Omaha (KPTM) - Omaha is playing host to a foreign dignitary. Organizers say the visit by former president of Mexico Vicente Fox shows how Omaha is becoming a more globalized city.
Fox says he's pleased with his first ever trip to Nebraska.
"Except the weather, the day has been magnificent" he jokingly referred to the rainy day.
Fox is in town to sign an agreement with the Gallup Corporation, to promote jobs and leadership. He's also speaking about the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico.
"We know each other very well, and time ago we decided to become partners," Fox told a crowd at the Orpheum Theatre.
He's referring to NAFTA, saying the controversial free trade agreement has benefited both countries. The U.S. exports $200 billion worth of goods to Mexico every year.
"We buy meat from Nebraska," says Fox. "We buy services from Gallup."
Fox supports a guest worker program for Mexicans that are working in the U.S. illegally, while supporting families back in Mexico.
"There's a lot of misunderstanding of the problems and the challenges of the future," says Fox. "Building a wall is no answer to our problems and to our border."
He also spoke about another border concern: drugs. Fox says his government is waging a war against drug lords who use Mexico as a stopping point between South America and the United States. But Fox says it's not just Mexico's fight.
"Once the drug has crossed the border, who moves it up north?" he says. "How it gets to Chicago, to Omaha."
Fox says the U.S. and Mexico have to keep working together.
"I'm always optimistic that we'll have a successful Latin America, a successful Mexico, and a successful United States in this 21st century," he says.
Fox surprised a lot of people when he opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He says Mexicans are eager to see Barack Obama become president. Fox hopes Obama will listen to other countries, rather than trying to impose the U.S.'s ideas on the rest of the world.
Since leaving office in 2006, Fox has been building Mexico's first presidential library and research center. He's also working on ways to make Mexico more democratic. He says the U.S. gives him some inspiration on that.
The former president was welcomed to Omaha with a special presentation.
"I, Mike Fahey, the mayor of the city of Omaha, do hereby present the key to the city of Omaha to President Fox," said Fahey before shaking Fox's hand.
Fox will give a speech at Creighton University Wednesday morning. His wife, the former first lady of Mexico, will also speak at a women's leadership luncheon.
Not everyone was happy to see Vicente Fox in Omaha.
A woman carried a flag and a sign that read, "had enough?" in front of the Orpheum Theatre where Fox spoke Tuesday afternoon. She was later joined by fellow members of the Nebraskans Advisory Group. They don't like Fox's stance on illegal immigration. He thinks the U.S. should let illegal immigrants stay here under a guest worker program. The protestors say those immigrants take American jobs, money and resources.
"I would like to ask Vicente Fox why it was okay for the Mexican government to send their armed military down to their southern border to keep those illegal aliens out of there, but he's over here denouncing us for wanting to tighten our immigration laws," says Susan Smith.The Nebraskans Advisory Group wants to know where the billion dollars in U.S. aid sent to Mexico is being used if the people there still feel the need to enter the U.S. for work.