Bicentenary of US-Mexico diplomatic relations celebrated at Texas A&M University

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An analysis of the bilateral relations between Mexico and the United States was discussed in a panel organized by the Office of Global Initiatives/Binational Center as part of the celebration of 200 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries on Monday at TAMIU’s Student Center Ballroom.

Deanna Kim, Consul General of the United States in Nuevo Laredo, and Juan Carlos Mendoza Sanchez, Consul General of Mexico in Laredo, were the panelists. Federico Schaffler, writer and expert on binational and trade issues, was the moderator.

Recalling history

Mendoza Sanchez recounted the historical context of Mexico before it was an independent country and highlighted the differences between the two countries.

“Let’s try to understand the general context that has made this relationship so complicated for two and that so many years have passed before we could reach an understanding and that understanding has brought the development of a process of economic integration,” he said. “When Mexico was born as an independent country, there was no national identity and there is always the example of Benito Juarez — the most emblematic figure of Mexico — who was born in a country that was not Mexico but New Spain,” 

Mendoza said that was a big difference with the Americans because they were migrants who came from Europe with a different perspective.

“We had just come out of 300 years of Spanish rule.”

He added that once independence was achieved, Mexico did have a monarchy with Agustin De Iturbide as the emperor. 

“We were not born as a republic, we did not have a state, we did not inherit a state, but we inherited the ballast of Catholicism when the church and government were together. It was Juárez who made the separation of the church and the state,” he said. “We started with a monarchy with many political ideas, but worst of all a bankrupt public treasury that made us have an unstable government.”

He said that later Iturbide was overthrown, leading to the first president: Guadalupe Victoria.

“From the signing of the Independence Agreement to the beginning of the war with the United States, in a period of 37 years we had 33 presidents,” he said. “Mexico was a disorganized country without identity, chaotic with constant civil wars, coups.”

He said a government like the one in Mexico needed recognition and recognition meant credits. That is why recognition was important, and they turned to European governments for trade agreements.

The United States’ impact

Mendoza Sanchez said that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is when the history of the Mexicans in the United States started.

“The first Mexicans who arrived in the United States never crossed the border, they were already there. That is the history of the Mexicans in the United States, a somewhat forgotten history,” he said.

Mendoza stressed that history with the United States changes during World War II after Pearl Harbor since Mexico declared war against the Axis Powers. He said that Mexico participated in two important fronts: the first with a war squad that is trained in the US and fought in the Philippines and the great contribution of Mexicans was the Braceros Program when 4.5 million Mexicans came to work the fields and turned agriculture in the United States into the most prosperous in the world.

He spoke also about the economic crises of 1976, 1982, and 1994, and the 15 million Mexicans that migrated at that time.

“We can only thank the generosity of this country, which opened the doors for Mexicans in such difficult times for Mexico because they received us,” Mendoza said. “Because unfortunately, and we regret it as Mexicans, as a country we could not give them a development opportunity, and they came, they found work here and have been pillars in the development of a large part of their communities. Then the next step was NAFTA in 1992 and then the USMCA in July 2020 where trade will grow enormously.”

He said that there are still asymmetries that need to be understood to improve the bilateral relationship.

“We have differences in economic capacity, in the size of the populations, in the capacity for consumption, in the military capacity, and so that gives us different policies,” Mendoza Sanchez said. “We lived in mutual ignorance. There is a distance from the political systems, the administrative apparatuses are very different, and as this, we see many institutions that are not mirrors and sometimes make collaboration more difficult, and finally culture.”

Being an ambassador

Mendoza also spoke about other numerical differences that impact economies such as population, GDP, GDP per capita, and trade. 

Kim recognized the importance of the people living on the border as ambassadors for their region.

“You are the ones who live and represent the characteristics that make these cities so peculiar,” she said. “You breathe international trade every day, and maintain uninterrupted supply chains. You cross the border several times every day to study, work, and above all share with their families and friends who are on the Mexican or American side.”

For Kim, ties with Mexico have never been stronger.

“We are neighbors, we are friends, we are allies. We are strengthened by common values and indispensable trade linkages,” she said. “We have never been more united in our commitment to building a more competitive resilient and secure North American continent. I know about the enthusiasm for collaboration and a sense of shared purpose in the community. How government officials, business people, and community leaders in this region believe in working together to find solutions to the border’s economic and social challenges.”

She added that the binational relationship is resilient regardless of the challenges faced in recent years including a global pandemic 

“Let me recount a couple of examples of our collaboration: First, we survived COVID-19 together. The United States and Mexico working closely together with international partners reduced secondary economic effects in both countries. The United States worked closely with Mexico to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in solidarity with the people of Mexico. Second, we’ve witnessed the evolution of NAFTA, now the USMCA, an agreement that supports mutually beneficial trade leading to freer markets, fairer trade, and robust economic growth in North America.

“Third, we saw American and Mexican officials gather for a second time at the US Mexico high level economic dialogue and there they reiterated the importance of our continued collaboration and commitment. And last but not least is the Binational River Project. This project not only positively reflects the unique character of this vibrant community but points to an opportunity for Mexico and the United states to address shared challenges.”

She invited the audience to reflect together and think about how the relationship between Mexico and the USA can be kept as dynamic and strong as it has been up to now.

Source.- TANIU

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