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Mexico

A newsletter from the Embassy of Mexico in the United States

INSIDE THIS EDITION: Shannon K. O’Neil, Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, talks bilateral opportunities and challenges with Ambassador Medina Mora. In Front Desk, we take look back at President Peña Nieto’s visit to California and the ties that bind that state with its southern neighbor. Numbers features data on opportunities born from recent reforms to the telecommunications sector, and The Bigger Picture looks at how energy reform in Mexico is set to help lower carbon emissions. In Backyard, we get a look at the Mexico initiative begun by the Center For American Progress, while Alberto Ruy Sánchez celebrates 100 years of Octavio Paz in the Visitor's Lounge. Finally, the Guest Room brings us activist Lizeth Martinez’s struggle for LGBT rights.

Toc-Talk



In this edition of Toc-Talk, Ambassador Medina Mora chats with Shannon K. O’Neil, Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. O’Neil is also director of the Council of Foreign Relations Task Force on North America.
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Front Desk



In late August, President Enrique Peña Nieto visited California to strengthen ties and highlight the special relationship between our country and the “Golden State.” According to the US Census Bureau, approximately 11.5 million people of Mexican origin live in California, and through our network of 10 consulates in the state (Calexico, Fresno, Los Angeles, Oxnard, Sacramento, Santa Ana, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco and San José) Mexico provides consular assistance and engages in constant dialogue and outreach on issues of importance to our community and our country with key state and local actors.

During his visit, President Peña Nieto met with California Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, as well as other state and local officials to acknowledge and commend their leadership on issues of importance to the immigrant community. An acknowledgment of just how important Mexico and California are to one another was reflected in several memoranda signed between California and various Mexican federal agencies on issues like climate change and environment; education, research, and innovation; border trade and investment; as well as border infrastructure.

President Peña Nieto celebrated his first trip to the state by meeting with members of the Mexican community in Los Angeles, the city with the largest number of people of Mexican origin outside of Mexico. In his remarks during the meeting, he recognized the important contributions that members of the Mexican community—including entrepreneurs, business people, community leaders, and students—make to the social and economic fabric of the state and underscored the significance that comprehensive immigration reform would have for both the U.S. and Mexico saying that "ultimately, it is about justice for those who contribute so much to American society.”

The president made a special mention of support to young immigrants known as “Dreamers” who came to the United States as children and are eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. He announced the beginning of a new program in which the Mexican government, along with state and local governments as well as universities, will organize visits to Mexico for those Dreamers of Mexican origin in order to build ties with future leaders who will be at the forefront of Mexico-U.S. relations in the years to come. The first of such visits took place between September 29th and October 4th and included cultural activities and exchanges with students. Of Dreamers, President Peña Nieto said "Because of your sense of binational belonging we trust that you, the young people, will be a symbol of a renewed relationship between Mexico and the United States.”

On the subject of the unprecedented reforms underway in Mexico, the president noted that those reforms seek to "boost economic growth, and expand the rights of Mexicans” as well as “consolidate and strengthen the capabilities of our institutions".

Finally, the president commended the Mexican community in California for everything they had accomplished, calling them “a model and example for many others." He went on to offer them a message of support. “In the Government of Mexico, you have an ally that will accompany you in your efforts,” said President Peña Nieto.
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The full text of the president’s speech (in Spanish) can be read. here.

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Numb3rs

Each edition of Zoom-In features pertinent statistics and interesting Mexico-related facts. In this edition we look at data surrounding Mexico’s recent telecommunications reforms.

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The Bigger Picture:

Growing Green: How Mexico's Energy Reform Will Boost Sustainability

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The Backyard

A New Look at an Old Relationship

Visitor's Lounge

TRANSFORMING A GAZE INTO A VISION
ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF OCTAVIO PAZ

Celebrating Octavio Paz means publicly recognizing the primordial place that creativity and the arts occupy in Mexican culture, as well as the place that Mexican culture has in the world. There are very few artists who, like Octavio Paz, dedicate their lives to reclaiming the importance of poetry as an instrument no less indispensable than science in the exploration of the deepest reaches of humanity. In his vast written works, as well as his tireless activities as a cultural agitator, he never wavered in his support of independent thought against the absolutist tendencies of all ideological stripes. He criticized and battled against military dictatorships on the left as well as the right. But he was no less critical of the damage that markets and technology inflict on the "possibilities of being" of individuals. He defended “the other voice” of poetry, not simply as a literary creation, but as a vital attitude, a countercurrent against the most banal aspects of modernity,
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reminding us of everything profound that being human means. The nearly fourteen thousand pages that make up his complete works, which consisted of fifteen volumes, open with a work reflecting on what it means to read and write poetry.Tellingly, they close with a volume of poetry. Between those two works lies all else, as if he wanted to point out that everything he wrote on art, politics, culture, literature, and history was all influenced and framed by poetry. This logically presents a certain question: What does it mean to write about all those topics as a poet? What makes a poet different from any other social commentator or social scientist? In an interview in 1989 (which can be seen in the video Itinerario Poético, from the series México en la Obra de Octavio Paz) he gave me this answer, paraphrasing Aristotle’s Poetics: “The historian writes about what happened; the poet writes about what happened, what could happen, and what should happen. To write as a poet is to deeply investigate as others do, but to take a certain perspective and distance that introduces an element of reflection on the possible future, assuming a dual position in time, space, and morality. To write on any subject as a poet is to transform a gaze into a vision.” So reading Octavio Paz today as a thinker and artist continues to feel current because his vision includes us, his ethic interpellates us, and his creations move our emotions and our minds.

