Newly arrived U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson hosted her first national day reception at her embassy’s official residence on Tuesday, July 5, one day after that country’s independence anniversary.
“It has been 240 years since [the United States] made its Declaration of Independence,” Jacobson said at the start of the three-hour event.
“And there were times over the last few months that I was beginning to think that it would take me another 240 years to get here,” she added, making reference to the fact that her confirmation as ambassador to Mexico was delayed nearly a year by the U.S. Congress due to political maneuvering by some members of the Republican Party.
“But now, here I am, face-to-face with all of you, and I am proud to be here,” she said.
“Mexico and this position were certainly well worth the wait.”
Jacobson, a career diplomat who previously served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru, and spent four years as director of the Office of Policy Planning and Coordination in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, before assuming the post of assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, went on to say that she was also proud to have her husband Jonathan with her here in Mexico, noting that her sons Gil and Daniel, who are currently studying in the United States, would be joining the couple in August.
Jacobson said she sincerely appreciated the hospitality she has been offered by the Mexican people so far.
She said that over the years she has worked hard to broaden bilateral ties between the United States and Mexico, which she called her nation’s “most important and dynamic” partner.
“There are some in my country who have questioned the bilateral relationship recently,” she said, in an obvious jab at presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has courted Mexico’s ire with his repeated threats to build a wall along the Rio Grande to keep out undocumented immigrants.
“A few weeks ago, when I was sworn in as U.S. ambassador before a frequent visitor to Mexico, Vice President Joe Biden told me that if ever there were a moment in which we need to go and promote the mutual benefits of this relationship, it is now,” Jacobson said.
“And if ever there were a moment in which the proof of faith we have in one another has been put to the test, it is now.”
Jacobson said that the United States and Mexico need one another and that they are “far stronger together than separately.”
She said that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was implemented in January 1994, creating the then-largest and richest free-trade market in the world, has served as a global model for regional cooperation in the fields of commerce, economics, energy, education and security.
“Some of my compatriots may have not yet noticed (another apparent jab at Trump), but we are changing the course of history,” she said.
“We are now building history.”
Jacobson said that U.S. citizens like to say that their country is “blessed,” and that she truly believes it is.
“And I know that one of the blessings we have is the 3,000-kilometer-long border we share with Mexico,” she said.
“Mexicans and Mexican-Americans have helped to build that American dream, just like the British, Irish, German, Jewish, Chinese, Arab and many other ethnic groups.”
Jacobson said that those who have failed to notice the contributions of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in U.S. development are ignoring an important part of U.S. culture.
“Ten percent of my country’s population has family ties with Mexico,” she said.
“More than one million U.S. citizens live in Mexico, and that number in on the rise.”
Jacobson then went on to innumerate various examples of Mexicans who have contributed significantly to U.S. culture, including filmmakers and astronauts, scientists and poets.
She also spoke about bilateral trade, which she said amounts to a combined total of $1.6 million a day.
“That works out to about $10 million in just the time I have taken to give this speech,” Jacobson said.
“Those who question the important of the [Mexican] relation for the United States certainly are unaware of the fact that we sell more exports to Mexico than to Brazil, Russia, India and China combined.”
Jacobson said that, since her arrival here late last month, she has been asked repeatedly what her priorities as ambassador will be.
Among her key objectives will be promoting educational exchanges, as well as fostering greater two-way trade and investment.
She also said that she is “passionate” about fostering justice, and commended Mexico on its recent judicial reforms.
She said that the transition to a more open judicial system may prove difficult for Mexico, but she also said that she hopes that there will be no reversals in the process.
The sweeping federal reforms, which began taking effect last month and include open, oral trials, are intended to modernize a centuries-old justice system plagued by excessive red tape and nontransparent court proceedings.
“If Mexico perseveres throughout the years this [reform] process will take, the reward will be a better state of law,” Jacobson said.
“That will mean safer streets and greater economic opportunities for all.”
Jacobson said that, in the United States, where open, oral trials have been the norm since the country’s inception, the judicial process remains a work in progress.
“Yes, some innocent people have been imprisoned, and some guilty people have remained free of prosecution,” she said.
“But as they say, the light of truth is the best disinfection.”
The ambassador said that judicial transparence and openness are the only ways to ensure justice for all.
Consequenlty, she said, the search for greater justice is the best path to a “more perfect union.”
Jacobson concluded her remarks by saying that climate change is also a key priority on her diplomatic agenda, congratulating Mexico for its leadership role on this topic.
She pointed out that both Mexico and the United States have committed to dramatically reduce greenhouse emissions through the use of clean energy in accordance with the 2015 Paris International Climate Change Conference agreement.
“Working together, we have begun a path to change the world to reduce carbon emissions in the future,” Jacobson said.
“Talking together, our countries can work toward a better future for generations to come. That is the moral obligation of all public servants, politicians, businessmen and citizens.”