New Mexican ambassador aims to deepen Mexico-Belize relationship

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Carlos Quesnel Melendez

Carlos Quesnel Melendez

Wednesday, February 25, 2015. AARON HUMES Reporting: Mexico’s new Ambassador to Belize, Carlos Quesnel Melendez, sat down with the press this morning at the Mexico-Belize Institute of Cooperation, the Belize City office of the Mexican Embassy, on Newtown Barracks in his first official event since presenting his credentials to Governor General Sir Colville Young three weeks ago.

The two countries already share a deep relationship due to their neighboring status, but in recent years Mexico has become a valuable friend to Belize in key areas, from trade to tourism development, to the arts and culture.

This was a staple of the former regime led by Mario Velasquez and his press and consular affairs officer Marcelino Miranda, and the new Ambassador and new press officer Hugo Juarez Carrillo aim to continue and expand that relationship.

In his opening statement, Ambassador Quesnel noted that already, Mexico is Belize’s second largest trading partner for imports, with trade growing by an average of 5% from 2009 to 2013, and the value of goods exchanged in 2013 reaching nearly BZ$320 million.

In 2014, Belize’s exports to Mexico, consisting mostly of marine products such as shrimp and prawns, scrap iron and steel, lumber and corn, grew 106% on 2014.

Ambassador Quesnel says a full commercial agreement is needed to regularize trade in these and other products, but in the meantime Mexico is offering its market in the southeast – Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Tabasco, Chiapas and Campeche states – to Belizean investors and entrepreneurs to sell their products.

He also wants greater cooperation in the area of tourism, relating his own experience when he was first informed of his posting to Belize.

Friends congratulated him on getting to see the wonders of the Jewel such as the Maya ruins, of which we have the most per capita of any Mesoamerican nation, and have the opportunity to work to promote Mexico here, and he looks forward to the challenge.

In the area of tourism, the Mundo Maya project will be better used to join force with the rest of Central America to promote the region as a whole.

Already, Ambassador Quesnel has met with director of the Belize Zoo Sharon Matola on possible terms for cooperation with Mexico City’s zoo.

Also on his plate is establishing continued commercial missions to Belize from its trade organization, ProMexico, and local chambers of commerce such as Chetumal, which visited last year.

The Mexicans will also keep an eye on their investments here, including the planned five-star hotel to be built by developers on Caye Chapel.

Cooperation is also planned in the areas of transport (expanding commercial flights and bus routes, making the regional visitor card available to Belizeans visiting neighboring states in Mexico from Chiapas to Yucatan); fostering technological education and other facets.

The Ambassador replaces Mario Velasquez Suarez and is expected to stay on for four years.

A new Press and Consular Affairs Officer, Hugo Juarez Carrillo, replaces Marcelino Miranda and along with a full staff will oversee the implementation of Mexico’s plans for partnership and cooperation with Belize, including in the fields of arts, education, culture, tourism, economic development and security issues.

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