Expat Life had the opportunity to interview the Mexican Ambassador to Thailand H.E. Mr. Jaime Nualart and find out more about his life as a diplomat and his post to Thailand.
How long have you been the Ambassador to Thailand?
I arrived to Thailand on October 26th 2019. This means I have been in Thailand for a little more than 9 months.
Did you arrive to Thailand directly from home, or were you posted somewhere else before?
My wife and I came from Turkey where I was Ambassador of Mexico. I feel very lucky, because as Ambassador, I have been honoured to serve in two important countries for Mexico, both with a millenary history.
Where were you born and brought up?
I was born in Mexico, in the state of Michoacan. Which is located in Western Mexico and has a stretch of coastline on the Pacific Ocean to the Southwest. It is one of the 32 states which comprise the Federal Entities of Mexico. The state is divided into 113 municipalities and its capital city is Morelia. My family moved to Mexico City when I was a young boy. So I grew up and studied in Mexico City.
At which age did you decide you wanted to become a diplomat?
I chose Social Sciences in my senior high school year, which was a requirement in the Mexican education system to be able to later study International Relations.
However, my interest in diplomacy started when I was a young elementary school student. I had keenly studied world history. I was not only passionate about the great civilisations but also about the 20th century history, particularly, the I and II World Wars, the Korean and Vietnam Wars. My parents were very keen on their children being well informed of what was happening both in Mexico and across the world. With this background it was natural that I went to university to study International Relations and later on, that I applied and became a member of the Mexican Foreign Service.
Are there any other diplomats in your family?
I have a brother and an uncle who were also part of the Foreign Service for some years.
How do you see Thailand today, have there been any obstacles in your way since you arrived?
For me it was surprising to see a modern and vibrant city like Bangkok which accurately reflects the dynamism and modernity of Thailand. I have observed a country that works well and grows day after day. In this short period I have been witness of the great and successful work that the Thai government and society have done to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a fine example to the world and I congratulate Thailand for this.
Far from finding obstacles, I have found coincidences with Mexico. Thailand has been a welcoming country, where I have found happy, hardworking people, always willing to help, warm and welcoming to foreigners.
Do you see any similarities between your country and Thailand?
Despite our geographical distance, I see many similarities between Mexico and Thailand. Both of our peoples inherit traditions and knowledge from millenary cultures. In both societies, religion is of great significance and relevant. Family bonds are important to both societies. Mexicans and Thais are both proud of their history and they love their food and culinary customs. Both countries share a modern emerging economy and have similar visions about the main challenges in today’s world.
Do you have children? What age and where do they go to school?
We only have one daughter. She lives and studies in Madrid, currently finishing her last year in Graphic Design. Diplomatic family life is not always easy, because our children grow up in a constantly changing environment and therefore sometimes families have to be split up.
How do you look upon your work here? How does an average day look like?
Diplomatic life requires us to learn and readjust. Every day sees us facing new challenges and the opportunity to create new opportunities between two countries. Work is rarely between 9am and 6pm so it is not a routine job, but an agenda that constantly changes and never stops. Every day there are meetings and different challenges and sometimes the day finishes very late. You never stop working because diplomacy entails a job of permanent representation.
As with every ambassador, I assume you have some goals you really would like to fulfil before you leave Thailand?
In August 2020, Mexico and Thailand celebrate 45 years of diplomatic relations. Throughout our years of friendship, the two countries have enjoyed an excellent relationship free of any conflict. Nevertheless, diplomacy is the job that never ends, since there is always something new to keep bringing countries closer together. As an ambassador, sometimes you have the opportunity to plant new seeds and at other times you are lucky enough to harvest from your predecessors, in a continuity that looks for contributing to a good relationship enduringness.
Have you been able to travel around Thailand?
Unfortunately, I have not travelled the country as much as I would have liked to, due to the problems that we have encountered this year. However, I have had the opportunity to visit places such as Hua Hin, Ayuthaya and the Northeast region and I enjoyed them immensely. In Bangkok I enjoy visiting temples, museums, food and flower markets, as well as some of its amazing contemporary buildings.
Do you have a favourite destination in Thailand?
I have very much enjoyed the atmosphere in the Northeast region, particularly in Chiang Rai. Another of my favourites is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya.
If you have a day off, what do you prefer to do? Do you have any hobbies?
I like playing tennis and walking the streets discovering new places. Reading, watching soccer and motorcar racing are my favourite hobbies.
How many of your countryfolk are living in Thailand? When and why did Thailand become a desirable destination for your people?
We have registered just over three hundred Mexicans who live in Thailand, most of them in Bangkok, but also in Nonthaburi, Chonburi, Chiang Mai and other key cities. There is an increasing demand for Mexican traditional food, so we have some chefs working in Mexican restaurants who arrived a few years ago. Most of the Mexicans who live in Thailand are senior staffers at international companies. Some others are in the hospitality and services industry at management level. Most of the Mexican people who live in Thailand have a family life, some of them married with Thai people and raising Thai Mexican children.
Does your country and Thailand have an exchange programme for students today?
I have recently learned that there is an increasing interest of Thai young people in Mexico, Latin America and the Spanish language in general. So we have welcomed Thai college and degree students who wish to study one semester in Mexican institutions with the “Mexican Government Scholarship Programme for International Students”, which is renewed every year. Besides, there are exchanges between Thai and Mexican universities, such as the Colima University cooperation with Chulalongkorn and Mahidol Universities.
If you could choose your next destination, where would you like to go?
As a diplomat, I think that all countries have their importance and their particular interest, otherwise there would not be reason to have embassies or diplomatic relations. I have lived and worked in eight different countries and I have fond and wonderful memories of all of them.
Any memory from Thailand that you’d like to tell us, an awkward situation or a funny incident?
In this relatively short period I have been a witness of the great job done by the people and government of Thailand facing the pandemic situation. Such outstanding performance is one that will remain in history and and Thais should be very proud of it.
Do you regularly meet up with your community?
Yes, one of my main responsibilities as ambassador is to establish a permanent dialogue with the Mexican community. Unfortunately, personal contact with the Mexican community was interrupted by Covid-19. So during this period, the embassy asked them to comply with the lockdown and we implemented a new line of direct contact via personal emails and telephone one calls to know about their situation. I also try to greet with Mexicans who visit the embassy for any consular matters.
What is the most important task you want to fulfil before you end your post in Thailand?
I have designated instructions from my government: to strengthen our political dialogue in global issues. To increase the volume of trade and investment between the two countries and to accelerate the knowledge and understanding of Mexico. In this regard, my main goals are to contribute to our collaboration and coincidences in multilateral fora, to explore new market niches for both Thai and Mexican producers and exporters and to enhance commercial dialogue between the respective stakeholders. Also to intensify the presence of the different cultural and artistic manifestations of Mexico for the Thai peoples enjoyment.