Vargas ends Mexican consul tenure

January 11, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

HOLTVILLE — Rita Vargas Torregrosa, consul at Calexico's Mexican consulate for the past four years, was feted Thursday night by Imperial and Mexicali valley dignitaries at the Barbara Worth Golf Resort.

Vargas has been promoted by the Mexican government to another California consulate. She asked that the name of her new consulate be withheld until Tuesday.

Moving north away from her extended family in Mexicali will be bittersweet.

"I have 19 cousins that live there and aunts," she said.

She will miss the "tremendous people of the Imperial Valley.

"Everybody: dignitaries, co-workers, friends and family. I was very happy in this area," she said.

Vargas moved to the Valley in 1997 to run Mexico's Calexico consulate. In her four years here, hundreds of Mexican immigrants have died trying to cross into the U.S.

Every time there was a big incident she was called.

"Sometimes I would wake up at night, worried, because I remembered I had to be in court the next day (for an immigration-related case)," she said.


As she was set to talk about the "Yuma case," last year's incident in which 14 migrants died after a smuggler left them for dead in the scalding desert sands of Yuma, miles from water or civilization, four friends walked in the door.

Vargas hugged each person.

Turning back to the sad subject, her smile vanished and a grim visage returned.

She is not proud of the deaths along the border on her watch but she is confident she did all she could to help prosecute those who smuggle humans and to support those who seek betterment.

"I'm proud of the results," she said.

Those results enabled her to be promoted.

"I'm especially proud of the recognition about my performance," she said.

The new consulate will be a "new challenge in my professional career" but she thinks she is ready.

Before coming to Calexico she worked in Mexico City at the Mexican Department of State on the huge amount of verbiage in the North American Free Trade Agreement. At the same time she was teaching border history at the national college.

Her ultimate career goal is an ambassadorship.

"I would like to be the Mexican ambassador in the U.S.," she said.

And if that goal is realized, she vowed to never forget the support of her friends and family in the Imperial and Mexicali valleys.

"Wherever I go, the border will always be a part of me," she said.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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