Officially In: Vilma S. Martinez to Buenos Aires

First non-career ambassador to Argentina in 20 years

Palacio Bosch
Source: State Department
From the Secretary of State’s Register of Culturally Significant Property

On May 27, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Vilma S. Martinez, to be Ambassador to Argentina. Official bio below:

Ms. Martinez has been a Partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson since 1982, where she specialized in federal and state court commercial litigation. Currently, her practice focuses on providing advice to companies enhancing their equal employment opportunity policies and building diversity and inclusion initiatives into their business plans. She served as President and General Counsel of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) for nine years. Previously, she was a litigation associate at Cahill, Gordon & Reindel in New York and also a staff attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Ms. Martinez was Chair and a Member of the University of California Board of Regents. She also chaired the Pacific Council’s Study Group on Mexico and served on the advisory boards of Columbia Law School and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California.

Ms. Martinez holds a B.A. from the University of Texas in 1964 and a LL.B. from Columbia Law School.

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According to, Ms. Martinez has contributed more than $9,800 to Democratic candidates and groups since 1989, including at least $1,900 to Obama.

In the last twenty years, the five ambassadors we have to Argentina had been Foreign Service Officers. The last non-career appointee was Theodore E. Gildred who served from Nov 1986 – May 1989 during Ronald Reagan’s second term. Another non-career appointee Hassan Nemazee was appointed in Jan 6, 1999 but the nomination was returned without confirmation on Aug 5, 1999. Career diplomat, William Graham Walker was also nominated on May 12, 1992 but nomination was not acted upon by the Senate.

If confirmed, Ms. Martinez will succeed Earl Anthony Wayne, a career diplomat who has been
US Ambassador to Buenos Aires since August 2006. She will reside at the official residence of the US Ambassador in Argentina called Palacio Bosch, designated a historic property by the Buenos Aires municipality and the Argentine Republic. The residence was designed by French architect René Sergent for Ernesto Bosch and his wife Elisa de Alvear. Bosch sold the residence to the United States government in 1929 following recurrent propositions by U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood Bliss. Some of the furniture preserved in the residence was donated by Ambassador Bliss.

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