Guest Opinion: Gift to Boise symbolizes close connection with Mexico


May 10, 2014 

Mexico is well known for having one of the richest and most important cultures in the world. It is home to more than 187 archeological sites, and with 32 locations, it ranks first in Latin America and sixth in the world for number of places designated by UNESCO as World Heritage sites. Additionally, UNESCO has named seven of the country's local traditions and festivities (including Mexican gastronomy) to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage for their value to humankind.

Not only is our cultural diplomacy one powerful way for us to present Mexico as an attractive destination for tourism and investment, it also helps us increase our country's presence in the world. Mexico's 31 states collaborate closely with our federal government in order to offer their local art and traditions as the best ambassadors of our country.

Boise is now benefiting from such diplomacy. As the capital of Idaho and an important commercial partner of Mexico in the agricultural sector, Boise will become home to the Arbol de la Vida (Tree of Life), a monumental handmade sculpture donated to Boise by the city of Metepec, in the state of Mexico, as a symbol of friendship and enhanced cooperation between the two cities.

Metepec rises above the Central Mexican plateau, and balances the tranquility of the countryside with the fast pace of modernity. With a GDP of more than $3 billion, Metepec is one of the richest cities in the country. Because of its beauty, the state has designated it as a Pueblo Magico (Magic Town).

Popular art in Metepec manifests itself in glassworks, baskets, saddlery and fireworks, but the city is most famous for its pottery and clay sculpture. The Arbol de la Vida is a product of this tradition, presenting a narrative in clay that evokes fantasies and tells a story. In the particular case of the sculpture donated to Boise, the artisan's work reflects local identities of the city of trees, depicting its natural beauty and a permanent sense of progress.

The Arbol de la Vida presented by the city of Metepec to the city of Boise is the biggest of its kind ever gifted to a foreign city. Mayor Carolina Monroy and a delegation of Metepec City Council members will soon arrive in Boise for a donation ceremony Tuesday at the Boise Airport, where the sculpture will be on permanent display on the lower level. The delegation from Metepec will meet there with Boise city officials, including Mayor Dave Bieter, City Council members and other community leaders. Bieter and Monroy will sign a Declaration of Friendship as a gesture of commitment to cultural exchange and broader understanding between our two countries.

The Arbol de la Vida shows, in an original way, how today's Mexico combines ancient traditions and culture with its modern status as a G-20 nation. Under the leadership of President Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico is undergoing a historic transformation that will improve competitiveness, bolster our stable democracy, and turn Mexico into a leader in technology and advanced manufacturing, making us one of the largest economies in the world. Throughout the course of these changes, Mexico will continue to be a close friend and partner of the United States. Boise's Arbol will be a symbol of this community's direct link to Mexico and our shared future.

Guillermo Ordorica is consul of Mexico in Boise.

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