George W. Bush photo

Remarks at a Dinner Hosted by President Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa of Mexico in Merida

March 13, 2007

Mr. President, Mrs. Zavala, members of your government, Governor of Yucatan, the mayor of Merida, other government officials, distinguished guests: Buenas noches, y gracias. Laura and I are delighted to be back in Mexico. We're grateful for the warm hospitality of President Calderon and Mrs. Zavala. We appreciate the chance to dine in this beautiful setting, which calls to mind Mexico's rich history and its bright future.

For Laura and me, the connection to Mexico stretches back for decades. Somos Tejanos. We have come to admire your country, the people, and your culture. As Governor, I worked closely with my counterparts on this side of the border and made a lot of friends in Mexico. As President, Mexico was the first country I visited and the first country whose leader I welcomed for a state dinner at the White House. Over the past 6 years, I've traveled all across your nation, from here in Merida to Monterrey to Los Cabos on the Pacific Coast. And this evening the relationship between Mexico and the United States is as strong and is as vibrant as it has ever been, and President Calderon and I intend to keep it that way.

The ties between our countries are deep and lasting. We are united by the bonds of family. We are united by the growing commerce that crosses our border each day. And we are united in our faith in an Almighty God.

The accident of geography made our two countries neighbors, but common values have made us friends. The most important value we share is our belief in democracy, and last year, the world saw Mexican democracy in action. Across the country, large numbers of voters turned out for an election that was open, honest, and really close; come to think of it, it sounds familiar to me. [Laughter] Your fidelity to the democratic process was the mark of a nation growing in confidence and freedom. And in the end, the Mexican people chose a good man to be their President.

Shortly before his inauguration, President Calderon came to see me in the Oval Office. I was impressed by his character, his leadership, and his devotion to the Mexican people. He's an innovative thinker with a vision of justice and prosperity for all in this nation. And during his first 100 days as President, he's shown his commitment to delivering results for all the people he has served. In my conversations today, he shared his willingness to work with members of all political parties and with people from all sectors of the civil society.

Today we discussed the President's top priorities. I share those priorities. His top priority is to provide security throughout the country. He's taking bold steps to enforce the rule of law and to crack down on organized crime and drugs, and reform the judicial system.

The United States is a strong partner in these efforts. We've got work to do on our side of the border. People provide drugs because there is a demand for drugs, and the United States must do a better job of reducing the demand for drugs. And at the same time, I look forward to close cooperation. We'll work with the President and other Presidents in our region to interdict the supply of drugs.

President Calderon also knows the importance of creating new opportunities for Mexico's economy. He's laid out innovative policies to combat poverty and to create jobs. I found one of his policies most interesting: rewarding Mexican companies that hire first-time workers. And I appreciate his strong commitment to housing and infrastructure in southern Mexico.

He's called for economic reforms that encourage competition and fight corruption. He understands the importance of free and fair trade. The United States welcomes a strong Mexican economy, and we fully understand that we must work together to facilitate a smooth transition to full trade, especially on sensitive issues such as corn and beans.

President Calderon holds deep convictions on the matter of migration, and so do I. Our nations share a 2,000-mile border, and that should be a source of unity, not division. So we're working together to keep both sides of the border open to tourism and trade and closed to criminals and drug dealers and smugglers and terrorists and gun runners.

I appreciate the President's commitment to secure Mexican borders on both the north and the south. And I told the President today—and I'm going to keep repeating it while I'm here in Mexico—that I know our country must have comprehensive immigration reform. We are a rule of law. But it's important for the American citizens to understand that family values do not stop at the Rio Grande River, and that it's in our Nation's interests to have a comprehensive immigration law so we can uphold the great values of America, values based on human dignity and the worth of each individual.

And so, Mr. President, it's been a good day. We spent a lot of time talking about important issues in a very constructive and friendly way. I appreciate your candor. I appreciate you being straightforward. And I, too, would like to offer a toast to good people of Mexico and its leaders.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:16 p.m. at Hacienda Xcanatun. In his remarks, he referred to Margarita Esther Zavala Gomez del Campo, wife of President Calderon; Governor Patricio Jose Patron Laviada of Yucatan, Mexico; and Mayor Manuel Jesus Fuentes Alcocer of Merida, Mexico. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of President Calderon. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of these remarks.

George W. Bush, Remarks at a Dinner Hosted by President Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa of Mexico in Merida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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