Dallas's Mexican Consulate began operating under new leadership earlier this month, but the dust-ups of tenures past continue to cloud the office's legitimacy. In the months since the former consul returned to Mexico amid accusations of corruption and an investigation into a passport cash-skimming scam, the consulate has lost a multimillion-dollar court judgment, and former employees have come forward complaining that the Mexican government treats local consulate employees as "peons."
In a recent piece about Consul General Juan Carlos Cué Vega's first day on the job, Dianne Solis wrote that the diplomat, when asked about U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor's September ruling against his office, said he didn't even know about it. A real estate agent sued the consulate last year for breach of contract in the purchase of the new consular offices on River Bend Drive, and according to the judgment, the consulate was served but never mounted a defense.
Last week, in the first article of a series, Luis Angel Galvan reported in La Estrella that a former consulate employee has a wrongful termination complaint pending against Mexico's Foreign Ministry in a Mexican court. According to the story, Sofia Camarena Corona alleges Hubbard wrongfully fired her two years ago, a move she tells Galvan is in keeping with an overall pattern of disregard and exploitation toward consular workers. "My experience working there was sad," she told La Estrella (and I'm translating here), "since instead of being supported as an employee, there's only exploitation at the hands of the Foreign Ministry personnel."
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Hubbard, now in Mexico, denied that, telling La Estrella that Camarena was fired because she "wasn't a team player" and "she adopted a dictatorial attitude with her direct superiors -- a very negative attitude that indicated she knew more than her bosses."
We put a call into the new consul general, Cue Vega, who, through his spokesman, declined to comment on the civil suit since it's still pending. "This is an open case in Mexico," Jesus Contreras Cantu tells us, "and since it's open obviously we cannot make comments."
Yet Galvan's story also quotes David Vargas Vilchis, a lawyer who worked for the consulate from 2002 through 2006, who says working as a local consulate employee for Foreign Ministry appointees is like being a "peon" at the whim of a plantation owner. "As local workers we don't get a lot of benefits, even though we're the ones who do the work, investigate the cases, go to the jails to talk with clients," he told Galvan. "It's like we're the peons they move around as they like and when something happens, they protect themselves while we're on the chopping block."
When we pressed the consulate for a response to that, as well as how the new consul plans to address employee relations in his new job, Contreras said he'd call us if his boss opted to say anything else. We'll keep you posted.