New Ambassadors Saying Hello: Poland, DR, Luxembourg, Argentina, Zimbabwe, Gabon, Rwanda, Lesotho

 

POLAND | Mosbacher, Georgette Paulsin – Republic of Poland – February 2018 

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC | Bernstein, Robin S – Dominican Republic – November 2017 

LUXEMBOURG | Evans, James Randolph – Grand Duchy of Luxembourg – November 2017 

ARGENTINA | Prado, Edward Charles – Argentine Republic – February 2018 

ZIMBABWE | Nichols, Brian A. – Republic of Zimbabwe – June 2018  

GABON | Danies, Joel – Gabonese Republic and Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe – November 2017 

RWANDA | Vrooman, Peter Vrooman – Republic of Rwanda – October 2017 

LESOTHO | Gonzales, Rebecca Eliza – Kingdom of Lesotho – September 2017 

 

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Senate Confirms Joel Danies (Gabon) and Peter Vrooman (Rwanda)

Posted: 1:03 am ET

 

On February 15, the U.S. Senate confirmed the following career nominees to be U.S. Ambassadors to Gabon and to Rwanda:

Executive Calendar #617 – Joel Danies, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Gabonese Republic, and to serve concurrently as Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.

Executive Calendar #667 – Peter Hendrick Vrooman, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Rwanda.

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SFRC Clears Eric M. Ueland (M), and Peter H. Vrooman (Rwanda)

Posted: 3:37 am ET

 

On February 7, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared the nomination of the next “M” and the career nominee as the next U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda:

  • Eric M. Ueland, of Oregon, to be an Under Secretary of State (Management), vice Patrick Francis Kennedy
  • Peter Hendrick Vrooman, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Rwanda.

Below is a clip from Mr. Ueland’s hearing from last fall:

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Trump to Nominate Career Diplomat Peter H. Vrooman to be U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda

Posted: 1:16 am ET
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On October 26, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Peter Hendrick Vrooman to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda. The WH released the following brief bio:

Peter Hendrick Vrooman of New York to be Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Rwanda.  Mr. Vrooman, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1991.  He most recently served as Chargé d’Affaires from 2016 to 2017 and Deputy Chief of Mission from 2014 to 2016 at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Mr. Vrooman has held senior positions with the Department of State at home and at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, as well as overseas.  He has served at seven embassies in Africa, the Near East and South Asia.  Mr. Vrooman possesses a deep knowledge of East African issues, expertise in UN peacekeeping, strong management and public diplomacy credentials, and economic/commercial advocacy experience.  He earned a M.S from the National Defense University’s Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and a B.A. from Harvard College.  He speaks French and Arabic.

 

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US Embassy Rwanda Remembers 26 Local Employees Killed in 1994 Genocide

Posted: 12:25 am EDT
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To read about the frustrations of dealing with inaction from Washington, see Ambassador Prudence Bushnell interview, A Soul Filled with Shame via ADST. Below is an excerpt:

Once the RPF took over Rwanda, I was sent to check things out. It was yet another surreal experience. The countryside of one of the most populous countries in the world was literally deadly quiet. Berries ready to harvest were rotting on the coffee trees; houses stood vacant. The man who served as the ambassador’s driver drove us. When we were stopped by child soldiers at checkpoints, I learned never to look them in the eye. As we drove we heard the story of how the driver had hidden and what happened to some of the other embassy employees. Many were dead.

I participated in a memorial service for the FSNs [local Foreign Service employees] who were killed. I will never forget looking into the stony faces of employees who had been abandoned by the U.S. government. American officers who came up to speak would weep, to a person. The Rwandans just looked at us. I can only imagine what they were thinking and the trauma that was still with them.

She was asked what was the rationale for not getting involved:

“We had no interest in that country.” “Look at what they did to Belgian peacekeepers.” “It takes too long to put a peacekeeping operation together.” “What would our exit strategy be?” “These things happen in Africa.” “We couldn’t have stopped it.” I could go on….

