BOISE – The Mexican government has appointed diplomat Ricardo Pineda to open a consulate in Boise and serve a growing Hispanic population in Idaho and Montana.
Pineda, former deputy consul general for the Mexican consulate in San Diego, opened a temporary office in Boise last month. The office, which now has five employees, will eventually be staffed with up to 11 workers, he said.
“We have to build everything from scratch,” said Pineda, who expects construction of a permanent office here to be completed by December.
“There is a demand and we are trying to respond to that demand,” he said.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimated this year that there are 147,426 Hispanics among Idaho’s 1.5 million residents.
The U.S. State Department approved construction of a Mexican consulate in Boise earlier this year, despite objections from Rep. Bill Sali, R-Idaho.
Sali asked with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to delay approval for the consulate unless there were guarantees that it wouldn’t aid illegal immigrants by providing them with consular cards that would make it easier for them to receive government services or open up bank accounts.
Supporters of the new consulate argue it will provide services to thousands of residents who have legal or family ties to Mexico.
Previously, people in Idaho or Montana who needed such services had to travel to offices in Salt Lake City or Seattle.
Pineda, a native of Mexico City who has previously worked for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C., said he hopes to use his position in Idaho to further trade and cultural relations between the state and his country. Last year, Idaho companies exported $136.8 million in goods to Mexico, up 5 percent from 2006.
“Idaho is very interested in doing business abroad,” Pineda said. “We really want to participate in that, to foster the relationship between Mexico and Idaho.”
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