Ambassador Martha Bárcena Coqui is a member of the Advisory Council of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center and former ambassador of Mexico to the United States. During her tenure from December 2018 to February 2021, she assisted with negotiations that set out the foundations for the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement and dealt with the vast array of issues on one of the most complex bilateral relationships.
Bárcena previously served as Mexico’s permanent representative to the United Nations agencies based in Rome as well as to the Governing Council of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law from April 2017 to December 2018. She was also the Mexican ambassador to Turkey concurrent with Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan from 2013 to 2017; ambassador to Denmark concurrent with Norway and Iceland from 2004 to 2013; and consul in charge of the Department of Protection of Mexicans Abroad and Cultural Affairs at the General Consulate of Mexico in Barcelona from 1989 to 1990.
In the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she was head of the Department of Migrant Workers and Border Cooperation in the General Directorate for North America from 1980 to 1982; deputy director general for UN specialized agencies from 1983 to 1985; advisor to the executive director of the Mexican Institute of International Cooperation, the director in chief of multilateral affairs, and the director general of cultural affairs and historical diplomatic acquis from 1986 to 1989. She was also deputy director at the Prospective and Planning Directorate from 1998 to 2000; special advisor for international security and peacekeeping operations at the Office of the Undersecretary for Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, and the United Nations from 2000 to 2003; and technical secretary at the third EU-LAC Summit in 2004, among other roles.
Bárcena was a professional ballet dancer at the Mexican National Dance Company from 1975 to 1976 and has also worked for non-governmental organizations as advisor to the director of the Center for Regional Cooperation for Adult Education in Latin America and director of the Latin American Center for Globalization.
She has been professor at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico, the Instituto Matías Romero, and Mexico’s Center for Higher Naval Studies, teaching subjects like international organizations, international trade negotiation, international security, US national security, and peacekeeping operations, among others. She has also participated in conferences at the National Defense College of Mexico, the Diplomatic Academy of Argentina, the Växjö University in Sweden, and numerous universities in Turkey. Bárcena also authored several articles about international security, US-Mexico security cooperation, globalization, EU-Mexico relations and more.
Bárcena graduated with honors from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico, where she received a BA in communication sciences. In addition, she has a BA in philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University and a Master in International Relations degree from the Diplomatic School of Spain. She has also attained a Master in Philosophy degree from the Universidad Iberoamericana. She participated in postgraduate studies at Delaware University through the Fulbright Scholarship Program, at the University of Hong Kong, and at the Lester B. Pearson Canadian International Peacekeeping Training Centre.