Mariano Lemus Gas is leaving Las Vegas after eight years as chief
of the Mexican Consulate in Nevada. The change in leadership,
already known in some circles of the Southern Nevada Hispanic
community, was announced after he returned from the inauguration of
Enrique Pena Nieto as Mexico's new president.
Lemus Gas said his departure is unrelated to the change in government. Rotations are routine in the diplomatic service, he said, and he spent much longer than expected in Las Vegas after his January 2005 arrival. His replacement, as yet unnamed, will take over on Jan. 22.
Before his posting here, Lemus Gas was director and coordinator of international affairs and protocol in the Mexican Senate and Consul in Seattle. He also served previously as secretary to an ambassador and a governor.
In an interview with El Tiempo, a Spanish-lanuage sister newspaper of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Lemus Gas said that while he remains "passionate" about his country and its future, he regrets that Mexico has failed to attain a place among emerging international powers.
Much of his focus here has been to identify and serve the needs of the Mexican community abroad, and he understands the differences among the various generations of Mexicans living in the United States.
"What unites us is that we all have the desire to improve the welfare of our families." Lemus Gas said. "I recognize that Mexico has not offered its countrymen the opportunities they deserve resulting in many leaving the country."
While here, he has worked to change the image of Mexico that he says exists among Americans and some of his own countrymen: that "everything in Mexico is violence and corruption." While acknowledging there are parts of Mexico that face such problems, he insists that "the vast majority do not have a thermometer to know what is happening there."
Mexico's new president intends to discourage Mexicans from leaving the country by creating jobs and improving education and security, Lemus Gas said.
The departing consul is hopeful that his replacement will continue his efforts to look out for the most vulnerable of the Mexican population here, which he said is not shared by U.S. politicians except for Sen. Harry Reid.
Lemus Gas said the consulate has to make a connection, a gateway for them to understand what happens with the Mexican community.
He also wants Nevadans to know the importance of Mexican tourists: "There are 500,000 Mexicans who help the Nevada state economy annually as tourists. It is proven with those arriving at McCarran airport that not all Mexicans come to Nevada as undocumented workers."
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