Consul General of Colombia
By: Heidi Powell-Prera – iF Magazine
We were invited to visit with the new Consul General of Colombia in her office here in Houston. This lovely and gracious lady met with us and her assistant after office hours. After being treated to cups of rich Colombian coffee, we had a warm and interesting conversation.
Heidi PP: First, walk us through your background. Did you study for diplomatic service?
Hon. Amalia Romero: I am Amalia Salgado Romero, I am 32 years old, I was born in the department of Meta, which is part of the Eastern Plains of Colombia. I have a law degree from the Universidad de los Andes, with bachelor’s and master’s degree from the same University. With more than 10 years of experience in the public sector, I have worked as an advisor on social, legal, political, and regional development issues. Also, I have worked with communities in the promotion of a representative democracy for my country.
Heidi PP: What does a consul general do in your capacity?
Hon. Amalia Romero: The Consul General of Colombia in Houston is the representative of the Colombian government for the states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, the area of our jurisdiction. The Consul General is a person who must be dedicated to the service of fellow Colombian citizens; as well as, being the person who must exercise leadership in matters of interest to Colombia.
Heidi PP: Tell us about the Consulate General of Colombia in Houston. Which states of the USA are covered under your office, and what services do you provide?
Hon. Amalia Romero: As I mentioned earlier, the jurisdiction of the Houston Consulate is made up of four states, which are: Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas. We are talking about, according to unofficial figures, approximately 150,000 Colombians residing in the area.
In the Consulate we provide registry services, such as the issuance of civil documents and identification documents and consular services such as the processing of passports, visas, apostilles; as well as, notary functions.
Additionally, we offer social and legal assistance to our nationals. We help them with any concerns or doubts they may have. An example of this would be compatriots who are deprived of their liberty and in prison in any of these four states.
We develop conversations or talks with the community on a monthly basis about topics of interest to Colombians living abroad.
Every two months we carry out mobile consular offices by bringing the consulate closer to the communities. We move to different cities in the four states for a whole weekend, so that people do not have to travel and can do their paperwork. A fundamental objective of the government of the President of the Republic, Iván Duque Márquez is to maintain contact with Colombian citizens.
We support the work and work hand in hand with ProColombia, an entity of our Government that also has a presence in the area, and is responsible for promoting tourism, exports of our products and foreign investment in Colombia.
We strengthen alliances and relationships with people and public and private institutions, as well as with the Consular Corps of Houston, with the aim of generating bonds of friendship and joint projects that allow us to improve the living conditions of our populations.
I believe that our only purpose is to serve Colombians with love and commitment, so that they feel that Our Consulate is Their House.
Heidi PP: What are some of the past, present and future objectives for relations between Colombia and the United States?
Hon. Amalia Romero: The United States has undoubtedly been, is, and always will be an ally and strategic partner for our country. They are two nations that have traditionally worked hand in hand towards common goals, and we have always been characterized by having a strong bond of friendship.
I think there are issues that will always be of great interest, such as trade, cooperation and the security agenda between the two countries. And, the only thing we hope is that our relationships will be strengthened day by day because that means well-being for both the American and Colombian people.
Heidi PP: What are some important problems that Colombia faces today?
Hon. Amalia Romero: All countries around the world face different problems to a greater or lesser extent, however the challenge is to turn them into opportunities for the country, and I believe that today we have a great challenge: the exodus of more than 1.5 million Venezuelan brothers to our homeland, which has become the largest migration crisis in the history of the region, according to the United Nations, and it is in our hands to make this migration have a positive effect in our country. However, international and regional support is required.
Finally, let me point out that the history of Colombia shows that in the face of adversities that have arisen in our country, we have demonstrated what we Colombians are made of and what Colombia means to the world:
• We are the gate of South America and the only country with coasts in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean.
• Colombians always have a characteristic of joy and service, and we distinguish ourselves anywhere in the world.
• Colombians always leave their mark wherever they may go.
• We have unique landscapes and the greatest diversity of fauna and flora in the world.
• We have great cultural and gastronomic wealth.
• Colombia was selected among the five best destinations to visit in 2017, according to a Lonely Planet list.
I greatly appreciate the interview, and I would like to take this opportunity to invite Colombians to visit us on Consular Saturdays. We are opening the Consulate for any type of procedure on the first Saturday of each month from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.
Heidi PP: We thank you for taking the time to talk with us, and we wish you a very successful time in Houston.
For more information about Colombia tourism and business opportunities go to houston.consulado.gov.co