D.C. bookshop launches ‘bookstore diplomacy’ with Mexico City sister store

This story was originally published in USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — As President Trump fuels tension with Mexico with his plan to construct a wall across the shared border, a cluttered used bookstore on Capitol Hill has taken diplomacy into its own hands.

Capitol Hill Books has signed a Memorandum of Understanding creating a sister store relationship with Libería A Través del Espejo (Through the Looking Glass) in Mexico City. The agreement is mostly symbolic, store employees said, but is part of a broader effort to create friendships with Mexico residents in the era of Trump.

Dan Cullen, media relations manager for the American Booksellers Association, said he knows of no other agreements like this between bookstores across international borders.

“When small bookstores and citizens like this engage in small acts of citizen diplomacy, it makes a big difference to break (barriers) down,” said Katie Levey, senior director of communications for the Center for Citizen Diplomacy.

Citizen diplomacy between the bookstores can create momentum for other outreach, Levey said, adding that bookstores are “mini meccas of knowledge” that often hold deeper understandings of a variety of cultures.

“It’s part of a bigger trend of people reaching across boundaries and borders to understand what other cultures look like,” she said.

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