Get to know the new Consul General of Mexico in Phoenix Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero as he talks about immigration, Mexico’s Bicentennial, trade between Arizona and Mexico, and other issues.
José Cárdenas: Thank you for joining us. I'm José Cárdenas. The Consul General of Mexico in Phoenix oversees consulates in Yuma, Tucson, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. The position serves as the Mexican Government's Chief Diplomat in Nevada and Arizona. Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero is the new consul general of Mexico in Phoenix. He took over the office back in April just after Governor Brewer signed the nation's toughest immigration law. Join me as we get to know Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero, Consul General of Mexico in Phoenix. Welcome to "Horizonte."
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: Thank you for the invitation.
José Cárdenas: It's good to have you here. You have a very distinguished background. Tell us about your career in the foreign service and then we want to talk about some of the other posts you've held.
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: Well, I have been in the foreign service for 28 years. With different positions, particularly here in the United States, the Consul, you know in Los Angeles, El Paso, Texas. Before I came to Phoenix, I was the Consul in Brownsville, Texas from 2000 to 2005.
José Cárdenas: And you've had an academic career. And written articles on foreign policy.
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: Yes, in the late '80s, I was working for our Consulate in California and I had the opportunity to join the academic -- in Baja, California, and I was in charge of the topic of Mexican-American relationships.
José Cárdenas: Let's talk about your most recent posting in Brownsville. And in Brownsville, what was the size of the office and the big issues you were dealing with?
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: Well, the main issues are related with the border issues. There's migration and the relation we have in the Texas valley with the Mexican side is very interesting that they have a difference -- link together the fiestas Mexicanas and every year they name someone Mr. Amigo and that they consider for a week, a special guest for the City of Brownsville. Brownsville is a small city but this close, it's a tourist spot, south Texas, it's famous for the Spring Break. For the Spring breakers, but also the Mexican people. The mayor told me that more than 50% of the land are owners of the state. And he told me, south Padre Island. We have a good relationship on both sides of the border and we work in terms of border mechanisms and also consul general on the Mexican side. And working -- together, we work for the development of the community, for the border community and we have had an excellent relationship during my term of five years.
José Cárdenas: And your new posting, we want to talk about the differences between Brownsville and your new posting in Phoenix. But before we get there, there was a celebration this last week, celebrating Mexican independence. Tell us that.
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: We celebrated the Bicentennial of the beginning of the Mexican independence and with that, an excellent celebration with the City of Phoenix.
José Cárdenas: And we've got pictures of the celebration. This is at -- what?
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: Almost 25,000 persons at the time of the celebration.
José Cárdenas: I think we have a picture of that too.
>> It's a moment that -- the Father, asked the population to go against Spain for independence, but it was a big crowd, but before that, we honored the American flag, with color guard of the police department. We have that coordination with them. And also we have the National Anthem of the United States and very respectful manner and all the persons over there, also, sung the National Anthem. And after that, well, we have the color guard, escorts and we have a wonderful civic event that will enhance the relation between United States and Mexico and we have this kind of -- these kind of events around the world, particularly here in the United States in the 50 consulates we have in the United States.
José Cárdenas: The governor issued a proclamation celebrating this event.
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: We received a special proclamation from the City of Phoenix, friends of Arizona, and we're very proud. Especially in this -- it was not easy to have this kind of celebration, and the people were very confident, trust in our different announcements about the el grito, and the City of Phoenix and the support of the department of police and all the media in Spanish that support this event was something they considered historical.
José Cárdenas: I know Mayor Gordon was there representing the City of Phoenix, but also Governor Brewer's representative, her policy advisor on Mexico.
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: We had our reception, the 15th, two days later. And also different things from the city and state and my colleagues from the general consulate of Guatemala and Honduras, for example and different authorities of homeland security was there. And, of course, academic, lawyers, the people that are working with us very closely.
José Cárdenas: We've got another major celebration coming up in Mexican history. The commemoration of the beginning of the Mexican Revolution 100 years ago. Tell us about that.
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: During the month of November and December, we'll be in a position to celebrate also the centennial of the Mexican revolution, that is our civil war. We'll have some events. One of them will be with the university, the Arizona State university in terms of music. That's coming in October. But the school of music, I hear, will have this event. Related with the bicentennial and with the centennial, we have something related with the music, and -- it's interesting to share our history with the people of Arizona. I think it's the best way to understand each other is know about our history and our different things we have in these events.
