Address to the People of Mexico
delivered 2 May 2013, Anthropological Museum, Mexico City
[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]
Hola! Buenos dias! Please, please, everybody have a seat. It is wonderful to be back in México -- lindo y querido ["lovely and beloved"]. I bring with me the greetings and friendship of the people of the United States, including tens of millions of proud Mexican Americans.
This is my fourth visit to
Mexico as President. This is my second visit to this museum. And each
time that I've come I’ve been inspired by your culture and by the beauty
of this land, and most of all, by the Mexican people. You’ve been so
kind and gracious to me. You’ve welcomed my wife, Michelle, here. You’ve welcomed our daughter, Malia, and her classmates to Oaxaca. And
as a proud father, I have to say that Malia’s Spanish is getting very
good. It helps that she’s smarter than I am.
And it’s fitting that we gather at this great museum, which celebrates Mexico’s ancient civilizations and their achievements in arts and architecture, medicine and mathematics. In modern times, Mexico’s blend of cultures and traditions found its expression in the murals of Rivera and the paintings of Frida, and the poetry of Sor Juana and the essays of Octavio Paz. And Paz once spoke words that capture the spirit of our gathering here today -- in this place that celebrates your past, but which this morning is filled with so many young people who will shape Mexico’s future. Octavio Paz said,
And that’s why I wanted this
opportunity to speak with all of you today, because you live at the
intersection of history that Octavio Paz was referring to. The young
people of Mexico, you honor your heritage, thousands of years old, but
you’re also part of something new, a nation that’s in the process of
remaking itself. And as our modern world changes around us, it’s the
spirit of young people, your optimism and your idealism, and your
willingness to discard old habits that are no longer working that will
drive the world forward.
It is true that there are Mexicans all across this country who are making courageous sacrifices for the security of your country; that in the countryside and the neighborhoods not far from here, there are those who are still struggling to give their children a better life. But what’s also clear is that a new Mexico is emerging.
I see it in the deepening of Mexico’s democracy, citizens who are standing up and saying that violence and impunity is not acceptable; a courageous press that’s working to hold leaders accountable; a robust civil society, including brave defenders of human rights who demand dignity and rule of law. You have political parties that are competing vigorously, but also transferring power peacefully, and forging compromise. And that's all a sign of the extraordinary progress that's taken place here in Mexico.
And even though we know the work of perfecting democracy is never
finished -- that's true in America, that's true here in Mexico -- you go
forward knowing the truth that Benito Juarez once spoke -- “democracy is
the destiny of humanity.” And we are seeing that here in Mexico.
We're seeing that here in Mexico.
I also see in Mexico’s youth an empowered generation because of technology. I think I see some of you tweeting right now -- what’s happening. And whether it’s harnessing social media to preserve indigenous languages, or speaking up for the future that you want, you’re making it clear that you want your voice heard.
And because of all the
dynamic progress that's taking place here in Mexico, Mexico is also
taking its rightful place in the world, on the world stage. Mexico is
standing up for democracy not just here in Mexico but throughout the
hemisphere. Mexico is sharing expertise with neighbors across the
Americas. When they face earthquakes or threats to their citizens, or
go to the polls to cast their votes, Mexico is there, helping its
neighbors. Mexico has joined the ranks of the world’s largest
economies. It became the first Latin American nation to host the G20.
And just as I worked with President Calderón, I’ve reaffirmed with President Peña Nieto that the great partnership between our two countries will not simply continue, it’s going to grow stronger and become broader. In my time with President Peña Nieto, I’ve come to see his deep commitment to Mexico and its future. And we share the belief that as leaders our guiding mission is to improve the lives of our people. And so we agree that the relationship between our nations must be defined not by the threats that we face but by the prosperity and the opportunity that we can create together.
Now, as equal partners, both
our nations must recognize our mutual responsibilities. So here in
Mexico, you’ve embarked on an ambitious reform agenda to make your
economy more competitive and your institutions more accountable to you,
the Mexican people. As you pursue these reforms, I want you to know
that you have strong support in the United States. Because we believe,
I believe, that people all around the world deserve the best from their
government. And whether you’re looking for basic services, or trying to
start a new business, we share your belief that you should be able to
make it through your day without paying a bribe. And when talented
Mexicans like you imagine your future, you should have every opportunity
to succeed right here in the country you love.
I’ve been asked, and I
honestly do not believe that legalizing drugs is the answer. But I do
believe that a comprehensive approach -- not just law enforcement, but
education and prevention and treatment -- that's what we have to do.
