When government officials take the time to reach out to the public, foreign residents at lakeside enthusiastically answer their call.
That became evident with the large turn-out for the February 27 Chapala Expat Info Fair hosted by the Lake Chapala Society (LCS) under the auspices of the
United States Consulate General of Guadalajara.
The event attracted several hundred visitors who spent three hours fielding questions with representatives of various U.S., Canadian and Mexican government agencies. Information tables set up by the Guadalajara Consulate were manned by personnel from the Federal Benefits Unit, the offices of American Citizen Services, Public Affairs, Visas, Investigation and Security, and the Federal Voting Assistance Program.
The Canadian Consulate and Trade Commission in Guadalajara was represented by Vice Consul Jonathan Steblin and veteran staffer Ana Bará. Mexican agencies in attendance were the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (foreign relations) and local branches of the Instituto Nacional de Migración (immigration) and Jalisco’s Secretaria de Movilidad (transit). Cruz Roja Chapala and the Canadian Club of Lake Chapala also took advantage of the forum to promote their activities.
The buzz of activity paused half way through the program when LCS President Ben White picked up the mike to introduce the day’s guest dignitaries for their welcome remarks.
U.S. Consul General Tania C. Anderson spoke of the role that diplomats play fostering good relations between neighbor countries, noting that while the United States operates the Mexico City Embassy and nine consulates elsewhere in the
country, Mexico is represented through 50 consulates in the United States and five more in Canada.
She stressed the great value of civilian people-to-people relations, saluting lakeside expats as goodwill ambassadors for their involvement in humanitarian causes.
Steblin spoke briefly in a similar vein and joined Anderson in encouraging foreign residents to register with their respective consulates to stay connected with a channel for travel advisories and rapid location in emergency situations.
Oscar España, attending on behalf of Mayor Javier Degollado, talked earnestly about the local government’s appreciation for foreigners who choose to make their homes here, contributing significantly to the economy and setting an example of how people of different cultures can live in harmony.
White qualified the first time information fair as a resounding success that will be repeated in the future on a yearly basis.