A wave of silent respect swept over the crowd at Fess Parker’s Grand Ballroom on Friday morning as former President of Mexico Vicente Fox took the podium and gave his views on topics ranging from legalizing drugs to the future of North America.
Fox served as the President of Mexico from 2000 to 2006 and is known for being the first presidential candidate to defeat the Institutional Revolutionary Party, a party characterized by despotic rulers and political unrest. His presidency has been scrutinized for not fulfilling his lofty campaign promises, but it’s hard to find a president who has helped his country more economically while still keeping the middle class in mind. When Westmont College President Gayle Beebe introduced Fox as “a man who has given his life to serve the world,” approximately 700 pairs of eyes stood transfixed in awed reverence.
“The only way we can reach happiness in ourselves, to transcend, is to be brothers” Fox began as the standing ovation died down. “It’s not clear to me what’s the fear; we’re neighbors, we’re friends…What we need to do is build bridges, bridges of understanding.”
After addressing the need for good relations on the North American continent, Fox explained that the current rise of productivity and growth in Latin America comes from the rise of Democracy because, as Fox put it, “Latin America and society decided for a change… We have the freedom we didn’t have in the twentieth century.”
Fox continued to discuss the future of the Americas as well as the “power shift from West to East” when describing the exponential growth that Asia has been subject to. “By joining forces, by putting together resources…we can meet the challenge,” Fox gallantly proclaimed while hints of his cowboy-style mannerisms became a bit more prominent.
“They come here because they do not have the opportunities they want in Mexico or other Latin America Countries,” Fox said concerning illegal immigration before linking it to the U.S. manufacturing that was placed in Mexico and the difficulties that were originally faced as big business replaced traditional small markets in the Mexican economy. He added, however, “Through competing we learned that [we] could compete in open markets.”
Vicente Fox concluded his talk by addressing the problems of drugs that face both Latin America and the United States. “Mexico happens to be in between those producing countries in the South and the largest consumer in the North.” Fox continued to say that “people will use,” and discussed the contrast that a government-regulated drug program could provide rather than having cartels and other dangerous groups be responsible for growing, packing, and shipping drugs with violence and guns.