JOB DESCRIPTION: Just what does Ambassador Navarro's job entail?

Published: Sunday | May 3, 2009

Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter

A smile is never far away from the face of Ambassador Filomena Navarro of the Dominican Republic. That along with her tireless efforts to promote her country are hallmarks of her tenure. She told Outlook a few things about herself, her tenure (which goes back a few years) and her homeland.

You've been here nearly four years. How has the experience been?

Oh, it has been a great one. My tour of duty here has been a wonderful experience. It has served to strengthen not only the diplomatic relationship between the Dominican Republic and Jamaica in the political, cultural and commercial areas, but also has helped me to develop as a diplomat."

She pointed out that her career started here in 1997 as consul general. At that time, her country didn't have a diplomatic mission here and President Leonel Fernandez gave her the responsibility to deal with the Jamaican government at the opening of the embassy.

"At the beginning (as a consul general), I had to work just like a head of diplomatic mission, representing my country as if I were an ambassador. The return to Jamaica five years later as head of the diplomatic mission was an unbelievable experience. I already knew everything and almost everybody here and that made me feel incredibly good."

It's no wonder then that she says she easily got into Jamaican culture and life feels at home!

Are you a political appointee or a career diplomat?

"At the beginning it was a political appointment. The new government, that was the first one of President Fernandez, who was looking forward to opening new diplomatic relationships and wanted people with the best academic and cultural level to do this job. This is my situation because I have been in the diplomatic category sine 1999 when I was appointed to Peru as Minister Counsellor."

She explained that in the Dominican Republic, when you have spent 10 years at the foreign service with a diplomatic rank, you automatically become a career diplomat.

As ambassador to the Dominican Republic, what are your duties here?

To promote the Dominican Republic in all aspects as a secure place for business and investment, and as a cultural and academic paradise that it really is.

Politically speaking, to promote the exchange between our leaders and Jamaica's leaders, linking our governments, and trying to get the understanding of our governments to the candidatures to international organisations.


She is adamant that being an ambassador is a hard job that entails much more than attending social events; it's a 24-hour job. One of the many activities takes place behind the scenes, preparing to represent the country in a cultural event.

"You have to prepare all elements to be used - the speech, the decoration and it takes a lot of time and effort. Our country is always being represented in all cultural activities like fairs, gastronomic festivals and academic exchanges."

The ambassador also gave Outlook an update on the latest within the embassy.

"Right now, our major activity for 2009 is the Professor Juan Bosch Short Story Competition which is part of the celebration of the centenary of Bosch's birth and we began in June last year."

It ends on June 30 with the gala Awards, but until the end of the year there will be a permanent exhibition on this giant of literature and politics.

What's your biggest challenge on the diplomatic scene?

"My biggest challenge has been the integration of the Dominican community, making them understand that united, we are stronger." She also tries to involve her people in different activities representing the country.

"As you know, we have a folkloric group that dances meringue and Bachata in different events, but we also have people that teach dance and how to prepare dishes from the Dominican Republic.

What has been your most embarrassing moment during your diplomatic career?

I have not had embarrassing moments because I always try to do what must be done in the best possible way, and this is the only way to be in harmony in every situation.

Apart from your diplomatic duties, what are some of the activities that you are involved in?

"I'm very involved in academic activities and in charity. Everybody knows I'm a teacher, and as a teacher I really enjoy going to schools to speak about my country." Among the attractions she lists are the botanical garden, the Colonial Zone and the overall history.

She belongs to five different organisations that raise funds for the less fortunate, especially children who need help in their studies.

Which part of the Dominican Republic are you from?

I'm from Santo Domingo, the capital, but I can tell you that I know every inch of my country (she boasts). I think that it is a fabulous experience to have the privilege of knowing my country since I can promote every place as if it were my hometown.

When she was in high school she would choose a place to visit during summer vacations. Later, when she became a political activist, she visited all parts of the country, during political campaigns, something she's done since 1976.

As ambassador, how do you think you can help improve the cooperation between both countries?

I think that we can have cooperation in various fields like agriculture, commerce and education."