Trump Nominates Campaign Liaison Joseph Cella to be U.S. Ambassador to Fiji

Posted: 2:37 am ET


On February 13, the WH announced the nomination of Joseph Cella to be the next Ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu. The WH released the following brief bio:

Joseph Cella of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States to the Republic of Fiji, the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Nauru, the Kingdom of Tonga, and Tuvalu.  Mr. Cella, a respected businessman and committed community leader, has served since 2010 as Principal of the Pontifex Group, a consulting firm whose practice includes strategic and tactical counsel, communications, crisis management, public relations, political consulting, public policy, operational launching and enhancement, donor and investor prospecting and media advocacy.  For nearly two decades, Mr. Cella has worked in the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, political campaigns, and non-profit organizations.  In 2004, he co-founded a leading Catholic advocacy organization, Catholic Vote, a project of Fidelis, which has grown to more than 700,000 members.  He also founded and serves on the board of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.  Mr. Cella earned a B.A. from Hillsdale College.

If confirmed, Mr. Cella would replace career diplomat Judith Beth Cefkin (1953–) who was appointed chief of mission in 2015. The last political appointee sent to Fiji was M. Osman Siddique (1950–) who served as chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Suva from September 13, 1999–June 30, 2001.


Missing From the AFSA Memorial Plaque: John Brown Williams, First American Consul to Fiji (1810-1860)

Posted: 2:07 am ET
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On January 28, Judith Cefkin, our Ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu tweeted this:

We were curious and a quick look online indicates that John Brown Williams died of dysentery on 19 June 1860. But there’s more.

Below is from The Life of John Brown Williams’, ‘The New Zealand journal, 1842-1844 of John B. Williams of Salem, Massachussetts’ an interesting read from the Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum via the New Zealand Electronic Text Collection:

John B. Williams’s combination of commercial and consular activity dates from his appointment on 10 March 1842 by President Tyler to be United States consul at the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Less than a month later he wrote Daniel Webster, the Secretary of State, posting a bond and declaring his intention to sail on the brig Gambia of Salem from that city about 20 July 1842. His departure apparently was somewhat delayed for he wrote to his brother Henry L. Williams of his arrival at the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, on 25 December 1842 after 137 days at sea.

Even then, there were staffing issues!

Williams returned to Auckland in late June 1846 to prepare his semiannual report, only to find that he had been wrongly accused of aiding the Maoris in their attack upon the settlers at the Bay of Islands in 1844. A letter from the State Department of 12 December 1845 requested information on a query from the Foreign Office in London which, in turn, quoted a report from the Governor of New Zealand that the United States consul at the Bay of Islands had encouraged the natives to attack the colonists and during the uprising had sold them powder and bullets. The State Department indicated that, if the charge were true, Williams was in serious trouble. This letter, addressed to Williams, was acknowledged by Joel Polack who had been appointed by Williams to succeed Breed as vice consul at Auckland. Polack indicated that the consul was daily expected from Fiji and that a reply would be forthcoming. On 23 June, Williams not having appeared, Polack wrote a long and circumstantial report to Secretary Buchanan completely clearing Williams. The report showed that Williams was not in New Zealand during the Maori uprising, having left for the United States on 12 February 1844; his return was easily proved by his presence on Falco wrecked in Hawkes Bay on 27 July 1845. Polack pointed out that since the consulate had been moved to Auckland Williams had had difficulty in obtaining satisfactory vice consuls for the Bay of Islands.

Fijian history also notes the burning of Mr. Williams house in 1849:

Fijian society was highly stratified. Allegiances to clans and chiefs were complicated, and warfare, including cannibalism, was common as leaders competed for control of the islands.  […] Cakobau, a Fijian chief from the small island of Bau off Viti Levu, gained control of most of western Fiji. In 1849 the home of John Brown Williams, the American consul at Levuka, was burned and looted during a celebration. Williams held Cakobau responsible and ordered payment for damages. Other incidents followed and to pay the debts, Cakobau sold Suva to an Australian company in 1868. More Europeans arrived and many purchased land from the Fijians to begin plantations. Local disorder prompted the Europeans at Levuka to organize a national government in 1871. They named Cakobau king of Fiji. The disorder continued, however, and in 1874 Cakobau and other chiefs requested British annexation. The colony’s first capital was Levuka. It was moved to Suva in the 1870s. Suva became a main port of call between the west coast of the United States and Australia and New Zealand. It also became the headquarters of the British empire in the Pacific Islands.

Mr. Williams does not appear on the AFSA Memorial Plaque. Perhaps one of you can help get his name up on that plaque?



U.S. Embassy Fiji: Goodbye Ambassador Reed, Hello Ambassador Cefkin

Posted: 00:2020 am EDT
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Via U.S. Embassy Fiji, January 2015:

Ambassador A. Frankie Reed had her farewell ceremony at the Embassy. From everyone here at the Embassy we wish her all the best and a "Va nuinui vinaka e na nomu lesu tale i America" (photo from US Embassy Fiji/FB)

Ambassador A. Frankie Reed had her farewell ceremony at the Embassy. From everyone here at the Embassy we wish her all the best and a “Va nuinui vinaka e na nomu lesu tale i America” (photo from US Embassy Suva/FB) January 2015

Ambassador Cefkin posses with warriors — at US Embassy Suva. (Photo by US Embassy Suva/FB)

Ambassador Cefkin posses with warriors at the welcome ceremony — at US Embassy Suva. (Photo by US Embassy Suva/FB) February 2015

The American ambassador to Fiji is also accredited to Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu.  The Embassy’s Consular Section offers a full range of American citizen and visa services for Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, Tuvalu, and the French territories in the South Pacific: French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna.

The embassy  says it is  reaching out to the Governments of Kiribati and Tuvalu to better understand the countries’ emergency needs in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Pam. It issued a  disaster declaration for Tuvalu and is reportedly working with relief agencies to address the immediate needs of those affected by the storm.


Our American Ambassadors — Just Saying Hello Collection (Videos)

Posted: 00:50 EST
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U.S. Ambassador to Moldova James Pettit


U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa Mark Gilbert


U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma


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