Few groups suffer from as much misunderstanding as any local corps of consuls, and it begins with the fact that it is not a “corpse” with a hard p, regardless of how many times the term is misspelled and mispronounced. During my ten years as part of an informal leadership trio with the long-time Dean and Treasurer, and as Secretary of the Consular Corps of Miami, we were constantly scratching our heads over the desire of some members to incorporate under Florida State law.
As I say in the book The Foreign Consuls Among Us: Local Bridges to Globalism, a consular corps is a body in and of itself and it does not take a separate action (like a vote by members). Interestingly, history and the literature doesn’t even support the term [consular] “corps” as is already quite evident in the international convention. When delegates met in Vienna in 1963 to adopt an international treaty on consular relations, they did indeed debate the inclusion of a corps but, just as two years earlier when the diplomatic convention had rejected references to a diplomatic corps, “consular corps” doesn’t appear anywhere in the formally adopted document.
When I first became a member of the Consular Corps of Miami, there was much internal talk about consuls gone before me and the constant changes taking place among local personnel as consuls were transferred out of the area, passed away, or retired. It seemed everyone had a story to share, and even the print media got into the action with its often-sensationalized claims that consuls did little more than attended cocktail parties to rub elbows with the local intelligentsia.
But still, there was no telling how long ago the consular corps had “arrived” in Miami. Mostly, the 1950s was mentioned but nobody was quite certain. One local obituary even said the deceased had been instrumental in “founding” the corps (now, the 60s).
When I set out to conduct research on the roots of the Consular Corps of Miami, I immediately faced the challenges of repeatedly incorrect terminology in the printed material with its general misunderstandings of the consular role. But eventually my hard work resulted in a piece published in Tequesta (Nr. LXXVII, Dec. 2017), the journal of the HistoryMiami Museum: A Corps of Foreign Consuls: Looking at its Miami Roots. https://www.historymiami.org
Through the years, the Consular Corps of Miami developed a notable presence in the host-city. At one time (before Google made it a bit easier to learn about the countries represented by their consuls), the corps organized special programs featuring individual countries, and the annual consular ball or Valentine’s party became quite sought-after events for both their prestigious guests and the fun everyone seemed to have.
My sample of retrospective pictures (below), gives only a small glimpse into times gone by.
More Valentine’s fun with the Corps.