President Joe Biden nominated on Tuesday U.S. ambassadors to Mexico, Costa Rica, Israel, NATO and other countries, as well as the famous pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberg to represent the country before the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Biden chose as U.S. ambassador to Mexico the Hispanic Ken Salazar, former U.S. senator and former Secretary of the Interior, who has Mexican roots and whose native language is Spanish, informed the White House in a press release.
Both Salazar and the rest of Biden’s appointees must receive the Senate’s approval before taking their respective posts.
Salazar, 66, would replace Christopher Landau, who left his post in the Mexican capital when former President Donald Trump left office last January and left the embassy in the hands of Chargé d’Affaires, diplomat John Creamer.
Biden’s nominee for Mexico was Secretary of the Interior during the first term of former President Barack Obama (2009-2013), and before that he was a senator for the state of Colorado between 2005 and 2009, and attorney general of that state between 1999 and 2005.
Known for wearing his “cowboy” hat and leather bolo tie with a metallic ornament at public events, Salazar made history in 2005 by becoming the first Latino Democrat elected to the Senate since 1972.
Born in 1955 in southern Colorado, Salazar has described himself as “Mexican-American” and grew up in an area known as the San Luis Valley, where the first Mexican and Spanish settlers arrived in 1598.
As ambassador to Costa Rica, Biden nominated philanthropist Dr. Cynthia Ann Telles, a clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and director of the Spanish-speaking Psychosocial Clinic at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), who is fluent in Spanish, according to the White House.
To represent Washington in Paraguay, the choice is Marc Ostfield, a career diplomat who now serves as a State Department ombudsman and has more than 30 years of foreign policy experience, including as coordinator of health programs in Latin America, and speaks Spanish.
Biden also appointed as ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith, an advisor to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is an expert on transatlantic and defense policy and has worked at the White House and Pentagon.
Smith, who speaks German and French in addition to English, was also an adviser to Biden himself when he was vice president, between 2012 and 2013, the White House said.
As chief of mission in Israel, Biden chose Thomas Nides, who was undersecretary of State for Management and Resources between 2010 and 2013, and who now holds the position of managing director and vice president of the investment bank Morgan Stanley.
He also appointed ambassadors to Sri Lanka, Guinea and Gambia, and nominated Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberg, whose skill in splashing down an Airbus A320 on the Hudson River off the coast of New York in 2009 made him a national hero, and inspired a movie named after him, as head of ICAO.