Obama/Calderón Joint Press Conference

Uploaded by whitehouse on 17.04.2009

SPEAKER: President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of Mexico
will now take the floor.
PRESIDENT CALDERÓN: (As translated.) Ladies and
gentlemen of the press, of the media, I would like to give the
warmest welcome to Mexico to President Barack Obama, and to the delegation accompanying him.
This is an historic event that will inaugurate a new era, a new
relationship between our two countries. Today in the meetings
that we have held we have confirmed the determination of
both governments to consolidate the very, very close contacts
and links that join and bring together Mexico and the United States.
We have new projects in important affairs such as
security, migration, competitiveness, and global
affairs. As never before we have decided that the fight against
multinational organized crime must be based on cooperation,
shared responsibility, and in trust, a mutual trust.
Both governments recognize that the Merida Initiative is a very
good starting point in order to strengthen cooperation in security.
But we want to go beyond, we want to go further in order to
liberate, to free our societies from the criminal activities
that affect the lives of millions of people. We have also
agreed to expedite the times so that we can have available the
resources for this Merida Initiative, and we have also
decided to launch other activities that are in the hands of our governments.
For example, we can adopt new measures for preventing illicit
flows at the border, particularly the flow of weapons and of cash.
We will also be strengthening our cooperation in information
and intelligence in order to more efficiently fight against
money laundering.On the other hand, we have also agreed that
both governments should produce propositions -- proposals for
our cooperation so that we can eventually have reform in the
United States with full respect to the sovereign decisions of
both congresses -- of both nations, that is.
Our governments will work in this sense to make migration an
orderly, respectful process of human rights, a process in which
human rights will be respected. In energy and climate
change, we have agreed to work together in order to guarantee a
legal framework of certainty, transparency for the future;
better use of cross-border resources such as gas and energy.
And I have given to President Obama concrete proposals on climate change.
One of them has to do with the integration of a bilateral
market of carbon emissions, which coincides a lot with
proposals that he has made to the U.S.
audience, and other cooperation, ways of cooperation in climate
change, such as something that Mexico has proposed, called the Green Fund.
We have also said that in addition to discussing our goals
for carbon emissions that are linked in the fight against
climate change globally, we must also act very soon in the design
of new instruments, of new tools in order to fight against climate change.
That is really the central proposal of the Green Fund.
And in a gesture of recognition, of acknowledgment on this topic, we know that
President Obama and his government have made
considerable efforts to provide new arguments to the discussion
of this topic.
We would also like to thank -- to welcome the possibility that
Mexico might be the seat of the 16th U.N.
conference on climate change that will be taking place in 2010.
We have recognized and acknowledged, ladies and
gentlemen, that Mexico and the United States do not have to
compete among themselves, but rather they must be able to take
advantage of the complementary nature of their economies in
order to compete as partners with regard to other parts of the world.
We have the chance to make our region more competitive and to
have greater, more agile production.
And we will be working in three areas.
First, in the strengthening of the border infrastructure, I
have also given to President Obama a proposal to facilitate
the economic flows between both countries to improve the quality
of life of the residents in the border areas, and to foster the
development of our two nations through very specific projects
on infrastructure at the Mexican-U.S. border.
Secondly, we believe it is essential to increase our
cooperation and customs so that we can have a more efficient trade.
And thirdly, we have also proposed to improve our
cooperation in regulatory matters regarding tariff or
non-tariff issues that very often make difficult our trade between two countries.
We have agreed with President Obama that we seek agreements to
truly improve the economic situation not only of the United
States but of the entire region and the world.
We have stated our cooperation to strengthen the democracy of
the market and of regional security.
In relation to President Obama's recent security to lift the
restrictions for people from the U.S.
to travel to Cuba and to be able to send remittances, Mexico
acknowledges that this is a very constructive, positive step for
the hemispheric relations, particularly for the region.
And finally, my friends, ladies and gentlemen, I want to tell
you that I am absolutely convinced that President Obama's visit is
just an initial step, the beginning of a relationship
between two countries that are friends, neighbors, and must
also be partners and allies. Thank you so much.
Thank you so much, President Obama, for your visit.
The President Barack Obama now has the floor.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I want to begin by thanking the people of Mexico for their gracious welcome.
And I want to thank President Calderón for the hospitality he has shown as a host.
