Almost a Dozen U.S. Ambassadors to Latin America and the Caribbean Are Still Not in Place

By Carmen Sesin

"At the end of the day, it hurts our interests in the region," said AS/COA's Eric Farnsworth to NBC News.

Almost two years after President Joe Biden stepped into office, nearly a dozen ambassadors to key countries in the Western Hemisphere are still not in place, with eight nominees having their confirmation hearings put on hold by a Republican senator — all during a pivotal time in the region.

Ambassadorial nominees to Nicaragua, Brazil, Panama, Uruguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, El Salvador and the Organization of American States have been nominated but their confirmations are being held up by Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.

Biden recently nominated an ambassador to Ecuador and has yet to nominate ambassadors to the Dominican Republic, as well as Colombia — the strongest ally of the United States in the region which recently elected its first leftist president. Chile’s ambassador was recently confirmed after the position was vacant for close to four years.

“This is the worst it’s ever been,” said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, a former State Department official and diplomat. “It’s been a trend for a long time. In other words, it gets worse with every administration.”…

Farnsworth said part of the problem causing vacant ambassadorships is that “the political atmosphere in Washington gets more poisoned every cycle. Whether you’re Republican or Democrat, you’re trying to get the other team.”

Several senators such as Bob Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., are highly focused on Latin America, particularly Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

“You have several senators who are passionately interested in Latin America and are very strong in terms of imposing their interests on the nominees,” Farnsworth said. “It gets worse every time. I’m not sure how you break out of that cycle. At the end of the day, it hurts our interests in the region.”…

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