Ambassador Wayne’s Remarks at the 147th Annual Meeting and Cherry Pie Festival of the American Benevolent Society

Good Evening.  Pam and I are very pleased to welcome you all here again tonight to celebrate your annual Meeting and Cherry Pie Festival. I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate the American Benevolent Society on its 147th birthday.  It is very fitting that a great American organization such as ABS celebrates its work on George Washington’s birthday.

One of the most important missions of any U.S. Embassy is to provide assistance to United States citizens.  In Mexico City and at our nine consulates and nine consular agencies throughout the country, the Mission’s American Citizen Services professionals provide a wide range of services to our citizens in Mexico – from routine passport and notary services to emergency services related to arrests, deaths, and assistance to victims of crime.  In our efforts to assist our citizens, we have found a special partner in the American Benevolent Society.  We each have a distinct role to play, and I am especially grateful to the ABS for always being willing to step in and assist United States citizens in ways that sometimes go beyond our resources.

We very much appreciate that ABS provides social services to the U.S. citizen community, such as their Lifelong Learning Center, financial assistance in the form of pensions, scholarships, and aid for medicine for the less fortunate and, with the cooperation of the American-British Cowdray Hospital, ABS assists financially challenged U.S. citizens receive emergency medical assistance.  This past year ABS assistance literally saved the life of at least one U.S. citizen – for which the Embassy is incredibly grateful.

Aside from the direct assistance you provide to American citizens, I’d also like to thank you for the cultural benefits you provide our community here in Mexico.  For example, ABS operates “Caza Libros,” one of the only English language bookstores in Mexico City and a valuable source of information about the United States.

I am particularly thankful for your efforts to help Americans in Mexico celebrate and maintain traditions such as Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July.

In short, the American Benevolent Society truly makes a difference in the community and contributes to our bilateral relationship in many positive ways.

Having terrific partners across the private sector and benevolent organizations is essential to reinforcing the strong bilateral ties between the United States and Mexico. With a 2,000-mile border, hundreds of thousands of crossings a day, well over one million U.S. citizens resident in Mexico, and more than $1.5 billion dollars in trade crossing the border every day and today’s reports of  25 million U.S. tourists visited last year, the issues that define our bilateral relationship are wide-ranging and profoundly important to people in both our countries.

This is why we are more committed than ever to collaborating as partners to achieve prosperity and security for citizens on both sides of the border.  The American Benevolent Society and its members, all of you, are living examples of that collaboration, and the positive outcomes that can result from relationships founded on mutual generosity and goodwill.

Again, I congratulate ABS for its long, distinguished history; I applaud your leadership and commitment to the community; and I thank you for all the great work you do.

I appreciate the opportunity to celebrate with you tonight, and I look forward to the continued partnership between the Embassy and the American Benevolent Society.