Remarks of Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Today I stand before this Assembly at a difficult and painful time for us Mexicans.
Our nation has been wounded, pummeled by nature. In recent weeks, along with our sister nations of the Caribbean and the states of Florida and Texas in the United States, we have suffered large-scale natural disasters that have caused suffering, destruction and death.
Mexico's serious situation is due to two consecutive earthquakes in just 12 days, which have tested not only our preparedness and infrastructure, but also our very humanity. The first earthquake caused a hundred deaths and left 300,000 people homeless in the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca. The second one, just 48 hours ago, has so far caused 273 fatalities, toppled many houses, schools and bridges, and injured many in Mexico City and in towns in the center of the country.
Excellencies, because of this natural disaster, today I feel prouder than ever to be Mexican. Mexican society, united in solidarity, has turned out to help and rescue the victims of these tragedies.
We see young people rescuing old men, children helping their parents and housewives joining the rescue brigades. Neighbors collecting food, people opening the doors of their homes and making them into shelters, and people improvising human chains to remove the rubble and save the lives of people who are still trapped.
Full of hope, we can tell the Assembly that 51 people have been rescued alive from the rubble of fallen buildings and we hope to rescue many more.
At this difficult time, we Mexicans have been very moved by the international community's immediate show of solidarity. Friends are those who are there during the hard times and we have been moved to see that Mexico has true friends all over the world. Your timely help can mean the difference between life and death for many people.
Up until now, our priority has been rescue work: helping those who are trapped in rubble into the light again. We are also working to provide immediate medical care to those who need it urgently. We have joined efforts to feed and shelter all those who have lost their homes or are afraid to return to them.
Leading these efforts is a society that is determined to keep moving forward, stronger than ever. The work done by our Armed Forces and Civil Protection authorities to help our people has been vitally important. The rescuers have worked ceaselessly, and there is much left to be done.
On behalf of the people and government of Mexico, on behalf of the President of all of us Mexicans, Enrique Peña Nieto, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for the countless gestures of sympathy and support that we have received from the entire world. Your help shows us that being in the United Nations, in the wake of a natural disaster, is to be with our family.
Today Mexico feels your embrace and finds comfort in a world that hasn't left us to face our tragedy alone.
I specifically want to thank Secretary-General António Guterres and the UN staff that assists in emergencies for their support. And I also want to thank the many countries that have mobilized very quickly to send teams of rescuers and experts.
This morning, Mexico City woke to the presence of rescue teams from Honduras and El Salvador, who were assigned to the Tlalpan area; rescue teams from Israel, who are in Álvaro Obregón; from the United States, assigned to Escocia Street and Edimburgo Street; from Panama, who are helping on Querétaro Street and Medellín Street; from Spain and Chile, who just arrived, and in the next few hours we are expecting teams from Ecuador, Japan, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and many other nations that have offered us help that we of course accept and will make good use of.
I want to express our deep appreciation for the governments of these countries for their solidarity. We Mexicans will not forget it.
Today, when international solidarity is evident in Mexico, we must talk about the global challenges that we will successfully overcome only through solidarity. One of these is the growing distrust of multilateralism.
In this last decade, the international economy was hit by a severe financial crisis in the more developed countries that caused a sudden rise in unemployment, the loss of savings, the decapitalization of millions of families and the bankruptcy of thousands of companies.
In addition, thousands of jobs have gradually disappeared due to the increasing use of robots in some industries and the automation of some services that continues to today. These trends have given rise to a wave of great fear and social frustration, which have led to the rejection of globalization and of an open world.
Terrorism has also helped to increase fear of the outside world among the peoples of various regions.
This wave of fear and rejection of globalization has reached the United Nations and other international organizations. Today, there are voices that question how effective multilateralism is in facing global challenges. Today, it seems that the community of sovereign states is faced with a false dilemma: to continue cooperating and building bridges of understanding or, to the contrary, to close its borders and build walls based on fear.
Mexico rejects this dilemma. Mexico has been, and will continue to be, a sovereign state deeply committed to multilateralism. No country, no matter how powerful, is able to deal on its own with the enormous shared challenges of our times.
Multilateralism is what makes the difference between an international system of states that limit themselves to mutual coexistence and an international society in which sovereign states commit to a supportive and responsible coexistence and to resolving common challenges.
When States commit to multilateralism, they lessen the anarchic tendencies of the international system. A world based on sovereign norms and procedures is in everyone's interest, because multilateralism sets international parameters that are acceptable to the sovereign states that agree to bind our behavior to them.
Multilateralism has had many successes over the years. Fighting climate change, conserving biodiversity, regulating the arms trade, the new paradigm for international drug control policy and responding to natural disasters, are some examples.
Today, Mexico is again betting on multilateralism in the negotiation of the Global Compact for Migration, to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration.
Today, as Mexico deals with a tragedy, we Mexicans have proof once again of the value of multilateralism, as seen by the assistance given us by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
We see the value of being part of an authentic international community. In minutes, the OCHA Office helped us to find the countries able to help us in this emergency. At this painful time, multilateralism and the United Nations showed us Mexicans their most generous and practical side.
