For Immediate Release
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Mexico City, Mexico)
May 6, 1997
PRESS CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENT CLINTON
AND PRESIDENT ZEDILLO
Los Pinos Presidential Palace
Mexico City, Mexico
PRESIDENT ZEDILLO: President Clinton, ladies and gentlemen
from the media from the United States and from Mexico, once again I would like
to express the satisfaction of my government and the people of Mexico for the
visit of President Clinton. We are truly very pleased that President Clinton
is beginning his tour here in Latin America starting in Mexico. We are also
especially pleased by the results of the work of the Mexico-U.S. Binational
Commission and by the agreement that will be materialized today.
President Clinton and I have heard the report of the trade
relations between Mexico and the United States. It is very encouraging that
from the beginning of NAFTA our trade has increased over 60 percent, and now
accounts for close to $150 billion U.S. dollars per year. And this
represents, above all, more and improved economic opportunities and more and
improved jobs for Mexicans as well as for U.S. citizens.
This is very encouraging in intensifying our efforts in order
to reach agreement in the fields that are still pending. This effort has also
encouraged us to reaffirm the commitment to NAFTA and to work so that at the
summit meeting in Chile next year we will provide an important impulse to a
creation of free trade in the American continent.
The Mexican government is very pleased with the agreements we
have reached in order to promote educational, scientific and cultural
exchanges, as well as to protect the environment and nature, particularly
along the border area, our common border. These agreements prove that we are
united by interest in the conditions in which our communities live -- the
conditions of the health and the safety of the families.
We are particularly satisfied that President Clinton and I
will be signing the Declaration of the Mexican-U.S. Alliance Against Drugs.
Our alliance will be based on mutual
trust and on our commitment as heads of state that the
collaboration between our countries will progress in keeping with
fundamental principles. These principles include: the absolute
respect of sovereignty and territorial jurisdiction of Mexico and
of the United States; shared responsibility in facing the problem
of illegal drugs and related crimes such as money laundering and
weapons trafficking; a comprehensive fight against drugs,
attaching the same priority to all aspects of the problem;
balance and reciprocity in actions, programs and guidelines to
take on the threat of drugs in both countries; and effective law
enforcement in both nations.
Based on these principles and based on the joint
assessments we received today -- President Clinton and I both
received this -- Mexico and the United States now has a shared
vision of the magnitude of the problem and we share the will to
combat the problem with all of the resources within our reach.
The declaration we will be signing contains specific
objectives. We have given instructions to our governments to
prepare a common strategy in order to follow through with the
objectives and to prepare plans for reciprocal implementation. A
particularly pleasing aspect is that the declaration includes the
intention to work together, jointly, in order to have a
hemispheric agreement against illegal trafficking of weapons, and
also an agreement for the extraordinary U.N. Assembly on Drugs
The Mexican government appreciates the sensitivity
of President Clinton in terms of the Mexicans' rights and the
dignity of Mexicans in his country. Thus, it is very pleasing
that, today, we will also sign a Joint Declaration on Migration .
For the past two years, our governments have made important
progress in dealing bilaterally with issues such as consular
protection and the human rights of migrants, as well as the
efforts to combat trafficking in human beings. Today we have
reaffirmed the commitment of both governments to strengthen
bilateral cooperation in order to deal with the migration
We have agreed to base our work on three basic
principles. One, the sovereign right of every nation to apply
its migration laws however it deems most appropriate for its
national interests, always in keeping with international law and
in a spirit of bilateral cooperation. The second principle is
that of absolute compliance with the objectives of the memorandum
of understanding on consular protection of Mexicans in the United
States, which was signed almost one year ago, particularly in the
respect of human rights of migrants. And the third principle is
to deal with the migration phenomenon in a comprehensive view
which is mutually beneficial and will make it possible to
conserve family unity and to protect the dignity of human beings.
