Monday, October 20, 2008
A Message from Antonio O. Garza, Jr., Ambassador of the USA to Mexico
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
October 6 – Today U.S. Attorney General Michael
B. Mukasey, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Paul A. Schneider, and Secretary of Transportation
Mary E. Peters arrive in Mexico City. Attorney General Mukasey and Deputy Secretary Schneider are here to lead the U.S. delegation
to the first Public Security Ministerial of the Americas in Mexico City from October 7-8, 2008. This is an important
milestone in encouraging partnership with the region to address the serious conditions of crime and violence in many Latin
American and Caribbean states. For Mexico, this conference is an important endeavor that directly supports President Calderon’s
determination to fight crime and transnational drug cartels. The presence of both the Attorney General and the DHS Deputy
Secretary is a strong signal of our support for President Calderon and his government’s efforts. We hope the Ministerial
will help generate greater cooperation and coordination among the states of the Americas to address terrorism, border security,
gangs and organized crime, and illicit trafficking in arms, drugs and persons.
Secretary of Transportation Mary E.
Peters will engage in discussions with Mexican Secretary of Communications and Transportation Luis Tellez about the Transportation
Border Congestion Relief Program, an initiative to encourage creative, public-private solutions to the delays travelers and
cargo carriers encounter at the border. Although Customs and Border Protection has made strides in reducing border crossing
wait times without compromising security, the Congestion Relief Program seeks to create the 21st century infrastructure to
help trade carry both our countries into a prosperous future. Two projects have been identified on our border; the Otay Mesa
East Port of Entry at the San Diego/Tijuana crossing, and the East Loop Bypass rail project in Laredo, Texas. These projects
will enjoy extra technical support from the U.S. government and enhanced financing options to ensure they move quickly forward.
An underlying theme in these communications will be Secretary Peter’s commitment to public-private partnerships as a
way to speed delivery of new transportation infrastructure projects, at lower cost and with less public funding compared to
traditional financing. She will seek Secretary Tellez’ and Mexico’s proven experience in these innovative schemes
to help inform and propel joint projects under consideration as well as those on the U.S. side of the border. I look forward
to the positive inroads that this visit will bring to improve and ease transportation over our shared border.
the month of October, the U.S. Embassy is going pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We’ve wrapped a pink ribbon
around the Embassy and turned our website pink to call attention to this important issue. Breast Cancer Awareness Month began
in 1985 to raise awareness of the importance of breast cancer screening and early detection in saving women’s lives.
Now people everywhere are ‘going pink.’ This year, cities around the world are lighting their monuments pink to
commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month – including Paris’ Eiffel Tower, Chicago’s Sears Tower, Sydney’s
Harbor Bridge, and more. On October 1, I represented the people of the United States as Mexico City lit the Paseo de la Reforma
fountain with the statue of the Roman goddess Diana all in pink.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month has made a difference
in the United States. Mammography rates have more than doubled for women age 50 and older, and breast cancer deaths have declined
in the last 20 years. This is great progress, but here in Mexico, too few women get screened for breast cancer, meaning it
is often detected in later stages and harder to treat successfully. Through the U.S.-Mexico Partnership for Breast Cancer
Awareness and Research inaugurated by First Ladies Laura Bush and Margarita Zavala in March, NGOs, health workers, experts
and doctors in the United States are working with counterparts in Mexico to form a network that will help end this disease.
We hope you, too, will join us in going pink. Wear a pink ribbon, contribute to a charity, take your mom to the doctor, or
watch your friend’s kids so she can go get screened. Help fight breast cancer and save lives.
Click here to read the Ambassador’s
op-ed, “Go Pink,” as published on October 1 by Organización Editorial Mexicana
On September 24, presidents Bush, Calderon and the
leaders of 10 other Central and South American countries with which the United States has free trade agreements met on the
margins of the United Nations General Assembly and jointly announced the “Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas”
initiative. Pathways’ goal is to expand the benefits of free trade to small businesses, farmers and all our citizens
by creating regional structures to support and facilitate trade among our countries. Free trade and open investment have been
a positive story for the U.S. and Mexico -- under NAFTA our gross domestic product has grown 50%, Mexico has seen 46% growth,
and we now trade over a billion dollars a day in goods and services. Pathways will not only expand opportunities for individuals
to participate in this great growth, it will enhance cooperation on regional economic development plans and improve coordination
on environmental and labor standards. In addition, it will provide opportunities to engage the private sector and civil society
in advancing these goals.
