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LAREDO, TEXAS – Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and the Governor of Tamaulipas, Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca, exchanged hugs and gifts on the Gateway to the Americas International Bridge on Thursday.

They also send a message to their nation’s presidents to come and visit the border region.

Both agreed things look different once you are here at the border, much different to how they look when one is in Mexico City or Washington, D.C. For this reason, they called upon U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to visit Laredo before beginning work on a new trade agreement.

“I am encouraging President Trump to come down and meet with Peña Nieto in Laredo and have that vision,” said Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. “If there is anywhere in the country that really understands the importance of NAFTA and the special relationship between the U.S. and Mexico, it is right here in Laredo.”

NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement, which governs commerce between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Gov. Garcia Cabeza de Vaca suggested both Presidents Peña Nieto and Trump should meet in the middle of Bridge Number 1, the same place as Thursday’s handshake took place.

“We believe that working together we can achieve more, we can achieve understanding, and most of all we can achieve a better partnership than ever before,” Garcia Cabeza de Vaca said.

Later, the governor said the “abrazo” between he and Miller was strong enough to be heard in Washington, D.C. and that there was therefore no need to send an official letter of invitation to the two presidents.

Commissioner Miller and Governor Garcia Cabeza de Vaca exchanged gifts in what was considered an official display of friendship. Garcia Cabeza de Vaca got a classic cowboy hat and Miller received a handmade cuera tamaulipeca.

During a private meeting, with no access to media representatives, some of the topics said to have been discussed included moving U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections from the border to an area some 150 miles inside the U.S. Another topic discussed, it is believed, is the impact of the bollworm cotton eater, NAFTA renegotiations, border security, international trade and how to improve commerce between both Texas and Tamaulipas.

Miller said it was “a very productive meeting.” He said he was pleased the cotton bollworm issue and moving the inspection station were discussed. “It was good,” he said.

Garcia Cabeza de Vaca said it was more important than ever that Texas and Tamaulipas are working together.

“Right here between these two cities, the heartbeat of trade between both countries is felt, every day,” he said, referring to Laredo and Nuevo Laredo. “Let’s not be afraid of working together for common goods of all our people. We want to achieve greatness and the only way to do it is working juntos… together.”


Both Miller and Garcia Cabeza de Vaca agreed that any alterations to NAFTA should only be made it makes the agreement stronger and greater.

“Laredo and Nuevo Laredo understand the importance of trade between our two states,” Miller said, an advisor to President Trump. He said he will make his views heard if and when NAFTA is renegotiated.

“We are going to build on the current relationship, we are not going to tear anything down. We are not going to go backwards, we are not going to do anything that is harmful (to NAFTA). But, it’s been 22 years (since NAFTA was formed) and we want to see how we can make this better for both sides,” Miller said. “Things have changed so it’s probably a good time that we take a look at it. But, it has to work for both sides, both sides have to win, or the deal won’t work.”

Miller told Rio Grande Guardian that it’s important to keep trade open between both countries.

“Mexico needs our products and vice versa,” he said. “We think we can take a current agreement and improve on it for both sides.”

When asked by Rio Grande Guardian if the U.S. would consider something similar to the Programa Bracero that operated either side of World War II, he said that nowadays there are the H21 and H2B visa work programs. He said they do not work very well.

“We need to take those programs, give them a new look and improve all of them. I will share my ideas on how that will work. We need to reward people that do well on those programs, and not punish them if they don’t,” Miller said.

He also said that President Trump understands agriculture, and people need to put their fears of change aside. “Things are going to get better, not worst,” Miller predicted.

Miller and Garcia Cabeza de Vaca added that it’s important to keep the pathways for dialogue open and be considerate about each other.

“The NAFTA or the wall is a starting point. We don’t want to go worst or below of that… we want to do better, for both our countries and increase the collaboration,” Miller said.

Garcia Cabeza de Vaca expressed the view that every country has the right to do whatever is best for their own interest, but added: “I strongly believe that we have the people that have the will to work on NAFTA and… if there are some changes, the changes are going to be made to have stronger economies in both countries.”

Garcia Cabeza de Vaca said he strongly believes that U.S. and Mexico do not compete with each other. He said the real competition is with countries such as China, India, Germany, and Korea.

Comments from the Mayors

Present at the event were the Tamaulipas Secretary of Rural Development, Gonzalo Alemán Migliolo, as well as City of Laredo Mayor, Pete Saenz, and the Municipal President for Nuevo Laredo, Enrique Rivas Cuellar.

“We have always been in the business of bilateral connection, bridging two cities, two cultures, two states and two great nations” Mayor Saenz said. “We need each other to continue that course to prosper”.

Rivas Cuellar said even though a river separates both cities, the region is one family.

“We will work with determination, with passion, and with a compromise for both nations,” Rivas Cuellar said. “The integration and political, economic and social union, is a vividly and fundamental aspiration for our communities.”

The event in the middle of Bridge Number One, had as a backdrop the U.S. and Mexican flags.

Texas and Tamaulipas share 17 border crossing and move $1 billion dollars on trade every day, which is about 80 percent of all trade between the U.S. and Mexico.