An Afternoon with the Ambassador of Mexico

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“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is an adage His Excellency Jorge Alberto Lozoya has adhered to his entire life. The Ambassador of Mexico is no stranger to carrying out a perfectly curated path to success, having begun his journey to where he is today at the tender age of 15.

“I always wanted to be in this line of work,” he says with conviction. “For my 15th birthday, my parents got me a bus ticket to New York City. The first thing I did was visit the United Nations, and I was awestruck by it. At the end of the tour, I asked the guide what the requirements to work there were, and she very kindly gave me tips! Years later, I was chairing a meeting at the UN and it suddenly hit me that I had made it,” he says proudly.

A lifetime of careful planning has been the key factor in Lozoya’s rise to the top of his field. “I worked very systematically to reach my goals,” he explains. “I studied in the Soviet Union at 17, followed by attending several very good universities in the US, studying International Relations and keeping abreast with current affairs.” Working like clockwork, Lozoya’s meticulous strategy gained him a highly sought after place in the Mexican Diplomatic Academy before being posted to the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A Latin American pioneer on Asian affairs, Lozoya’s interest in the region has spanned over 40 years, and he is proud to have belonged to the first generation of Western political scientists who predicted the re-emergence of Asia as a leading political and economic social force. “When I was finishing my graduate studies, I spent a year at the National University in Taipei in Taiwan. It was a tumultuous time, the middle of the Vietnam War, but I was extremely impressed by the beauty of Southeast Asia and it heightened my interest in the region.“

Following his initial visit to Malaysia in 1968, Lozoya had the unique opportunity of widening his experiences in Asia by working closely with the local government over the next few decades, never expecting to be posted to the country on a more permanent basis. “I undertook many projects in the scientific, educational, and business sense and regularly visited Malaysia, so when the President of Mexico invited me to be the ambassador to Malaysia in 2006, I was delighted,” he exclaims. “I’ve always been an admirer of the extraordinary advancement Malaysia has achieved in a short period of time.”

In his six years of improving Mexico-Malaysia relations, Lozoya admits his scholar roots played an important role in one particular accolade he is notably proud of. “A moment that will always stand out in my mind was when I was made a professor of UKM (National University of Malaysia),” he beams. “It was such a great honour in my academic career and I was so thrilled both governments accepted it.”

Indeed, Lozoya’s hard work and dedication to his duties have borne fruit. While serving as ambassador, he negotiated several important deals, including getting Malaysia to enthusiastically vote in favour of Mexico joining the deliberations for the establishment of the new free trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. His time here has also seen Malaysia become Mexico’s premier trade partner in Southeast Asia, and Lozoya is confident that in the near future this intensity of commercial exchange will increase.

Lozoya attributes his success in diplomacy and cultural affairs to a unique hypothesis – a belief that if the mind and senses are trained for success, it will ultimately be achieved. “It is just like athletes. They train for the Olympics – I train for the Olympics of diplomacy!” he says, with a laugh. This regime has benefitted his work in international relations, especially when it involved coming to terms with his counterparts from different nations. “You need to train yourself to adapt to different cultures and ways of business,” he explains. “You learn to work intensively, listen, and observe closely. This is key because in order to come to an agreement, you have to learn to grant the other the chance to tell you his or her understanding of the situation. Quite often, you find that you both have similar perceptions.”

Despite his globetrotting lifestyle, it is the quiet moments in his desert hometown state of Chihuahua that Lozoya misses the most. “I miss the peace of provincial living. People who aren’t from the desert often think it is dry and empty and we (locals) laugh because the desert is full of life and mystery. I miss small towns,” he admits. And what will he miss most about Malaysia, now that his post here has come to an end?

“Time travel – you can travel centuries in a few hours. You can visit the modern Petronas Twin Towers and a half hour later be at the Batu Caves; then spend an afternoon at a museum taking in a slice of ancient history, then shop ‘til you drop at some of the best malls in the world,” he says. “I’ll definitely be back. I love the food and fantastic bookstores here.” No doubt; he’s already planned his return trip.



Source: The Expat February 2013

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