More Than Neighbors, Mexico and San Antonio Are Family

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Maria Yznaga wears an attached American and Mexican flag for the Official 21st Anniversary Cesar E. Chavez March For Justice.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Maria Yznaga wears an American attached to a Mexican flag for the Official 21st Anniversary César E. Chávez March For Justice.

San Antonio’s relationship with Mexico holds undeniable relevance, not just because Mexico is the 11th largest economy in the world representing a market of 120 million people, or because of its geographical proximity and shared history with Texas.

This truth resonates across the region and the state mainly because of the millions of economic and human interactions that occur on a daily basis.

But in light of today’s political climate, we must remember what is at stake when we talk about bilateral issues such as trade, migration, security, and the challenges our democracies face.

Mexico and the United States share 1,954 miles of continental border with 48 crossings – 29 of them in Texas – where 23 U.S. counties and 39 Mexican municipalities meet. It is the most frequently crossed border in the world with 350 million legal crossings per year related to business transactions, family reunions, tourism, or simply shopping.

So what happens in Mexico matters on this side of the border. A few weeks ago, many of our American friends watched with great interest as Mexican citizens elected more than 3,000 officials, including nine governors, all members of Congress, and our next president, with a turnout of more than 60 percent of registered voters. They celebrated with us as candidates, electoral authorities, observers, citizens who served in the polling stations, and voters alike demonstrated that Mexico is a mature democracy, that our institutions are strong, and that national unity in the hope of a prosperous future transcends differences.

Mexico is the No. 1 destination for American expats. Whether as permanent residents, seasonal visitors, documented or undocumented, there are close to 3 million Americans living in Mexico at any given time. Cities like San Miguel de Allende or Los Cabos would not be the same without our friends from the north who have found their homes among us.

On the other side of the border, there are 36 million people of Mexican origin living in the U.S., with around 11.7 million born in Mexico. Not many people know that 80 percent of those 36 million are legal residents or American citizens. Regardless of their migratory status, they contribute every day with their hard work, values, and talent to the success and wellbeing of the U.S.

Additional to the demographic element is the intensity of our economic partnership – trade in goods and services between both countries exceeds $1 million per minute. We cannot explain this without the North American Free Trade Agreement, which added $80 billion to the U.S. economy since its implementation. Since the signing of NAFTA in 1994, exports from Texas increased by 354.7 percent with the Mexican market representing 39.8 percent of Texas’ annual exports. Mexico is Texas’ main trading partner, before Canada and China.

To provide services to our diaspora and handle the wide array of exchanges that bring life to the bilateral relationship, the Mexican government developed a groundbreaking strategy of consular diplomacy in the U.S., where it has 50 consulates in 25 states – the country with the largest consular network of any one nation in any other single country. With 11 consulates, Mexico has its largest diplomatic footprint in Texas.

Recognizing San Antonio’s significance, Mexico opened one of its first foreign representations here in 1861. Its first permanent cultural institute in the world, evolved from the Mexican Pavilion in the 1968 World Fair to the wonderful venue we have today at Hemisfair, is a true statement on the confluence of civilizations.

Mexico’s economic exchanges reflect these strong ties with San Antonio. According to a recent study by the SABER Research Institute, from 1994 to 2016 NAFTA created 135,311 jobs in the city, with 63,204 of them being direct jobs. The same study indicates that the treaty added $10.6 billion in gross regional product and $20.5 billion in output across San Antonio’s economy. The founding of the North American Development Bank (NADBANK), headquartered in downtown San Antonio, also came as part of NAFTA’s impulse for a new partnership, and to push for a regional plan to address environmental issues.

The presence of Mexican companies and binational entrepreneurs in the San Antonio area is also notable. Some of the most prestigious local organizations were created hand in hand with the Mexican Consulate, such as the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1929 as the Mexican Chamber; the San Antonio Mexico Friendship Council (SAMFCO), created in 1996 by the Consul General and a group of key leaders to promote education exchanges and the numerous ties shared by our communities on both sides of the border,;or the Mexican Entrepreneur Association (AEM), established the same year.

Most Mexicans perceive San Antonio as a referent of our closeness with our neighbor to the north. We acknowledge the role this city has played in our history, the city where the exiled Francisco I. Madero wrote the Plan de San Luis calling for the establishment of a democracy in 1910, and where the presidents of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico signed NAFTA in 1992.

