After a long delay due to the veto of Republican national deputies, who have showed discontent towards US President Barack Obama's policies in regard to Latin America, the US senate confirmed Thomas Shannon as the new US Ambassador to Brazil.
The US Senate also confirmed the nomination of David Nelson, a 30 year-career diplomat, as ambassador in Uruguay. Nelson was posted in Montevideo from 1982 to early 1984 as junior political officer and was given the human rights portfolio in what was then a military dictatorship.
Shannon, who had been filling the position of Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, was confirmed as the newly appointed Ambassador in the Senate's last session before Christmas holiday.
Shannon had been appointed by Obama for the US Embassy in Brazil on May 27, but his inauguration was soon facing obstacles: on July, Republican Senator Jim DeMint vetoed his designation – a resolution that also reached the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Venezuela.
Senator DeMint criticized Obama for condemning Honduras coup and for asking the restitution of toppled president Manuel Zelaya, who, as Republicans assured, had made a significant approach to Hugo Chavez' Venezuelan administration.
On November 5, DeMint lifted his veto after Obama's administration stated that elections in Honduras were considered legitimate for them. The same day, Shannon's designation faced another veto, this time by Republican Senator George LeMieux, who was feeling uneasy due to Obama's statements as regards Latin America.
Several weeks after, on December, the veto was lifted after the US State Department guaranteed that visas were to be endorsed to the Honduran people again.
Thomas Shannon is not the only ambassador to be appointed this week. Alan Solomont was designated as US Ambassador to Spain, Anne Andrew as the new Ambassador to Costa Rica and David Nelson, to Uruguay.
In his statement before the Foreign Relations Committee Nelson described Uruguay as an example of stable democracy, not only by holding regular elections, but with a deep commitment to democratic values, civil rights, and civil society.
"Uruguayan leaders of all parties are dedicated to improving the situation of all Uruguayans, including through education and market-led economic growth. Uruguay's commitment to education is highlighted by its recent achievement of providing a laptop computer to every student."
Furthermore, "Uruguay is positively engaged with the rest of the world; remarkably, it is among the global leaders in the contribution of troops to Peacekeeping Operations throughout the world. If confirmed, it will be my great pleasure to work with Uruguay on all of those shared interests."
"Having played an admittedly minor, but deeply committed, role in the political transition a quarter of a century ago, it would be a deep personal honor for me to return to that now flourishing democracy as United States Ambassador.
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