US ambassador to Mexico unexpectedly resigns amid increased tensions under Trump

  • The US ambassador to Mexico plans to leave her post in May.
  • Her nomination was delayed in the Senate for 10 months, and she was not confirmed until April 2016.
  • Much of her time in Mexico has been spent managing rocky US-Mexico relations under President Donald Trump.

Roberta Jacobson, the US ambassador to Mexico, announced her resignation on Thursday, saying on Twitter she would be leaving her post at the beginning of May “in search of other opportunities.”

“I do it knowing that the US-Mexico relationship is strong and crucial and that the incredible team in our mission in Mexico will continue making sure that it is so,” Jacobson wrote.

Jacobson said she had no information about her successor, though a US official with knowledge of the decision told The New York Times that the Trump administration had selected a nominee.

Jacobson, a career diplomat, was nominated for the post by President Barack Obama in June 2015, but her confirmation was held up for 10 months in the Senate – led by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez – over objections to the Obama administration’s reestablishment of diplomatic ties with Cuba, which she helped negotiate as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.

Jacobson was not in her post long before relations between Washington and Mexico City became strained under President Donald Trump. Much of Jacobson’s time was focused on working with her Mexican counterparts to soothe concern and displeasure in Mexico over Trump’s policies and rhetoric toward the US’s southern neighbour, according to The Times.

Under Trump, many of the US’s communications with Mexico’s government have been routed through the White House and Jared Kushner, a senior adviser and Trump’s son-in-law, who has developed close ties to Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who is himself close to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Those dealings have largely excluded officials in the US State Department, though their status going forward is uncertain, as Kushner recently had his top-secret security clearance revoked.

Jacobson was a member of the State Department’s civil service, not the foreign service, from which ambassadors are typically drawn.

But she was held in high regard for her experience and connections in Mexico, considered vital to managing the closely intertwined politics and economies of both countries at a time of particular tension.

“No career official has more consummately understood US-Mexico relations,” Carlos Pascual, a former US ambassador to Mexico and Ukraine, told The Times.

Jacobson is only the latest high-profile departure from the State Department, which has shed many of its most senior officials under Trump and failed to fill many vacancies.

In January, US ambassador to Panama John Feeley, a career diplomat and retired Marine pilot, announced his resignation, saying he did not feel able to serve Trump. Feeley was considered by many to be one of the US’s most talented officials on Latin American matters.

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