Three-time Mexican presidential candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas Solorzano will speak in Campbell Hall tonight to address issues affecting U.S.-Mexico relations in the present and in the future.
Cardenas will deliver his free lecture “Perspectives on Today’s Mexico” at 8 p.m. Cardenas, who is also the former mayor of Mexico City and the founder of Mexico’s Party of the Democratic Revolution, said one of the main focuses of his discussion will be migration between the U.S. and Mexico.
“Migration is the most important exchange between the two countries,” Cardenas said. “We can estimate maybe four to five million people have crossed the border in the last five to six years. There are other issues [between the two nations], but this is the main one.”
Cardenas said he also will explore other contemporary political matters during the event – which is being hosted by Arts & Lectures and the UCSB History Dept. – including Mexico’s new internal economic policy the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. He said Mexico’s production of basic products, such as grain, have been negatively impacted by the agreement.
“We have to take this into consideration and renegotiate NAFTA, and consider other mechanisms like those implemented by the European Union,” Cardenas said. “The most advanced countries created investment funds to develop infrastructure to reduce the difference between the most and the least developed countries. I think these mechanisms should be implemented now and in the future.”
Cardenas said he will also address energy issues affecting the U.S. and Mexico, noting that his country is the second biggest supplier of oil to the United States. Specifically, Cardenas said, he will discuss the recent advent of a decline in Mexico’s crude oil production.
“This has a negative impact on regional development and … creation of jobs which is the main problem in Mexico,” Cardenas said. “Mexico’s oil is declining, and we have to meet our internal needs before exporting the oil to other countries.”
Cardenas also said he will shift his focus from U.S.-Mexico relations to discuss last summer’s highly contested presidential election in Mexico. The election occurred on July 2, 2006, but it took approximately two months – during which the country saw widespread civil unrest – to determine the winner due to problems in the electoral system.
“The election had a very tight outcome,” Cardenas said. “It was a mistake not to accept what was being demanded [by the population] and to count vote by vote. This would have ended any discussion regarding the results and would have made more of a less-contested post-electoral situation. The new government is taking measures and making decisions, but it is still early to make a definite judgment on the new government and what exactly is going to happen in Mexico.”
Cardenas said he also hopes to discuss some goals he feels new Mexican President Felipe Calder–n should be focusing on throughout his term. Cardenas said he is particularly concerned about the creation of jobs and the alleviation of poverty within the nation.
“Two-thirds of the Mexican population is [living] under poverty,” Cardenas said. “The main responsibility of the new government should be social problems such as the improvement of the quality of education and health policies.”