President notes Republic’s intention to develop deeper links with Mexico
Speaking at a lunch hosted by Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto on his visit to the country, Mr Higgins said the people of the two countries shared “a natural affinity with each other”
President Michael D Higgins with President Enrique Pena Nieto, President of Mexico at the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City. Photograph: Chris Bellew
President Michael D Higgins has spoken of the deep mutual appreciation between the Irish and Mexican people and the strong bonds in business, education, culture and the arts between the countries.
Speaking at a lunch hosted by Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto on his visit to the country, Mr Higgins said that the people of the two countries shared “a natural affinity with each other.”
“We also share a deep appreciation of our respective diasporas and of the rich contribution that those diasporas have made, continue to make and will make, to developments in the homeland, as well as in their adopted homes,” he said in his address at Mexico City’s National Palace.
Referring to the “strong Irish thread that is woven through the rich tapestry of Mexican history and culture”, he referred to Wexford-born Guillén Lambardo or William Lamport, who “championed the then radical ideas of racial equality, representative government and national independence”.
In a separate speech at a reception hosted by the Irish Ambassador to Mexico last night, Mr Higgins said some people had speculated that Lamport was the original model for the legend of “El Zorro”.
In his address at the palace, Mr Higgins spoke of Juan O’Donojú, a Spaniard of Irish descent and the last viceroy of New Spain, who accepted the independence of Mexico in 1821, and “as a result risked not only the end of a distinguished career but even his own life”.
The President told his Mexican guests that Ireland was “emerging slowly, but I hope in a sustainable fashion” from a “painful recession”. ”
Noting that Ireland and Mexico will mark 40 years of diplomatic relations in 2015, he said he was “very proud to represent a country and a people that . . . looks forward to building deeper links with your country across a range of interests”.
Yesterday, Mr Higgins laid a wreath at the Altar of the Nation in Chapultepec Park commemorating teenage Mexican soldiers who jumped to their deaths in 1847 rather than surrender to the Americans in the Mexican-American war.
The presidents witnessed the signing of a pact by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Joe Costello and Mexican foreign minister José Antonio Meade setting out how Ireland and Mexico will develop partnerships between companies and universities.
At the reception last night, Mr Higgins spoke of the tradition of emigration in the two states.
“The Irish, like the Mexicans, are a migratory people, informed by the experience of exile, migration – both chosen and enforced,” he said. “They are accustomed to finding themselves in distant lands. People from Ireland and of Irish descent have long come to the Americas . . . eager to explore new worlds and seek a new life.”
Mr Higgins spoke of his first visit to Mexico in 1967 when he was a postgraduate student at Indiana University and travelled down from the US.
“I remember still the pride with which my Mexican friends turned to me 46 years ago as soon as we had crossed the border with the United States: ‘You are in Mexico now.’ And I could feel it,” he said.
He pondered whether the ancient Mexican legend about an “old man with fair skin and blonde beard who brought teaching in new ways of cultivating the land and working metal to ancient Mexico” was a reference to St Brendan the Navigator from Galway who sailed west in the sixth century.