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Archive for Central America

Newsline: U.S. envoy to Jamaica insults Twitter critics

The U.S. ambassador to Jamaica exchanged insults with people on Twitter who accused him of interfering in the country’s internal affairs, telling one he used too much marijuana and another that “you drink that cheap stuff.” The exchanges on Tuesday happened after Ambassador Donald Tapia posted links to interviews he gave local media, in which he warned the Jamaican government against installing fifth generation mobile technology made by Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE. Washington says Huawei technology could be used to spy for China and has been dissuading other countries from installing it. Huawei has denied the claim. The U.S. embassy in Kingston and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The office of Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness declined to comment. The ambassador appeared to have deleted his tweets after Reuters reviewed them. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-jamaica-diplomacy/u-s-envoy-to-jamaica-insults-twitter-critics-you-drink-that-cheap-stuff-idUSKBN27D31P) Tapia, a wealthy Arizona businessman, philanthropist, Republican donor and supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, has been in the post for more than a year. His Twitter account is verified by the social media company. Tapia’s posts ignited a backlash from other users who insulted him, saying his interview comments interfered with Jamaica’s internal affairs. Another user accused Tapia of “drinking rum or red bull or your trying to make a joke of me,” and Tapia replied: “I don’t drink and you are a joke.” When another Twitter user wrote: “I don’t drink American made vodka.” Tapia responded: “You can’t afford it, you drink that cheap stuff.” State Department regulations prohibit the posting of “offensive or harassing language” and “abusive or objectionable language” on social media.

Newsline: Ex-U.S. employee at Mexico City embassy was described as ‘experienced’ predator

A longtime U.S. government employee arrested this month and accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in Mexico City was described in federal court documents as an “experienced sexual predator” with at least 22 apparent victims. According to еру motion arguing that Brian Jeffrey Raymond should remain behind bars while awaiting trial, Raymond was arrested after authorities in Mexico City responded to reports of a “naked, hysterical woman desperately screaming for help” from the balcony of his U.S. Embassy-leased apartment on May 31. (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ex-u-s-employee-mexico-city-embassy-was-experienced-predator-n1245054) The documents don’t name the agency that Raymond worked for but said that he’d been a government employee for 23 years and worked in six countries. In Mexico City, he worked out of the U.S. Embassy, the documents say. The woman, who’d met Raymond on Tinder, later told authorities that she’d suddenly blacked out after he allegedly gave her a glass of wine, the documents say. A medical evaluation showed that she had several injuries and appeared to have been sexually assaulted, according to the court papers. Raymond told federal investigators that the encounter was consensual, according to the documents. Raymond has not been charged in the incident. In the documents, authorities say they are still investigating that case and 21 others after a forensic analysis of his phone revealed 25 video fragments of naked, unconscious women. Hundreds more photos were found on his iCloud account, the documents say.

Newsline: Honduras to move embassy to Jerusalem by end of 2020

Honduras will move its embassy to Jerusalem this year, and Israel will open an embassy in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement released early Monday. The two new embassies will open by the end of 2020, the statement said. (https://www.timesofisrael.com/honduras-to-move-embassy-to-jerusalem-by-end-of-2020-israel-says/#gs.g7wnl0) The announcement followed a Sunday conversation between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández. “With their flags flying in the capitals of the two countries, Israel and Honduras declare their intention to complete the action plan before the end of the current year, with a mutual opening and inauguration of their embassies in the national capitals, Tegucigalpa and Jerusalem,” the statement said. The statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said it was a joint announcement from the two countries, but Hernández issued a more tepid statement on Twitter, writing, “We hope to take this historic step before the end of the year, as long as the pandemic allows it.” The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

Newsline: Ambassador of Mexico in Honduras is transferred by air ambulance after testing positive for COVID-19

David Jiménez, Mexican Ambassador to Honduras, was transferred by air ambulance to Mexico City, and is currently in intermediate therapy with a good medical prognosis. Through Twitter, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard gave the news and wished the diplomat a speedy recovery. The Mexican ambassador was admitted to a private hospital in Mexico City where his health status would be reported as stable. (https://www.theyucatantimes.com/2020/08/ambassador-of-mexico-in-honduras-is-transferred-by-air-ambulance-after-testing-positive-for-covid-19/) So far, the Ministry of Foreign Relations of the Government of Mexico has not made any additional comments on the state of health of David Jiménez González.

Newsline: United States Condemns Nicaragua’s Threats Against U.S. Ambassador

In the context of the terrible arson attack against an historic shrine at the Managua Cathedral last Friday, the U.S. government is especially concerned about a death threat made against U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua Kevin Sullivan on Facebook earlier this week by individuals associated with Nicaragua’s ruling party. (https://usoas.usmission.gov/united-states-condemns-nicaraguas-threats-against-the-church-and-u-s-ambassador/) Kevin is a friend of many present today – stemming from his tenure serving as Interim and Deputy Permanent Representative in the U.S. Mission to the OAS. Anyone who knows Kevin can attest to his commitment to respect, inclusive dialogue, and democratic values. The U.S. government finds it outrageous that the Government of Nicaragua has failed to condemn or even disavow this public threat against a senior diplomatic representative by one of its militants.