Based on these principles, this establishes the
commitments of our governments to protect the rights of migrants
and to promote the procurement of justice for migrants, as well
as the respect of due legal process in the application or the
enforcement of migration laws. There is also a shared commitment
to ensure safe repatriation and orderly repatriation of migrants
and apply new measures to reduce violence along the border, and
to combat trafficking in human beings and falsification of
In order to ensure a comprehensive view on
migration, we will examine scientific analysis which will be the
result of binational cooperation. This reflects the cooperation
and the goodwill of our governments to create a border whose
communities are joined by friendship and cooperation, not by
conflict. We want appropriate, just and harmonious development.
The visit of President Clinton and the agreements signed and to
be signed are a firm step in our relationship of friendship,
respect and cooperation which will benefit both Mexico and the
Once again I would like to thank President Clinton
for his visit and also ask him to address you at this time,
before we take the questions from our friends from the media.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you, Mr.
President. To all the members of the Mexican government here and
our hosts, the members of the American delegation, the members of
the Cabinet administration and the members of Congress. This is
my first trip to Mexico as President, my fifth occasion to be in
your country in my lifetime, and I'm very pleased to be back. As
you know, I had planned to be here a month ago, but I literally
got a bad break and couldn't come. So I'm very happy that we're
able to consummate this trip today.
As President Zedillo has said just a short while
ago, we heard the reports of the United States-Mexico Binational
Commission, a remarkable Cabinet-level group that oversees the
day to day interaction of our governments. The presentations
demonstrate vividly the remarkable depth and breadth of our
relationship. No two countries are working together on more
important issues, with a more direct effect on the lives of their
people than Mexico and the United States.
The reports demonstrate that for the most part, we
do agree on the opportunities and the problems before us, and in
a few moments the President and I will sign joint declarations on
drugs and migration. They demonstrate that, more than in the
past, we also agree on solutions and that we are prepared to
carry forward our cooperation to a higher level.
We share more than a 2,000-mile border, and, more
importantly, we also share a vision of what the border should be
in the 21st century -- a safe, clean, efficient model of
prosperity and cooperation joining our people, not a barrier that
The Joint Declaration on Migration makes clear that
we both see our border as a dynamic living space, with complex
problems to be sure and real opportunities, both of which require
a comprehensive approach. The declaration commits both our
governments to improve how we manage the border. We will ensure
that the human rights of all migrants are respected, regardless
of their status, expand public information campaigns warning
migrants of dangerous crossings, reduce violence and criminality
at the border, and combat the terrible practice of alien
The issue of immigration raises passions on both
sides of our border. I'm proud of our tradition of generous
legal immigration. I will do everything I can to preserve it. I
deeply believe that America's diversity is our greatest source of
strength for the future. There is no more powerful proof of that
than the remarkable contributions Mexican Americans have made to
our country in every walk of life and to my administration.
But to maintain safe and orderly immigration and to
do justice by the hundreds of thousands of people who legally
immigrate to the United States every year, we must take effective
action to stop illegal immigration. Our new immigration law will
help us to do that. In applying the law and in our overall
approach to immigration, we must balance control with common
sense and compassion.
I am very pleased that the balanced budget agreement
I reached with our Congress last week restores certain benefits
to some legal immigrants. I will continue to work with Congress
to correct some aspects of the immigration law. We will ensure
respect for human rights and seek to apply the law humanely, with
special concern for children and for families. There will be no
mass deportations and no discrimination. But I am also
determined to help our Southern neighbors make the most of their
rich economic and social potential, because, ultimately, that's
the best way to give people the confidence they need to make
their futures at home.
President Zedillo and I will also sign a Joint
Alliance Against Drugs. With this alliance, we recognize the
dangers we both face, the responsibilities we both share.
Illegal narcotics are not simply a Mexican problem -- far from
it. But neither are they simply an American problem. They are
our common problem and we must find a common solution.
The alliance takes our already unprecedented
cooperation to a new level. It respects the laws and sovereignty
of our countries, while committing us to 15 concrete goals, to
put in place a shared strategy by the end of this year. We've
agreed to intensify our work on money-laundering investigations,
to increase our cooperation on extraditions, to facilitate trials
on both sides of the border, to apply profits seized from drug
traffickers directly to law enforcement purposes, and to step up
our fight against gun-running, including a hemispheric agreement
outlawing the trafficking in illegal arms.
