Central Time Zone UTC-06:00
Capital City Mexico City
Currency Mexican peso
National Day September 16
BACK AT HOME in Chiapas, Mexico’s new Ambassador Her Excellency Josefa González-Blanco runs a nature reserve, and rescues wildlife. “Growing up in Chiapas, the most beautiful state in Mexico, I developed a passion for animals, the rainforest and the boundless biodiversity in the area,” she enthuses. In the past, the reserve has looked after monkeys and anteaters, and even reintroduced the Red Macaw back into the jungle at Palenque, after 70 years of extinction. The reserve is also currently looking after six manatees. “We saved an 800kg girl, who was going to die, but she survived and is amazing! Four years later, we saved a baby male, who was in huge amounts of pain from a deep wound on his left-hand side. Today he is completely well, and even father to two babies. Raising him was one of the most beautiful experiences, after bringing up my own (human) son.”
While she is in London, Ms González-Blanco has a devoted team including two vets and a biologist working at the reserve. “So, the animals are in very good hands.” She arrived in London in April, and her son will join her soon. Although she misses her animals, she had a pleasant surprise when she arrived at the Residence for the first time. “There is a black Labrador called Ramiro who lives here, and he made me feel right at home. My little rescue dog arrives next week.”
As the capital slowly comes out of lockdown, she’s been happy to observe “a fascinating city of contrasts. I love the different cultural expressions: from the National Gallery and British Museum in the West to graffiti and street art in the East. London is a phenomenal city.” Passionate about art and nature, she looks forward to visiting various National Trust properties, Kew Gardens and the Eden Project.
Growing up in a family of lawyers, “Law was a natural choice. I understood the law, as that’s what I heard every day at home. However, it was not customary for women to study Law in Mexico at the time, but I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my father and grandfather. I wanted to go out and explore the world.” Ambassador González-Blanco graduated from the Anahuac University, also completing a Master’s in Transformative Arts from John F. Kennedy University. She went on to complete several studies at the Centre for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies in Paris, and became a professor of comparative legal systems at Mexico’s National Autonomous University and the University of Monterrey.
The Ambassador has a long history of promoting social and cultural programmes, working with charities in Mexico and abroad. “Along with social work in the community, we worked on some intensive reforestation programmes, as well as working in schools. Education is crucial: we must raise the next generation to understand the importance of climate change.”
Then came a call from her government to be Mexico’s Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources. “Protection of the environment and biodiversity are my life’s passions. Climate change is an urgent matter not only for Mexico, but the whole world. As a middle-income country, we need to adapt fast. Climate change cuts across all topics, whether it’s migration, social issues, social justice or gender issues.” She recalls a memorable moment when she was celebrating International Women’s Day with some mothers and daughters from her office. “One of the little girls sat in my chair and said: ‘Now I am you – I am going to be Secretary of State.’ It was so moving to see a young girl empowered and to realise I could be an inspiration to the next generation.”
As Ambassador in the UK, Ms González-Blanco says we must “build on this creative new relationship. Brexit has offered a transformational period for Mexico and the UK, creating spaces and opportunities for the two countries to work together that were not there before. We should be able to learn from each other. We are working on this commerce agreement, and are looking forward to having a modern treaty on which to build a new strong relationship with the UK.”
She says COP26 will be crucial for Mexico. “Mexico’s greatest diplomatic challenge is the need to communicate what our intentions and priorities are for the environment and climate change. We must work on how the world perceives Mexico and demonstrate to the UK and beyond the great work that we are doing.”