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Rosarito, Baja California | March 21-23th, 2013.- Mexico/US sister cities international committee an SCI board approved Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed by SCI president Mary Kane and Asociacion de Ciudades Hermanas de America (ACHA) Vice President Ismael Perez for President Salvador Lee.
At the SCI March leadership meeting in Washington DC, Tom Lisk, Chairman of SCI board, appointed Gil Garcia to chair the committee that will move the Mexico/US sister cities internationals MOU forward. As a follow up to that appointment Mexico/US MOU, committee chair Gil Garcia convened a meeting with the Mexico Sister Cities International executive board of directors consisting of Salvador Lee-President, Ismael Perez-Vice President, and Carlos Pedraza-Secretary. In addition, about 35 local and surrounding area government officials, businesspersons, media representative, and sister-city committee members attended the leadership meeting.
SCI Global envoy Nancy Huppert and Casa San Antonio Mexico city office director Jill Metcalf attended the leadership meeting at the invitation of Gil Garcia. Their presentations were an invaluable contribution to the advancement of the MOU.
The Mexico Sister Cities International leadership meeting took place in the city of Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico April 21 to 23, 2013, topics of discussion included:
1.Strategies that will move the memorandum forward with mutually beneficial outcomes for Mexico and the United States sister cities international movements.
2. Sharing of information on activities, conferences and organizational structures of each to understand how memberships may participate in each other’s activities.
3.Strategies on sharing and disseminating Pro-US and Pro-Mexico information to counter negative and incorrect media coverage that affects the image, social interaction, and economy of US and Mexico.
Meeting activities on April 21 throughout the day included:
1. Presentation by Gil and Nancy on aJapan booklet funded by the Japan Foundation to promote incorporating business into U.S./Japan Sister City relationships, discussion followed on how this booklet could be a template for Mexico to do something similar. It was noticed by the Mexico attendees that the booklet did not include the business connections and activities between Mexico and Japan and suggested it be included to incorporate business in US/Japan/Mexico trilateral relationships.
Some Businesspersons in attendance were interested in receiving the booklet in digital format so they could share it and review with business colleagues. We will ask SCI staff Adam Kaplan to send e-mail with Japan booklet attached to Gil and Nancy so that they may forward to the interested parties at this and future meetings in Mexico. Gil will work with Adam Kaplan on Spanish translation of the booklet.
2. Jill Metcalfe presented power point on economic development outreach in Mexico by the City of San Antonio, Texas. The power point showed how this is accomplished through business development offices located in Mexico City, Monterey and Guadalajara. City of San Antonio also has a business development office in Tokyo, Japan.
Jill explained that City of San Antonio sister city relationships were instrumental in the establishing business development offices in Mexico and Japan. Jill’s presentation was well received and all agreed that further discussion on business outreach in Mexico and Japan in a one-day pre-conference activity at the San Antonio SCI conference would attract many business interests in Mexico. Jill said she would discuss it with Sherry in San Antonio and suggested That both US and Mexico sister cities international contact San Antonio to follow up on this suggestion.
Mexican businesspersons complemented Jill on the San Antonio business outreach into Mexico and felt that business along border communities could prosper with this type of outreach.
One regional area of concern is business development disincentive due to border crossing delays which at times are up to 6 hours, Mexico and U.S. business interest would appreciate support of Sister Cities International to make this issue a topic of discussion at conferences with Mexico and U.S. government officials. In addition to Business disincentives, the long border crossing delay can be unbearable and inhumane especially for the elderly and young children. See attached letter written to U.S. Senator Read.
Another issue of concern mentioned is the US negative media coverage that is at times exaggerated and other times incorrect. Negative media coverage is detrimental and devastating to Mexico tourist industry. It negatively effects proven and documented safe Mexico destinations similar to Rosarito due to the broad brush the negative publicity paints all communities in Mexico. Mexicans feel that SCI`s extensive sister city network could be utilized to counter false and exaggerated information and Pro-Mexico information can be disseminated including testimonials from U.S. citizens on the proven safe tourist destinations.
