“That wall is going to be paid for by the ones listening to me; it’s a stupid wall, it has no reason to be built.”
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox joined Dan & Amy to discuss his running commentary on the POTUS 2016 campaign and specifically his remarks about Donald Trump's candidacy. Among other points of discussion, Fox responded to inquiries about the rate at which Mexicans are fleeing their country to come to America as well as about his border security policies when he was President of Mexico as it pertained to Guatemalans, for example, and how those compare with what Trump and others have proposed for America.
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Dan Proft: Good morning, Dan and Amy; so Amy, former Mexican President Vicente Fox had kind of an interesting running… Amy Jacobson: Relationship? Dan Proft: Well, involvement in the US presidential campaign, and I think it’s perfectly appropriate that a former president of a country that has as important relationship with America and has as much impact on America and vice-versa comment. I didn’t see any problem with him interjecting himself in the presidential race, but it’s the way he’s interjected himself that has been the source of some controversy. He started out his initial response to Trump’s proposal to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it was this. Vicente Fox: I declare I’m not going to pay for that ^*()# wall. He should pay for it. He’s got the money. Interviewer: Are you afraid that he’s going to be the next president of the United States? What would that mean for Mexico? Vicente Fox: Not at all. Democracy cannot pay cash to crazy people that don’t know what’s going on in the world today. Dan Proft: And that was before Trump was the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, of course. Amy Jacobson: And then what happened after he became the presumptive nominee? Dan Proft: Well, Vicente Fox kind of walked that comment back in a little bit; extended a little bit of a rhetorical olive branch, if you will. Vicente Fox: Yes, I’m humble enough as a leader should be, compassionate leader. If I offended you, I’m sorry, but what about the other way around? Dan Proft: Well, and after that apology there was more public disagreement with Donald Trump and some of the things he was saying about the US immigration policy. So where does that relationship stand right now? We’re pleased to be joined by former Mexican President Vicente Fox to answer that question. President Fox, thank you for joining us, appreciate it. Vicente Fox: A pleasure and a great saludo to all my paisanos from the Chicago-Illinois area. I have many, many friends. Many of them came from my own farm, back here in Guanajuato. They migrated a long time ago, they’ve been there for a couple of generations, and I’m very proud of them; they’re hard working people, loyal people, so buen dia, paisanos! Dan Proft: And by the way, just as a quick cultural aside, the mummies of Guanajuato, they made their way through the Chicago and area, this incredible exhibit, the famous mummies of Guanajuato, just a couple of years ago. I remember that. Vicente Fox: Yes, they are resting in peace right there in the sea of Guanajuato, which is through my heritage, city of United Nations, and it’s a beautiful town, an old mining town that has underground streets that used to be the tunnels of the mines; a beautiful place to visit, as well as San Miguel de Allende. Of course, San Cristobal was the first providential library located outside of the United States. This is the farm where my grandfather came, as a migrant, back in 1895. Without a penny in his pocket he came, looking for his American dream, and he found it here in Mexico, and now we’ve been there for five generations, and that is where the providential library is. Dan Proft: Well, President Fox, your grandfather you’re referencing, he’s from Cincinnati. You went to Campion High School in Wisconsin for a year, where I understand you learned English. So those are two swing states in the presidential election, Ohio and Wisconsin. I’m wondering if maybe there’s the possibility that you’ll have a Trump-Vicente Fox ticket. Vicente Fox: I was really thinking why you’re wondering about why a former president gets so involved in this process. Why is it precisely done? I’m, in a way, half American. Half of what you see in my body is American blood coming from Cincinnati, Ohio. As long as you be called the seat of the President of the United States in the White House has such an enormous power around the world, has the obligation and the commitment of leadership around the world. So really US citizens are not only electing the president of the nation, they’re also electing the leader of the world, of the Free World, of the Democratic World. The leader not only to promote economic development and reduce poverty, share income, but the leader of peace, of harmony, and that’s why a man of spirit gets so much involved in the foreign affairs. It’s because of that power that that seat has got, and that’s why I get so much involved, especially when I’m really worried about what might happen if some of the policies proposed by Trump will be in the White House. That would be great danger and warning for the rest of the world. I go around the world during conferences; I belong to the club of Madrid, where 95 former presidents and former prime-ministers, including President Clinton, belong. That’s a community of leaders that promote peace and harmony around the world, promote economic development, harmony and all of us have the same feeling; this cannot happen on the country that has the responsibility of leading the world. Amy Jacobson: President Fox, buenas dias. It’s an honor to have you on the program. You said recently, and going back and forth about your position on Donald Trump, but he did say if he built the wall he’s going to make the Mexican people pay for it. I don’t personally think that that’s going to happen. I don’t know how many people believe him, but do you think Donald Trump is racist? Do you believe Donald Trump hates Mexicans? Vicente Fox: That’s totally inconsistent, you see. He cannot do that. Even if he is saying that he will, he cannot do it. How can you oblige a nation? How can you oblige 120 million Mexicans? How can you oblige a foreign government pay for a wall that is going to pass through the United States? That wall is going to be paid by those ones listening to me; it’s a stupid wall, it has no reason to be built. It doesn’t serve any good purpose, because the wall has been there and things happen. And we have such a strong relationship, that over 1 million people cross that border every