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Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon Honored

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November 20, 2013

Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon's speech drew a standing ovation from the crowd after he accepted an award in recognition of his outstanding contributions, from The Institute of the Americas.

The Institute of the Americas has honored former Mexican President Felipe Calderón with its Leadership in the Americas Award, in recognition of "outstanding contributions to economic and social reforms in the Americas." In accepting the award, Calderón spoke of how Mexico confronted the global economic crisis during his administration.

"I served my country in very difficult moments, however, I don’t complain about it," said Calderón, who held the presidency from 2006 to 2012 and is also known for his war against drug cartels. "To serve Mexico in such difficult moments has been a double honor and a singular privilege."

He listed some of his economy-related measures, such as government investment in infrastructure, a temporary-jobs program for the nation’s poorest regions, and greater backing of loans for small and medium-sized businesses.

"We needed to be very creative," Calderón said, describing the government’s efforts to protect about 500,000 export-oriented jobs and avoid massive layoffs in Mexico. "If workers accepted a pay cut, the federal government paid part of their salary for three to six months."

The opening of Calderón’s speech drew a standing ovation from the crowd at Hotel del Coronado, which included attendees from both sides of the US and Mexico border. In bestowing the honor on Calderón, institute chairman Richard Hojel listed actions including "fighting for security and the construction of a country based on the rule of law" and "positioning Mexico as a global leader fighting the threat of climate change."

Chairman Hojel also mentioned "putting in place the most ambitious infrastructure program in Mexican history - pushing for structural reforms to modernize the Mexican economy in key areas like public pension, tax and energy sector, and championing the transition to universal health care."

Calderón, 51, is currently a Global Public Leaders Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He also chairs the recently formed Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. Also honored was institute founder Theodore E. Gildred, a San Diego real estate developer and former US ambassador to Argentina. The institute is a nonprofit organization based on the University of California San Diego campus. It promotes collaboration between the private and public sectors in the Americas. The occasion for the dinner was the institute’s 30th anniversary.