Students Hear Former Mexican President Speak

Maggie Fried

In recent years, the issue of immigration — especially illegal immigration — from countries south of the United States has been the focus of much debate. On October 29, a group of Colgate students traveled to Syracuse University to hear about the issue of immigration, not from the perspective of a U.S. official, but from the perspective of the leader of Mexico, former President Vincente Fox.

“I went to see [Fox] speak because I took CORE Mexico last year and we discussed many current events that were going on in Mexico,” sophomore Lauren Paverman said. “One of them being the end of Fox’s presidential term and the current political chaos in Mexico because of the most recent election. I thought I would get a lot of out seeing him speak because I already had background information on the topic.”

Fox began his speech by addressing, in Spanish, Hispanics who had come to the United States in search of a better life. Later, he discussed a variety of topics such as his personal history, the issue of illegal immigration and the United States’ response to it, unemployment and education levels in Mexico and U.S-Mexican relations.

In addition to giving his speech, Fox also interacted with the audience.

“President Fox spoke about the great attributes and faults that the United States has as a nation,” first-year Ana Almeyda-Cohen said. “Fox emphasized the importance of having immigrants in the U.S. and how they help the economy grow. He disagrees with building a wall that physicallyseparates the U.S. and Mexico as well as the current war taking place overseas. What I found most compelling was when a protester irrespectively challenged Fox’s views on NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement]. I am currently learning more about NAFTA and the effects that it has on the indigenous population in Latin America, but Fox’s response to the protester did not seem genuine.”

Students were impressed by Fox’s presence as well as his words.

“Fox stands at [six feet five inches tall] and has a low, booming voice, so everything was said in a very passionate and enthusiastic way,” Paverman said. “My favorite part was when he was speaking about the wall being built and how he did not agree with it at all because that is an opinion that I also have.”

Whether or not they agreed with Fox’s views on issues such as the separation wall between Mexico and the U.S., the trip gave the students who attended the opportunity to learn more about the current state of affairs in Mexico as well as other prominent issues within U.S.-Mexican relations such as illegal immigration.

“I am very glad I went because the issues regarding Mexico are very important to the U.S. because the country is so close to ours,” Paverman said. “It is important economically that we have strong ties with Mexico because we have a very strong trading relationship with them, so their business means a lot to our economy. I am very interested in how well Fox has set an example for the future of the Mexican presidency.”