A Mexico Diary – September 14, 2010

by Secretary Hilda Solis on September 15, 2010 · 7 comments

Diego Rivera Mural

A section of Diego Rivera's famous mural "The Epic of the Mexican People" at Mexico's National Palace

Morning

I meet up with Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, and the other member of our delegation.  I’m also delighted to see Rigoberta Menchu, the Nobel Prize winner from Guatemala, Jose Hernandez, a Mexican-American astronaut, and Edward James Olmos, the actor and producer.  Our first stop: Mexico’s National Palace.  Located in the city’s main square (El Zocalo), it’s used mainly for symbolic events by the President, but it has been a palace for Mexico’s rulers since the Aztec empire.

A big highlight for me are the murals by the artist Diego Rivera (painted between 1929 and 1935) depicting Mexican history.  I’m mesmerized by the powerful imagery, and as I reflect on the history of the Mexican people — my history — my heart swells with pride.

Later, I spend a few minutes with Mexico’s First Lady, Margarita Zavala de Calderon, before touring a special Bicentennial exhibit.  As a life-long Californian, I’ve always known that the U.S. and Mexico share a lot of history.  Mayor Castro makes a similar observation to me when we get to the “Alamo” section.

Noon

After joining nearly 100 other foreign dignitaries – including the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Panama, and Colombia, as well as the Prince of Denmark and the Governor General of Canada – in signing a special guestbook, we head out on buses for the world famous National Museum of Anthropology.  We’re greeted by the beautiful voices of the National System for Musical Development Children’s Chorus and other children in native and historical dress.  After a fascinating tour, the visiting delegations join together at a luncheon hosted by Ambassador Patricia Espinosa Castellano, Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Relations.  During lunch, while the sounds of “Harps of America” play in the background, I cannot help but reflect on the important and often complex relationship between the U.S. and Mexico, which has a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans — ranging from trade and economic reforms to homeland security to drug control to migration to the environment.

Evening

I’ve less than two hours of “down time” before leaving for the Chapultepec Castle, the former Presidential residence (now the National History Museum) for the official dinner hosted by President Felipe Calderon.  But the Labor Secretary’s work is never done, so I use the time to catch up on email, call my office in Washington, DC, and prepare my notes for the cabinet meeting President Obama has called for Wednesday afternoon at the White House.

I have the unique opportunity to present President Calderon with the official gift on behalf of the United States — a custom-made glass vessel in the colors of the Mexican flag crafted by the New York artist Jamie Harris.

After dinner, marvelous cultural presentations—including a concert by Pepe Aguilar (I’m a big fan), and a spectacular fireworks display, I head straight for the airport, with a strong sense that Mexico is very proud of its past but prouder still of its future.

It’s nearly midnight, and I won’t be back in Washington for another five hours.  I should be exhausted, but I’m exhilarated.  As I board the plane, emblazed with the words “United States of America” across the side, I’m overcome by that uniquely American paradox: I’m going home, but I’m leaving home at the same time.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Araceli Garcia September 17, 2010 at 9:44 am

Thank you for sharing your experience and the wonderful pictures.

2 Jerry Landry September 17, 2010 at 6:21 pm

A big thank you to Sec. Solis and your staff for providing us with an insider’s perspective to your experience and to your trip! Your efforts on behalf of our nation are very appreciated.

3 Theoodore Goodwin September 20, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Secretary Solis, these are wonderful journal entries you have shared with the public regarding your visit to Mexico. I grew up in Los Angeles and I feel a great kinship with the Mexican people even though I am not a latino. The contributions that Mexicanos and Chicanos have made to the U.S., and to Southern California, in particular, are great, and it is exciting to see Mexcico’s own great history and accomplishments. We need to have more cultural and business exchanges between our two nations . When I travel in Mexico and I speak Spanish, I feel at home, because I have known so many people from Mexico who work and live in California with pride and integrity. We need to find more ways to share and to celebrate the the positive relationships and contributions between our two, related countries.

4 Greg Hayes September 22, 2010 at 11:48 am

That’s a very wonderful experience. Thank you so much for sharing.

5 confused September 23, 2010 at 2:57 am

I read of you enjoying the sites of Mexico, and stories of your dad moving to Mexico. I trust you had a lavish lunch. I hope the jet ride was just enjoyable. Hmmm did you see any children working? Did you see any of the children rescued by my tax dollars? Sounds like a day vacation paid for by me and other hard working Americans. Who I am sure like myself, are working 50 hours a week just to feed our familes. The idea of a vacation even a day trip is impossible due to our great economy. I haven’t taken a vacation in almost 3 years. I am glad that I could pay for yours.

6 Charles Trotter October 5, 2010 at 11:53 am

Dear Secretary Solis,
I am pleasantly surprised by your post. I was prepared for some liberal upchuck and was very moved by your last statement. There are places we go and people that make a mark in our lives and we become part of them through the processes. Great story and thank you for sharing.

7 Miss Ellen Hayes January 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Dear Secretary Solis: How much does this new website cost the tax payers?

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