Press Releases Index

December 19, 2003
CONTACT: Tom McLaughlin
Office of University Relations

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Visits Kean University

UNION, N.J. – Kean University hosted a visit by former Ambassador Peter Romero, who dispensed his knowledge of Latin American issues in a presentation titled The Future of Latin America, With and Without You and Me, on December 10, on the University’s campus at 1000 Morris Avenue, Union, N.J. The lecture, which was sponsored by Kean’s Institute for Foreign Service and Diplomacy, was attended by nearly 100 students interested in careers in the U.S. Foreign Service and international affairs, as well as members of the Kean faculty, staff and administration.

Prior to his presentation, Romero told the students that Kean is among the nation’s institutions that are at the core of preparing the next generation of international-affairs leaders. He then outlined the imminent social, political and economic consequences of Latin American countries, as well as the efforts that should be encouraged to eliminate the factor of Latinos having to travel to the United States in order to survive. One such solution, he noted, is the opportunity for these countries to benefit one day from an impending free-trade market that will stretch from Canada to Chile. “The way is not to build bigger walls with barbed wire at the border with Mexico and elsewhere,” Romero said. “The best way to accomplish that is to lift up their standards.” With these and other changes, Romero stressed that there will be an increasing focus on international relations and foreign policy, requiring the next generation of leaders to rise to the challenge.

During his distinguished 23-year diplomatic career, Romero served as the United States Ambassador to Ecuador and later as assistant secretary of state, where he played a key role in the peaceful resolution of the border dispute between Peru and Ecuador. In El Salvador, his diplomatic negotiation skills were influential in establishing and implementing peace accords, as well as in managing a $270-million assistance budget from 1991 to 1992. Furthermore, he was the principal State Department official to convince the U.S. Congress to appropriate $1.2 billion in support of Plan Colombia. Romero’s crowning achievement, however, came in 2000 when President Bill Clinton appointed him to serve as the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, making him the highest-ranking Hispanic-American in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Romero retired from his illustrious career two years ago, and has since served as the managing director for Violy, Byorum and Partners, an international financial institution that identifies strategic solutions and develops opportunities for businesses in Latin American countries.