Across the Americas, Crises Roil without U.S. Ambassadors on the Ground

By Michael Wilner and Jacqueline Charles

"It’s really critical that the U.S. has qualified ambassadors in place," said AS/COA's Eric Farnsworth to Miami Herald.

A crisis of democracy is gripping Guatemala as its ruling party refuses to cede power after an election loss. Haiti continues to spiral into anarchy as Port-au-Prince waits for international forces to come to its aid. And the Colombian government’s embrace of coca farming has led to tensions with Washington and an economic crisis at home that could shake one of the most important relationships in the region.

Yet none of these countries have U.S. ambassadors on the ground confirmed by the Senate, despite the Biden administration sending nominees to lawmakers over six months ago. [...]

Hoping to address those concerns, Biden appointed former Sen. Chris Dodd in November as his special presidential adviser for the Americas. Dodd has been dispatched to try and help on a number of issues, including an ongoing border conflict between Haiti and the Dominican Republic over the construction of a canal on Haitian soil.

Eric Farnsworth, a former State Department official, said that while Dodd is "a consummate professional" who can speak to and on behalf of the president, it is the role of ambassadors to be on the ground and immersed in local issues on a day-to-day basis.

"It’s really critical that the U.S. has qualified ambassadors in place during this transitional regional moment," said Farnsworth, head of the Council of the Americas business association in Washington. "Local communities feel disrespected when vacancies become pronounced, and confirmed ambassadors have better access and greater political weight in-country. They are generally better able to promote core national interests on behalf of the American people."

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