AURORA | It may be about 2,700 miles from Aurora, but the small Latin American nation of El Salvador grew a little closer to the city Monday morning.
More than 100 people celebrated the grand opening of a new Salvadoran consulate at the corner of South Havana Street and East Florida Avenue with a ribbon cutting ceremony May 15.
In a coup for the city’s widely trumpeted reputation as a bastion of globalism, the new office is the first international consulate in Aurora. The consul generals of Mexico, Japan, Sweden, Norway, Peru, Denmark and a gaggle of other countries have offices in Denver.
The new office will officially open for business a 8 a.m. May 16. The site will be a service provider for Salvadoran ex-patriots living in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas, according to Manuel Castillo, the new consul general of El Salvador in Colorado. Castillo said his office will help people troubleshoot passport problems, help facilitate business partnerships and handle potential human rights violations.
The office, located at 1450 S. Havana St., will be staffed by four full-time employees, Castillo said.
The city has been working on landing the new consulate through a courtship process that began about two years ago, officials said. Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan travelled to the Central American country last year to further establish ties between the city and El Salvador.
“This is a celebration of the fulfillment of opportunity,” Hogan said at the start of the ceremony Monday morning.
A resource group for Salvadorans living in the Centennial State, often referred to as SARCO, also helped woo the country’s consul general to Aurora.
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman joined Hogan at the ribbon cutting ceremony Monday, praising — in broken Spanish — the new international office in his home town. Several Salvadoran officials, including Salvadoran Congresswoman Karina Sosa, who serves as president of her assembly’s Exterior Relations Committee, flanked Hogan and Coffman at the event.
In Spanish, Sosa said the consulate is arriving at an “opportune moment,” and alluded to the “uncertainties” surrounding current immigration policies in the U.S.
Liduvina Magarín, vice minister of foreign affairs for El Salvador, attended the meeting on behalf of the country’s Chief Foreign Minister Hugo Martínez, who was scheduled to attend but forced to cancel due to a scheduling conflict.
Nearly 2,500 Salvadorans live in Aurora, making that national group the third-largest in the city, according to the city’s 2016 demographic report. Only Mexico and Ethiopia have higher national populations in the city.
Ricardo Gambetta, manager of the city’s office of international and immigrant affairs, said the population of Salvadorans in Aurora comprises nearly one-third of the entire population of Salvadoran-born people in the state.
Gambetta said the new consulate will serve a population of about 25,000 Salvadorans in its specified, four-state region.