You know, this is my first trip to Mexico as President, and I
see this visit -- as I know President Calderón does -- as an
opportunity to launch a new era of cooperation and partnership
between our two countries, an era built on an even firmer
foundation of mutual responsibility and mutual respect and mutual interest.
We had a productive and wide-ranging conversation and I
think we have taken some very important steps down that
path. It's difficult to overstate the depth of the ties between
our two nations or the extraordinary importance of our relationship.
It's obviously a simple fact of geography that we share a
border, and we've always been bound together because of that geography.
But it's not just that shared border that links us together.
It's not only geography, but it's also culture, it's also
migration patterns that have taken place that have become so
important. Our deep economic ties mean that whenever -- whatever
steps that we're going to take moving forward have to be taken together.
And that's why we worked hard, hand in hand at the G20 summit.
And that's what we will continue to do at the Summit of the
Americas and beyond, so that we can jumpstart job creation,
promote free and fair trade, and develop a coordinated response
to this economic crisis. We also discussed our shared interest in
meeting an immigration challenge that has serious implications
for both the United States and for Mexico.
My country has been greatly enriched by migration from Mexico.
Mexican Americans form a critical and enduring link between our nations.
And I am committed to fixing our broken immigration system in a
way that upholds our traditions as a nation of laws but also as a nation of immigrants.
And I'm committed to working with President Calderón to
promote the kind of bottom-up economic growth here in Mexico
that will allow people to live out their dreams here, and as a
consequence will relieve some of the pressures that we've seen along the borders.
We also discussed what our nations can do to help bring a
clean energy future to both countries.
This is a priority for the United States.
I know it's a priority for President Calderón.
And I want to commend him for the work that he's already made
in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the commitment that
he's made even though Mexico is not required to do so under the Kyoto Protocol.
And together, we're establishing a new Bilateral Framework on
Clean Energy and Climate Change that will focus on creating
green jobs, promoting renewable energy, and enhancing energy efficiency.
I look forward to strengthening our partnership in the upcoming
Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate and in next year's U.N.
climate negotiations, which I hope will be held here in
Mexico. Now, as essential as it is that we work together to
overcome each of these common challenges, there's one
particular area that requires our urgent and coordinated
action, and that is the battle that's taking place with -- with
respect to the drug cartels that are fueling kidnappings and
sowing chaos in our communities and robbing so many of a future,
both here in Mexico and in the United States.
I have said this before; I will repeat it: I have the greatest
admiration and courage for President Calderón and his
entire cabinet, his rank-and-file police officers
and soldiers as they take on these cartels.
I commend Mexico for the successes that have already been achieved.
But I will not pretend that this is Mexico's responsibility alone.
A demand for these drugs in the United States is what is helping
to keep these cartels in business.
This war is being waged with guns purchased not here, but in the United States.
More than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from
the United States, many from gun shops that line our shared
border. So we have responsibilities, as well. We have to do our part.
We have to crack down on drug use in our cities and towns.
We have to stem the southbound flow of guns and cash.
And we are absolutely committed to working in a partnership with
Mexico to make sure that we are dealing with this scourge on
both sides of the border. And that's why we're ramping up the
number of law enforcement personnel on our border.
That's why, for the first time, we are inspecting trains leaving
our country, not just those entering it.
That's why our Department of Homeland Security is making up
to $59 million available to defend our common border from
this threat to both of our countries.
Now, as we discussed in our meeting, destroying and
disrupting the cartels will require more than aggressive
efforts from each of our nations.
And that's why the United States is taking the following steps:
We've begun to accelerate efforts to implement the Merida
Initiative so we can provide Mexico with the military
aircraft and inspection equipment they need when they need it.
Yesterday, I designated three cartels as Significant Foreign
Narcotics Drug Traffickers under U.S.
law, clearing the way for our Treasury Department, working
together with Mexico to freeze their assets and subject them to sanctions.
My National Homeland Security Advisor, who is here, General
Jim Jones, as well as my Homeland Security Secretary,
Janet Napolitano, and my top advisor on homeland security and
counterterrorism, John Brennan, are all meeting with their
Mexican counterparts to develop new ways to cooperate and
coordinate their efforts more effectively.
In addition, as President Calderón and I discussed, I am
urging the Senate in the United States to ratify an
inter-American treaty known as CIFTA to curb small arms
trafficking that is a source of so many of the weapons used in
this drug war. Now, there are some of the common challenges
that President Calderón and I discussed in our meeting and
that we're going to be working on to overcome in the months and years ahead.
