More than 400 people filled the Student Union Theater at The University of Texas-Pan American April 14 to hear and ask questions of one of Mexico's leading government officials, Dr. Luis Ernesto Derbez Bautista, secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mexico's equivalent of the U.S. Secretary of State. Derbez discussed his perspectives on Mexico-U.S. relations as part of UTPA's annual weeklong celebration - Pan American Days.
Derbez said integration of communities in the United States and Mexico found at the border is what the relationship between the United States and Mexico will be in the future.
"We are integrating; we are becoming more like one. We are very clearly sending a signal to the rest of the world that globalization means integration between people and communities from different aspects of life," he said, noting much integration occurred after the adoption of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Integration of the two economies should include a combination of policies that promotes growth on both sides, Derbez said, and which will strengthen both countries' competitiveness with Asian nations. On the issue of migration, Derbez said it should be looked at as an opportunity rather than a problem.
"You young people will have to start thinking in a different fashion. You have to start thinking about what kind of vision we want to be in the coming 25, 50 years, what kind of integration are we going to have...what kind of policies are going to be required for integration to be done in the right way," he said.
He also said security of nations against terrorism should be a concern of all people all over the world and urged joint security policies by Mexico, Canada and the United States.
In a question and answer session that followed the presentation, Derbez answered questions ranging from the difficulties of starting a business in Mexico to Derbez's reaction to the Minuteman Project, in which a group of property owners in Arizona started patrolling the Arizona-Mexico border in April to focus on what they say is inadequate protection of the border by the U.S. government against illegal immigrants and undocumented workers.
Derbez said Mexico's attitude toward the project was the same expressed by the United States government, that no illegal activity by the persons participating will be tolerated.
At a press conference held before departing the campus, Derbez responded to questions concerning his run for the head of the Organization of American States, whose mission is to bring together countries of the Western Hemisphere to strengthen cooperation and advance common interests. The election was rescheduled to May 2 after a series of votes by the 34 member countries on April 11 resulted in five ties in voting 17-17 between Derbez and Jose Miguel Insulza, Chile's interior minister.
"I am going to win," he said, stating he had picked up support from supporters of Francisco Flores, the former president of El Salvador, who had gained the backing of the United States but when failing to pick up sufficient support from other member nations withdrew from the race. However, on April 30 after a lengthy meeting in Santiago, Chile with Insulza and other diplomats, including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Derbez withdrew from the race for what he said was "the interests of hemispheric unity."
Pan American Days, a weeklong annual celebration of the Americas conducted through academic and cultural activities on campus, concluded April 15.