When a Mexican diplomat mentioned the “potential future opening” of a consulate last week in Oklahoma City, someone in Oklahoma City Community College interrupted him briefly with a quiet “woo!” and fist pump.
Ambassador Carlos I. Giralt-Cabrales then held up his right hand and said, “let me be very clear. If everything goes well, it’s a very good chance that next year we will have an office in Oklahoma.
“But I’ve learned something from my friends in the United States who say ‘you don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”
Giralt-Cabrales, the newly appointed consul general of the Mexican consulate in Little Rock Arkansas, spoke to a gathering of about 100 people at OCCC. Citing a transition in consular leadership and an unconfirmed location, he said the tentative 2022 date for the opening of a Mexican consulate in Oklahoma City has been pushed back, leaving Mexican Oklahomans waiting for access to much-needed services like passport and voter-card renewals and the attainment of birth certificates and consular identification.
“Keep in mind that opening an office takes some time. We have to deal with the systems of two different countries, personnel, equipment — many things,” Giralt-Cabrales said. “So please, Mexican community, be patient.”
Oklahoma’s Mexican community has been advocating for a consulate for 30 years now. Last year, its members sent over 4,000 letters to Giralt-Cabrales’ predecessor as part of an initiative by Hispanic-focused organizations requesting a consulate in Oklahoma City or Tulsa.
Oklahoma City Community College has a high rate of Hispanic enrollment — 69% at its main campus and 100% at its Capitol Hill campus — making it a suitable location for a Mexican consulate, said Robert Ruiz, the director of external affairs at OCCC and primary host of the Aug. 31 event. Those conversations are in the early stages, he said.
“There are various people that are now forming proposals, whether it’s institutions or private building owners,” Ruiz said. “It will most likely be a selection committee out of Mexico City rather than the consulate here that would be managing any of that process.”
Mexico City also will appoint someone to head the consulate, a process that Giralt-Cabrales said is beginning.
“We have resumed where my friend and colleague former Consul General Quilantán-Arenas left off,” he said.
Meanwhile, the mobile consulate program offering Mexican nationals same-day services where they are has restarted in Oklahoma as of Aug. 20, and while the rollout has been slow following a three-year pause caused by the pandemic, Mexican-Oklahomans should stay tuned for the September dates and location for the next consular visit.
Giralt-Cabrales, appointed to his current post in 2021, met Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt last week. Among other attendees was Nancy Galvan, owner of La Tremenda radio station, and David Castillo, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Lionel Ramos is a Report for America corps member who covers race and equity issues for Oklahoma Watch. Contact him at 405-905-9953 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @LionelRamos_.