María Echaveste has all the qualities to become an excellent representative of the U.S. in Mexico. With her thorough political experience and first-hand knowledge, as ambassador she would have had much to offer regarding the relationship between the U.S. and its neighboring countries.
However, this will not come to pass. Washington’s political wheeling and dealing ended up destroying the potential Senate confirmation of the U.S. diplomatic representative to Mexico, one our most significant international relationships. For geographic reasons and because of mutual economic and security reasons, the job of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico is one of the most important within the Department of State.
Both Democrats and Republicans derailed Echaveste’s nomination. First, the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations, headed until last year by Democrat senator Bob Menéndez, did not prioritize the recommendation as needed. Other proposals were approved, but Echaveste never had her day.
Menéndez’s office blames the delay on the Republican members of the Committee. Still, it is well-known that, last year, the senator deferred several ambassador nominations to Latin American countries as a form of protesting White House policy changes regarding Cuba. This narrative points to the opening of relations with the island nation as the last straw.
When the Senate was relayed to the Republicans, the possibility of Echaveste’s confirmation became even more complicated. Her progressive stance on immigration and her closeness to Hillary Clinton brought new obstacles. With these prospects, Echaveste’s nomination was withdrawn.
This is only a victory for politics, and it deprives the U.S. of the valuable service of a highly-qualified person with direct knowledge of Mexico — Echaveste is the daughter of immigrants —who worked for Clinton’s White House and for several organizations and academic centers studying Mexico-U.S. relations.
This is a loss for U.S. diplomacy at a time when Mexico endures a critical period. Democrats and Republicans are to blame. In defense of their own agenda, they obstructed Echaveste’s confirmation for reasons unrelated both to the prospective nominee and to Mexico.