Washington, DC.
21 de marzo, 2013


Dreams shape decisions and decisions that are actually executed shape lives. Lives shape culture and culture is what endures through time and gives Life itself its meaning. The lives of migrants are braided with hope and courage and always transform the receiving nation.

I am delighted to join you today as you continue your dialogue on the state of Latino – Jewish relations.

Thank you David Harris, Arturo Vargas and Dina Siegel for your invitation and I commend your leadership and NALEO and AJC´s Latino and Latin-American Institute for this initiative.  We have to be clear about one thing: This is one of the most important conversations currently being undertaken and its results will certainly have a meaningful impact for the United States.

The history of Mexico, like the history of the US, is a history of migration. It was only a hundred years ago, in June 1912, that the first Mexican Jewish community institution was founded, the Mount Sinai Alliance, but the presence of Jews in Mexico can be traced back to 1519, with the arrival of the first Spaniards. Six hundred years later, the Jewish community might not be large but it is immense in relevance.

As Dina frequently reminds us, when the US closed its doors to Jewish migrants as it established national origin quotas in 1924, we in Mexico opened ours to them. We never imagined then what a blessing this was going to be.  The welcoming policies of Mexican Presidents Plutarco Elías Calles and Lázaro Cárdenas in the 1920’s and 30’s, facilitated immigration from those nationals of Jewish descent that came from Eastern Europe, Syria and other countries.

We are very proud of the role that Mexican leaders, such as the diplomat Gilberto Bosques, carried out to aid many to escape the horrors of Nazism. Bosques, who was Consul General of Mexico in Paris, sheltered and provided Mexican visas to hundreds of Jewish people in Marseilles, where he had to relocate the Mexican Consulate in 1940.

And there is, of course, a great deal of Jewish individuals who have helped to shape our culture. One cannot understand the Mexican revolution and its international context if one does not read Friedrich Katz´s, who, as an historian and anthropologist, was able to construct an insightful vision that is still very much valued.   José Woldenberg, as another example, is one of the most respected public figures in Mexico. His contributions and leadership were critical in the transition to a full-fledged democracy, and he occupies, already, a place in our modern history. Benito Bucay, a notable presence in the Mexican business community, stands out as an engineer and a businessman, and is somebody I owe a great deal personally.

The art world in Mexico is populated by people like Emmanuel Lubezki, nominated four times for the Oscar for his work as a cinematographer, and Margo Glantz, the writer, who has received many prizes in Mexico and abroad for her work in fiction.

I do not need to go into details of how men and women, Mexican and also Jewish, have made our communities better by their contributions to sciences. I do wish to highlight Marcos Moshinsky, the Ukranian-born Mexican physicist, who in his lifetime was awarded virtually all the prizes in science that exist in Mexico.

As in all countries were the Jewish Diaspora has established itself, in Mexico they have contributed to our progress and to enhance our social fabric helping build strong institutions and community organizations, including schools, synagogues, businesses, cultural centers, newspapers and magazines.

In the US, the Latino and the Jewish communities share values. They have, and will continue to enrich this country. They are both motivated by strong family ties and are especially sensitive to racial prejudice, hate crimes and immigration restrictions and support equal access to quality education and health services, as well as economic opportunities.


As in the case of our dear good friend, Dina Siegel Vann, Jewish individuals from Latin America, who have immigrated to the U.S., serve both as a permanent bridge between their countries of origin and their new homeland and as links and interpreters between both communities.

Today’s national dialogue between the Latino and Jewish communities has very deep and wide implications. It is instrumental in the current discussion about immigration reform. Mexico, respectful of the domestic politics of the US, is accompanying this process. We have a very strong interest in it as we have a responsibility for the dignity, rights and opportunities of more than six million undocumented Mexicans in the US who work hard and struggle in dramatic circumstances. We understand clearly that this is a US domestic issue.

Immigration is the cornerstone and the fabric of this great country.  It has been a key element of its strength and success.   We often focus on what someone wants to take from a place when she or he migrates. And we often forget that a migrant also brings her own culture, her own richness, and her own dreams. And, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.