To a packed house on La Salle University’s campus, Felipe Calderón, former president of Mexico, presented his thoughts on the North American Free Trade Agreement, immigration, the drug trade along the U.S.-Mexican border, weapons, and healthcare services. Facilitating the discussion were associate professors of political science Michael Boyle and Miguel Glatzer, and Emily Dabas, a sophomore international relations student who also serves as president of La Salle’s Organization of Latin American Students.
Prior to the discussion, La Salle University President Colleen M. Hanycz, Ph.D., presented President Calderón with the Brother Teliow Fackeldey, FSC Presidential Medal. One of the University’s highest and distinctive honors, it is given to individuals who have distinguished themselves professionally, socially, or civically in the guiding mission and principles of La Salle.
“Given President Calderón’s achievements while in office, it is my great honor to present him with the Brother Teliow Fackeldey, FSC Presidential Medal,” said Hanycz. “During his time in office, President Calderón’s policies had great success within the business, environmental, healthcare, and educational sectors…La Salle University is greatly honored to host him here today.”
Of the many topics addressed, President Calderón spoke at length to the success of his universal healthcare program, Seguro Popular. “Health services are much more a human right than a consumer right. Any human being with human dignity has a right to health care,” he said. “Most Mexican families had no access to health services because they were not part of the government, so we created Seguro Popular. People with no social security protection could register for Seguro Popular. With that, Mexicans can now access providers for medical assistance, treatment, and medicines. So we expanded from 46 million Mexicans to 106 million Mexicans in coverage of medical services. It was a great achievement and was significant because it changed a lot of personal histories. For example, Seguro Popular can cover very expensive treatments, specifically we can cover children who have cancer. Before, seven out of 10 children with leukemia died. Once we put in place the coverage, seven out of 10 children with leukemia survived, which is an incredible chance of life.”
On the topic of immigration of Central American citizens to Mexico, the former president said, “I made a deal with congress to de-criminalize immigration in Mexico, and honestly, I believe the Central American workers are making incredible contributions to Mexico…They are escaping terrible realities associated with crime and organized crime, and we are now working to protect them.”
President Calderón came to La Salle via the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House, where he was recently announced as a 2018-2019 fellow.