Public outreach and engagement with the American people and media to present and explain U.S. foreign policy is one of the key missions of the Bureau of Public Affairs. Last week, I had the opportunity to spend two days in Miami, Florida, where I visited our Media Hub of the Americas -- one of six State Department media hubs worldwide (Dubai, London, Brussels, Tokyo, Pretoria, and Miami). The hubs are strategically located throughout the world to serve as satellite offices of the Bureau of Public Affairs. The Media Hub of the Americas is the only one located stateside with a two-track goal of communicating America's foreign policy to Spanish-speaking media within the United States and throughout the Americas.
I had a packed schedule principally focused on outlining U.S. foreign policy priorities for 2012, including discussing the Administration's keen focus on addressing the common challenges we face in the Hemisphere through partnerships with Latin American and Caribbean countries. Together, governments throughout the Americas are working to improve citizen security, generate economic opportunity, promote energy independence, and advance democracy and human rights.
The first day, I held a roundtable with talented journalists who write for wire services and print media based in Miami. Luckily, I had had my cortado (espresso with a touch of warm milk) with my fruit-packed breakfast, as these journalists kept me on my toes with their sharp questions. I also benefited from their observations and analysis of the trends in the region. Next, I did an interview with the renowned Latin American editor and syndicated foreign affairs columnist with the Miami Herald, Andres Oppenheimer. We discussed U.S. goals for the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia on April 14-15, economic opportunities in the region, including trade promotion and educational and technology exchanges, and U.S.-Latin America relations in general.
Our team, including our Media Hub Director Melissa Martinez, re-grouped during a lunch stop at a cafe that took me back to my Spanish roots with its delicious assortment of authentic tapas, including arroz negro -- rice in squid's ink. What's not to like? We didn't linger though, as I was whisked away to four radio "hits" starting with the engaging Julio Sanchez Cristo at Radio Caracol, a Spanish news/talk radio station owned by Grupo Latino de Radio. By the time the fourth radio interview came around, I was in a groove and enjoyed my fast-paced interview with the incredibly funny and sharp host, Agustin Acosta of Radio Actualidad, a Spanish-language AM radio station that focuses on local, national, and international news content for the Hispanic market.
The final official event of the day included a program and reception that we co-sponsored with the Center for Hemispheric Policy based at the University of Miami. I spoke about the Administration's 2012 global foreign policy priorities and took questions from a varied audience of academics, business people, students, NGOs, diplomats, and political figures. It was really neat to meet a student from “the U” (the University of Miami for non-football fans) who had just been accepted to an internship with our embassy in Australia -- I sure hope she enjoys it and decides she wants to join the Foreign Service as we are always looking for talent. My reward after an intense day was a team dinner at a terrific Caribbean restaurant, which showed off Miami's flair for big flavors, fun, and full embrace of the multiculturalism for which it is famous.
The second day, we started early with a meeting with the dynamic Program Director of the Knight Foundation. I left breakfast inspired by the foundation's innovative and cutting edge programs, and hopeful that there are numerous opportunities for collaboration. Next up: a courtesy call and interview at Radio and TV Marti, the Cuba Office of Broadcasting, followed by an interview at Univision for its leading current affairs Sunday program, "Al Punto," hosted by Jorge Ramos. The interview took me around the globe, touching on issues from Central and South America to the Middle East to back home again. Speaking of which, after two packed and productive days, I found myself back on a plane headed for home.
For more on what I discussed during my trip, here are the links to some of my Spanish language interviews: Radio La W, Univision, and Radio Caracol. You can also learn more about the work of the State Department's worldwide media hubs in this month's edition of State Magazine.