe she would not take me to some places in her country, either. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well said, Madame Secretary. (Laughter.) Although I can’t resist saying, you know, my husband and I spent our honeymoon in Mexico, and we’ve come back many times on both personal and professional, official occasions. And I have such a deep regard and affection for Mexico that I am eagerly accepting the Secretary’s invitation to come back often. So that is one of the ways we’re going to deepen and broaden our cooperation.
FOREIGN SECRETARY ESPINOSA: Thank you.
MODERATOR: (In Spanish.)
QUESTION: Buenos tardes, Secretary Espinosa.
Secretary Clinton, I’ll try to be very brief. And I’m hoping you could give us some more insight or be more specific on the meeting and the conversations you had with President Felipe Calderon earlier today. And then also, I would like to know if you could give us the name of the new U.S. ambassador to Mexico – (laughter) – and when he will be coming.
And finally, considering the high expectations everybody has on this new Administration in the United States, could you send a message to undocumented Mexican migrants who are still seeing their human rights violated in the U.S. and who are still suffering or are victims of mistreat in the United States? Secretary Clinton, if you may.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. We had a very broad, productive conversation with President Calderon. It covered certainly the economic situation that both of our countries are facing, our preparations for the G-20 meeting in London. President Calderon and the Mexican Government have been leaders in pushing for replenishment and reform of international financial institutions, like the IMF. We discussed energy and climate change, an area that both of our presidents have great interest in, and which we all know must be addressed. And I hope that there will be a concerted effort to pursue some of the ideas that President Calderon has presented that find a great amount of interest on the part of our Administration. And that will be on the agenda for the meetings between the two presidents.
We talked about the upcoming meeting. We’re very excited about it. I know that President Obama is looking forward to it. We talked about the Summit of the Americas that we will both be attending shortly after that meeting. And we certainly talked about the security issues, the Merida Initiative. It was a broad, open conversation, which I appreciated greatly.
Yes, we are going to be naming a new ambassador. We cannot do that on this trip, but there will certainly be an ambassador. And we’re very much looking forward to that, although I have to say, it’s been a real – a really positive experience for our chargé to be representing us leading up to this trip, and I appreciate her efforts.
And finally, with respect to immigration reform, President Obama remains committed to comprehensive immigration reform. It is and will be a high priority for him and his presidency. We are also taking some actions through administrative changes and looking at the situation that our Administration inherited. So we are certainly sensitive to and understanding of the great concern toward your co-nationals in the United States. We have long said that we are both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws, and therefore we believe strongly that there have to be changes made, and we hope we’ll be able to pursue those in the coming months.
MR. WOOD: The last question is from Warren Strobel from McClatchy Newspapers.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. First for the foreign minister, you mentioned the trucking issue and NAFTA. Congress recently voted to cut off funds for the pilot trucking program. The Obama Administration signed that law. Are you worried about a rising tide of protectionism in the United States – a rising tide of protectionism in the United States as the U.S. goes through an economic recession?
And really quickly for Secretary Clinton, if she would entertain a question on another topic. There’s news today that North Korea has put a missile on the launch pad. I’m not asking you to confirm such a report, but do you see this launch now as inevitable, and what will the consequences for North Korea be?
Thank you very much.
FOREIGN SECRETARY ESPINOSA: Well, on the first question, I would like to say that a very broad consensus has evolved even from the Washington meeting of the G-20 in the sense that it is important to avoid protectionism, to not go into the temptation of protectionism, because this was – this proved not to be a good solution to the crisis in the ‘30s. There’s many reasons, but regarding a scenario of a big crisis like the one we’re facing, this was very clearly one of the reasons why recovery was so slow and it took such a long time.
(Via interpreter.) So in this respect for us (inaudible) Mexico (inaudible) conversation President Calderon and President Obama when they met in January. The issue of keeping (inaudible) need to avoid protectionist measures, which is an issue that has the utmost relevance. This issue which concerns us now (inaudible) problem is the problem that has been a typical problem among our countries. It has been present for a long time. It is not referring only to this point in particular. But here, what I think we should highlight is the fact that both governments have expressed a clear political will to work together in order to find a solution that will benefit both countries and that will allow us to comply with the obligations that we have accepted.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We are working very hard to achieve a resolution of this issue, and I appreciate the points that the Secretary made concerning the dangers of protectionism. I believe that she is accurate historically and it is certainly true today that we have to get the global economy moving, we’ve got to get jobs being created again, we have to get incomes rising. And so we are committed to working this through, and I have told the Secretary that.
With respect to North Korea, we have been absolutely clear the intention, as stated by the North Koreans, to launch a missile, for any purpose, is a provocative act which we believe violates Security Council Resolution 1718. We have made it very clear that the North Koreans pursue this pathway at a cost and with consequences to the Six-Party Talks, which we would like to see revived and moving forward as quickly as possible, and we intend to raise this violation of the Security Council resolution – if it goes forward – in the UN. And coincidentally, Mexico will be chairing the Security Council starting in April. We have a very broad agenda that we intend to work with. Issues like Haiti and others are very important to both of our countries. But this provocative action in violation of the United Nations mandate will not go unnoticed and there will be consequences.
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