President delivers his last State of the Nation address
President Felipe Calderón delivered his sixth and final state of the nation speech yesterday. A Mexican president can only stand for one six year term in office and he will be replaced in December by the winner of the July election, Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
During his speech the president justified his decision to take on drugs gangs which has resulted in more than 50,000 deaths. He said that his administration had ‘neutralised’ 22 of the 37 most wanted criminals.
In other areas of his speech he talked about the growth in the economy with 2,240,000 new jobs created since 2007 and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the OECD. Hementioned the extra money allocated for the country side, the revitalisation of the energy industry and the growth of clean energy to 27% of national generation today.
The president also talked about the record FDI of $126 billion during his presidency, the schools building programme and the support given to small and medium sized businesses. He reminded his listeners that his government had cut 16,000 regulations and some 2,000 Federal procedures.
The press release of the president’s speech as published on his website is as follows:
“During the Sixth State of the Union Address, President Calderón issued a statement on the status of public administration. In particular, he referred to the challenges encountered when he came to office, the measures implemented to meet them and the results obtained in the five pillars of public policy established: Public security and rule of law, economy, equal opportunities, sustainable development and foreign policy.
Security and the Rule of Law
“Protecting Mexicans from crime has been an imperative for this government,” said the president at the beginning of his message. He explained that at the beginning of his administration, Mexico was immersed in a perverse dynamic that could be resumed as the evolution of crime and the involution of the institutions responsible for combating it. Federal Government set out to reverse this tendency to combat crime and its causes and protect Mexican families. To this end, an integral strategy based on three axes was implemented: combating all criminal organizations; modernizing and strengthening law enforcement institutions and reconstructing the social fabric.
As part of the first pillar, joint operations were implemented in the most violent states. This has damaged criminals’ logistic, operating and financial structures. Unprecedented amounts of drugs, money and weapons have been confiscated while dozens of leaders, hundreds of lieutenants and thousands of suspected gunmen of criminal organizations have been captured. 22 out of the 37 most wanted criminals in the country have been neutralized. In regard to the second axis, a historic constitutional reform has been carried out in regard to penal justice and public security. The Attorney General’s Office has been modernized, equipped and vetted. A new Federal Police Force was also created on the basis of the old Preventive Police Force. This institution expanded from 6,000 to over 36,000 officers, who for the first time have been subject to reliability control mechanisms and training. In addition, the Federal Government has supported states and municipalities in training, evaluating and vetting its police.
As part of the third axis of the strategy, a set of conditions of community well-being and cohesion have been created which at the same time, improve the quality of life and reduce the incidence of crime and addictions. Through the New Life Centers, a national system has been set up for the prevention and treatment of addictions. Through the Safe School Program, parents and teachers have become involved in protecting students from violence, addictions, gangs and weapons. And through the Public Space Restoration Program, areas used by crime will be restored to families.
The president declared that the state must continue combating crime, evaluating police officers and firing whose who fail to pass the reliability tests. Progress must also be made in the implementation of a new Penal Justice System throughout the country. The laws and reforms still pending in Congress must be discussed with the degree of urgency Mexico requires.
A Competitive, Job-Creating Economy
The Federal Government drew up an agenda of economic transformation. It set out to consolidate an economy capable of competing and winning in the world and attracting more productive investment to create jobs. On the road towards growth, Mexico had to overcome the worst economic crisis experienced by today’s generations. Despite this, the economy has not only survived but is also firmly on the path to competitiveness, growth and job creation.
This has guaranteed economic stability. Nowadays, the country has healthy public finances and a robust financial system. As a result, Mexico has enjoyed three years of continuous growth: with an expansion of nearly 16 per cent since the second half of 2009. Since January 2007, over 2,240,000 net new jobs have been registered with the Mexican Social Security Institute. This is the second highest period of job creation on record. The unemployment rate in Mexico is one of the lowest of all the OECD countries. In six years, a record effort has been made as regards infrastructure development. Nearly 20,000 kilometers of highways and country roads have been built or modernized. More money has been invested in ports, airports and railroad infrastructure than in the previous two administrations together.
The energy sector was revitalized in order for it to assume its role as the engine of growth. For the first time ever, Pemex has obtained a proven reserve replacement rate of over 100 per cent. The electricity sector has been reinforced as never before. Universal electricity service coverage has been achieved in populations with over 100 inhabitants. The budget for the tourist sector was doubled and the National Tourism Agreement was signed with all the actors in this industry. Last year, the country received an official figure of over 23 million international tourists.
