Alumnus

Raul Torres ’11

Major in international studies

Raul Torres ’11 is Mexico’s youngest Member of Congress. He represents Mexicans abroad.

What are your memories of arriving in Paris?

I still remember the year I transferred to AUP as one of the best of my life. It really was a top university, and it provided both the American and European perspective on international studies. The vibe was friendly. I was the only Mexican in my class, and I made friends from all over the world. I’m still in contact with them, and I visit Paris at least twice a year. AUP felt like home.

You recently came back to Paris for the AUP Community Weekend. What’s changed?

When I left AUP, I didn’t fully realize the impact that coming back would have on my heart. I reunited with friends, and we went to Invalides and the Champ de Mars – all the old places. I took some classes in the Grenelle building as part of the weekend, and it’s amazing to see how technology has changed! Outside, the buildings look like Paris, but inside it feels like an American campus. AUP still has the same vibe – it was great to feel like that again. I’ll be back in five years for the next reunion.

Any highlights from your time at AUP?

AUP was my favorite time in my academic career. Professor Hall Gardner and Professor Peter Hägel taught me international politics, from how the European Union was helping Latin America at the time to the shifting nature of NATO. I use a lot of what I learned from them a decade later as a congressman in Mexico. I still talk about my thesis: I looked at European drug policy and argued that it wasn’t a model that could be implemented successfully in Latin America. I predicted problems for Europe down the line – and ten years later this is proving to be the case.

Where did your career take you after graduation?

I was involved with the youth wing of the center right National Action Party in Mexico before I came to Paris, and I kept in touch with congressmen while I was studying. When I came back to Mexico, I worked as a campaign manager for a presidential candidate in the 2012 election, pushing international education policy. Unfortunately, we lost – but that led me to further study in Washington DC. In 2021, the Mexican constitution was amended, meaning that Mexicans abroad would have political representation in Congress for the first time. I was elected to be their congressman from among 10 other candidates, who were mostly based in the US. My AUP perspective helped me secure votes from Europe. I won every European country!

What are some of your priorities as a congressman?

Right now, my party is in opposition. I’m pushing for a more international focus, which the current President doesn’t have. I’m head of the International Affairs Committee in Congress; vice chair of the Economic Development Committee, which deals with businesses and entrepreneurs; and vice chair of the Cultural Committee. I chose these roles because of their international perspective. I want Mexicans to see that the US isn’t the only option abroad – there are so many opportunities in places like France! I was so blessed to have my AUP experience. It was central to developing my political vision. I would encourage more Mexican students to come to Paris. Don’t be afraid of the language; you will gain so much perspective and it will really open your mind.

What are the specific challenges of representing international Mexicans?

Mexico is the second biggest diaspora in the world, after India; around 30 million Mexicans live in the US, and 2 million live in Europe. The average age of Mexicans abroad is 49, which is comparatively young, and second and third generation Mexican migrants are increasingly common. The diaspora is increasingly middle class, but some people in Congress hold the outdated belief that Mexicans abroad are either “too poor or too rich.” It can be difficult to change that mindset, but binational, bilingual Mexican citizens are studying, creating businesses and working in different services around the world. Especially in Europe! For these people, time zones are obviously an issue. Also, the European media tends not to report so much on Mexico, so it can be harder to get news from home. I’m creating a network of Mexicans around the world to show what the diaspora is doing and to tell people’s stories.

Any advice for AUP students interested in entering politics?

Make the most of the international experience at AUP, but don’t forget your country. We are lucky to be studying in Paris, but remember we can pass on what we learn to our communities. The pandemic taught us about the importance of technology – so video call home! If you want to be in politics, try to reach a member of parliament. Speak to different political parties and tell them about your research. Try to focus your studies on something applicable to your home – even if you aren’t going back. Also, make friends from all over the world! We need politicians from different aisles – left, right and center – to have a strong international vision. At AUP, I learned to love different countries because I had good friends around me representing Brazil, or Germany, or the UK. You will be representing your country in return.