Mexican Consul General Eduardo Arnal speaks to Moffat County residents Thursday at Fiesta Jalisco. Arnal answered questions and provided information about services offered by the consulate.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Mexican Consul General Eduardo Arnal speaks to Moffat County residents Thursday at Fiesta Jalisco. Arnal answered questions and provided information about services offered by the consulate.

Mexican consul conducts meeting

Official says region an example of successful cultural integration

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— Mexican citizens living in America have access to services they may not be aware of.

That was the message presented by Mexican Consul General Eduardo Arnal during a meeting Thursday night at Fiesta Jalisco in Craig.

The gathering, which was put on by the Denver-based Consulate General of Mexico, attracted close to 20 people and was one in a series of similar visits within the state.

Arnal answered questions from audience members that ranged from how to obtain a passport to what legal rights a Mexican national has if he or she is the victim of sexual assault in America.

He also explained some of the services Mexican residents can obtain through the consulate.

Arnal led similar meetings recently in Hot Sulphur Springs, Boulder and Steamboat Springs, he said, adding that he met with local authorities and law enforcement officials at each stop.

On Thursday evening, he set aside time to speak to natives of Mexico to whom the consulate offers its services.

The consulate attends to the needs of Mexican citizens living in America. It offers various services to Mexican nationals, Arnal said, including weddings and power of attorney.

Other protective services offered through the Department of Protection of Mexico include moving patients or bodily remains back to Mexico, according to the consulate's Web site.

The Protection Department can also provide actions "aimed at safeguarding the rights and interests of Mexicans in the civil, criminal, labor, administrative, immigration, judicial and human rights (areas), as well as meet their legitimate demands," the Web site reported.

Mexican nationals face various challenges as they try to integrate into American communities, Arnal said.

One of those can be learning and adhering to laws that, in some cases, differ from those in Mexico.

"We also try to explain to them that the system and the laws of this country are different than in our country," he said.

"We encourage them to trust in the law enforcement agencies," Arnal said, adding that reporting criminal activity is one step in that process.

Arnal said he believed that Mexican nationals are integrating successfully into Northwest Colorado.

"The cities of Steamboat (and) Craig could be a (perfect) example for the rest of the state of how they are dealing with the diversity and the minorities," he said.

Eveline Bacon, Integrated Community intercultural ESL program manager, said she also believed Mexican citizens are integrating successfully into local society.

"You can just see around us," she said, "see that Americans go to Mexican restaurants (and) Mexicans go to American functions."

She added that part of the role of Integrated Community, also known as Comunidad Integrada in Spanish, is to make sure that happens.

Still, Bacon said, Mexican citizens aren't always aware of what legal rights they have in America.

"People come thinking that it's the same in all countries," she said.

Basic protections apply to everyone who lives in the United States, she said, adding that instructing Mexican nationals about such rights was the reason why the meeting was offered.

"We're trying to educate everybody," she said.

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