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Increasing Mexico’s focus on Africa

26 April 2019

A photo of H.E Ambassador Ana Luisa Fajer Flores with Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa stands on her desk as a treasured memory. As Director for Africa in Mexico’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs she was responsible for planning and co-ordinating Mandela’s visit to Mexico in 1991.

Equipped with a master’s degree in African Studies from El Colegio de Mexico, Ambassador Fajer is the envoy chosen to build fruitful and sustainable relations between Mexico and the continent of Africa. Ambassador Fajer, it seems, was destined to serve not only in South Africa but also in the 11 countries of Lesotho, Eswatini, Angola, Botswana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe as resident representative.

Speaking to The Diplomatic Society Ambassador Fajer said that her mission will broaden Mexico’s focus on Africa and also create greater awareness of Africans among Mexicans. Mexico is the custodian of ancient civilizations just like Africa and if the theory of Pangea holds true then Africa and Mexico were connected at what is today the Gulf of Mexico and West Africa. Ancient burial tombs found in Mexico are similar to the great African pyramids. There is also speculation of links between the Mesoamerican Olmec people and Africans who seem to share some physical traits.


To further strengthen cooperation Ambassador Fajer has discussed a twinning project between Oaxaca Province in Mexico and Limpopo Province in South Africa. The concept of using the Tule tree and the Baobab as symbols of this partnership is inspired by the similarity of the unusual broad trunks, a characteristic shared by both trees. It is also a reflection of the broad based interactions that are envisaged. Face to face, people to people exchanges are always welcomed as it creates greater awareness and understanding. It also leads to enhanced partnerships in the various sectors of education, trade and travel, arts and culture among others.

The Baobab and Tule trees


Ambassador Fajer is a descendent of Lebanese migrants to Mexico and has become completely integrated into Mexican society. Her grandfather migrated from Lebanon in 1920. Migration is inherent and enriches the fabric of humankind. “I am a Mexican and love my country and I also love cooking Lebanese food,” said Ambassador Fajer.

36 million Mexicans live in the United States, almost 25 million were born in the US and 11.6 in Mexico, and there are 50 Mexican Consulates in the US.  The trade between the US and Mexico is estimated at 1.4 million dollars per minute and 1 product crosses the 3 borders 8 times in the value chain.

‘The United States of America needs Mexico as much as Mexico needs the United States of America, our value chains are absolutely connected,” explained Ambassador Fajer.

T-MEC, the Trade Agreement between the United States of America, Mexico and Canada that replaces NAFTA has been signed and is currently in the process of being ratified.  Ambassador Fajer says that this new agreement has reinvigorated relations with strengthened environment and labour regulations which are mutually beneficial.  That agreement has also brought about stability in policy on commerce.

 

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s President holds a press conference every morning. He was elected to the high office on the commitment of his ‘People First’ election campaign in December 2018. “The people voted for change,” says Ambassador Fajer. His daily press conferences are to keep the people informed with an open communication channel, taking the people into his confidence, putting them first. Laws are being passed to favour the people and simply put these are laws are against corruption, election fraud and theft of oil,” explained Ambassador Fajer.

President Obrador has advocated the revival of indigenous culture and traditions as part of his Fourth Transformation of Mexico, a policy that puts the people first.  Ambassador Fajer is amazed that South Africa has 11 official languages. She is keen to learn lessons from this for the native languages of Mexico, especially as this is the year of the preservation of indigenous languages.

Mexico values its cooperation with South Africa as set out in the Binational Commission (BNC) between Mexico and South Africa and was last reviewed in 2014. A current review will be timely and discussions of reciprocal heads of state visit will bring about a much needed strengthening of relations between people united in their diversity. 

K Bhana and A Pemjee

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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September/October 2019

 
 
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