These two declarations prove that we can work
through our problems in ways that work for both of us. But this
relationship is about far more than resolving our problems. It's
about seizing the real opportunities to make our people more
prosperous and more secure on the edge of a new century. That's
what we did with NAFTA, which has helped to raise our exports to
Mexico to an all-time high and helped Mexico to bounce back from
a wrenching recession that caused great hardship to people here.
Now, as President Zedillo and I agreed, we must push
forward on NAFTA's promise to help us clean up the environment,
especially along the border, and to improve working conditions
and safeguard worker rights on both sides of the border.
I'm especially pleased with the new steps we have
taken to protect the environment and to promote education. The
United States will provide $170 million in Environmental
Protection Agency funds for border water projects. We will work
with Mexico to attract private sector investments and pollution
prevention. We will work to preserve endangered species and
We have also agreed to expand the Fulbright
Scholarship program -- a favorite one of mine because it was
named for my mentor and one of the most outstanding people ever
to come from my home state. This will double the number of
Fulbright scholars for Mexicans studying the United States, with
a special focus on science and technology.
Our partnership with Mexico for opportunity,
security and prosperity is fundamental to the future of both our
peoples. Today we have strengthened that partnership. Our
prospect for shaping that future for the children are brighter,
and I feel very, very good about what we have done and quite
optimistic about what we will do in the days and years ahead.
Thank you, Mr. President.
(The declaration is signed.)
Q I would like to address my question to
President Clinton. President Clinton, are you concerned by the
elections which will take place here in Mexico next June, and
particularly, can you imagine a congress in Mexico without a
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I'm actually more concerned
about the American Congress. (Laughter.) Let me say, I applaud
the movement toward political reform and electoral reform in
Mexico just as I have applauded and supported the movement toward
The judgments in the election are for the Mexican
people to make and for all the rest of us who support democracy
and freedom and human rights to support. I welcome the fact that
so many observers have been invited here to watch it take place,
and I respect President Zedillo for supporting this process.
Q President Zedillo and President Clinton, a U.N.
report out last month, just last month, said that the extensive
focus on free-market economic reforms by themselves have failed
to lift much of Latin America, including Mexico out of poverty --
the population out of poverty -- and it suggests that more
attention needs to be spent on social spending as at least a
I'm wondering if you agree with that assessment, if
you feel that maybe your extensive focus on free-market reforms
need to be balanced in any degree, and if you can offer any kind
of prediction on how many years into the future it will be before
the countries of Latin America and Mexico specifically reach the
level of society-wide economic prosperity, that issues that
you've been dealing with such as immigration and drug-trafficking
largely dry up on their own or begin to dry up on their own.
PRESIDENT ZEDILLO: Thank you very much. I will let
others talk about the situation of other sister nations in Latin
America and I'll refer to the case of Mexico. One of the reasons
why we Mexicans have been reinforcing our economic structure --
and this has taken place for just over 10 years -- is precisely
being able to have a material base which arises from vigorous and
sustained economic growth so as to be able to support more
ambitious social policies which will make it possible to more
effectively combat poverty and inequality, which are the problems
that our nation is suffering from.
I think it's very important to underscore the fact
that many social problems, many of the problems of inequality and
poverty in Mexico today -- and I think there are other countries
of Latin America suffering them as well -- their basic source is
found in government policies which in past decades stressed
government control over economic processes too much. The long
period of stagnation in our economy cannot be tied to, nor should
it be tied in any way, to the processes of economic
liberalization -- quite the contrary.
I think that thanks to these policies of opening up
towards foreign countries and the internal liberalization of our
economies, and also adjusting the size of the Mexican government
as far as the control of the economy is concerned means that we
will now be able to open up a period of sustained growth, dynamic
growth, which will make it possible for us to expand the reach,
the objectives, the sense and the results of our social policies.
Q President Clinton, are you familiar with a list
of Mexicans that are extraditable and would you be willing to
review the extradition treaty?
