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Mexicans say 'muchas gracias' for pasties, silver and football

By This is Devon  |  Posted: November 26, 2008

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AS MINING experts from Cornwall head south to Australia this week, a high-profile group from Mexico will be in Redruth and Camborne to explore historic links between the two regions, writes Simon Parker.

Following a visit by the Cornish-Mexican Cultural Society to Mexico in July this year, a delegation of Mexican state and local government officials will be in Cornwall all this week.

Links between the two lands date from the early 1820s when a large number of mineworkers, initially from Gwennap, were recruited to spearhead the reopening of redundant silver mines in and around Real del Monte, a small town north of Mexico City.

Among the visitors are Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, Governor of the State of Hidalgo, a region of central Mexico with a population of 2.5 million. During the mid-19th century, Hidalgo witnessed the resurgence of the Mexican silver industry thanks to Cornish expertise. Real del Monte and Pachuca still have architecture that indicates a strong Cornish influence and Cornish pasties are still made in kitchens and bakeries.

Real del Monte was formally twinned with Redruth at a reception in the town during the July visit, and the Cornish-Mexican Cultural Society was also responsible for initiating a friendship agreement between Camborne and Pachuca, Hidalgo's state capital.

Hidalgo is also the place Cornish mineworkers taught Mexicans to play football in 1900.

The delegation will be met by the team behind the successful bid to achieve Unesco World Heritage status for Cornwall and West Devon in 2006. They will welcome Omar Fayad Meneses (Mayor of Pachuca), Jessica Blancas (economic development minister), Carlos Tello Butron (city councillor), Cuauhtemoc Ochoa (state tourism minister), Gerardo Gonzalez Espinola (economic development minister), Carlos Moreno (second minister of economic development), Aunard de la Rocha Waite (tourism marketing and promotion general director) and Aida Velasco (secretary at the Embassy of Mexico in London).

During their stay they will meet the mayors of Redruth and Camborne, the chairman of Kerrier District Council, officers of Visit Cornwall, and representatives of Camborne School of Mines, the Institute of Cornish Studies and the Trevithick Society.

Richard Williams, chairman of the Cornish-Mexican Cultural Society, said: "This visit demonstrates the high regard in which the historic cultural links between our communities are held in Mexico. For over a hundred years many thousands of Cornish miners and their families lived at Pachuca and Real del Monte. Today there is a rich Cornish heritage in this unique part of Mexico. Cornish surnames are common and the descendants are proud of their Cornish heritage."

Cornish Mining World Heritage Site co-ordinator Deborah Boden added: "This is a fantastic opportunity to bring our two histories and cultures together and to discuss how Cornwall and Mexico can work together to possibly achieve World Heritage status for these important sites that are as much about our history as they are about Mexico's.

"The Cornish played a vital role in reshaping the mining landscapes of Hidalgo. From Cornish-designed engine houses to Methodist chapels, the lasting impact that the men and women from Cornwall had on these far-off locations is still evident and it is essential to ensure this is more widely known and celebrated."

For more information visit www.cornishmining.org.uk

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