It will not be easy, but I am confident that if we continue to
act, as we have today, in a spirit of mutual responsibility
and friendship, we will prevail on behalf of our common security
and our common prosperity. So I think that this is building on
previous meetings that we've had.
In each interaction, the bond between our governments is growing stronger.
I am confident that we're going to make tremendous progress in the future. Thank you.
SPEAKER: Now we will go onto the questions and answer session.
The two questions from the U.S. media first please and then two quesions from the Mexican media.
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. President, as well.
President Obama, as a candidate for your office, you said that
you wanted to see the assault ban weapon -- the ban on assault weapons reinstated.
Your Attorney General has spoken in favor of this.
Mexican officials have also spoken in favor of it.
But we haven't heard you say that since you took office.
Do you plan to keep your promise?
And if not, how do you explain that to the American people?
And, President Calderón -- I'm sorry, if I may -- would you
like to see this ban reinstated?
And have you raised that today with President Obama? Thank you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, we did discuss
this extensively in our meetings.
I have not backed off at all from my belief that the gun --
the assault weapons ban made sense.
And I continue to believe that we can respect and honor the
Second Amendment rights in our Constitution, the rights of
sportsmen and hunters and homeowners who want to keep
their families safe to lawfully bear arms, while dealing with
assault weapons that, as we now know, here in Mexico, are
helping to fuel extraordinary violence -- violence in our own
country, as well. Now, having said that, I think none of us
are under any illusion that reinstating that ban would be easy.
And so, what we've focused on is how we can improve our
enforcement of existing laws, because even under current law,
trafficking illegal firearms, sending them across a border, is illegal.
That's something that we can stop.
And so our focus is to work with Secretary Napolitano, Attorney
General Holder, our entire Homeland Security team, ATF,
border security, everybody who is involved in this, to
coordinate with our counterparts in Mexico to significantly ramp
up our enforcement of existing laws.
And in fact, I've asked Eric Holder to do a complete review
of how our enforcement operations are currently working
and make sure that we're cutting down on the loopholes that are
resulting in some of these drug trafficking problems. The last
point I would make is that there are going to be some
opportunities where I think we can build some strong consensus.
I'll give you one example, and that is the issue of gun tracing.
The tracing of bullets and ballistics and gun information
that have been used in major crimes -- that's information
that we are still not giving to law enforcement, as a
consequence of provisions that have been blocked in the United
States Congress, and those are the areas where I think that we
can make some significant progress early. That doesn't mean
that we're steering away from the issue of the assault guns
ban, but it does mean that we want to act with urgency, promptly, now.
And I think we can make significant progress.
PRESIDENT CALDERÓN: Thank you for your question.
I want to say that, in effect, on this topic -- not only on
this topic, but on many of the other thorny topics of relations between the U.S.
and Mexico, we have had an open, frank, trusting conversation
between President Obama and myself.
We have spoken of assault weapons.
He is well aware of our problems.
And we have described it as it is from the moment that the
prohibition on the sale of assault weapons a few years ago,
we have seen an increase in the power of organized crime in Mexico.
Only in my administration in the two years and four months,
we have been able to see -- or rather we have seized more than
16,000 assault weapons.
And in the efforts we have made to track their origin -- and
President Obama has referred to that -- we have seen that nearly
90 percent of those arms comes from the United States -- those
weapons come from the United States.
There are about 10,000 sales points in the U.S.-Mexico border
-- only at the border. On the other hand, I do believe that
our relationship -- the new era we must build in our
relationship between Mexico and the United States must be one with trust and respect.
And we definitely respect the decision of the U.S. Congress and of the U.S.
people in this regard, because they are very well aware of
President Obama and his government's willingness to move
forward on these issues.We know that it is a politically
delicate topic because Americans truly appreciate their
constitutional rights, and particularly those that are part of the Second Amendment.
I personally believe that as long as we are able to explain
clearly what our problems in Mexico are, then we might also
be able to seek a solution respecting the constitutional
rights of the Americans, at the same time will prevent -- or
rather avoid that organized crime becomes better armed in
our country. But we have to work on it. We have to work on it.
But we fully respect the opinion of the U.S.
Congress and we know that there's a great deal of
sensitivity regarding this topic. But there are many, many
things that we can definitely move forward in.
