US ambassador to Mexico Resigns Amid Strained Relations

Ambassador of the United States in Mexico prepares his resignation. The departure of Roberta Jacobson is scheduled for May, the New York Times has announced on Thursday. Diplomat has confirmed her resignation an hour after the filtering of a memorandum to the Embassy staff. The resignation of Jacobson, who spent two years at the head of the US legation, comes amid an escalation of tensions between the two countries, at the insistence of Donald Trump that Mexicans pay the border wall. Trump already has a substitute, according to the New York newspaper, although it has not yet been specified who he is.

“It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve my country as an ambassador in Mexico,” Jacobson wrote in his Twitter account. “I do it knowing that the Mexico – United States relationship is strong and crucial and that the incredible team of our mission in Mexico will continue to make sure that it is so,” he added in a message in Spanish. The ambassador and Trump would have clashed over alleged differences in the management of the bilateral relationship, according to The New York Times.

Jacobson, 57, is one of the most reputable Latin American specialists in the State Department, with a history of three decades in the region. The ambassador was named by former President Barack Obama, but her confirmation process was long and arduous. The own Jacobson has declared after the filtration that does not know who will be in front of the embassy. The businessman Ed Whitacre, former president of the telephone AT & T and former partner of billionaire Carlos Slim, is the favorite candidate of Trump, according to the newspaper Reforma, one of the most influential newspapers in Mexico.

“Now we Mexicans are going to realize how lucky we were to have Jacobson as ambassador in the first year of Trump, not only because she is an extraordinary diplomat, she also understands Mexico very well,” says Carlos Bravo Alderman, Center specialist of Economic Research and Teaching. “It’s a considerable loss for the diplomatic corps and for the bilateral relationship,” agrees Duncan Wood of the Woodrow Wilson Center. The Mexican Foreign Ministry has announced in a statement that it knew of the departure of Jacobson since February 17 and that the Government will grant its approval regardless of who the new appointment is concerned.

According to Bravo Regidor, one of the few Mexican journalists who were able to interview Jacobson, the ambassador was able to maintain herself, despite the great differences with Trump, because the president’s candidates did not obtain support in the US Senate and because the president had that prioritize more urgent problems in other fronts. “Roberta makes Trump’s life difficult with this announcement because even though Trump has his candidate, he will have to overcome many obstacles and fire in the Senate,” he adds.

“Their departure could further complicate the bilateral relationship in these volatile times,” Wood says. “She was very important to soften the message from Washington and to focus the conversation in Mexico on the relationship between the two nations and not just between the two governments,” he says.

Jacobson had had to navigate between the diplomatic turns of the Obama and Trump administrations towards Mexico. The arrival of the Republican, who hurled insults at Mexico since he announced that he would fight for the presidency, has increased bilateral tensions. The two most sensitive issues are the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the insistence on building a wall to stop Mexican immigration.

The last confrontation between both countries occurred last week. Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Pena Nieto, discussed the construction of the border wall by telephone. The US president “lost his nerve,” according to The Washington Post, and Pena Nieto canceled his plans to visit the White House. The seventh round of negotiations of the FTA, which began this week, is progressing slowly and there are few certainties that a new agreement will be reached before the presidential elections in Mexico in July.

In the middle of the arduous negotiations and the constant clashes between both countries, Jacobson had established himself as the friendly face of Washington in Mexico. A week after Trump blamed the neighboring country for gang violence and drug abuse in the United States, Jacobson writes that it leads “to Mexico in the soul and in the heart.” “Together we are stronger!” The ambassador has cried in closing her resignation message.

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