Reflections of a US-Mexico ambassador: Daniel Hernandez

An encounter with Dan Castellanos was the experience of a lifetime. Dan served for two months as U.S. ambassador to Canada. A native of El Paso, Texas, he grew up on the western edge…

Reflections of a US-Mexico ambassador: Daniel Hernandez

An encounter with Dan Castellanos was the experience of a lifetime.

Dan served for two months as U.S. ambassador to Canada.

A native of El Paso, Texas, he grew up on the western edge of Mexico, and loved Mexico more than he loved his family.

His love for Mexico was legendary.

Imagine being the ambassador for the country he couldn’t take his eyes off.

Dan seemed to have an encyclopedic knowledge of Mexican art and architecture.

A fluent Spanish speaker, his Mexican heritage meant he could charm political, business and cultural leaders across the country.

You could see how he overcame the resistance against my immigration as an undocumented Mexican American by the critical community.

Our iconic immigration experience, the Statue of Liberty, which came down when Dan was in his 20s.

Dan was deep inside these spaces, and when he’d see border walls, walls around new cities, he’d do the can-can on them.

You can see a bit of him still everywhere today.

Dan could see the complex story behind diversity in America and then interpret it in more ways than the critics would ever find fault with.

I’d come to Dusseldorf to represent Canada, to explain to Germans that they had a neighbour in the West who was not all that different than them.

I’d come to Chicago in his place, when the Chicago Tribune front page blared an unceremonious termination of Dan’s engagement to Canadian PM Brian Mulroney.

Dan was one of a kind, warm, funny, giving, congenial, authentic, and fun.

And now he’s gone.

We are heartbroken.

I urge people, all Canadians, all Americans, and all people everywhere to honour Dan’s memory by continuing to come together as Canadians, Americans, Mexicans, Salvadorans, Hondurans, Brazilians, Africans, people of whatever background, to embrace our differences and our common humanity.

Love knows no borders.

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