Zedillo honored for democratic reforms

The Institute of the Americas honored Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon, former president of Mexico, with its Award for Democracy and Peace on Sept. 21 at the Hotel del Coronado.

The institute, the mission of which is to promote economic development and integration for the people in the Americas, selected Zedillo for his role in the success of Mexico’s democracy.

“”Ernesto Zedillo carried out an exemplary reform and modernization of Mexico’s electoral laws and process, and oversaw their full and faithful implementation,”” reads the resolution penned by the institute’s board of directors.

The directors also cited his work in protecting Mexico’s economic stability during his administration and his orderly transfer of power at the end of his term as reasons for his selection.

Story continues below advertisement

Zedillo, who served as Mexico’s president from 1994 to 2000, reluctantly accepted the award.

“”To be honest, I don’t like to be recognized,”” Zedillo said. “”I don’t like prizes. I don’t like awards.””

Zedillo spoke about what he thought to be his insignificant individual influence in Mexico’s political success and recent terrorist attacks on Mexico’s sister country, the United States, as reasons why he initially tried to avoid being recognized.

“”I receive this award with mixed sentiments,”” Zedillo said. “”On the one hand, gratitude for receiving such an honor. On the other hand, there is my strong belief that no contemporary Mexican, including me, deserves to be singled out with any special merit in the building of Mexico’s current democracy.””

Zedillo said Mexico’s democratic government is where it is because of many factors.

“”I believe that Mexico has achieved its democracy over a long timespan and not by virtue of the decisions and virtues of just a few individuals,”” Zedillo said.

“”Democracy in Mexico is not to the credit of any single person, group or political party,”” he said. “”It is not even to the credit of any single generation.””

After the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, Zedillo tried to call off the event, feeling that it was not a time for celebration.

However, Paul Boeker, who is on the institute’s board of directors, quoted a speech by President George W. Bush to Zedillo in which the U.S. president advised that people, although profoundly affected by the attacks, were to keep moving ahead.

Zedillo opted to demote the event’s dress code and to cancel the dance that would have followed the award ceremony.

Other speakers talked about the attacks in relation to the accomplishments that Zedillo was being honored for that evening.

“”I think we have a great deal to thank Zedillo for, and to honor,”” said Jeffrey Davidow, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico. “”We are certainly going through the worst period of our national existence . . . and if we look at how President Zedillo handled multiple crises, I think we can learn a great deal. When many people around him were suggesting, when he faced insurrection, that the way to handle the problem was through great military force, he said, ‘No. Force is unnecessary. A nation must utilize force, but often there are other ways to deal with problems, smarter ways to deal with problems.’ And he was right.””

Davidow and the night’s other speaker, the institute’s chairman of the board of directors William L. Friend, noted that Zedillo often did his best work when he said “”no,””intuitively managing to keep inflation down and use force effectively.

Zedillo is the sixth person to receive the institute’s Award for Democracy since its creation in 1987.

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal