Economic stimulus and trade interests with Yemen led Mexico to opening a new consulate in Yemen. The National Yemen newspaper spoke to Mexico’s ambassador to the gulf region and ‘non-resident’ ambassador to Yemen, H.E. Mr. Arturo Trejo about this interesting development in diplomatic relations at a stressful time for Yemen.
“Principally there are economic drivers behind this move,” the 30 year career diplomat said.
Mexico, a nation with well-developed manufacturing and agricultural sectors are looking to export to Yemen – up until now the major Mexican imports in Yemen have been pharmaceuticals.
However, there is scope for a much less obvious relationship between the two nations, given several common facets. Beyond enjoying rich cultural heritages, both Mexico and Yemen also face similar challenges.
One challenge is the countries’ distorted international images – one of them experiences disproportional reportage on drugs crime, the other has terrorism. The prevailing ‘war on terrorism’ narrative which dominates Yemen at the moment has a Mexican sister – the ‘war on drugs.’
Additionally, the industries behind drugs in Mexico and behind Qat in Yemen share similar characteristics in terms of their effect on public health, the economy, development, and – again – image.
“Perhaps this is where both countries may be able to learn from one another, in how to deal with these issues,” the ambassador commented.
“But we don’t pretend to teach,” he added.
There is a lot of pressure, directly and indirectly, from the international community for Yemen to scale down on Qat. There are even voices who think it should be completely prohibited, like it is in many other countries – the only action drastic enough to change the situation.
But the ambassador warned against taking any brash movements, especially in terms of outlawing it.
“We can’t just say we must combat it,” Mr. Trejo said, “we must understand it.”
“Mexico itself has an ongoing debate over whether we should legalize certain drugs,” he went on. “Prohibition may create even bigger problems.”
Diplomatically, the ambassador declined to comment on the political situation here in Yemen. “Mexico has a policy of non-intervention,” he reminded.
Mr. Trejo went on to express his hope that any problems Yemen has would soon be reconciled in a smooth and stable fashion, but added that ‘threats to unity’ were simply not desirable, and that the democratic process and internal stability should be preserved throughout.
It was refreshing to meet a better tempered view of Yemen. Mexico doesn’t have the budget to simply open embassies everywhere, and so this has forced more realistic expectations on developing trans-national relations.
Certainly, opening a Mexican embassy in Yemen, whilst a possibility in the future, would be ill-advised given the small number of Mexican nationals in residence here. However, Mexico is examining more fulfilling methods of bettering the situation.
For example, a short-term project is to facilitate commercial delegations to scope out potential trade links and reciprocal investment strategies.
The ambassador himself had just returned from a site visit to the large Tel Al-Rayyal Qatari housing construction project in Sana’a. He was visibly impressed and heartened by the sight of the project.
Of course, the opening of a consulate means more than increased trade links. It has the challenges of being able to respond to visa and consular matters, and also looks at ways to host fruitful cultural exchanges – a Mexican food festival is on the cards, I was delighted to hear.
The Mexico consulate has launched its office in Sana’a on November 3, 2010. The official launch was held at the Movenpick hotel in the presence of His Excellency Ambassador Arturo Trjo. The event was attended by numerous other ambassadors from Arab and other countries, as well as businessmen. During the celebration of the opening of the consulate, Mr. Abdul Rahman al-Haidary has singled out for honor.
During Mr.Trjo’s reception ceremony speech, the Ambassador to Sana’a described the launch as means of progress on the way to better and stronger relations for the two countries. He said Yemen and Mexico share many challenges in community development and both work to improve their image in spite of these challenges.
As for Mr. Abdul-Rahman al-Haidary, the Ambassador said that his representation would help in bringing the relationship much closer and will open up many opportunities for both countries.
Al-Haidary, the honored councilor, delivered a speech welcoming all to the inaugural ceremony of the Mexican consulate in Yemen. Al-Haidary expressed his satisfaction for the great honor of accepting such a position.
Al-Haidary thanked his Excellency Ambassador Arturo Trjo for putting faith and trust in him by appointing him to represent his country in Yemen. Likewise, he thanked the government of Yemen for their mutual trust and kind cooperation and support to start new diplomatic relations with Mexico.
“Mexico is beautiful and rich country of natural beauty, economic growth and opportunity and wonderful people. Having being there and having married in Mexico,” said al-Haidary, “I felt like I was at home, as I was surrounded by kind and generous people.”
In his speech, he requested His Excellency the Ambassador of Mexico to convey Yemen›s beauty, landscape, culture and heritage in a brighter way back in his home country.
“I hope this new association between Yemen and Mexico will become a strong connection and enhance the bilateral relationship between the two countries and will exceed expectations in exploring new opportunities in all fields including tourism, medicine, and food production and many more” said the honored consul.
“For this reason, I would kindly request Yemeni businessmen to explore Mexico and would likewise request the Ambassador to encourage Mexican businessmen to consider investment opportunities in Yemen. Though Mexico is halfway around the world, it is now close enough to be reached.”