For example, in armament, it is not only a matter of seeing
whether we can change the legislation on assault weapons
-- we have already said what our position is -- but we might also
be able to see whether they can apply existing legislation in
Mexico and the United States on armament.
For example, in Mexico it's a matter of enforcement, with the
Export Control Act, for example -- this is in the United States
-- I'm sorry -- prohibits the export of weapons to those
countries where those weapons are prohibited. And that is the case of Mexico.
If we actually comply with the U.S.
law -- or rather if everybody complies with the U.S.
law that prohibits the sale of these weapons and their export
to Mexico, we can move a great deal forward.
President Obama has made recent decisions in the last few weeks,
and we value them and appreciate them -- for example, to
reinforce the operational capability of U.S.
border agencies in order to comply with this legislation and
with other laws, in order to review the flows of entry not
only into the United States, but also the outgoing flows,
outgoing from the U.S., to make sure that there is no illicit
money, in strict compliance with United States legislation.
I think these are very important steps. But there is a problem,
and only as long as we build on this trust and we clearly
explain to citizens of both countries how we must find a
solution, we will be able to achieve one.
We do so respectfully, presenting our position, knowing full well how the U.S.
people feel about this and being fully respectful of the
sovereign decisions that the United States might make, or
that any other country might make. One more thing --
one more thing I forgot to mention.
One other thing we can do is to track the weapons that we have
in Mexico.
If we manage to detect weapons sold illegally in the United
States in violation of this law on the control of weapons
exports, or if, in the United States, they can have --
probably move forward on a good registry of armament or on the
prohibition of certain massive sales of weapons, for example,
to a hunter or to a common citizen -- we know that these
people do not usually buy hundreds of rifles or assault
weapons or grenades -- if we can move forward in those areas, I
do believe that security both of the United States and Mexico
will improve because those weapons are pointing against
Mexican people and Mexican officials today.
But crime is not only acting in Mexico.
It is also acting in the United States.
Organized crime is acting in both countries.
And I do hope that those weapons that are sold today in the
United States and are being used in Mexico, I hope the day will
never come in which they will also be used against the North American society or against U.S.
officials, just like they are now being used in Mexico.
Q: (As translated.) Good afternoon, Presidents.
You are going to share four years of an administration, and
there can be an in-depth change in this fight against organized
crime in these four years.
As of today, how can we establish the concrete
objectives that in 2012 will allow us to say, fine, a new era
began between Mexico and the United States back then?
Particularly I'm addressing this to you, President Obama.
In addition to the chance that you will invest your political
capital in being able to stop the flow of these weapons to
Mexico, what can we hope for, what can we expect to see in
terms of arresting the drug lords, the kingpins, in the
U.S.? Because there are laws against corruption, but this is
enabling now -- in other words, the U.S. market is now the biggest for drugs.
And former President of Mexico, ex-President Fox, said that in
the back they have only gotten little pats in the back from his predecessors.
Can we hope for more from your administration?
And to you, President Calderón, with this new era, how can you
measure the detention, the arrest of drug lords in the
United States, and also putting a stop to the flow of weapons? How can you measure this?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think that we can measure this in
terms of the reduction in violence; in the interdiction of
drugs; in the interdiction of weapons coming south; in the
dismantling of the financial structures that facilitate these
drug cartels; in the arrest of major drug kingpins. So I think we know how to measure progress.
The challenge is maintaining a sustained effort.
And as I said, something that President Calderón and myself
absolutely recognize, is that you can't fight this war with just one hand.
You can't just have Mexico making an effort but the United States not making an effort.
And the same is true on the other side. I think both our
efforts have to be coordinated; both of our efforts have to be strengthened.
I've made some very concrete commitments, already sending
additional resources, already making additional investments.
These are measurable in millions and, ultimately, billions of dollars over several years.
And I believe that President Calderón has used enormous
political capital to deal with this issue.
Obviously the Mexican people, particularly along the borders, have suffered great hardship.
And as a consequence, if we partner effectively -- and
that's why I brought many of my top officials on this trip, to
interact with their counterparts -- I'm confident that we're going to make progress.
Now, are we going to eliminate all drug flows?
Are we going to eliminate all guns coming over the border?
That's not a realistic objective.
What is a realistic objective is to reduce it so significantly,
so drastically, that it becomes once again a localized criminal
problem as opposed to a major structural problem that
threatens stability in communities along those borders
and that increases corruption and threatens the rule of law --
that's the kind of progress that I think can be made. And so, we
are going to -- we're going to work as hard as we can and as
diligently as we can on these issues -- always mindful,
though, that the relationship between Mexico and the United
States cannot just be defined by drugs.
