Chatting Feb. 20 with Jaime Chamberlain, chairman of the Nogales-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas and president of Nogales-based J-C Distributing Inc.
3:00 p.m. Tom Karst: I saw your letter to the GOP candidates. That was pretty strong...
Jaime Chamberlain3:00 p.m. Jaime Chamberlain: It was a heartfelt moment and I felt like it needed to be written. We will see who responds to it. I’ve had a lot of reaction to it all over the country. I think a lot of people understand where I am coming from. It’s been a long time where we get a lot of negative publicity and the think the state is fed up with it, I know the county is and I know we are as a city.
3:01 p.m. Karst: What has been some of the reaction to the letter so far?
3:01 p.m. Chamberlain: I was very happy (about the reaction). One of the television local stations in Tucson jut interviewed me this morning and the letter got picked up by the Arizona Republic. I was invited tomorrow evening to Sen. Santorum’s event in Phoenix and I’ve been invited to a dinner with Speaker Gingrich. I don’t think they will take me up on the invitation to come down to Nogales; I don’t think they have time. I really didn’t think of doing this until about a week ago. But I think if anyone of them can speak positively about trade with Mexico, speak positively about the state of Arizona and its importance to the country and if anyone can speak positively about Santa Cruz County and Nogales and my border community, I think it is a great thing. I think a lot of people try to make Arizona out to be an issue of just immigration or border violence, but that is not who we are. We are much more than that. We are economic drivers for the county. If I can bring a little attention to that and have the candidates start focusing on some of the successes and opportunities there are in doing business with Mexico and doing business in this year, I think it is a positive thing.
3:01 p.m. Karst: For those who haven’t read the letter, what were you mainly trying to communicate in the letter to the GOP candidates?
3:02 p.m. Chamberlain: I’m trying to communicate with the candidates that not everything that has to do with Arizona and the southern border has to do with immigration or violence. And that’s all we are hearing. There are so many great opportunities that many thousands of companies all over the U.S. are doing business with Mexico. It seems to be that we are really not paying attention to the positive aspects of having such a great trade neighbor. You will easily get to $460 billion worth of trade between the two countries. What we do with Mexico is more than what we do with the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) put together. That’s an incredibly positive success story. The candidates - not only just the candidates but also most politicians - tend to think of Arizona and they think of an immigration issue and they think border violence. That’s not true. The state of Arizona, Santa Cruz County and Nogales, Ariz. are so much more than that.