Magaly Clavijo Garcia is a Director in the Western Hemisphere Office at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Ms. Garcia covers countries in the Andes region and the Caribbean. She is responsible for developing, coordinating, and implementing U.S. trade and investment policy in the region.
A daughter of Bolivian immigrants, Ms. Garcia’s heritage has helped her be more effective as a negotiator and gives added significance to her work:
“I am profoundly grateful and proud to have a seat at the table where policy decisions are made for countries that I have a broader context for and be able to contribute meaningfully. When negotiating with countries, there is common ground with the person on the opposite side of the table, and that has enhanced my work in representing the United States.” Prior to joining USTR in 2018, Ms. Garcia worked for over 10 years with governments throughout Latin America and the Caribbean on trade facilitation and trade policy projects at the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.
Ms. Garcia’s parents represent the American dream: they left a military dictatorship in Bolivia to immigrate to the United States in the 1970s. They settled in the Washington D.C. area, and her father became the head of the news department at Univision and her mother pursued a career in public health for over 30 years.
But the American dream also came with ensuring their daughter knew her roots and heritage.
“I grew up visiting Bolivia often and plan to do the same with my children,” Ms. Garcia tells. “My husband is Cuban-American and we are both very conscious about creating an awareness of my Bolivian and his Cuban heritage in our two children. They will grow and shape their identities by the events, places, and those around them; we want to contribute to that process by making sure they understand where they came from, the sacrifices that were made so that they could live as they do, and feel an intimacy with their Hispanic culture. My parents instilled in me a great pride in my family history. I am adding to that history and passing our pride onto them.”
Ms. Garcia adds that she’s trying to pass down to her kids her love of dancing:
“I’ve learned several traditional Latin American dances – from Afro-Brazilian to the Chacarera from Argentina and the magnificent Caporales from Bolivia. - There is no activity that brings me more joy or makes me feel more connected to my Hispanic culture than dancing!”
Growing up in the U.S. while also remaining in touch with her Hispanic background has made Ms. Garcia very aware of the opportunities that were offered to her throughout her life, and she reflects on all the women that came before that allowed her to be where she is today:
“As a woman who has had the good fortune to be born in a country that has allowed me to pursue the career of my choosing, the women around the world, as well as those I’ve grown up with, that have placed the advancement and well-being of their family above all things, have been, and will always be, my inspiration. I am fully aware of the great privilege that it is to be born in the United States and have the means and opportunity to not have to worry about anything as a child except getting good grades. How great would it be if all our kids could have that gift.”
As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a conclusion, Ms. Garcia offers a message of hope and optimism: “A la comunidad hispana – ¡espero que hayan disfrutado de este mes de la herencia hispana! Hay mucho que celebrar y aún más para lograr.”
This post is part of a series celebrating USTR employees of Hispanic heritage for Hispanic Heritage Month.