Ambassador Landau: Thank you very much Mr. Rector. Thank you for inviting me to join you and the UTR community today. Es posible que yo hable en español y también en inglés porque ustedes son una universidad bilingüe, creo que esto será un gran evento para todos nosotros que somos bilingües y en primer lugar déjeme dar la bienvenida a todos y todas las estudiantes de la Universidad, es para mi un gran placer poder compartir unos momentos aquí con ustedes el día de hoy.
Como muy bien lo dijo el rector, yo llegué a México como embajador de EEUU hace casi un año, en agosto del año pasado y realmente para mi ha sido un enorme placer personal y un enorme honor profesional porque yo sí creo de todo corazón, que como países vecinos no tenemos otra alternativa que llevarnos bien y profundizar las relaciones. Por supuesto que hay retos, pero desde mi punto de vista todo son todos retos compartidos. Por ejemplo en el tema de la seguridad creo que hay mucho que podemos hacer y tenemos que cooperar porque creo que ninguno de nuestros países puede resolver solo los problemas que tenemos.
Pero no me quiero enfocar solamente en problemas porque ahora Estamos a una semana de la entrada en vigor del nuevo tratado, el TMEC, y eso va a crear muchas oportunidades para mayor integración económica entre los países y para mí es integración abre la puerta a una integración mayor en todas las áreas de la sociedad; en áreas culturales, educativas… Yo le dije con mis propios ojos a través de los últimos 30 años desde que se firmó el Tratado de Libre Comercio.
Es increíble como han aumentado, no sólo los contactos económicos entre nuestros países, también los contactos a todo nivel; familiares, culturales, sociales… Si me parece eso muy positivo para nuestras relaciones. Y o soy optimista para la trayectoria de la relación.
Quiero felicitar en primer lugar por el carácter binacional de la UTR, me parece muy importante que tengamos educaciones educativas que enseñan en ambos idiomas porque me parece que justamente…Precisamente porque se están integrando más todos los días nuestra economías. Es importante tener profesionales en ambos países que entienden la cultura, la historia, pero sobre todo la lengua del otro país porque sin hablar el mismo idioma es casi imposible la comunicación, así que les felicito.
Para mí, ser bilingüe ha sido de los grandes orgullos de mi vida y yo estoy seguro que no estaría en este puesto si no fuera por ese gran don que me dieron mis padres. Y tengo la suerte de que mi papá también fue diplomático. Yo nacía en Madrid y como muy bien lo dijo el rector, cuando yo tenía ocho años nos mudamos a Asunción de Paraguay. Ahí estudie en un colegio bilingüe durante cinco años, básicamente los últimos años de la primaria y los años de “little school” -no sé como se dice-, pero los años intermediarios y después volví a EEUU a terminar mis estudios en la prepa y en la Universidad, pero siempre he tomado cursos en español, literatura hispanoamericana, historia latinoamericana y pues eso ha quedado siempre conmigo y aunque yo soy abogado como creo que lo es el señor rector, yo siempre he mantenido mi español… No lo usé mucho durante mis años de abogado en Washington, pero es una parte muy importante de mí y pues cuando el año pasado este puesto quedó abierto, yo le comenté al presidente que yo quería ser embajador en México porque me parece uno de los puestos más importantes de nuestro gobierno porque desde mi punto de vista es al relación internacional más importante que tenemos en Estados Unidos y que ustedes tienen en México.
Compartimos la frontera, compartimos nuestra economía, la gente, hay más o menos 35 millones de estadounidenses de descendencia mexicana y es, ha sido un cambio demográfico muy importante en mi país, pero es la nueva realidad y para mí es muy importante tener buenas relaciones entre nuestros países. Yo no creo que ninguno de nuestros países pueda tener prosperidad o seguridad si el otro no lo tiene. Así que me encuentro muy contento de estar aquí y les quiero felicitar a todos ustedes por todos los lazos que tienen con nuestra embajada, con nuestro consulado general en Guadalajara, ahí está la señora cónsul, que es muy amiga mía, y tenemos un gran equipo allá y para nosotros es muy importante tener todos estas relaciones.
