Jacqueline Bolden–The Sam Houston State University L.E.A.P. program was invited by the World Affairs Council to attend a presentation and luncheon with iconic political figure and former President of Mexico Felipe Calderon on September 19, 2013. I was honored to have had the privilege of meeting President Calderon.
Felipe Calderon served as the 56th President of Mexico from 2006-2012. During his presidency, Calderon focused on economic reform and strengthening Mexico on a global scale. Former President Calderon was also the first president in Mexico to launch an attack on drug cartels.
Calderon spoke on a variety of topics at the luncheon, from free trade to universal healthcare. He explained how, during his term, he transformed Mexico into a secure nation with a goal of protecting families from violence and crime. Calderon believed the government needed to face criminals with full force and not avoid them. As a result, Calderon opened numerous law enforcement agencies.
Former resident Calderon was truly invested in his citizens’ quality of life. He created a universal healthcare program with lower rates and better coverage and built 1,600 new hospitals and clinics over the course of six years.
Education was another top priority during his presidency. Calderon built 140 universities from the ground up, graduating more than 90,000 people with engineering degrees. Mexico became the largest exporter of flat-screen televisions and manufacturer of Blackberries (70%), and surpassed Spain in exporting manufactured goods. Calderon’s efforts created more than 2 million jobs, and the net immigration to the United States nearly reached zero.
Calderon stated, “Mexico, day by day, is becoming a better nation.”
This event allowed me to see Mexico in a different light: how the government is working to create opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for its citizens. Former president Felipe Calderon is a key component to Mexico’s continued growth and resilience. He is a passionate leader who stays true to his beliefs, even in the face of adversity, and even if he has to stand alone. His work as president opened doors for millions of people in his country and around the world.
Toward the end of Calderon’s speech, he was asked what America can do to improve relations with Mexico. Calderon replied, “We are not enemies, we are neighbors, partners and allies.” This statement is a perfect example of Mexico’s push toward progress and bridging the gap with America.
The event was both insightful and unforgettable–by far, an event to remember and an educational experience that opened my eyes to political and economics topics that are issues on around the world.