William Porayouw, Contributing Photographer

On Tuesday, the city of New Haven designated April 19 as Tlaxcala Friendship Day in a ceremony with New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker and Governor of Tlaxcala, México Lorena Cuellar Cisneros.

The event — which took place at the New Haven Free Public Library, or NHFPL – was meant to highlight New Haven’s appreciation of the contributions of the citizens of Tlaxcala, and a desire to foster an ongoing collaborative working relationship with the state. The city will see the establishment of a Mobile Consulate, which will provide economic opportunities, social services and resources from the government of Tlaxcala to New Haven residents. The city plans to have the mobile consulate inside the NHFPL until Friday but aims to make it monthly.  

“New Haven is always a place that reflects the values that I cherish of Tlaxcalan people,” Elicker said. “[Tlaxcala is] the home of thousands of our community members. And it’s also the source of much culture, festivals and food and traditions that we experience here in New Haven thanks to the work of so many of our partners like [Unidad Latina en Acción] and other members of the community that uplift the Mexican culture, but bring that here to New Haven and in many ways make it part of the New Haven culture.”

The visit was the product of a 15-year relationship between the city of New Haven and the Mexican state of Tlaxcala. The relationship began when 10 women from an indigenous community in San Francisco Tetlanohcan, Tlaxcala, came to New Haven as cultural ambassadors, according to Marco Castillo, who serves as an advisor to Cisneros. While San Francisco, New Haven’s sister city, has celebrated several festivals, events and exchanges since then, Tuesday’s meeting between the two government officials signifies an evolution of that relationship – which has grown to the state level.

In his speech, Mayor Elicker emphasized that the city of New Haven hopes to strengthen its ties to the state of Tlaxcala through “economic opportunities” and “social and government services.”

At the mobile consulate, individuals with Mexican citizenship will be able to obtain passports, consulate IDs and birth certificates. Additional services include notary services and legal counsel. 

“As governor of Tlaxcala, one of my main missions is to create more jobs for [our] people,” Cisneros said. “But I also acknowledge that there’s people who have already migrated before me, and so that’s what we’re here to ensure – that they have access to all the documents they need and the opportunities that we can provide for them.”

Cisneros praised the skill and talent of the Tlaxcalan people, especially of those who have moved to New Haven in the past decade. She said that a victory for one person from Tlaxcala was a victory for all people in the community.

The partnership was not solely the work of government officials – but also that of Unidad Latina en Acción, or ULA, a local activist organization in New Haven. 

Nayeli Garcia, a Tlaxcalan community organizer for ULA, described to the News how the group’s contributions came to be.

A few months ago, she said, a representative of Governor Cisneros visited Mayor Elicker in New Haven. ULA organizers received a chance to speak with both officials about fostering a friendship between the state of Tlaxcala and creating a mobile consulate for Mexican-Americans in the city. After the meeting, Elicker approved the partnership – paving the way for the governor to visit and the Mobile Consulate to be established.

Garcia expressed her desire for the Mobile Consulate to operate monthly and remotely, with opportunities for Mexican-Americans from across the New Haven region to file paperwork and receive IDs to visit Mexico and reunify families.

“There’s many people that haven’t seen their parents [for] maybe 20 years, or even more,” Garcia said. “We hope to bring … their families together just to see them one more time.”

Luis Chavez-Brumell, who serves as deputy director of the NHFPL, welcomed the partnership at the library – describing how his own Mexican heritage and growing up in New Haven inspired him to find a sense of “a home away from home.”

“We are open for everyone,” Chavez-Brumell said. “And we are happy to be able to [support] the community in this way.”

He reminded the audience that the mobile consulate would be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Tuesday through Friday, and that the library had additional support for the city’s Spanish-speaking community – including books, resources and Spanish-speaking staff.

Unidad Latina en Acción will be hosting a march on the New Haven Green for immigrants and worker rights on May 1. 

WILLIAM PORAYOUW
William Porayouw covers international affairs at Yale and serves on the YDN business team. Originally from Southern California, he is a first-year in Davenport College majoring in ethics, politics and economics.