Omaha’s new Mexican consul finds herself in a different world compared with her previous posts in Jamaica and Hungary.

Guadalupe Sánchez Salazar, who heads the consulate serving Nebraska and Iowa, began her new role on June 24. A reception in her honor was held at El Museo Latino on Thursday evening.

Standing next to a large Mexican flag, Sánchez spoke of the importance to Nebraska of the Mexican community, which contributes more than $2 billion in economic activity annually and creates 17,000 jobs.

In her first month as consul, Sánchez has been meeting with people at the consulate, 7444 Farnam St., and around the community.

“My first goal is to serve my community here,” Sánchez said in an interview. “We are very happy to be active.”

The Mexican Consulate, which opened in 2001 to meet the growing needs of the area’s Mexican population, assists its citizens who are in the U.S. and encourages cultural and business ties. In addition to helping with passports, identification cards and other documents, the consulate provides basic health services.

In her speech at El Museo Latino, Sánchez outlined future events, which include hosting a Labor Rights Week and a Binational Health Week.

Culturally, Sánchez plans to bring a Mexican movie series to Creighton University, develop a “Día de los Muertos” celebration with the University of Nebraska at Omaha and host a tequila tasting event in honor of the Mexican Revolution.

Down the road, she would like to see a cultural center, where people can learn about Mexico’s history and celebrate its holidays. Viky Jiménez, who attended the reception, said she was impressed with Salazar’s plan to create a cultural center.

“It’s a good plan to unite us,” she said in Spanish. “It’s not only for Mexicans, but for everyone, so they can learn about the Mexican traditions and culture.”

Community members are taking notice of her availability and willingness to meet with Omaha groups. She plans to start a bimonthly newsletter and has met with local media and sat in on radio shows. The consulate’s website and Twitter and Facebook pages are now active.

“(We) were impressed with her expertise and understanding of a whole host of issues we discussed during her visit to (UNO),” said Lourdes Gouveia, who heads UNO’s Office of Latino/Latin American Studies

Before moving to Omaha, Sánchez worked in the Mexican Embassy in Jamaica. She is a member of the Mexican Foreign Service, and some of her other posts have included Mexico, Hungary and the United Nations in New York.

The job requires her family to uproot every few years, but she decided long ago that foreign service was a way of life. Sánchez’s husband and the youngest of three sons moved with her to Omaha. She said it is a blessing to “wake up and be happy to go to work.”

Sánchez said she is satisfied with the way the Mexican community is organized and the Latino community’s presence.

“They have approached me with open arms,” she said. “I have felt that I am welcome here.”

Sánchez replaced Jorge Ernesto Espejel Montes, who left to lead a consulate in Arizona after six years in Omaha.

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