I had the honor of chairing the Foreign Relations Commission in the Senate of the Republic between 2012 and 2018. A fundamental part of our constitutional responsibilities was the ratification of the appointments of ambassadors and consuls general proposed by the Federal Executive. During that time, 1 out of 10 corresponded to a woman and 30% was granted to people who did not belong to the Mexican Foreign Service (SEM). Within that 30% were politicians (mainly from the PRI, the party that was in power), the academy and the media.
Mexico has an extraordinary Foreign Service, which in addition to having a very good preparation, has been able to deliver many international positions and exemplary results to our country. Ideally, all representation positions abroad should be held by members of the SEM.
In recent days we have read countless debates about the appointments made by the President of the Republic for different embassies and consulates general. I want to focus this column on a specific aspect: the relevance of having ambassadors who were governors and belong to an opposition party. Regarding the appointment of Pedro Salmerón to the Embassy of Mexico in Panama, I can only say that the man should appear in court and in front of the women who denounce him instead of presenting himself to appear in the Senate of the Republic.
The President of the Republic has invited some governors as ambassadors and consuls general. Names from the ranks of the PRI stand out in that list, and by the PAN only Javier Corral was mentioned, who declined due to having dual nationality as has been published (a decision that I congratulate because the previous government “forgot” this requirement in one of its appointments and regardless of the legislation was endorsed in the plenary session of the Senate).
Political appointments are not new in Mexican diplomacy, nor is it an innovation to give plurality to the names that are proposed to the Senate of the Republic. The six-year term of Vicente Fox propelled politicians from the right and left to the head of numerous embassies and consulates. Calderón’s government was no exception and we saw renowned PRI members occupy very important positions abroad, which far from being seen as a dark pact, were negotiated by their parties and benches in a kind of “quota”. During Peña’s term, the appointments for the opposition were relegated to minor positions, for that reason it seems that plurality is not necessary or at least it is not in our immediate memory.
Mexican foreign policy must be a state policy that reflects the plurality of Mexico and consolidates it in the same vision and project centered on national interests. On the other hand, those who have already governed a state have knowledge, experience and talents that can be useful to Mexico (beyond the names that deserve their own assessment). In other words, in general I don’t think it’s a mistake to invite former governors and I don’t think it’s wrong to appoint people from the opposition, partisan militancy should not be a reason to exclude anyone. Issues of mistrust and suspicion are internal matters for the PRI. The real debate must take place over the accounts that those former governors deliver in their states and the profiles and work plans that they will present before the Foreign Relations Commission. Of course, it would be interesting and even necessary for those interested to explain their intentions with total transparency. We’ll see what happens in their appearances.