By Brianna Lusk
2:06 PM PST, December 28, 2012
Although most would see it as a straight line, the United States-Mexico border for Gina Andrea Cruz Blackledge is much more fluid and complex than that.
It’s cyclical in nature for those who live and work on both sides of the border, riddled with complex legal and life issues.
It’s a part of the identity of those she helps on a daily basis as the Mexican Consul in Calexico.
It’s also the region where Sunday afternoons were spent in Calexico parks after church and in Mexicali where she now calls home.
“It’s a culmination of everything,” Blackledge says of her position. “Work took me to the community when I was in the Mexican congress.”
“Life brought me back here.”
A Life On The Border
Blackledge was appointed in April 2011 by the president of Mexico to head the Mexican Consulate office in Calexico. As the consul, Blackledge deals with everything from registering births and marriages, as well as tackling diverse and complex issues for Mexican nationals living or working in the United States. Issues of civil rights of immigrants are at the forefront of her daily work.
“My job is to represent the Mexican government in the Valley. It’s not just about documents but providing resources, programs, education, and other enhancements for their life,” Blackledge, 43, explains.
Her family background is reflective of the dynamic border issues in the Valley as well. Blackledge’s father was from Mexico and her mother was from Tucson, Ariz. Her parents met when her mother was in high school so their border lifestyle was one that Blackledge was used to. With grandparents in the Valley, it wasn’t unusual to visit each week with her brother Daniel.
She played in the park across the street from City Hall and remembers the Calexico city streets as much as the Mexicali neighborhoods where she grew up.
At an early age she was going to be a lawyer of the people, or “abogada del pueblo.”
“I always thought if you don’t like something, you have to participate,” Blackledge, a Mexicali resident, says. “I wanted to speak for people who needed a voice.”
Her brother, Daniel Cruz, says regardless of what the argument was when they were growing up — his sister would usually get her way.
“She would always win,” Cruz, who lives in Calexico, says with a laugh. “She would always help you see the reason why she was arguing for something.”
That kind of determination is what helped Blackledge achieve prominent success at the age of 43. She was one of the first congresswomen in Baja California and also served as a congresswoman at the federal level in Mexico.
But her success hasn’t been without sacrifices. She became pregnant with her son Carlos at an early age. It didn’t stop her from pursuing her career, although it meant giving up some time with her son.
Read more about Blackledge in the December 2012 edition of Valley Women Magazine in print or our online E-Edition.
Copyright © 2013, Imperial Valley Press