US Ambassador to the Holy See Miguel H. Díaz Resigns, Rejoins University of Dayton

The resignation of Ambassador Diaz was not officially announced by the US Embassy to the Holy See until November 7 but the news actually made it out on Monday and was widely reported by Catholic news outlet since his farewell call to the Pope with his wife was listed in the Vatican’s daily press bulletin:

S.E. il Signor Miguel Humberto Díaz, Ambasciatore degli Stati Uniti d’America presso la Santa Sede, con la Consorte, in visita di congedo.

Ambassador Diaz with Pope Benedict XVI
Via US Embassy to the Holy See/FB

Via the National Catholic Register

The United States Ambassador to the Holy See made a farewell visit to Pope Benedict XVI today.

Ambassador Miguel Diaz is leaving his position after just over three years’ service representing the Obama administration.

An embassy spokesman said he would probably be leaving Rome at the weekend to take up a teaching position at the University of Dayton, OH.

The embassy said the move had been in the pipeline for a while, and that it had planned to announce the ambassador’s departure after the Presidential Elections tomorrow, but as the farewell visit took place today, the Vatican pre-empted the disclosure by making an announcement in its daily bulletin. Ambassador Diaz, who was formally sworn in on August 21st, 2009, has nevertheless fulfilled the usual term for ambassadors which is commonly two to three years.

Read in full here.

Ambassador Díaz is the first Hispanic to represent the United States at the Vatican. Born in Havana, Cuba, Díaz moved as a child to the United States, where his family worked hard to move ahead. His father worked as a waiter and his mother did data entry work, and their son was the first member of the family to attend college. Díaz earned his bachelor’s degree from Saint Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida, and his master’s and doctorate from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He previously taught at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida; Saint Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida; the University of Dayton in Ohio; and at Notre Dame.  Fluent in Italian, Spanish and French, Ambassador Díaz also reads Greek, Latin and German. His academic interests also include theological anthropology and Latino/Latina theologies.  He was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador on August 21st, 2009.

Here is the announcement posted in the US Embassy’s FB page:

Ambassador Miguel H. Díaz Departs Post | November 7, 2012

VATICAN CITY — Miguel H. Díaz, United States Ambassador to the Holy See since 2009, will leave his position following the presidential elections and return to academia effective the week of November 13, 2012. Ambassador Diaz was proud to serve almost three and a half years in his position as the 9th U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. He will join his family in Dayton, Ohio, where he has been named University Professor of Faith and Culture at the University of Dayton.

“As Ambassador, I have had the pleasure of representing the people of the United States to the Holy See, and to develop our already strong cooperation,” Ambassador Diaz said. During his tenure at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, he was influential in promoting the shared values of the United States and the Holy See in peace, justice, and human rights.

Ambassador Diaz helped launch the Religion in Foreign Policy Working Group of the Secretary of State’s Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society. The Working Group facilitates regular dialogue between the U.S. foreign policy establishment and religious leaders, scholars, and practitioners worldwide on strategies to build more effective partnerships on a wide range of goals, including conflict prevention, humanitarian assistance, and national security.

“The working group is an unprecedented initiative that demonstrates the administration’s commitment to involve religious leaders in shaping U.S. foreign policy; I am proud to take an active role to ensure its success,” he said.

The Embassy will be headed by the Chargé d’Affaires, until a new Ambassador is nominated by the Administration and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

This is the second noncareer ambassador’s resignation in the last two weeks and the first one since President Obama’s historic reelection.  Ambassador Diaz is rejoining the University of Dayton where he previously taught.

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US Embassy Caracas: Former FSN Pleads Guilty for Receiving Illegal Gratuity

In May 2012, we blogged about a US Embassy employee in Caracas, Venezuela who was was arrested in Washington, D.C., on one charge of conspiracy and two charges of bribery in connection with visa applications scheme (see US Embassy Caracas FSN Arrested on Conspiracy/Bribery Charges in Visa Applications Scheme)

On Wednesday, USDOJ announced that the former employee, Christian Adolfo Paredes Uzcategui, 44, of Caracas, pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Below is the statement released:

WASHINGTON – A former visa assistant for the United States Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, pled guilty today to a federal charge of receiving an illegal gratuity by a public official, stemming from a scheme in which he allegedly accepted payments to aid people in facilitating visa applications, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Scott Bultrowicz, Director of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, announced.

Christian Adolfo Paredes Uzcategui, 44, of Caracas, pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The Honorable James E. Boasberg scheduled sentencing for Dec. 7, 2012. The charge carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Paredes was arrested in May 2012 following an investigation by the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.

According to a statement of facts, signed by the defendant as well as the government, Paredes worked for the State Department at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas as a visa assistant for non-immigrant visa applications. His duties included screening incoming documentation and information from a variety of sources to organize and track non-immigrant visa requests and ensuring that the legal requirements of non-immigrant visa applications were met.

As a visa assistant, he had access to Embassy databases, but only for official business and on a need-to-know basis. He was not to share this information without official permission.

In the middle of 2011, Paredes began receiving money from a private individual who acted as a “facilitator” for Venezuelan applicants seeking non-immigrant U.S. visas. In exchange, Paredes provided information about the facilitator’s clients. Between March 2011 and February 2012, the facilitator wire-transferred more than $5,000 to bank accounts controlled by Paredes in exchange for information about clients.

In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen and Director Bultrowicz commended the efforts of those who investigated the case for the Diplomatic Security Service. They also praised those who worked on the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Columbia, including Special Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. Mudd.

The original statement is posted here.