Speech of Ambassador Mabel Gómez Oliver

National Day of the Mexican Army and Air Force

Mexican Cultural Institute

Washington, DC

February 19, 2014

Thank you all for joining us here today at the Mexican Cultural Institute. We are honored to have you here with us to celebrate the 101st Anniversary of the Mexican Army and the 69th Anniversary of the Mexican Air Force.

Aristotle once famously observed that while citizens in democratic societies have freedoms that others do not, those freedoms also come with two important obligations—political participation and military service.

Mexicans, like our American counterparts, hold the founding documents that guarantee our democratic institutions very dear. But those documents—our constitutions, our declarations of independence—are just paper if they are not backed by a deeper conviction. The armed forces are that deeper conviction.

Those deep convictions inevitably require sacrifice, and that sacrifice is one the members of our armed forces honorably choose to make. Through their service, they provide the citizens of democratic societies like ours with an ultimate guarantee that their freedoms are not hollow promises; they are backed by the willingness of members of our Army and Air Force to dedicate themselves to lives of service in order to safeguard the promises we have made to each other about what kind of society we have chosen to live in. The Mexican military are the defenders of our national security. They guarantee our democracy, respect our democracy, and are a reflection of that democracy. They serve the Mexican people and our President is their Supreme Commander. Our gratitude for their service is, and must be, of the highest order.

In more modern times, the traditional idea of the military as a force that primarily protects a nation from foreign threats is also evolving to incorporate a more inclusive mission both at home and abroad. Given that the armed forces contain the foremost experts in the targeted mobilization of resources to meet urgent needs, it is inevitable that we lean on them in our times of crisis. Recently in Mexico, the armed forces have played key roles in the fight against organized crime and they have long provided assistance and protection to those who find themselves the victims of natural disasters, a responsibility that was first given to them in 1969 and has proven to be of critical importance to the well-being of both our citizens and our friends in the international community.

Last year in Mexico we saw historic rains and flooding that affected almost two thirds of the country. We had 77 overflowing rivers, 138 damaged highways, mass closings of schools and medical centers, as well as thousands of homes destroyed. In short: we had a natural disaster on our hands and the necessary scale of the emergency response was only possible with the assistance of the Mexican armed forces.

Those efforts are one more way in which our military helps our society guarantee peace, security and protect life. It is also one more reminder that the challenges that we as a nation must overcome, would be too daunting without the backbone of our armed forces.

On behalf of our country, the Government of Mexico, and Ambassador Medina Mora, I would like to express our sincere gratitude and recognition to the Mexican Army and Air Force for defending our national security, assisting our citizens in their time of need, and for their highest commitment to our nation. Thank you.