Mexico’s Ambassador to US Arturo Sarukhan Courageously Acknowledges “1915 Genocide By Turkey”

By Appo Jabarian, Executive Publisher / Managing Editor, USA Armenian Life Magazine, 3 July 2009

Besides loving Mexico’s culture, people, tacos and tequila, Armenians around the world have one more reason to enhance their appreciation of the Estados Unidos de Mexico: Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan.

Among the many nations that have opened their doors and hearts to the survivors of the Armenian Genocide, Mexico stands out as being a pluralistic sovereign state that has appointed a principled and courageous Armenian-Mexican seasoned diplomat, a respected expert on international affairs and an astute political strategist to its most important?ambassadorial post, the one in the United States.


By Appo Jabarian, Executive Publisher / Managing Editor, USA Armenian Life Magazine, 3 July 2009

Besides loving Mexico’s culture, people, tacos and tequila, Armenians around the world have one more reason to enhance their appreciation of the Estados Unidos de Mexico: Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan.

Among the many nations that have opened their doors and hearts to the survivors of the Armenian Genocide, Mexico stands out as being a pluralistic sovereign state that has appointed a principled and courageous Armenian-Mexican seasoned diplomat, a respected expert on international affairs and an astute political strategist to its most important?ambassadorial post, the one in the United States.

As Mexico’s top diplomatic representative in Washington, Ambassador Sarukhan leads his country’s efforts on such crucial issues as trade, proliferation of illegal firearms, immigration, curtailing of the traffic of illegal drugs, among others.

Amb. Sarukhan is also credited for fostering good relations between the Armenian-American and Mexican-American communities. His insightful remarks in late 2008 inspired Shahe Mazbanian, a vice-president of business development at Bank of America, to summon help from his long-time friend and mentor Alberto G. Alvarado, Los Angeles District Director of the US Small Business Administration, to jointly lobby with their respective communities for active co-operation. Their efforts paid off in an impressive way. Both the Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Armenian-American Chamber of Commerce jointly organized a June 25 breakfast meeting in Los Angeles’ Biltmore Hotel in honor of Ambassador Sarukhan.

At the meeting, the Consuls General of Mexico and Armenia, Juan Marcos Gutierrez-Gonzalez and Grigor Hovhannissian separately spoke about the necessity of establishing strategic partnership between the Mexican and Armenian communities. As a direct result of this timely initiative, they announced the formation of a task force that would promote cooperation in the sectors of health, economic development, education and culture (Please see related news article by clicking on the following link: http://www.armenianlife.com/Archive/ArchivePDF/English/07-07-2009.pdf).

The Consulates General of Armenia and Mexico spearheaded the co-operation efforts. In a pre-taped video message, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA.) expressed his appreciation for the initiative and congratulated the two consulates.

In a November 21, 2008 interview granted to The Armenian Reporter, Amb. Sarukhan emphasized that "communities like the Armenian and the Mexican communities are natural allies. They share agendas and challenges in this country. Many of them have come here driven by the same problems of lack of economic opportunities. Both are hard working societies. [In the past] the Armenian community faced the prejudice and racism and discrimination in this country that Mexican communities are facing today."

He stated that "It would make more sense if Armenian and Mexican communities work together especially in the West Coast and New England where we have the highest concentration of Armenian-Americans to bring down the bombastic nature of the debate, to look at the opportunities and the challenges in an objective and forward-looking way."

Mr. Sarukhan’s candid position regarding his Armenian roots is not only uplifting for the Armenian Youth, but also enriching for Mexico’s international image. His grandparents arrived in Mexico in the early 1930s. His grandfather was a Russian-Armenian also named Artur Sarukhanian, and grandmother, a survivor of the Genocide arrived in Mexico with the idea of coming to Canada. Having read a lot about Mexico, Sr. Sarukhan decided to stop in Mexico on their way to Canada. The elder Sarukhanians fell in love with Mexico and they stayed in Mexico. Amb. Sarukhan was born in Mexico.

The prestigious website of The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars named after Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States from 1913 to 1921, and a great friend of The Democratic Republic of Armenia (1918-1921), writes: "The grandson of refugees in Mexico, Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan is a career diplomat who joined the Mexican Foreign Service in 1993, and currently serves as Mexico’s Ambassador to the U.S. He was posted to the Mexican Embassy in the United States as a junior diplomat, served as Chief of Staff to the Ambassador, and was the head of the counternarcotics office at the Embassy. In 2000 he became Chief of Policy Planning at the Foreign Ministry and was appointed by the President as Mexican Consul General to New York City in 2003. He resigned from this post and took a leave of absence from the Foreign Service in 2006 to join Felipe Calderón’s presidential campaign as a foreign policy advisor and international spokesperson and became the Coordinator for Foreign Affairs in the Transition Team. In November of 2006 he received the rank of Ambassador and in February of 2007 was appointed Mexican Ambassador to the United States."

