By Julio Espinoza
Mexico has one of the most influential diplomatic and consular networks in the world with about 150 offices worldwide and a network of about 50 consulates in the U.S.
Phoenix is perhaps the most strategic consular post for Mexico due to national security reasons: most of the political stability of the U.S-Mexico relationship depends on the correct management of the Arizonan-Sonoran desert region, which is a gateway for trade and investment but also presents a myriad of governance issues: illegal trafficking of people, drugs and arms as well as other organized crime activities such as money laundering and kidnapping.
Mexico has progressively overcome the stereotype of an undeveloped country and has taken leadership in the new international system, only thanks to a generational transformation in the government elite of our southern neighbor. Now we see that Mexican officials graduate from American or European universities, speak more than two languages, have at least a master’s degree, if not a PhD, and are very cosmopolitan. That broad world-view has enable this generation of Mexican public servants, such as Consul General Rodriguez, to be able to live, work and deliver results in any continent always keeping in mind the Mexican national interest.
Mexico might have governance problems being a democracy in transition. But we all must recognize two major changes. First, Mexico is no longer the backyard of the United States as several pundits used to believe, but the front yard. This is thanks to the rapidly increasing levels of interdependence between the two countries.
Second, Mexico has been playing a responsible role in this new American Century. Mexico is a trading nation with a strong orientation for a world order where peace, law, democracy and free trade prevail. What is in the best interest of the U.S. and Arizona (a stable and open international system) is also in the best interest of Mexico.
If we are looking for the same results then we need to work with our neighbors making the most of our commonalities, which reminds me of the words of Consul Rodriguez a few weeks ago:
“México and Arizona are friends and strategic partners, both share multiple economic, social and cultural ties. México ranks as the first destination for Arizona’s exports with USD 9.1 billion in 2015. An estimated 111,216 jobs in Arizona rely on bilateral trade with México. But beyond trade, our most valuable asset continues to be our people. Arizona is home to 1.7 million people of Mexican origin that contribute importantly to the prosperity of both Arizona and México. We need to reinforce our path to the future, unlike the past we must build bridges and not walls.”
If we evaluate the last three years of the Arizona-Mexico relationship in retrospective, Consul Rodriguez achieved so much in a short period thanks to his commitment to cooperation and the steady intention of the last two Federal Administrations of the Mexican Government to improve relations with the U.S. and Arizona, in spite of the loud and reckless statements of some political actors who damage the U.S. national interest with their irresponsible points of view.
Since his appointment in 2013, Consul Rodriguez conducted an inter-agency dialog that resulted in the establishment of the ProMexico trade office in Arizona and Nevada (the international business agency of Mexico), entry into force of memoranda of understanding of Phoenix with multiple Mexican cities, and the opening of the Arizona State Trade and Investment Office in Mexico City.
Progress in the Arizona-Mexico relation was also possible thanks to the advocacy of community leaders such as Mayor Stanton of Phoenix who found in Consul Rodriguez the perfect ally to conduct regular trade mission trips to different parts of Mexico. Two of the most globally minded citizens of the Valley were always side by side with Consul Rodriguez, always advocating for a true partnership with Mexico.
Both Michael Patterson, attorney at law with Polsinelli, and Doug Brunhke, CEO of Global Chamber have been perhaps the best friends of Mexico in Arizona’s corporate world. That is why last Monday June 13 at Polsinelli’s corporate office in Downtown Phoenix we gathered to wish Consul Rodriguez our best in his new consular post in California.
We took the opportunity to express the assurances of Arizona’s highest consideration to Consul General Rodriguez for building bridges and tearing down ideological walls between our state and the world.
The top diplomat of Mexico in Arizona is a highly demanding job due to the flow of sensitive information and the need of precise coordination in real time with Mexico City and the other four consulates of Mexico in Arizona (Tucson, Nogales, Yuma and Douglas), along with the Mexican Embassy in Washington D.C.
Being the top Mexican diplomat in Arizona is a 24/7 job that requires a massive amount of analytical skills and stamina, besides a very rare talent for negotiation and peace building. We are grateful for your service and commitment to peace and cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico. Mr. Consul Rodriguez, you will be missed; but we look forward to working with you again to build more bridges and tear down more walls between our countries.