The outgoing Consul General of Mexico in Phoenix, Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero, talks about his tenure in Arizona.
JosÃ¨ CÃ rdenas: Thank you for joining us. Victor Manuel Trevino Escudero has been the consul general of Phoenix for the past three years. The diplomat took over the office May of 2010, less than a month after Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law. During his tenure, Trevino Escudero has been credited with maintaining strong relations with business leaders and government in Mexico and Arizona. Mexico's president has named a new consul general for Phoenix, Roberto Rodriguez Hernandez. He previously led Mexico's consulates in El Paso and Nogales. Joining me now is outgoing consul general of Mexico in Phoenix, Victor Manuel Trevino Escudero. Senor Consul, welcome back to "Horizonte." The first time we talked about your arrival, which had to have been at probably the lowest point in the history of relations between Arizona and Mexico. And that was the signing of SB 1070. Tell us about those first few months for you.
Victor Manuel Trevino Escudero: Well, the first thing was to focus on our community and the people that were at the consulate asking for service, documents. They didn't know what will be next step. The first thing we need to do at that time, that we did to provide the proper information, to say, well, we are many, the kids go to school, finish the school year. Being informed, get the proper documents, particularly the birth certificates, some of them, thinking that the kids born here in the United States, they will not be in Mexico in order to be in the elementary school. They need also their documents of Mexicans. That was in the beginning and it was very difficult. The situation with the authorities was so tense. We have a lot of people at the consulate, it was so crowded and it was so limited in terms of the space, the conditions of the building was not the best. We need to do work.
JosÃ¨ CÃ rdenas: There were a lot of things that were difficult at that time. And the impact was pretty dramatic, despite the reassurances from you and other people working at the consulate, a lot of people were afraid and they left.
Victor Manuel Trevino Escudero: Yes, we considered that the people left, but not to Mexico, from neighboring states, particular to New Mexico. That was the beginning. The next thing, the situation was changing, particularly because the law was upheld and some still didn't in the court.
JosÃ¨ CÃ rdenas: They didn't go into effect, most of it didn't go into effect.
Victor Manuel Trevino Escudero: The most aggressive parts of SB 1070 were never implemented. And I think one of the main objectives was that the people were deported, and the people remained in the United States. We talk about the rule of law to them, in terms of if you don't have the proper documents, well, you have to be ready. But at the same time, you are not in condition to leave the country until the law is implemented, and we need to know what will be the options for you. But you have to take care. If you don't have the proper documents, this is something that we don't like particularly because it was associated with the stereotype of the Mexican people. But this is the rule of law, and we need to agree this is not our country. You have to respect their laws. That was the message. But at the same time you have rights. And we need to obey the laws, but at the same time you have rights in terms of labor, you have rights in terms of the possibilities to have access, particularly your kids, to the schools for education, to health services. Despite if you are undocumented, your kids are here and they are U.S. citizens. To have these possibilities and also as government of Mexico we need to provide the proper documents and make the statement that you will be welcome in Mexico if you need to come back.
JosÃ¨ CÃ rdenas: And things have changed quite a bit three years later as you're leaving. SB largely was not enforced. The courts struck down most of it.
Victor Manuel Trevino Escudero: Yes.
JosÃ¨ CÃ rdenas: We have the fact that in recent weeks the Court has found the activities of sheriff Arpaio were unconstitutional. As I understand it, relations have improved with Governor Brewer even. Give us your sense for where things stand now.
Victor Manuel Trevino Escudero: Well, this week we are going to have again a meeting between the Governors of Arizona and Sonora, for the Arizona-Mexico Commission, for example. But also we have relation with the mayors, particularly here in Phoenix, mayor Stanton went to Mexico just year and a half, three times to Mexico City. I was with him in Nogales. I visit with him and last four Mexico City with very good results. And we have achievements, more an increase of business and also the perception of the Mexican people I think are changing. But also we are working as part of the theme of Arizona, to have in Mexico a better perception of Arizonans. It was something similar with the Arizona people's against Mexicans, arrest as things like that you and it's not true. We have here very good people, very good allies, people with family ties, with business, and well, one of the best achievements for me is that last year, 2012, Arizona exported more than $6.2 billion, the Greatest amount of exports in years. The boycott was less, we have developed a very good relation with the persons of the different chambers of commerce here, relationships with businessmen.
JosÃ¨ CÃ rdenas: And even Governor Brewer has commented on the importance of Mexico as a trading partner for Arizona.
Victor Manuel Trevino Escudero: And I remember in the State of the State that was one of the main topics that the Governor mentioned was Mexico.
JosÃ¨ CÃ rdenas: Quickly, about the new administration in Mexico and the reelection of President Obama, what do you think that portends for the relationship between not just the United States and Mexico, but Arizona in particular?
Victor Manuel Trevino Escudero: Well, I think it's -- every 12 years that happens. The new administrations start almost together. He starts his administration the first day of December of 2012. While they are working from the beginning, we have the opportunity to develop a master plan for our binational relations, and I think that the main topics are changing. It's not just the security of the organized crime, it's the accent he and possibly to develop a long-time relation with students, for example, students from the universities of Mexico here in the United States and Arizona, of course, and Arizona and Mexico. I know that Dr. Crow for many years was in Mexico City with a very successful meeting. We have meetings also of people from areas here in Phoenix, talking about the exchange of some school like -- some institution like we have in San Antonio or in Chicago. The possibility to have more direct flights from Mexico. This fall we will have a very important announcement to have more flights directly from Mexico City, from Guadalajara.
JosÃ¨ CÃ rdenas: Senor Consul, we're almost out of time. Your successor arrives this week at the Arizona-Mexico plenary session. What advice would you give him?
Victor Manuel Trevino Escudero: Well, to continue in this path, to despite some touchy issues between Arizona and Mexico, that we have more things to share as allies, as trading partners. That the conditions are better right now in our relationship, and we need to change the pace, to increase, to enhance and see the border as not just a challenge or a zone of troubles, to see the border as an asset. If we change the perspectives about that I think we will have a better relation. The culture and the arts is something also.
JosÃ¨ CÃ rdenas: Which is something you were very, very good at. I apologize, but we're out of time. I do want to say Consul-general Trevino, thank you for being a guest on our show and for the work you've done between Arizona and Mexico.
Victor Manuel Trevino Escudero: It was a privilege for me, an honor to represent my country, but also to serve the community here in Phoenix.
Victor Manuel Treviño Escudero:Consul General of Mexico