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In Mexico, Arizona Leaders 'Fight' For Trade and Ties

MEXICO CITY — President Donald Trump said Tuesday in Phoenix his administration will probably end up terminating NAFTA. But, at the same time, other prominent Arizonans were arriving in Mexico City to pursue the opposite.

The goal of the delegation is to strengthen ties with Mexico, particularly now that NAFTA is being renegotiated.

“Arizona will continue to play a leading role and making sure that the NAFTA negotiation goes well,” said Glenn Hamer, CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He is part of the state’s contingent in Mexico.

Representatives of nonprofits, chambers, businesses and government are attending this trip. Almost one-third of the Arizona legislature is here, both Republicans and Democrats.

According to the organizers, it’s a historic event and the largest trade delegation to visit Mexico City from Arizona. One of the leaders here is state representative Tony Rivero.

“This is an opportunity for elected officials to interact with Mexican elected officials, and also business leaders from both sides of the border to look for opportunities and create jobs and create wealth for both countries,” Rivero explained.

The delegation will visit the state of Guanajuato, about four hours away from Mexico City and an important industrial center.

“Once you develop closer ties, you can share dreams and you can build better futures,” said Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, a Mexican senator representing Guanajuato, who will facilitate some of the activities.

Another member of the delegation with high hopes is David Adame, president of Chicanos por la Causa.

“We are gonna make our country — I think it is great already — but it’s gonna be even greater, and that’s what we need to do with this kind of relationships,” Adame said.

And someone who wants to see the Arizona-Mexico relationship grow is Joaquín Ruiz, the vice president for innovation at the University of Arizona. And he says it’d better be fast.

“The key, and what’s really important of this event is that, if we don’t get our act together as a state right away, California and Texas are gonna eat our lunch,” said Ruiz.

The Arizona delegation has held meetings with Mexican politicians, including the secretary of foreign affairs, Luis Videgaray.

Rodrigo Cervantes is KJZZ’s bureau chief in Mexico City, where he was born and raised. He has served as opinion writer, contributor and commentator for several media outlets and organizations in Mexico and the United States, including CNN, Georgia Public Broadcasting and Univisión. Cervantes previously worked as the business editor and editorial coordinator for El Norte, the leading newspaper in Monterrey and a publication of Grupo Reforma, Mexico’s premier news group. In Mexico City, Cervantes served in Reforma as a reporter, special correspondent, editor and special sections coordinator. Cervantes also held the editor position at MundoHispánico, a division of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Georgia’s oldest and largest Latino newspaper. He also participated as one of the first members of the Diversity Advisory Group for Cox Media. In 2012, Cervantes was appointed as fellow for the Leadership Program of The New York Times/Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, as well as for the "Líderes Digitales" program from the International Center for Journalists. In 2010, he was awarded with the Poynter-McCormick Leadership Fellowship. Cervantes graduated with honors in communication sciences and journalism from the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM), Mexico City Campus. Later, he was granted the Fundación Carolina Scholarship from the Spanish government to obtain an MBA degree at San Pablo-CEU School of Business (Madrid). Other awards include: the Power 30 Under 30 Award for Professional and Community Excellence in Atlanta, the Outstanding Alumni Medal from ITESM, and several José Martí Awards for Journalism Excellence from the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP). Cervantes enjoys music, books, travel, friendship, good mezcal and the occasional company of his guitar.