President Zedillo, does this new relationship imply
a new concept of sovereignty?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, let me say that we have
enjoyed an unprecedented amount of cooperation related to common
criminal and drug problems in a way designed to strengthen our
sovereignty, not to undermine it. So we have worked with Mexico
in grievous cases on extraditions and I appreciate that, just as
we are trying to work with Mexico in providing helicopters to
support eradication, or computer technology to help Mexico work
with us on money laundering, or working on the preventive aspects
of the narcotics problem. So I believe that extradition
partnerships that are fair, equal and balanced reinforce a
nation's sovereignty, they don't weaken it. And it's an
important part of our long-term strategy to work together on the
Q Mr. President, I'd like to ask you about a
question back in the United States. The Whitewater prosecutors
assert that Mrs. Clinton's testimony on several issues has
changed over time or differs from that of other witnesses. Do
you have any idea of what the discrepancies might be? And what
does this suggest to you about the course of the investigation?
Is it becoming more troublesome for Mrs. Clinton?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: No and no.
Q Why is that, sir?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, you've been watching it
for years -- if you don't know, I can't help you.
Q President, four years after NAFTA was signed,
are the terms fully enforced, or do you believe that it is
necessary to carry out any changes, amendments, or are some of
the clauses obsolete? Thank you.
PRESIDENT ZEDILLO: I believe that the North
American Free Trade Agreement has performed very clearly in
keeping with the objectives that the three countries
participating in the agreement had decided on. And proof of this
are the figures of the three countries, the trade figures of the
three countries. Just a moment ago I mentioned that in bilateral
trade alone between the United States and Mexico during NAFTA
trade has grown over 60 percent -- that is, almost close to 70
percent. And that is despite the fact that in 1995 in our
country we had an economic recession.
Thus, I believe that the terms under which NAFTA was
negotiated were very good terms. And I think that within the
agreement we have very clear and transparent mechanisms to deal
with any kind of dispute, and I believe that at this time there
is no significant reason from the Mexican perspective to review
the contents of NAFTA.
If you'll allow me, because just a moment ago one
question went unanswered, the second part of your question. I
would merely like to say that under no circumstances does this
new understanding based on respect between Mexico and the United
States, in no way does it mean that the concept of sovereignty
has changed -- on the contrary. It is very pleasing for me as a
President and as a representative of the people of Mexico that in
a document which we just signed, that President Clinton and I
just signed, respecting this alliance against drugs, the first
principle which we mutually recognize is -- and I will read it --
is the absolute respect for the sovereignty and territorial
jurisdiction of both Mexico and the United States of America.
Q Mr. President, as has been discussed a great
deal in the last two days, the two nations have a long history
together and sensitivities have grown up as a result of
involvement with one another, including involvement during war.
Later today, you will be laying a wreath at the tomb of Mexican
cadets who were actually boys at the time that they died at the
hands of American troops. This is one of those issues in which
the Mexicans have been very sensitive. These boys are heroes,
and are seen basically as children who died in war.
My question is, are you going there and laying that
wreath in any way as a gesture of apology or atonement for action
by the U.S. military?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I'm going there as a gesture of
respect -- not only respect for their lives, but respect for the
patriotism and the integrity of the people who have served this
President Truman went there as well when he was
here, and it's my understanding that no one has gone since. But
I think other heads of states regularly go there, and I do not
believe the President of the United States should decline to go
because of what happened between our two countries a long time
You know, we are trying to heal the wounds of war
with nations with whom we fought even more recently. I'm sending
Pete Peterson, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for over six
years, to Vietnam as the new ambassador. It seems to me that if
the United States wants to lead the world in the direction we say
we do, then it is imperative for us to respect our friends and
neighbors especially, in countries around the world, and honor
their symbols of national honor. And I'm proud to be able to do
Let me just say, since the President clarified an
answer he gave, let me say to Mr. Hunt I did not mean to be
flippant. What I meant to say was I know of no factual
discrepancy, period. I am unaware of one. But if you took the
four of you sitting there together on the front row and got you
all together again, 13 to 19 years later and asked you precisely
what happened on this day, you might have slightly different
memories. I have no idea that there is any such discrepancy, but
I have no reason to be concerned about it whatever. We've both
done our best to answer all the questions that were asked of us,
and already tens of millions of dollars have been spent on this,
and I am just perfectly comfortable with where we are.
