Vicente Fox Stresses Value of Partnerships in UNC Speech

C. Ryan Barber, Daily Tar Heel (University of North Carolina), January 26, 2010

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Fox [Vicente Fox] received $42,500 from the Van and Kay Weatherspoon endowment to deliver this year’s Weatherspoon Lecture, which has hosted figures such as magazine editor Steve Forbes and Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward.

The speech, titled “Surveying the Geo-Political Landscape,” touched on the need for nations across the globe to become unified to overcome pressing challenges.

The speech specifically addressed the relationship between Mexico and the United States with regard to immigration, drug trafficking and free trade.

Fox, whose grandfather migrated to Mexico from the United States, opened the lecture by voicing his support for Mexican immigrants.

“They are real heroes, incomprehensible heroes,” Fox said. But the majority of the speech highlighted the value of developing partnerships, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Instead of building walls, let’s build bridges,” Fox said, referring to both U.S. immigration policy and free trade.

Fox, championed for strengthening Mexico’s democracy after ousting the 71-year rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, also stressed the value of democracy.

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Paul Cuadros, journalism professor and author of “A Home on the Field,” a book about coaching a high school soccer team composed mostly of Latino immigrants, said Fox was correct in his attitude against the policy requiring illegal immigrants in North Carolina to pay out-of-state tuition.

“I think he was spot on in terms of if there is one set of doors that should be open to everyone, it should be the schoolhouse doors,” he said.

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[Articles on the protests at Tom Tancredo’s speech at UNC are here and here.]


Fight Back! interviewed UNC Chapel Hill activist Haley Koch about her trial on Monday, September 15, in which all charges relating to her arrest for the protest of Tom Tancredo were dropped. Koch took part in a large protest of students who shut down the racist, anti-immigrant speaker at UNC’s campus last April.

Fight Back: Please give us a little background about the trial. What where you charged with?

Haley Koch: I was charged with “disturbing the peace at an educational institution,” a subsection of the disorderly conduct statute. I was arrested nine days following the protest of the white supremacist hate group Youth for Western Civilization (YWC) and the racist, xenophobic Tom Tancredo. Although more than 250 students and community members expressed their outrage and disapproval at his presence, I was the only person arrested. I was handcuffed outside my class, in front of my classmates and professor, and walked across campus before being patted down, searched, and then taken to the police station. This followed the disgraceful behavior of the University and its police forces in their apology to Tom Tancredo and their harassment of student activists.

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I believe the dismissal sent a strong message to the University community that protest (even loud, visible protest) is legal and should not be repressed and policed in the way it was. I should hope that they would think harder about arresting protesters in the future. I also hope that students take note that we can and will have our voices heard.

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{snip} At a time when the University, local media and campus liberals were all speaking out against the protesters, organizational and individual letters and petitions in solidarity renewed our energy and helped us to feel less isolated and alone. The repression at the time was intense, meant to fragment, demoralize, and silence us. It might have worked were it not for the amazing support we received from across the country and around the world. At a time when I was receiving hate mail and being threatened on white supremacist and white nationalist websites, it was incredibly encouraging to know that there were many people out there dedicated to the same struggles, people who are willing to support each other in whatever ways they can and who live their lives committed to fighting these oppressive forces.

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Haley Koch: {snip}

YWC is planning to bring Bay Buchanan later this year. There will be protests. I still have hopes that the advisor and the president will come to realize that they are enabling a white supremacist hate group and will choose to step down. But, if they desire a fight, they should know that we have the strength and resources for it.

We will continue to organize against fascism, racism, and hate speech. These oppressions must not be allowed on our campus or in our communities.

Fight Back: The struggle against YWC has also put forward to other demands about a police review board and a hate speech policy at UNC, can you briefly let us know what is going on with that?

Haley Koch: The Protesters Defense Committee (PDC) is having conversations with Student Government about creating a police review board, and we will continue to fight for this. The next step will be mobilizing broader student and faculty support. We now have recorded testimony by police officer Lieutenant Twiddy saying that he shoved me to the ground that I believe will help in this struggle.

Several of us are meeting with Chancellor Thorp in the coming weeks to discuss the University’s acceptance of hate and to explore ways to make the campus community a place safe for all students.

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