EDINBURG, Texas – UT-Rio Grande Valley recently hosted an event in Edinburg celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between the United States and Mexico.

Two of the panelists at the event work for their respective countries in the diplomatic arena. Hugo René Oliva Romero is currently deputy consul general at the Consulate General of Mexico in McAllen. Jacob Stevens is the political and economic officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Matamoros. Oliva Romero spoke first. Both are pictured above.

In his speech, Stevens spoke about his work in Matamoros. Here are his remarks:

“With regard to the bilateral relationship, we’re so close that the consul (Hugo René Oliva Romero) took a lot of my talking points already. But, that is to be expected. We’ve seen each other, I think, three times in the last four days. 

“So, the U.S. and Mexico do a lot together. We’ve heard a lot of that so far today and on the (U.S.-Mexico) water issue we’ve heard a lot about that in detail. But, I can assure you that on countless subjects there is that close cooperation. We share airspace, we share like radio waves. Now, when your your cell phone goes from one country to another, all of a sudden you switch networks right away. I mean, that’s amazing. And that is also the private sector and the government working together. Working in government, I see ways that the U.S. and Mexico cooperate that I never, ever would have imagined. 

One of the joys of being here and serving on the border – I’m from Portland, Oregon – is also the cultural aspect and the interconnectedness that we all get to experience. Consul General (Yolanda) Parra was just in the (Brownsville) Charro Days Parade. It was a fabulous experience. I do not know if  you have seen the pictures on Twitter? She had a great time. I was at a McAllen Chamber of Commerce event and I was learning so much about the connected economies of McAllen and Reynosa and how when one (city) grows, the other benefits, and how even people who work with the city and whose jobs are paid by U.S. taxpayers, their job is to attract business into Mexico, because there’s so much benefit to both our countries. 

“So, we talked about the shared family, the shared values, and we are doing a lot of work on our part based on this 200 years of diplomatic relations. We are reflecting upon our past, but we’re also planning a lot for the future. So I’ll share with you some of the things that the State Department is doing and some of the things that the U.S. government is doing. 

“So one thing that I think is amazing is our our consulate in Matamoros is actually the oldest, continuously operating consulate in Mexico. We’ve had 200 years of diplomatic relations. We’ve had a consulate there for 197. If any of you have been there, you’ll see that the building is not 197 years old. In fact, you have a brand new building, it was built in 2019. It is the next stage in a series of buildings we’ve made to meet our evolving standards for security but also to be part of the community. We’re not the only consulate that’s new. The Department of State has spent $1.5 billion investing in our diplomatic facilities. We’re building a new embassy which should be done soon. 

“Even without that there’s so much that we’re doing together and so much cooperation going on. There are infrastructure projects all across the region, and hopefully some of you in this room are going to be using that work. We’re adding lanes on both sides (to international bridges). The U.S. and Mexico are working together adding lanes, expanding commercial lots, installing new scanning technologies and these improvements are going to let people and cargo move more safely. 

“The Consulate alone helps more than 70,000 people a year become US citizens and helps seasonal workers apply for temporary visas and travel to the United States. Maybe even some of you in this room. 

“We work together with entrepreneurs. We have entrepreneurship programs, we provide English courses for high school students and journalists, training for community leaders and science teachers as part of our International Visitor Leadership Program. And, then, as we mentioned here today, Presidents Biden and López Obrador and their administrations are working together in a variety of ways.

“In the United States, we passed new legislation, including the CHIPS Act, which is going to provide unprecedented opportunities to enhance our already dynamic supply chains. And the Inflation Reduction Act is the most significant climate legislation in U.S. history. And this will curb carbon emissions and spur demand for electric vehicles and clean energy technologies. 

“Probably most of us have seen in the news, it does seem like Tesla is going to be going into Mexico soon. So there are all kinds of things going on to increase investment in the North American manufacturing sector. And we anticipate lower energy costs for families and business and other benefits to shore up our collective energy security. 

“These new laws are going to create jobs both in the United States and Mexico to ensure North America’s position as a leader in clean energy. 

“So I am going to wrap it up with some words from our Ambassador, Ken Salazar. He says ‘we are deeply united by our economy and the dreams on both sides of the border on the same prosperity, jobs and security. We are also united by a mutual desire to conserve the environment and aspire to a more sustainable future for North America and around the world.’

Thank you.”


Jacob Stevens is the political and economic offer at the U.s. Consulate General in Matamoros. Prior to arriving in Matamoros, Stevens served in Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago, and Ecuador. He has also serve three tours in Washington, focusing mainly on economics. He is a lawyer and is originally from Portland, Oregon.

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