February 21, 2017 | By Salomón Chertorivski, Juliana Kerr

No Wall Can Destroy the Bridges our Cities Have Built

Versión en español >

Thousands gathered in Mexico City on February 12 to protest the new US administration’s immigration and trade policies, deeply concerned about what this new climate could mean for the future of relations with the United States. Proposals related to the border wall, tariffs on imports, raids on undocumented immigrants, and taxing remittances have created unprecedented tensions at the national level.

But tensions at the national level need not dictate relationships at the local level.

Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera of Mexico City recently embarked on a diplomatic tour to major American cities, including Chicago, to meet with mayors, business and civic leaders, and the Mexican community to reaffirm his city’s bilateral relationships with its American counterparts. During his visit to Chicago, he and Mayor Emanuel made clear that no physical wall or derogatory statement can—or should—destroy the countless bridges our cities have built with one another.

Sister cities since 1991, Chicago and Mexico City have a long history of exchanges, collaborations, and partnerships among their cultural, civic, business, educational, and government sectors. In 2013, under the coordination of the Brookings Institution, the two cities signed a Global Cities Economic Partnership to explore joint initiatives in trade, innovation, and education to increase global competitiveness. They were identified as “prime candidates” for this new model because of the interdependence of their economies. More than 130 Chicago-area companies have operations in Mexico, and about ten Mexican companies have a presence in Chicago. And despite the national-level turmoil, many of Chicago’s business leaders affirmed they will continue to invest in Mexico because it is an important market for growth. Used to uncertainty and adjusting to changing political and economic climates, global companies don’t let political whims alter their broader global strategy.

For more than a century, Chicago has been a destination for Mexican immigrants, a vital part of the city’s history and social fabric. Chicago is home to the second largest population of Mexican immigrants and their descendants. They have fueled economic growth, filling important jobs and starting businesses. The Mexican neighborhood of Little Village on Chicago’s Southwest Side is the second-highest-grossing commercial corridor in the city after Michigan Avenue. While Chicago has been losing population, the decline has been—until recently—largely offset by immigration from Mexico. Communities have formed numerous hometown associations who organize soccer clubs, prayer groups, advocacy, and remittances. With such a large Spanish-speaking population in the city, fifteen of Chicago’s Public Schools offer dual language education where all students receive core instruction in both Spanish and English to become bilingual and biliterate.

The large immigrant and undocumented population in Chicago makes it a target with the President’s increased immigration raids. Yet Mayor Emanuel has repeatedly vowed, as have other mayors in prominent American cities, that Chicago will remain a sanctuary city and that he will not use local law enforcement resources to conduct federal immigration business. In his meeting with Mayor Mancera, who is deeply concerned with the treatment of Mexican expats, Mayor Emanuel noted that he recently hosted four Mexican DREAMers in his home for dinner, among others, to remind them that in Chicago they are secure, safe, and supported.

Educational partnerships are also prominent in the cities’ relationship. Northwestern University works with Universidad Panamericana in sending business, medical, and undergraduate students to Mexico through a variety of programs, including “Public Health in Mexico” which they’ve offered since 2000. The University of Illinois at Chicago recently signed an agreement for a new academic and cultural partnership that could include faculty and student exchanges, research, and education. More than 500 alumni of the University of Chicago live in Mexico City, regularly hosting events, faculty, and exchanges. The National Autonomous University of Mexico, one of the largest universities in all of Latin America, has had a campus in Chicago since 2001.

Deep cultural ties connect the cities in immeasurable ways. Chicago’s architect Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido of JAHN has designed a new sports stadium in Mexico City while the Goodman Theater features Mexican playwrights and companies. Chicago’s Yo-Yo Ma performs with youth in Mexico City’s Sala Nezahualcoyotl while the Lyric Opera hosted a mariachi opera to engage the city’s Mexican community. The National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, one of the country’s largest Mexican art collections and the first Latino museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, has had traveling exhibits in Mexico. Restaurants, markets, festivals, and sports unite our souls and passions.

