Mexican governor pitches closer ties to Fresno, Valley

Gov. Aristóteles Sandoval speaks to Fresnans about Jalisco, Mexico, and the similarities between California’s Central Valley and his state.
Gov. Aristóteles Sandoval speaks to Fresnans about Jalisco, Mexico, and the similarities between California’s Central Valley and his state.

Fresno civic and business leaders met with Gov. Jorge Aristóteles Sandoval Díaz of Jalisco, Mexico, on Wednesday to discuss partnership opportunities between Fresno and Jalisco.

Sandoval and Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin expressed excitement for establishing communication between Fresno and Jalisco, both saying that it was only the beginning. About 50 people attended the luncheon sponsored by the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation, and they talked about the potential for collaboration on such things as health, immigration, water and agricultural trade.

“It’s opening the door to friendship,” Consul of Mexico Vicente Sanchez Ventura said. “It’s opening the door to partnership.”

Ventura said he was hopeful for continued partnership and the possibility of eventually allying Fresno and Jalisco’s capital, Guadalajara, as Sister Cities.

The conversation between Sandoval and Fresno business leaders was cordial and friendly, and no mention was made of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s call for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Trump repeated his call for a wall and his criticisms of Mexico during a visit to Fresno’s Selland Arena on May 27.

Sandoval did respond to a question about the communities of immigrant workers in the central San Joaquin Valley. He emphasized the importance of health care, education and social programs to help Mexican immigrant families succeed here.

The meeting provided a platform for Fresnans to ask questions and learn about Jalisco’s economy, people and the opportunities available for future teamwork. Many were interested in furthering trade and supporting business opportunities, especially in the shared fields of agriculture and manufacturing.

“Our people, today, are innovating,” Sandoval said in Spanish. “And that’s why we see the fundamentals of strength around the world.”

He explained how Jalisco dealt with droughts by moderating water consumption and using new technology to conserve water, especially in areas dependent on it for crops. Growing bell peppers, for example, has been revolutionized with technology to use less water, Sandoval said.

Guadalajara is similar to California’s Central Valley in its population, climate and agricultural economy, said Tim Rios, senior vice president for Wells Fargo. Therefore, he said, they have much to learn from each other.

“In Jalisco, we have the most laboratory centers of innovation in the country and in Latin America,” Sandoval said. “I would be pleased to exchange information and to know what they’re doing here in Fresno. We could know your products. We would love to have that contact.”

He emphasized throughout how Jalisco has found new ways to do things, from agriculture to manufacturing, making their products more competitive. This affects the economy as well as the community, he said.

Sydney Maki: 559-441-6141, @symmaki