Exploring the link from Philly to 1 Mexican town

As Mexico’s first lady and the U.S. ambassador to the country were speaking there early last month, David Suro felt and heard the rumbling of the nearby Popocatépetl Volcano.

Suro, owner of Tequilas restaurant in Center City, was on his foundation’s third annual trip to the town of San Mateo Ozolco in the Mexican state of Puebla, from where many Mexican immigrants who live in South Philly hail.

He asked a student who attended about the noise, and she replied: “Don’t worry. We are a town of good people.”

Suro, founder of the Siembra Azul Foundation, had brought Philadelphia’s first lady, Lisa Nutter, to San Mateo on the foundation’s first trip in June 2010. And on each trip to Mexico, the group met with Mexico’s first lady, Margarita Zavala, the wife of President Felipe Calderón.

These high-level contacts have benefited San Mateo, now considered a ghost town because such a high proportion of its working adults have come to Philadelphia to find jobs, leaving behind primarily the young and the old. Observers estimate that a third to half of San Mateo Ozolco’s population, or about a couple of thousand people, now live in Philadelphia.

The Siembra Azul Foundation seeks to improve the lives of Mexican immigrants in Philadelphia in the areas of health and education, and to help improve the lives of people in San Mateo.


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