Lo voy a decir en inglés, porque no sé exactamente como decirlo en español, pero…
I think it’s very valuable for both countries that our relationships are not just handled by a few people in the government on both sides, that the real strength of our relationship is all the connective tissue we have between our countries, and that’s business people, people in universities, people who have family on both sides of the border, I mean, that’s ultimately, I think, the real strength of the relationship.
Because presidents will come and go, ambassadors will come and go but, I think, it’s these kinds of ties that will always keep, you know, the relations strong between our countries at a very human level, regardless of what happens at government level but I think it’s a very healthy thing that there are so many interconnections in the relationships between the United States and Mexico, and I think that you are a part of that at UTR. So I want to give you a big shout out and acknowledgements for the role you’re playing.
Let me just talk a little bit about what is happened in the relationship between the United States and Mexico while I’ve been Ambassador this year. When I arrived last Fall, I think as the Rector said, I made it very clear that I have three priorities as Ambassador: migration, security and economics.
Because there’s so much on the table between the United States in Mexico, I mean, we have things that happen to American citizens here; this is the country with the most Americans who live here and who visit here, more than any other country in the world outside our country; and the same is true in Mexico, there’s more Mexicans in the United States than in any other country. There can be very tricky consular issues, there can be very tricky border issues, particularly, with water allocation, that’s always very difficult.
But I said, look, to be successful, I have to focus my energy on setting certain goals in certain areas, I can’t do everything, because then, you know, you can never really get control of your agenda. And so, I focused on these three issues and I think we have been, you know, quite successful.
When I arrived last year, the real crisis on migration, was migration of people from third countries, mostly from the Northern countries of Central America: Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador; who wanted to come to the United States but were crossing Mexico without any documents, in order to enter our country without any documents.
And that crisis had gotten very bad last year, in Spring of last year, there were a 140,000 people detained at our southern border in just one month so, imagine, that’s a pace of almost a million and a half people coming into our country illegally, if you take that in a yearly basis, and we said, “look, we can’t handle this anymore”, we don’t have the resources to process these people, to detain this people. So, you know, we worked very closely with the Mexican to come up with a solution.
And I think it’s very important for Mexico to realize that, you know, with communication and transportation having gotten much more advanced, this is really a challenge for Mexico too, to have people coming from all over the world with no controls. I mean, this not just Central America, you also get people from Congo, and Bangladesh, and Kazakhstan, you know, Bolivia, Venezuela, I mean, it’s all over the world and, I think, if Mexico says, that…
I think, as neighbors, we have to realize that this is a shared challenge, it’s not just for the United States, but I think Mexico also has a role because these people are coming through Mexico to the Unites States. And I hope there is a greater understanding in Mexico that Mexico can’t just say “that’s not our problem”, that’s not being a good neighbor to say “yes, we are letting all the people come in and go up to your border, and then it’s not our problem”. Look, it’s another reto compartido.
I think we had some very good discussions with the Mexican Government last year and we’ve been working very well together now, and those numbers have gone down substantially. I’m talking…I’m not getting even getting to COVID yet, even before COVID the numbers had come down.
On security, you know, the drugs…we look at the security issue primarily, from our perspective, as a narcotics issue. We have a lot of drugs being used in our country that come from Mexico. I think, traditionally, there’s been a lot of finger pointing between the United States and Mexico, where Americans say to Mexico “stop sending us these drugs” and the Mexicans come back and saying “stop creating a demand for these drugs, and stop sending us arms and illegal money”. And, you know, my attitude is, you know, basta with all these accusations back and forth, it’s a common problem.