Pathways will complement other regional cooperation projects, both those in which the U.S.
is involved and those being developed by our friends throughout the region. Freer trade is an important catalyst for sustained
economic growth and poverty reduction. Pathways will further reduce barriers to trade and promote awareness of international
trade opportunities among the region’s entrepreneurs.
Click here to read more about Pathways
to Prosperity in the Americas
Continuing to report on the successes of Mexican efforts to combat narco-trafficking, the
Mexican military announced on September 18, that it had confiscated some $26 million in cash believed to belong to the Sinaloa
drug cartel. This is one of the largest cash seizures ever in Mexico. A Defense Ministry spokesman reported that the military
found the money in cardboard boxes at a house in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state. Along with the money, the soldiers
found more than two kilograms of marijuana, two guns with ammunition, and documents naming a member of a gang allegedly led
by an associate of Sinaloa cartel chief Joaquin Guzman. The largest seizure to date was the $207 million confiscated by police
in March 2007 from Mexican businessman of Chinese origin, Zhenli Ye Gon.
In September, four new higher education institutions
were selected to become part of the TIES University Partnerships. The University of Texas at Austin will partner with the
Universidad Veracruzana to strengthen information and communication technology for rural development. Florida International
University will be working with the Centro Interdisciplinario de Investigación para el Desarrollo Integral Regional to focus
on biodiversity in the context of community protected areas and coffee farms in Oaxaca and Chiapas. The Michigan Technological
University and the Instituto Tecnologico del Valle de Oaxaca and the Colegio de la Frontera Sur will team up to enhance the
capacity for sustainable forest management and ecosystem service provisioning in Oaxaca and Chiapas. Lastly, Georgia State
University and the Universidad Pedagogica Nacional will join together to strengthen English language education in Mexico.
Higher education institutions continue to be critical partners in addressing development issues in Mexico. The Embassy, through
USAID, and its implementing partner, Higher Education for Development, launched a 2008 Request for Applications to award additional
U.S.-Mexico University Partnerships in key areas. After a competitive selection process, the aforementioned four partnerships
were selected and granted 3-year awards. These new alliances bring the total of U.S.- Mexico TIES University Partnerships
On September 18, Red PyME (Small Business Policy Network), through USAID support, hosted a workshop focusing
on the public information needs of small and medium enterprises. The ultimate goal of this Small Business Policy Network is
to promote competitiveness of the business environment and rule of law by improving the way public information is presented
by local governments. Workshop participants included the Ministry of Economy and various private sector and academic institutions.
September 8-11, the Embassy, through the USAID Health Policy Initiative, facilitated three training sessions on HIV/AIDS stigma
reduction and advocacy in Mazatlan, Sinaloa. The first session focused on leadership development for HIV positive women while
the second was for individuals who engage in sexual activities with HIV positive partners. The third training centered on
stigma reduction among health workers; 44 doctors, nurses and social workers from the Mexican Social Security Institute Regional
Hospital in Mazatlan participated. These training sessions to open up communication and awareness about HIV/AIDS are helping
to educate people and reduce the discrimination against people who are living with HIV.
With Embassy-USAID support
and technical assistance, Oaxaca hosted the first international seminar on Restorative Justice from September 23 to 26. Fourteen
countries participated, of which 9 presented on their best practices. Oaxaca shared their successes in utilizing Restorative
Justice as a means of resolving serious crimes before they go to trial as well as rehabilitating juvenile offenders. Representatives
of twenty-two Mexican states attended to hear and observe how restorative justice can be effectively incorporated in the code
of criminal procedure pursuant to the state’s insistence in implementing comprehensive criminal justice reforms. USAID
and its partner ProDerecho have been accompanying the State of Oaxaca in their justice system reform efforts. In August, 2007,
Oaxaca inaugurated the first Restorative Justice Center in Mexico. Today, ninety percent of all juvenile cases are being resolved
through restorative justice methods. Only 10% proceed to trial.