day, and about half of that million is Americans that come to Mexico to work, that come to the border to do business, and the other half is Mexicans that go to the other side, to school or they go to the US side for other purposes. It’s a common border that we share, we share the problems and the challenges, as well as we share the opportunities that that border gives to two countries that have decided long ago to be friends, to be partners through NAFTA, and NAFTA has been the best tool for economic development of both of our nations. Dan Proft: Let me ask you this then; why is it that so many Mexican nationals are fleeing Mexico to come to the United States, and what does that say about the situation in Mexico. Vicente Fox: Of course, my grandfather, an American citizen, migrated to Mexico, so migration is a two-way street, and is the opportunity that many people around the world have to prove their condition, have to prove their income and their quality of life. It’s an issue that is all over the world. Now, migration flows have to be control; there has to be order. They have to be legal. So I’m not for open borders. I’m for well structured framework to administrate that flow. I’m thinking about the other over 100,000 US American citizens work in Mexico, have migrated to Mexico to work, or have migrated to Mexico to live. So today the world is flood; and not understanding that shows that Trump is very ignorant of what’s going on around the world. Dan Proft: But if you don’t believe in open borders, then you believe there should be some regulations, so people know who’s coming into this country, and people should be in whichever country they’re in legally, then do you have any issues with what Trump and others have said, that people that are here illegally, whether it’s overstaying a visa, or illegally coming across the border, those people should be deported, not assimilated, not provided benefits. Vicente Fox: Yes, we border nations have been very active on this issue. Number one, President Bush administration and President Fox administration worked together to put together the bill that today is still sitting in the Congress of the United States. It has not a process date. That bill, in relation to migration, was prepared by Senator Kennedy and Senator McCain; a bi-partisan formula that introduced that bill into US Congress around the year 2003, and it’s been sitting there without being processed. In that bill is precisely the answer about ordering the flows in the border, about solutions for those 10-11 million Mexicans that they say that are there, in the United States. I can assure you that most of them, the large majority of them, do have a job, and somebody’s hiring them, and somebody’s paying them for their very fruitful, honest and diligent work. Dan Proft: But President Fox, if I could just interject, when you were president of Mexico, you provided legal residency only to a small percentage of Guatemalans who have entered Mexico illegally, but you’re advocating, in terms of the legislation, you were advocating that the United States provide amnesty for essentially everybody who is here illegally at present. Do you see any distinction between those two? Vicente Fox: That’s the second point. Point number one, the solution is sitting in US Congress, and it’s a solution for both of us; for Mexico, for the United States. Out of that bill there are commitments to Mexico that we have to comply with to create the jobs, to create the opportunities in Mexico. And we’ve been working on that as far as today, the bill has reversed. Now there are many more Mexicans coming back from the United States to Mexico, back to their families, back to work here in Mexico, because now we have the opportunities. Mexican economy is performing extremely well. Back then you have Central America. The big flow of migrants today are coming to North America, coming to the United States, through Central America. They come through Mexico. We’re trying to do our best to withhold them with humanitarian programs and getting them and sending them back, but the flow is too intense. At the very end, it’s an economic problem. Let me tell you, NAFTA, and this is the third point. When NAFTA started 25 years ago, the differences that got between income for a person working on the US side of the border or the Mexican side would have been to 1 difference. So would learn to swim across the Bravo river and you move your salary and income from $1 to $10. Who is not going to move up with such a strong incentive? Now NAFTA has performed extremely well, because today that gap is 5 to 1, 25 years after. So it’s been reduced, and I am sure, if we keep working like we’re doing, United States and Mexico as partners, as North America, that gap, in the next generations, in the next 20-25 years, it will be 1 to 1, just like it is on the Canadian border. So we are working, we’re moving ahead. So coming out with this crazy idea, walls and not understanding that we are partners through NAFTA, trying to impose taxation, like Trump is proposing, that is killing the future opportunities of the US economy. It’s really going to get worse. Dan Proft: But President Fox, I don’t understand why there’s so much obsession with the wall, or some other barrier at the border to protect the integrity of the border. You said you’re not an open-borders guy. You said nations should be able to protect their borders. There is reason to do that, and if you have a legal regime that provided for legal immigration, as you also suggest, then why is there such obsession with a wall or any other physical barrier between Mexico and the United States? Vicente Fox: No, my claim is the wall is not the answer. We have to do other things to wring that order and to have very well graduated border activities. But that’s proceeded on through the bill that is in Congress, through the law, and through economic measures. If Trump decides to go at a trade war with Mexico, imagine what that will produce, number one, to the United States, because you would have to pay for your Volkswagen, or for your Ford car in the United States 40% more than what you’re paying for that car today. That’s incredible. Dan Proft: President Fox, I don’t mean to interrupt, I appreciate it, got the trade war piece of it. Thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate your time and your input, and hope to speak with you again as the campaign rolls on this fall. Vicente Fox: A pleasure, thank you very much. Paisanos, I’m with you all the way! Keep going, keep working hard! Keep being Americans, keep being US citizens, and keep being Mexican citizens and Mexican culture. I’m with you. Amy Jacobson: Thank you, Vicente Fox!