Embassy staff bid Jacobson farewell on Saturday. Embassy staff bid Jacobson farewell on Saturday.

US ambassador leaves Mexico after ‘the post of my life’

Roberta Jacobson says it's a 'see you later' rather than a 'goodbye'

The United States ambassador to Mexico left the country Saturday, ending a two-year stint in the job during a time of increasingly strained relations between the two neighbors.

In two parting tweets written in Spanish, Roberta Jacobson described her time in Mexico as “the post of my life,” expressed her gratitude to the Mexican people and conveyed her continued confidence in the bilateral relation.

“It’s not a goodbye but a see you later. Today I believe even more in the strength of the MX-US relationship . . .” she wrote in her second May 5 Twitter post.

“. . . Thank you to this beautiful country and its people. I predict a prosperous future for Mexico. The two years were wonderful. I’m leaving my heart here!” Jacobson said in her first tweet.

The ambassador, who has worked in the U.S. State Department for more than 30 years, first announced her resignation in March explaining in a letter circulated to embassy staff that she had “come to the difficult decision that it is the right time to move on to new challenges and adventures.”

Jacobson’s departure comes as negotiations to update the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) continue and amid ongoing tension between Mexico and the United States on issues including migration, drug trafficking and the proposed border wall.

United States President Donald Trump has frequently railed against Mexico — both before and after he was sworn in in January 2017 — and President Enrique Peña Nieto rebuked his U.S. counterpart over his plan to send troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in a candid video last month.

But despite the strain on bilateral relations, observers credit Jacobson with concentrating on what the two countries could achieve together rather than focusing on their difficulties and differences.

“We have a lot more that unites us — food, family, culture, history — than what divides us,” she said in a farewell video posted by the U.S. embassy to YouTube.

She traveled widely in Mexico during her tenure and frequently spoke about her deep love for the country.

In a May 2 tweet, she said that she, her husband and their dog Taco would “deeply miss Mexico.”

Former U.S. president Barrack Obama named Jacobson as the United States’ first female ambassador to Mexico in June 2015 but the Senate took almost a year to ratify the appointment due to her role in the negotiations to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba.

She was finally sworn in in June 2016.

However, after President Trump took office in January 2017, U.S. diplomacy on Mexico was increasingly routed directly through the White House, especially via Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has developed a close relationship with Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray.

Jacobson’s influence was reportedly reduced as a consequence.

During her two years in the position, the ambassador spoke out on issues such as violence against women and the murder of journalists in Mexico.

She also participated in two gay pride marches in Mexico City and after last September’s earthquakes Jacobson accompanied U.S. rescuers who came to the capital to assist in recovery efforts.

Notorious drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was extradited to the United States while she was ambassador and in a previous State Department role she also worked on the establishment of the U.S.-Mexico security cooperation agreement known as the Mérida Initiative.

In February, Jacobson said at a ceremony marking the commencement of construction of a new U.S. embassy in Mexico City that “Mexico is one of the United States’ closest and most valuable partners.”

Trump has not yet officially named Jacobson’s replacement in Mexico but former General Motors and AT & T CEO Ed Whiteacre is widely expected to be appointed to the role.

Deputy chief of mission William Duncan will serve as Washington’s ambassador to Mexico in the interim.

Source: El Universal (sp), Associated Press (en)

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