By Charly SHELTON
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Mexican President Vincente Fox are two of the most influential people in the world. Both former world leaders, their post-public office lives are now occupied in philanthropic work. One example is the World Leaders series of lectures and debates, presented in part by President Fox’s own charity, Centro Fox.
The third in the series was held at the Ford Theatre in Hollywood on Saturday. It focused on imparting knowledge to the audience, specifically surrounding the state of the world in 2023 and what can be done to make the world a better place than the world of 2013. The dignitaries spoke on three general topics with questions asked and moderated by three guest moderators – “Conflict in Faith,” moderated by NBC’s Conan Nolan, “Education,” moderated by NBC’s Michelle Valles, and “Immigration,” moderated by Telemundo’s Dunia Elvir, who touted that she came into America undocumented before finally gaining citizenship.
After the three topics, the speakers took select questions from the audience, ranging from, “What was the motivating factor that led you to run for office, and what would your advice be to young people today who are looking to run for public office?” to “Why is Mexican Coke better than American Coke?”
Certain questions elicited strong reactions from members of the audience, some of which were very vocal, chanting for the dignitaries on stage as well as notable guests in the audience (Sheriff Lee Baca was recognized before the program and some members of the audience began chanting “Governor Baca”). One question in particular about immigration – whether it should be done legally or illegally – got the back half of the house on its feet with cheers, espousing freedom for all to come and go as they please, much like in the European Union.
Prime Minister Blair handled the question very delicately, apparently recognizing the feeling of the audience.
“One of the problems we have in the UK, and it may be different here, but sometimes we will have immigrants come into the country, and the process of assimilation doesn’t really take place. And so you even find in parts of the UK second generation migrants who don’t speak English,” explained Blair. “Now, in the end what I think is really important is if you want to get acceptance for the benefits that immigration can bring, you’ve got to accept the host community and the immigrant community.”
The night was filled with diplomacy, well-wishing and imparting hard-earned knowledge to the attendees, but not much debate as both dignitaries agreed on almost every subject.
The event benefitted charities Centro Fox and Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission.
For more information on these charities or the ongoing speaker series, visit worldleaderseries.com.