President and Cecilia Salinas, Secretary Solana, Ambassadors Petricioli and Negroponte, members of both Cabinets, we are delighted to be here. And at the outset of these remarks, may I thank everyone responsible for providing us with this magnificent forum in this magnificent theater and to thank the guests who are here -- President Salinas telling me that they come from all across the country. We are honored, and I am very proud to be here.
Mr. President, Barbara and I are touched and deeply impressed by the wonderful reception that we've been given by the people of your home State, from Charreada in Agualeguas to the bustling crowds of Monterrey. For our part, it's great to see Saddleback Mountain and to be with the civic leaders of this truly magnificent city, this truly great country. And it's also a pleasure to again spend time with your President. From the chambers of the United Nations to the halls of the Kremlin to the palaces of Paris and Prague, the world recognizes that Mexico has one of the most dynamic and creative leaders of our generation, your President, President Salinas. When I say ``our generation,'' I've got to be a little careful about this young President. [Laughter]
Little surprise, then, that one of my first acts as President-elect was to meet with your President in Barbara and my hometown of Houston, Texas. Yesterday President Salinas returned the favor by sharing with us the beauty of his hometown. And it was there in Agualeguas that I saw many similarities of our backgrounds. Both of us are the sons of Senators. Both of us were raised to believe in public service. And both of us know that what is true for two people is true for two nations: Friendship makes us stronger.
I know that my country is also stronger because of Mexico's contribution to our cultural heritage -- a rich bequest of architecture, language, and culture. And in a more personal way, it's a heritage bestowed on the Bush family. Our son Jeb has lived in your country. His wife Columba was born in your country, grew up in Leon and Guanajuato. And their union has given Barbara and me three beloved grandchildren. So, when I speak of Americans and Mexicans, I can only say: Somos una familia -- we are one family.
Of course, we're still distinct societies with very different identities, as we should be. But we've, at long last, discarded hollow fears and wornout cliches. And as the world watches, we're working together in a spirit of mutual respect.
The world is also watching because President Salinas is leading Mexico through an era of exciting, unprecedented reform. Like the Aztec eagle, Mexico is rising again as a 21st-century giant, greater than ever. The Mexican renaissance has begun.
Right from the start, President Salinas, his fellow leaders, and the Mexican people have shown unflagging courage, even in the midst of a grave financial crisis, high inflation, and a devastating hurricane. Such courage does not go unrewarded, and that's why Mexico is growing stronger by the day.
The world celebrates the impressive success Mexico has achieved in opening its economy so quickly, in restructuring its debt more creatively, and in reforming its national economy more wisely. These are bold moves, but we live in a time that demands bold action.
The world has not seen such rapid change since the last meeting in Monterrey between a U.S. President and a Mexican President. In 1943, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt came here to consult with President Avila Camacho, we were allies in a life-or-death struggle against tyranny. That war ended in 1945. Another struggle, a cold war, came to a peaceful end in 1990. Yet even as the challenges change, the nature of our relationship as colleagues, neighbors, and friends endures and grows. This is what we mean by the spirit of Houston and Monterrey.
And it is in this spirit of friendship that we can work together to confront new challenges: to advance democracy and human rights, to provide for the economic prosperity and well-being of our citizens, to struggle together to protect our youth from drugs, and to protect our common environment from pollution.
As we meet, we are poised to conclude negotiations on international trade that will bring greater opportunity to our peoples. We must press now for the successful conclusion of the world trade talks known as the Uruguay round of GATT. The critical moment is at hand; we must not let the Uruguay round fail. As two of the world's largest economies, we must insist that all our trading partners act in a spirit of fairness and openness. We know all too well that trade-distorting subsidies and artificial barriers create winners and losers before the game even begins. We must insist that trade with the nations of Europe, Asia, and elsewhere at the very least be conducted on a level playing field.
Certainly, we've seen what trade liberalization can do just between two countries. Since Mexico entered GATT and lowered its tariffs, our two-way trade has boomed, from .8 billion in 1987 to over billion in 1989; and figures are still climbing in 1990.
The maquiladora industry alone boasts of more than 1,700 plants, all generating foreign exchange for Mexico. The reason? Go to the leading automotive or electronics plants here in northern Mexico, and you'll find standards that are not excelled anywhere in the world. The world is demanding quality, and the U.S. and Mexican workers can provide it.
