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Vice-President Kamala Harris swore in Dominican-born lawyer Julissa Reynoso Pantaleón as Washington’s new ambassador to Spain and Andorra on Thursday, after her nomination was confirmed by the Senate on December 18.
The swearing-in, which took place at the Vice-Presidential ceremonial office, was unexpectedly attended by First Lady Jill Biden.
Reynoso, who served as U.S. ambassador to Uruguay during Barack Obama’s presidency, served as chief of staff in the first lady’s office as well as co-chair of the White House Gender Policy Council.
The mother, sister and son of Reynoso, who was born 47 years ago in the Dominican town of Salcedo, also attended the swearing-in ceremony. The new ambassador’s mother, Rosario Pantaleón, was in charge of holding the Bible on which Reynoso was sworn in.
Reynoso, who emigrated to the United States in 1982 and has studied at Cambridge University (UK) in addition to Harvard and Columbia, has also served as the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
As an attorney, Reynoso has been a partner in the international law firm Winston & Stran. In addition, she clerked for federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain.
Reynoso’s nomination as ambassador to Spain and Andorra went forward despite reservations from Republican senators.
Initially, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, of Cuban origin, blocked her nomination in November, considering her “a Castro sympathizer and apologist.”
Rubio said Reynoso was involved in helping “exchange incarcerated members of the regime’s intelligence service” during the thaw policy in the terms of Barack Obama and Raúl Castro.