Monday, November 7, 2011

Officially In: Larry Leon Palmer to Bridgetown Plus Six Other Island Countries

President Obama announced his intent to nominate Larry Leon Palmer to be Ambassador to Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The WH released the following brief bio:

Larry Leon Palmer, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, served as President and CEO of the Inter-American Foundation from 2005 to 2010.  Previously, he was U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Honduras from 2002 to 2005 and Charge D'Affaires in Quito, Ecuador.  Additional overseas posts have included the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Paraguay, Korea, and Sierra Leone.  Ambassador Palmer served as Assistant to the President of the University of Texas at El Paso and President of the 41st Senior Seminar, a senior management course for Senior Foreign Service officers. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Ambassador Palmer served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia.  Ambassador Palmer received a B.A from Emory University, an M. Ed. from Texas Southern University and a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration and African Studies from Indiana University, Bloomington. 

If confirmed, Ambassador Palmer would succeed Mary Martin Ourisman who was appointed by George W. Bush as U.S. ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Carribean from 2006-2008. Two career diplomats have been appointed as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim to the US Embassy Barbados since the conclusion of her tenure.

Now if the name Larry Palmer sounds familiar, that's because he was officially nominated last year to be our ambassador to Venezuela.  He even got his Senate confirmation hearing.  Before he got a vote on his nomination though, Venezuela withdraw its agrĂ©ment. We suspected then that he would be renominated for a different post. Barring any controversy, Ambassador Palmer will be the next U.S. ambassador to Barbados.

The list of U.S. ambassadors appointed to our embassy in Barbados with very few exceptions is like a millionaire's list of political supporters from both Republican and Democratic administrations.  In fact, we have to go back all the way to 1977 to find a career diplomat appointed to this mission (see Frank V. Ortiz, Jr. appointed by President Carter). Mission Barbados, of course, is not like any other diplomatic mission. For one thing, the chief of mission there is also our concurrent ambassador to six other island countries in the eastern Caribbean.  And they don't have bridges connecting each other, so you need a plane, preferably a personal plane.

When I posted about US Embassy Barbados in 2009, I wrote this:
God help the US Embassy Barbados if they get a career diplomat for their next ambassador. Without sufficient travel and representation funds or a donated aircraft (and pilot) and representational funds, the officers in Bridgetown might as well decamp to Washington or Miami while covering the eastern Caribbean.
Given the current budget outlook, that might still happen, the decamping to WashDC or Miami, I mean.  Of course, if Congress gets its way, we're looking at five more embassies in the eastern Caribbean.  How crazy is that?

Related item:
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts | Oct 31, 2011

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