We are in the office of the lovely and gracious Consul General of El Salvador, Hon. Nancy Guevara Stapley, a career diplomat. We are pleased and honored that she has agreed to be featured in our cover story for this issue.
Heidi: Thank you for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to talk with me today. First of all, could you share your diplomatic background with our readers? How did you become the Consul General of El Salvador for Houston?
Hon. Stapley: I got my B.A. in International Affairs from the National University of El Salvador. I was planning a career as a Career Diplomat. My first position was in Stockholm, Sweden. I was the First Secretary in charge of Consular Affairs at the Embassy of El Salvador in Stockholm. In that position, I was in charge of Consulate and Cultural activities for Salvadorans in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Latvia, and Estonia. At the same time, I had begun studies on my Masters in Conflict Resolution. About half way through the program, I was transferred to Houston, in 2013, as a Vice-Consul. Being a career diplomat does not preclude working in consulates. In 2015, I was sent to McAllen, Texas on the border as the Consul for El Salvador in McAllen. The next year, I was promoted to Consul General, and in 2017, I was transferred back to Houston as the Consul General. I have been moving around a lot in Texas.
Heidi: Always serving El Salvador.
Hon. Stapley: Yes, as a Career Diplomat for El Salvador, a public servant.
Heidi: Did you always want to be a Career Diplomat? What made you choose this career?
Hon. Stapley: I believe it started with me in high school. My mom had an interesting non-governmental job that involved a lot of travel. In her work she was learning about other countries and other cultures. You might say that my mom was also my mentor. I thought I would like to travel and get to know other cultures, and at the same time, be of service to Salvadorans.
Heidi: In your position as Consul General, in the U. S., what does a Consul do?
Hon. Stapley: In the U. S. we are focused on Salvadoran nationals and their needs. We issue passports, powers of attorney, ID’s, and any legal document that they may need. Also, we have an office that renders humanitarian aid, assists the detainees, offers immigration protection where they can, and visits Salvadorans in hospitals. When a Salvadoran needs medical attention, our office tries to see they get it.
Heidi: I know that we don’t provide legal aid to detainees. Does your office have access to legal aid for them?
Hon. Stapley: We have an attorney who comes every Tuesday and Friday. She assists us in our work as a Consulate. She also helps Salvadorans waiting for visas to find Immigration solutions.
Heidi: How many Salvadoran citizens would you say are in your area? What area does your office cover?
Hon. Stapley: We cover Greater Houston, Beaumont, Victoria and the states of Louisiana and Mississippi. We are the second largest Latino community here after Mexico. So, I would say, there are at least 200,000 Salvadorans.
Heidi: Now we will move on to the part that is more fun. Do you have any plans, cultural events, community events and special celebrations coming up?
Hon. Stapley: The last Saturday of every month the office is open to the public to provide services. Since everyone works during the week, it is difficult to visit the office during regular office hours. So, we open on the last Saturday to make our services available.
September 15th is our Independence Day. On September 14th, Saturday, we will celebrate Fiesta Patrias. On the 15th, we will participate in a parade celebrating Independence. Also, at this time, we have the Festival Salvadoreñísimo.
Heidi: That is the same date as Guatemala’s Independence. I am from Guatemala.
Hon. Stapley: We are neighbors.
Heidi: Again, I would like to thank you for your time. It has been a pleasure talking with you. We look forward to working with you and learning more about El Salvador in the future.
To contact the Consul of El Salvador you may call 346-571-5198.