Two hundred and ten years ago, in the state of Guanajuato, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla stood upon the Church of Dolores and gave a defiant call to arms for all those who longed for Mexico to be independent from the Spanish crown. The Cry of Dolores, as this event is known, is regarded as the beginning of the first major transformation of Mexico from the crown jewel of the Spanish Empire into the ambitious project of forging a single nation from many distinct solidarities. The Mexican War of Independence, an 11-year struggle, began and ended in September, and is a holiday in which we celebrate the hope, struggle and hardship faced by those who fought for our independence.

Like the United States, which also fought for emancipation, modern Mexico united many nations, cultures and languages into a single society with a commitment to independence and the freedom of self-determination.

As sister republics, the United States and Mexico navigated the very challenging geopolitical realities of the 19th and 20th centuries side by side, and continue to be intertwined in the modern era by commerce, trade and the flow of people between nations. This history of mutually beneficial trade was strengthened with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994. The mutual benefit of this trade agreement is clear. In 1993, trade between Mexico and the United States was worth a total of $81.5 billion, and in 2019, trade between the two countries was worth $614.5 billion, making Mexico the United States’ second largest trading partner. Mexico and the United States will enter 2021 with a modernized trade agreement in the USMCA, which is an updated agreement that keeps much of what worked in NAFTA and improves upon a diverse number of fields, such as intellectual property and labor rights.

The USMCA, and the historically strong trade relationship between Mexico and the United States, means that we should be optimistic about the continued expansion of trade between our two countries. Washington state has benefited considerably from the Mexico-U.S. relationship. Mexican and Mexican American workers continue to be a vital part of Washington’s economy, as they have been for many years, in the tech, service and agricultural industries, as well as many other sectors.

Trade between Mexico and Washington state was worth $4.3 billion in 2019, and 114,714 jobs in the state are supported by trade with Mexico. Because of our combined economic and social interests, Mexico is an ideal place for investment. Mexico is a fellow democratic nation with many benefits for foreign investment in a variety of sectors and a stable partner that ensures all major legal protections are granted to company operation. There are hundreds of flights connecting major Mexican and U.S. cities, making travel easy and convenient. Additionally, Mexico boasts a young, vibrant and well-educated population that is eager for opportunities.

Mexico and the United States have shared in the hardships brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. In order to combat the negative social and economic effects of this pandemic, it is essential that Mexico and the United States embrace their shared history of mutual assistance going forward in order to rebuild and strengthen their economies together. There are more than 800,000 Mexicans and Mexican Americans currently living and working in Washington state, and their presence in Washington has a rich and varied history.

To support some of these families, the Consulate of Mexico in Seattle is organizing Mexican Restaurant Week from Sept. 14 to the 20th (mxrestaurantweek.com). During this week, we invite you to celebrate the independence of Mexico by supporting local business and indulging in Mexican cuisine. We encourage diners to participate in this community event, and also to follow all health-department regulations to ensure a safe dining and takeout experience.

The Consulate of Mexico takes pride in serving as a link between Washington state and the country of Mexico, and we look forward to serving Mexican citizens currently residing in Washington for many years to come.