I mean, it’s not good for Mexico to have these cárteles that are so powerful and, you know, I think really threaten the sovereignty of Mexico, as well as the security of Mexico. And, so, we have been working well together over the past year, it’s a big challenge and, again, I always say it’s a shared challenge because I recognize that American drug consumption is a big part of the problem but I also think that it’s important to recognize that people who are either making drugs in Mexico, some of, you know, the amapolas and now the fentanyl, and some of the synthetic opioids, these are very dangerous drugs and I think both countries have to realize that we are in this together, and I’m looking forward to deepening cooperation in that regard.
Finally, let me just say that on the economic front, the big push last year during my first few months as Ambassador was to get the T-MEC approved by all the countries and, that’s never an easy task, it requires difficult negotiations. I think it is pretty amazing that we have presidents in both countries, President Trump and President López Obrador, who are long time sceptics of the Tratado de Libre Comercio, you know, what we call NAFTA, from 25 years ago.
That they both came around and found a new version that they could, not only accept, but be actually very enthusiastic about. And I think it was very important that in all three countries – the U.S., Canada and Mexico – the approval by the legislature, this time, was very overwhelming. In the United States, it was about 90 percent in favor and only 10 percent against.
So, you know, I think a lot of people have realized now how important that economic relationship is and how it really benefits both of our countries, if it is handled fairly, you know, we want free trade but it has to be fair trade…(inaudible)…it doesn’t take jobs in the United…(inaudible)…and invest, and do business.
I think were going along pretty well in terms of my agenda…can you hear me OK? I just got a not that my internet connection is unstable…¿me oyen bien y me ven?
Someone: yes, Ambassador, we lost you for a moment but it seems to be OK now.
Ambassador: ¿me oyen?
Emmanuel Carrillo: yes, we hear you Ambassador.
Sandeep Paul: we hear you load and clear Ambassador. We just lost you for a few moments.
Emmanuel Carrillo: he will be reconnecting…
Emmanuel Carrillo: we hear you Ambassador, can you hear us? May be if you have the opportunity to do a cable connection, don’t know if you are using Wi-Fi.
Ambassador: hello? Can you hear me?
Robin Matthewman: Ambassador, we hear you.
Ambassador: ah, OK. Well, I can’t…(inaudible)…I’m sorry…it looks like…my screen is frozen. So I’ll keep talking, I can’t hear anybody else but I will keep talking. In the chat let me know if you stop hearing me, ok? And hopefully we’ll get back.
So, as I was saying: I think things were going along very well, and then, all of a sudden this year Covid hits in mid-March and the whole world changes for me and, I think, all of us. And, suddenly public health issues go to the top of the agenda. Interestingly, the first thing we had to address was our common border. Because, you can imagine the amount of people and cars and trucks that cross that border every day. And it was very important to us as it was to the Mexican government to try keep that border open, at least to commerce, because that’s very important for the economy of both our countries. And we reached an agreement with the Mexican Foreign Ministry, working very late one night, to keep the border open for essential services.
In other words for people who work on the other side of the border, or the trucks bringing the commerce, or people who are studying on the other side of the border, or medical needs, but to restrict people from going for non-essential reasons: shopping, going to a restaurant,
visiting family… That agreement that actually is still in place, has worked out extremely well. We have managed to really reduce the kind of everyday traffic across the border that can obviously bring the virus or spread the virus. There’s a lot of pressure now to open the border back to normal capacity, to lift those restrictions. I’m hoping that we can do that, but that all depends on the public health situation up there.
The area that has been a challenge has been on the economic side during the pandemic, because our institutions, I think, have not kept up with our trade. And, so, I started getting phone calls almost immediately after Mexico shut down all the non-essential industries from companies in the U.S. saying “well, we’ve been deemed essential in the U.S. and we are operating but we are not getting components from our Mexican suppliers. So, both our countries unilaterally defined what was an essential industry in our country, but nobody was thinking about these cross-border supply chains, so it was a real challenge to work at both the federal and the state level to try to salvage these supply chains, and make sure they wouldn’t get permanently broken by the crisis.
