A newsletter from the Embassy of Mexico in the United States
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.
The full text of the president’s speech (in Spanish) can be read. here.
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.
Of homes planned to get internet access thanks to the reform
Number of mobile phones in Mexico
Public sites in which the government will offer free internet.
Of “micro, small and medium businesses at national level” planned to get internet access
Cost of making a long-distance phone call within Mexico from January 1, 2015
The share of the broadcasting market reserved for Mexican business
In Mexico, the recent approval of energy reform has sparked interest and garnered praise from analysts around the world. The opening of the energy sector to foreign investment is set to boost production and economic growth, as well as consolidate North American energy independence. But with all the excitement and anticipation that has surrounded the recent enactment of energy reform in Mexico, another important aspect of the reform is often overlooked—Mexico’s energy future is about to grow greener. That is because the opening of the energy sector is not just about boosting production, but about modernization and constructing a new regulatory framework that will allow Mexico to meet its goal to cut its total emissions in half by 2050.
One of the keys to lowering greenhouse gas emissions rests in the reform's plan to increase natural gas production. Right now most power plants in Mexico run on coal, gasoline, or diesel fuel. Converting those plants to operate on natural gas, which is cheaper and burns cleaner, will allow for increased output and lower carbon emissions. Mexico has already announced plans to convert seven power plants from oil to natural gas and new plants built over the next decade will largely be fueled by natural gas rather than oil or coal.
A new regulatory body called the National Agency of Industrial Safety and Environmental Protection of the Hydrocarbons Sector (ANSIPAH) has also
been created. The Agency will be an autonomous body within the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources charged with regulating and supervising environmental protection, as well as industrial and operational safety. ANSIPAH will also work to ensure the sector complies with international best practices for industrial safety and environmental protection, and will have the authority to carry out inspections and impose penalties for non-compliance.
By 2024, Mexico hopes to generate more than 30% of its electricity from renewable energy sources. Under the reform, the country will open its electricity grid in order to allow the private sector to participate in the generation, transmission and distribution of power. Systemic barriers previously made it complicated for smaller renewable energy producers to connect to the grid. However, private electricity generators will now be allowed to independently construct and operate their own transmission lines, linking themselves to the grid and providing more immediate benefits to businesses, consumers, and the environment.
Also included in the reform is the Geothermal Energy Act, which provides a specific framework for the development of Mexico’s vast geothermal potential and regulates each stage of geothermal energy development from initial surveying and exploration to final production.
The reform also uses the power of the market to create incentives to lower emissions. The Ministry of Energy will establish a set of obligations requiring power suppliers and certain electricity users to obtain Clean Energy Certificates. Those certificates can be earned through the production or consumption of clean energy, as well as bought and sold through hedge contracts, creating a market for clean energy in which players outside the industry will be able to participate.
Mexico’s moves toward modernization and green energy also provide an opportunity for continued collaboration with their North American partners. In a joint statement following the North American Leaders Summit earlier this year, Mexico, the United States and Canada noted that "developing and securing affordable, clean and reliable energy supplies [that] can drive economic growth and support sustainable development as we shift towards a low carbon energy future” was a priority for the three countries.
As Mexico and North America proceed down the path of responsible energy development, we do so with the understanding that the future of the region will be deeply tied to our ability to produce clean, affordable, and reliable energy to fuel economic growth and the accompanying benefits for our citizens. Energy reform in Mexico will help lead the way to a brighter, more sustainable future.
Conversations form narratives; narratives form policies; policies form realities. Those conversations, like water, tend to follow the path of least resistance. In the case of the relationship between Mexico and the United States, that path often leads down the heavily trodden trail of overanalyzed and already exhausted subjects with discussions catering primarily to insiders. This does not mean the conversation is narrow, nor does it mean the audience is scarce. In fact, Mexico and the United States share the broadest and deepest agenda of any two countries on earth. Even so, many topics do not receive the attention they deserve, and many people in the U.S. and Mexico are still not as connected with each other as they could be.
That is why a new venture by the Center for American Progress (CAP), in partnership with many other institutions, is a welcome and celebrated undertaking. The recently created Mexico initiative looks to develop a new narrative for our intertwined future by organizing unlikely events in unlikely places.
Two events have already taken place. The first one, in Phoenix, Arizona, was organized by CAP in partnership with the McCain, Institute for International Leadership
a seemingly improbable, but certainly worthy partner—and included a fascinating conversation with Jose Antonio Meade, Secretary of Foreign Affairs from Mexico, Robert Zoellick, former head of the World Bank and Daniel Restrepo, former Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the National Security Council, and was moderated by Kurt Volker, former US Representative to NATO and Executive Director of the McCain Institute.
The panelists spoke about the importance of shaping a North America that makes the most out of its geography, human capital, energy independence, and innovation. They also underlined that foreign policy should begin in North America, taking into consideration the growth of trade and development taking place on both sides of the border.
The second event, organized with the prestigious CIDE, Colmex, and Comexi, two universities and a think tank, took place in Mexico City and focused on how Latinos are shaping America´s future. A broad and diverse group of people came together to speak about how the United States is changing demographically, politically, and
culturally. A particularly thought-provoking speech was delivered by Monica Lozano, from the U.S.-based Spanish language newspaper La Opinion, who emphasized the role of the Spanish language media ecosystem in the empowerment of Latinos in the United States. She was followed by two panels—one on demographics, politics and economics, and another on the border, immigration and culture. The event´s conclusions were discussed at a dinner hosted by Dr. Sergio M. Alcocer, Undersecretary for North America in the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Center for American Progress, under the leadership of CAP fellows Michael Werz and Daniel Restrepo, is set to continue working to expand the spaces and contexts in which the bilateral relationship is discussed and bring young and diverse audiences into the conversation. That should lead to a more inclusive bilateral dialogue and a healthier relationship.
To watch the event on How Latinos are shaping America´s future, go to tvonlinemexico.com.
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,
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
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.
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.
Sergio Ochoa and Nathan Keegan
Design and Production
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.