November 14, 2012 -- Mexico City -- American Jewish and Mexican American leaders from across the United States made a historic trip to Mexico City November 11-14.
The American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Latino and Latin American Institute organized the visit in cooperation with the Comité Central of the Mexican Jewish community. The 35-person delegation was co-chaired by David Harris, executive director of AJC, the global Jewish advocacy organization, and by Henry Cisneros, director of CityView, and one of the most influential voices in the U.S. Latino community. Cisneros is a former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Mayor of San Antonio.
AJC has served as a pioneer in deepening relations among American Jews, Latin American governments and Latino communities in the U.S. The Mexico trip follows previous AJC-Latino visits to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
"Mutual appreciation for our common histories and shared agendas enhances our ability to work together to advance joint goals," said Dina Siegel Vann, director of AJC's Latino and Latin American Institute. "We wanted to achieve a framework for collaborative action between the American Jewish and Mexican American communities. It was an ambitious goal, but we have succeeded in achieving it," said Siegel Vann, who is originally from Mexico City.
The Jewish and Latino participants met with President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto; Archbishop of Mexico City Cardinal Norberto Rivera; Mexican policy experts; and U.S. and Israeli Embassy officials. These encounters furthered possibilities for joint advocacy efforts back in the U.S.
Coming just days after U.S. elections, and ahead of the December 1 inauguration of the new Mexican president, U.S.-Mexico relations figured large in the conversations. The two neighboring countries share wide-ranging and deep interests in comprehensive immigration reform, the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime, trade, energy security and Diaspora-homeland relations.
While in Mexico, the delegation also met with Mexican Jewish community leadership. Tribuna Israelita, the public affairs arm of the Comité Central of Mexican Jewry, is a longstanding AJC international partner. "Mexican Jewry is one of the most dynamic and influential sectors in society, and in 2012 is celebrating the milestone of 100 years of institutional life," said Siegel Vann.
AJC's involvement with Mexican American leadership is extensive, a vital component of its Latino and Latin American Institute's ongoing and expanding outreach to immigrant communities in the U.S. that maintain strong ties to their countries of origin. Latinos of Mexican descent account for about 63 percent of the more than 50 million Hispanics in the U.S.
Together with the Institute of Mexicans Abroad and the Mexican Embassy and consulates in the U.S., AJC has co-sponsored workshops in a number of cities for emerging leaders in the Mexican-American community.
AJC also is a founding member of the Mexican American Leadership Initiative (MALI), a program of the U.S.-Mexico Foundation that seeks to promote significant engagement between American and Mexican societies.
In September 2012, Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhan received AJC's Gesher (Bridge) Award for building bridges of understanding and collaboration between U.S. Jews and Latinos, and among the U.S., Latin America and Israel.