Thursday, October 18, 2012

Luz Robles' Mexico Speech Before the CCIME, the President of Mexico, and Other Dignitaries on November 14, 2007 (Part Two):

(Part One is available at:

(For more information about the CCIME, please see the links at the end of this post)

This post, along with Part One, represent an extensive revision of the section that covers the speech in the "Luz Robles Report" available at at:

On November 14, 2007, Luz Robles gave a speech in Mexico before the assembled CCIME, various dignitaries, and the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon. 

In her speech, Luz Robles, quite clearly conveys a sense of urgency on two fronts. 

First, she expresses support for the victims of the recent flooding in Tabasco.  However, since this is not the focal point of her speech, it only occupies a brief portion of it at the beginning.

Second, she focuses on the Mexicans who are returning to Mexico.  She specifically mentions deportation.  However, the larger context of returning Mexicans would include those returning because of worsening economic condition in the U.S. as well as those choosing to return due to laws being enacted in Arizona and elsewhere designed to make it tougher for illegal aliens to gain employment.

In this part of her speech, which considers the issue of returning Mexicans and which occupies the greater portion of the speech, she outlines for the President of Mexico, through directly addressing him at times, needed measures that will assist those coming back to Mexico as well as those family members who have never even been to Mexico. 

In these appeals, we see the compassion, empathy, and action-oriented aspects of Ms. Robles. 

Her sense of urgency occurs along with another element implicitly expressed throughout the speech - an identification with Mexico and being Mexican.

For example, in speaking about the victims of the recent flooding in Tabasco, she says:

"It is for me a great honor that I have been given the opportunity to say a few words to you, foremost I join with my other colleagues and co-nationals in giving unconditional support to our brothers and sisters in Tabasco."

("Es para mí un gran honor el que se me haya brindado la oportunidad de dirigirles unas palabras, antes que nada me uno a mis demás compañeros y connacionales para brindarle un apoyo incondicional a nuestros hermanos y hermanas de Tabasco.")

Note her use of the term "co-nationals" in her statement as well as her referring to the Mexicans in Tabasco as "our brothers and sisters."

Indeed, she continues: 

"Thousands of Mexicans in the exterior (we) have united (ourselves) to support them as they face a real tragedy."

("Miles de mexicanos en el exterior nos hemos unido para apoyarlos mientras se enfrentan a una verdadera tragedia.")

She appears here to place herself within in the community of Mexicans in the exterior - an identification which we can all perhaps understand - as she grew up in Mexico and clearly would have an interest in the well-being of her former homeland.

But why add "in the exterior" to the term "Mexicans"? 

"Mexicans in the exterior" implies an identification with Mexico that is primary to other identifications.  It implies that "Mexico" is what unifies Mexicans wherever they may be and that that sense of identity should persist among those who live exterior Mexico. 

Recall that she is giving this speech in Mexico - in front of the President of Mexico and a group of fellow advisors to the CCIME who represent Mexicans living in the United States to the Mexican government. 

The phrasing has a ring of "Mexican first" and "American second" to it and that being exterior to Mexico is not the ideal, but a less-than-ideal situation due to unfortunate conditions that have forced Mexicans to leave the land where they should be and would prefer to be. 

She does not say, for instance:  "As someone who has family and friends in Mexico, I unite with my fellow Americans of Mexican descent and Mexicans who reside in the United States who share connections with Mexico in supporting them as they face a real tragedy." 

The question we must ask, therefore, is whether or not an implicit self-identification with Mexico does not reflect a stronger sense of relationship to her nation of origin rather than to her new nation of citizenship, the United States.  

Such questions are not pleasant ones to ask for Americans. 

We generally assume that immigrants will come to see themselves as Americans first and subordinate their sense of connection to their land of origin to their new American identity.

But if we are to use analysis and reason in place of naivete in our approach to the large influx of immigrants in recent years, we must ask such questions.

Another clue as to how Luz Robles feels about the relation of her nation of adopted citizenship to her former homeland of Mexico can be found in her very next statement in the speech:

"We know that the Mexicans who emigrate to the United States face a wave of discrimination, abuse, and terrible rejection."

("Sabemos que los mexicanos y mexicanas que emigran a los Estados Unidos se enfrentan a una ola de discriminación, abuso y rechazo terrible.")

Luz Robles chose to add the word "abuso" to the text that was actually given (it does not appear on the earlier version) - thus choosing to reinforce the idea of the inflicted torment.

It is presented as a given fact that Mexicans face this horrible scenario when they emigrate to the United States. 

But who is doing all of this?

They are not named.

In the text of candidate Robles' speech, the Mexicans exist in a horrible circumstance within a place where their enemies and tormentors are just assumed to exist, but not named.

Mexico and Mexicans seem very personal.  They are real.  They are concrete. 

The United States, in the speech, is primarily a place, an economy, or perhaps a government. 

Americans, as actual people, on par with Mexicans, are not present in the speech.

