Officially In: James “Wally” Brewster, Jr. to the Dominican Republic, an Island of Grace and Tolerance

 By Domani Spero

On June 21, President Obama announced his intent to nominate James “Wally” Brewster, Jr., as the next Ambassador to the Dominican Republic. The WH released the following brief bio:

James “Wally” Brewster, Jr. is the Senior Managing Partner for SB&K Global, a brand strategy and consumer dynamics consulting firm based in Chicago, Illinois.  Before starting SB&K Global in 2010, he was an Officer and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications with General Growth Properties (GGP), a real estate investment trust headquartered in Chicago.  Prior to joining GGP in 1996, Mr. Brewster worked in management at several real estate companies in Texas, including The Rouse Company and the DeBartolo Corporation.  Earlier in his career, he held marketing and management positions with Carla Francis, Inc. and the Jim Collins Company in Dallas, Texas.

Mr. Brewster is a National LGBT Co-Chair for the Democratic National Committee and currently serves on the Board of the Human Rights Campaign Fund.

According to Open Secrets of the Center for Responsive Politics, Mr. Brewster bundled $500,000+ for the Obama 2012 reelection.

www.barackobama.com also listed Mr. Brewster and Bob Satawake  as Obama For America and Obama Victory Fund 2012 Volunteer Fundraisers who  raised $100,000-$200,000.

Six out of 16 total ambassadorial appointments to Santo Domingo since 1960 or 37.5% went to non-career appointees.  If confirmed, Mr. Brewster would replace another political appointee Raul Yzaguirre who was appointed chief of mission to the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo in November 2010.  Ambassador Yzaguirre’s May 6, 2013 announcement of departure says that he is leaving for “health reasons” and that  he and his wife will return to their home in the city of Mt. Airy, Maryland.

In late June, the AP reported that religious groups in the Dominican Republic said they are outraged by the nomination of a gay U.S. ambassador to the conservative Caribbean country.  CNS quotes DR Bishop Pablo Cedano saying that if Brewster becomes the U.S. ambassador, “he is going to suffer and will have to leave.”  DR Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez is on YouTube calling the nominee  maricón, a derogatory term.

This past Monday, there was a “Black Monday” protest organized by religious leaders to demonstrate their disapproval of the openly gay nominee.

Here is an excerpt from the 2012 Human Rights Report on DR:

Treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals ranged from ambivalent tolerance to staunch homophobia.  No specific law protects individuals against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and NGOs reported widespread social discrimination in areas of society including health care, education, and the workplace.  LGBT individuals often faced intimidation and harassment…According to various reports, LGBT individuals were arrested without reason, not hired, denied access to rent/own homes, and denied access to health services….Members of the LGBT community often gathered informally in public spaces, especially in Duarte Park of the colonial zone in Santo Domingo.  However, formal activities of LGBT organizations were generally subjected to approval by the Community Board of Neighbors, an institution influenced by the Catholic Church and its conservative views on LGBT issues.

As an aside, diplomatic courtesy requires that the sending state ascertain if the proposed ambassadorial appointee is acceptable to receiving state.  The acquiescence of the receiving state is showed by its granting of an agrément to the appointment.  The Obama administration would  not have released this nominee’s name had it not received the approval of the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Embassy in Washington told The Cable:

“The Dominican Republic is a democracy with a vibrant media and a wide diversity of opinions on every conceivable topic,” the statement read. “However, it is the position of the Government of the Dominican Republic that a person´s sexual preference is strictly a personal matter and it looks forward to working constructively with Mr. Brewster in his official capacity once his nomination is approved by the US Senate.”

As of this writing, no schedule has been announced yet for Mr. Brewster’s confirmation hearing.

Related item:

June 21, 2013  President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

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US Mission Turkey Joins 25th Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim Competition

◉  By Domani Spero

In July 2012, we posted about USCG Istanbul participating in the Bosphorus Swim. See US ConGen Istanbul in ’2 Continents 1 Race’ Bosphorus Swim and Look who else joined the American Team in the Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim.

This year, Ambassador Francis Ricciardone and Consul General Scott Kilner once again joined the 25th Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim Competition. The competition started from Kanlıca on the Anatolian side and ended at Kuruçeşme on the European side of the Bosphorus. Ambassador Ricciardone was 30th runner up and Consul General Kilner was 25th runner up in their categories. 1426 swimmers from 55 countries swam at the competition.

Photo via US Embassy Turkey/FB

Photo via US Embassy Turkey/FB

Bosphorus swim results

Photo via US Embassy Turkey/FB

More photos here.

According to Swimza, Hasan Emre Musluoğlu from Turkey received the gold medal among the 1,5oo swimmers at the 25th Bosphorus Cross-Continental Races yesterday in Istanbul, marking his fourth consecutive win.

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Senate Confirmation: Pyatt, Mushingi, Russel

The U.S. Senate confirmed the following nominations for the State Department on July 9, 2013.

PN176 *       Ukraine

Geoffrey R. Pyatt, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class ofMinister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Ukraine.

PN288 *       Burkina Faso

Tulinabo Salama Mushingi, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Burkina Faso.

PN426 *       DEPARTMENT OF STATE/EAP

Daniel R. Russel, of New York, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (East Asian andPacific Affairs).

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US Embassy Belgrade: Ambassador Michael Kirby Dedicates $149M New Embassy Compound

 By Domani Spero

The US Ambassador to Serbia Michael Kirby recently dedicated the new embassy compound in Belgrade.  The project which, according to State/OBO had an original completion date of May 10, 2012 was dedicated on July 1, 2013.

 

Photo from state.gov/obo

Photo from state.gov/obo

Via state.gov:

In an important symbol of America’s commitment to an enduring friendship with the Republic of Serbia, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Serbia, Michael D. Kirby, dedicated the new U.S. Embassy in Belgrade today.

Occupying a 10-acre site adjacent to the Beli Dvor, the $149 million multi-building complex provides a secure, state-of-the-art, environmentally-sustainable workplace for over 350 embassy personnel.

Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects, LLP was the concept design architect and The Louis Berger Group of Washington, D.C. was the architect of record. The project was constructed by Framaco International of Rye Brook, New York.

The new facility incorporates numerous sustainable features to reduce operating costs and conserve resources, most notably a storm water detention pond; solar hot water technology; low-flow plumbing fixtures; and the careful selection of plantings to reduce the amount of irrigation needed. The facility has been registered with the U.S. Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification.

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