I’m happy to report that I don’t think there was a single company in the U.S. that was operating during the pandemic that was forced to close for lack of Mexican parts. I think we were able to keep the parts working, obviously understanding that on both sides of the border there’s a very serious health crisis, and that it was perfectly legitimate for governments on both sides of the border to impose very stringent sanitary protocols on their workers to prevent people from getting sick and even dying. So, it’s a challenge for both countries, the economic implications of this. And, we’re still working in good cooperation with the Mexican authorities. but I think we need to have a game plan for how we handle the next crisis, because our economies are so interlocked, and there are so many supply chains that we need to have a more formal mechanism to address this kind of problems in the future.
Let me see, what else? It looks like President Lopez Obrador may be visiting us in Washington soon, in the next few weeks to celebrate the new treaty. And I think that would be a very positive sign. All our countries need a positive sign on the economic side, after the terrible crisis that the pandemic has created. We are still planning that, but we are very hopeful that will happen in about two weeks, in early July.
I think that is really what I had to say. Let me make just a few final comments on my role as ambassador.
I think that it is very important to emphasize how much I enjoy living in Mexico. I really love my trips especially to the interior. I have not yet been to Aguascalientes. So that’s on my list of states. I have visited half the states, so I owe you a visit in Aguascalientes, and I very much hope that when the pandemic is under control, and travel can resume, that I can come and visit you there. but it’s a wonderful experience for me to get to know so many parts of this great big country, and meet the different people, try the different foods from your different parts of the country, and just experience your culture, learn more about your history. That’s the most fun part of the job. The part of the job that came as the biggest surprise to me was the social media side. As you may know, I’m very active on Twitter, and if you don’t follow me yet, you should. You can get me at @usambmex. I started— I didn’t tweet in my old job in Washington, and I started tweeting when I arrived in Mexico. I went to the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe when I arrived, and then that first weekend I went to Xochimilco to go on the trajineras. And I got such a positive response when I posted that, I think people are really interested to see what life is like for an Ambassador, and maybe to
experience their own country though a foreigner’s eyes. So that’s been a part of my job that I have really enjoyed. And if any of you follow me you may see that when people comment on my tweets. I read the comments, or I try to read the comments when I have time, and I try to respond to comments; I think it’s a great way for me to meet people, at least virtually, not just here in Mexico City at big Embassy receptions, but to meet people all over the country. Mexicans have given me a very warm welcome and, as the Rector said, I really do feel “en casa aquí en México,” and I want to thank all of you for the way you have received me and my family, and just say again what a pleasure it is for me to live here in Mexico among all of you. So with that, why don’t I finish my presentation and then we can open it up for questions and answers. Muchas gracias.
Rector: I want to thank you for sharing those thoughts with us. We are all aware that if we can work together and if we have cooperation and collaboration we can achieve more goals than the ones that we can achieve by yourselves. Muchas Gracias y lo esperamos en Aguascalientes pronto para que también venga a con no ser la UTR ir a comer unos tacos de lechón.
Ambassador Landau: Por supuesto que sí.
Rector: We have a lot of questions from social media, so the people that are already connected via zoom if you can raise your hand I’ll give you the word, we can start from people from social media. A journalist from Radio Bahia Agauscalientes a they ask us if there is any action the Embassy is taking in the education field in order to offer more possibilities to have a mobility experience.
Ambassador Landau: This is a very important question right now. Let me say this, one of the areas that Covid has really affected is the general operation in our embassy I didn’t mention this, but we went to a very reduced staff back in March. As a result we stopped offering all of our counselor services except for emergencies, for example somebody had a family member that is dying or an American citizen in Mexico who is in trouble and we kept the agricultural workers going because that is a very important thing for the economy of both countries. But we suspended our student visas, not just in Mexico but around the whole world, and I am very, very, eager to get the student visa program started again.
In fact, I have been in constant communication with my counterparts in Washington at the State Department, at the Department of Homeland Security, at the White House, because it seems to me as I mentioned in my talk that educational exchanges are among the best way to create a connective tissue between our countries that I talked about.