Sometimes there's a tendency for the media to only report on drug
interdiction or immigration when it comes to U.S.-Mexican relations.
And one of the things that we talked about is the
extraordinary opportunities for us to work together on our
commercial ties; on strengthening border
infrastructure to improve the flow of goods; on working on
clean energy, which can produce jobs on both sides of the
border. So we're going to stay very focused on this.
We're going to make this a top priority, but we just always
want to remember that our relationship is not simply
defined by these problems; it's also defined by opportunities.
And that's what we want to take advantage of as well.
PRESIDENT CALDERÓN: Thank you, President.
I agree a great deal with you and I fully thank you for your
support and understanding in this very difficult topic.
I think the question is very relevant.
I see a big opportunity for President Obama and myself,
since we are going to be sharing the next four years as heads of
our administrations, I see a big opportunity here.
And on this issue, what I hope to see at the end of my
administration is actually many things.
One is a reduction in the levels of criminal activities in our
countries related to organized crime, which is also related to
drug trafficking -- they go hand in hand.
We have a strategy with short-, midterm, and long-term objectives.
In the short term, for example, we have set out to recuperate
the security and tranquility of our citizens, particularly in
those areas that have been harder hit by the crime.
And this is where we have the joint operations, where we are
mobilizing not only our federal police but also the army -- and
this, regardless of the fact that it is not an easy matter
and it hasn't been and it can change in the course of time,
but at least we begin to see fruitful results in some
areas. For example, in the last quarter -- or rather compared to
the last quarter of last year, our first quarter of this year,
there was already a drop of 27 percent in criminal activities.
That is as an average for the entire country, only in Ciudad
Juarez -- as of the joint operation that we launched in
February, between February and March violent deaths in Ciudad
Juarez, crime-related -- violence related to crime
dropped by 80 percent. Of course I understand that the
spectacular nature of some of these operations has really attracted worldwide attention.
But with a very difficult crime rate that we had last year,
despite them, crime in Mexico was 10.7 deaths because of crime
for every 100,000 inhabitants.
It is less than what it is in Guatemala, El Salvador,
Colombia, Venezuela, or Brazil in Latin America, and it is also
a lower number than the crime rates of many U.S. cities.
I believe one issue has to be, of course, that we have
to cut down on crime in Mexico, for sure, but, number two, I
hope, in the course of time, to be a safer border and a more efficient border.
As long as -- if we are able to stop the flow of drugs, illicit
money and weapons, we will have greater progress both in the United States and Mexico.
And one way to measure this is by appreciating and valuing the
technological capabilities, particularly of nonintrusive
detection at the border, so that for those who do want to make
business and do want to trade, that the border is open, and
those who want to commit crime, the border will be a closed
area. One way to measure this -- and here U.S.
cooperation is essential -- is to have the right technology,
particularly nonintrusive technology that will enable us to have safe borders.
And the initiative, the Merida Initiative, is very much focused
on this. Now, in the midterm, we would like a renewal of our police forces in Mexico.
At the end of my administration, I would like to be able to have
a new federal police that will be worthy of the citizens' trust
and that will be efficient.
And here U.S. cooperation is also fundamental. Why?
Well, because on our side we are cleaning our house, we are
sweeping everything from top to bottom so that all the police
forces, from the top officials at the Attorney General's
office, the army, the navy, that all officials in Mexico, all
police officials that we can truly trust in their honesty,
and that at the same time, technologically, they will be
top-notch, as the rest of the world, in investigation, in databases.
We want a scientific police, one that is very well-trained in technology, and U.S.
help will be very welcome and it will be essential. We also have a judicial plan for oral trials.
And I think that as we fulfill these objectives, many of them
have already -- are part of our agreement on safety, security
and protection.
With a shared responsibility that we now have with President
Obama and his team, we are certain that we will reach these
objectives and that our strategy, which is the correct
one, will have many more possibilities of achieving
success, and that at the end of our administration we will have
a Mexico, a United States, that are much safer and freer of
violence -- violence free, rather.
Of course, drug trafficking cannot be ended by decree.
As long as there is a supply of high -- or rather, is high
demand, there will be a high supply.
