Trade breeds peace, former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo said Thursday night.
Zedillo, speaking to a crowd of more than 4,000 people in Moby Arena, proposed globalization as a method of achieving greater unity and security in the world.
“It is now well established that trade does increase the likelihood for peace,” said this year’s Monfort lecturer.
Zedillo, a proponent of globalization, attested to the benefits of an integrated global market and focused heavily on what he believes is a direct relationship between trade and peace.
“Trade increases prospects for peace,” Zedillo said. He described a “two-way causality” in which “conflict damages trade, and also that trade helps to prevent conflict.”
Instead of giving his audience a “how-to” guide on globalization, Zedillo spoke of the worldwide benefits of integrated trade and possible threats to globalization.
These threats included an economic crisis in the United States, a worldwide flu pandemic and a devastating natural disaster. He also mentioned the harm a nuclear terrorist attack could do to globalization.
“In short, we could practically count on the beginning of another dark age,” Zedillo said, adding that leaders have failed to take sufficient action in preventing a race for nuclear proliferation.
Zedillo also touched on what he considers to be the downsides of globalization, such as growing competition to rich and poor countries.
Yet he argues that lack of globalization can be even more harmful.
“Perhaps an even bigger challenge is one of inclusion,” said Zedillo, claiming that two billion people live in extreme poverty in countries which largely don’t participate in globalization.
Students comprised a large amount of the thousands present for the speech and reacted with both praise and criticism.
“He paints a rosy picture of a process that has definitely benefited the few, if not clearly harmed many,” said Dana Daldos, a senior history major.
Protestors outside the speech echoed Daldos’ sentiment, focusing on human rights issues from Zedillo’s presidency.
Spanish professor Maura Velazquez-Castillo questioned the need for globalization.
She said that some countries are rich enough in resources to sustain themselves, but are forced into globalization, placing exportation as a priority above meeting their own needs.
Sergio Temorio, a senior biomedical engineering major and exchange student from Monterrey, Mexico, appreciated Zedillo’s politics.
“I really think as president he managed really well,” he said.
Zedillo was president of Mexico from 1994 to 2000, the last in a 70-year stretch of presidents in the Institutional Revolutionary Party.
He came into the presidency with an extensive expertise in economics. Zedillo is now director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization and a professor of international economics and politics at Yale.
At the end of his speech, Zedillo conceded that while globalization is in full swing, it isn’t perfect.
“Globalization is not for everybody,” Zedillo said. “For everybody’s sake, it must be given a hand.”
News editor Sara Crocker contributed to this report.
Staff writer Callie Moench can be reached at email@example.com.