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Luis Gilberto Murillo
Luis Gilberto Murillo will commemorate Ambassador Manuel Torres' life on Friday, Sept. 23. Graphic: Mónica Hernández/AL DÍA News.

Colombian Ambassador Luis Gilberto Murillo to speak at AL DÍA’s 2022 Hispanic Heritage Gala

The ambassador to the U.S. will be in attendance to commemorate 200 years since Manuel Torres’ death, the first Colombian Charge of Affairs to the U.S.

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This Friday, Sept. 23, AL DÍA will welcome Colombian Ambassador to the U.S. Luis Gilberto Murillo to the Union League of Philadelphia as an honored guest and speaker at its 2022 Hispanic Heritage Gala.

Murillo will give remarks at the ceremony about Manuel Torres, the first diplomat from Latin America in the U.S., and whose history in Philadelphia acts as an inspiration for AL DÍA’s Hispanic Heritage Archetype Awards.

“Manuel Torres was received in Philadelphia with solidarity, consideration. With great pleasure. He was an immigrant and because he was welcomed and was able to be part of the society, was able to do his job, to teach Spanish, to collaborate with U.S. officials, becoming even an influential figure during James Monroe's presidency," said Murillo. "Today we celebrate him as one of the most important figures in the diplomatic world to Colombia and the United States. And that is why we firmly believe that opportunities for migrants are vital for progress. We celebrate Hispanic contributions through his legacy, and we are proud to remember his heritage and what he became as an example to those that today have the same dreams and ideals. He is an example for those that today have the same dreams and ideals.”

2022 marks 200 years since Torres’ death, in 1822. He arrived in the U.S. in 1796, and spent the next 26 years fighting for the independence of Spain’s American colonies from the City of Brotherly Love. For his efforts, he went from being an envoy during the years of Bolivar’s revolutions to President James Monroe officially accepting him as the first diplomat from Latin America to the U.S. on June 19, 2022.

Torres died less than a month later on July 15, but his work is still remembered by a plaque in Old City, Philadelphia, and by AL DÍA through its Hispanic Heritage Archetype Awards.    

Murillo comes to the City of Brotherly Love on Friday also as a history-maker in his own right. He is the first Afro-Latino to ever be appointed as Colombian Ambassador to the U.S., under the first-ever leftist president in Colombia’s history, Gustavo Petro.

Born in the camp of a multinational mining company in Colombia’s Chocó Department, Murillo first pursued a career as a mining engineer before entering politics in his home department, where a large portion of Afro-Colombians live in the country.

He first led the environmental government arm in the department before running for and winning governorship at the age of 31. Murillo was forced into exile after a year leading the department and became an advocate for Afro-Latinos across Latin America on a global scale. 

AL DÍA highlighted his work in this field as the first-ever Colombian and Afro-Latino to be part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Martin Luther King Program. Until the beginning of 2022, he worked there to develop solutions for poverty among the continent’s Afro-descendant populations and specifically how they can adapt to environmental deterioration brought on by climate change.

At the start of 2022, Murillo returned to Colombia as a vice presidential candidate in the country’s elections, and threw his support behind Petro when he bowed out of the race alongside running mate Sergio Fajardo.

AL DÍA's 2022 Hispanic Heritage Archetype Awards gala will be this Friday, Sept. 23 from 5-8 p.m. at the Union League of Philadelphia.

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