Palabras de la Embajadora Bárcena en el encuentro de Mujeres Migrantes de México y el mundo.

Chicago, Illinois.

15 de octubre de 2019

Dear Mayor Lori Lightfoot,

Dear Mr.Charles Bethea, Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs of the Chicago History Museum,

Dr. Enrique Márquez, Director Ejecutivo de Diplomacia Cultural de la SRE,

Embajadora Reyna Torres, Cónsul General de México en Chicago


It is a unique opportunity to be in this magnificent city, a city of immigrants, a mecca for Mexican migrants, that thrives in its richness and diversity, to participate in the inauguration of the  three-day conference, Migrant Women of Mexico and the World.

I would like to recognize the authorities of Chicago, and particularly, the Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, who has welcomed vulnerable immigrants into the city and made sure their rights are fully protected.

Chicago is home for more than 700,000 Mexicans that have enriched neighborhoods as Pilsen and Little Village. And there are near of 2.5 million Mexicans in Illinois. They came from different parts of Mexico, including Jalisco, Zacatecas, Morelos and San Luis Potosí, among others. Mexicans that started to arrive after the I World War, with a dire need of hands. They built the railroads, they built houses and skycrapers. Mexicans today, are central to the social, economic and cultural life of Chicago.  

At a time when migrants are on the rise around the world and immigration continues to reshape our societies, there is also a rise in disinformation and a large-scale exploitation of their vulnerabilities for political purposes.

This is why Mexican President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, committed from day one to address migration in its root causes and expressed his commitment to promote and protect the human rights of both migrants and the Mexican community in the USA. And women are at the center of this policy.

The goal of the Mexican Government has been to assist the humanitarian needs of migrants, including migrant women in transit, the country of destiny and the returned women.

Migration is a historic and social phenomenon that is an essential part of humanity. No country and no government can stop migration, but we all can make an effort and adopt the necessary public policies to have an orderly, safe and regular migration.

Today, more than half of that population on the move are women, so whenever we talk about migrants the story is incomplete without the gender perspective.

Moreover, in the search for a better life, migrant women face a dual vulnerability: the dangers posed by gender violence and discrimination and the regular risks that migrants often face on their grueling journeys. And if the migrants are poor and indigenous, they suffer even more.

Nowadays, we often hear a unidimensional perspective of migrants and migration as a potential threat, fueled by misconceptions and xenophobic perceptions, instead of recognizing migration as a great contribution to society and the economy.  This is exactly why  this conference was convened: to listen and to tell the different sides and many visions of the migrant story; one that strives to show migrant women in all their complexity and to highlight the social, economic and cultural benefits they bring with them. To address the migratory phenomenon from its various dimensions: origin, transit, destiny and return.

Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it, and our history as humanity and, in this particular case, the history of this great country, is intertwined with the history of migrants.

As the first female Ambassador of Mexico to the U.S., I have proudly repeated that the Latino community, and among them, the Mexican community, are the past, the present and the future of this country.

Let´s just have a look at some data: the Hispanic community is around 60 million people. More than 4.3 million Hispanic-owned businesses contribute with over $700 billion to the American economy each year. The Mexican culture, cuisine, workforce and talent is an integral part of the USA, and the integration of Mexican migrants into the economy, culture and social fabric of this country has resulted in growth and prosperity to the American society as a whole.

Latina women entrepreneurs, for example, represent the fastest growing segment of small business owners in the U.S. Mexican female migrants are vibrant entrepreneurs, they are graduating from college and universities as never before. Only yesterday I ate carnitas at one of the restaurants in Pilsen´s neighborhood and I share the table with two DACA women, one a dental technician, the other working for a medical devices company. They both have been the first to attend higher education. They are bilingual, bicultural. They are a treasure for both Mexico and the USA.

Furthermore, according to Latino Donor Collaborative, in 2020, the Hispanic community will account for 24.4% of the GDP growth in the U.S.

In the next three days you will listen and interact with women and people who have engaged in a real, active, and practical way to change the way migrant women are treated and understood. But above all, you will hear personal stories and perspectives which is one of the main objectives of this ambitious conference. Let´s listen, learn and then suggest new paths and policies for the future.

It is a privilege for me to be here and share these experiences with other colleagues from the Mexican Foreign Service, extremely capable women who are now Consuls Generals here in Chicago, in Houston and in Albuquerque. I have always thought that a woman diplomat has a special empathy for understanding the challenges of migrant women and I hope that this conference will enrich this capability.

I would like to close these remarks underlining the commitment of President López Obrador and his government to work for a fairer an inclusive society, for a fruitful and strong bilateral relationship between Mexico and the US, based on mutual respect and tolerance. I would like to convey the message from President López Obrador and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, that they are fully committed to promote and protect the human rights of migrant workers and the Mexican community in the US.

I am certain that our community has in Reyna Torres, the Consul General in Chicago, a great representative of Mexico and in Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the civil society in Chicago the best allies in advancing the rights of migrant women.

Gracias a todos.

Thank you very much.