Student group brings national Mexican affairs conference to campus

A conference series on Mexico’s relationship with the U.S. is coming to campus for the first time later this month.

The GW Mexican Students Association is hosting “Convergencias,” a series of panel discussions with politicians, diplomats, professors and journalists about Mexico’s current political situation and its future, from March 31 to April 2.

Members of the Mexican Students Association said the event, which will mostly be held at the Elliott School of International Affairs, would benefit from being hosted in D.C. because of the city’s access to policy-makers and the fraught political relationship between the U.S. and Mexico recently.

President Donald Trump made a crackdown on illegal immigration from Mexico a cornerstone of his presidential campaign. He has repeatedly pledged to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and in January, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto abruptly cancelled a meeting with Trump.

“Given the political climate, it is important that we have a constructive and informative dialogue about what is going on both in Mexico and the United States as well as its relationship,” Ana Isabel Abad, the president of the Mexican Students Association, said. “We can have students and young professionals actively engaged in politics and engaged in dialogue on some of the challenges that face us today.”

The Mexican Students Association has been involved in anti-Trump political activism on campus, particularly related to undocumented students.

Convergencias is a student run event started in 2007 at Yale University and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

This year’s event will kick off with a speech by Geronimo Gutierrez, the newly appointed Mexican ambassador to the U.S., to the Mexican Cultural Institute, Abad said. She said the organization is not yet releasing the full slate of speakers.

“We are bringing politicians both from the U.S and the Mexico side. We are bringing academics. We are bringing entrepreneurs, people that are experts and interested in this cause,” Abad said.

The panel discussions will focus on topics within the U.S.-Mexico relationship, including trade, immigration and economics.

Jesus Montes, the director of communications for the Mexican Students Association, said the conference, which is themed “building together,” doesn’t aim to be political but is meant to make students aware of Mexico’s impact on the U.S.

“There is a need to understand and to be informed about how important the Mexican and U.S relationship really is. I feel that sometimes we are underestimated,” he said. “There is so much at stake for both countries, so I think that by having this dialogue we will be better informed about this relationship.”

Evelyn Ramirez, the treasurer of the Mexican Students Association, said the conference has usually been held at Yale and the University of Pennsylvania, although Georgetown University hosted it in 2013.

She added that the conversations about Mexico’s people and politics will be especially relevant given the current political climate.

“It is a very touchy subject right now and it’s very important that we are close to our neighbors and to be allies instead of being enemies and have a wall separate us,” Ramirez said.

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