The bicentennial of diplomatic relations between the United States and Colombia holds a special meaning for me. My mother’s first job was as Locally Engaged Staff at U.S. Embassy Bogotá, meaning she was a Colombian-national working alongside American diplomats at the embassy. She was incredibly proud of her work there. Throughout my life, she’s shared stories from her nine years of service at the embassy’s press section. She had a rewarding career building U.S.-Colombia relations, complete with overcoming pressing challenges at the time such as the 1985 Nevado del Ruiz eruption, where she rapidly produced Spanish-language press bulletins to provide updates on the extent of U.S. aid. Her stories were published in leading Colombian outlets, which helped convey U.S. support for the people of Colombia during that critical time. My mom left her position when she immigrated to the United States with my dad, but she always carried with her the experiences and lessons learned from her work at the embassy. She’s now a Colombian and American citizen and proudly wears both identities.
Locally Engaged Staff help keep our embassies running, and I am glad my mother is part of that strong tradition. Today as we celebrate 200 years of U.S.-Colombia relations, I reflect on the dedicated work of my mother and all the staff at U.S. Embassy Bogotá, past and present, who have built the strong ties between our nations for two centuries.
As one of the oldest democracies in Latin America, Colombia shares the United States’ commitment to promoting security, prosperity, and democratic governance across the Western Hemisphere. Our partnership extends from security cooperation, trade, cultural exchange programs, and more. As Secretary Blinken said during his trip to Bogotá last year, “[The U.S.-Colombia] relationship persists, indeed it gets stronger, because it continues to evolve. It continues to evolve to reflect the needs, the hopes, the aspirations of our people, just like our democracies.”
Decades after my mom’s service at U.S. Embassy Bogotá, I’ve followed in her footsteps. I’m proud to celebrate this important milestone for U.S.-Colombia relations, both as a Colombian-American and as a civil servant at the Department, where I help communicate the United States’ work with our partners and allies. Our efforts to expand and strengthen the understanding between the people of the United States and of other countries helps build enduring networks that last centuries, just like what we have built with Colombia.
About the Author: Johanna Schnitzler serves as a Public Affairs Specialist in the Bureau of Global Public Affairs, Office of Global Social Media at the U.S. Department of State.