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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson January 18, 2011

Administration engages Latin America, but not with a special envoy

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to reinstate the position of special envoy for the Americas, which was eliminated after the post was vacated in June 2004.

"In the past, American presidents have filled the position of special envoy to bring senior-level attention to hemispheric matters that might otherwise get buried in the normal diplomatic process," Obama explained.

About a year ago, we rated this promise stalled, based on a lack of any obvious moves to appoint someone. In the year since, there's been no further action, even though "the need for it is perhaps even more acute than before," said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas. Farnsworth worked under President Bill Clinton as an aide in the White House Office of the Special Envoy for the Americas.

National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said that the president has "taken strides toward opening a new era of relations in the Americas. We have done so at every level, including through sustained, high-level engagement throughout the region. That includes three presidential trips and visits to countries throughout the Western Hemisphere by all but one cabinet secretary, many of whom have made multiple trips to the region, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton"s visits to 18 countries in the Americas."

Still, no appointment has been forthcoming over the past two years -- a period we consider generous for a personnel appointment. If an envoy is named, we will move it to Promise Kept, but for now, we are moving it to Promise Broken.

Our Sources

E-mail interview with Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, Dec. 10, 2009. 

E-mail interview with Mike Hammer, spokesman for the National Security Council, Jan. 18, 2011

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson December 10, 2009

No sign of progress on naming special envoy for the Americas

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to reinstate the position of special envoy for the Americas, which was eliminated after the post was vacated in June 2004.

"In the past, American presidents have filled the position of special envoy to bring senior-level attention to hemispheric matters that might otherwise get buried in the normal diplomatic process," Obama explained.

However, as president he has not made any obvious moves to appoint someone, said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas. Farnsworth worked under President Bill Clinton as an aide in the White House Office of the Special Envoy for the Americas.

The situation could change quickly if the president unveils an appointee, but for now we'll rate this promise Stalled.

Our Sources

E-mail interview with Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, Dec. 10, 2009.

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