March 12, 2019 — Mexico City, Mexico
A delegation of American Jewish Committee (AJC) leaders — joined by representatives of the Mexican-American community from across the United States and leaders of the Mexican Jewish community — met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador today for an hour-long session.
The meeting, the first by a Jewish organization with the president since his inauguration in December 2018, culminated a three-day visit to Mexico City hosted by the Central Committee of the Mexican Jewish Community (Comité Central de la Comunidad Judía de Mexico), an AJC international partner since 1999.
“We are promoting a relationship with the U.S. government based on mutual support and respect. For our part, we are committed to getting the new free-trade agreement approved,” President López Obrador told the 50-person delegation.
He also spoke warmly of his longstanding friendship with, and deep respect for, the Mexican Jewish community, citing several examples of how community members have contributed to Mexico’s development.
The president’s ambitious vision for social and economic development, as well as the bilateral relationship with the U.S., were the focus of the discussions with the Mexican leader, as well as with Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard.
“AJC helps the vulnerable populations in the United States and always speaks up on their behalf,” said Secretary Ebrard. “It has been an ally in the U.S. in our work protecting the rights of Mexican migrants.”
On Israel, Ebrard said, “We have a great relationship with Israel. We hope to continue advancing it on projects of common interest.”
“Mexico is a critically important country for us as Americans, as Jews, and as friends of Israel,” said AJC CEO David Harris, who led the delegation along with Dina Siegel Vann, Director of AJC’s Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs (BILLA). “This timely and fruitful visit helped us understand better the direction of the new Mexican government, and allowed us the chance to discuss key issues of mutual concern.”
Harris and Siegel Vann have met with a number of López Obrador’s predecessors, including Presidents Enrique Peña Nieto, Vicente Fox, and Felipe Calderón.
During this visit, the AJC delegation also met with Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs Julián Ventura; Archbishop of Mexico City Cardinal Carlos Aguiar; Israeli Ambassador Jonathan Peled; U.S. Chargé d’Affaires John Creamer; and several academic experts and political observers.
“Mexico attaches great importance to its relationship with AJC,” said Deputy Foreign Secretary Ventura, who has known the organization for many years. “This tremendous relationship positively affects millions of Mexicans, and it has a global imprint.”
The meeting with Cardinal Aguiar, which focused on the vitality of Catholic-Jewish cooperation in Mexico, took place only days after another AJC leadership delegation met with Pope Francis in the Vatican.
In 2016, then Mexican Foreign Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu addressed the AJC Global Forum in Washington, in the presence of Consuls General from all 50 Mexican consulates in the U.S., scores of Mexican-American leaders, and dozens of Mexican Jewish leaders.
“For AJC, it was a way of affirming the importance we attach to the U.S.-Mexican relationship in the midst of a heated presidential election, where, regrettably, Mexico — and Mexican-Americans — kept coming up,” Harris added.
And in 2015, BILLA celebrated its tenth anniversary by bringing a delegation of 150 AJC and Mexican-American leaders to Mexico City for meetings with top Mexican officials.