Newsline: How Trump’s Ambassador to Mexico Became a Twitter Star

If you were Donald Trump’s ambassador to Mexico, you might be forgiven for lying low. Instead, in early September 2019, Christopher Landau, the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Mexico, posed a challenge to Mexican Twitter users. His counterpart in Greece, he wrote, had almost 150,000 followers in a country with a population of 10 million, whereas the @USAmbMex account only had 40,000 followers in a country of 130 million. “This is an outrage! … Mexico has to be #1!” he tweeted in Spanish. The following day, Landau’s followers numbered more than 76,000. Today, he has over 245,000—and his account offers an unexpected lesson in American digital diplomacy. (https://slate.com/technology/2020/07/mexico-ambassador-twitter.html) Landau’s followers come, we might assume, to learn about U.S. policy and the binational relationship—but they stay for the memes, food pictures, GIFs, and charisma. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. Either way, Landau, the representative of a president famous for his attacks against Mexico, has leveraged social media to present a starkly different outreach to our southern neighbor. He has cultivated a solicitous, admiring public persona, inviting people to ask questions about visas or U.S. policy. Often, he responds personally. Incredulous followers argue there’s no way he runs his own account, but he insists that he does.

Newsline: Former ambassadors warn of unwelcoming signs for investors in Mexico

Mexico needs to do more to create a welcoming environment for foreign investors, three former ambassadors said. Speaking during a virtual forum on the future of North America beyond the coronavirus pandemic and the ratification of the new free trade pact between Mexico, the United States and Canada, former U.S. ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson said the Mexican government is failing to demonstrate that it really welcomes foreign investment. (https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/former-ambassadors-warn-of-unwelcoming-signs-for-investors/) Jacobson, ambassador between 2016 and 2018, said that Mexico needs to establish a level playing field on which foreign investors and their capital are not unfairly disadvantaged. Jacobson’s remarks came two weeks after her successor, Ambassador Christopher Landau, said that it’s not a good time to invest in Mexico. Specifically citing recent changes to energy policy, Landau said that the federal government failed to keep its pledge not to change investment rules that were in place when it took office in late 2018. The “uncertainty” created by the government could be a barrier to increased investment, he said. Speaking at the virtual forum, former Canadian ambassador Pierre Alarie expressed a similar sentiment, asserting that clear rules and a stable political environment are paramount to attracting foreign investment.

Newsline: U.S. ambassador appears to question wisdom of investing in Mexico

The U.S. ambassador to Mexico appeared to question whether it was a good time to invest in Latin America’s No.2 economy, just days before a new North American trade agreement takes effect, although he later walked back the comments. The remarks drew strong reaction on social media, as some local media outlets interpreted U.S. Ambassador Christopher Landau’s remarks as a broad rebuke of the Mexican government. “For me, an essential part of my job as ambassador is trying to fix problems when they arise, and frankly try to encourage the investment of my compatriots,” said Landau in a webcast hosted by Mexican business lobby CONCAMIN. “But I can’t lie to them, nor can I tell them it’s an opportune time to invest in Mexico if you see very discouraging things for foreign investment. In various sectors we have obviously seen worrying things,” he said. (https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-mexico-trade/us-ambassador-appears-to-question-wisdom-of-investing-in-mexico-idUSL1N2E302M) The United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA) trade deal, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement, formally starts on July 1.

Newsline: US embassy in Mexico vandalized by protesters

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City has locked down amid violent protests over the death of George Floyd. A notice from the embassy’s regional security office claims protesters have thrown molotov cocktails and rocks at the embassy. “They have become violent,” according to a notice obtained by The Hill. “The embassy remained locked down. All personnel should avoid the area,” the notice continued. (https://thehill.com/policy/international/501408-us-embassy-in-mexico-vandalized-by-protesters) Mexican media outlets described protesters as vandalizing the embassy, which sits on one of the city’s main thoroughfares near a monument to Mexican independence. Protests the night before were largely peaceful, with protesters lighting candles around signs condemning racism and listing the names of victims harmed by the police. The State Department office in Washington did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Newsline: US Embassy in Dominican Republic mulls a reopening plan

The United States Embassy in the Dominican Republic is considering a reopening plan, although a date hasn’t been set yet. Carolina Escalera, press attaché of the embassy, said that she is working on a protocol that adheres to social distancing measures that prioritizes the health and safety of all. “We understand that the impact of the COVID-19 virus has been extensive and we continue to monitor the evolution of this pandemic. At the moment, we do not have a specific date or time to reopen our routine services at the Embassy and the Visa Application Center (VAC),” she said, quoted by El Dia. (https://dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2020/05/28/us-embassy-in-dominican-republic-mulls-a-reopening-plan/) She added however that they continue to provide limited services, in compliance with the United States Department of State guidelines.