Q President Clinton, the question is regarding
what you just mentioned, that is that you would be working with
your Congress on some aspects of the migration law. What aspects
would these be, and how would they benefit our citizens in the
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, let me just say, first of
all, we've cleared a big hurdle, I think, in the budget
agreement, dealing with the eligibility of legal immigrants for
public assistance when, through no fault of their own, they're
put into some distress. And then there are a number of other
issues which have been raised about the administration of this
law and the extent to which it might prompt in a way that
Congress never really intended the virtual permanent breakup of
families, especially the people who maybe had visas even there to
come into the country in the first place.
So I'm working with Congress on it. But I hope you
will understand when I tell you that since this is such a
terrifically emotional issue, until we have a clear approach and
I understand who is on what side here, the more I say about it, I
might be endangering my chances to succeed. I think we all know
what the most significant potential problems of the law are. I
still support its fundamental traditions. I support -- I'm glad
I -- I would sign the law again tomorrow if I had to because it
gives us the ability to control our borders better, to get
illegal immigrants out of the workplace and to take illegal
immigrants who come into the criminal justice system and remove
them quicker. So I think that's all to the good.
I'm concerned about undue family breakup and
disqualifying people who may not deserve it virtually permanently
from applying for citizenship.
Q A question for both men. Have you resolved the
issue of whether American drug agents operating in Mexico can
carry sidearms for their own protection? And if you have, given
the level of trust -- or distrust -- between our two countries,
such that it takes a presidential meeting to resolve an issue
like that, why should anyone believe that the United States and
Mexico would be able to cooperate, exchange highly sensitive
intelligence information on drug trafficking or drug smuggling,
or is the talk of cooperation just that -- talk?
PRESIDENT ZEDILLO: If you will allow me, in the
declaration that we've just signed, that President Clinton and I
have just signed, it is very clear on two aspects. The first
aspect, having to do with the principles -- and I referred to
them a moment ago, but I will refer to them again -- and that is
the absolute respect for the sovereignty and territorial
jurisdiction of both Mexico and the United States.
And the other aspect, which is very important for
the Mexican government and is expressed as one of the specific
tasks to be undertaken by both governments, and it reads,
literally, "The governments will do whatever necessary to ensure
the protection of the officials in charge of enforcing the law."
And this naturally is on both sides of the border, applicable for
both sides of the border.
This principle and this recommendation which we've
made to our governments must be translated into practical
measures which obviously are in keeping with both of the
previously mentioned principles. I have already answered this
question, the question that you've put me, in the past, and I can
assure you that we will comply both with the principles that both
governments have agreed to, as well as with the objective of
providing these people with safety.
Naturally, it would not be appropriate for us to
refer to the specific mechanisms with which within the principle
for the respective sovereignty we will be protecting these law
enforcement agents. I am sure that President Clinton, nor
myself, would ever make public the details which might jeopardize
the safety of these people. Yet our commitment in both areas is
PRESIDENT CLINTON: -- the second half of your
question. You said why should anyone believe that we can work
together. And let's be frank here among friends. On the
American side the problems are we have less than five percent of
the world's population and we consume about half the drugs. And
we're more than happy every year, American citizens, to give
billions of dollars that winds up in the hands of narco
traffickers. That's our big problem. Our second problem is that
while we are increasing our capacity to deal with it, we have not
succeeded in reducing the demand or completely controlling the
border on our side.
Now, the Mexican problem is that narco traffickers
can destroy the fabric of civil society. They can undermine the
integrity of any society. And they go after places with open
spaces and a vulnerability to organize
money and violence. And so they also have to worry about
corruption, as anyone would targeted with that kind of money.
But you say how can we rely on them to cooperate.
