A Tale of Two Ambassadors

Picture of Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Martha Bárcena Coqui

Two current ambassadors will be visiting Grand Rapids under the auspices of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan (WACWM) in the coming weeks.

On Monday, August 29, His Excellency Hendrik Schuwer, Dutch Ambassador to the U.S., will be speaking about world events at a 12:30 p.m. luncheon at the University Club, tenth floor of the Fifth Third Building downtown.

Ambassador Schuwer has been representing The Netherlands in the U.S. since 2005.

He attended the University of Leiden, where he earned a master’s degree in law, and then started working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1978. After postings in Vietnam and India, his 40-year career centered on the EU and the transatlantic relationship.

Since The Netherlands assumed the presidency of the European Economic Community in 1986, he has been been involved in all of the country’s leadership efforts there, ending with his chairmanship of Coreper I in 2004.

Ambassador Schuwer served two terms the Netherlands EU permanent representation, most recently from 2002-2006. He was chairman of the Committee of Permanent Representations during the Netherlands EU Presidency in 2004. He also served as the director of the Secretary General of NATO Office for Jaap de Hoop Scheffer from 2006-2009.

He has extensive knowledge of American politics and trade issues due to two assignments in the US. While at NATO, he was responsible for the Bucharest Summit in 2008 and the Strassbourg-KehlSummit in 2009.

"Obviously, The Netherlands has extensive ties to West Michigan," said WACWM executive director Michael Van Denend. "It was wonderful to have the Dutch government reach out and ask us to host the ambassador."

Then, as part of World Trade Week in West Michigan, Her Excellency Martha Bárcena Coqui, Mexico's new Ambassador to the U.S., will keynote the Council's annual Diplomatic Corps Luncheon at noon on Tuesday, May 14, at the University Club.

"To have the new Mexican ambassador here during this critical time in U.S.-Mexican relations is important," said Van Denend. "Michigan is Mexico's third largest trade-state in the U.S. and I am sure we'll be discussing trade-related matters."

Martha Bárcena Coqui was appointed Ambassador to the United States on December 21, 2018. She is the first woman to serve her country in this capacity. She entered the Mexican Foreign Service in 1979, and in June 2013 was appointed Ambassador of Mexico to the Republic of Turkey and to Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, based in Ankara. From December 2004 to June 2013 she was the Ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark, concurrent to Norway and Iceland.

She has been Mexico's delegate to the UN, the OAS, UNESCO, FAO, WFP, IFAD and ICAO, as well as head of Delegation in sessions of the Forum on Migration and Development. Ambassador Bárcena has participated in multiple international conferences, including the G-20 and the World Humanitarian Summit.

​Ambassador Bárcena has a degree in communication sciences from the Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City and a degree in philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. She holds a master's degree in international studies from the Diplomatic School, Spain and a master's degree in philosophy from the Universidad Iberoamericana. She speaks English, French and Italian and has knowledge of German, Danish and Chinese.

For more information about these ambassadors' visits, including registration instructions, contact WACWM at 616-776-1721 or email rsvp@worldmichigan.org.