Almost three years and three chargé d’affaires, the Dominican Republic still does not have a US ambassador
Santo Domingo.- The Dominican Republic is approaching its third consecutive year without a United States ambassador stationed in the country. During this period, three chargé d’affaires have temporarily led the diplomatic mission, with Patricia Aguilera being the most recent appointment, succeeding Isiah Parnell, who assumed the role less than five months ago.
Robin Bernstein, the former American ambassador to the Dominican Republic, concluded her tenure in the country on January 20, 2021, coinciding with the inauguration of Democrat Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. Since then, there has been minimal progress in filling the ambassadorial vacancy.
In September 2021, Calvin Smyre was initially announced as the new ambassador to the Dominican Republic. However, in mid-2022, President Biden changed course, proposing Smyre for the same position in the Bahamas, a nomination that still awaits approval by the U.S. Congress.
As of now, the position of the U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic remains “VACANT” on the official website that tracks current U.S. ambassadors worldwide. This leaves the Dominican Republic among only two Latin American nations, Bolivia and Cuba, and a few other countries globally, including Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, without designated U.S. ambassadors.
Over the weekend, the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic announced Patricia Aguilera as the new chargé d’affaires and head of the diplomatic mission, replacing Isiah Parnell, who had assumed the role in May to fill the position vacated by Robert W. Thomas.
Back in July, Parnell expressed his uncertainty about the timing of a new ambassador’s appointment but emphasized the importance of having a presidential representative at that level in the Dominican Republic. He stated, “I agree 100% that the United States of America needs to have a personal representative of the president working here as an ambassador.”
The absence of a U.S. ambassador in the Dominican Republic has become one of the lengthiest in recent history, spanning almost 30 years. Historically, the arrival of U.S. ambassadors in the country has varied from approximately seven months to just over two years. For instance, during the two terms of Democrat Bill Clinton, the position was vacant for about two years between the transitions of ambassadors.
Under the first term of Republican George W. Bush, there was a seven-month gap between the departure of one ambassador and the arrival of the next. Similarly, under the presidency of Democrat Barack Obama, it took one year and 10 months to appoint the first ambassador to the Dominican Republic.
The pattern continued with James “Wally” Brewster Jr., who replaced the outgoing ambassador nearly seven months after his departure. Robin Bernstein, the last ambassador before the current vacancy, assumed her role one year and eight months after President Trump’s inauguration.
At present, the Dominican Republic has been without a U.S. ambassador for two years and nine months, marking one of the most prolonged periods without such representation in recent history.