During the breakfast meeting’s question and answer period, Appo Jabarian of USA Armenian Life Magazine asked: "Amb. Sarukhan, at the beginning of your remarks you have used the term ‘1915 Genocide by Turkey.’ Does it mean that the government of Mexico officially recognizes the Armenian Genocide, or have you simply stated the facts as they are?"

Amb. Sarukhan posed for a moment and then answered with a humorous flair. He said that "the newspapers are good at killing flies and diplomats," causing an eruption of laughter. He then stated courageously that his remarks reflected his personal belief. He went on to elaborate that by telling the truth we can build a better future. He added that the truth can overcome everything; and can liberate even those who want to hide it.

Through their pro-active co-operation, the Armenian- and the Mexican-American communities across the United States, can achieve substantial moral, political, and economic gains. Both communities come from similar backgrounds of family-values.

The success and the longevity of their inter-ethnic alliance should serve as a model that can be emulated by Armenian-Americans in establishing similarly fruitful alliances with other communities.

13 comments
  1. Arturo Sarukhan

    Appo Jabarian,

    I am a highly educated Mexican American, and although Ambassador Sarukhan deserves respect for the office he holds, I absolutely disagree that Armenians and Mexicans will ever be allies. There is no common ground for respect, shared mutuality or genuine liking between us.

    The Armenians in Los Angeles do not show respect for my culture, my faith or our achievements to this great country, the United States, which Mexican Americans greatly love. Armenians are very self-interested. It is well known that there is animosity between the two groups. And you are wrong – Mexican Americans have long been in the Western & Southwestern parts of this country, some of us have been here for centuries – we are so to speak -indigenous to this continent.

    I must say secondly, that it is obvious Sarukhan, in all his power, will push for recognition of the disputed genocide. But would Sarukhan then seek recognition for the Native American genocide, since he is in a country who’s people are a majority-descended? Hmmm….He should. Appo, this might scare you, but for the historical record, Mexican Americans have had and will continue to have, genuine political and social relations with Turkish American groups and Turkish citizens.

    As an American and Mexican, I have great respect and admiration for the Turkish people, so if I have to chose who would be my natural ally, well, it would not be Armenians.

    1. Armenians and Mexicans

      I am surprised by the attitude of the Mexican-American writer. As victims of Spanish, French, and American racism and imperialism, I would have thought Mexicans and Mexican-Americans would have sympathized with another nation, which has for most of its history been a victim of imperialism, and in the past five hundred years has suffered Turkish persecution and genocide for being non-Turkish and non-Moslem. The writer should also become cognizant that countless Armenians preferred during the First World War to die Christian rather than denounce their faith. Mexicans, who are well-known for their spiritual values and beliefs, should respect Christian Armenian martyrs of 1915 and support a fellow-suffering race rather than become allies of the criminal state which continues to deny its murder of a nation. The letter writer should elevate his thinking from petty regional conflict (the alleged antipathy between Armenian Angelanos and Mexican Angelanos) and look at the conflict between Armenians and Turkey with intelligence and a sense of justice.
      1. I am Mexican

        Mesrob,
        I am Mexican-American, not Turkish. I’m sorry if that surprises you, but I am what I stated I am. In recent California politics whenever there was an Armenian-American elected to office (or example, George Deukmejian, Republican governor who opposed Justice Cruz Reynoso as a candidate to the CA Supreme Court, among other incidents) and among others of the local state legislature, their interests have been in opposition to the social and economic interests of Mexican-Americans. This is empirical evidence that the political interests of our communities are very different.

        Secondly, Mexican-Americans do not play the victim card. Yes, thank you, we are religiously devout. We fight injustice, but we do not dwell on the last 500 years of subjugation and imperialism. We do not ask for reparations, land or money. 

        Many Mexican-Americans hold prominent positions in the US, and Mexicans in Mexico, who are wealthy and educated, have no need to migrate to the US. Please do not confuse us with the recent waves of illegal immigration.

        Third, your statement "Christian Armenian martyrs of 1915 and support a fellow-suffering race rather than become allies of the criminal state which continues to deny its murder of a nation."  Well, Mesrob, I do respect and honor the Christian marytrs who have died throughout the centuries. To die for the true faith is a courageous act, but that does not mean I have to support your community’s claims of genocide. 

