The U.S. Department of State on Tuesday said U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual has agreed to stay in Mexico City to help the two governments organize a transition. Officials said they could not speculate about when President Barack Obama plans to name a replacement for Pascual, who resigned on Saturday.
“Ambassador Pascual is still there until a new ambassador is appointed,” said Tanya Powell, a department spokeswoman.
In a story Tuesday, Mexican media outlet El Universal cited analysts who said it could be months before a replacement is named. In the meantime, Deputy Chief of Mission John D. Feeley will lead the embassy.
Feeley earned a nod from Pascual’s predecessor, former Ambassador Antonio Garza, who told the Tribune recently that the deputy chief “could step into the ambassador's job tomorrow." Garza also shot down any suggestions that he would consider serving again.
U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, former chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an email that Pascual's resignation is a prime example of why private security assessments made by officials should be shielded from the public. Comments that Pascual made expressing frustration over the Mexican government's handling of the drug war were publicly released by the WikiLeaks website and eventually led to his resignation. The comments led to a fiery reproach from Mexican President Felipe Calderón.
“That man's ignorance translates into a distortion of what is happening in Mexico, and affects things and creates ill-feeling within our own team," Calderón told Mexican media outlet El Universal last month.
“These leaks compromised the Ambassador's candid assessments and undermined his ability to maintain the highly cooperative relationship that's needed right now between the U.S. and Mexico,” Reyes said in an email. “Our officials around the world must have the ability to provide frank assessments when they report back to Washington.”
Like Reyes, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, a member of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee, expressed regret that Pascual’s comments were made public. Cuellar said he has heard others officials share Pascual’s concerns and that he agreed with their assessments.
“They [U.S. officials] have given over intelligence to the Mexicans and without going into too much detail, they feel sometimes [Mexican officials] haven’t moved so fast,” Cuellar said.