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US Ambassador to Panama

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New US Ambassador to Panama gets Senate Approval


Posted 30/09/2022

The US Senate confirmed Thursday the Puerto Rican Mari Carmen Aponte, as Ambassador to the Republic of Panama.

Aponte is a lawyer and career diplomat. She served as Under Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the State Department under President Barak Obama, with Joe Biden as Vice President.

The new ambassador had been waiting for the ratification for several months, after President Joe Biden nominated the Puerto Rican to occupy the post which had remained vacant after the resignation of John Feeley in January 2018.  During that period the Embassy in Panama has been directed by several chargé d'affaires

Aponte, who was ambassador to El Salvador and acting assistant secretary of state for Latin America during the Barack Obama administration, had been favorably recommended, without opposition, by the Committee on Foreign Relations.

A lawyer by profession, Aponte was director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) during the administration of Sila María Calderón. She was also appointed in the past as ambassador to the Dominican Republic and to the Organization of American States (OAS), although these designations did not complete the legislative process.

Accordingto the newspaper El Nuevo Día , from Puerto Rico, in 1997, then President Bill Clinton appointed Aponte as ambassador to the Dominican Republic. But the Republicans blocked her appointment using as an excuse an affair she had with a Cuban businessman who frequented the Cuban Interests Section in Washington DC. Amid renewed Republican criticism, Aponte was appointed by President Barack Obama as ambassador to El Salvador and confirmed by the US Senate in June 2012. This time, with the appointment of Biden, although she faced a slow confirmation process, she had no stumbling blocks.



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New US  Ambassador arrives in Panama


Posted 16/11/2022

Mari Carmen Aponte the new US ambassador to Panama arrived in the country on Wednesday, November 16.

Her appointment was confirmed by the US Senate on September  29.

Aponte has served as US ambassador to El Salvador and was also the Acting Assistant Secretary of the State Department's Western Hemisphere Office.

She is the first Puerto Rican woman to hold the title of ambassador of the United States.

In her career in law, she has received various recognitions, including honorary doctorates from Temple University and the District of Columbia Law School, as well as the Unidos US Graciela Olivarez Award.


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The fight against corruption and migration  key targets for new US ambassador


Posted 22/11/2022

Mari Carmen Aponte, the recently arrived US ambassador to Panama, priorities are to help Panama fight corruption, address the issue of irregular migrants and attract investment from her country to Panama she told journalists at her public meeting on Monday.

 Fighting corruption is key so that American businessmen can operate in Panama without giving a bribe so as not to violate the anti-corruption law of their country. In addition, having a stronger investment in Panama strengthens the bilateral relationship.

The importance of having close ties with one of its most important trading partners in the region also serves to narrow the gap to its business competitors that have a presence in Panama. China is one of them.

"I believe that as proud citizens of democratic countries we must recommit ourselves to promoting democracy in the face of the growing wave of authoritarian regimes in the region and other influences that come from outside.

The concern that corruption continues to undermine institutions and governance is intended to prevent Panama from looking in the mirror of other people subject to populist governments working "without respite" to face these challenges and guarantee democracy in Panama.

The region is going through the phenomenon of irregular migration that in Panama registers record numbers, with more than 200,000 migrants during 2022.

 Aponte has planned a trip to Darién to observe first-hand the migrants and the organizations that serve them. "Panama is already in the big leagues globally and is facing irregular immigration proportionally and on a scale like countries in Europe and the United States," She said.

She said reiterated that the most effective way to combat the scourge is through regional and bilateral agreements. Previously, the United States insisted on improving the social and security conditions of populations at risk in their countries of origin through programs and funding for non-governmental organizations that address these needs. Trying to straighten out such complex issues will take time. Along the way, to meet the needs of countries, such as Panama, the United States improved from $4 million in 2021 to $18 million, the budget allocated to Panama in 2022.

"Migration must be managed in a humane, orderly, and safe way, as long as we can reach that goal we can provide relief in the problem," suggested Aponte. But there is no such route yet. To reach the north, migrants are victims of human traffickers, are extorted, victims of other crimes, and end up feeding the finances of organized crime, the main beneficiary of the situation.


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