Upon her arrival in Atlanta in 1995 as Colombia’s consul, Rocio de Barrera felt that she had a lot to learn as well as a lot to do before she could actively promote her country.
She had had no diplomatic experience and only got the job, she told GlobalFax during an interview in her office on Peachtree Road in Buckhead, because she had been a competent official in the Colombian Bankers Association and had family in the U.S.
Ms. de Barrera also found her office to be both understaffed and underequipped. And the constant news about drugs and guerrillas associated with Colombia didn’t make the job any easier.
But today she has a staff of three people as well as a new computer system. The former vice president of the bankers association, finally feels ready, she said, to spread the word about Colombia’s “other face.”
Colombia’s relatively healthy economy due to strong exports of oil, coffee, textiles, flowers, cotton, apparel, leather goods and chemicals puts it in the same league in South America as Chile, she said.
And now that Ms. de Barrera has a full storehouse of videos and brochures, she also said she would present the positive aspects of Colombia’s people, culture and economy to wherever she may be invited. She, however, is not just waiting on invitations.
She already has organized a variety of programs ranging from business opportunities in Colombia to Colombian films to heighten an awareness of the positive aspects of her country in Atlanta and elsewhere.
Besides Georgia, she is responsible for representing Colombia in North and South Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee. More than 50,000 Colombians live in these states, with half located in Georgia alone.
Colombia, she added, has had a presence in Georgia for 35 years. An honorary consul first represented the country, until an official consulate was opened in 1982.
She may be reached by phone at (404) 237-1045; fax, (404) 237-7957.