We long for open, honest, and productive dialogue across borders and between governments and their critics. But in these crazy times such dialogue is vanishingly rare. That is why the successful launch of our Old Neighbors – New Dialogue broadcasts is so unique and exciting. [ https://globalexchange.org/viejosvecinosnuevodialogooldneighborsnewdialogue/ ]
We have, albeit humbly, forged a new conversation across borders and between Mexican government officials and civil society with the critical support of Spanish language media partners on both sides of the border — like La Opinion and Rompeviento.TV.
Thanks to everyone who expressed interest or viewed the first conversations broadcasts by our Global Exchange en Español — Viejos Vecinos, Nuevo Diálogo (Old Neighbors, New Dialogue) conversations. (If you haven’t had the chance to watch, you can view the five-part series here on our Viejos Vecinos, Nuevo Diálogo webpage here. [ https://globalexchange.org/viejosvecinosnuevodialogooldneighborsnewdialogue ])
It is the first time we have hosted a series of conversations entirely in Spanish. And it was popular — viewed by many thousands of people on both sides of the border.
Trump’s racist slurs and policy threats toward Mexicans and Central Americans have already encouraged mass shootings, the jailing of children, and the breaking apart of families. And it has devastated bi-national trust.
People like you, who have long defended democracy, know that in the face of a reactionary tide open, honest, and productive dialogue across borders is rare but badly needed. Trump’s international vandalism has provoked a crisis and we need to rewire the whole US-Mexico relationship.
That’s why we have partnered with Rompeviento.tv in Mexico City and La Opinion (the premier Spanish language daily newspaper in the U.S.) to invite journalists, defenders of immigrant and human rights and civil society organizers to engage in conversations with each other and with decision makers, like Tatiana Cloutier who directed the winning 2018 campaign of current Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and who currently serves as a member of Mexico’s Federal Chamber of Deputies. She headlined our first session. [ https://globalexchange.org/viejosvecinosnuevodialogooldneighborsnewdialogue/ ]
Last week, we held the final conversation of our first series. Here is a brief summary:
Marco Castillo of Global Exchange moderated a wide-ranging exchange on border, immigration, and other hot button bilateral topics. He was joined by Ernesto Ledesma of Rompeviento.TV; Gabriel Lerner, editorial director of La Opinion; and Jesús Ramirez, AMLO’s Press Secretary. (Watch it here. [ https://globalexchange.org/2019/08/22/viejos-vecinos-nuevo-dialogo-episodio-cuatro/ ])
Needless to say, this panel did not agree on everything. In fact, the tension was palpable at times when our panelists raised very direct and critical questions about Mexican government policy.
Differences on how Mexico should best respond to Trump’s multiple aggressions topped the list. But, in what we hope can be a model for expanded dialogue and conflict resolution, everyone stayed civil and positive even as they forcefully argued their points.
Gabriel Lerner started the conversation by denouncing the Trump Administration’s decision to resume indefinite detention of immigrant families by overriding the long established “Flores Settlement” designed to prevent such abuses. He lamented that the López Obrador Administration had issued new “migration detention protocols” last June under the pressure of Trump’s threats to disrupt the Mexican economy with escalating tariffs.
Ernesto Ledesma recognized that great external pressure being exerted on Mexico, noting, “one point everyone agrees on is that Trump’s provocations will continue.” He describes Trump’s overall approach as “war against migrants and the poor”. At the same time he critiqued the AMLO government’s inability to meet the needs of migrants even as it steps up repression at Trump’s behest. Ledesma called out the government’s disconnect with NGOs who have long organized vital, and sometimes life saving, services to people on the migrant trail. “Not all NGOs are the same,” said Ledesma.
Jesús Ramírez, (the President’s official spokesperson) responded at. Mr. Ramírez accepted our invitation to join the conversation because he wants to inform people — on both sides of the border– on the government’s side of the story; what they are up against, and why reforms are moving more slowly than people want. Ramirez asked for patience focussing on mid- and long-term solutions like building economic infrastructure projects aimed at making immigration one possible course in life rather than the desperate survival gambit it so often represents for Central American and Mexican families.
There was a lot more to the conversation and we encourage your to listen to it (in Spanish) and share widely. [ https://globalexchange.org/2019/08/22/viejos-vecinos-nuevo-dialogo-episodio-cuatro/ ]
At present, we do not have a transcript of the conversation nor the capacity to put English subtitles on the recording of the broadcast. (We’d welcome volunteers to help us transcribe key bits of these conversations so that we can subtitle them for non-Spanish speakers. Please email email@example.com, if you are interested in joining our 2020 translation team.)
And please stay tuned for for our ongoing webinars in English that cover Mexico, gun policy reform, the drug war, climate action, and so much more.
Please help us deepen this conversation and reinforce the humanity that ties us together. Your support makes this work possible. [ https://org.salsalabs.com/o/703/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=7481 ]
Solidarity knows no borders,
Ted Lewis and Marco Castillo
US-Mexico Program Co-Directors