Frankly, my most important goal right now, is getting visas for the students who are enrolled to study in the United States this fall an are attending Educational institutions that have already decided that they are going back to in-person classes. Obviously a lot of educational institutions in the United States are just going to be offering online courses this fall, but there are also a fair number that are going back to in-person classes and so I am very focused on restarting that program again. I don’t have a date yet, so if any of your listeners or their friends are worried about student visas all I can say is it is not within my power as ambassador to just start issuing them again, that has to come from Washington, but I am very eager to get that process going again. We just awarded 81 scholarships to go and study to the
United States, and I want to make sure that we can give visas to the people who are the becarios.
My focus right now, is just getting the traditional programs that we have, working again and getting the visas going. I would like to make it a priority of mine over my time here to increase these programs of study abroad on both sides of the border, but right now I am mostly focused on trying to save rather what we already have, other than expanding it given the circumstances, that is the most challenging thing. I must say, that Mexico is number 10 of countries who sends students to the United States. I hear you on the education front and I will do what I can. Thank you.
Rector: Talking about economics there are a lot of questions about the meeting that President Lopez Obrador and President Trump will be having in the next few weeks. There is a question in social media what is the difference between NAFTA and the [USMCA]? And in your opinion, is this a better treaty or how will it contribute to the relationship with Mexico, the United States, and Canada?
Ambassador Landau: NAFTA was about 25 years old, and it did not have any protections for workers’ rights, so there was a big concern in the United States, particularly among unions and workers, that was unfair, that businesses could move a factory to Mexico and not have to comply with the same standards of protection for workers and the environment. Generally, there was an attempt to modernize free trade agreement to address loopholes in it; don’t forget, it was created or signed at the time basically when the Internet didn’t even exist, what we are doing now – a zoom call — would’ve been impossible. So I think it was very important to renegotiate some of the provisions and to modernize agreement, I think that it is the same idea that we want to create a North American common market for goods and services, we strengthen the dispute resolution provisions there so that if somebody is not abiding by the rules of the treaty there is now a mechanism for enforcement. I think there was a lot of ways in which we brought the old treaty into the 21st century. Again, I hope that that provides a solid basis for investment in North America and in particularly to bring back into our three countries of North America some of the supply chains that have left and gone off to China and other parts of the world. I think we have a lot of opportunities here and I hope we take advantage of them. Thank you.
Jaqueline Rico, Teacher: Hi, thanks rector for the opportunity and hello to everyone. I just have one question. More than a question is more like a sharing of your opinion. How can we increase or improve our cultural understanding? Because that is one of our main objectives as a bilingual institution, so it is not only learning the language or participating in different projects, but also to get involved with culture. Now that you are saying that this relationship that we are growing, that we are having, needs to be well argued, so I would like to know your opinion.
Ambassador Landau: Thank you for that question. I think it is very important for people in both countries to visit the other country and really try to see beyond the stereotypes of both countries. Every country has a vision of what the other country is like. For instance, I’d like to see more American tourists, when they come to Mexico, not only to go to the beach in Cancun or in Puerto Vallarta, but really come to Mexico City to see the Zocalo and see all the big buildings, to see some of the incredible industrial activities that go on in the Bajio. There are very impressive factories there, some of the most sophisticated facilities in the world. I
think is very important for both countries to go beyond their stereotypes. I think also for Mexicans to really get out and see different parts of the United Sates. I think it’s great if people could do more educational exchanges, may be doing a semester abroad at a university in the United Sates, to just get that experience. You in Mexico probably know our culture better than we know yours, just because I see more American TV here, American movies. I think it is great when I see Mexicans like Guillermo del Toro and Iñarritu really making a mark on Hollywood. They are really producing for the American-style movies too. It is a challenge because you want Americans to understand that Mexico is not just big sombreros, it is a very big, rich and varied country, like our country is. Both of our countries are among the biggest countries in the world, with an incredible diversity of people. I think the best way to do that is to get there is really to get there and actually see the other country, so I hope we can do more of that. I want to congratulate you and everybody else involved with your university for pursuing a bilingual education, which I think is so important. Thank you very much.