But the size and sophistication of U.S.-Mexico trade today only hints at our potential. We can create and share unprecedented prosperity and jobs. That is why we both want to conclude a bilateral free-trade agreement.
This agreement will not only allow us to expand markets, it will allow us to expand opportunity. Together, we can allow two economies to work in complementary ways. Together, we can produce goods and services that are world-class competitive. Free trade is good for the United States and good for Mexico -- good for American workers and good for the workers of Mexico. I really look forward to the day when we will meet to sign our names to a free-trade agreement that will write a new page in North American history.
But while we endorse expanded trade, we reject the idea of a world divided into two isolated trading blocs. The United States and Mexico must set an example for all nations. In my Enterprise for the Americas Initiative, I sketched out a vision of a hemisphere open to the free movement of goods, services, and ideas, from Anchorage to Montevideo. This is a vision that President Salinas shares, for he knows that Mexico is a critical link in this chain of progress.
Your great poet and Nobel laureate Octavio Paz wrote that ``Mexico has been, and is, a boundary between peoples and civilizations. Boundaries, however, are not only disjunctive obstacles, they are also bridges.'' So, let our work together build ever more bridges to join North and South.
But of course, our bilateral cooperation extends far beyond commerce. Our peoples live in peace and freedom; but halfway around the world, a brutal, unprovoked aggression shattered the peaceful desert sky. Once again, Mexico and the United States stand united in rejecting aggression, this time, that of the dictator of Iraq. Mexico is opposing this aggression with a strong and respected voice in the United Nations and by increasing its contribution to the world oil market. And so, I am here today to thank Mexico and thank your President and to salute the Mexican people for your world leadership.
What could not be done in the past can be done today. The world of global conflict is giving way to a new world order of global cooperation.
Next week, when I visit your sister republics in South America, I'll discuss the historic nuclear nonproliferation treaty pioneered by Mexico in 1967. This treaty has played an important role in keeping this hemisphere free of the dangerous competition of nuclear weapons that threatens so many other regions of the world.
But there's another threat to the peace, one that's more subtle, one that knows no nationality and respects no borders. I'm talking about drugs and the violence they bring, that President Salinas so eloquently spoke about a minute ago. Both President Salinas and I have committed our governments to a decisive victory over drug trafficking.
Like all conflicts, the drug war claims casualties. Each time a hero falls, it doesn't matter if he loses his life on my side or your side of the border. Let no one doubt our resolve. We will not be divided against each other, dissuaded from seeking justice, or frightened into submission. We must not flag or fail. We must and we will win together this war on drugs.
I think we've always known it, but we know now that what affects one of us affects both of us. This is no less true when it comes to our common environment -- critical to the future of both our nations. A few weeks ago, I signed the first comprehensive clean air legislation in 13 years, new legislation that will benefit not just my country but the whole world. We're also working with you to improve air quality in our large cities and reduce pollution along our common border. If I may paraphrase your President, the children of Los Angeles and Mexico City deserve blue skies by day and stars to wish upon by night. That bright and hopeful future must be our mission because our children and their children deserve nothing less.
Your President and I also understand that our two nations have much to share in a greater marketplace: the marketplace of ideas. That's why we've created the U.S.-Mexico Commission for Educational and Cultural Cooperation, a new way to promote a dialog among our scholars and our artists and our educators. And when our brightest men and women confer, I believe that one of the things they will tell us is this: We're facing a new century, so let us begin this new century not simply as neighbors but as friends. Let us begin this new century not as mere partners in trade but as partners in leadership.
Standing alone, we're still the nations that produced giants of leadership like Washington and Hidalgo, giants of freedom like Lincoln and Juarez, and giants of the spirit like Carl Sandburg and Octavio Paz. But as great as our two nations are when we stand together, we are never taller than when we stand for principle.
Once again, thank you for this extraordinarily gracious hospitality. May God bless you all and the peoples of the United States and Mexico. Thank you very, very much.
Note: President Bush spoke at 11:15 a.m. at the Teatro de la Ciudad. In his remarks, he referred to President Carlos Salinas de Gortari's wife, Cecilia; Secretary of Foreign Relations Fernando Solana Morales of Mexico; Gustavo Petricioli, Mexico's Ambassador to the United States; John D. Negroponte, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico; and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.