Meet Aida, Head of the Consular section at the Embassy of Mexico in the UK.

For #MexiWeek, we caught up with Aida to find out a little more about herself, she has always been a very approachable and friendly face at the Mexican Embassy, and can often be found at Mexican events & concerts across London, fully involved in the Mexican community’s activities and celebrations.

MexiBrit: You’ve back in London for a couple of years now, how does it compare to other countries you’ve lived in and how has it changed over the years you spent here?

Aida: I did my Masters degree in International Relations in the 1990’s at the London School of Economics and Political Science, thanks to the Chevening programme, back then the IRA was still setting off bombs in London.  After I joined the Mexican Foreign Service, I was very lucky to be posted to the UK, and it was an exciting period. Tony Blair was Prime Minister and parts of London were fast gentrifying – especially along the River Thames. I moved to Japan with my family in 2009, where we lived for 3 years.  Japan is a fascinating country. Mexico has over 400 years of relations with Japan, if we take into account the first encounters before the independence of Mexico. With my family and for work I travelled extensively in Japan, it is a wonderful country, where people admire nature and the changing of seasons like nowhere else.  It has the uber modern and the very traditional, right next to each other.  I loved the food and discovering museums, parks, temples, and the variety of neighbourhoods in Tokyo. We experienced the big earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in March 2011. Those were very challenging times, including the evacuation of many Mexicans living in Tokyo affected by the crisis.  In 2012 we moved back to Mexico, and I was posted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Apart from having the possibility to travel around Mexico, and take my children to amazing places like Palenque, Chichen-Itza, Tulum, Oaxaca, Baja etc. what I cherished most was being close to my family, and being able to celebrate with them important events, such as weddings.  We moved back to the UK in 2015, and I took time off from the service to do another Masters degree at KCL. Afterwards, I joined the Embassy, and I have been Head of the Consular Section since February 2018.  My job gives me the chance to meet many members of the Mexican community that live in the UK; artists, singers, professional footballers, academics, activists, and many people that contribute to make this country a more diverse and rich society.  It also helps build strong ties within the Mexican community, so that we help one another.

 

MexiBrit:  It must’ve been challenging to be there to help Mexicans in the UK during lockdown, can you tell us some success stories? How did the community get together to help others? The best thing about your job.

I believe lockdown was challenging for everybody.  In March, the Embassy organised two flights to help repatriate dozens of people who were stranded in the UK, because of travel restrictions and flight cancellations.  This was a great team effort, negotiating with the airlines, organizing passenger lists and informing of the flights to the community.  At the end, we managed to repatriate 238 people safely, and they were not only Mexicans stranded in the UK. Some people travelled from Egypt, Spain, Italy, Ireland and the Czech Republic to board the flights.  Without a doubt that was a great success story!

 Furthermore, during lockdown the Embassy and the Consular Sections reached out to our diaspora, the Mexican community.  We posted around 15 videos with recommendations regarding labour rights, mental health, physiotherapy, recipes from famous Chefs, as well as messages of optimism, sharing stories and promoting self-care.  All these videos were posted in a new platform on the Embassy’s website called #EnCasaConMexico.  In this site, people could find official information regarding COVID-19, travel restrictions, as well as a many cultural activities, such as virtual tours of museums in Mexico, and touristic attractions.

 

MexiBrit- This week we celebrate Mexican Independence Day, what does it mean to you to be Mexican in 2020?

This year we mark the 210th Anniversary of the start of the battle for Independence, but COVID was not going to stop us celebrating.  The Embassy has put together an amazing programme for the  whole month of September with a lot of cultural content, live music, fashion apparel, folk dancing, messages from Mexicans in the UK and of course the traditional Grito! on the 15th.  This year, Ambassador Aureny Aguirre, Chargé d’Affaires of Mexico in the UK, heads the ceremony.  I am proud that a distinguished Mexican diplomat represents us—especially a woman.  I hope that when we look back at 2020, we remember the challenging times but also that we have taken a step to be better persons, and more kind to others. 

 

MexiBrit- What makes you homesick the most?

Not being close to family and friends. This global pandemic has exacerbated the distance, because of travel restrictions and by trying to avoid more contagion of the virus, we decided to remain in the UK this Summer and not travel to Mexico. I hope we can embrace our loved ones soon!

 

MexiBrit- What’s your favourite Mexican dish to cook at home, the one that you always go back to when you & your family need comfort?

Without a doubt Tinga!  I can say I prepare a pretty good tinga, it’s my Mum’s recipe, that when we want to celebrate something as a family we always go back to tinga.  My daughter now makes a really good one too.

 

MexiBrit- What neighbourhood do you live in, and what is the best thing about it?

I live in South London, in Balham. The best thing is that there are three parks nearby, Clapham Common, Tooting Common and Wandsworth Common. Also there has always been a Mexican restaurant in the area, so I now need to try Cantina 1910 in Balham.

 

You can find out more about Consular Services here.

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