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Vicente Sanchez Ventura: Creating a Legacy

November 30, 2017

Diana Rodriguez Mendiolea | La Prensa San Diego

By Diana Rodriguez Mendiolea

Originally from Puebla, Vicente Sanchez Ventura, consul general of Mexico in Havana, sets the example that through perseverance and transcendence legacies can be made.

After completing diplomatic service in Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Dallas, New Orleans, Austin, Detroit and Fresno, Sanchez Ventura assumes his new responsibility in the capital of Cuba.

In his new role in Havana, Sanchez Ventura shares that there are 1,100 Mexicans, of whom 800 are students. However, 130 thousand Mexicans visit Cuba annually, as this country is a reference and cultural attraction for its visitors.

“Havana has everything for everyone,” Sanchez Ventura shared in an interview with La Prensa San Diego. “From classical music to tropical music and very good rock,” he said about the experiences in the Cuban capital.

“Cuba has good musicians, painters, artists and athletes. The island has many tourist attractions and the beaches attract a large number of visitors,” he added.

After the most recent hurricane, the Mexican Embassy in Havana assumed the responsibility of repatriating 200 Mexicans, as well as facilitating communication with their families.

“The task that all consuls have is to serve,” Sanchez Ventura said. “We are public servants, even when we are in diplomatic positions.”

At the Mexican Embassy in Havana they serve about 150 people daily, who apply for a Mexican visa. In 2016, 22,384 visas were issued, a historic record for the Embassy.

“Cubans were not used to traveling and since 2012 when the possibility opened, they began to meet certain basic requirements,” Sanchez Ventura said. “Requirements such as ability to demonstrate economic solvency, own a property and have stable employment for more than a year, among with a 36 dollars fee, allow the visit to Mexico.”

During his tenure as Consul General of Mexico in Fresno, California, Sanchez Ventura had the opportunity to approach the border region of San Diego and Tijuana.

“Tijuana is an excellent example of all cultural concepts,” Sanchez Ventura said, referring to his approach with the border, not only in the artistic-cultural aspect, but also in the area of education.

Students from the Autonomous University of Baja California Tijuana Campus are currently doing internships at the Embassy of Mexico in Havana.

Sanchez Ventura’s conviction in supporting education has allowed him to leave an important legacy in different generations of Mexicans throughout the world.

“In Michigan there are about 2,000 Mexican engineers in the automotive industry, who do high-tech work and a unique effort,” Sanchez Ventura shared. “Thanks to them, I had the idea to support the project of organizing them and thus we integrated the third global network, where there is now 45 chapters around the world.”

The Association of Mexican Professionals in Michigan (APROMEX), is a nonprofit organization that integrates Mexican professionals in events of various kinds. Currently, they are the largest chapter, composed of 400 Mexican engineers.

“It was a pride to unite them,” Sanchez Ventura said.

“They are talented engineers, with masters and PhD degrees who speak 4 or 5 languages, work tirelessly and travel a lot,” he said recognizing virtues of Mexicans that few people perceive in the United States.

The work of a Consul is full of great challenges. Their tough decisions must be accompanied by sensitivity to the community they serve. That adaptation and ability to reinvent himself has allowed Sanchez Ventura to leave a legacy for more than three decades.

“I feel very proud to have made an integral task of helping Mexicans in these 34 years,” he said. “The issue that has given me the most satisfaction was having encouraged Mexicans to have access to the Banking System in the United States, and opening accounts for undocumented people.”

In 2001 in Austin Texas, a pilot plan began that seemed impossible for the time, however, it was thanks to the synergy and teamwork among the Chambers of Commerce, Police and Consulate that the bancarization of Mexicans was possible, opening more than 6,000 accounts only in Austin County.

Six months later, bancarization was opened throughout the State of California and later became a national reality.

“That has been my biggest contribution,” Sanchez Ventura said with pride in his face. “This allowed people to open their accounts and have confidence in a bank and not leave their money under the mattress.”

Sanchez Ventura’s legacy includes collaboration agreements with Mexican universities in the United States, offering basic English courses for undocumented immigrants, changing the lives of members of important productive sectors.

Likewise, he created a collaborative project between public primary schools in Mexico and the U.S., which allows a mutual approach of cultures, the learning of both languages and enlarges binational understanding in the long term.

Strengthening the relationship between nations requires personal involvement.

“In California I wanted to get to know the farmers and the owners of the agricultural fields to know their needs,” recalls Sanchez Ventura. “On Migrants Day, I invited all my group from the office and we went to harvest melons with the farmers, this allowed us a better approach and empathy.”

Under the philosophy of always going further, Sanchez Ventura emphasizes the importance of approaching consular offices, in the 50 existing in the United States, for legal advice and obtaining information during all circumstances.

To tourists, Sanchez Ventura recommends registering online in the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to facilitate the detection and location of Mexicans abroad, and pay attention to the information of the traveler’s guide available on the page.

“In the end, you find your way of living, here, there or beyond, and you have to live happily,” Sanchez Ventura shared at the end of the interview, highlighting the daily and important task of learning, of new cultures, of the environment and the circumstances that life presents.

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