Guarini Institute Presents Current Opportunities and Challenges for Mexico

“Current Challenges and Opportunities for Mexico” was hosted by John Cabot University in conjunction with the Guarini Institute for Public Affairs and the Mexican Embassy in Rome. Ambassador Miguel Ruiz-Cabañas Izquierdo addressed a body of John Cabot University students, faculty, and staff as well as other interested individuals from outside of the university. The presentation was well attended and the presentation hall was filled to capacity; everyone present was anxious to hear the Ambassador speak.

The Ambassador began by stating clearly that the ideas he was about to present were his own, and not the official positions of the Mexican government. Following this declaration, the Ambassador launched into an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the country of Mexico and her people.

He began positively. The Ambassador explained that Mexico has the world’s 11th largest population, the 13th largest land area and is blessed by close geographic proximity to the United States. He was proud to claim that Mexico has its public finances in order with its deficit steady at 2.5% of GDP, a statistic that many American policy makers eye with jealousy. Finally, the Ambassador stressed the importance of Mexico’s position as the world’s 6th largest producer of oil, and the significant quantity of high-quality jobs this creates, especially in the engineering sector.

To contrast these positives the Ambassador listed three serious challenges that the government must address if they would like to see a growth in Mexico’s power on the world stage. Specifically: poverty, insecurity and violence, and the education system.

Despite the fact that 46% of Mexico’s population lives beneath the poverty line, the Ambassador said there was light at the end of the tunnel. The EU crisis, though terrible for the Euro-Zone, was a boon to Mexico’s industry. As investors pulled out of the European Union, they invested in Mexico. The Ambassador observed that when this fact is combined with a properly functioning education system, Mexico’s geographic proximity to the US, and Mexico’s large internal market, Mexico makes a productive target for foreign direct investment.

In regards to violence, Mexico has been plagued with a high level of organized crime for decades. This is in large part to the drug war taking place across Latin America, Mexico and the United States. The complexity of combating transnational organized crime requires a multilateral solution which stresses international cooperation. The Ambassador highlighted the utility of developing more strict regulation for the owning and transporting of firearms in the United States as well as addressing the demand for drugs in the US on a domestic level. The Ambassador also pointed out that the Mexican government has had some success in shaping domestic opinion towards a national consensus condemning the actions of drug cartels and their affiliates.

Although the education system in Mexico still operates below international standards, any analysis of the Mexican education system must take into account the dramatic strides the system has taken since 1910, when over 95% of the population was illiterate. Despite these successes, the Mexican school system still falls flat in primary education and the training of new teachers. If Mexico wishes to still be an economic player on a global level a thorough analysis and remodeling of the education system is required.

After his presentation, Ambassador Miguel Ruiz-Cabañas Izquierdo took questions. A spirited discussion followed, centering on the topics of the Northward shift of the War on Drugs and the young demographic concentration of Mexico’s population. The discussion concluded with some light refreshments and a photo opportunity with the Mexican Ambassador.