This morning, CFR hosted Mexico’s president Felipe Calderón in its Washington D.C. office for a brief presentation and question and answer session (you can read the transcript here). The conversation covered a vast number of topics, with Calderón’s prepared remarks highlighting his administration’s achievements and the questions and answers delving deeper into specific issues, such as Mexico’s energy sector and Calderón’s fight against organized crime.
To sum up the past six years in office, Calderón highlighted his country’s achievements in concrete numbers: opening 140 new public universities, building or repairing 3000 new health clinics, and constructing or repairing some 20,000 km of roads. He also spoke more conceptually of Mexico’s successes: arguing that its adherence to free trade and fiscal responsibility enabled a quick recovery from the 2009 global financial crisis, the rise of Mexico’s middle class, and its increasing global competitiveness. He emphasized the importance of Mexico’s neighbors—spanning from Canada to Chile—in boosting Mexico’s production and broader economy, and in particular the benefits of economic integration with the United States for both nations. He then turned to security, talking about his government’s efforts to strengthen the rule of law over the last six years, and placing the root of the problems on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border (Mexico’s weak rule of law and U.S. drug demand and lax gun laws).
Calderón’s speech defines his legacy as he sees it. It also endeavors to influence the agenda of the next Mexican administration, urging the Peña Nieto government to continue integrating with North America, and to continue his path in the fight against drug-related violence.