It’s been a year since U.S. Ambassador Anne S. Andrew left Costa Rica, and it appears there is no news of a replacement any time soon.
President Luis Guillermo Solís told The Tico Times that he did not bring up the subject of the absent ambassador post during his brief stay in Washington, D.C. last week, when he also met with members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The U.S. Embassy in San José confirmed to The Tico Times that there is no word of an announcement from the White House. According to protocol, after U.S. President Barack Obama names his choice, the candidate’s name would go to the Senate for confirmation.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Ambassador Andrew, the most recent U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, on Dec. 24, 2009. She arrived in Costa Rica in January 2010, when President Obama was sworn into office for his first term. She stepped down in June 2013. Embassy Information Officer Eric Turner commented in an email that it is customary for ambassadors to turn in their resignation at the end of the president’s term.
The lack of an ambassador, however, does not mean the embassy in San José is rudderless. The U.S. diplomatic mission in San José is currently headed by Chargé d’Affaires Gonzalo Gallegos, who assumed the post in August 2013 and won praise from Solís.
Solís said during a press conference Tuesday that his discussion with Democratic Senator Robert Menéndez of New Jersey and Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida focused on combating drug trafficking. The president stressed that in his interpretation of the joint-maritime patrol agreement, which was recently renewed, only U.S. Coast Guard vessels should participate.
Solís noted that it wasn’t the first time that Costa Rica has gone without an ambassador from the United States. Most recent appointments to Costa Rica have taken six months, more or less. The last time the ambassador’s post went unfilled for over a year was the 17 months between the terms of ambassadors John J. Danilovich and Mark Langdale during U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration.
“I hope it doesn’t take that long this time,” Solís added.