It’s nice to see Fresno through the eyes of a visitor every now and then. Someone who hasn’t grown up here. Someone who has a different perspective on our city than its native population and long-time locals. In this case, those fresh eyes belong to Consul Vicente Sanchez Ventura, whose three-year assignment at the Mexican Consulate in Fresno just happens to be coming to an end. Before he departs, let’s take a moment to say hello (and goodbye), and hear about his work in the community and his impressions of our city.
Sanchez Ventura came to Fresno in 2013 from Detroit, where he’d been working for the past seven years. Having always wanted to come to California, he was excited about the move. But when he told people in Detroit about his new assignment, none of them had heard of Fresno. Sanchez Ventura says negative (or no) perceptions of a city are something he seeks to change with each move. And while some in Detroit had certain reservations about Fresno, the public relations problem isn’t personal: As Sanchez Ventura recalls, before he moved to Detroit from Austin, people in the Texas capital had their own reservations, and so on.
Sanchez Ventura has been in Mexican foreign service for 30 years. Fresno is in good company among the consul’s resume of assignments, which include several major U.S. cities and Latin-American countries. Sanchez Ventura has worked in Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Dallas, New Orleans, Austin, Detroit, and soon, Cuba.
The Mexican Consulate in Fresno is a hub for an estimated 1.5 million Mexican nationals living in 8 counties: Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, and Tulare. Since taking over as head consul on June 6, 2013, Sanchez Ventura has made education a top priority; worked to change the perception of Mexicans as solely field laborers from the inside out, by promoting the contributions of Mexican professionals in the Valley; and facilitated business opportunities, primarily in agriculture, between Mexico and Fresno.
Here, Sanchez Ventura talks about his first impressions of Fresno, what he’s learned from his time in the Valley, and how his work here will carry over to his new position in Cuba.