A few days after the official ceremony of Mexico’s independence on Thursday, September 15h, the Detroit Immigration Examiner was able to interview the Hon. Vicente Sanchez-Ventura, Consul of Mexico in Detroit, regarding his view of the relationship between the State of Michigan and his country.
Examiner: Mr. Consul, how do you perceive the relationship between Michigan and Mexico?
Consul: Today, Michigan is Mexico’s third largest commercial partner, after California and Texas, so the relationship is quite important. As I look around and see so many dear friends who contribute in so many different ways to strengthen the relationship between Mexico and Michigan, I realize that the work we have done together during these five years I have been at the Consulate in Detroit has played a key role in making this relationship grow stronger every day. It is thanks to this joint effort that so many ideas and projects have become a reality.
Examiner: Do you believe there is a growing Mexican influence in Michigan?
Consul: Throughout the years, and in partnership with many companies and associations, we have been able to expand the presence of Mexico by organizing concerts, exhibitions, and recitals by Mexican artists, seminars, and Mexican film festivals in Michigan – most of them free of charge. With our annual events such as “El Día de los Niños” (Day of Children, a very popular celebration in Mexico) and “Día de los Libros” (Reading Day), we are have now become an important part in the life of the community.
Examiner: Do you mostly focus on cultural activities?
Consul: Definitely not. We work very hard to promote business with Mexico at every level, and this year we also had Mexico´s Minister of Health and several top representatives of the Henry Ford Medical System attend the inauguration of Mexico’s first Health Window in Michigan. This “Ventanilla de Salud” — its name in Spanish — is located at the Consulate of Mexico in Detroit, and it is part of a health program designed in Mexico to provide bilingual and bi-cultural advice to the local Mexican community. It also provides guidelines on health promotion, preventive care, and on insurance plans available to Mexicans in the area.
Examiner: Are there any non-profit associations linked to the Consulate of Mexico, that you believe contribute to enhance the Mexican presence in Michigan?
Consul: In view of the vital economic interaction between Michigan and Mexico, a few years ago, we collaborated to create the first Association of Mexican Professionals in Michigan (APROMEX), and the Amigos de México (Friends of Mexico) group. More recently, we were also involved in the creation of the México Pro Michigan initiative.
Examiner: What is the historical perspective in the relationship between Mexico and Michigan from the Consulate’s point of view?
Consul: Actually, the presence of México and its people in Michigan goes back at least one hundred years, when attracted by the offers of employment in the manufacturing and agricultural industries, Mexican immigrants began to arrive in the United States as far north as Michigan, between 1910 and 1920. According to the 2010 census, the Hispanic community represents 4.4% of the total population in Michigan. This may not seem like a big number — especially compared to states like California. However, the data shows that while the non-Hispanic population in the state decreased by 1.7%, the Hispanic population actually has grown by 34.7% in the last ten years, making Hispanics, and Mexicans in particular, active participants in almost every aspect of the economic and productive life of Michigan.
Consul: The last census also showed that population of Mexican origin in the United States increased by 54%, growing from 20.6 million in 2000 to 31.8 million in 2010. This means that Mexicans accounted for approximately 75% of the 15.2 million Hispanic population increase between 2000 and 2010.
Examiner: How do you see the relationship between Mexico and the US in the coming years?
Consul: Over the last decade, the ties between México and the United States have strengthened significantly. The two countries continue to cooperate on issues of mutual concern, such as security, drug trafficking, immigration, and foreign investment.
Examiner: The recent rise in drug trafficking and the violence of drug cartels in Mexico have become a matter of serious concern to the US. What can you tell us about how it is being handled by Mexico?
Consul: In the matter of drug trafficking, the government of President Felipe Calderón has been giving a strong, frontal battle to the drug cartels and organized crime for the last five years. During that time, our government has also implemented clean-up initiatives and strict controls on Mexico’s law enforcement agencies. The fight against organized crime is not an easy one, and so cooperation from our neighbors is vital. The Obama and Calderon administrations have agreed that joint efforts are the best way to fight organized crime through our common border.
Consul: As of now, the results of Mexico’s efforts to fight criminal activities within its territory are evident. So far, 21 of the 37 most wanted and dangerous drug lords have been neutralized; more than 450 detainees wanted abroad have been extradited; a record amount of drugs, worth over $10 billion have been seized; and we have secured more than 57,000 illegal cars, 500 aircrafts, and more than 700,000 guns.
Examiner: Now that we have addressed the matter of security, what can you tell us about Mexico in the 21st Century?
Consul: I can say that Mexico is not only drug cartels and drug wars. We have accomplished a great deal in the past five years, in several areas. More than 3,000 clinics and hospitals have been built, remodeled or re-equipped, and over 100 million Mexicans have access to public health services. In fact, our goal is that every Mexican be covered by our Public Health Insurance by 2012.
Consul: For the first time in history, since 2008 every Mexican child has had a secured place in elementary school. In regards to our industry, more than 445,000 small and medium-sized enterprises have been created, which also represent the creation of thousands of jobs in our country. Each and every Mexican — from our different places and work areas — is coming together to make of our country a better place for our children.
Consul: Mexico is a country of ancient, rich, and extraordinary history. It is a country of modern cities, beautiful colonial towns, impressive natural resources, green mountains, and blue oceans. It is a country full of color and exquisite flavor…. but most of all, México is a country of warm and kind people, who will always offer a smile to their guests and friends.
Examiner: Thank you, Mr. Consul!