        Turkey is not a criminal state. Turkey is an ally and friend of the United States. And if you understand the history of Christianity, you would know that many books of the Gospel were written in Turkey. You should also bear in mind that many people were killed during Turkey’s war of independence. What I find appalling is that on my own American soil, Armenian "Christians" commited terrorism by murdering Turkish diplomats at the Turkish embassy in Los Angeles. That is scary. That kind of hatred toward others for past wrongs is diabolical and inexecusable. It is purely un-American. And I am American first and foremost, Mesrob. 

        Fourth, from observation, it appears that Armenians have a natural ally and long-term historical friendship with Iranians. Both of you consider yourselves "Aryan." Armenians have a significant minority population in Iran. Iranians are predominately Shia Muslims. In Lebanon, a majority Muslim country, there is a large Armenian community. In Istanbul and in southeastern parts of Turkey you can find Armenian-Turkish citizens. Armenians live in Islamic countries.  If this was about Christianity vs. Islam, how come Armenians are so close to Muslim Iranians? Your dislike of Turks appears to be based on ethnic hatred more so than on religion.

        Fifth, there is an eerie parallel between white folks (supremacists) who never relent on their hatred for Mexican-Americans and Mexicans in general and Armenians who never relent in their digust toward Turkish-Americans and Turkish people.

        On a personal note, Mesrob, there is good and bad in every culture. But I happen to have a deep respect for Turkish people. Does it bother you that there are many Mexicans in California who like Turks? Can a Mexican- American only be a friend of an Armenian if he/she supports the Armenian Genocide claims? Will you be friends with a Mexican- American like me who doesn’t? Let’s find out, shall we?   

        1. I Said it Before

          I said it before and I say it again. This guy is not Mexican nor he is an American. Just because he says so, it does not make him Mexican- American. A true Mexican-American does not hide behind an assumed name. As long as he/she hides behind an assumed name, none of his comments should be taken seriously. I lived in this country for over forty years and never had problem with Mexicans nor American-Mexicans. Like I said before, this guy works for the Turkish Republic and he/she is a cheap propagandist and he/she is trying to drive a wedge between the two communities. Umurham, Umr, Han or whatever you name is…You can run but you can not hide. But I give you credit for being persistent.
        2. Mexican-American

          Mr. American… or should I call you Indolent Turk? After all, I wrote the email you responded to today on … March 24 for God’s sake! You must be one busy guy/gal. Indeed, you are not entitled to an answer: I am merely writing for the benefit of Keghart readers who had to suffer through your absurd letter.

          To paraphrase poet Elizabeth Browning, let me count the ways that you are wrong at best and take reckless liberties with the truth at worst.

          To prove that there is hostility between Mexican-Americans and Armenian-Americans you cite that Gov. Deukmejian did not approve Justice Cruz Reynaso as candidate to the California Supreme Court. Some proof, some single example "emperical evidence" of your nonsensical allegation.

          You say that Mexican-Americans have forgiven-forgotten 500 years of imperialism by Spain and America, presumably. I guess you have not heard that many Mexican-Americans consider their emigration to California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas as slomo "reconquista" of these states by Mexicans.

          As Col. Keusseyan wrote, you are not Mexican or Mexican-American. You are a Turk who is not very good at this put-up job. If you were Mexican-American, you wouldn’t have denigrated your fellow Mexicans by writing, "Please do not confuse us [Mexican-Americans] with the recent waves of illegal immigrants."

          You say that to die for the true faith is a courageous act, but "that does not mean I have to support your community’s claims of genocide." I can’t follow your reasoning here–if there is such a kernel of logic in it.

          "Turkey is not a criminal state," you say.Tell that to Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, and, yes, to Turkish intellectuals.

          You say since Turkey is an ally and friend of the US, you wouldn’t recognize the Genocide of Armenians. If you were truly Mexican, you would be ashamed to say that. We all realize that states and human beings have many differences. One of those is that human beings have conscience–unlike states which are motivated by self interest, pure and simple.

          Yet another proof you are a Turk: You say many of the books of the Gospels were written in Turkey. My friend, there was no Turkey in the first century. Turks, if they existed then, were still marauding in the deserts of Central Asia. They made their first bloody appearance in the Middle East in the 10th century–a full millennium after the Gospels were written. Besides, what does the writing of the Gospels have to do with Armenians? with the Genocide of Armenians?

          I got news for you: Homer’s Troy is in Turkey. I bet you would call Hector, Paris, Aeneas Turks, too. Maybe Homer was a Turk too, not to mention the famous king of Midas. Maybe Constantine the Great was a Turk, too, since he founded Constantinople, which you call Istanbul.