But what we can control is the effect of criminal activities in
society, to stop the actions of organized crime, and we can also
act preventively in order to bring down the consumption of
drugs in the United States, and in Mexico, too, which also
begins to be a problem of great concern to us.
Q: Mr. President, thank you. Mr. President.
President Obama, you said in an op-ed that was out today that
your new Cuba policy was part of an effort to move beyond the
frozen disputes of the 20th century. Why then is it so limited?
Why not open the door for all Americans to visit Cuba?
And what will you say to your colleagues at the Summit of the
Americas who want you to do more?
And, President Calderón, what do you think the United States
should do more on Cuba in order to improve relations with the region? Thank you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I don't think that we
should dismiss the significance of the step that we took.
We eliminated remittance restrictions and travel
restrictions for Cuban Americans who have family members in Cuba.
For those families, this is extraordinarily significant.
For the people in Cuba who will benefit from their family
members being able to provide them help and to visit them,
it's extraordinarily significant.
We took steps on telecommunications that can
potentially open up greater lines of communication between
Cuba and the United States. And so I think what you saw was a
good-faith effort, a show of good faith on the part of the
United States that we want to recast our relationship.
Now, a relationship that effectively has been frozen for
50 years is not going to thaw overnight.
And so having taken the first step, I think it's very much in
our interest to see whether Cuba is also ready to change.
We don't expect them to change overnight.
That would be unrealistic.
But we do expect that Cuba will send signals that they're
interested in liberalizing in such a way that not only do
U.S.-Cuban relations improve, but so that the energy and
creativity and initiative of the Cuban people can potentially be
released. We talk about the ban on U.S.
travel to Cuba, but there's not much discussion of the ban on
Cuban people traveling elsewhere and the severe restrictions that they're under.
I make that point only to suggest that there are a range
of steps that could be taken on the part of the Cuban government
that would start to show that they want to move beyond the
patterns of the last 50 years. I'm optimistic that
progress can be made if there is a spirit that is looking forward rather than backward.
My guidepost in U.S.-Cuba policy is going to be how can we
encourage Cuba to be respectful of the rights of its people:
political speech and political participation, freedom of
religion, freedom of the press, freedom of travel.
But, as I said before, I don't expect things to change
What I do insist on is that U.S.-Cuban relationships are
grounded with a respect not only for the traditions of each
country but also respect for human rights and the people's --
the needs of the people of Cuba. And so I hope that the
signal I've sent here is, is that we are not trying to be heavy-handed.
We want to be open to engagement.
But we're going to do so in a systematic way that keeps focus
on the hardships and struggles that many Cubans are still going through.
PRESIDENT CALDERÓN: I would not pretend to give advice
or suggestions to President Obama on this matter or any other.
Let me just say what I personally believe -- or rather
what I believe about the Cuban reality.
The question that has to be posed rather is whether the U.S.
embargo on Cuba has worked.
The reality is that the embargo has been there long before we
were even born, and yet things have not changed all that much in Cuba.
I think we would have to ask ourselves whether that isn't
enough time to realize that it has been a strategy that has not
been very useful to achieve change in Cuba. I do think -- I
share fully the idea we do not believe that the embargo or the
isolation of Cuba is a good measure for things to change in Cuba.
On the contrary; the reality that we see there is that the reality has not changed.
And it's because of internal factors, mostly, of course, but
also because of external reasons, such as the embargo.
Because of that, the Cubans have become impoverished. I greet --
I welcome the measures that President Obama has taken in
order to change this attitude, and to try to attempt -- and the
attempt must be appreciated -- to change the policy towards
Cuba little by little.
But what is clear to me is that we both share the same ideals.
I think we would both like to see the world living at some
point under a full democracy, a world with full respect for
human rights, with no exceptions whatsoever.
We would like to see a world working with people being able
to take care of their families, to live in peace, and those
principles that must protect humanity.
That we do share. We also share the idea that each nation must
be respected in its own decisions.
It's like we were saying a moment ago when we were talking
about the prohibition of assault weapons.
Of course, we do not want those weapons to be out in the
streets, but at the same time we want those decisions to come
from the people themselves and to be self-determinant.
And it's the same for Cuba.
But I believe that the steps President Obama has taken are
very positive. Mexico is a good friend of Cuba, and Mexico is
also a good friend of the United States.
We want to be a good friend of Cuba and of the United States. We want both things.
And we know that one day, the day that these principles we
believe in prevail, that day we will be able to be neighbors,
the three of us -- the United States, Cuba and Mexico.What are
the principles we believe in?