3. Mexico Sister Cities International presented a CD on their outreach plan to all Mexico communities, spreading the word about Sister Cities International membership benefits, organizing and swearing in new sister city committees with support of their local government and with their Mayor as honorary president. Mexico Sister Cities International recognizes the benefit of a quality sister cities network and they agree there is much that can be learned from the U.S. Sister Cities International organizational structure, with Global Envoys, State Coordinators, and State and cities citizen volunteer boards.
4. SCI Global Envoy Nancy Huppert presented a power point presentation on Sister Cities International network, activities, mission, goals, focus, and organizational structure. Nancy informed on Global membership available to Mexico Sister Cities and how this would increase the Mexico component of the sister cities network.
When Nancy mentioned the funding support SCI receives from Federal Government State Department and that the President of the U.S. is honorary president of SCI, it sparked the interest of businesspersons in attendance and they asked for a document that verifies the U.S. President as SCI honorary President. These businesspersons would like to take this verification document to Enrique Pena Nieto, the President of Mexico. Discussion that followed on this issue came to consensus that Mexican Government should recognize and support a Mexico sister cities international organization the same as the U.S. federal government recognizes and supports SCI.
Mexico Sister Cites International leadership would like assistance from SCI to seek official recognition and support by and from Mexico National government of the network of citizen based Mexico sister cities international movement under the leadership of Asociacion de Ciudades Hermanas de America. SCI has signed a memorandum of understanding with ACHA which could be a good introduction to the Mexico Federal Government for recognition of ACHA sister-city citizen network.
This could result in cooperative joint grant funding for social and economic development between both countries. The Mexican consulate recognition of Sister City access to 3 to 1 Mexican Government matching grant funding for projects in Mexico is one-step toward that goal. The 3 to 1 Mexico Government matching grant funding for sister city projects in Mexico is a workshop presentation by Ms. Pina Hernandez, President of the Jalisco Clubs of Southern California. The presentation is scheduled to take place at the Southern California Sister Cities International conference in Anaheim, California April 6, 2003.
The meeting ended the following morning with next steps discussion to keep the momentum moving on the items discussed the day before. It was decided to follow up on the high priority idea of ACHA recognition by Mexico Federal Government Department of Exterior Relations (DER). A tentative meeting is set to take place on April 17, 2013, in Mexico City. Attendees at the Rosarito Meeting will invite house of representative members and Senators to the meeting. A letter requesting the meeting will be sent by the following suggested list of meeting conveners:
1. ACHA president Salvador Lee,
2. Mexican Consulate Juan Matus (Gil will contact Oxnard Mexican Consulate to send a letter to DER)
3. Jill Medcalfe director Casa San Antonio offices in México City
4. SCI president Mary Kane
5. Congresswomen Capps (Gil will Contact her office for the letter)
6. Other suggested persons of influence that can write a letter would be appreciated.
The purpose of the meeting is to:
A. Review Mexico Department of Exterior Relation's registration requirement of sister city relationships by the Mayors of the communities that have established a sister city relationship
B. present Mexico Sister Cities International's purpose/mission and the citizen based committees they represent.
C. present SCI Global Envoy Nancy Huppert's power point that informs on the SCI organizational structure and benefits of the connected citizen sister cities network that is utilized by the U.S. Department of State. This would demonstrate how the Mexico DER could do the same with ACHA and its citizen network.
D. Review memorandum of understanding to show Mexico DER the support that SCI could provide ACHA in its organizational structure to provide opportunities of utilization by Mexico DER similar to those provided to US State Department be SCI.
Additional meetings are scheduled with Business interests is Mexico City the Day after the Mexico DER meeting, followed by similar meeting in Cuernavaca, capitol of the Mexico state of Morelos.
Additional meeting will be scheduled in Monterey, Guadalajara, and Puerto Vallarta. Casa San Antonio business development offices are located in the cities of Monterey and Guadalajara and this would attract business interest attendance by invitation of Casa San Antonio in these cities.
The purpose of these meetings would be to move the MOU forward with similar presentations made at the Rosarito meeting and to promote attendance in the San Antonio SCI conference in July.
Presented by Gil Garcia