STRONGER TOGETHER

Jamaica 2019 | DIPLOMACY | GUEST SPEAKER

Mexico and Jamaica have cultivated a strong friendship, marked by an open political dialogue and continued effort to strengthen commercial and cultural ties.

Juan José González Mijares
BIOGRAPHY
Juan José González Mijares is a career ambassador for the Mexican Foreign Service. Since 2018, he has been the Ambassador of Mexico in Jamaica, concurrent with the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. He was also previously Ambassador of Mexico in Algeria, concurrent with Libya, Mauritania and Tunisia. He has extensive experience in bilateral economic promotion and bilateral political affairs. He holds a master’s in political sociology from the University of Cambridge.

How would you describe the Mexico-Jamaica relationship?

Over the years, Mexico and Jamaica have joined forces in sectors of mutual interest, creating strong partnerships in areas that range from agricultural development and science and technology, to tourism, education, and the arts. Mexico's new government has renewed its will to deepen political ties and economic relations with the greater Caribbean. In this regard, the embassy is preparing for the Binational Commission, a high-level meeting that will outline the way forward in terms of political dialogue, cooperation, and many others.

What are the main areas that the embassy works on?

Along with the consolidation of its political dialog and economic relations with Jamaica, Mexico has a longstanding tradition of providing technical and scientific cooperation to a wide range of agencies and institutions in Jamaica. Mexico has long provided cooperation for infrastructure projects that have benefited Jamaican communities. For more than half a century, Mexican teams have stood side by side to support their Jamaican counterparts in the most required areas. Mexico is a proud partner in Jamaica's development. Another strategic area in this 52-year partnership is trade and investment. Mexico's economic presence in Jamaica dates back to when CEMEX purchased Trinidad Cement Ltd., the parent company of CaribCement. That was the starting point of what are now large investments by many companies that surpass USD1.3 billion. One of the most interesting things is that we are partners with Jamaica in key industries, such as CaribCement, in the developing of new infrastructure; GAP in air transportation; and the many Mexican hotels and entertainment businesses in Ocho Ríos, Montego Bay, and Negril.

Can you tell us more about the numerous Mexican Investments in Jamaica?

The unique and warm spirit of Jamaica has attracted major Mexican investments over the last few years. A good example is Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico. More than 10 years ago, GAP was awarded the operation of Montego Bay's Sangster International Airport with its Canadian partner, Vantage. A few months ago, the same Mexican consortium was awarded the tender to operate Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport, and it will start operations in 2019. This influx of capitals marks only the beginning of an increased bilateral exchange between Mexico and Jamaica. In November, Mexico will host a regional B2B Forum in the Dominican Republic. This event is designed to foster regional competitiveness and explore new areas of business within the Caribbean Basin, where Jamaican entrepreneurs can take advantage of the many opportunities this event offers.

What are some opportunities that you would like to highlight?

On many occasions, our relationship goes beyond our natural borders, where in forums like the UN and OAS, both governments, as partners and neighbors in the Caribbean, actively address regional and global challenges such as climate change, migration, the struggle against organized crime, and the aim to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. These collaborative partnerships only confirm the clear aspirations of Mexico and Jamaica to create a future of prosperity for both countries. In 2019, we will embark on additional collaborative efforts on matters relating to climate change, resilience, and social development policies with local government agencies like PIOJ, CONVEAL as their Mexican counterpart, and UNICEF as an international partner. Aside from political dialogue, economic integration, and scientific and technical cooperation, I want to highlight the importance of cultural exchanges as a key part of our efforts towards mutual prosperity. Initiatives like the Mexican Chair at the University of the West Indies, Mexico's scholarship program, and the Diploma Program in Teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language provide a framework for increased educational and cultural knowledge and work towards development in areas of common interest. The recent appointment of Jason Hall, an experienced professional in the tourism sector, as Ambassador to Mexico will further advance these initiatives toward a great partnership.