Mexico City, September 1, 2005
Transparency and accountability are imperative in a democracy
Honorable Congress of the Union
In adherence to the provisions of Article 69 of the Political Constitution of Mexico, I now present myself at the Honorable Congress of the Union and submit a written report on the general state of the country's public administration.
These volumes contain a full, detailed version of the data reflecting the results that government has achieved over this past year, with the wholehearted participation of society.
The address will be complemented by comments that members of the cabinet will make, at the request of the supreme authority of government, on what has been achieved within their spheres of competence.
I thank the Legislative Branch for inviting me to the opening ceremony of the ordinary period of sessions, to address the representatives of the people of Mexico and her citizens.
This ceremony is an opportunity to demonstrate the respectful relationship that exists between the two branches.
Echoing the sentiments of many members of this Congress, today marks the end of a rite. Today marks the transformation of the meaning of a ceremony in which figures that were favorable to the government were compiled and presented to show the incumbent president in a flattering light.
The nation's future is a collective task. I suggest that we stop along the way to engage in a political reflection on the advances of Mexico as well as on the challenges facing us.
A country's vitality is expressed in its capacity for renewal
Five years ago, Mexicans joined together to bring the opposition to victory. Thanks to this epic achievement, Mexico now has a consensus in favor of liberty, equity and justice.
The point we have reached today is the result of the will and work of all: of society and its organizations, the branches of the Union, local governments, political parties and the media.
It is also the result of the loyalty and dedication of the Armed Forces and of their unconditional support of democracy.
Everyone has put their hearts into this cause. Everyone has given the best of themselves to democracy.
History has shown that without laws, there can be no freedom.
We are constructing a stronger Mexico, with a new generation of laws and institutions that protect the public interest better and expand and guarantee rights.
In a democracy, freedom reflects the feelings of the nation.
We are building a strong country, in which autonomy and equality are the pillars of civic action. Freedom of expression, the press, association and meeting are the result of a long struggle for democracy.
We have replaced censure with freedom.
In the democratic Mexico of today, debate, dissent and criticism are the reflection of a social vitality that is openly expressed; they are the reflection of a more informed citizenry that is more aware of its rights and more participatory.
We have ensured ethics a key place in political life.
Transparency and access to public information have become established as inalienable civic rights and valuable public assets, both of which constitute an effective barrier to corruption.
Democracy is a long-term achievement. Mexico today has solid institutions, a stronger, more participatory society and a government that defends and respects people's fundamental rights.
On the basis of the highest values, we created a government that is accountable, includes citizens' opinions and defends the supremacy of the law, a government that listens to society's demands, makes them its own and then meets them.
An evaluation of our democracy shows that there have been significant achievements and unavoidable challenges.
One of the main accomplishments has been to ensure a genuine division of branches, which is the essence of a republic. Today each branch carries out its functions autonomously.
Citizens demanded an end to the oppressive weight and excessive influence of the Executive Branch over the other powers and orders of government. And this is precisely what we have accomplished.
We have put an end to the excessive power that used to be concentrated in the president's hands. Nowadays, society expects and demands greater respect and cooperation between the various branches.
Checks and balances guarantee the equilibrium of public action. Nowadays, the three branches are committed to fulfilling their mandate by watching over democratic governance.
The vitality of Congress reflects the scope of our democracy. The Legislative Branch has taken major steps towards a legal framework that fosters the exercise of democracy. Many of the laws that have been passed in this respect constitute a landmark in the country's political life.
Without justice, there can be no democracy. The Judicial Branch has been one of the most active protagonists in political change; it serves as the pointer in the balance between the branches and guarantees the constitutionality of the republic. This branch has served to limit power.
The unusual situations our democracy has experienced have been dealt with by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, through decisions that have reinforced institutions and Mexico.
We are decentralizing power. The new vigor of our democracy is the result of an increasingly extensive federalism. Local governments today have more powers and public resources. Nowadays, every state and municipality makes its decisions within a framework of greater freedom and independence.
Society has demanded that the Executive Branch behave with a great sense of responsibility. It has asked us to ensure the welfare of the nation in the short, medium and long term. We are responding to this mandate.
The era of recurring economic crises has ended. Stability provides a firm basis for growth, well-being and progress. It enables incomes to go further and prevents savings from being shrunk by inflation.
Mexico is now on the road to a future of greater prosperity and social justice.
I am the first to acknowledge the fact that we have yet to achieve the ideal of a society that fully satisfies the basic needs of all citizens, and that we are still below the level of what Mexico demands and deserves.
Nevertheless, it is an undeniable fact that today we have an economy supported by more solid bases.
Poverty is the greatest challenge facing the Mexican state. Our ability to overcome it will determine the future of the nation.
In an inclusive society, poverty should be no-one's destiny.
Poverty hurts. Inequality offends.
