November 11, 2021 - By AngelicaVilarino
Breaking barriers: Marco and Erica meet with the legendary diplomat Carolina Larriera
Imagine having a life so interesting that Netflix made a movie about you. This is the case for Carolina Larriera, a UN economist and diplomat with at least 12 other job titles. Marco and Erica meet with her for an interview discussing everything from being a traveling diplomat and the dedication that goes to her work, to Marco possibly running for office #VoteforMarco.
Based on a true story
Carolina Larriera was born in Brazil and is an active economist for the UN, fighting for equal human rights. About 17 years ago, her significant other at the time, Sergio Vieria de Mello, also a diplomat, died in Iraq on the 19th of August, during the Canal Hotel Headquarters terrorist bombing against the UN. This date has been recognized as World Humanitarian Day. In the interview, Larriera speaks with enthusiasm over the memory of her lost love and all the things that he represented and fought for. The movie based on their story is a Netflix adaptation starring Ana de Armas and Wagner Moura called “Sergio”. Larriera mentions how weird it felt seeing herself being portrayed on screen and how, because it is a Hollywood movie, their story was condensed and summarized to a limited running time and missed many details, like Sergio’s mother’s involvement and the fact that they also had a normal life aside from it all. Erica asks if there’s any part of the movie that she would like to clarify for the audiences and Larriera references a part of the movie where Sergio commands a tank to move away from the UN building. She wanted to clarify that Sergio had many responsibilities, but security and technicality was not one of them, in reality he had nothing to do with the tanks.
Better safe than sorry
Marco and Erica ask Larriera if she has ever been trained to use a gun. She knows how to shoot one, but she is usually accompanied by security personnel, not just to keep her safe but to raise awareness of the real dangers that can plague a country. Her job can be dangerous, she recounts a time where someone was shooting at the building she was working in. People wanted to know what was going on and got closer to the window “Curiosity can bring you to danger as well” she says. She even used to sleep with a knife under her pillow to feel safe. Despite being aware of her vulnerability in these situations, her valiant cause keeps her going and is surely inspiring to future diplomats.
Being the connector
Larriera talks about her former job as a corporate Wall Street economist. It made good money, but she needed something rewarding that fulfilled her. She wanted to make an impact, so she went from doing economics for the rich, to doing economics for the less fortunate, and became the connector between the 2 worlds. “By being the connector, you can make an actual difference, ” she says. In 2008, together with Sergio’s mother Gilda, they funded an NGO called Sergio Vieira de Mello Center. The Center focuses on democratizing the teaching of diplomacy so that those without access can develop skills in high demand in the labor market: lack of public speaking skills, negotiation, conflict resolution, and etiquette can be detrimental for youth’s insertion in the workplace. The program has recently dedicated itself to Covid-19 aid in suffering countries and teaching teenagers how to negotiate properly via Zoom. In the interview, Larriera stresses about the important things in life that they don’t teach in school curriculums such as self-sufficiency, diplomacy, and interview prepping. Marco offers his own piece of valuable advice, saying “Before every interview, make sure you do 50 push-ups”.
Humans of the World
Marco and Erica ask, aside from all the near-death experiences, what is a wonderful experience she’s had on the job? She does not answer with a specific experience, rather she recounts all the amazing people she’s met. “There is something exceptional about meeting new people ” she says, “We could use our curiosity to become interested in the person next to us, who might have an amazing story”. She emphasized on the importance of putting things in perspective and being grateful for what you have and learning from that, since there are a lot of people who have it worse, especially in these pandemic times, where it’s important to not be too harsh on people. Learning from these experiences is valuable as well. “I’ve met amazing human beings’’ she says “Because of what they went through but also because of what they learned from these experiences and what they were willing to share with me. That wisdom enabled me to look at what happened and learn from it”.
We need more Carolinas
In the final section of the interview, Marco asks a very important question: If you were given the possibility to become a ghost for a day, what would you do? Larriera answers that she would definitely travel through time, possibly to the 1920’s between the World Wars, and see what life was like in other countries that were not in the war. What an interesting answer! Anything to get away from the current pandemic times. Larriera mentions how hard it has been for Brazil during the lockdown, and how the mixed messages of the national leaders can be dangerous, which is why Covid-19 aid is more important now than ever. If you wish to donate, you can go to https://sergiovieirademello.org/index_en.html
There are so many more interesting topics that were discussed in the interview, whether it be about movies or diplomacy, that you could have missed by not watching the full interview on Britalians TV, so be sure to check it out!
The interview ends with Marco and Erica saying that if the world had more Carolina Larriera, it would be a beautiful place and Larriera saying that if the world had more Marco and Ericas, it would be even more beautiful. I’m sure we can all agree, we would like to live in both of those worlds.