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North Texans With Ties To Mexico Wonder If New President Can Fulfill Promises

Stella M. Chávez
Maria Candelaria Gonzalez and Pedro Ibañez stopped by the Mexican Consulate in Dallas, Texas, on Monday. They say they're hopeful about the changes Mexico's newly elected president has promised."

Some North Texans with ties to Mexico are excited about the new President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who campaigned on rooting out corruption and advocating for the poor. Others are skeptical.

Maria Candelaria Gonzalez just got back to North Texas from visiting Mexico. As she waited outside the Mexican Consulate in Dallas, the 66 year-old said she couldn’t be happier about her native country’s new leader.

I told my husband he was going to win and, thank God, he did," she said in Spanish. "We have faith that he’s going to help Mexico get ahead and help families that have been separated [at the border].”

In his victory speech, Andres Manuel López Obrador said he wanted Mexicans who left for the U.S. not to leave out of necessity. But he wasn’t specific about what he would do to keep them from going, says Luisa del Rosal, executive director of the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

“The other thing I wish he would have actually addressed is how this crisis at the border – how few of those citizens are actually Mexican,” del Rosal said. “You know, what is Mexico doing to support our southern neighbors? You know, Central America, which is the one seeing a lot of danger and unsafe conditions for its public, and henceforth, why they’re coming all the way to the United States.”

While there’s a lot of excitement in Mexico about a new president touting reform, del Rosal says observers also have a lot of questions about what that will look like.

In previous bids for president, Lopez Obrador has talked about embracing globalization and opening more trade avenues for Mexico. Yet, del Rosal noted he’s also criticized NAFTA and suggested Mexico should withdraw from the trade agreement.

“This is a point of pause when our most important economic partner for Texas is Mexico,” she said. “So, there is a great deal of uncertainty that comes with somebody who changes their position as much and we don’t have a clear vision of what we can expect from this president.”

Credit Stella M. Chávez / KERA News
Santana Delgado says he wants to see change in Mexico, but worries the new president won't be able to fulfill all of the promises he's made.

Back at the Mexican Consulate, Santana Delgado was waiting on a friend. He was born in Mexico but has lived in Texas for more than 50 years. The 63 year-old says he’s realistic and also a bit skeptical.

“The corruption and drug trafficking – that’s not going away,” he said.

Degaldo would like to see the reforms Lopez Obrador promises, but he worries that if the president-elect tries to push for too many, he could be harmed. Any kind of big change, Delgado said, won’t be easy.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.