I could and did make the argument that it was not in our national interest to intervene. Should we  send young Americans into a domestic firefight, possibly to be killed on behalf of people we don’t know in a country in which we have no particular interest? From the perspective of national interest, people like Richard Clarke will argue we did things right.

In terms of moral imperative there is no doubt in my mind that we did not do the right thing. I could have a clear bureaucratic conscience from Washington’s standpoint and still have a soul filled with shame.

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Senate Confirms Leaf (UAE), Osius (Vietnam), Ruggles (Rwanda), and Stanton (Timor-Leste)

— Domani Spero
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On November 17, the U.S. Senate finally got around to confirming the nominations of the following career ambassadors for the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Rwanda and Timor-Leste. We should note that the ambassador designate for Timor-Leste has waited for this confirmation for over 400 days.

Barbara A. Leaf – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the United Arab Emirates

Theodore G. Osius III – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Erica J. Barks Ruggles – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Rwanda

Karen Clark Stanton – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

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US Embassy Rwanda Remembers 25 FSNs Killed in the 1994 Genocide

On April 12, 2012, the US Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda had its 18th Genocide Commemoration for the 25 Foreign Service National (FSN) employees of the U.S. Embassy and USAID who were killed in the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. During this annual occasion, the Embassy staff in Kigali meets with the orphans and members of the families of the fallen employees who lost their lives in 1994.

US Embassy staff with Genocide orphans and members of the families of embassy employees who perished during the 1994 Rwanda Genocide
(Photo from US Embassy Rwanda taken during the April 14, 2010 memorial ceremony).

Below is an excerpt from the April 12 remarks by Ambassador Donald Koran:

We are here to share, as a community, our sorrow, our memories, and our losses, and we are here to gain strength from our colleagues and friends.  We are not here to dwell on the past, but to pay our respects to those who are no longer with us, and to honor those who remain with us today.  Our thoughts and support go out to the families of our fallen colleagues, to the orphans, widows and widowers.  And to those colleagues who worked at their side.  We offer you our gratitude.

As I tried to prepare for today, I found it difficult to think of what I could say to you.  I can’t presume to even begin to understand the magnitude of the losses you suffered, or of your feelings today, 18 years after this unimaginable tragedy.  What I can offer, however, is one outsider’s perspective on the amazing renaissance I see in you.  I have seen how much you have accomplished in such a short time.  I think it is fitting that the theme of this year’s commemoration is “to learn from history to shape a bright future.”  I can see this bright future today, in a way that I did not yet see it 10 years ago when I last served here.
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Let me speak now to the young men and women here today who are the children of our Embassy colleagues, whose parents were felled in the genocide.  Your drive and determination, and your desire to move forward and live strong, meaningful lives is your personal victory against the shadows of the past.  It is a victory for all Rwandans who share the dream of an enduring peace.  You are the foundation of the bright future  that all Rwandans seek.  Some of you are still pursuing your studies, others have already graduated.   I salute you for your resolve to be the generation that fashions a new Rwanda for yourselves and for the generations that come after you.

The United States supports your commitment, and the commitment of everyone here, to build a Rwanda where peace, stability and prosperity reign.  I can think of no more fitting way to honor those lost in Rwanda 18 years ago, and to pay tribute to the survivors.  All Rwandans, no matter where you were in 1994, lost something in those horrible 100 days.  But here you are.  You  are a testimony to the resilience of the human spirit.

Read in full here.

An OIG report indicates there were over 38,000 FSNs/LE staff members working for the Department overseas in 2007.  A more recent number puts the State Department total workforce number at over 66,000, including foreign service, civil service, and locally employed staff (LE staff) worldwide.  As of September 30, 2010, Foreign Service Nationals or Locally employed staff  (LES) composed 56% of the State Department’s total workforce (via GAO).

Also, since 1998, far more FSNs/LE staff members have been killed in the line of duty than have American Foreign Service employees (via OIG). We thought we should mention that.

Domani Spero