map of Mexico from 1847

A Book Presentation: Matías Romero y el oficio diplomático

WRITTEN BY NAMRATHA SIVAKUMAR, SFS'20

On April 19th, 2018, the Center for Latin American Studies co-sponsored an event with the Center for the Advancement of the Rule of Law in the Americas (CAROLAS) to discuss Matías Romero y el oficio diplomático: 1837-1898, a book published by Dr. Sergio Silva Castañeda and Dr. Graciela Márquez. The co-authors were accompanied by Alberto Fierro and Casey Lurtz, who introduced the book and its muse, Matias Romero, through the lens of Mexican history and diplomacy. Set here in Georgetown, the event was especially poignant, as Silva revealed, “Washington D.C. was Matias Romero’s playground”.



The talk discussed Romero’s diplomatic achievements in building a relationship based on a equality between Mexico and the United States. Marquez learned through her research that Romero “did enjoy public service, but he did not enjoy politics,” revealing that the diplomat’s motivation came from an intrinsic drive to better Mexico and further its interests. Romero was able to straddle the border between Mexico and the United States, engaging in productive dialogue with both President Abraham Lincoln and President Porfirio Diaz.

The book is full of photographs of Romero and scans of original letters and maps that reveal the intersections between his personal beliefs and diplomatic actions. Using primary sources and Romero’s own letters, the authors constructed a compelling and multifaceted biography, touching on the histories of Oaxaca, US investment, corruption, and the role of the presidency. Despite this complexity, the book is targeted at an everyday audience.Fierro called it a “readable, fun, book of history that engages from the very beginning”.

This accessibility is exactly what the Marquez and Silva intended. Their effective writing and engaging narratives make Mexico’s diplomatic history approachable for young students and and Silva mentioned he wrote the book because he “wanted to show them what history can teach them about being a diplomat”. Matías Romero y el oficio diplomático: 1837-1898 is more than a biography, rather an insight into the complex world of diplomacy and the lessons we can learn from the past.