It would not be fair to Ms. Robles to read too much into her speech on any one point, given that it was only a speech of a few minutes. 

But, an ethnocentric impulse within the speech is certainly present.

It is, perhaps, this ethnocentric view that permits her to be insulting to the United States. 

There are certainly words that can be found to petition for aid for those in need without insulting one's adopted nation.

One insult, however, was not enough.  Later in the speech, candidate Robles says:

"For the millions of Mexicans who (we) continue in the United States and who (we) currently face an anti-immigrant wave that is reflected in public policies, social and laws that make the life of the Mexican migrant increasingly more difficult, it is imperative that the Mexicans have access to an efficient and fair process to process their identity cards at consulates."

("Para los millones de mexicanos que seguimos en los Estados Unidos y que enfrentamos actualmente una ola anti inmigrante que se ve reflejada en políticas públicas, sociales y leyes que hacen la vida del mexicano migrante cada vez más difícil, es imperativo que los mexicanos tengan acceso a un proceso eficiente y justo al tramitar sus documentos de identidad en los consulados.")

This grammatical construction, where Ms. Robles, uses "seguimos" (we continue) instead of "siguen" (they continue) and "enfrentamos" (we face) instead of "enfrentan" (they face) is very telling here.

Her draft text used different verb forms than the speech as given:

"For the millions of Mexicans who continue in the U.S. and who currently face an anti-immigrant wave..."

("Para los millones de mexicanos que siguen en los EUA, y que enfrentan actualmente una ola anti inmigrante...")

Ms. Robles changed her speech to a grammatical usage which seems to place her among those suffering in the U.S. and reinforces her identification with Mexicans, in this case, with those Mexicans who remain in the U.S. and face this horrible wave of discrimination, etc.

Throwing in a couple of insults directed toward her adopted nation is rather strange behavior for an American citizen speaking to the most important public official in Mexico.  

Indeed, she is doing so while a candidate herself for elected office in the United States.

Another oddity about the speech is the fact that nowhere is there an acknowledgment that the Mexicans who are being deported were actually in the United States illegally. 

They are simply Mexicans. 

We can certainly empathize with those who are being deported.  We can hope for adequate systems in their home country to help address their conditions and so forth. 

But, something is missing from the discussion when the totality of the situation is reduced to a simple formula that seems to be something like this: 

When Mexicans have the need to enter the U.S. to work, the U.S. should simply accommodate them.  To the degree that the U.S. does not, it is an unjust society riddled with racism, which is the only logical explanation for not accepting the Mexicans.  Therefore, deporting Mexicans is seen as a horrible act and those that remain are suffering within such a terrible environment.

Again, if this brief hypothetical formula is part of the reality of the worldview of Ms. Robles, and it appears that that is a possibility given the content of her speech, then it is certainly an ethnocentric view. 

Again, it would be unfair to draw all of this out from a short speech by Ms. Robles and to claim that that is how she sees the relationship of the U.S. and Mexico. 

But, something similar does seem to be the background framework of ideas upon which the speech is built. 

Shifting gears, we also find the following in the speech - continuing from the above quote and adding to it:

"For the millions of Mexicans who (we) continue in the United States and who (we) currently face an anti-immigrant wave that is reflected in public policies, social and laws that make the life of the Mexican migrant increasingly more difficult, it is imperative that the Mexicans have access to an efficient and fair process to process their identity cards at consulates.

"We know that the new requirements for international travel in the United States have dramatically increased the number of people seeking these documents, but the reality is that we totally depend on the consular services to obtain them, so we request of you, that the consulates be ready and have the infrastructure to adequately serve the needs of our co-nationals in the exterior"

"Having to wait five to six months to be able to obtain a passport is, it is really frustrating and inefficient, especially when in many states of the American Union the ability to acquire driving privileges or other benefits that permit the migrant to be able to integrate himself into American society, depend on having these identity documents." [emphasis added]

("Para los millones de mexicanos que seguimos en los Estados Unidos y que enfrentamos actualmente una ola anti inmigrante que se ve reflejada en políticas públicas, sociales y leyes que hacen la vida del mexicano migrante cada vez más difícil, es imperativo que los mexicanos tengan acceso a un proceso eficiente y justo al tramitar sus documentos de identidad en los consulados.

Sabemos que los nuevos requisitos de viajes internacionales en los Estados Unidos han incrementado dramáticamente el número de personas buscando estos documentos, pero la realidad es que dependemos totalmente de los servicios consulares para obtenerlos, por lo que le pedimos, que los consulados estén listos y cuenten con la infraestructura para servir adecuadamente a las necesidades de los connacionales en el exterior.

El tener que esperar de cinco a seis meses para poder obtener un pasaporte es, es realmente frustrante y poco eficiente, sobre todo cuando en muchos estados de la Unión Americana el poder adquirir privilegios de conducir u otros beneficios que permitan al migrante poderse integrar a la sociedad estadounidense, dependan de contar con estos documentos de identidad.") [emphasis added]

A question to think about is: when an immigrant enters the U.S. legally, do they not already have the documents that are needed to integrate themselves into American society?

