By Dustin Niles
Layout Editor & Senior Reporter
(TEANECK) – FDU hosts many guests and speakers, but every so often a truly unique and valuable experience makes itself available to FDU students. One of those experiences was the visit of permanent Mexican Ambassador to the United Nations Juan José Goméz Camacho.
On Oct. 20, Camacho spoke to students in the Multipurpose Room of the Student Union Building. Jason Scorza, FDU Vice Provost for Academic and International Affairs, who guided the conversation with Camacho and facilitated questions from the crowd, joined him.
Camacho is a permanent ambassador to the U.N., but prior to that was an ambassador to the European Union and other European countries. Scorza asked how Camacho got started on the path to becoming an ambassador to the U.N. Camacho began studying international law in college, and eventually joined a professor on a trip to the U.N.
“Sitting behind the little thing that said ‘Mexico’ got me hooked,” said Camacho.
When asked about his current role at the U.N. compared to other ambassadorial roles he’s played, Camacho relayed his affinity for his job, saying of the U.N., “This is home.”
Scorza began the discussion on current events by asking Camacho what has been occurring at the U.N. recently. Camacho responded by relating Mexico and its goals to that of the U.N. According to Camacho, Mexico is changing and in response to a changing U.N. and a changing world. Globalization and interdependence bring more challenges and those challenges and the opportunities presented with them are international themselves.
Camacho said this is a “result of a degree of interconnectivity.”
He was proud of the achievements he and the U.N. have recently accomplished in response to globalization, including the 2030 agenda and setting sustainability goals.
The ambassador also discussed a progressive agenda on development. The way he views the situation, development brings equality through solid infrastructure, water supplies and education.
“Inequality is everywhere,” Camacho said.
There was also discussion on Mexico’s priorities in the U.N. Camacho explained that Mexico is “larger in size than in the past.” Because of this, fewer and fewer global conversations can be had without including Mexico. Mexico is looking internally and externally for solutions to its growing population, and its agenda in the U.N. reflects that.
Mexico is also looking at ways to help “sustain peace” in the U.N., according to Camacho.
“We have not been able, as an international community, to prevent conflict,” Camacho said.
Camacho attributed a lot of this to an inaction regarding assisting recovering post-conflict nations. He stressed the importance of giving post-conflict assistance to war-torn countries in cycles of peace and conflict. He also said that countries need infrastructure and healthcare to sustain peace and avoid conflict.
“The only way we can prevent conflict, among other things, is with development,” Camacho said.
Naturally, it’s hard for an American university to talk about Mexico without mentioning its relationship to the U.S., and the current U.S. presidential election has only increased conversation regarding Mexican and American relations.
Scorza asked Camacho various questions about migration and Mexico. Camacho talked about how, historically, one of the biggest issues for Mexican foreign policy has been migration.
“Migration is fundamentally an economic phenomenon,” Camacho said, adding that people migrate to find better resources and development and better opportunities.
Mexico has long been working with the U.N. on rights, rules and policies for migrants, from other countries, as well as Mexico. Migrants come from other places and don’t just go to the U.S.
“In the last four to five years, Mexican migration in the U.S. has been negative,” said Camacho.
Mexico’s work at the U.N. has been fruitful, and Camacho mentioned a compact for migrants that was passed just three weeks before his visit to FDU. The compact he was referencing was part of the New York Declaration, a landmark declaration that states the UN’s commitment to assisting migrants and preserving the rights of migrants.
According to a United Nations press release, parts of the declaration include protecting the human rights of migrants, ensuring that migrant children receive education within a few months of arrival, preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence and bringing the International Organization for Migration into the U.N. system.
On the topic of organizations, Camacho noted the larger part of the U.N. that non-governmental organizations (or NGO’s) have become. NGO’s lobby for a variety of issues such as disarmament, or as Camacho gave the example of, health issues such as antimicrobial resistance.
“We are entering into a post-antibiotic era,” Camacho said.
One of the U.S.’s biggest concerns regarding Mexico is the movement of drugs between the countries, “a problem both countries suffer from greatly,” Scorza said.
“The demand for drugs in the U.S. is gigantic,” Camacho said.
In response, supply from South American countries has been gigantic as well, according to Camacho. Mexico is stuck in-between, with $60-100 billion crossing Mexico to the south for drugs, and the drugs returning up through Mexico to the United States.
Weapons sold in the U.S. also accompany the money in order to protect the interests of the crime organizations. Weapons are constitutionally banned in Mexico, and 80% of seized weapons in Mexico were sold in the U.S., according to Camacho.
Camacho also took questions from the audience of the FDU community. Students posed questions about health, marijuana and trade. Camacho gave detailed answers to each.
One point Camacho elaborated on was Donald Trump’s proposition to kill NAFTA, otherwise known as the North American Free Trade Agreement. The free trade agreement allows the unrestricted flow of goods between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
The agreement facilitates manufacturing and trade between the three countries. Camacho brought up the point that Mexico and the U.S. produce roughly the same amount of automobiles in each of their factories, and manufacturers often use multiple factories in both countries to build a car. In fact, according to Camacho, the average car made in American or Mexican factories crosses the border seven times.
“And you want to kill NAFTA?” Camacho said.
The conversation between Ambassador Goméz Camacho, Scorza and FDU students lasted about an hour and a half, bringing an enriching dialogue right to students’ doorsteps. The event was also open to the public and also included an introduction by University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Gillian Small. The event was made possible by FDU’s Office of Global Learning and the U.N. Pathways Program.