Texas Secretary of State Henry Cuellar and Mexico Border Czar Ernesto Ruffo addressed critical issues facing the border Thursday, the second day of the prestigious three-day U.S.-Mexico Border Summit at The University of Texas-Pan American.
Both officials addressed the audience on issues ranging from education to technology. During the session, Cuellar and Ruffo agreed the U.S.-Mexico border will play an important role in the 21st century.
"This will be the first truly global century, and in this century, the U.S.-Mexico border will play a special role," Cuellar said. "Time magazine has called the 21st century 'The Century of the Americas,' and I say this century is the border area. Our time has come."
Cuellar said the border is facing four critical issues - education, sustainable development, health and transportation.
"We believe the fundamental goal for border transportation should be the safe and efficient movement of people ... not just within nations, but between nations," Cuellar said. "In spite of developments that inconvenience both nations and especially the border states, we will carry onward."
He said for the border to see progress in these critical areas, both countries must work together locally and nationally.
Cuellar said his office is already doing its part by providing state-of-the-art video conferencing between the Mexican states and Mexico City, and U.S. states and government agencies.
Ruffo said good leadership and communication between the United States and Mexico is key to reaching solutions to the problems facing the border. With George W. Bush in the White House and Mexican President Vicente Fox in office, Ruffo said there is an opportunity for both presidents to set international policies.
"These two personalities are like two planets aligning," Ruffo said. They can set policy if we can accept the vision is coming and the opportunity is there for both sides if we can find a way to connect."
Ruffo said he plans to do his part in creating new economy and better living for both countries by setting up offices along the border that will help combat some of these critical issues.
"What we are doing today is building a vision to make a plan," Ruffo said. "Let's have a plan to connect the border to have one common vision and one shared future."