          But the best proof that you are a Turk is the Turkish boilerplate propaganda line which spouts that many people were killed during Turkey’s war of independence. So what? It wasn’t Armenians who killed them. Turks died because they declared war against the Allies, hoping that Germany would help Turkey further expand it borders. Instead, the crumbline empire lost everything except Asia Minor–the homeland of Greeks and Armenians.

          Re the murder of Turkish diplomats by Armenian terrorists. Where do you get the nerve to criticize Armenian terrorists when your country brought the rotten corpse of mass murderer Tala’at–20 years after his assassination in Berlin–to Turkey for a state funeral, with all the trimmings and 21-gun salute. A mass murderer and a true hero of Turkey, a true son of Atilla the Hun, Cengiz Khan, et al. Besides, there are 8 million Armenians. If a hundred or even a thousand Armenians turned to terrorism in desperation, it doesn’t mean this insignificant minority is representative of Armenians. Meanwhile official Turkey kills, and harasses millions of Kurds–sorry, Mountian Turks. If only they would come down from those mountians and became Field Turks.

          About your advice that Armenians should not bear a grudge… If you were Mexican you would have known that Mexico still hasn’t forgiven France for installing Maximilian I as emperor of Mexico. But since you are a Turk, Maximilian and Juarez are strangers to you.

          Yes, Armenians are Aryans, like Iranians and most Europeans, including Spaniards. In your dim mind you must think Aryan means Nazis, although Turkey is one of the most racist countries on the globe. The world hasn’t forgotten that "neutral" Turkey played footsie with the Nazis… but again, you wouldn’t know that.

          Re your comment about Armenians living in Arab countries. Armenians are forever grateful to Arabs for the hospitality, the kindness Arabs extended to the survivors of the Genocide of Armenians. Armenian communities in Arab countries have been loyal to Arab countries and have contributed significantly to their new home countries.

          You suggest that there was no genocide because Turks being Moslem like Arabs, couldn’t have killed Armenians for their religious beliefs. I will try to explain this in as simple words as possible: Turks killed Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians because these nations–by definition–were not Turks. Turks wanted to create a homogeneous country. Kurds being "Mountain Turks" were not touched. The Christianity of Armenians was an additional reason to exterminate them.

          Your Fifth reason is a non sequitur. Look up the word in the dictionary.

          Your final paragraph is unintentionally hilarious, revealing your Turkish identity yet again. I hope your bosses don’t read this letter… they might fire you for incompetence. I like to see you hold on to your "job"

          1. Getse Mesrob. 

            Getse Mesrob.  You put this guy where he belongs.  If you had not responded, I was going to.  We should not let the Turks win the propaganda war.  We should never let them deceive the world with their fabricated lies.  Well done my friend.
          2. Parev Mesrob

            Parev Mesrob,

            I am not a Bible (Asdvadzashountch) expert but I know that Armenia is mentioned a few times in the Old Testament. Why the Muslim Turks who believe in the Old Testament deny the existence of Ararat and Armenia?

            They, the Turks that deny are the real infidels. Why we, Armenians do not take advantage of what is mentioned in both the Bible and Quran about our lands and people.

            Some of the new versions of the Old Testament have eliminated the word Armenia altogether. Turkish propaganda?

            I hope I made my point clear.

    2. Fellows, this guy is not Mexican
      Fellows, this guy is not Mexican, nor is he American. He is the same guy who keeps changing his name from Umurhan to Umr to Han and now to Mexican-American. I can tell from his writing style (see my comments in previous editorials). He is a cheap propagandist working for the Republic of Turkey.  Mexicans are great people and we respect them and their culture, regardless what this guy is preaching.

  2.  I would not be surprised if
     I would not be surprised if the self-described Mexican-American turned out to be a Turkish-American posing as a Mexican-American.

  3. Armenians and Mexicans
    Mexico should be commended.

    The US will never acknowledge the genocide because it has swept away the history of its own American Indians.

  4. Objective and Forward-Looking

    Kudos to the ambasador for his efforts in pursuing productive Mexican-American relations and also for acknowledging the painful truths of both Mexican and Armenian history and the liberating value of truth.

    But what about his suggestion to "bring down the bombastic nature of the debate, to look at the opportunities and the challenges in an objective and forward-looking way."  The comments posted about this article seem to revel in the same old, self-serving, fear and anger laden bombast, which is really a shame.   I dodged the anonymous mud slinging and almost missed the point about the similarity between the treatment of Armenians and Native Americans. I believe that there is some truth in this.  But, don’t we have laws in the US today that at least try to repatriate Native American cultural artifacts and respect ancient Native American burial grounds? 

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