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Trump will immediately remove U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, other foreign diplomats from Obama era

January 6, 2017

There will be no grace period for U.S. ambassadors appointed under President Barack Obama once president-elect Donald Trump takes office in two weeks.

According to a Thursday report from the New York Times citing unnamed U.S. diplomats who were apparently relaying information from official State Department communication, Trump is breaking with decades of precedent by requiring the immediate withdrawal of all ambassadors worldwide who were Obama’s political appointees, without exception. Traditionally, new U.S. presidents have allowed a grace period before replacing ambassadors, both to ensure that gaps do not occur while the Senate confirms new appointees, and to avoid disruptions for ambassadors’ children in the middle of their school year.

The U.S. Embassy in San José confirmed to The Tico Times via email that S. Fitzgerald Haney, the U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, will leave his post on Jan. 20 when Trump assumes the presidency.

Chargé d’Affaire Robin Matthewman, who has held her post since 2013, will fill in on an interim basis before Trump assigns his new diplomats.

By all accounts, Haney has been an effective ambassador during his 1.5-year term. Among other notable contributions, the ambassador has donated to local police efforts and has helped facilitate key talks between U.S. and Costa Rican politicians during the recent Cuban migrant crisis.

Haney’s wife Andrea has battled breast cancer while in Costa Rica and their four school-aged kids are all enrolled in local private schools. The U.S. Embassy did not comment on whether or not Haney’s family will stay in the country beyond his term as ambassador; however, The New York Times reported that Haney hopes to stay in Costa Rica so that his children can complete their school year here, and is searching for a home to rent for his family during that time.

Haney is originally from Englewood, New Jersey and has a wealth of experience in international business. In 2008, Fitzgerald and Andrea donated nearly $300,000 combined to the Obama campaign.

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