Rector: Thank you, Ambassador. I have one question, as a rector. What would be your advice for young students, what are the main characteristics that they must have in order to develop or achieve a business relationship with people in the U.S., or to have the possibility to make an exchange about technology to develop a new project. In your opinion, what do you think about it?
Ambassador Landau: I think it is very important (INAUDIBLE) not just the education, the abstract, but be very focused on what jobs are you looking to prepare your students for. One of the things I like about Mexico is one I’ve gone around the country to different places, let’s say when I was in Villahermosa, I saw a lot of students who were focusing on petroleum engineering; when I was up on the border, let’s say Nuevo Laredo, I saw a lot of students who were focusing on business degrees, they would prepare them to work in the maquila industry; in Queretaro they had aerospace courses at the university. I think it is good for a university to understand that it is preparing students not only with a (INAUDIBLE) general education. We all need the basics of a classic education. My question back to you rector would be, what kind of jobs in are you preparing for at UTR? I think to understand preparation, it is good to understand (INAUDIBLE). Tell me a little bit of where your graduates wind up working.
Rector: Here, we have different programs. First of all, we make (INAUDIBLE), we have mechatronic fields, we have IOT, we have human capital development, we have marketing, we also have a digital design in the animation field, and we also prepare our students to become English teachers. We are collaborating with the state government in order to become the first bilingual state in Mexico.
Ambassador Landau: That is great. One thing that I would say is that I think it could be very useful if you try to establish partnerships with particular American companies that do business in Mexico so that they would benefit from working with you, may be giving internships to your students to work with them, maybe opportunities to go to their facilities in the United Sates and be trained. I would really encourage you to reach out to American companies down here, which there are many, and say “we are a bilingual university, we would like to partner with you and we think we are a good partner because we are producing graduates who are going to be familiar with the language and the culture of the United States.” It will help you and help us to give them that experience. That is just one thought I had.
These are valuable skills, particularly English is a language that not only of the United States, but of the whole world, in terms of business and it has kind of become the common language of the world in the last 50 or 75 years. I think it is valuable to learn English, and frankly it is a problem in my country that so many people feel like all they need is English and there are not as many people in my country who speak a second language as I wish there were. Certainly, we would like—as the U.S. government—to increase our participation with you on different programs. I know that we have worked with you, we have had people from our student exchange programs come there and our International Visitor Leadership programs have been in exchange there. I hope we can make those ties even deeper.
Paula Cervantes, student: I want to know if there is an opportunity for us to study over there in the States, maybe as a master degree or maybe studying for a PTR. Some of us are almost finishing so I want to know what are our opportunities to get an opportunity … in the States?
Ambassador Landau: Right now things are really a little bit tricky with the pandemic as I was saying. A lot of American universities, and educational programs have suspended in-person classes…for a few months. I would encourage you to keep in touch with our Consulate there, in Guadalajara, which is the one that covers Aguas Calientes. Mr. Sandeep Paul, our cultural counselor there, is a very good contact … to learn about educational opportunities in the U.S. Talking about becas and other kinds of programs there are to study in the United States. So, there are definitely opportunities out there, I just think for the next six months or so at least, it’s going to be complicated. The pandemic has made so many things very difficult.
Right now, I’m not sure we are going to have any student visas for the whole world. I hope so and I am fighting for that. We don’t have any assurances as to when we’ll even start issuing student visas again.
I am hoping that will be very soon. But I can’t give you a date yet. Again, I would touch base with our Consulate in Guadalajara, and follow our Embassy on Twitter and Instagram – social media – to see opportunities for different kinds of courses of study.
I think there are a lot of American universities that are interested in having Mexican students. It looks like the Consul has raised her hand so maybe she has something to add here.
Robin Matthewman, Consul General: I got it, I just had a hard time unmuting. Buenos dias todos. Thank you Sir. We want to keep the spotlight on you today, but Sandeep and I can follow up and provide a lot of information on the educational mobility/educational opportunities that we can provide to all your students.
