Progressives from across Mexico gathered at Hotel Posada de la Aldea in San Miguel de Allende to attend Democrats Abroad Annual General Meeting (AGM) from March 30 to April 1.
The weekend consisted of workshops, guest speakers and strategic planning to ensure a blue wave in the 2020 election. Members came with different expectations and advocating different issues.
“I’d like to know what American expats in Mexico want to do and what they think they’re empowered to do in terms of fixing the situation we’re in at this point,” said Judy Miller, a former teacher from eastern Washington who lives in Chapala.
“It’s a state of emergency. The biggest thing for me is climate change; if we don’t deal with that, nothing else is even worth thinking about.”
Democrats Abroad (DA) is an extension of the Democratic National Convention that essentially functions like a 51st state capable of voting in primaries. Chapters across the world elect in-country executive committees, as well as assist U.S. citizens in voting while living abroad.
Topics covered in the AGM ranged from registering those with dual U.S.-Mexican citizenship to vote in the 2020 presidential and congressional races to announcing a new national committee.
From the fresh batch of chair members, Will Chapman of DA Guadalajara replaced Larry Pihl as the National Chair.
“I think under Will’s leadership we’re going to see some organization and conformity,” said Jude Wallesen, DA Chair in Guadalajara. “When we’re out there doing the work, it’s going to be a real joint effort, so that will multiply our result. Chapman is really good at mobilizing, looking at the bigger picture and determining the steps it’ll take to get there.”
Other elected officers were Vice Chair Michaele Rivera from Guadalajara, Secretary Tobe Jensen from Puerto Vallarta, Treasurer Alan Barson from Mexico City and Parliamentarian Sam Stone from Puebla.
Keynote speakers Robert Reich and Genaro Lozano gave inspirational lectures to the expat community. Both also offered scathing reviews of the Trump administration while discussing different approaches to promoting progressive politics.
Reich is a prominent U.S. political commentator who served in the Ford, Carter, Clinton and Obama administrations, most known for his service as Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997; Lozano is a Mexican journalist, international affairs pundit and academic who teaches U.S. politics in Mexico City.
Also present at the AGM was Pedro Guerrero, who many considered to be the “poster child” for DA’s efforts in mobilizing dual U.S.-Mexican citizens to vote. The 28-year-old learned about the organization after visiting a U.S. embassy in 2016.
“I knew I could vote but I didn’t how to,” said Guerrero, who works for an electoral court in Mexico City and originally wanted to get involved with a U.S. civic group based on his interests in migratory politics. “As Reich said, whatever the United States does impacts the whole world.”
Part of the AGM also included various leadership development workshops. Larry Pihl and SMA chair member Mike Lambert conducted a memorable session centered around the question: what does it mean to be a Democrat abroad?
Conversations mostly focused on the need to win the House and Senate, as well as tips for achieving this. Lambert suggested that Democrats continue to call out Trump, demand investigations and challenge legislative matters.
“Our advocacy work is one of the most important things we can do to win next year,” said Lambert. “We’ve had about 800 days of Trump, and I must say, a lot of us are getting upset. But let’s not stop getting upset, calling him out, or accepting it as normal. It’s not normal – it’s terribly abnormal.”
Other proposals encouraged constituents to actively participate in the primaries, select strong nominees, engage fully in DA’s Get Out The Vote initiative and recruit members.