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Mexico’s President Speaks Out About the Safety of Retirees and Tourists in His Country and How Mexico Is Preparing for an Aging Population in an Exclusive New Interview With AARP

Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon: “I can assure you that Mexico is a peaceful, safe and pleasant country. Mexico is a vibrant democracy where we live within the law.”

WASHINGTON, March 1, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Just days before Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon is scheduled to arrive in the United States to meet with President Obama, AARP is releasing video of an exclusive sit-down interview. In this 12-minute video released today on http://www.aarp.org/VIVA, Calderon speaks candidly with Gabriela Zabalua-Goddard, vice president and editor of AARP VIVA, the organization’s bilingual publication for Hispanics, about safety for tourists and retirees in Mexico, the graying of his nation and how U.S. retirees in Mexico are having an impact in his country. Zabalua-Goddard also delves into the Calderon’s family life and how the president himself is preparing for aging and retirement.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20070209/NYF043LOGO )

After a tumultuous year of being in the headlines for the violence and drug trafficking running rampant throughout the country, and at a time when the U.S. continues to warn its citizens against traveling to Mexico, the country’s leader offers his views on hot-button issues. In this rare interview, he insists that Mexico is not a dangerous country.

Translated Excerpts from the Interview:

His Personal Message to Tourists

“They shouldn’t worry. Obviously, there are problems, but these are associated with certain places and to conflicts within criminal elements. Over 2.5 million U.S. citizens live in Mexico—half of them retired—and they live very peacefully. For them, Mexico is a safe country, and we are always very alert to any incidents that may occur.”

“Mexico welcomed over 20 million international tourists last year, 49 million tourists from across the border, 6 million tourists by cruise ships, and there were no real major incidents. I can assure you that Mexico is a peaceful, safe and pleasant country. We have lovely retirement communities: San Miguel de Allende, Chapala, Morelia, Vallarta; we’re very happy with them. Mexico is a great place to live and enjoy, so, come with peace of mind, feel safe. We’re also working to improve the living conditions of our people in Mexico.”

Changes Taking Place In Mexico

“In Mexico, we are carrying out a very important transformation of our infrastructure, of its economic, social, educational and health areas. Mexico is a vibrant democracy where people live within the law. Where human rights are respected; a society where there’s freedom, you can have your opinions and vote in absolute freedom.”

On Financial Security and Poverty in Mexico

“In 1997/96, there were nearly 40 million people in Mexico still living in extreme poverty. And that figure has decreased considerably, to approximately 18 million now, even with the severe economic crisis we had. And we’re doing even more. Mexico has a program, Oportunidades, that has been copied by many countries, especially in Latin America, where we provide financial support to mothers with the condition that they take their children to school and to the doctor. This is a way of breaking the cycle of poverty. This program has been able to get millions and millions of Mexican families out of poverty.”

On His Retirement

“Once I leave the presidency, the first thing, obviously, will be to work quite awhile to prepare for my retirement. In Mexico, as you know, we have a retirement savings system where workers have individual accounts that are carefully monitored. This, we hope, will allow people to live with dignity when they retire.”

“Once I leave the presidency, I would like to concentrate in the fields of analysis and consulting. Obviously, I’ll be writing a lot and will be connected to the academic world and universities.”

On His Children’s Education

“More than teaching them a language or encouraging them to study abroad, etc., my wife and I have tried to instill in them something a lot more important: freedom. And we want them to feel confident in what they want to do and that whatever they choose, they will have their parents’ support.”

On Education and Older Adults

“I believe that they have a lot of talent that often isn’t used and that, like any other human being, older adults have a great capacity for achievement that we have to provide opportunities for.”

About AARP

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world’s largest-circulation magazine with nearly 35 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP’s millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.