“The bilateral relationship of Mexico and the United States goes beyond goverments, it is noy made by an embassador, nor a secretary of state, but is based on its own dynamism and on the interaction of two neighbors that are not distant” said in an interview with El Universal the still US ambassador of Mexico, Roberta Jacobson.
The diplomat, who will leave the embassy on May 5, after two years of representing her country, said that she would have liked to see a safer Mexico for Mexicans.
Jacobson was named ambassador of the United States in Mexico by then-President Barak Obama, in June 2015. But it was 10 months after that the Senate granted her the ratification.
In May 2016, the first woman to head the US embassy arrived in Mexico. She had a difficult time: when Donald Trump took office in January 2017, he led an anti-immigrant speech and launched his project to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.
Jacobson witnessed the opening of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations.
With her departure from Mexico, Roberta Jacobson also retires from US diplomacy.
What is your feeling today?
-I feel a little sad to leave, but at the same time very proud of what we have done in the embassy, with a magnificent team of Mexicans and Americans who have worked for that relationship for a long time and they will continue working for it. I feel less sad knowing that they will continue and that this relationship is something permanent that does not depend only on one person (Trump?).
Do you leave a strong relationships between the two nations?
-I remember that when I started as director of the Mexico Bureau at the State Department, many people call that an intermestic relationship, which means that it is international, but also domestic, because we talk in that way, it is informal, we talk like that because there is no dependence on Mexico or the United States that has nothing to do with its counterpart in the other country.
But I think that shows that this relationship for Mexicans and Americans is very deep. We already have more than a million and a half Americans who live here temporarily or full time, maybe up to 2 million, [think about] and in traditional diplomacy, we are so interrelated that we can not be separated.
What does it still need to be done?
– There are always things that you think you can end. I would like to see a successful conclusion, for example, of NAFTA, but that is still missing. A modern and new agreement for the three countries, I would like to leave the embassy knowing there is a succesful negotiation, but nobody knows what’s going to happen with the free trade agreement of North America.
In safety, I would like to see the situation here be calmer, safer for Mexicans. Also in the United States we are seeing an epidemic of opioids, it is a tragedy on both sides of the border, but I have no doubt that the scope of cooperation that we already have is going to continue, that we have strengthened the ties between the judicial, security and even civilian societies agencies.
I would like the general situation to be better for the two countries, but that is not one person’s job, it’s something that unfortunately will take time, but the will remains. I think we have already started a cooperation that is very deep and successful for the two countries, and it gives me a lot of satisfaction.
Why do you leave diplomacy?
– After 31 years there are always things that a person decides.
I will have more time, for example, to raise funds for our educational programs for entrepreneurs, but I have been lucky to have worked for 31 years in what I’m passionate about.
Several times during this time I saw some of my colleagues leave the State Department to take advantage of opportunities in the private sector and that gives me the feeling that maybe it’s time to leave, but I’ve never found, until now, something I was as passionate about as diplomatic work in representation of my country, of the American people.
I think it gave me great satisfaction to have that opportunity to represent the country after so much time to meet such excellent people and diplomats, to try to develop or teach a new generation of young people in diplomacy the possibilities they have and I do not think I go with a sense of: ‘I’m missing a lot’, I think that, on the other hand, I’ve been very lucky, to have incredible mentors and to be able to inspire others.