And we’re going to stay at it because the lives of our children and the
future of our nations depend on it.
We recognize we’ve got work to do on security issues, but we also recognize our responsibility -- as a nation that believes that all people are created equal -- we believe it’s our responsibility to make sure that we treat one another with dignity and respect. And this includes recognizing how the United States has been strengthened by the extraordinary contributions of immigrants from Mexico and by Americans of Mexican heritage.
Mexican Americans enrich our communities, including my hometown of Chicago, where you can walk through neighborhoods like Pilsen, Little Village -- La Villita -- dotted with murals of Mexican patriots. You can stop at a fonda, you can hear some mariachis, where we are inspired by the deep faith of our peoples at churches like Our Lady of Guadalupe. We’ve got a Chicagoan in here somewhere.
And we’re so grateful to
Mexican Americans in every segment of our society -- for teaching our
children, and running our companies, and serving with honor in our
military, and making breakthroughs in science, standing up for social
justice. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told Cesar Chavez once, we are
“brothers in the fight for equality.”1 And, in fact, without the strong
support of Latinos, including so many Mexican Americans, I would not be
standing today as President of the United States. That's the truth.
Obviously, we’re going to
have to work with the Mexican government to make sure that we've got a
well-regulated border. But I also want to work with the Mexican
government because I believe that the long-term solution to the
challenge of illegal immigration is a growing and prosperous Mexico that
creates more jobs and opportunities for young people here.
Number three, as we secure
our economic future, let’s secure our energy future, including the clean
energy that we need to combat climate change. Our nations are blessed
with boundless natural beauty -- from our coastlines and farmlands to
your tropical forests. But climate change is happening. The science is
undeniable. And so is the fact that our economies must become greener.
Number four -- and this is part of staying competitive -- let’s do more together in education so our young people have the knowledge and skills to succeed. Here in Mexico you’ve made important progress, with more children staying in school longer, and record numbers of students like you getting a university education. Just imagine how much the students of our two countries could do together, how much we could learn from each other.
And that’s why President Peña Nieto and I announced a new partnership in higher education -- to encourage more collaboration between our universities and our university students. We’re going to focus on science and technology, on engineering and mathematics. And this is part of my broader initiative called 100,000 Strong in the Americas. We want 100,000 students from the United States studying in Latin America, including Mexico. And we want 100,000 Latin American students, including Mexican students, to come to study in the United States of America. Because when we study together, and we learn together, we work together, and we prosper together -- that's what I believe.
And finally, to help spark
prosperity in both out countries, let’s truly invest in innovation, and
research and development together. Here in Mexico, you’re now a global
leader in graduating engineers and technicians. One of Mexico’s leading
Rafael Navarro-González, is helping analyze data from the
rover that we landed on Mars.
Sometimes young people are known as just consumers of goods, but we want young people creating the new products, the next big thing that will change how we live our lives. That's the agenda that I want to pursue.
And I understand that there are those both here in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, but also back home in the United States, who are skeptical of your progress, who maybe doubt the capacity for us to make the most of this moment. There are always cynics who say, aw, this is too hard, the headwinds you face are too stiff. They say Mexico has been here before we look like we're making progress, we're looking at a bright horizon, on the verge of great possibility, but then we get blown off course.
And it’s true that nothing is inevitable. Progress and success is never guaranteed. The future that you dream of, the Mexico you imagine -- it must be built, it must be earned. Nobody else can do it for you. Only you can earn it. You are the future. As Nervo wrote in “La Raza de Bronce,” tu eres el sueño -- you are the dream.
For just as it was patriots
who answered the call when Father Hidalgo rang the church bell two
centuries ago, you -- your lives, in a free Mexico -- are the dream that
they imagined. And now it falls to you to keep alive those virtues for
which so many generations of Mexicans struggled.
Viva México! Viva los Estados Unidos! Que Dios los bendiga! Thank you very much.
1 Full quotation: As brothers in the fight for equality, I extend the hand of fellowship and good will and wish continuing success to you and your members. The fight for equality must be fought on many fronts – in the urban slums, in the sweat shops of the factories and fields. Our separate struggles are really one – a struggle for freedom, for dignity, and for humanity. You and your valiant fellow workers have demonstrated your commitment to righting grievous wrongs forced upon exploited people. We are together with you in spirit and in determination that our dreams for a better tomorrow will be realized. [Telegram Sent by Martin Luther King, Jr. to Cesar Chavez, 22 September 1966. Source: https://www.acslaw.org/?post_type=acsblog&p=8342]
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