Antonio M. Romero
Friday, 8 December 2023, 10:48
In July 2021 Joe Biden appointed Julissa Reynoso as US ambassador to Spain. At the beginning of 2022, the first woman to hold this post in the country, after a long line of 80 men, was sworn in and took up her post in Madrid.
Born in 1975 in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York in a family of migrants with Latin and African roots, she holds a degree in Government from Harvard University, a master's degree in Philosophy from Cambridge and a doctorate in Law from Columbia, was an advisor to the current US president and was on Barack Obama's team.
A lover of flamenco and the music of Raphael, Reynoso was in Malaga last week to attend the opening of Google's cybersecurity centre and to visit American companies in the province, such as Caterpillar. She made time in her busy schedule to give an interview to SUR.
–Have you been to Malaga before?
–Yes, I've been lucky enough to come to Malaga on several occasions and it's a destination I love to visit.
–What would you highlight about Malaga?
–It is a very special place. It has become a very important world destination and in particular for Americans it is one of the most visited places in the whole of Spain. There have even been surveys done and Americans say that Malaga is their favourite destination in Spain.
And it is not only a great destination for tourists and students, but also for important global companies such as Google or Caterpillar ,which I am going to visit today [30 November] or many American companies that are setting up in Malaga or expanding their presence here.
–What do people think of Malaga in the US?
–That it is a great destination for US citizens. Particularly now, with the direct flight between the United States and Malaga, we are seeing a lot more visitors. And that means people who didn't know much about this part of Spain are now discovering how wonderful it is.
–What are Americans looking for in Malaga?
–The people of Andalucía are very friendly and open and that says a lot to an American visitor. There is also a lot of history here; culture, from the theatre to all the museums in the city; the culinary options are very diverse; the weather is good; and it is also a safe place where you can walk through the streets and feel comfortable.
–Google has just opened its cybersecurity centre in Malaga. Are you aware of any other US multinationals interested in setting up in the province?
–Yes, we continually see American companies coming through the embassy with great interest in setting up in Malaga or that already have a presence here and want to expand their investment. Particularly in the technology and financial services sectors. But there are also small companies and American citizens who want to live in Europe and want to settle in Malaga to work from here.
–There is currently a direct flight from Malaga to New York in high season, are you aware of any plans to extend its frequency to the rest of the year or to establish new connections?
–At the mayor's office and at the embassy, we have heard that the airline is very interested in expanding its activity. In other words, there is so much demand and the volume of passengers is so high that I think there is a possibility of more direct flights.
–But is anything confirmed?
–This is being worked on.
– What is the current state of trade relations between Spain and the United States, and more specifically with Andalucía and Malaga?
–This is a good time for trade relations. American companies are the ones that make the greatest economic contribution in terms of investment in Spain. In the case of Malaga, we are talking about companies such as Google, Microsoft, Caterpillar, pharmaceutical companies, banks... In other words, there are many activities in Malaga with important American companies, and there will be more.
Why do American companies come to Spain?
Because it is a place that is stable, safe and with very strong institutions that give legal security to investments. There is also a high degree of professionalism among employees and the people who come to work in Spain feel very comfortable here because of the atmosphere, the people and the quality of life.
–How does the United States view the formation of the new government in Spain?
–We have a great relationship with Spain and we are very satisfied with this bilateral relationship, which is very broad and diverse. We are very satisfied that we can continue working with this government, with which we have worked well in the past and we believe that we will be able to continue working very well with them in the future. In a country like this, where there is such a strong democracy, we believe that the decisions that are taken and the way they handle these issues must be respected.
–There is an issue that has marked the political and institutional current affairs of the country in recent years and also in the shaping of the new term of office, which is the independence movement in Catalonia and the issue of amnesty. What are your feelings?
–We try not to get involved in questioning internal processes of that kind. What we do have is great faith that a united Spain is strong. For us, the more stable and strong Spain is, the better for the world.
–After 80 male US ambassadors to Spain throughout history, you are the first woman. Is the world of diplomacy still a male-dominated world? Is it a world where there is equality or does machismo reign?
–We still have a lot of work to do as women and humanity in general to diversify the diplomatic sector to be more representative of the population. Particularly in the United States, we have a very diverse population not only in terms of gender, but also minority groups or the LGBT community.
All of those groups should have the right to be able to be part of diplomacy, because I think the strongest thing about the United States is the diversity of its population. We have made a lot of progress in our diplomacy, which in the United States is more diverse than ever, but we still have a lot more to do.
–Not only in diplomacy, but in general, diversity is one of the great challenges facing humanity.
–That's right. That affects every country in the world and democracies in particular are, I think, the most aware that that has to be part of the process of governance.
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