José Cárdenas: In terms of scope and impact, the Mexican Revolution is regarded as one of three great revolutions in history. The other two, the Russian Revolution -- and certainly has impact.
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: Normally, the border states of the United States, they have different roles, the Mexican revolution in terms of support of different things. The government of the time, and work very close and, of course, another thing that's very important is trade and partnership and since that time, we've had something that affects one side of the border, will have impact on the other.
José Cárdenas: We want to talk about some of those issues in modern day Arizona and the impact with modern day Mexico. But let's talk now about the consular office here. What is its size and what it does.
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: We're in the Capital of the State and we supervise three consulates. One in Nevada and in Arizona, we have the consulate in Tucson and also Yuma. And we supervise those consulates but my colleagues doing a very good job there. We have enough to work in 7 counties, particular will Maricopa, we have to ask Mexican consulate as American consulate in Mexico, we have to protect the interests of the Mexican nationals here in terms of if they need documents, passports, and, of course, if they have something to deal with, particularly if they're in the detention centers and jails or hospitals where the Mexican consulate is able to help them. In the frame of the Convention of Consulate Affairs or the convention between the United States and Mexico. And what we're doing is, that's the first goal of every Consulate of Mexico. But also, we have two special areas that we can have here in Arizona that's a better understanding with the community, not just the Mexican -- with the Mexican-American and the American people. That deal with trade and other important activities of our consulate. And last but not least is the importance of the culture. To have different events that give us the opportunity to have a better understanding through the culture. To the artists to the music, to the different exhibitions and, of course, and like the Centennial or the Bicentennial.
José Cárdenas: You arrived at a particularly difficult time, everyone would agree. The governor just signed S.B. 1070.
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: Yes.
José Cárdenas: How has that affected what you have been doing at the consulate?
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: Well, let me be very honest. At the beginning, the people, our Mexican community was on panic. Particularly with the kids. The kids, they're afraid about their parents, that most of them remain here almost 10 years here and the kids born in the United States, in Arizona, what will happen with my father or my mother if they are apprehended and what will be the situation? At the beginning, we felt the panic at the consulate and we provide the proper information to inform them that the governor signed the law, but it's not enforced until July 29th. And they have to remain in the state until that happen, that they don't put the kids away from the schools or they don't abandon the jobs, if they don't need to do it, because while the law was not in force. We send -- not just at the office of the Mexican Consulate, in the church, in the school districts, with the community or parental programs they have, and while we think we have some success with them to inform what the proper documents and what is the situation with the S.B. 1070.
José Cárdenas: So you tried to calm the --
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: To calm and to say, well, it's important that you have all your documents according with the situation, if it's necessary you come back to Mexico, well, you need to have your birth certificates and passport, etc., and also personal belongings ready to come back to Mexico if it's necessary.
José Cárdenas: And since then, the federal court enjoined many of the most significant portions of that law. What have you been telling Mexicans in Arizona since then?
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: Well, just not the consulate, the state department, they -- an travel alert to the Mexicans. It's not just the Mexicans that are here. We have 65,000 people that cross daily to Arizona. We have a very good relationship, surprised this situation, fear or -- and we understand and we are in a position to say to our community the importance of the rule of law. But that we cannot be -- the association between criminals and migration.
José Cárdenas: And we're showing a picture of one of your meetings with people to talk about this. Let me ask you this: You're dealing with S.B. 1070 at the same time that the issues of cooperation that you talked about are still on your plate. And you made reference to them a little bit ago. We're almost out of time, but let's talk about U.S.-Mexico trade and then the joint efforts between U.S. and Arizona and Mexico on dealing with organized crime.
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: Well, we have to share the responsibility. Because we're not just neighbors. We're partners. We're the -- Mexico's the third trading partner of the United States and it's the first trading partner of Arizona. We reach almost $5 billion of exchange last year. And while that's very important the relation that we have. Not just in terms of partnership with family links, we have business on both sides of the border owned by the same family and the people here have houses in --
José Cárdenas: Rocky point.
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: Rocky point. They come here and spend money and in the mall and in different -- beautiful state in terms of resort and --
José Cárdenas: For those relationships and links remain important and very close. And on that note, we're going to have to end our interview but hope to have you back to talk more about not only the difficult aspects of the relationship but the positives. Thank you for joining us.
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero: Thank you very much and I hope we can help to have a better understanding between my country and the United States because we have a lot of things that -- to share and it's better to build this richness of understanding.
José Cárdenas: Thank you so much.
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero:Consul General of Mexico in Phoenix;