The clear mandate of citizenry has been to combine democracy with economic development and social equity and to achieve an integral democracy.
Society has accomplished more opportunities for a decent life. We are attacking the root causes of poverty and inequality.
Today, democracy guarantees Mexicans access to health.
This has been another great civic demand and achievement.
With the support of you, our legislators, and the participation of the governments of all the states and of society as a whole, Mexico has taken significant steps towards a transformation that will enable us to achieve universal health coverage.
Access of more children and young people to school is a clear expression of equity.
Without quality education for everyone, there can be no progress or development. Education is the only sure path to the future.
The new Mexican school trains people and citizens. On the basis of knowledge and humanistic, democratic values, it prepares those that will face the future challenges of Mexico.
Education brings students into contact with the scientific and technological progress, thereby narrowing the knowledge gap.
Today, with their work and their savings, and the new, better conditions, thousands of families have made the right to housing a reality.
What was once the privilege of the few is starting to become an achievement of many. Now families can see the results of their efforts reflected in a patrimony and a roof of their own, which is synonymous with security.
We are extending the meaning of democracy, taking its principles, values and practices to every sphere of public life.
Democracy today is no longer restricted to the exercise of political and civil rights, but also includes the aspiration to the full, universal exercise of social rights.
Behind this great movement is the firm conviction of a society that has decided to take the reins of its future into its hands.
All these political, economic and social accomplishments are a collective attainment; they are advances that have shaped a better country than the one that existed only a few years ago.
Nevertheless, it would be useless to deny that there are many other challenges to be faced in order to accomplish the ideal of a full democracy.
The main function of the state is to provide protection for society.
The lack of safety on the streets is what most concerns people: it is the problem that has posed the greatest difficulties for federal government, the governments of the states and municipalities and the branches of the Union.
It is not one of yesterday's problems nor one that can be solved in a day. Putting an end to crime requires our total commitment.
Federal government has acted decisively to combat crime and the causes that lead to the lack of safety on the streets.
We must guarantee social tranquility. The current legal framework must be reviewed and adapted. We must redesign our institutions so that they are able to combat crime more effectively.
Safety on the streets also requires the commitment of all members of society to respecting and obeying the law.
Let us be truthful. The country needs our response now. The federal government is just a part of the State and the lack of safety on the streets is a state problem that requires the commitment of all the branches and orders of government, as well as of society.
The task of reforming the state can no longer be put off.
Mexico requires everyone's will and commitment. Political actors have the responsibility to effect changes that will encourage greater social inclusion and sustained growth.
Society is still calling for an integral reform of the Inland Revenue to provide the state with the resources that will enable it to fulfill is obligations more effectively and to promote development.
Mexico is also demanding reforms to our social security and public sector pensions systems to guarantee their viability and relieve the financial burden on future generations.
The nation is calling for us to make the necessary decisions in the energy sector and in labor legislation to encourage productive investment and job creation and improve the competitiveness of the economy.
Society is demanding decisions on our part to reinforce the judicial system, in order to win the battle against crime and restore safety in the streets.
We also require changes that will expand the political reform in order to update the mechanisms for democratic governance.
We all have an appointment with the future and now is the time to assume this commitment.
The world has followed and will continue to follow its own path; it will go on changing and moving with the times. To speed things up and advance at the rate Mexico demands, we must make the decisions the country requires.
This involves finding out about everyone's reasons and weighing up everyone's proposals. But it also inevitably involves agreeing on what is best for Mexico and pledging to respect the agreements reached by the majority.
From the perspective afforded by five years of government, I can say, without any kind of personal interest, that postponing these decisions will entail enormous costs for the nation's development. Sooner or later, we will have to deal with them.
Let us pave the way for the future.
Without dialog, there is no agreement; without agreement there is no progress.
Democracies are based on negotiation and consolidated through legislative changes.
The events of these past five years have given us a great lesson. In a democracy with a government yet without a legislative majority, it is the responsibility of the Executive Branch to ensure that agreements are reached to promote public action.
At the same time, it is the duty of the Legislative Branch to provide the Republic with laws that encourage its development and respond to citizens' interests.
The scope of the task pending requires more dynamic changes; it demands that Mexico keep up with the enormous changes taking place worldwide. There is still a great deal that we can and must do.
Mexico warrants great decisions.
The country demands that political actors play their respective roles in the representation of national interest.
I would respectfully ask the Honorable Congress to turn democratic debate and the plurality of ideas into our greatest source of innovation and our main strength.
Agreement is the transforming force of history.
We have built too many walls and few bridges.
This harms the popular will and discourages citizens. Now, more than ever before, it is essential that politics should constitute the basis of our democratic system.
Governance demands more meeting points to achieve basic understandings and encourage new forms of equilibrium.
This means that our actions must be based on the values of public ethics: honesty, responsibility and keeping one's word.
Today, I reiterate my commitment to democracy.
