Washington DC, May 21st, 2018

 

Ladies and gentlemen

Good evening

Muy buenas noches

 

It is an honor and a great pleasure to be here with you today as we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Mexico Institute, in the midst of what is undoubtedly the most consequential time the Mexico – U.S. bilateral relationship has seen in decades.

 

Few institutions have done so much to promote a better understanding of my country and its relationship with the United States as the Mexico Institute.

 

And of course, none of this would have been possible without the commitment, time and effort that its Advisory Board members have dedicated over all these years.

 

You have built the Mexico Institute into a household name and positioned it as one of the best places in this country in which to discuss, debate, produce and propose research, ideas and public policies in some of the main issue-areas of our bilateral relationship: from economic competitiveness to innovation, security and education, to the rule of law, energy, migration, and, of course, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

 

Allow me to recognize the leadership of Andrew Selee during the Institute’s first 10 or so years and of Duncan Wood’s tenure afterwards. Both of them, along with Chris Wilson, Ambassador Tony Wayne and the Institute’s great staff have guided the work to where it is today.

 

I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge former ambassadors that join us, some of them members of the Board, and all of which, as they say, “have walked the walk”: Roberta Jacobson, James Jones and Arturo Sarukhan.

 

And as you all know, tonight we will bear witness to a change of guard at the helm of the Advisory Board.

 

For the past 15 years, as co-chairs, Jose Antonio Fernández and Roger Wallace have worked tirelessly to bring people, organizations, and governments together to contribute intellectual, moral and financial support to the Mexico Institute and its mission.

 

Jose Antonio and Roger, you are definitely leaving big shoes to fill. I cannot emphasize enough the gratitude of all of us who have a professional, business, academic or personal tie to the Mexico – U.S. bilateral relationship.

 

Please join me in thanking them for their work, dedication and professionalism over all these years. 

 

Luis Téllez and Ambassador Wayne, you are not only seasoned observers, but also true actors in the Mexico-US bilateral relationship.

 

The legacy you are about to receive, along with the challenging times we are experiencing, set you in a fascinating and meaningful journey.

 

Along the way, you will have, as always, the sustained support of the Embassy of Mexico, for the remainder of this administration and, I am sure, far beyond it. We wish you all the success.

 

Our societies increasingly perceive that they are stakeholders of a relationship upon which the future well-being and security of both our countries depend.

 

However, perception is not understanding. Much still needs to be done to inform and to educate our societies on what this relationship is about. What is at stake and what is not. What is mutually beneficial about this relationship. And yes, what are the sort of challenges that we face between us and together vis a vis the rest of the world.

 

Regardless of which flag we fly or the national anthem that we sing, a real and dynamic interaction exists between individual Mexicans and Americans.

 

Our relationship is constructed not only at the “top” between two national governments, but also manifests itself in daily life at every level, on the High Street of every city and the Main Street of every town.

 

The work of those of us who have the formal responsibility of guiding this relationship can only benefit from the endeavors of institutions like the one that convenes us today.

 

I want to acknowledge other institutions that have also been central to Mexico-U.S. relations and whose representatives are here tonight: Eric Farnsworth from the Council of the Americas, Jason Marczak from the Atlantic Council and Michael Werz from the Center for American Progress.

 

Friends and colleagues,

 

Your presence here reflects your interest in the Mexico – U.S. bilateral relationship. And, although I am not inclined to preach to the choir, I do want to share with you some final thoughts on the current state of affairs.   

 

As the last century was coming to an end and countries began to cope with globalization, Mexico took the decision to open-up to the world in a way it had not done before.

 

In retrospect, it is only natural that the most immediate and perhaps impactful implications of that decision, would derived from our interaction with the United States.  Indeed, Mexico has strived to construct a relationship based on three simple but important assumptions:

 

That we are better of talking to each other that pointing fingers at each other as we deal with the challenges that our geography entails.

 

That our economic success is dependent, not only on the trade and investment we do with one another, but increasingly on our ability to produce together with NAFTA as the backbone.

 

That our nations will be more secure if we work together to address our common security threats. 

 

These assumptions are now being questioned. But those who believe in them, in both sides of the border, have shown remarkable resilience and must continue to do so.

 

There is rarely cost-free leadership.  And we cannot solve the current challenges unless we forcefully and intelligently use our bully-pulpits to defend and to keep building on what we have accomplished in the past decades.

 

Over the years, I have had the privilege of contributing to strengthen ties between Mexico and the United States.

 

I am convinced that, by and large, our relationship has evolved positively during the period I have referred to. But as I have said before, we are at a crucial juncture.

 

We have at hand the opportunity to consolidate our economic partnership in North America; to work more closely and effectively in facing shared security threats; to better manage the migration phenomenon between our nations, while addressing each other’s legitimate concerns, views and laws; and also, to advance the values we share in a world that has become increasingly complex and, in more than one way, challenging.

  

But all this can only be achieved if more people hold as true the notion that a successful Mexico is in the interest of the United States as much as a successful United States is in the interest of Mexico.    

 

You have plenty food for thought for the panel coming up and your deliberations tomorrow.

 

Again, I congratulate the Mexico Institute on this anniversary and thank you all for joining us this evening.