As Mexico transitions to a new presidency under Andrés Manuel López Obrador, also known as AMLO, the government is taking the reins to make what they hope will be dramatic improvements for the citizens of Mexico.
AMLO ran on a platform to make the country a safer place, and now, he is looking to deliver on that promise.
To understand the thoughts and concerns of the people, the Administration has set up listening forums across Mexico to observe, hear from, and speak to those who want to help the cause of reducing crime in their country.
The tour of citizen forums, “Sembrar La Paz” or “Planting the seed of peace”, takes place all across Mexico from August to November.
Phoenix was selected as the only city in the United States where the traveling listening forum made a stop. Last week senators of the Mexican Republic traveled to the ASU Cronkite School of Journalism to listen to ideas from the public about how to make Mexico a safer place to live. Alfonso Durazo Montaño will be stepping into the new cabinet position of Secretary of Public Security and Héctor Vasconcelos will serve as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“The stories with immigrants that have been victims of the insecurity and crime in Mexico, they are afraid to come back,” Lorena Schmit, territorial coordinator in Phoenix for the event, said. “Durazo came here to listen to the community. To listen to the victims, to listen to the leaders of the community, and to listen to what they proposed.”
The group from Mexico organizing the forums partnered with local organization Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC) to help attract immigrants and others to share their perspectives.
Lydia Guzman, community advocate for CPLC, explained that it is important to hear the perspective of those in the United States because, “Many Mexicans that are living abroad still have families back in Mexico as well. So even crime that takes place in Mexico still reaches out to the U.S.,”
The forum consisted of two parts: one part in breakout sessions based on different issues migrants have faced, and a second general session where Montaño addressed and listened to the crowd.
Topics included humanitarian issues, civil rights, corruption, and more.
“They (attendees) were able to say, look, we want to be a part of cleaning up corruption in Mexico,” Guzman said.
The envoys of the President-elect of Mexico are taking notes as they create a plan of action and agenda for the new Administration.
Guzman stated that it is important for citizens to see the incoming officials get involved to show they are committed to finding a solution. “They want to have conversations about how to make it a more peaceful place, but they are looking for suggestions and recommendations,” she said. “So the new administration knows full well that the only way that this is going to happen is they need (a) buy in from the people that came out to vote for this new administration, this new president, but (b) they also need to be a part of it. So they have to also make sure that they do their part.”
Law firm Spencer Fane hosted a reception after the forum to welcome the elected officials. Michael Patterson, partner at Spencer Fane, stressed the importance of having a close relationship with Mexico, “I made it clear that they understood that Arizona is the friend of Mexico and trade with Mexico is very critical to our state. We value it very highly. We value our relationship as neighbors and we frequently repeat that old adage of our former dignitaries here, ‘God made us neighbors, so let’s be good neighbors.’”