Let me talk about some facts that we never -- that we
under-report. And I don't mean that as a criticism; I mean we
do, too, we in public life. We now have 202 cooperative
money-laundering ventures going now; 54 of them are complete,
joint investigations. Last year, 200 law enforcement officers in
Mexico lost their lives in the line of duty -- 200. And
extraditions, seizures, prosecutions and eradications are all up
in the last year.
So I believe that this government is trying to work
with us. And I believe that the chances of our succeeding in
dealing with our problems, and the chances of their succeeding in
dealing with their problems are dramatically heightened if we
work together -- and be honest about our problems, but also not
deny good-faith efforts when they exist. All those 200 people
had families that grieved for them. They laid down their lives
trying to fight -- roll back the narco traffickers, roll back
corruption, roll back crime. And it seems to me that their lives
alone are evidence that we ought to be working to cooperate.
PRESIDENT ZEDILLO: In view of the time constraints,
we will take one last question.
Q Thank you. Good afternoon. President Zedillo,
in view of the magnitude of the fight against drug trafficking,
is it possible that Mexico will accept the $6 million in cash
offered by the United States to combat drugs as an additional
resource to combat drug trafficking?
And, President Clinton, how did your view or your
vision of Mexico change when you arrived here after your meeting
with President Zedillo, and particularly, what was your concept
after having visited the Museum of Anthropology? Thank you.
PRESIDENT ZEDILLO: In terms of the principle of
mutual respect and cooperation that the United States of America
and Mexico have developed in fighting drug trafficking, there
have been different occasions on which we have received material
support for this struggle, which is a struggle that we all
I am not informed of the details of the resources
that you've mentioned. I am sure that within the context of the
agreement that we have reached we will examine in all detail this
offer, and in keeping with the principles and objectives that
I've mentioned we will reach a decision in this regard.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me briefly say that I don't
know that my view of our relationship has changed since I got
here yesterday afternoon, but I have been reinforced in my
conviction that we can make progress on all these fronts as long
as we do it in a genuine atmosphere of mutual respect, and as
long as we're completely honest about our differences and willing
to work hard to overcome them, and we tell the people the facts
about the progress we are making and the problems we have. So I
feel very much reassured.
And in terms of going to the Anthropological Museum,
I haven't been there since the 1970s. I was a young man in a
different line of work back then. And I think the President can
tell you that I think I kept him about an hour longer than I was
supposed to, and I would probably still be there if it were up to
me. But I hope the Mexican people are very proud of that because
it shows, even to an outsider like me, the remarkable cultures
which were the foundation of modern Mexico. And it certainly
gave me a deeper appreciation for the richness and depth of this
country's history and the incredible talents and gifts of its
PRESIDENT ZEDILLO: Many thanks.
THE PRESIDENT: One more -- equal time? (Laughter.)
Q Mr. President, you mentioned the responsibilities
that the United States bears for the international drug problem
because of the massive demand in the United States. Can you give
us some of your ideas -- ideas of new efforts that you might have
to help to combat this big demand?
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, let me say, I have
--we could talk all day about this, and I have to be brief. But
the first thing I would urge you to do is to never forget the
plan that General McCaffrey has filed now, because General
McCaffrey is a military man and when he files a plan, that's his
mission and he intends to follow it. And if you look at our
budget, and if you look at our priorities, we're trying to
But let me just mention two points, if I might.
Number one, we are trying with the work of the Attorneys General
of the two countries and our drug operations to intensify our
cooperation with Mexico and to work more effectively with other
countries to prevent drugs at their source or in transit.
Number two, we are focusing on our young people. We
know that we have -- and we thank God for it -- we know we've had
a big decline in drug use among people between the ages of 18 and
34. So now we have to focus on the young. And that means more
education, more testing, more treatment. And it means that we
have to have a comprehensive juvenile justice youth development
program in every community in the United States.
That's one of the reasons I strongly supported the
Summit of Service in Philadelphia, because I believe if they
really want to do the things that we all said we wanted to do,
there will have to be a community-based initiative that the
federal government supports in every community to keep our kids
alive and keep them off drugs.
So we have to do our part. And I'm firmly committed
to doing it.
PRESIDENT ZEDILLO: Muchas gracias. (Applause.)
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