Democracy, human rights, but also liberty, property, trade,
free trade, free economy.
And I think as long as those principles can function and
bring benefits to the Cuban economy, then things can begin to change.
We cannot change anything that has already taken place in the
past, but I am certain that as heads of state, we can do a lot
to try to make a different future, both for the world, both
for our countries, and also in relation to Cuba. I told
President Obama that the best of luck in this panorama that is
now so totally different from what U.S.
policy has been in the past.
I hope for the best, and I hope that more expeditious steps
could be taken so that we can move forward in this regard, and
that everything will be done with good understanding.
And as Mexico can contribute in any way for two of our friends
to work out what they have between themselves, I hope that we can contribute.
And if our best contribution is just to maintain our respect, that is fine. One last question.
Q: Good afternoon. Mr. President, -- as U.S.
senator in 2006 voted in favor of the approval of the
construction of the border wall.
I would like to know, and I think Mexicans would like to
know, what is your real commitment of your
administration to present a new migratory -- comprehensive migratory reform?
What would be its scope? And when would you approve this reform?
And on free trade, on NAFTA, it seems that because of the last
events there's not a great deal of interest in the U.S.
to apply or to comply with all the items in NAFTA.
I would like to ask President Calderón whether you spoke of
some of those issues during your conversations, whether you
addressed the migratory issue and some of the NAFTA issues?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, with respect to the
immigration issue, I think it would be useful to point out
that I also voted twice for comprehensive immigration reform
that would have provided a pathway for legalization and
improvement of the orderly process of migration into the
United States. I've said before that we have to have a
comprehensive approach, recognizing that the United
States has a very legitimate concern -- if you've got
hundreds of thousands of people from other countries coming into
the United States without anybody knowing who they are,
who when they arrive can often be exploited and, because
they're not protected by various laws, undermine the wages of U.S.
workers -- those are legitimate concerns on the part of the
United States people and the United States government.
And so working effectively with the Mexican government to create
an orderly border is very important.
And there are a whole host of strategies that we need to
pursue. What I've also said is that for those immigrants who
are already in the United States -- and by the way, we focus a
lot on Mexicans who have come into the United States, but the
number of immigrants from Central America, from Ireland,
from Poland are substantial as well; it's not -- this is not
just an issue with respect to Mexico -- for those immigrants
who have put down roots, may have come there illegally, I
think they need to pay a penalty for having broken the law.
They need to come out of the shadows, and then we have to put
them through a process where, if they want to stay in the United
States, they have an opportunity over time to earn that
opportunity, for a legal status in the United States. Now, we
came close to getting that kind of reform done several years ago
and then it became politicized.
And my whole goal is to remove the politics of this and take a
very practical, common-sense approach that benefits people on
both sides of the border -- and creates a secure and safe border
so you don't have people who are dying in the deserts as a
consequence of a disorderly and illegal migration process.
I think that's a goal that President Calderón and I share
and one that we discussed during our bilateral meeting. With
respect to trade, Mexico is one of our largest trading partners.
The amount of commerce that flows back and forth creates
wealth in Mexico and it creates wealth in the United States.
I have said repeatedly that I'm in favor of free trade.
I know that there has been some concern about a provision that
was placed in our stimulus package related to Mexican trucking.
That wasn't a provision that my administration introduced, and I
said at the time that we need to fix this because the last thing
we want to do at a time when the global economy is contracting
and trade is shrinking is to resort to protectionist
measures. My team is working with President Calderón's team to resolve this issue.
I'm hopeful that we can resolve it in an effective way.
It's not helpful to a number of U.S.
producers who are interested in selling into Mexico and are
fearful that they may be subject to ountervailing tariffs or retaliation.
So we're going to see if we can get this fixed.
But I can tell you that President Calderón and I are
entirely on the same page in believing that we can create
greater opportunities for trade and strengthen our commercial
relationships between our two countries.
I have said before in the past, and I will continue to say, that
as part of the NAFTA framework, that it would make sense for
labor and environmental provisions to be enforceable
within that agreement rather than just be viewed as a side agreement.
But I recognize that we are in a very difficult time right now
economically on both sides of the border and that those kinds
of negotiations are going to need to proceed in a very
careful and deliberate way, because we don't want to
discourage trade; we want to encourage trade right now. So I'm
confident that our administrations are going to be
able to work together, and it's going to be to the benefit both
of Mexico and the United States.
