The Mexican Consulate in Denver has a new consul. Andrés Chao Ebergenyi took office a month ago. We sat down with him to get to know him better and to learn what he has on his agenda.
Welcome to Denver, Mr. Consul. Could you talk to us about your experience?
I have spent almost 10 years in different foreign posts. First at the Mexican embassy in the Netherlands and then in the press area of the Mexican consulate in New York, a city where the mayor recognizes the great economic benefit and the driving force that migrants bring to that city, and that without them it would be impossible.
And then, to the other extreme, Arkansas, where although in the past five years the Mexican community has grown tremendously, it is not seen with the same eyes by the authorities, like in New York. On the contrary, there are tensions between groups because they feel they have been displaced. They were, then, five very productive years of results in various areas, but also of clashes with the authorities.
What differences have you found between Denver and Little Rock?
I see in Denver a community that's more active, more organized, more accepted every day by authorities and by the people. Not to say that this is a sanctuary, nor paradise. Simply, more accepted.
What projects do you have on your agenda?
I think one of the important factors is to open the eyes of the American community to the benefits that our community brings to Colorado. The trade between Colorado and Mexico, which is so important. And the cultural exchange that we can generate.
We Mexicans are going to continue to be here, Mexico will continue to be a neighbor of the United States forever. So instead of thinking about how to build more miles of a fence that will not work, we need to look for ways in which people here can be integrated, help these families come out of the shadows and become part of the daily life of this city and of this state.
What specific plans do you have to accomplish this?
Trade missions have worked very well for me. I will look to form a group with the chambers of commerce, the World Trade Center and city and state officials to visit Mexico and have exchanges with Mexican chambers, businessmen and Mexican officials.
When the American citizen returns [from a trade mission], he says, "Hey, so Mexico is not what I saw on CNN, or what I've seen on Fox. It's a country with a strong economy." We have problems, but we have lots of foreign investment that has many benefits for both countries.
We also have beautiful colonial cities that have no problems with crime.
What do you think of Secure Communities?
If authorities go after a person who has a "re-entry" or a criminal record, then OK, it's part of their work. But what sometimes happens is that the authorities go into a house or a workplace where there are four or five totally innocent families, and these are families who have lived in the United States for years, who have paid taxes, who are looking for an opportunity. And they grab them all and take them away.
From my point of view, this is not a secure community. This is ensuring that the community will not trust authorities. How can I believe, for instance, that you, police chief, can help me when I see you're taking away my neighbors, when I know they're a respectable, hardworking and honest family whose main concern is the welfare of its members.
What do you think of the Dream Act and what you can do about it?
It makes no sense if, from elementary to high school, you give them free education, opportunities, prepare them and now you close the opportunity, when you need the labor, you need more nurses. If that's your decision, then do not give them any opportunities.
What I can do? Well, whenever I sit next to authorities, businessmen, I can provide strong arguments so they also join the cause and seek a solution to give those students.
What is your message to your fellow countrymen?
I am at your service. I'm not the type of consul who sits behind his desk. If there are problems and abuses, I'll be there, and when I have to raise my voice, I know how to raise it, and when I have to show respect, I know how to show respect.