Mexican ambassador pushes for end to visa requirement

By Jennifer Campbell, Ottawa Citizen, December 10, 2013

There are only two problems in the relationship between Canada and Mexico, according to Mexican Ambassador Francisco Suarez. There’s what he calls “the big B” — beef — and then “the little v” — visas.

The ambassador, who spoke as part of the Ambassadors Speaker Series at Carleton University, didn’t address the beef issue, which involves Mexico’s phytosanitary concerns with Canadian beef, but he did address the visa issue in some detail. The issue dates back to 2009 when the Canadian government began requiring Mexicans to obtain visas after refugee claims from the country rose sharply. At the same time, the government imposed similar restrictions for travellers from the Czech Republic but has since lifted that requirement.

“I think there’s a major, overwhelming crusade that [the visa regime] be reciprocal,” said the ambassador, who has hammered away at this issue since arriving in June 2013. “I’ve been speaking with many people. The tourist people in Vancouver say Mexicans like Whistler and the snow and you would have doubled the number of tourists [with a visa-free protocol].