Spotlight on Women
Remedios Gómez Arnau, Consul General, Consulate General of Mexico
Photo by Becca Batista
How does a person become a consul general?
You are appointed by the President of Mexico and confirmed by the Mexican Senate.
What is your background?
I studied and got a master’s in international relations. I started my PhD but didn’t finish, because I was appointed by the president to go to Atlanta as consul general. After seven years in Atlanta, I was appointed by a different president to come to San Diego as consul general. I was an academic secretary at a research center, studying relationships between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. I specialized mainly in immigration and participated in academic, binational efforts to advise governments on this issue.
Where did you grow up?
Mexico City, and I studied English while in school there. I had American teachers, so it was easier to learn from them. My parents thought it was important to know more than one language.
What are the responsibilities of a consul general?
To promote relationships with the federal executive, legislative, and judicial branches. A consul provides services to the Mexican community but also to Mexicans who are living in the U.S., those who are traveling who need service, and to visitors. We also assist American citizens who might work in Mexico. There are 70,000 U.S. citizens living in Baja, Mexico.
Are there specific problems here because we are a border city?
We have a very positive working relationship with Mexican officials. Cali-Baja is a megaregion. The idea is to promote the bringing of investment to the region and to complement each other. I have a seat at Sandag. I have no vote, but I do have a voice. Only the mayors have a vote. It is useful for both sides, so we can learn best practices. I also participate monthly at Sandag’s borders committee meetings.
Have the ports of entry improved?
Oh, yes. We are working together on this binational project. San Ysidro now has more lanes. There is a new pedestrian crossing at San Ysidro. It is the largest vehicle and pedestrian crossing in the world—50,000 people cross per day.
What about the airport connection?
A bridge will soon be completed that connects Otay Mesa to the Tijuana airport, available to people with airplane tickets.
How did you handle challenges between career and family?
That has not been easy, because when I left Atlanta, my son was already involved with his education there and he didn’t want to leave. That is part of the sacrifices in this career.
How do you mentor?
I am well aware of helping others, both men and women. I have been a teacher, so I know that it is very important to help others to better themselves. We strive for balance in age, gender, and background with our 45 employees at the consulate, because it is important to have multiple perspectives.
What is your work schedule like?
I must be available for any issue that comes up, so I am on call 24/7. The second in command is the deputy general consul, so when I am on my vacation time, he is called upon.
What do you do for yourself?
On weekends I see friends, go to the theatre, music, movies, and good restaurants.
How do you see your future?
I could be offered a transfer to another location as consul or as ambassador, or they could just tell me “Thank you for your services.” For now I am happy doing what I am doing. The main reason for our existence is to contribute to the betterment of the world in the small space where we are. Being consul general allows me to connect many people and issues.