Ken Salazar is about to take another step in his journey of service to our state and country. Assuming the role of Ambassador to Mexico in these trying times calls for a special hand at consensus building and steadfastness in the face of divisive pressures at home and abroad.
In a real sense, he is going into “the mouth of a lion” that has Mexico in the grip of American-funded narco-traffickers, immigrants from Central America on the way to the United States and a Mexican President trying to be radically different in his approach to the country’s problems.
The issues in Mexico, especially immigration are not new to Salazar as he was a member of a bipartisan group in the United States Senate that worked on the 2007 Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act. Also, he successfully worked as a member of another bipartisan group, the “Gang of 14” that led a resolution to major filibuster issues associated with judicial appointments.
More importantly, Ken Salazar occupies a prominent place in Colorado, and his family an epic part in the annals of American Southwestern history. The Colorado part of that history begins with the establishment of Los Rincones by Antanacio Trujillo from El Rito, New Mexico in 1848 and the subsequent arrival of Antonio de Salazar from Espanola and Chamita among others.
Since then, wherever else they have gone, there is always the family ranch that is home to so many memories. Among them is the sense that much of what has gone on in Colorado is a repetition of family energy that goes all the way back to 1598 when our Southwest entered the official awareness of the Spanish Empire.
My perspective on Secretary Salazar is colored by an evolving relationship as friends and my love of history, especially Latino history in America. I learned about Ken long before I knew him.
Antonio Esquibel who has been a great colleague and close friend since the early 70’s knew much about the Salazars as his departed wife Lala was a Marquez from La Jara. The Marquez like the Salazars were part of the extended family that were original pioneers that followed Antanacio Trujillo to the San Luis Valley. I first met Salazar during the Romer for Governor Campaign. Since then I helped at times and also witnessed his extraordinary trajectory that included his elections to be Colorado Attorney General, the United States Senate, his appointment as Secretary of the Interior and now his consideration as our next Ambassador to Mexico.
Throughout all of his accomplishments, he has remained the same person that displays that down to earth gentleness typical of the Northern New Mexican and Southern Colorado people. The genuine display of humility however, does not hide his ironclad focus and determination to make life better for his community. His political motto “Our Land, Our Water, Our People” continues to ring in my ears as a reminder that we need to care for what is most precious in our lives. His leadership and love of Colorado is also reflected in his achievements at the national level as a United States Senator and Secretary of the Interior.
We should be proud that Ken Salazar as a leader is bringing another level of credit for a Latino community that seeks improvement to its human condition and to become the face of a renewed America. He will go to Mexico and represent our country well.
Knowing Mexico as I do, I know the challenge to success will be great. Godspeed Ken.