Latin American Consuls Join Forces in the Tri-State Area

From left: Jorge W. Lopez Amaya (Ecuador), Ana Lorena Siria de Lara (El Salvador), Jaime Alberto Acosta (Colombia), Diego Gómez Pickering (México) and Alberto Hart Potestá (Perú) (Photo via Reporte Hispano)

On Tuesday (July 11), at a simple ceremony where its members signed the new organization’s statutes, the Grupo Latinoamericano de Cónsules de Nueva Jersey (Coalition of Latin American Consuls in New Jersey, or GLACO) was inaugurated in Newark.

The president of the group, Consul General of Colombia in New Jersey Jaime Acosta, announced that, since its official incorporation on February 22, GLACO has met with Reps. Albio Sires (D-8th District of NJ) and Bill Pascrell (D-9th District of NJ) and with advisers to Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).

“We have discussed with them the project to work with our communities and exchanged points of view, particularly on matters related to immigration, in order to learn about their opinions and positions regarding the administration,” said Consul Acosta.

He added that the group has scheduled joint visits to immigrant detention centers in New Jersey. “Following the framework of our consulates’ duty to protect our compatriots, we periodically visit detention centers where people from our countries are being held, but we will be scheduling joint visits,” he said.

The diplomat added, however, that his consulate recently made an official visit to the immigrant detention center in Elizabeth and had a “frank and open dialogue” with immigration authorities.

He also stated that that they are planning to meet with New Jersey’s attorney general and with the Legislative Latino Caucus, both based in Trenton, the state’s capital.

“We want to know the caucus’ positions and perspectives regarding the upcoming [gubernatorial] election in New Jersey,” concluded GLACO’s president. His term will last six months.

Consuls Jorge W. López Amaya (Ecuador), Ana Lorena Siria de Lara (El Salvador), Jaime Alberto Acosta (Colombia), Diego Gómez Pickering (Mexico) and Alberto Hart Potestá (Peru) were in attendance at the inaugural event.

Other consulates with offices in New Jersey – such as Uruguay, Chile and the Dominican Republic – will join the group this year, according to GLACO board members. They invited other consulates to approach the coalition.

The group promised to include additional issues in the organization’s agenda, such as the protection of LGBT rights, which Ecuador Consul Jorge López Amaya said was not properly addressed.

To this, Mexican Consul Diego Gómez Pickering replied that his office has carried out actions in support of his country’s LGBT community in New York, adding that the Mexican community is already 250,000-strong in that state.

Regarding driver’s licenses for immigrants, El Salvador Consul Ana Lorena Siria de Lara said that the decision is in the hands of the New Jersey government and that they are waiting to see how the new governor – who will take office in January 2018 – will proceed.

Consul General of Peru in New Jersey Alberto Hart Potestá pointed out that “we are guests” in this country, adding that consulates are limited with regard to what they are able to do and must work within those boundaries.

“In our case, we have approximately 160,000 Peruvians in New Jersey. It is a community with  significant representation in cities across the state, so it is very gratifying for us to take part in this group to obtain respect for the rights and aspirations of our compatriots,” said Consul Hart Potestá, adding that, in addition to the immigration issue, there are other topics to deal with, such as education and culture.

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