JUAREZ, Mexico (KTSM) – Mayor Armando Cabada has hired a former Mexican consul to represent Juarez in the United States, hoping to advance binational issues and improve his city’s image abroad.
Juan Acereto Cervera says he’ll use his experience as a career diplomat to improve communication between El Paso and Juarez and contribute to the development of a binational cultural, economic and political agenda.
“We have many things in common and the best way to take advantage of that is to sit at the same table and decide where we want to go,” said Acereto, who was in charge of political, economic and cultural affairs at the Mexican Consulate General in El Paso for three years (2016-2019).
Acereto says he’s already working with El Paso officials through the implementation of the Sister Cities cooperation agreement, and recently represented his city at a promotional event for the opening of the Juarez Fair, which goes on through the end of June.
“We need to develop a working agenda that includes economic development programs as well as culture… culture is important because culture opens doors,” said the son of a Mexican composer and poet.
In a recent interview at the El Paso Chamber, Acereto spoke about opportunities for regional development through cooperation, given that the El Paso-Juarez workforce and industrial base can be a powerful magnet for more development. He also addressed Juarez’s lingering reputation as a violent city.
“We need to change the narrative of our city. What we are in reality is a world-class technological hub with 300,000 skilled workers that deliver quality products and technology to the rest of the world,” he said, referring to the maquiladora industry.
“And when we speak of maquilas we are no longer talking about the old textile warehouses that turned out blue jeans; we have plants that employ 200 or more engineers each and that develop patents for the automotive and other industries. If that doesn’t change the narrative of who we are, then…”
Asked about the recent spike in murders in Juarez — around 150 each in April and May –, Acereto said the killings mostly involved people associated with the drug trade.
“The homicide problem is largely the result of drug addiction and doesn’t reflect our overall security situation. It is a serious problem but within a very defined group within our society,” he said. “Juarez is really a place where people wake up every morning to go to work, be it in their city or here in El Paso. Likewise, many El Pasoans work in Juarez, as evidenced by the daily activity on the international bridges.”
El Paso County Commissioner David Stout, who represents Precinct 2, said he welcomes Acereto’s appointment.
“It is great to have better communication with our counterparts in Ciudad Juarez. I feel that communication has not quite been at the level that it needs to be because we need to sell El Paso-Juarez-Las Cruces as a single region,” he said.
“We have had a lot of good discussions over single issues such as the bridges, but I think business leaders from both sides need to get together more often and keep a constant communication on important topics… We need to always be on the same page.”