Border Governors Conference comes to a close

Agreements established in seeking to increase competitiveness, ease ports of entry, and assure environmental protection.

By Jose Antonio Perez
Agreements to increase competitiveness in the region, facilitate crossings between Border States, preserve health and assure environmental protection, among other steps, were established by the governors and representatives participating in the Plenary Session of the XXV Border Governors Conference in this port, which came to a close on Friday, September 28th.

The agreements were outlined in a joint declaration issued by the state leaders from the US/Mexico border following two days of work tables, meetings held behind closed doors, and social events, in which various common problematic border themes were addressed.

The results of this binational gathering, now in its 25th year and which aims to improve living conditions for the 13 million inhabitants along the shares border, were drawn up into 28-page documents signed by the governors and representatives of the two governors unable to attend.

In their statements during the Plenary Session, which served as a closing to the event and lasted for nearly two and half hours, the eight governors insisted on the need for binational cooperation to take on problems of immigration.

Sonora Governor Eduardo Bours Castelo brought the XXV Border Governors Conference to a close, stressing the joint agreements made at the working roundtables. He stated the priorities should continue to be transformation of infrastructure, care for the environment, health, and security of our borders.

All of this, he exclaimed, with the common objective of guaranteeing a free, safe, just and prosperous border for the two nations.

“We can achieve this objective if we work, not from our economic strengths of weaknesses, but rather from our shared principles” , he explained.

Bours Castelo emphasized that, as governors, they have the opportunity to change the tide- to not do what has been done before- and to transcend the established limits.

He added they defined five principal areas of opportunity for economic development in the region, including: Commercial Integration, the Convergence of Technology, Medical Clusters, Tourist Developments and Infrastructure for Development.

The Sonoran leader furthered that they must not falter in promoting the presence and influence of the North American Development Bank (NADBANK) on both sides of the border, as it is a very important institution helping to improve the quality of life of people while protecting the environment.

“We must strengthen the NADBANK and above all facilitate its operations in the areas with the most need for infrastructure in the region”, he expressed.

Governor Eduardo Bours presented in requesting more support from the federal governments of Mexico and the United States, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano indicated that federal executive officials cannot satisfy the needs of the border through speeches, as funds are necessary to show that the border is a priority.

Similarly, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger affirmed that in the area of immigration, border security must be guaranteed, yet in adherence to the law.

He stressed that immigration, competitiveness and the environment continue to be priority themes for them to work on. However, they must not think solely on the upcoming year or Governor Bours for his efforts in assuring the success of this event and without lessening that of past gatherings stated that this has surely been the best.

“Bours established a high level in the area of hospitality and efficiency for the meeting,” Schwarzenegger remarked who will be the host of next year’s conference.

He reiterated the importance of Mexico President Felipe Calderon’s participation in the event, because it shows that Calderon takes the work of the border governors seriously and knows that its time to work jointly in order to confront problems.

With a film directors clapperboard in hand, the California Governor enthusiastically shouted Action! To symbolically mark the beginning for the next Border Governors Conference, to take place in Hollywood, California in 2008. He concluded his speech with another popular phrase from his movies: Hasta la vista, baby!

Bours calls on overcoming old geographic divisions to build more solidarity region. The new global architecture demands overcoming old geographic divisions in order to build more supportive regions emphasized Sonora Governor, Eduardo Bours Castelo, as the XXV Border Governors Conference got underway in Puerto Peñasco.

After joking about a recent horse riding accident that left him with four broken ribs, the Sonoran leader remarked that it was urgent to go beyond the concept of sister cities to become “allied cities” in order to jointly tackle global challenges.

Towards this end, he declared the importance of thinking globally and acting locally, as well as for fulfilling strategic investments in infrastructure that support economic growth along the border.

He highlighted innovations in the organization of the Conference and the application of the work mode based upon the Sonora-Arizona and Arizona-Mexico Commissions.

Bours Castelo emphasized the study of “Competitiveness and Areas of opportunity in the Border Region” as one of the principal achievements obtained as President of the Border Governors Conference.

He detailed that this study was part of an exhaustive analysis of the socio-economic and demographic situation of the Border States. The principal recommendation from the study is to establish strategic investments in infrastructure in order to strengthen economic growth throughout the region.

“I have no doubt that, in executing the proposals, we are going to increase competitiveness on both sides of the border,” he highlighted.

The Sonoran state leader stressed that regardless of their size, governments know that the safety and welfare of the community is their greatest responsabilty and therefore it is necessary to make important decisions, but above all, put them into practice.

He remarked that the path to follow can be no other than that of cooperation, collaboration, shared responsibility and joint action.

The border between Mexico and the United States, as well as any region in the world, he stated, confronts dangers and common threats that range from terrorism to drug trafficking and international organized crime.

He affirmed that consequently, just as their shared concerns for drug trafficking, it is necessary to put the same emphasis towards illegal arm trafficking, which is easily carried out from one country to the other.

Bours was forceful in pointing out that on the community safety agenda, there cannot be issues of greater or lesser importance.

The Sonoran Governor addressed the inclusion of the theme of global warming and indicated that Sonora was the first state in the country to sign an agreement to enter into the Climate Registry.

He stressed that furthermore; the sum of capital, knowledge, and social, civic and ecologic awareness will allow for processes and will contribute to improved living conditions for the entire population.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, serving as Vice President of the Border Governors Conference, indicated that this event marks twenty five years of joint work. He added that in being more than neighbors, they (the two nations) are friends and have become united in a spirit of cooperation, prosperity and understanding.

“We are proud of being partners in something as important as this and this is to protect the environment; we share air, water, land, beaches and coasts and just as we share the future, we must protect our natural resources,” he declared.

In paraphrasing one of his often quoted movie lines, Schwarzenegger noted he has been coming to Mexico for more than 40 years and always says: I will be back.

He remarked on the importance of the presence of Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the gathering as often, when the Border Governors Conferences convene, things are held up because there is a notion that: “… this is a federal issue, we need permission of the federal government, we need to ask the federal government.”

“But this time, with the presence of President Calderon, we no longer need to say that. It is going to be a perfect meeting because all of the decisions are able to be made here, it is going to be the best conference, “he explained.

The California Governor paid recognition to Governor Eduardo Bours for the passion he has given to public service and for his outstanding work as President of the organization.

Attendees of the XXV Border Governors Conference included: Governors Jose Reyes Baeza from Chihuahua, Natividad Gonzales of Nuevo Leon, Eugenio Elorduy of Baja California, Humberto Moreira of Coahuila, Eugenio Hernandez from Tamaulipas, as well as Governor Janet Napolitano from Arizona, and Arnold Schwarzenegger from California. Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico as well as Texas Governor Rick Perry both sent representatives to the event.

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