2014 Lycoming Winter Magazine - page 7

Much of Puebla’s industrial
development, such as the Audi
investment, has been centered in and
around the capital city, which bears
the same name as the state. But, this
longstanding practice has created a wide
economic gap between the city-center
and rural areas. Despite recent progress
under his leadership, Moreno Valle
knows there still are major challenges
he must address in his state. Topping the
list is poverty. Puebla has seven different
indigenous populations living in 217
municipalities and 6,600 communities,
many located in mountainous areas that
are home to just 100 to 200 people.
“It makes it very difficult to provide
services,” said Moreno Valle, whose
grandfather also served as Puebla’s
governor and was Mexico’s secretary
of health. “Because as a government, it
costs me the same in one square mile
to take water, electricity and sewage if
there are 100,000 people living there or
if there’s 100 people living there. But the
cost per capita grows as the number of
beneficiaries is reduced.
“Unfortunately, people are attached
to their land. They say, ‘My ancestors
are buried here, and I’m not moving.’
And you say, ‘But you don’t have water,
you don’t have electricity. I’ll give you
a house.’ It’s cheaper for us, literally, to
give them a house, free of charge, with all
the services, than it is to build a highway
or a road to the community and to give
that community all the services. Time
after time we’ve been doing different
strategies and, unfortunately, it’s very,
very difficult.”
One strategy that has been successful
includes investing more resources in the
cities that naturally attract residents from
the surrounding villages. He’s building
schools and health care facilities with the
latest technology in those cities as a way
to efficiently provide more amenities to
more people.
Along with building the economy
and fighting poverty, Moreno Valle is
committed to keeping his residents free
from harm. While he says Puebla is one
of Mexico’s safest states, his concern
centers around the neighboring states
and their ongoing security problems. He
has worked closely with the Mexican
army and the municipal, state and federal
governments to seek assistance, starting
with addressing issues within his own
state.
“I had to first get all of the police to
undergo a polygraph exam, one that is
authorized by the federal government,”
he said. “I had to fire all of those police
who did not pass this type of exam,
because I wanted to make sure first of all
that the police are on the people’s side
and not on the criminals’ side.”
Since he could not fire the officers
without cause, he had to provide them
with severance packages, which was a
large financial undertaking. He then built
one of the country’s most modern police
academies to train new officers.
“We received $5 million from the
U.S., through the Merida Initiative,”
Moreno Valle said. “It’s the first state
project that received funding from
the Merida Initiative and the U.S.
government. But we have a great
academy, we have great cooperation
with the U.S. agencies to train our
police – the ones who already were in
place – and to develop the new policemen
who are trustworthy. We’ve had to
purchase equipment, not only patrol
cars and weapons, but also intelligence
aids. We’ve had to make sure we have
good intelligence in order to act. And
fortunately, it has given us good results.
But, it’s always a challenge. Every day
I’m looking at security issues.”
Moreno Valle also acknowledged the
ongoing issues that burden the U.S.-
Mexican border, such as the rampant drug
cartel killings, weapons use and illegal
immigrants.
“If there were no [drug] consumers in
the U.S., there would be no drug dealing
in Mexico,” Moreno Valle said. “If there
were no weapons so easily available in
the U.S., drug dealers in Mexico wouldn’t
have the firepower that they have. And
there would not be such immigration
issues if there were more opportunities in
Mexico and Latin America. And I’m sure
if the U.S. had invested a portion of what
they’ve invested in trying to create secure
borders, if they had invested a portion of
that into trying to fight poverty, not only
in Mexico but in Latin America, I am
sure that the number of immigrants would
be reduced very significantly, much more
than with the current methods.
“So, I think what we need to do
between our countries is understand
the problems, see them from a broader
perspective, and then define strategies
to fight them, to fight them together. But
also, to understand the great advantages
that Mexico has for the U.S., the great
opportunities.”
For example, he says China’s
competitive advantages have diminished
in recent years, which has created an
opportunity for many U.S. companies
that were once manufacturing in China
to move their operations to Mexico. He
believes that the services Mexico needs
as a growing economy can be provided
by U.S. companies. “I think there
are opportunities on both sides of the
border,” he said.
Moreno Valle returned to campus in September as part of the college’s Institute for Management Studies’
James W. Harding Executive Speaker Series.
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