Over the past six years, 60 per cent more funds have been assigned to the countryside than during the past administration. This has made it possible to modernize irrigation in over half a million hectares, thereby increasing agricultural productivity and saving water. Farmers have been protected as never before from catastrophic rains, frosts and drought.
Priority was given to small and medium businessmen, who promoted the economy and create the most jobs. During this administration, seven more times credit has been provided for over 400,000 small and medium businesses than during the previous administration. Nearly 16,000 regulations and over 2,000 Federal Government procedures were eliminated for the benefit of entrepreneurs. The time required for setting up business was reduced from 60 to less than 10 days.
Free trade was made a trigger of national development. Mexico expanded its trade agreements and reduced the average tariff from ten to four per cent. As a result, firms had more competitive inputs, meaning that their goods reached more markets and consumers in Mexico had access to better and cheaper products. Nowadays, Mexico exports more manufactured goods than all the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean together. Six years ago, the country was the ninth largest world automobile exporter; this year, it is the fourth largest one.
With the support of the Legislative Branch, fundamental reforms were promoted such as the pension system, tax, energy, economic competitiveness and public-private partnerships reforms.
In these six years, Mexico has attracted over 126 billion dollars in Direct Foreign Investment, advanced 20 positions in the World Bank ease of doing business index and in 2011, it was the country that made the greatest progress in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index.
In order to ensure equal opportunities for all Mexico, the government sought to increase the income, skills, freedoms and living conditions of families without compromising the heritage of future generations. Development was promoted through three main pillars: developing Mexicans’ skills; consolidating a broad network of social protection and support for establishing families’ heritage.
One truly historic achievement has been universal health coverage. Moreover, 1,200 new hospitals, clinics and health centers were built and another 2,500 remodeled. This is the greatest hospital infrastructure work in living memory.
The other great equalizer of opportunities is education. To this end, universal coverage in primary education was also achieved. For the first time in history, all children have a place ensured at this level. Moreover, during the next school year, universal coverage will also be achieved in secondary education. In order to support students, the largest scholarship program of all times was created. In 2012 alone, eight million scholarships were awarded.
Work was completed on 1,100 new senior high schools, 140 new universities and 96 new campuses or buildings in existing institutions. Moreover, thanks to the Alliance for the Quality of Education, teachers now have to compete for teaching posts, now awarded to the most suitable candidates.
In the second pillar, programs that had proved their efficacy were strengthened, with new ones being created for groups that had not previously been served. Foremost among these is the Opportunities Program, expanded from the countryside to impoverished urban zones. The number of beneficiary families rose from 5 to 6 million families with an additional half million being included through the Food Support Program.
These new programs include 70 and Over, providing financial support for all senior citizens that so require. Child Daycare Centers, the largest child care network in history. Through this program, nearly 10,000 daycare centers were created in six years. Cement Floors, whereby cement floors were provided for two and a half million homes. The third pillar, asset creation, has also yielded positive results. One out of five dwellings currently existing in Mexico has been financed during this administration.
The Federal Government sought to implement a crucial, transversal environmental policy for all areas of government within a model of sustainable development. The aim is to promote growth and equity and at the same time, to protect natural resources, in other words, to support green growth.
Mexico was the first developing country to publicly present its own program designed to combat climate change. It was also the first country to make a unilateral commitment to reduce emissions. The government decided on renewable energies and nowadays, 27 per cent of the total energy is generated on the basis of clean sources. Wind energy will have increased production from 2 mega-watts in 2006 to 1,300 mega-watts by the end of this year. Innovative energy saving policies were launched in households, such as the replacement of 1,800,000 household appliances by efficient equipment. Another program involved the replacement of 40 million incandescent bulbs by energy-saving bulbs. This is the largest program of its kind at the world level.
Effective democracy and responsible foreign policy
With the consensus of all political forces, an electoral political reform was achieved, and the electoral authority was renewed. Secondly, the doors to dialogue with society were opened. Freedom of expression and criticism has been respected. Key reforms were also promoted to expand Mexicans’ freedom. These include the Human Rights Reform, the Constitutional Reform of Injunctions and the new Migration and Refugee Laws, which defend foreigners’ rights, foreigners’ human rights in the country and decriminalize migration.
In regard to foreign policy, the Federal Government rechanneled foreign policy to return Mexico to the forefront of global issues and become a leader in the international community.
President Calderón concluded by thanking all Mexicans and invited them to continue working for a better country. He also wished the President elect of Mexico every success.”