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Cleveland Humanities Festival with Vicente Fox

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On Monday, April 3rd, our only event was a Cleveland Humanities Festival affair which featured a speech by former President of Mexico Vicente Fox (2000-2006) which took place in the Ballroom at the Tinkham Veale University Center at CWRU.

President Fox focused his remarks on how countries need to work with each other socially and economically and why trade is an excellent vehicle by which to do so and cited convincing statistics which illustrated the success of the NAFTA agreement. For instance, before NAFTA the wage gap between the U.S. and Mexicowas 10 to 1 in favor of the U.S. but now only 5 to 1 since NAFTA was implemented. He contended that if the present trend continues in 2025 the gap will be 1-1 and the U.S., Mexico and Canada will be about equal. He was a firm believer that the three countries should form an economic region (something he discussed with former President George W. Bush quite frequently) so that there will be a freer exchange of products, workers, and academia.

Rather than protest the inevitabilities of globalization, he believed that the U.S. should focus on retraining its workers in the information technology field and emphasized the importance of education that finds the right balance between career and the humanities because both are essential for an informed citizenry. What's more the time for ideology is past, and Republicans and Democrats are going to have to work together to address the needs of the public; otherwise a climate of fear will be created which is ripe for the kind of demagoguery that is growing more and more prevalent.

A person known for being outspoken, President Fox indicated that the current occupant of the White House (he hardly addressed President Trump by name at all) will never be what could be termed a real U.S. President because he shows no respect for others although he was equally tough on Mr. Lopez Obrador, a leftist candidate who is running for President of Mexico.

On the issue of building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, President Fox thankfully put emotion aside and cited instances like the Great Wall of China wherein walls were built but did not serve the purposes that they were built for; instead they are only expressions of fear. He bemoaned (rightfully so, we believe) that fact that to build the wall that is being proposed would cost billions of dollars that could be much better spent on other projects/investments that would create millions of jobs for people.

He made it clear, however, that he favored borders between countries and that a nation is entitled to create a border for itself that is "orderly, safe and secure." Accordingly, he said that he had formulated (with the input of President George W. Bush) some constructive policies regarding immigration reform that the U.S. Congress knows about but has never acted upon. Before he left, we asked President Fox where we find them and he instructed us to visit the "Centro Fox" website which we plan to do. To be sure, he had a personal investment in the matter since his mother was a Basque immigrant to Mexico from Spain and his paternal grandfather immigrated to Mexico from Cincinnati where he was born to parents who were German immigrants to the United States.

During the Q and A, a person from Mexico who was studying at CWRU asked President Fox what he could do to give back to his country. The president replied by recounting an instance where a person from India who had studied at M.I.T. organized a fraternity of people from India living in the U.S. who committed themselves to developing projects that provide assistance to India and their efforts have paid off splendidly. He recommended that such an organization be formed pertaining to Mexico.

After he concluded his speech, President Fox received a warm ovation and the person sitting next to us said that what he said was "quite wise."

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

Kwasi Bediako