fox

Vicente Fox, former President of Mexico, will deliver a speech Thursday night in Stephens Auditorium titled “Building Bridges or Walls: Where Do the U.S. and Mexico Go from Here?”

Fox, a former businessman whose presidency is credited with building the economy as well as strengthening Mexican democracy, is expected to talk about trade and immigration between his home country and the United States.

Being both free and open to the public, this event is expected to draw a large crowd. While it is commendable that Iowa State and the larger Ames community are interested, some groups don’t want Fox to speak given his inaction on human rights violations in Mexico.

These objections aren’t unfounded. Though elected as the opposition candidate, effectively ending Mexico’s decades long stint of one-party rule, Fox only reformed part of Mexico’s corrupt government.

Under his presidency, Mexico opened the door to the international community to scrutinize their government practices and policies. That transparency uncovered systemic human rights violations which Mexico failed to address under Fox.

Human Rights Watch’s 2006 report outlined these violations into three categories: “public access to government information, accountability for past abuses, and reforms of the justice system needed to end ongoing abuses.” The report ended by examining the murders and disappearances of hundred of women in Ciudad Juárez.

So what are we as students and residents of Ames to do about Fox’s speech?

It’s hard to encourage people to protest the event. Fox was instrumental in shaping Mexico’s democracy and growing his country’s alliance with the United States through his relationship with President George W. Bush. He helped to improve the Mexican economy as well as bring many citizens out of poverty.

It’s also not easy to encourage people to go listen to a leader who took such drastic steps to reveal the abuses Mexican citizens suffered but then took zero steps to curb those same abuses.

But that’s the beauty of the First Amendment. Despite existing in a community that is incredibly involved in both the local and national political landscape, Iowa State students don’t have to subject themselves to a speaker they disagree with. And for those students who want to go listen to Fox, that opportunity exists as well.

Perhaps the most important thing to learn from Fox’s visit is that staying informed is vital to forming your opinion and arguing for your beliefs. Iowa State and Ames will be hosting many big name politicians in the future and researching these people is the best way to decide whether or not you support their presence on campus.

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(1) comment

Steve Gregg

Former English colonies, like the US and Canada, thrive because they were set up to allow businesses to be easily set up. In the US and Canada, you can set up a business in a day or two for a day’s pay. To raise money for your business with a bank loan, you can use your home for collateral.

The former Spanish colonies, like Mexico and the countries south of it, languish because they were set up to be exploited to render the Royal Fifth of taxes to the Spanish king. Establishing a legal business is difficult, requiring six months of paperwork and about six months of pay. So, they aren’t established legally. The best most people can do is set up street cart businesses which survive by paying bribes to the crooked local cops. To establish a business any larger than that, you must be politically connected.

The former Spanish colonies do not keep good records of property, so you can’t really prove you own your home. That means you can not leverage your property to get a business loan. Your home is dead capital. That is a huge obstacle in raising capital to fund a small business, which is the little engine that creates wealth in a healthy economy. When small business formation is thwarted, a country remains poor.

Should you overcome all these obstacles to create a profitable small business, the laws to form a corporation to expand your business are weak. They don’t have the safeguards to protect investors’ cash, so nobody invests in corporations. That means its hard to pool money to create large enterprises to make products, like cars and refrigerators, on an industrial scale. Again, you have to be politically connected to have any hope of building a factory.

The bottom line is that the former English colonies are organized to succeed while the former Spanish colonies are organized to fail. Corruption is baked into the cake for the former Spanish colonies, like Mexico.

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