Equally, Mexico is a vital part of San Antonians’ collective imagination. We can recognize our shared heritage when visiting the Missions, we can relate to each other through the vibrant colors of the Día de los Muertos at the Pearl, or simply by looking at the familiar and friendly faces of the almost 2 million people of Mexican origin living in Bexar County.

I invite you to look around and discover the testimonies of all the positive, constructive, and friendly ties that bind us together. Next time you drive by Sebastián’s Torch of Friendship, Ricardo Legorreta’s San Antonio Central Library, Juan O’Gorman’s mural at the facade of the Lila Cockrell Theater, or take your picture at Jorge Marin’s Wings of Mexico, consider this: Mexico and San Antonio are not neighbors or partners – We are family.

 

10 thoughts on “More Than Neighbors, Mexico and San Antonio Are Family

  1. It will have its greatest impact on those who don’t know history or understand the resulting negative impact of NAFTA on the U.S. economy and environment from polluting factories in Mexico.

    • My comment was edited? Beginning and end deleted, so there’s no coherence of thought. I guess critical thinking not in line with liberal ideology is too be silenced. It’s your site, do what you want.

      • Juan, yes it was edited because it did not meet our standards. Had you provided a valid email address, we would have emailed to inform you of that.

          • Jonathan is a fan, but I am not. I want to know what Juan Valdez has to say. I think it’s bad practice that partisan commentary is allowed, even allowed to be offensive to one side of the aisle, but only one sided commentary. Devalues this site greatly. Creates an echo chamber (maybe that’s what you’re going for, a safe space of liberal bias?), and it discourages critical thought. If you’re going to allow controversial commentary on one side that ignores large swaths of data in order to make a political point, and if you care about being fair, then to open it up to both. Otherwise you just look like you can’t handle difference of opinion. Intolerant. We don’t already have enough biased journalism in our country? Enough censorship from Facebook, Google, and YouTube?
            I read and comment on your site because I thought it was a place that debate and in depth thinking would be allowed to occur. Your standards that you cite, appear to be double. I think it’s gross that you clipped someone’s line of thought in order to devalue their point, or to somehow protect others from their speech. If what they said was poor choice, then let them hang themselves on it. Let others decide for themselves. Post it entirely, or don’t post it at all. I’m sure my contribution doesn’t matter greatly since you’ve got big money in town backing RR, but you’ve certainly lost my donation. Which was the equivalent of one of my paychecks last year. That’s not a contribution I give out lightly. No more.

  2. I think Trump is in to something. Build the wall. Our neighbors to the south feel entitled and come across as if we owe them something. They belittle hard working Americans. They should be here legally and pay taxes as all Americans are required. I’m sorry , I feel for those who need a better life , but do it the right way. I work at a place where the Mexicans , we call them the neighbors to the South, where I work are horrific to Americans. They shop here , don’t pay taxes because they submit a form that exempts them, buy luggage, pack their new tax free items into the luggage to avoid paying their own government taxes. I’m tired of Mexicans thinking the USA owes them.

  3. I think Trump is in to something. Build the wall. Our neighbors to the south feel entitled and come across as if we owe them something. They belittle hard working Americans. They should be here legally and pay taxes as all Americans are required. I’m sorry , I feel for those who need a better life , but do it the right way. I work at a place where the Mexicans , we call them the neighbors to the South, where I work are horrific to Americans. They shop here , don’t pay taxes because they submit a form that exempts them, buy luggage, pack their new tax free items into the luggage to avoid paying their own government taxes. I’m tired of Mexicans thinking the USA owes them. We own the land, we fought for the land, we don’t owe Mexico anything. This is my truth. Sorry but Mexico needs to worry about their own Country. BTW, I didn’t read the entire article cause I got bored about all the praise of Mexico. If you live Mexico that much, move there.

  4. 132 politicians (48 of those were candidates) were murdered during the 9 months leading up to this election.

    We’ve only had 58 murdered politicians+candidates combined in our entire US history. Just 10 more than the candidates murdered this year alone in Mexico.

    Since you mention the connection between Mexico and San Antonio, the most recent murder of a San Antonian politician was in 1979 of John H Wood, Jr. who was a Judge in the U.S. District Court. He was murdered outside his home by gunshot for his harsh convictions of Latin American drug kingpins.

    These are all just facts, no opinion on my part. Hopefully this is not edited out, though I find it fascinating you chose to leave that out in your detailed summary of facts and numbers when comparing our countries or Mexico with this city in particular.

  5. This article explains several things to me:
    Why wages are so low in SA
    Why COSA pays spanish speakers $50. more a month (they don’t have to literate, just speak.

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