This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
*Text by guest blogger Justin McKenzie Smith, Deputy Head of Mission
President Peña Nieto will spend the final day of his UK State Visit in Scotland, in the city of Aberdeen. As Mexico begins a new era in the development of its energy resources, Aberdeen – the centre of Europe’s energy industry – is the natural place to visit.
In Aberdeen, the President will meet senior energy industry leaders and see something of the amazing technological and research expertise concentrated in the city’s universities and colleges. I am pleased there will also be a chance to continue important discussions that HRH The Prince of Wales began on his visit to Campeche in Mexico in 2014 about the relationship between energy development and climate targets.
Energy – and the sharing of expertise and knowledge – will be one of the engines for the next stage of the UK and Mexico’s historic relationship. Working with Scottish Development International and other partners, we want to make sure that Scottish-based companies and institutions are at the heart of that journey.
The longer I am in Mexico, the more I discover about connections with Scotland. It is quite something that the St Andrew’s Society of Mexico is more than 120 years old, making it one of the oldest associations in Mexico. Fanny Calderón de la Barca, originally from Edinburgh, was an acute observer of life in Mexico City in the early years of independence. And I am checking up on a story I was told that the first person from the British isles to visit Nueva España in the 16th century – according to the records of the Inquisition – was a Scot.
For me, the most interesting parallel between Scotland and Mexico today is the way that both are trying to combine rich history and cultural traditions with cutting-edge modernity. A country that is defined only by its history risks becoming a museum.
Mexico is impressing the world with the growth of its high-tech, dynamic economy. Recent Scottish innovations include the world’s first commercially available bionic hand, the first successfully cloned mammal, major research into nanotechnology and the Grand Theft Auto video games series.
For a relatively small country of 5 million people, Scotland has an impressive depth of academic excellence. Academics based in Scotland’s universities and higher education institutions produce one percent of all research publications in the world – ranking Scotland third in the world for the number of research publications published per head of population.
Science, arts and culture also have a particularly important role in Scottish life. The list of Scots excelling in their chosen field today is impressive – people such as Ewan McGregor, Sir Chris Hoy (six-time Olympic cycling gold medallist), Annie Lennox and great bands that have visited Mexico recently like Franz Ferdinand and Snow Patrol.
So, as with Mexico, you have to look behind the stereotypes to see the real people – and in Scotland, that is a country proud of its history, yes, but also fascinated by the future, where creativity and imagination are among our most valuable assets, and where the doors have been opened wide to the world.
Scotland and Mexico are set to play a significant role in each others’ futures.