George W. Bush photo

Remarks Following a Discussion With President Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa of Mexico in New Orleans

April 21, 2008

President Bush. Mr. President, thank you very much. We just had a very long and really good discussion on a variety of issues. U.S.-Mexican relations are very important, and sometimes we in America take those relations for granted. But we share a large border; we share the same values. We've got people on both sides of the border who've got friends and family members. And it is fitting that you and I have this kind of conversation.

I want to congratulate you and thank you for your strong leadership. I appreciate the fact that you inherited a very difficult situation. One, you inherited, you know, high demand for drugs in the United States. In other words, people are using drugs, and therefore, people are supplying drugs. And it's caused difficult security problems in your country, and you've responded aggressively. And I think it's in our interests that we fund the joint initiative. We got to work hard on our side to make sure that we reduce our drug use and, at the same time, work with you in the close coordination to defeat these drug traffickers.

We need to do—continue our initiative that we started with—during your administration, Mr. President, on dealing with arms trafficking—arms coming from the United States into Mexico. We've got a strategy in place, and we're now beginning to implement it. Congress has a chance to send a strong statement that we want to work in a collaborative fashion with the money that's going to be in the supplemental. My hope, of course, is they fully fund the program, and they fund it—a strategy that will be effective.

We talked about trade and how trade has been beneficial to both our countries. When you and I grew up in our respective countries, the border region of Mexico and the United States was very poor. And today, when you go down there, there's prosperity on both sides of the border. A lot of that has to do with trade. Our trade has tripled, and our economies have grown. And this has been a very positive aspect for both our countries. And so we're going to talk about that, of course, with the Canadian Prime Minister in our dinner tonight.

But we also talked about the need to have a successful Doha round. We talked about climate change. We talked about a lot of issues and—but that's what you expect friends to do. So I welcome you.

[At this point, President Calderon Hinojosa spoke in Spanish, and his remarks were translated as follows.]

Interpreter. [Inaudible]

President Bush. I understood every word. [Laughter]

Interpreter. Thank you very much, Mr. President. Thank you so much for your hospitality and for very long and productive discussion we had today. As is fitting for the relationship that Mexico and the United States enjoy, we have been able to discuss a long list of issues today, because we have a very complex and rich relationship.

We talked first of all, as President Bush said, about security. We talked about security along our common border. We talked about the common strategies that we are implementing in order to fight the double scourge of organized crimes and drug trafficking.

President Calderon Hinojosa. The common enemy.

Interpreter. Common enemy. Thank you, Mr. President.

[The interpreter continued to translate President Calderon Hinojosa's remarks as follows.]

Interpreter. We discussed the Merida Initiative, a very important initiative that will allow a common strategy that will benefit families on both sides, on the side of Mexico and on the side of the United States.

I also want to express my appreciation for the work the U.S. Government has begun on the problem of arms trafficking. We know that this is a complex issue. We know there is much to be done, but a very important first step has already been made in that direction.

We also discussed the defense of the Mexican administration, of the rights of our Mexican citizens. And we have also discussed the issue of trade and how trade is benefiting both of our peoples. And we have discussed the issue of trade and its benefits. I think that I have made it very clear that as far as I'm concerned, trade is an issue that benefits both sides greatly. It is something that generates jobs both on the U.S. side and on the side of Mexico. We have seen an enormous increase in benefits for consumers as a result of trade as well. We see that the quality of products in general has gone up as a result of increased trade.

And I stress this issue because recently NAFTA has come under criticism, and I do not believe that people are realizing how many benefits NAFTA has brought both to the United States and to Mexico. I can say that hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created on both sides of the border. As far as Mexico is concerned, this increase in jobs has also led to a direct decrease in the amount of immigration from Mexico to the United States. It has generated growth, it has generated jobs, and it is decreasing the flow of immigration.

And we have discussed the defense of the rights of Mexican citizens and the need to increase the way we watch over those rights. This has been—is a very important issue for my administration. We need to continue working on an agenda to find a comprehensive solution for that. I understand that the United States is going through an electoral process, and we respect that process, of course. But I do want to point out that it's very important for my administration, for us to find a solution to this issue, and a solution that will not just find a way to deal with the immigration problem, but one that will do so with respect and responsibility.

We also discussed the concern that we have with regard to the increase of prices of foods around the world and the public policies that are involved in finding alternative fuels and how all of this goes into the mix. We need to face the problem of economies all around the world who have not been able to deal with this problem very well. In Mexico, we have been able to find solutions, but we are concerned about the situation of other countries in Latin America that are not faring quite as well.

And finally, I simply want to say how happy I am to be in the United States. And I don't want to get ahead of myself, but tonight I will be extending an invitation, hopefully, to the next President of the United States to visit us in Mexico next year for this event. And of course, President Bush will always be a welcome visitor in Mexico.

President Calderon Hinojosa. Thank you. President Bush. Thank you, sir.

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:40 p.m. at the Windsor Court Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of these remarks.

George W. Bush, Remarks Following a Discussion With President Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa of Mexico in New Orleans Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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