It was amazing to see Ambassador Reyna Torres Mendivil, Chicago’s Consul General of Mexico, in Bradley University’s Michael Student Center today. She brought a lively discussion on what the work of a Consul is along with what it is not. The Consul General of Mexico helps the 35 million population of Mexican descent find jobs, services for documents, passports, attorneys, give legal advice, and help in international relations. We have 50 Consulates in the United States. A recent win for Ambassador Reyna Torres Mendivil and the Minister of Foreign Affairs has been providing a vaccine for the residents of Mexico. Not only were they able to provide a vaccine, but they were able to get 100 million vaccines imported. After the Consul talked about her recent experiences and a few other things, she answered questions from students, staff, and members of the Peoria Area World Affairs Council.
Is the pandemic getting under control in Mexico?
Specific areas have been getting better due to the vaccinations, but some areas are still unable to receive them. There has been lobbying in large pharmaceutical companies to import more vaccines. This is an international effort that President Biden and President Andrés Manual López Obrador have been working closely together on.
Are there security issues down at the border?
Migration is not really a security issue as it is a socioeconomic issue. There really needs to be a process put in place that ensures that regular migration is safe. The main issue stems from the fact that we (The United States and Mexico) need to invest in the areas of origin of the migrants.
What advice would you give countries like the United States for investment? What would be the target areas?
Listen to the communities and don’t just impose what we think they need. There needs to be investment in the younger generation along with development of industry, infrastructure, and human capital.
Have a lot of Central Americans gone toward Mexico or to the United States for jobs?
There are not currently many people moving from Mexico to America. Five years ago eight thousand people asked for refuge in Mexico, this year it is estimated to be about 100 thousand. To handle this capacity Mexico must develop their own institutions and this can be done by collaboration. This issue is regional and needs to be addressed by both the United States and Mexico. Mexico is a country of return. Many Mexican nationals, especially in the last 5 years, had to return back to Mexico even after living in the United States for many years. This leads to Bilingual issues of families returning to Mexico.
What is the bi-nationalism concept? How do you promote that here?
Demographics in the United States have changed a lot. There are over 35 million people of Mexican origin. A little over 5 million are undocumented and 10 million are of Mexican Nationality. Many of them come over at a young age. Put simply, binationalism is the concept that two nations should work together. It is also so much more. For Mexican nationalists, it is being fluent in both English and Spanish. It is also being a dreamer. Someone who immigrated to America at a young age who is proud of both their US heritage and their parent’s Mexican heritage. For Americans, bi-nationalism may look like buying property in Mexico and retiring there. Chicago’s Consul General of Mexico challenges those who are from American origin to submerge themselves in Mexican culture to rewrite the misconceptions and break down the cultural walls.
Why do Mexicans migrate to the United States?
They come here for work and opportunities. The situation is very complex due to how large our border is. There is a large demand in the United States for illegal substances. There is a bad reputation put on the Mexicans for smuggling drugs across the border, but this is actually a misconception. There are studies that actually suggest that up to 70% of drug smugglers coming across the border are from American descent.
How has Covid-19 affected the economic supply chain of goods in Mexico?
Just like in America, it has affected some areas good and some areas bad. Ambassador Mendivil is hopeful there because things are starting to go back go normal and they seem a little better than before the pandemic. The tourism sector was less effected than many other areas.
Is the illegal drug sales problem getting better or worse now that some areas are legalizing marijuana?
There is a lot of complexity when it comes to this answer. There are many substances in the equation, some being illegal drugs, other being human trafficking. It is really sad to see how migrants are becoming victims of that. The most vulnerable are being taken advantage of and that is from the problems surrounding migration. The government needs to stop demanding that there is no immigration from Mexico to fix this. They need to figure out how to make immigration safe, orderly, and regular.