Mexico and New Zealand: Growing Ties: Lourdes Aranda Suggests That a Stronger Relationship with New Zealand Must Be a Fundamental Element of Mexican Strategy in the Asia-Pacific Region

Article excerpt

In 2010 Mexico commemorates the bicentennial of its independence and the centennial of the Mexican Revolution, the first major social revolution of the 20th century worldwide. Throughout these 200 years, Mexico has striven to consolidate its status as a modern and democratic nation, firmly committed to strengthening the rule of law, the economic and social development of its inhabitants, and the preservation of its natural and cultural legacy.

President Felipe Calderon is currently at the midpoint of his six-year constitutional term. From the very beginning, he has worked hard to accomplish a series of reforms to update the economic, political and social structures of the country. The world is changing rapidly, and Mexico does not want to be left behind. The president has made 'change' the distinctive mark of his first three years in office. In general terms, he has looked to foster development from a comprehensive perspective, which includes a stronger economy, an improved public education system, and better social security and cohesion. He has also promoted political reform in order to adapt the institutions of the state to the current needs of the country. Moreover, he has made efforts that are without precedent in Mexico in the security field, particularly in the fight against drug trafficking and organised crime.

Among the main reforms achieved by President Calderon, those pertaining to public security and procurement of justice are especially significant. For political, geographic and economic reasons, mainly the proximity to the main market for arms and drugs worldwide, international drugs cartels have been able to settle in our territory. They threaten not only the health of the Mexican population but also the national institutions, the rule of law and, ultimately, Mexico's national security.

This is why since taking office President Calderon has sought to renovate the institutions and systems of public security and procurement of justice. He has also put in place a national strategy for the prevention of crime.

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Thanks to the unprecedented domestic effort and to international co-operation--bilaterally with the United States and multilaterally in the framework of the UN Convention on Transnational Crime--the Mexican government has been able to seize 64,000 firearms and 27,000 vehicles.

The government has also seized consignments of enough drugs to provide 80 dosages to every young Mexican between 15 and 30 years of age. At the same time, 99,000 persons have been captured and prosecuted for drug trafficking, including some of the cartels' top leaders. In addition, 1450 kidnappers have been captured, 200 drug gangs have been destroyed and 1450 hostages have been set free.

We are fully aware that we still face a complex situation and that this is a long-term effort that must include education and prevention. But the results so far show that we are on the right track.

Economic reforms

In the economic field, the present government has successfully implemented reforms in the tax, pensions and energy sectors. As far as energy reform is concerned, the objectives are to make PEMEX, the national oil company, more productive, and to allow the electricity sector to render a more efficient service and to better perform its role as a key contributor to the economic development of the country.

Due to a great extent to our close economic ties with the United States, Mexico was severely affected by the international economic crisis in 2009. The situation worsened with the unexpected outbreak of the influenza A(H1N1) virus, which forced the government to declare a nationwide sanitary emergency. Furthermore, during several months last year a severe drought affected a considerable part of the country.

Through a counter-cyclical economic policy and the biggest investment programme ever, Mexico has been able to tackle and mitigate the effects of these several crises, enhance competitiveness and productivity, strengthen the domestic engines of growth and protect the productive plants and the jobs of millions of Mexicans. …