Alberto Ruy Sánchez is an award-winning Mexican author. Twitter @Alberto Ruy Sánchez


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The Guest Room

"LGBT Activism at Middle Age ... at Any Age!"

by Lizeth Martinez

In 2012, I was given the incredible opportunity to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program of the Department of State of the United States. The theme of the program was "LGBT Rights Issues in the US", and when I first heard I had been nominated, I could not believe it, especially since I didn’t consider myself a leader at the time. It is funny how we often don’t see ourselves worthy of these opportunities, and surely the people who nominated me in the first place could never have anticipated what this experience would mean for me and my future as an activist.

This adventure meant that I had to leave on a 28 day journey alongside six other people with various experiences in LGBT activism from different cities in Mexico. Meeting them was the best thing that ever happened to me, personally and professionally. They taught me what “activism with passion” looks like. They showed me that, through cooperation, it was possible to share projects, networks and learn from each other in the process.

And there we were: four gay men and two lesbian women ready to create our own version of “LGBT Fellowship” in search of knowledge and empowerment. We visited non-governmental organizations in Washington DC, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Louisville, Lexington and San Francisco, each one of them offering us an open range of ideas to use in the creation of future projects. One of the most striking visits, or at least the one that had the most impact on me, was visiting The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. First, because of the profound admiration I feel towards Mr. King’s character and his policy of non-violence, but it was also striking to realize the similarities between oppression and segregation (physical and legal) suffered by the African-American community in the country and the discrimination against and denial of rights to the LGBT community. I believe it is for this reason that groups and individuals who supported the struggle for civil rights in the US are now supporting the LGBT community, because they recognize our struggle as one of basic human and civil rights. I am positive that this collaboration is allowing legal and social changes to take place more quickly and efficiently.

As my journey continued, I grew increasingly certain that in order for me to be a full-time LGBT activist, I had to be completely and unequivocally out of the closet not just with my extended family and friends—who by that time already knew I was a lesbian—but also with my colleagues and the rest of the community in my hometown, which happens to be in of one of the most conservative states in Mexico. For me, being open about my sexuality was a question of both personal and political congruency. "I need to do this!", I said to myself over and over again, and in my mind all these negative images would play out making me both afraid and anxious at the same time, but as with many things in my life, I took a leap of faith and trusted that my heart and soul were in the right place. So now I was ready to say it, to own it: “I am a lesbian”. It was not an easy process, because by stepping out, you sort of bring your family and friends with you and some people—especially family members—are just not ready to come out as parents, sisters, brothers, nieces of an openly LGBT person, but with time and above all else love, everything falls slowly but surely into place.

Upon my return to Mexico, I set two main objectives for myself: One was to use all the resources and ideas I had gathered from my trip and start my own non-profit organization.

Second, use my new found networking skills to garner the necessary momentum to make effective and meaningful change in the lives of LGBT people.

Let’s collaborate!

Never underestimate your allies and possible partners. That is what I learned when I teamed up with a former colleague of mine to set up our brand new non-profit to defend the human rights of two vulnerable groups: the LGBT community and Migrants (Mexicans and foreign nationals). We named it Derechos Humanos Integrales en Acción (DHIA)—Integral Human Rights in Action—and in less than a year we were a recognized leader in both LGBT and Immigration issues nationwide.

Let’s collaborate some more!

Thanks to my involvement with other state and local organizations I met Alex Ali Díaz Méndez, who in 2012 was the mastermind behind a legal strategy—Amparo—to allow gay people to marry in the state of Oaxaca. By using the same legal principle used by Méndez in Oaxaca, we were able to obtain an injunction allowing 5 couples to be married in my home state of Chihuahua. Upon granting these couples full recognition of their rights the courts unknowingly started a human rights revolution. As of September 2014, DHIA has promoted 15 additional injunctions and we receive new marriage requests every day. DHIA has made it possible for these couples to access these injunctions free of charge; all services provided are pro bono.

All rulings from the district courts coincide with the ruling by the Mexico Supreme Court of Justice that limiting the definition of marriage to union between a man and woman goes against the fundamental principles of our constitution and discriminates against LGBT people. However, although there have been seven same sex marriages in the state, so far there has not been any clear and open indication of political will in the local congress to legislate in favor of equal rights and protections for all its citizens.

In DHIA, I have had the privilege of working for many couples who come to us because they wish to be married. They want to provide legal protection for their families, and it is very rewarding to see how they, too, have emerged as new activists by the end of the process, joining us in the fight for their rights. They come out of their shells and a new sense of pride emerges from them and their families. I watch this, sometimes with tears in my eyes, knowing that all of this is the result of them allowing themselves to be who they really are, to stand up and claim their right to happiness. Behind every ruling, every injunction, there is a love story, a love story between two individuals who deserve to be happy, who deserve the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Today, I am a proud, forty-year-old, openly lesbian activist, and someone who knows being open about who you love is the greatest feeling in the world. For my part, I will continue to work as an advocate for laws that provide a more just and equal place for LGBT people to live and thrive, and I encourage companies and governments to do the same. We need LGBT and straight allies to work together in building a more educated society, one that focuses on equality, not only for the LGBT community, but for other minorities and vulnerable populations such as women and migrants.

I am confident that we are on the right side of history. Change is upon us. I am certain of it, and a day will come when we will all look back at the LGBT movement and know that it was not easy, but it was certainly worth it.

Facebook:DHIA,A.C.


The Team

Kyle Burk
Associate Editor

Sergio Ochoa and Nathan Keegan
Design and Production

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Zoom In is a publication of the Embassy of Mexico in the United States
Original Concept: Alexandra Haas, Ariel Moutsatsos, Juan Carlos Lara, Ricardo Alday, Antonio Ortiz Mena

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the individual contributors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Mexican Embassy in the United States.