Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry announced Friday that Gerónimo Gutiérrez Fernandez, head of San Antonio-based North American Development Bank (NADBank), will be Mexico’s new ambassador to the United States.
Gutiérrez will succeed current ambassador Carlos Sada Solana, who will become undersecretary for North America on Jan. 23, the Mexican Foreign Affairs Ministry stated in a release Friday. Sada, who served as Consul General of Mexico in San Antonio from 1995-2000, was ambassador for only nine months. He will attend the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will submit Gutiérrez’s appointment to the Mexican Senate for ratification. Naming a new ambassador in Washington also requires approval from the U.S. government.
“(I am) thankful to President Enrique Peña Nieto for (the) opportunity to serve my country and be a part of his administration under leadership of Secretary Luis Videgaray,” Gutiérrez stated on Twitter.
To uphold diplomatic form and comply with Mexico’s constitution, Gutiérrez said he will withhold further comments “until the conclusion of appropriate processes” in Mexico and the U.S.
Since 2010, Gutiérrez has been the managing director of NADBank, which was created in 1994 under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The bank is jointly financed by the U.S. and Mexico to lead environmental projects that preserve and enhance the quality of life for people living on the border.
Gutiérrez currently serves on the board of directors for the Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos (AEM) and has collaborated on events that deal with cross-border infrastructure, trade, and the promotion of binational energy production.
Prior to his role with NADBank, Gutiérrez served as Mexico’s undersecretary for North America as well as undersecretary for Latin America and the Caribbean. He has held posts in sectors of commerce, finance, foreign relations, and national security in the last four administrations of the Mexican government.
Gutiérrez holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) in Mexico City and a master’s in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
As Mexico prepares for a complex new relationship with the U.S. under Trump, Peña Nieto has begun a political chess game and moved around key government roles in an effort to strengthen bilateral ties in security, immigration, commerce, and investment.
On Jan. 4 the Mexican president designated former finance minister Luis Videgaray as the country’s new foreign minister, thus replacing Claudia Ruiz Massieu. It was Videgaray who suggested Peña Nieto invite Trump to Mexico in August, a decision that caused uproar among the Mexican populace and put pressure on Videgaray to resign as finance minister.
It’s been a rough start to the new year for Mexico, as Peña Nieto grapples with Trump’s ascent, the fall of the Mexican peso, and violent unrest due to a 20% increase in gas prices. Opposition has taken the form of protests, looting, and robberies all over the country.
In his new role, Gutiérrez will have to respond to Trump’s promise to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, deport of thousands of immigrants, and renegotiate NAFTA. Most recently, Trump berated members of the auto industry for investing in Mexico and opening up car plants there instead of in the U.S. His statements prompted strong responses on social media from former Mexican presidents Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón.
“Gerónimo Gutiérrez is the perfect person to serve as the ambassador from Mexico to the United States because he is an expert on U.S.-Mexico relations,” Cavazos told the Rivard Report Saturday. “Now more than ever, his skills and experience should help bridge the economic/immigration tensions between our two countries.”
The Hispanic Chamber frequently works with Gutiérrez and other officials at NADBank to plan annual trade missions to Mexico.
“Gerónimo’s role as the NADBank managing director for six years has provided a strong partner for us at the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to help make our trade missions, advocacy of NAFTA, and support for free trade very effective,” Cavazos added.