It would be unfair, perhaps, to try to give an interpretation for this passage with certainty.   

Ms. Robles is clearly addressing the issue of consulates issuing documents to facilitate Mexicans who are returning to Mexico.  Even though she does not give much context beyond deportation for a large number of Mexicans returning, it is reasonable to think that she had more factors in mind than deportations. 

Along with those Mexicans leaving the U.S., she added to the earlier draft of her speech the words, "...or other benefits that permit the migrant to be able to integrate himself into American society..."

Why would candidate Robles add these words?

Ms. Robles' additional words seem directed toward those who are not leaving the U.S., but who have chosen to remain.

Certainly, there are legal experts who can better interpret this passage and understand the legal context of what Ms. Robles is saying and help us to understand it. 

It could be a simple misstatement.  Candidate Robles may also have had some specific situation in mind and the phrasing came out a bit confused and, therefore, misleading.  She could simply misunderstand the situation as well - as this area of law and activity is rather complex.

However, if it is indeed the case, that she was saying what she appears to be saying through implication (that the Mexican consulates should expedite documents to those who did not enter the U.S. legally so that they can integrate themselves into American society), then it would be a highly unethical statement to make and one which should be severely criticized. 

Again, this is a difficult passage to interpret and we should not jump to conclusions. 

Shifting gears again, towards the end of the speech, we find this interesting observation by Ms. Robles:

"Here, in front of you, is found the best example, a group of Mexican leaders that not only help the Mexican community, but are actively involved in the politics of these two countries."

("Aquí, frente a usted, se encuentra el mejor ejemplo, un grupo de líderes mexicanos que no sólo ayudan a la comunidad mexicana, pero activamente participan en la política de estos dos países.")

The "you" in this sentence is referring to the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, who is sitting on the stand as she speaks.

This is another difficult passage to interpret.  When she says, "but are actively involved in the politics of these two countries," does she mean that there are diverse leaders who are involved in one country or the other?

Or is she saying that the leaders (e.g., the CCIME advisors) are involved in the politics of both countries at the same time?

For example, Ms. Robles, at the time of her speech, had recently left her position as Director of the Utah Office of Ethnic Affairs, was a candidate for State Senate, and was active in the CCIME.  Was her own situation an example of what she had in mind?

A clue can be found in her following sentence:

"Here we have selected officials, appointed officials, leaders of different organizations and candidates for political office; they are the future of North America and of the world."

("Aquí tenemos oficiales selectos, oficiales de nombramiento, líderes de diferentes organizaciones y candidatos para puestos políticos; ellos son el futuro de América del Norte y del mundo.")

This statement is just a tad bit grandiose. 

What does she mean by it?

Leaders, who participate in both countries, are the future of North America and of the world?

What does it mean?

By North America, does she mean the United States or all of North America?

These are interesting questions to ponder.

Candidate Robles ends the speech with:

"We reiterate our commitment to you to continue striving to improve the lives of our families and other compatriots in the exterior.  But it is important to have the unconditional support of your government, which we do not doubt we receive.  We want to thank you for your commitment to helping Mexicans all over the world.  Thank you."

("Le reiteramos nuestro compromiso de seguir luchando por mejorar la vida de nuestras familias y demás compatriotas en el exterior.  Pero es importante contar con el apoyo incondicional de su Gobierno, el cual no dudamos en recibir.  Queremos darle las gracias por su compromiso de ayuda a los mexicanos en todas partes del mundo.  Muchas gracias.")

The "you" and "your" in the above statement refer to President Calderon, the President of Mexico, who was sitting on the stand just a few feet from candidate Robles as she spoke these words.

Again, Ms. Robles is displaying a strong identification with being Mexican. 

The odd thing about this passage is, indeed, her appeal for support from President Calderon and her commitment to him to continue to strive to help Mexicans.

Again, it would be unfair to read too much into one speech and to pull out and assign a worldview to Senator Robles based on such limited evidence.

However, the context of the speech itself certainly would call for a very careful choice of words.

Therefore, we should look critically at her speech.

There is much in this short speech to be concerning to citizens of the United States, especially those residing in Utah.

On the one hand, Senator Robles is a very fine person who has a strong drive to serve others based on her humanitarian impulses. 

On the other hand, she seems to create a hierarchy in her discourse of those who are deserving (i.e., Mexicans) and to be immersed in a strong ethnocentric worldview that drives her politics in the direction of implicitly identifying with Mexico and seeing the United States, perhaps, as something that exists to be guided into helping "her" people. 

This is not the view of someone who should be party to immigration policy for Utah. 

For More Information about the CCIME:

The CCIME is an advisory board to the Mexican government.  Ms. Robles was part officially part of this board from 2006 -2008.  For more information about the board and Ms. Robles' role within it, please visit the following two sites:

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