The US ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar, joined the governors of Mexico’s southeastern states for an official bilateral summit in Mérida.
During a press conference led Tuesday by Yucatán Gov. Mauricio Vila Dosal, the ambassador and lawmakers discussed new opportunities to strengthen ties between the two nations and bring greater development to the region.
Topics addressed during the summit included environmental initiatives, investment in information technology, and infrastructure.
“Mexico’s southeast was long considered an afterthought, a remote and forgotten corner of the country; this is surely not the case anymore. But there is still much work to be done,” said Salazar.
Also in attendance was Mexico’s secretary of foreign affairs, and frontrunner for Mexico’s 2024 presidential election, Marcelo Ebrad.
The secretary emphasized the importance of Mexico’s relationship with the United States on both a human and economic level and praised ambassador Salazar for his proactive approach.
During the questions-and-answer segment of the press conference, another issue broached was that of the growing caravans of refugees from Central America and the Caribbean transiting through Mexico to the United States.
“These are good people and they deserve the right to stable, secure lives. Our enemy here is not the people but rather the instability which is forcing them to take such drastic measures,” said Ebrad.
The secretary took the opportunity to highlight Mexico’s investment in the Sembrando Vidas reforestation project in Central America, which seeks to plant over 3 billion trees and generate 1.2 million jobs.
Critics of this project argue that the tree-planting program actually results in more deforestation than it prevents. Recent reports also have suggested that the initiative is also directly benefiting cocoa plantations owned by the children of the sitting president, and the program’s main champion, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
On the topic of information technology and the digital economy, Yucatán’s governor highlighted the soon-to-open Amazon logistics center in Umán.
“The new logistics center will create many jobs, but will also offer an international platform for businesses in Yucatán,” said Vila.