There are numerous other connections. Both cities are members of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and collaborate with other mayors from around the world to identify policies to ensure their cities are low carbon and sustainable. Eight flights connect Mexico City and Chicago every day. The Consulate General of Mexico in Chicago and the US Embassy in Mexico City regularly facilitate diplomatic visits and trade delegations. The MacArthur Foundation, headquartered in Chicago, has operated an office in Mexico City since 1992. And through churches, nonprofit organizations, community groups, and professional associations, there are thousands of linkages between the millions of people in Chicago and Mexico City who work together daily regardless of national policies.

Cities are economic, cultural, and intellectual engines of the world, and they rely on business, civic, cultural, and social interactions to thrive in the global era. Pragmatic and practical, they understand the importance of open engagement despite increasingly nativist and insular sentiments at the national level. Global cities don’t represent political parties; they represent people, institutions, and ideas. City-to-city diplomacy and engagement is more important now than ever before. President George Bush once said that “the United States has no more important relationship in the world than the one we have with Mexico.” While no one may know what’s in store at the national level, Chicago and Mexico City have reaffirmed that no wall can destroy the strong bridges our cities have built.
 


No hay muro que pueda destruir los puentes que nuestras ciudades han construido

Por Salomón Chertorivski y Juliana Kerr

Miles de personas se reunieron en la Ciudad de México el 12 de febrero para protestar contra las políticas de inmigración y comercio de la nueva administración estadounidense, mostrándose muy preocupadas por lo que este nuevo clima podría significar para el futuro de las relaciones con los Estados Unidos. Las propuestas relacionadas con el muro fronterizo, los aranceles a las importaciones, las redadas de inmigrantes indocumentados y el gravamen de las remesas han generado tensiones sin precedentes a nivel nacional.

Pero las tensiones a nivel nacional no tienen por qué dictar las relaciones a nivel local.

El Jefe de Gobierno de la ciudad de México, Miguel Ángel Mancera, recientemente inició una gira diplomática por las principales ciudades estadounidenses, incluyendo Chicago, para reunirse con alcaldes, líderes empresariales y cívicos y con la comunidad mexicana, para reafirmar las relaciones bilaterales de la ciudad con sus contrapartes estadounidenses. Durante su visita a Chicago la semana pasada, él y el alcalde Emanuel dejaron en claro que ningún muro físico o declaración despectiva puede —o debe— destruir los innumerables puentes que nuestras ciudades han construido.

Chicago y la Ciudad de México, que son ciudades hermanas desde 1991, tienen una larga historia de intercambios, colaboraciones y alianzas entre sus sectores culturales, cívicos, comerciales, educativos y gubernamentales. En 2013, bajo la coordinación de la Brookings Institution, las dos ciudades firmaron una Alianza Económica de Ciudades Globales  para conversar sobre iniciativas conjuntas en el comercio, la innovación y la educación para aumentar la competitividad global. Las dos ciudades fueron consideradas "candidatas ideales" para este nuevo modelo por la interdependencia de sus economías, ya que más de 130 empresas del área de Chicago operan en México y cerca de diez empresas mexicanas tienen presencia en Chicago. A pesar de la turbulencia que se está viviendo a nivel nacional, muchos de los líderes empresariales de Chicago afirmaron que seguirán invirtiendo en México porque es un mercado importante para el crecimiento. Las empresas globales, ya acostumbradas a la incertidumbre y a adaptarse a climas políticos y económicos cambiantes, no permiten que los vaivenes políticos alteren su amplia estrategia global.

Durante más de un siglo, Chicago ha sido un destino para los inmigrantes mexicanos y estos constituyen una parte vital de la historia y el tejido social de la ciudad. Chicago tiene la segunda mayor población de inmigrantes mexicanos y sus descendientes; ellos han estimulado el crecimiento económico, encargándose de importantes puestos de trabajo y han iniciado negocios. El barrio mexicano La Villita en el suroeste de Chicago, es el segundo corredor comercial más rentable de la ciudad después de Michigan Avenue. Si bien la población de Chicago ha disminuido, la disminución ha sido —hasta hace poco— en gran parte compensada por la inmigración de México. Las comunidades han formado varias asociaciones locales que organizan equipos de fútbol, grupos de oración, de representación legal y de  remesas. Debido a la gran población hispanohablante de la ciudad, quince de las escuelas públicas de Chicago ofrecen educación bilingüe donde todos los estudiantes reciben fundamentos educativos en español e inglés; dicha formación les da la oportunidad de ser bilingües y alfabetizados en dos idiomas.

