A crowd of nearly 75 students, faculty, and community members gathered on the evening of Feb. 14 to hear Dr. Roberto Dondisch-Glowinski, General Consul at the Consulate of Mexico in Seattle speak on “From neighbors to allies: US-Mexico relations since NAFTA.”
Just hours before the talk began, news came in that U.S. Customs and Immigration officials detained and threatened to deport a 23-year-old immigrant in Washington state. The immigrant came to the U.S. as a 7-year-old and later received protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
The Consul focused his talk on the history of U.S. and Mexico relations, emphasizing that despite the difference in power relations between the two, the view on both sides is “of a solid partnership based on communication and cooperation.”
Dondisch-Glowinski opened his discussion with some facts about Mexico’s size to showcase the country’s significance in the region and the global economy, refuting common misconceptions about the country being a source of unsophisticated cheap labor.
An additional focus was given to the 32-35 million Mexicans living in the United States. Dondisch-Glowinski said the relationship between the countries extends well beyond D.C. and Mexico City, due to the many personal and cultural connections.
A major issue of contention is on the interpolation of illegal activity across the border, he noted. Dondisch-Glowinski insists that Mexico is urging the U.S. to stop illegal weapons coming in.
“What seems to be the obstacle on stopping weapons flow across the border is that they are purchased legally but then trafficked illegally,” he said. “Gun shows are one loophole but also ill record-keeping and lack of reporting of lost and stolen weapons in the U.S.”
Dondisch-Glowinski stated that the view in Mexico on the proposed border wall is not focused on the rejection of the United States’ right to exercise its sovereignty, but rather, refuting allegations of illegal activity and spill over across the border. “There is a reason why terrorists don’t go over the border –Mexican enforcement and safety — that is a Mexican interest.”
NAFTA and Mexico
In a direct reference to NAFTA, Dondisch-Glowinski explained that Mexico and the U.S. understand the economic potential of trade and the importance of working together. Despite disagreements, like those that came up over America’s involvement in Iraq, it is still a working relationship, he said.
Dondisch-Glowinski concluded that the country positioned itself as a connector between the global north and global south. “The view in Mexico on bilateral relations since NAFTA is not only of trade but instead where do we want to be in the world,” he said. “We are OK with modernizing NAFTA – especially on issues of electronic trade for example, but both countries need to make sure it is a win-win solution,” he concluded.
In the questions and answers section the topics discussed centered on current events in Mexican politics and the effect of Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president, as well as the allocation of additional resources to Mexican consulates. These resources, explained Dondisch-Glowinski, will be used to offer legal representation and assisting individuals interested in going back to Mexico.