Few documents call for solidarity between human beings as powerfully as the United Nations 2030 Agenda and, for Mexico, the 2030 Agenda is today a government commitment.
To this end, we created a National Council headed by the president himself, and the federal government determined its budget and development plans based on the criteria of the 2030 Agenda.
The 2030 Agenda must be a new organizing principle of our organization. We must ensure that the United Nations is effective in seeking, as a priority goal, the prosperity of the people of the world.
Mexico will always be a proponent of peace and of the peaceful settlement of disputes. Unfortunately, armed conflicts continue to arise that require the involvement of the United Nations. That is why Mexico has participated in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations since 2014. The success of Colombia's peace agreement is an important example.
However, in order for the United Nations to be more effective in this area, its preventive capacities must be strengthened and must focus on the individual, on promoting development and, of course, respect for human rights.
The existence of nuclear weapons poses a threat to the whole of humanity.
Given the persistence of the nuclear threat, yesterday the Mexican government signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which the President will soon submit to the Senate for its approval. In addition, Mexico will support all Security Council resolutions against nuclear threats, and today we reiterate our support for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to ensure its effective implementation.
We categorically condemn all terrorist attacks, regardless of their motivation. That is why we support the UN's multilateral initiatives of prevention which, along with the efforts to eradicate terrorism, promote tolerance and respect for human rights.
Countries acting in solidarity with each other have the obligation to protect and promote human rights. However, women and girls suffer from sexual violence, exclusion, marginalization, discrimination and, in extreme cases, abominable feminicides. Mexico recognizes its obligation to redouble its efforts to combat these practices and punish these crimes.
A country acting in solidarity is committed to empowering women and girls. Gender equality is a prerequisite achieving a world in which peace and development are truly sustainable, inclusive and lasting.
Mexico reaffirms its openness to the world. We are expanding and diversifying our political and economic ties and cooperation with all regions, including Europe, Asia and the Pacific.
Mexico and the European Union are about to finish updating our legal framework . We will have stronger agreements so that, based on shared values such as the defense of multilateralism, we will be better able to face today's global challenges together.
We are also strengthening our economic ties with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea; and we have started trade negotiations with Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Israel, to mention just a few examples.
At the same time, we are determined to deepen our ties with the region to which we proudly belong: Latin America and the Caribbean.
The natural disaster that Mexico is living through today shows that solidarity is a key value for the countries of our region. Mexico has been, is and wants to be in solidarity with each and every one of the Latin American and Caribbean nations.
We want to be in solidarity with our neighbors in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in their daily efforts to strengthen the security, stability and prosperity of their societies for a safe and prosperous coexistence.
Mexico wants to be in solidarity with our Caribbean brothers, who face the huge challenge of reconstruction. Mexico has been and will continue to be part of this effort.
We want to be in solidarity with the Venezuelan people who today are struggling to recover their democracy.
We will remain in solidarity with our Pacific Alliance partners (Chile, Colombia and Peru) in order to continue promoting innovation, trade and investment in our countries.
We want to be in solidarity with the Mercosur members (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), with whom the Pacific Alliance has begun a promising process to establish closer relations.
We want to be in solidarity with our Cuban brothers, who aspire to open up to the world and to normalize their relations with all nations.
Mexico is also a proud member of North America. As a sovereign and united nation, we believe in the process of North American integration in order to make this region into the most competitive one in the world.
Mexico aspires to and opts for a region with bridges of friendship and cooperation and where the principle of co-responsibility prevails in facing our common problems.
Today, the people and government of Mexico reiterate to this Assembly their deep solidarity with all Mexicans living in the United States, regardless of their immigration status.
The Mexican government has the legal obligation to protect and support them. Our consulates will continue to support them, defend their rights and advocate for their causes.
We are deeply proud of them and their contribution to the American economy, culture and society. We are particularly proud of the Dreamers, and we will continue to strive for a permanent solution to their legal situation.
We are making progress with Canada and the United States in modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement. We are engaging in this process with complete seriousness. Mexico will at all times defend its legitimate national interest, while believing that it is possible to achieve a very positive result for all three nations.
We know that the world is waiting for this outcome. We have the opportunity to make North America more prosperous, more competitive and fairer, as well.
In our hour of pain, we Mexicans understand the importance of having a more supportive, efficient, effective, transparent and representative United Nations.
The government I represent therefore supports the proposals of the Secretary General, António Guterres, because they seek to make the United Nations system into a more effective and supportive organization.
The message I bring to you today is that we Mexicans will get past this catastrophe and our nation will be strengthened. The Mexican people are a strong people. The people and government of Mexico are standing tall.
Today we Mexicans want to say to the world and the United Nations: thank you!
Thank you to the UN agencies for being in our corner.
Thank you to the governments for their sympathy, support and extraordinarily valuable help.
Thank you, everyone, for your solidarity.
Thank you to the citizens of the world who are thinking of us today.
Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your good wishes.
Thank you all for standing with Mexico today and always.