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Santiago Álvarez de Mon, Professor, IESE, University of Navarra

Travel, learn, contrast

Mon, 15 Mar 2010 09:20:29 +0000 Published in Expansion & employment (Madrid)

How important it is to travel! Besides the pleasure of getting to know other countries, cultures and people, it puts distance from everyday problems, gives you different angles and perspectives of Spain. I have just arrived from Monterrey, the Mexican city with the greatest entrepreneurial spirit, place with a strong industrial tradition, home of the famous TEC. As a simple traveler I have once again noticed the thriving presence of important Spanish companies. Of Spain's economic and business development , this is probably the most visionary and lucid chapter. The strategic decision to cross the Atlantic has been result decisive to compete in a global and interdependent Economics .

Our companies not only find markets and exploitation margins there that are unthinkable here, but they also contribute to the development of brotherly peoples.
On the second and third day of my stay, I met with a heterogeneous group of businessmen. Various industries and sectors were represented. Upon my return, two aspects stood out above all other considerations: The first, the genuine and sincere concern of the businessmen about the discrediting of the political class . Skepticism is widespread and disillusionment very perceptible. In the different meetings and dialogues held, there was much talk of citizen participation, of a greater commitment of civil society, of the enormous challenge of the Education of young people... Many reflections and questions were formulated in the first person singular, with all my interlocutors assuming the share of responsibility staff that corresponds to them. Apart from the multimillionaire clown Chávez, and the Cuban dictator, ideology and petrodollars, a bad combination, the health deficit of Latin American democracies was spoken of with regret, as reflected in all sociological surveys. The novelty is that they did not limit themselves to criticizing their elected representatives. The bulk of their parliaments had to do with themselves. They felt they were part of the problem, hence part of the solution.

The second element has to do with the courage and determination I observed. The crisis is also grade, and although they trust in the recovery of the giant of the North, there is a sincere concern for the competitiveness of their companies. Labor market, austerity in budgets, both private and public, a commitment to innovation... Quotes familiar and familiar to all of us, were frequent references from my local interlocutors. What is new is the very serious security crisis in the country. Monterrey is two hours and average by highway from the U.S. border, and it is no longer a safe trip. Although Ciudad Juarez, the center of the conflict, is farther away, they fear that the mafias are targeting an enterprising and relatively wealthy city.

Have Calderón sufficiently gauged the magnitude of the conflict? Does he enjoy American support? How far have the mafias penetrated the organism of a sick society? All these social and political questions affect their lives. Their safety suffers, their family life suffers, and in this context it is to celebrate such courage and hope.