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Enhanced economic integration is needed to make North America more competitive against other world trading blocs, Mexican President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa said at a March 4 public forum cosponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Council of the Americas. In his prepared remarks given in English, Calderon stressed the deep economic interdependence that exists between the United States and Mexico and noted that one million U.S. families are employed by Mexican-owned companies. Calderon gave his remarks before a capacity crowd of approximately 600 attendees in the Amphitheater of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC. He was introduced by Woodrow Wilson Center President and Director Jane Harman and was welcomed by Woodrow Wilson Center Board of Trustees Chairman Joseph Gildenhorn.
The public forum followed a day of meetings with U.S. leaders, including a White House meeting with President Barack Obama and a separate meeting with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH). The most noteworthy outcome from the visit was a breakthrough in the long-standing trucking dispute between the two countries.
During his speech, President Calderon stressed the need for shared responsibility between Mexico and the United States in dealing with transnational organized crime groups. He compared organized crime to a "cancer" plaguing Mexico, and highlighted his government's efforts to eradicate it. He also called on Americans to do more to stop the flow of U.S. weapons and drug money south to criminal groups in Mexico.
President Calderon called on both countries to do more about migration. He noted that out-migration from Mexico is not good for Mexico and requires that Mexico do more in economic development. He also pledged to sign an immigration bill that would protect the right of migrants in Mexico in the coming weeks once Congress approves it. However, he noted that it was also important to create legal channels for Mexicans and others to come to the United States to work with legal documents.