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PRESIDENT LOPEZ OBRADOR:  (Via interpreter)  I wanted to the Secretary of State to look at the murals, so I took him all over the National Palace.  We apologize.  But we are here now.  Welcome, everyone.

FOREIGN MINISTER EBRARD:  (Via translation)  With your permission, Mr. President.  Good morning, everyone.  We welcome you.  Welcome, Secretary of State Blinken, Mr. Ambassador, Mr. Attorney General, Mr. Secretary, and all high officials with us here today.  I want to briefly mention that the goal of this meeting is to discuss the U.S.-Mexico Bicentennial Understanding on Security, Public Health and Safe Communities.  I only want to briefly say that we called it “Bicentennial” because we will soon celebrate 200 years of bilateral relationship.  We though that the best way to celebrate is to have an understanding.  With your permission, Mr. President, I will yield the floor to Secretary Blinken.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Gracias.  Thank you so much, Marcelo.  Señor Presidente, gracias.  It’s wonderful to be here.  And I must say, just as a – on a personal note, this was the most extraordinary – not only tour of the palace – but history lesson that you were so generous to share with me.  A history of Mexico and a history of the relationship between our countries, but now in this moment, a very powerful vision for where that relationship can and should go.  And I’m grateful to you, Mr. President, for sharing that with me and I’m very inspired by the vision you expressed and the work now that we have to do to translate that into a reality, into truly a transformational partnership of shared responsibility.

And what struck me is that what you expressed is exactly in line with the vision that President Biden has for the partnership between Mexico and the United States, and our responsibility together is to build that.

But simply, Mr. President, thank you.  I’m grateful.  It’s a moment I will never, ever forget.  Thank you.

PRESIDENT LOPEZ OBRADOR:  (Via translation)  You are most welcome.  I did talk with Mr. Blinken about what binds us, which is a lot.  Among other things, we talked about how in the three transformations in Mexico, freedom fighters who carried out those transformations, always thought about protecting themselves, seeking refuge in the north, in our neighbor to the north: the United States.  Hidalgo, the father of our country, was detained when he was moving north, trying to find protection.  He was apprehended in Coahuila and taken prisoner to Chihuahua.  He initiated the independence movement.  He was an extraordinary social fighter, because he not only sought independence but the abolition of slavery.

During the second transformation, President Juarez went north, to uphold the flag of the republic because they invaded us here at the National Palace and the imperial government was established.  We have to thank President Lincoln for never recognizing Maximiliano.  President Juarez lamented greatly the assassination of President Lincoln.  Juarez was at the border for two years in Chihuahua defending the republic because the country was occupied.  What today is Ciudad Juarez was back then called Paso del Norte and it was there where he established his government.

I told Secretary Blinken that during the Revolution War it was the same.  The freedom fighter who made the call to arms to the people against the Porfirio Diaz dictatorship, Francisco I. Madero, published the manifesto calling on people to take up arms on November 20 at 6:00 p.m. against Porfirio Diaz, in San Antonio, Texas.  He faced Porfirio Diaz in what was already called Ciudad Juarez, and it was there where a decisive battle took place.  The revolutionary group triumphed, the Maderistas won, and in a really short time Porfirio Díaz had to leave the country.

There are other times in history where we distanced ourselves but there are also things that unite us: history, our cultural relations, now 38 million Mexicans in the United States, the 3,180 kilometers of shared border, the economic and commercial changes around the world that demand us flexibility, integration to consolidate us as a region economically and commercially.

I was telling Mr. Blinken, and I also mentioned it to President Biden and to the Vice President, that the phrase “poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States” is attributed to Porfirio Diaz.  And now we say: “Blessed Mexico, close to God and not so far from the United States.”  We need to understand each other.

I just finished a book where I express that it would be inconceivable if there was no understanding; it would be very regrettable if we did not understand each other; if relations, cooperation and friendship between our peoples and our governments were not strengthened.  We are open to cooperate for development, to work together, and to be respectful of our sovereignties.  I believe that we will be able to jointly establish a new era in our relationship.  We are carrying out a peaceful transformation that basically consists of eliminating and banishing corruption, which was Mexico’s main problem, the main cause of economic and social inequality, of violence, of migration, of many evils.  If corruption ends, if we remove corruption – that is our formula and we have been making progress – we will be able to live in a better society.  We are on it.  We are very happy that you are here.  A very warm greeting to President Biden and reiterate the invitation for him to visit us, whenever he can.  The ambassador has had many talks with us.  He is a very good representative of the United States.  He is a respectful man who is fostering friendship between our peoples.  He comes and goes.  He wants you to be here, but for senators to come too, right?  So that they know more about our reality.  All this is for the good of our countries.

Welcome, thank you very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER EBRARD:  (Via translation)  We thank the media for their presence to be able to start.  Thank you very much.

U.S. Department of State

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