On her way to East Haven to share some non-taco lunch from her native land with that town’s mayor, Ecuador’s ambassador to the U.S. paid a visit to New Haven Mayor John DeStefano to chat about Secure Communities, educational exchange, and “building bridges.”
The visit took place at 11 a.m.Friday in the mayor’s second-floor office in City Hall. After speaking for some time in private with Ambassador Nathalie Cely Suarez and New Haven’s Ecuadorian Consul Raul Erazo Velarde, the mayor invited the press in for a short conversation.
Suarez said she had just visited the Yale School of Forestry and is excited about the possibility of “technical transfers” between Ecaudor and New Haven to tackle come of the “global challenges we face,” including environmental threats.
Suarez presented the mayor with two gifts: a book about the natural splendor of Ecuador—one of the most bio-diverse areas in the world—and a travel planner so DeStefano can plan a visit. “We would really love to have you there.”
“People in New Haven love me so much, they hate to see me go,” the mayor demurred. He gave Suarez a gift-wrapped blanket with the seal of New Haven on it.
Velarde presented the mayor with a bag of gifts, including a couple of posters.
Asked about Secure Communities, the controversial Immigration and Customs Enforcement plan that the mayor and the Board of Aldermen have condemned, Suarez said she has heard a lot of concerns about it.
DeStefano said Secure Communities is not the ambassador’s problem. It’s an American problem . “I think this is something America has to get straight.”
Asked about recent events in East Haven, where four cops have been arrested for allegedly targeting Ecuadorians for harassment and abuse, Suarez deferred to Velarde. He said they were headed to East Haven next to eat with Mayor Joe Maturo in an Ecuadorian-owned restaurant called Bistro Mediterranean.
“The purpose of this meeting is to try to show about Ecuador,” Velarde said.
He later said Maturo’s “taco” comment, made in the wake of the cops’ arrests, was “very, very ignorant about the culture.” Friday was therefore a “great opportunity to share with him Ecuadorian food.”