Washington, Mexico have 3.1 billion reasons to care about each other

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YAKIMA HERALD-REPUBLIC – SARA SCHILLING – Many people don’t know what a consulate does.

And Roberto Dondisch is trying to change that, at least when it comes to Mexico’s consulate.

The head consul of Mexico in Seattle, Dondisch visited the Tri-Cities on Thursday to attend a luncheon with the Tri-Cities Latino Community Network and to talk about his agency’s services.

The network is a partnership between the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Mid-Columbia Libraries.

Dondisch said his consulate does everything from helping Mexican citizens in the U.S. with their passports to promoting the country’s rich culture.

It also works on trade promotion. “We are working with some companies that are here (in Washington), getting them engaged with Mexican companies,” Dondisch said.

Earlier this year, nearly 50 government, business and industry leaders from the state traveled to Mexico in the first trade mission from Washington to the neighboring country in a decade.

“Washington is more dependent on international trade than any other U.S. state, and we have especially close economic and cultural ties with Mexico.” Gov. Jay Inslee

“Washington is more dependent on international trade than any other U.S. state, and we have especially close economic and cultural ties with Mexico. This trade mission has been an excellent opportunity to strengthen this important relationship and continue to highlight our fantastic goods and products to Mexican leaders and consumers,” Gov. Jay Inslee said after the trip.

Dondisch noted that annual trade between Washington and Mexico totals about $3.1 billion.

“The relationship is a strong one,” Dondisch said, adding that Mexican leaders have to see, “in terms of trade, what happens with NAFTA.”

President Trump has been critical of the trade agreement, in place since the ‘90s, saying this summer that, “I think we’ll end up probably terminating NAFTA at some point.”

Renegotiations are under way between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

Dondisch said that, for Mexico, the pact “is an agreement to be partners, to be allies, to work together for the development of both countries, both societies. That’s how we see NAFTA. For us, NAFTA is more important than just the trade factor.”

Dondisch praised the Tri-Cities as a growing community — one that’s getting more and more notice.

The area’s Mexican-American population is vibrant, he said.

It’s one of the most engaging, strong and really upcoming communities. They’re really trying to do a lot of things, and we’re happy to work with them and to be part of it.

Roberto Dondisch, Head Consul of Mexico in Seattle

“It’s one of the most engaging, strong and really upcoming communities. They’re really trying to do a lot of things, and we’re happy to work with them and to be part of it,” Dondisch said.

It’s been a stressful time for Mexican-Americans “because of immigration issues,” he said.

“It doesn’t really matter what the immigration status is of any person, there is stress there because we don’t exactly know what’s happening. And unfortunately, the rhetoric that has been used is not a positive one and doesn’t take into account all the marvelous things that our community has done for the (larger) community,” Dondisch said.

He said his agency is helping young people affected by Trump’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

And he said the Tri-Cities is an example of the strength of the Mexican-American community.

“(That community) has been an essential part of the economic growth and the social growth” of the area, he said.

By Sara Schilling

December 07, 2017 05:26 PM

Yakima Herald-Republic

Photo: Yakima Herald-Republic – File

Roberto Dondisch, the consul of Mexico in Seattle, is shown the proper way to pick an apple during a 2016 tour in Yakima.