Highlighting the U.S.-Mexico Partnership

The last time I visited Tijuana was in 1994 when I was traveling with then Vice President Al Gore to attend the groundbreaking of a water treatment plant on the U.S. side of the border that protects the region's water resources.  At that time, I was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State with primary responsibility for U.S. policy toward Mexico.  As we were busy implementing what was then a new trade agreement, NAFTA, I made frequent trips to the border region and learned to appreciate the deep ties between our two countries.

When my friend Ambassador Jeffrey Davidow invited me to speak at the Institute of the Americas Hemispheric Forum on Freedom of Expression in San Diego, I decided to visit Tijuana as well.  I wanted to see for myself how much the San Diego-Tijuana region had developed over the past 15 years and wanted to hear from Consulate staff their impressions about working along the border, as well as to recognize the work they do. Crossing into Tijuana at the San Ysidro border, the busiest land crossing in the world, reminded me that a million people cross every day to work, study, visit family and friends, shop, or conduct meetings.  Trade between our two countries has exploded since my last visit.  U.S. exports to Mexico have nearly tripled, and Mexican exports to the United States have more than quadrupled.  The dismantling of trade barriers and the opening of markets have led to economic growth and rising prosperity in both countries.

Our diplomatic representation in Tijuana has grown along with the deepening of our bilateral relationship.  The Consulate General still handles a huge consular workload -- hundreds of visa applicants every day and some of the most complex American citizen services in the world -- but it has also transformed into a platform for a wide range of political, economic, and security engagement and a regional hub for law enforcement cooperation.  The staff of the Consulate General outgrew their current facilities long ago and are waiting for their new, ultra-modern “green” Consulate to open later this summer. Tijuana is now a more dynamic city than many Americans realize.   I enjoyed meeting with a group of young civil society leaders at the Consul General's residence to discuss the role of youth in community development in Mexico and the United States.  My lunch with security, energy, and tourism officials of the Baja State government allowed me to hear what Baja is doing to deal with the problems of narco-violence, to develop job and business opportunities in the alternative energy sector, and to promote tourism.  I also had the chance to visit a grade school in Tijuana to see how a group of Mexican high school students who participated in the Jóvenes en Acción exchange program were using what they learned in the United States to benefit their neighbors. These students were passionate about giving back to their community and again proved the benefits of exchange programs in public diplomacy.

My visit to Tijuana vividly showed what a wide-ranging and productive relationship we have with Mexico. Beyond cooperation on immigration and drug trafficking, we are working together on cross-border energy and environmental programs. Mexican students are studying in the United States, thousands of American citizens reside in and retire to Baja, and tens of thousands cross the San Diego-Tijuana border each day to visit friends or go shopping.  President Obama has said that the fates of the United States and Mexico are more intertwined than ever before.  What I saw in Tijuana definitely supports that statement.

You can view pictures of Assistant Secretary Valenzuela's visit to Escuela Independencia here.You can view pictures of Assistant Secretary Valenzuela's discussion with civil society organizations here.Secretary Valenzuela's remarks at the Hemispheric Forum on Freedom of Expression can be found here.



South Korea
April 11, 2011

Palgye in South Korea writes:

Mexico to eliminate drugs in order to realize that everyone knows what to think. Problem to consume a product of the consumer class does not exist Indeed, what I left watching the documentary geotinde thought, argued in the past, but the people of Mexico, creating a commercially available product is thought to be supplied. Poverty relief program implemented, while To build a new house, no money to buy materials, construction spending in a year, and still think it was in the building.

Pricing for the new approach is needed. The location of the manufacturer, but should be approached from a position of consumers think.

Poverty leads to crime.

United States
April 11, 2011

PST in the U.S.A. writes:

The bi-lateral relationship between the US and Mexico will forever be growing and important. It is disappointing that a majority of the time when the relations between the US and Mexico are mentioned in the media it tends to surround drugs, gangs, violence and illegal immigrants and not highlight wonderful initiatives such as NAFTA and other programs supporting the relations between the two countries. I believe continuing investment in the bi-lateral relationship is key and our diplomatic representation in Mexico is an essential component for promoting both US and Mexican economies. The need for a new larger consulate shows that we must continue investing in our diplomatic ties with Mexico as they are proving to be successful. I also believe that investment in cross-border programs for green-energy is important as environmental issues have no boarders and are global issues.

Renato E.
April 13, 2011

Renato E.L. in Mexico writes:

I am glad that the news and views that exist in Tijuana not only issues that have to do with the insecurity which, I believe that as a youth and many others will agree with me, it is important to know that government cares about environment, and especially for us young people who study and certainly the opportunity to gain knowledge both in terms of Mexico as research stays in the U.S. gives us the opportunity to acquire knowledge of new technologies; also allows us to understand way of thinking and being of the people of a country other than ours and that the conically somehow allows us to imitate their standard of living as many as Mexicans is what we want to be here, see the streets clean and power conferred in authorities.

Maggy D.
Wisconsin, USA
May 5, 2011

Maggy D. in Wisconsin writes:

While it’s comforting to hear good news concerning U.S.-Mexico diplomatic ties, especially in a border town such as Tijuana, it is hard while reading this post to forget the realities of the Mexican drug wars and related deaths and violence. Beheadings, ransom kidnappings and shootouts in Tijuana remain far too regular. I do appreciate, however, Assistant Secretary Valenzuela’s discussion of efforts to improve civil institutions in Tijuana. Of particular importance is engaging youth in educational and community development opportunities to ensure their access to opportunities besides drug cartels. Children are the future, and offering them alternatives to gangs at an early age is vital to ensuring a more secure Mexican society.

Children Fly Kites Near Tijuana Mexico
April 8, 2011


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