from Development Channel

New From CFR: Felipe Calderón and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the Council on Foreign Relations

September 28, 2012

Mexico's President Felipe Calderon addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York on September 26, 2012 (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters).
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This week, Mexican president Felipe Calderón and Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf both spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations. In his speech on Monday, President Calderón, who is in his last months in office, described what he called a transformation of Mexico’s economy in recent years. Though poverty remains, he said, Mexico has a robust middle class, improved health and educational systems, and a strong export-oriented economy (video and transcript). He also discussed continuing challenges in security and the rule of law. On her blog, CFR senior fellow Shannon O’Neil analyzes President Calderón’s speech, writing:

To sum up the past six years in office, Calderón highlighted his country’s achievements in concrete numbers: opening 140 new public universities, building or repairing 3,000 new health clinics, and constructing or repairing some 20,000 km of roads. He also spoke more conceptually of Mexico’s successes: arguing that its adherence to free trade and fiscal responsibility enabled a quick recovery from the 2009 global financial crisis, the rise of Mexico’s middle class, and its increasing global competitiveness.

You can read the full blog post here.

In her speech today, President Johnson Sirleaf highlighted the progress Liberia has achieved during her six-year tenure, with accomplishments ranging from impressive economic growth to better government institutions to higher school enrollment for girls. She also noted that substantial development challenges remain, including high youth unemployment, a rapidly growing population, and vast infrastructure needs. Overall, President Johnson Sirleaf’s ambitions are striking: she wants Liberia to be free from official development assistance in ten years and to attain middle-income status by 2030. You can view the video of her speech here or below.