Georgetown University’s Becas CASS Program Mexico,
an Embassy-USAID implementing partner, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Centro Fox, a research, academic and
cultural center established by former Mexican President Vicente Fox on September 4. The MOU aims to connect the Becas CASS
scholarship recipients with Mexican businesses by providing professional internship opportunities, assisting them in financing
their development projects in rural communities, and keeping them informed about job opportunities related to their technical
field of study. Centro Fox will also be a member of Becas CASS’ Networking Group in the State of Guanajuato to assist
in identifying eligible youth that are interested in future scholarship opportunities. These partnerships will help to support
rural development projects through U.S.-Mexico collaboration.
On September 4, I received one of the first of the new
passport cards being issued by the Department of State to help make crossing the border easier for U.S. citizens. Now, when
I visit family along the border where I grew up, with the passport card in my wallet I can have lunch in Mexico and head back
to the U.S. for dinner. These new passport cards will simplify travel for the millions of U.S. citizens who live along the
border by giving them an easily portable, secure and less expensive alternative to the traditional passport book for use when
crossing from one side to the other. The passport card may be used to enter the U.S. via land and sea when arriving from Canada,
Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. It may not be used for air travel. U.S. citizens will still need their traditional passport
books to travel by air, or to travel to other countries. U.S. citizens can apply for a passport card at the Embassy in Mexico
City or any U.S. Consulate in Mexico.
For more information on applying for
a U.S. passport card or passport, please visit: travel.state.gov
The U.S. Treasury designated six Mexican companies and ten individuals associated with the
production and trafficking of methamphetamine in Mexico and the United States on October 2. These people and enterprises are
now subject to economic sanctions under the 1999 Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. While brothers Jose de Jesus and
Luis Ignacio Amezcua Contreras are imprisoned in Mexico, the organization they created continues to produce methamphetamine
and destroy lives in Mexico and the United States. Two of the persons named in that action, Jaime Arturo Ladino Avila and
Jose Gerardo Alvarez Vazquez, are under federal indictment in the United States. Another, Telesforo Baltazar Tirado Escamilla,
is the majority owner and General Director of Pharmaceuticals Collins, a major company in Jalisco that has diverted methamphetamine
precursors to the Amezcua Contreras Organization.
These individuals and companies will now begin to pay the price for their
involvement in the drug trade. The people and organizations listed will see their assets in the U.S. blocked. U.S. companies
and individuals face fines up to $10,000,000 and jail terms of 30 years for dealing with entities designated under the Kingpin
Act. With cooperation from Mexican authorities we will seek the extradition of those individuals under indictment in the U.S.
Working together, we will continue to make progress in the fight against narcotrafficking and organized crime.
the complete listing of Mexican companies and individuals designated on October 2, and more information about the Foreign
Narcotics Kingpin Act, please click the following links:
OFAC press release
In closing, I want to share two recent events I really enjoyed. On September 29, I hosted
the President of Southern Methodist University, Dr. R. Gerald Turner, and a group of SMU alumni for a reception. As a former
SMU student I appreciated the opportunity to meet some of the talented generations who passed through this wonderful institution.
On October 2, I had the pleasure of traveling to Houston, Texas, to join Sylvia Garcia-Escamilla, Founding President of the
John Langdon Down Foundation, and Carlos Ignacio Gonzalez Magallon, Consul of Mexico in that city, in inaugurating the exhibit
of paintings, engravings and lithographs of the Mexican School of Down Art at the Fulbright Tower. This exhibit will be at
the Fulbright Tower in Houston until November 21, and will be followed by other exhibits of the Mexican School of Down Art
in various European cities, to keep showing the world the excellent art these young men and women are creating, and the important
work of the John Langdon Down Foundation in Mexico.
Click here to read more about the
John Langdon Down Foundation
I appreciate the opportunity to share with you information about the important bilateral
relationship between Mexico and the United States. And, as always, may God bless both our great nations.
O. Garza, Jr.
Antonio O. Garza, Jr., is
the United States Ambassador to Mexico; Newsletter from the Ambassador, US Embassy, Mexico, October 6, 2008.