PRESIENT CALDERÓN: We spoke at length on migration and on trade, and particularly on
the economy in general between both nations.
President Obama is well aware, is very knowledgeable about the
problem, and his position in favor of a comprehensive migratory reform is well known.
I would simply repeat the idea -- refrain the idea that we
share the objective of achieving an orderly, legal, productive
migration between both countries. I have said, and I
maintain, that as a Mexican, as President of Mexico, it doesn't
make me particularly happy to see our people risk their lives
going across a border, because I know that with every migrant
that leaves we have the best of our people leaving -- the
youngest, the most courageous, the strongest, the
hardest-working -- they are the ones that are leaving.
Because I have seen in many communities here in Mexico, and
particularly the state I come from, where there are phantom
towns now, where there are only the elderly, children, women,
and no one else is left there. So I am working hard to create in
Mexico the conditions, the opportunities of work, of
employment for our people here in Mexico.
That is really the only way out that can put a stop to migration.
I think that is the best way out, to create opportunities and
employment in our country.
But in the meantime, President Obama is very clear on what the
problem consists of, and it's very important to establish
those instruments that will enable people to come out of the
shadows, as he himself has said, and that our region can
gradually become more orderly, more legal and better migration flows.
I think the two of us share the idea that trade produces
benefits on both sides of the border.
Not only are there many Mexican workers that depend on their
exports to the United States today -- by the way, in a very
delicate situation that we're going through because of the
economic situation, the drop in U.S.
industry is very co-related to the drop in our Mexican industry
-- but there are also many workers in the United States
that depend on the purchases that we make of U.S. products.
Today Mexican consumers are among the best buyers of U.S. products.
Few consumers in the world buy as many U.S.
products as we do here in Mexico. So we must protect trade.
And the best way of doing so is to allow it to flow naturally,
with no restrictions.
So going beyond the autonomous decisions that every country can
take, and the legitimate exercise of the rights that are
part of the pacts and agreements that we have in order to protect
free trade, I agree with President Obama, we have to go further.
We have to go beyond in order to improve trade between both our countries.
And we do not want to restrict it.
We can come to agreements; we might have certain differences;
I believe that we can move a great deal forward in labor and
environmental issues, but it concerns me that to reopen those
things that have been proven to work well can merely create
further obstacles and worsen the situation we have today. Our
focus today on practical matters -- and this is why --let me just
mention three things that I believe we can work on.
One is infrastructure at the border.
I have talked to President Obama, I have shown him a list
of 200 infrastructure projects of a larger or smaller scale
that can generate employment both in the U.S.
and Mexico at the border, and improve our competitiveness at the border.
So we have focused on six projects of border bridges,
border crossing points that can lead to further employment and
prosperity for our people. The second item is customs
cooperation that will enable us to have better cooperation, more
expeditious cooperation, with no drop in productivity -- to maybe
have one single customs form, whether we're talking about
exports or imports from one country to another; to have one
single form that will allow us to reduce bureaucracy and make
trade more expeditious.And then also, third, concrete measures
to have a harmonization of standards.
Certain U.S. products, for example, need to have the units measured in
pounds, and here we need them measured in kilos or in grams,
we need to be able to have standards.
If certain requirements differ from our two countries, I think
we have to work towards a harmonization of these
requirements. So these practical matters that seem to be minor are actually quite important.
And I think they can truly help us.
And let me wrap up by saying that one of the things we
emphasized is that both of us are going through economic
problems because of this international crisis that we're undergoing.
But if we act intelligently we will understand that if we
improve the North American competitiveness as a region that
entails Canada, United States and Mexico, if we improve the
competitive conditions of our entire region, vis-à-vis other
regions such as Asia or Eastern Europe or the rest of Latin
America, then I do believe we will be able to come out of this
problem much, much faster. Trade means opportunities, equal
opportunities of employment and of prosperity for our peoples,
always, always, and particularly today in these times of crisis
and economic difficulties. President Obama is
undergoing tremendous efforts to improve things in the United
States and he is exercising in international leadership to face this economic situation.
We firmly support on our side this situation, doing everything
we can in order to revert this critical situation.
And I do believe one way to do it is by strengthening trade, not restricting it.
So, ladies and gentlemen, we now bring to an end our press conference.
Thank you so much. We thank you for your kind attention.
Thank you so much.