Chicago, por tener una gran población inmigrante e indocumentada, es un blanco para las crecientes redadas de inmigración del Presidente. Sin embargo, el Alcalde Emanuel ha prometido reiteradamente, al igual que otros alcaldes de importantes ciudades norteamericanas, que Chicago seguirá siendo una ciudad santuario y que no se valdrá de recursos de la policía local para llevar a cabo asuntos de inmigración federal. En su reunión con el Jefe de Gobierno Mancera, quien está profundamente preocupado por el trato a los expatriados mexicanos, el Alcalde Emanuel señaló que recientemente invitó a cenar a su casa a cuatro soñadores mexicanos, entre otros, para recordarles que en Chicago están a salvo, seguros y que seguirán recibiendo apoyo.

Las alianzas educativas son también importantes en la relación de las ciudades. Northwestern University trabaja con la Universidad Panamericana enviando estudiantes de administración de empresas, de medicina, y otras carreras a México a través de varios programas, entre ellos "Salud Pública en México", que existe desde el año 2000. La Universidad de Illinois en Chicago recientemente firmó un acuerdo para una nueva sociedad académica y cultural que podría incluir una facultad y programas de intercambio estudiantil, investigación y educación. Más de 500 egresados de la Universidad de Chicago viven en la ciudad de México, y organizan regularmente eventos, reuniones de facultades y programas de intercambio. La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, una de las universidades más grandes de toda América Latina, ha tenido un campus en Chicago desde el año 2001.

Existen lazos culturales profundos que conectan a estas dos ciudades de incontables maneras. El arquitecto de Chicago Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido de JAHN ha diseñado un nuevo estadio en la ciudad de México y Goodman Theater presenta a dramaturgos y compañías de teatro mexicanas. Yo-Yo Ma de Chicago se presenta en la Sala Nezahualcóyotl con jóvenes de la ciudad de México y la Lyric Opera organizó una ópera mariachi para la comunidad mexicana de la ciudad. El Museo Nacional de Arte Mexicano de Chicago, una de las mayores colecciones de arte mexicano del país y el primer museo latino acreditado por la Alianza Americana de Museos, ha tenido exposiciones itinerantes en México. Restaurantes, mercados, festivales y deportes unen nuestras almas y pasiones.

Hay muchas otras conexiones. Ambas ciudades son miembros del Grupo de Liderazgo Climático C40 y colaboran con otros alcaldes de todo el mundo para establecer políticas con la finalidad de asegurarse que sus ciudades mantienen bajas emisiones de carbono y son sostenibles. Ocho vuelos diarios conectan a la Ciudad de México con Chicago. El Consulado General de México en Chicago y la Embajada de Estados Unidos en la Ciudad de México facilitan regularmente visitas de diplomáticos y delegaciones comerciales. La Fundación MacArthur, con sede en Chicago, tiene una oficina en la Ciudad de México desde 1992. A través de las iglesias, las organizaciones sin fines de lucro, grupos comunitarios y asociaciones profesionales, hay miles de vínculos entre los millones de personas de Chicago y la Ciudad de México que trabajan juntos todos los días, independientemente de las políticas nacionales.

Las ciudades son motores económicos, culturales e intelectuales del mundo, y dependen de las interacciones empresariales, cívicas, culturales y sociales para prosperar en esta era global. Pragmáticas y prácticas, entienden la importancia de mantener una postura abierta, a pesar de los sentimientos cada vez más localistas e insulares a nivel nacional. Las ciudades globales no representan partidos políticos; representan a las personas, las instituciones y las ideas. La diplomacia de ciudad a ciudad y el compromiso son ahora más importantes que nunca. El presidente George Bush dijo una vez que “Estados Unidos no tiene ninguna relación más importante en el mundo que la que tenemos con México”. Si bien nadie puede saber lo que nos depara el futuro a nivel nacional, Chicago y la Ciudad de México han reafirmado que no hay muro que pueda destruir los fuertes puentes que nuestras ciudades han construido. 

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