In democracy, the authorities must accept their limits. It is always preferable to act using democratic criteria rather than to adopt a principle of authority that subsequently leads to authoritarianism.
Government is a means, not an end in itself.
Government must be the instrument for promoting subsidies and contributing to people's full development; it must foster the common good, which is nothing more than the dignified life of the country.
Those of us that have the responsibility of representing citizens cannot let ourselves be led by personal passions, nor impose on others demands that do not govern our own behavior.
Anyone in government that betrays the trust of the people of Mexico must be punished. The law is the same for everyone.
Governing means serving; serving others without pursuing one's personal interest.
The citizens' hour has come. Now, more than ever before, citizens are taking the country's destiny into their own hands.
I would like to express my thanks to all democrats, to democrats of every ideology, for their valuable contribution to political change. Mexicans have proved what they are capable of being and doing.
Society has won the many battles for democracy one by one.
Thanks to its citizens, Mexico will never go back to the way it was before. Thanks to its citizens, Mexico will not move backwards.
My respect and gratitude to all Mexican women. Their bravery in moving forward and in opening up spaces in society is an example to follow in the struggle for our desires.
Their triumphs are those of society as a whole.
Young people embody the highest ideals of democratic change. Their creativity, energy and capacity to improve themselves are essential qualities for accomplishing our dreams. Mexico trusts them.
In each of the indigenous peoples, we find traces of our origins and the dignity of Mexican people. Today, I would like to repeat my admiration for them. They have taught us the value of integrity, the enormous richness of traditions and the wisdom of collective action.
Democracy is a source of confidence for all Mexicans. Our democracy has set itself the
challenge of providing more opportunities for those with the greatest shortages.
Those that have least have proved to be as brave as those that have most: the courage to demand and to struggle and the courage to live. Their determination has shown us the way towards progress, their determination is a silent complaint that we should listen to.
All of them, in other words, society as a whole, has been the real protagonist in the transition. With a clear civic conscience, citizens have managed to make matters of national interest truly public.
Democracy is the voice of citizens' will.
When they exercise their right to vote on July 2, citizens will reaffirm the validity of popular sovereignty as the basis of our democratic regime.
Out of conviction and a sense of duty, we shall act strictly in accordance with the law. By civic mandate and historical imperative, the electoral process of 2006 will receive impartial treatment from this government.
We shall collaborate with the electoral authorities to ensure that elections are held within a framework of openness and freedom, respect and tolerance, harmony and civility.
State elections will not return
Today those that choose are citizens.
Mexicans have turned the vote into the means of preserving a pluralistic, peaceful, orderly political life.
Those that hope to receive the support of the majority of citizens should be the first to obey the laws strictly and respect democratic institutions. This is the best guarantee of governance.
Candidates and their parties have an enormous responsibility to ensure that the elections are legitimate, legal and clean. Mexico will emerge stronger from this sort of electoral process.
The hope of bringing Mexico to democracy has been present throughout our history. The strength of collective convictions has made this hope a reality.
In July 2000, citizens expressed their desire for change at the polls, a change to preserve our ideals of freedom and justice.
Democracy has been worth it, because tolerance is now a value that links society, because discrimination is combated and human rights respected.
Democracy has been worth it, because freedom has defeated fear.
Democracy has given us a great deal, because social rights are the basis for exercising our freedom to construct a future of peace with equity and justice.
Democracy bears fruit. It has proved to be the path towards a Mexico that has stronger institutions and a more humane form of social integration.
Our democracy could be a permanent engine of inclusion and renovation.
We have the tenacity to fight for what we want and the capacity to change the course of history. We are obliged to act in the present, looking toward to the future.
Defending what we have achieved will force us to continue fighting. Let us do this with passion.
Let us embrace common causes.
No-one who acts alone will achieve great accomplishments.
Let us make a virtue of our differences.
Today, society's mandate is to construct and advance, rather than to hinder or retreat.
Today, Mexico's mandate is to unite, rather than to confront or divide.
Today, the mandate is to listen and serve, rather than to impose.
Those that preceded us in the struggle for democracy taught us that freedom and justice can only be achieved through bravery and responsibility.
They knew that the road would not be easy, yet despite that, they undertook the journey heroically. We cannot afford to ignore their teachings.
May the lessons of the past serve as guidelines for addressing the challenges of tomorrow.
Let us continue constructing the future that our parents and grandparents wished for and that we would like to hand down to our children.
Together, let us continue building the generous Mexico we deserve.
The omissions of today will be the obstacles of the future.
We are also subject to the scrutiny of history, whose judgment is infallible.
Let us think with a state vision.
Let us think with a historical sense.
Let us assume our rightful place in the chapter of our democracy, with integrity and dignity.
Let us behave with commitment and love towards Mexico.
Let us behave with all the greatness of the decisions the country now requires.