San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 90th Annual Gala

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

Elements for Statement of Ambassador Martha Bárcena Coqui


  • I come before you tonight not only as the Ambassador of Mexico, but also as a proud Mexican woman.


  • I am very thankful to the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce for this opportunity to speak to all of you because I believe it is important to raise the voices of the Mexican men and women that continue to work with passion, perseverance and ingenuity to achieve a better future for their families, and that serve as role models for the future generations.


  • San Antonio is especially relevant because its history is intertwined with the history of Mexican and Latino immigrants in this country. And I want to be loud and clear about this: the Latino history in the United States is a history of success.


  • San Antonio is also one of the oldest cities in the U.S. (it celebrated its tricentennial just last year) and the 8th largest city in the country.


  • This city is a perfect example of how diversity can shape the landscape and the character of a city. It is truly captivating to walk around and see the many layers of a place that combines a colonial heritage with sleek and modern skyscrapers.


  • It is amazing to see how some of the most iconic sightings were imagined by notable Mexicans, from San Antonio’s Central Library, designed by the renowned Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, to the mural at the façade of the Lila Cockrell Theater painted by one of the greatest Mexican artists of the 20th Century, Juan O’Gorman.


  • It is San Antonio’s historically significance that led Mexico to open one of its first foreign representations here in 1861. Our first permanent cultural institute in the world, evolved from the Mexican Pavilion in the 1968 World Fair to the wonderful venue we have today at Hemisfair.


  • Throughout the years, Mexico’s relationship with San Antonio has remain key to its understanding of the bilateral relationship with the U.S. at large, and has made the Mexican Consulate in San Antonio, headed by Ambassador Reina Torres present here today, a mainstay of our consular network.


  • In fact, the Consulate and the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce are intimately linked since it was a Consul General of Mexico, Enrique Santibañez, who organized what was originally called the Mexican Chamber back in the 1920s.


  • Today, the San Antonio Chamber continues to be a fundamental ally of the Consulate and of the Mexican Government to promote free trade and showcase the amazing stories and the contribution of Dreamers to this country.


  • In the current times where loud noises continue to fog the reality of things, it is important to remind ourselves of the great contribution that the Mexican and the Latino community have made to the U.S.


  • In 2015 alone, the Latino community contributed with 2.13 billion dollars to the GDP of the United States, and it is calculated that in 2020, the Latino population will represent the 24.4% of total U.S. GDP growth.


  • Moreover, Hispanic businesses generate approximately 2.7 million jobs in the United States.


  • These facts matter but the stories behind these facts matter even more, because the Mexican and the Latino contributions to this society are not only financial, but also cultural and social.


  • Just this year, American audiences and moviegoers around the world were moved by the sensitivity of the movie Roma, that tells the story of a young woman living in Mexico City in the early 70s. Alfonso Cuarón, the director of the movie, received an Academy Awards nomination, and Yalitza Aparicio who portrays the main character, Cleo, became the first Mexican indigenous actress to be nominated for an Oscar.


  • There are also other lesser known names, such as Vanessa Rodríguez, a Dreamer from the State of Texas that was the salutatorian of her class and a recipient of the State of Texas Student Hero. Daughter of a construction worker and a house maid, she has stated that her parents’ hard work and humble occupations have given their family a chance to do more and dream higher. This is just one of the hundreds of thousand other stories of young people that have worked very hard to succeed in the U.S.


  • Mexicans are part of the social fabric of this country and have enriched the American way of life with their hard work; their fascination for flavors which has enriched the American culinary experience; their obsession with color in art and architecture, and their historically rich and diverse culture.