Former president of Mexico speaks candidly
about his presidency and his country's challenges

Former Mexico president Vicente Fox spoke with candor to a packed house of 1,000 high school and university students at the Turner Construction Student Forum of SMUís Tate Lecture Series on Feb. 27, 2007. He answered studentsí questions on topics ranging from immigration and border violence to the struggles of a new democracy. Following are some of the questions:

Former Mexico President Vicente Fox

Why has violence continued to escalate in Mexico?

Iím the first to admit we did not accomplish our objective. Government consists of processes. You donít solve anything from day to night, especially when you have the first government change in 72 years. We created new police corps, we doubled and tripled the budget, and we trained and equipped police corps throughout Mexico.

Mexico happens to be located between the places that produce illegal drugs and the United States, the biggest consumer market of illegal drugs. Now the drug producers are promoting consumption in Mexico. Mexico will win this war. It is President Felipe Calderonís first priority.

What is the one thing the United States could be doing to help solve the immigration issue?

Immigration is the most important issue between the United States and Mexico. It could be converted to a win-win asset.

I donít understand the policy of building walls between two countries that have been friends, neighbors and partners. The question is how much will the United States be losing by building that wall?

If you construct walls, you are destroying your future.  Itís distressing that the No. 1 leader of the world has to construct walls when itís very clear that walls donít work. They didnít work in China and they didnít work in Berlin.

With a little bit of vision we would invest the money that is going to be invested in that wall into a fund to generate jobs in Mexico and Central America, and then we could address the issue of immigration with wisdom and intelligence.

What was your greatest achievement as president of Mexico?

My achievements will be judged by history, but I think my greatest achievement is having led a massive citizen and social movement to bring democracy to our country after 72 years. As a minority government leader, Iíve had the responsibility of the transition from a totalitarian government to a democracy.

Mexico wasted a lot of time in the 20th century with weak and corrupt governments and an economic crisis every other year.

Democracy is the highest value in politics. It is very important that this new democracy be preserved.

What is life like now that you are no longer president?

I am riding horses and back to being being a citizen Ė itís quite a change. For the last 15 years I have not had a driverís license, never had a passport, never had to go through customs. The first thing I hear when coming to the United States is, ďTake off your boots. Take off your coat,Ē But I understand that.

We have great plans for the future. You donít stop in this life, you keep moving. If you stop you will not accomplish your dreams. We have new plans Ė the presidential library, writing a book.

Related Links

The Dallas Morning News: Fox gets candid in Dallas discussions

The Daily Campus: Fox addresses immigration, drug trade