Given the vast distances between Oklahoma and Peru, one wouldn’t readily consider academic and professional exchanges between the two to be prominent. Yet that discounts one of Oklahoma’s hardest working honorary consuls, Peru’s Enrique Villar-Gambetta, who recently announced that three Oklahoma-based higher education institutions had been invited to the 2016 International University Fair in Cusco, Peru on November 25-26.
According to Villar-Gambetta, there are only 80 universities invited to the annual event, and the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and the University of Central Oklahoma were among that select list.
Villar-Gambetta has worked strenuously in recent years to foster closer education ties between Peru and Oklahoma. Currently, Oklahoma City University has a five year exchange program agreement with the South American country for Peruvian students interested in getting a higher education degree there.
The college fair are ample opportunities to finance scholarships through the Peruvian Ministry of Education’s National Scholarship and Education Credit Program under Pronabec, which is also a leading sponsor of the 2016 International University Fair.
To learn more about opportunities with Peru in education and commercial sectors, reach out to Enrique Villar-Gambetta.
With a country as large as the United States, diplomatic representatives from other nations must allot time and money in major American cities to post their professional diplomatic corps. Whereas embassies are located in the capitol of Washington D.C., places like New York City, Los Angeles and Houston are common locales for foreign diplomats called Consul Generals. Yet another layer of contact also exists for these nations, with a corps of Honorary Consul in communities across the U.S. acting as official points of contact outside of major American cities. In Oklahoma City this summer, Peruvian Honorary Consul Enrique Villar-Gambetta spent several days hosting a polling place for Peruvian citizens casting ballots for their home country’s presidential election between Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Keiko Fujimori. OKGIT.com spoke to Villar-Gambetta about these responsibilities.
Tell us a bit about your role organizing the votes for Peruvian expatriates here in Oklahoma for Peru’s presidential election.
“It was my first experience as a consul from my country being in charge of a Peruvian general election for the new president and members of the Peruvian Congress. In normal circumstances my jurisdiction is the State of Oklahoma. I was in charge of the organization and elections in three states – Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas – which according to our records, equaled around 1,700 electors.
“The location for that event was Oklahoma City. Catholic Charities of OKC gave us tremendous support.”
What is the process like holding an election for Peru in Oklahoma City?
“First, the Peruvian Embassy in Washington D.C. contacts the U.S. State Department communicating that this official act will take place. Once it is official, I sent communications to the mayor of OKC and to the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s office to inform them this electoral process will take place in the city.”
“Through diplomatic pouch from Lima, Peru, I received the large list of electors, which we convened. In this election, Peruvians had to cast votes in two rounds. The first one was on April 5; the second one on June 5.”
“The winner in the second round of elections was Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, of the PPK. He is a well-known Peruvian economist. He studied economy, politics and philosophy at Oxford and has a master’s degree from Princeton. He lived a long period of time in the U.S. and worked in the World Bank, among other entities in New York.
What was the preparation process like to hold an election, including the day of?
“For this election we worked closely with the Consulate General of Peru in Dallas, Texas. They were in charge of the elections in Dallas, and we coordinated actions. The day of the election, as people arrived to vote promptly at 8 a.m., we had already set up teams to meet them and direct them to their polling tables. The team members communicated through radios because we were on different floors. We also had a team to aid voters with disabilities. All went smoothly and we were able to close the tables at 4 p.m., as instructed by Peruvian Law.
“During the event there were a few issues that had to be resolved. As honorary consul I was in charge at the site, having to accommodate without interfering with the voting process in accordance with Peruvian law, which governs the whole procedure. The consul is the last official who can solve a question in the field.
“I spoke with many people, young and old on Election Day. I was very pleased to sense the spirit that motivated them to give their vote, some after many years of being away from Peru. Some drove seven or eight hours to cast their vote, as proud and concerned Peruvians. Others had not visited Peru for ten or more years, but they still wanted to be a part of it.”
Enrique Villar-Gambetta is the Honorary Consul for Peru in Oklahoma. He has been a member of the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team since 2013, and currently practices law in Lima, Peru, where his law offices are located. He specializes in foreign investment, corporate law, criminal law, and international commercial relations. He is advisor in international business to a very important and large list of clients in Peru and other countries.
(Banner photo of the site of the Peruvian expatriate polling location, Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City, photograph by John Hill.)
One of the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team’s own received a distinguished award from Queen Elizabeth’s representative in Canada in late May. Canadian Governor General David Johnston presented OKGIT member and dual American-Canadian citizen Ian Ogilve with the Governor General’s Medallion during a visit to the Sooner State on May 28, 2016.
Ogilve was honored for his service in fostering closer ties between Oklahoma and Canada, in recent years helping spearhead the first visit of Canadian Consul General Sara Wilshaw to Oklahoma. Of interesting note, Governor General Johnston’s 2016 trip to Oklahoma was the first by an individual in that office. The governor general is, on the advice of the prime minister of Canada, appointed by the reigning British monarch to carry out the crown’s constitutional and ceremonial duties in the commonwealth realm. The office is non-partisan and also serves as the Canadian Armed Forces commander in chief.
On May 28, Governor General Johnston visited the Oklahoma capitol hosted by Chris Benge, Oklahoma Secretary of State and Native American Affairs in the Capitol Blue Room.
The same day, the governor general wrote an op-ed for The Oklahoman, which can be read here on fostering closer American-Canadian cultural and economic ties.
The ties between Oklahoma and Canada emblematic of the U.S.-Canadian relationship, with Canada’s role as the U.S.’s largest export market, more than 50,000 jobs in Oklahoma depend on the $6 billion trading relationship. As the governor general noted in his op-ed, a significant portion of that trade involves the oil and gas industry.
“Energy is an important component,” he wrote. “Canada contributes to North American energy security, with Canadian oil joining crude from Oklahoma, North Dakota, Texas and other states at North America’s oil supply hub at Cushing. Meanwhile, more than half of Oklahoma’s exports to Canada consist of equipment and machinery. We’re also partners in aerospace, agriculture and a growing number of science, innovation and education initiatives.”
(Top photo: Consul General Sara Wilshaw (left) and His Excellency the Right Honorable David Johnston (right) present Ian Ogilve (center) with the Governor General’s Medallion.)
The state’s longtime honorary consul for Germany, Charles Wiggins, has stepped down after more than 20 years of service. At a ceremony inside the Oklahoma State Capitol’s Blue Room, German Consul General for Houston, Ricarda Redeker accepted Wiggins’ resignation and thanked him for his work in bringing Oklahoma-German ties closer over the past two decades.
Wiggins initially took his position up in June 1995. Consul General Redeker presented Wiggins with the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his longtime commitment to Germany.
Filling Wiggins’ position will be well known Oklahoma City attorney, Jeremy Tubb.
Tubb is the current mayor of Lake Aluma, a small municipality in Oklahoma City, and since 2012 has been with Fuller, Tubb, Bickford & Krahl, PLLC. He is fluent in German and in the past has taught English in Poland.
The OKGIT has a host of resources available for international visitors – both business, academic and cultural – amongst our members. Check out our list of honorary consuls who are GIT members here.
If they can’t help you, we have ample resources to point you in the right direction through our numerous partners in the region.