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Remarks by HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo
U.S. Mexico Bi-national Commission Housing Delegation

Washington DC
May 24, 1999

Thank you. Thank you. Nelson, thank you very much for that kind introduction. Mac McClarty was very helpful in setting up today's event. He's a great friend to all of us in this room, Chief of Staff to the President and then special envoy to Mexico, and he has done phenomenal things for both countries and we wish him our best.

I want to thank Aegon Insurance Company and Banamex for sponsoring today's event. All the good friends who have joined with Mickey Ibarra, Congressman Roybal-Allard, who is a great champion for these issues in the United States.

As you might guess, our Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, doesn't always have the best political strength because the people we represent by definition have no power. If they did there wouldn't be poor people and we wouldn't be representing them. So we need real champions in the Congress to stand up for us. And the Congresswoman is a real champion for the poor.

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, we're going to be together tomorrow night in Texas where she is doing a big fund raiser with the President and Vice President, so she's not just a representative in the Congress, she's also a Co-Chair of the Democratic Party, she is a national leader in the Democratic Party and it's a pleasure to be with her.

And all the HUD team that worked so hard. We have Assistant Secretary Cooper here, Mercedes Marquez here, Rhoda Glickman is here and Xavier Briggs, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, who has a very illustrious resume in these policy issues. He also has a distinction which you will not find in his resume, he was awarded the 1998 HUD Heart Throb Award at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

I'm going to be short because everything has to be said twice and because we're very hungry.

We have done a lot of good work together over these past two years. Meeting at the meeting, working on issues like finance, primary markets, secondary markets, housing construction, planning.

But those were the specifics. The point of our discussions were more fundamental issues of economic justice and social justice, and racial justice, and basic human rights.

And we're very much partners in working through these issues and we very much believe we can learn from each other, we must learn from each other, because Lord knows, this country, the United States of America has much more to learn on these issues, and we are far away from success.

The most recent issues we discussed were metropolitan strategies, regional strategies. How do we get suburbs to work with cities? How do we get beyond the line that separates cities and suburbs? And it's much more difficult to do than it sounds like it would be.

Because that line is not just a line on the map, it's a line in our mind, it's a line in our hearts, it's a line that separates cultures, separates economic classes, separates racial classes.

If you look at why some suburban communities were forged, they were forged precisely because some people wanted to leave other people.

And when you now talk about joining cities and suburbs, you're not just talking about joining governmental division, but literally joining people, bridging that gap, bridging that divide.

Focusing on our commonalities, our similarities, rather than our differences. And it really goes to the heart of some of the issues that are separating us as a society.

We have more to do there. And our relationship as countries very much proves the same thing. That in this new world, in this new global world the lines on the map must build, because we really are all in this together. Certainly cities and suburbs, but also neighboring countries.

The 1,800 mile border between us must blur if we're both going to succeed. As they would say: Nosotros somos mas que amigos. Somos hermanos y hermanas. Somos uno. We are more than friends, we are brothers and sisters, we are together.

Thank you.

And now it's my pleasure to introduce the Mexican Deputy Secretary, a learned man in this field, a professor of administration and political science at the National University of Mexico. He was so good that his academic skills actually got him into trouble, they got him sucked into Government. He has been a driving force in this Bi-National Commission. He is a dedicated peacemaker in Chiapas and he is making a real difference. It's my pleasure to introduce Deputy Secretary Roberto Salcedo.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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