Not only do we have usual programs but Sandeep and his team have been working hard to make them work virtually. We have proposed – we have asked for funding for an English fellows program in Aguas Calientes, but virtually, and we are just waiting for the final decisions. And there are a lot of programs that we already did virtually. Sometimes we have high schools and colleges team up with schools in the United States and do exchanges by meeting, by Zoom and other ways.
There is a lot of movement in the last four months to try to see what we can keep doing to make those programs occur. We are going to keep the spotlight on the Ambassador today but we promise to follow up – Sandeep is a very good speaker on these subjects in all languages so we will make sure we answer these questions.
Belen Beltran, student: Hi everyone. I have a very general question. As we were seeing it’s always good to hear other’s opinions because in that way, we can enrich our knowledge. According to your experience, which will be the most encouraging advice you can give to Mexican society?
Ambassador Landau: It’s not really my role, as ambassador, to give advice to Mexican society. Mexican society is great. I have felt very welcomed here in Mexico. I am very, as I said before – I feel like the relations between our countries have really matured a lot over the last 30 or 40 years…and I think that’s very healthy. I think, again, I would encourage Mexicans to really see the United States as a friend and a neighbor and a country that needs Mexico to succeed, and I think Mexico needs the United States to succeed.
I think that’s just a very healthy way of moving forward. I know our countries historically have had our differences and I respect that. I am a student of history and you can’t deny history. But I also think we will always be neighbors; nothing will change that. We can either be neighbors who are good partners or neighbors that don’t get along. Certainly, the reason that I am here in Mexico is because I want to make sure that we are neighbors who get along and respect each other – respect our differences and try to find common ground, and try to find many solutions that work – are ganar ganar – for people on both sides of the border.
I think it’s a problem whenever we – you say well this is good for me and then it’s bad for you. That’s what I feel is the most important thing in my job is to try and look at any problem and think: Is there a solution that I can come up with here that doesn’t mean one country wins, and one country loses? It’s a solution that allows both countries to win. Ultimately, that is the only way in which we are going to have a solid and healthy relationship. Again, I think it’s so important to both our peoples.
The relationship is really in the hands of people like you, who have made it a point to study in a bilingual university, and area able to converse in English as well as in Spanish. I think with more people like you I have more optimism about the future.
Rector: Meanwhile Ambassador, I want to ask you a question for you in Spanish. ¿Cuál ha sido su mejor experiencia en México fuera de la oficina del embajador? y ¿Cuál es su comida favorita?
Embajador Landau: Ok. Todas mis experiencias favoritas de México han estado fuera de la oficina del embajador. Pero, normalmente, mis experiencias favoritas han sido los viajes al interior.
Yo conocía a México de turista ya desde los 17 años. Estuve en Puerto Vallarta, una vez, allá por el 81, pero yo creo que tendría que decir que mi mejor experiencia ha sido toda la celebración del Día de los Muertos en el mes de octubre aquí en México. Ya comenzando cuando plantaron los cempasúchil aquí, es algo que no existe en mi país y que me fascinó todo lo que tiene que ver con este día.
Después, para conmemorar el Día de los Muertos, me fui con mi familia a Michoacán, a la zona lacustre de Pátzcuaro, y realmente ahí nos fuimos al cementerio, al panteón por la noche. Es, algo, otra vez, una maravilla ver eso, ver a la gente ahí rindiendo homenaje a sus antepasados. Para mí, eso, sin duda, fue una experiencia muy mágica para mí y algo inolvidable, porque no existe en ningún otra parte del mundo.
En cuanto a la comida. Bueno, cada región tiene su comida favorita, pero realmente no conocía el taco al pastor, eso sí que lo he comido muy bien aquí en la Ciudad de México. No les quiero ofender allá en Aguascalientes porque no conozco sus especialidades allá.
