Dina asked me to give a brief presentation on Mexico today, but I would like to start out by talking briefly about Mexico´s relationship to the United States. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has had a positive and long-standing relationship with the American Jewish Committee that is based on our common values and objectives. Key among those objectives is the empowerment of the immigrant community, and that is where our collaboration is focused.
Both nationally and locally, the AJC has generously shared its experience in community organizing and leadership. We commend you on creating a model for successful engagement to foster understanding and dialogue, as well as debunk myths and misunderstandings. Reaching out to immigrant communities is not an easy task, and it is more complex when it entails cross-cultural communication.
We need to continue working together to expand and deepen our relationship with our communities and their leaders. The many successes we have had should encourage us to do more, and I, myself, am fully committed to this.
There is another important issue where we are of the same mind—immigration reform. AJC’s support is fundamental in this process given your experience in advocacy and congressional affairs. Even though the prospects of reform are grim this year, we should not lower our guard. We must continue preparing our community for eventual legalization.
In that regard, I would briefly mention that our policies of engagement with our diaspora are evolving, along with the demographics of our communities, and we are seeking to become more proactive in new areas for us, such as assisting members of our community with the citizenship process. As we become more active in promoting awareness of this right to the 3.5 million Mexicans that hold a Green Card, your vast expertise in civic and political participation will be of great value to us.
But now back to Mexico…
As you know, Mexico is going through a period of massive change. Reforms in all sectors of society—education, banking, fiscal, competition, telecom, labor and energy—are underway to address the many areas that have been identified as causes of slow growth during the last decade. In spite of this slow growth, Mexico is a very different country today than it was twenty years ago when NAFTA entered into force.
Our GDP has tripled, we signed free trade agreements with a number of countries, and we joined the OECD and worked hard at expanding our health and education coverage, at building our infrastructure and at attracting the right kind of foreign investment to grow our economy in high growth-high yield areas such as aerospace, biotechnology and electronics. Meanwhile, we also did our homework on the macroeconomic front, maintaining consistent fiscal policies that have made the peso a trustworthy currency.
No nation can avoid globalization, and some nations, like Mexico, have had the foresight to embrace it with a long view rooted in who they are. If you’ll be patient with me for a moment, I would like to explain our position in the Western Hemisphere with a brief lesson in Spanish grammar: In Spanish we have two different words for the verb “to be”—estar and ser. With that in mind, Mexico está in North America, but es Latin America.
While the goal of NAFTA some twenty years ago was the establishment of a free trade area, something more significant has happened—North America has become a region of shared production. We are jointly producing goods through the deeply integrated production and supply chains that have developed as the result of the clear, stable and transparent rules established by NAFTA, and we are increasingly engaging with the global economy as one region. And a contemporary vision for North America needs to position its border in the Darien, in Panama, rather than the Suchiate, in southeastern Mexico. It must include Central America and the Caribbean.
As I said before, Mexico is also Latin America. In that sense, let me speak about the Pacific Alliance, a very ambitious, and at the same time very pragmatic initiative among like-minded countries. It is a new, results-oriented and market-friendly model of open regionalism. Currently Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico are the Pacific Alliance members, but Costa Rica and Panama are expected to join soon.
Let me just close with a final thought. Sometimes, as Simon Peres once said, “dreaming is simply being pragmatic”. In this age of political gridlock where little seems to get done to address intractable problems, it makes me proud to see how Mexico's political parties have been able to harmonize their idealism in pragmatic ways that will move Mexico forward. My hope is that our collaboration with the AJC can embody that same spirit in order to advance our values and achieve progress for our communities.