Mexican president visits Chicago

February 12, 2008 4:40:57 PM PST
Mexican President Felipe Calderon was in Chicago Tuesday. This is his first trip to the United States since taking office 14 months ago. The president met with Mayor Daley and Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Calderon visited the Little Village neighborhood, on the city's Southwest Side, to speak Tuesday afternoon.

There is a tremendous amount of controversy surrounding President Calderon's visit to the United States. His critics say this is simply a political ploy and question why he did not set up a meeting with President Bush or Congress. However, Little Village residents were excited to meet the president.

Calderon kicked off his Chicago visit Tuesday morning meeting Governor Rod Blagojevich. The governor signed a partnership agreement with the Mexican president to strengthen bilateral, education and cultural cooperation between the two countries. The agreement includes a visiting program of Mexican teachers.

Calderon also met with Mayor Richard Daley.

Calderon agreed to meet with Emma Lozano. Tuesday afternoon was representing Flor Crisóstomo, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who has sought temporary sanctuary at the Adalberto United Methodist Church in the Humboldt Park neighborhood.

"Hunger causes migration. NAFTA causes hunger. We need to stop it and it is the fault of both countries, and they both need to renegotiate it, so that the people of Mexico can be able to raise their families there," said Lozano.

They talk about how NAFTA has created a crisis for people in Mexico, forcing them to leave their country in order to feed their families. They are asking Calderon to address this problem facing the undocumented and their families.

"Why come here if you're not going to with Bush? And we are asking him to meet with the Latino, the Hispanic congressional caucus, because they have an interim solution that would give five-year visas to all the people that are here right now," said Lozano.

Lozano had a 10-minute meeting with Calderon and presented him with a list of demands. She said he listened to her demands but did not respond to anything.