Comí muy buena carne en Hermosillo, en Sonora, y las chalupas de Puebla han sido para mí una revelación. Pero, espero ver…¿cuál es la especialidad allá en Aguascalientes?
Rector: Yo podría decir que es el taco de lechón.
Embajador Landau: De lechón, OK. Pues ya se me antoja y que me lo tengan ya listo para mi visita, ¿ok?
Rector: Estoy seguro que además le va a encantar. Además, otra de las (inaudible) de Aguascalientes, es que tenemos los atardecer más bonitos del interior de la República. Sin lugar a dudas.
Embajador Landau: A ver si ya tenemos la otra pregunta.
Christian, professor / Rector: Will some economic sectors be excluded from the free trade agreement?
Ambassador Landau: Yeah, you know the agreement doesn’t cover everything. It doesn’t mean that there’s total free trade. There are some special provisions. But that’s the goal: that it covers even things like agriculture, but we still have problems. We want to export potatoes to Mexico; Mexico wants to export avocados from Jalisco. The free trade agreement doesn’t mean that every single industry has complete and open access; that’s the goal, but we’re always working towards that goal.
In general, it’s a very good place to start. We’ve been building on this for 30 years. One of the things that people realize is, when you buy an automobile now, you can’t really say it’s just made in Mexico or made in the United States. It contains components from many different countries and the components of that car may have passed the border eight or ten times in the life of that car. So, at some point, it becomes almost impossible to say “that car was made in Mexico or that car was made in the United States,” because it’s really both sides of the border. The thing that I’m most focused on now is making sure for these kinds of industries that are cross-border industries, that we keep the rules of the road, that we keep these possibilities open. And it was very difficult during the pandemic. There are certainly some provisions of the treaty that recognize certain industries as having special rules like the energy sector in Mexico. Again, there are some very special sectors but the idea is certainly to open up our economies to each other.
Juan Antonio, Professor: Thank you, if you allow us a final question and after that we can move to a final reflection. We have quite a lot of data here, can you please unmute yourself Juan Antonio? We can’t hear you. Are you there? I think we lost him. So, Ambassador, can you please share a final reflection because we know that we are trying to prepare our students for the future. And a former president of the United States said “If your actions inspire others to learn more, to do more, you become a leader.” That’s what John Quincy Adams said. So can you please share with us the importance of preparing themselves and how can, all together, can build a better world.
Ambassador Landau: I would say that as you grow up, you go through different phases in life. And when you’re a teenager – I have a daughter who’s 13 – and I thought that was maybe the worst time of my whole life at that age. And everybody says, “Oh, when you’re a kid, that’s a great time and you should enjoy your childhood; but it was miserable. And as I think I had mentioned, I had grown up in Asuncion and went to a bilingual school and then my parents sent me off to a boarding school – an internado – in Massachusetts, a very small school, a very provincial school, where they had never seen anybody from South America, or Latin America, much less Paraguay. That was the most difficult time of my life. And I felt like what I wanted to do then was to just fit in with everybody else. To be the same as everybody else. And that was very difficult for me because I didn’t have the same cultural background. I hadn’t seen the same television shows, or the same movies, I hadn’t listed to the same music. So I was very unhappy in those years.
I later realized that being successful in life is showing what makes you different than other people and having your own brand. And I really embraced what was special about me that made me different than everybody else around. And I just want to congratulate the students here today and the faculty as well for making it possible for yourselves and for your students to have something that gives them a very special skill, that makes them very different, that they will have received their education in a binational and bilingual setting. And I encourage you, as you move forward into your life to figure out, what is your story, what makes you special, that makes them different than [others]. Embrace what is really your special gift and don’t just try to blend in but be proud of what makes you who you are and know that if somebody asks you, “why should I hire you for the job?” Have an answer to that. Understand what is it that you are selling – you have to sell yourself. I think you have something very special and I hope you appreciate the opportunity that UTR is giving you. I’m very honored to be meeting with you today. I wish you the very best and let’s keep in touch. I hope to see you in Aguas Calientes very soon. Gracias!