The Senate on Thursday confirmed Ken Salazar as the new ambassador to Mexico, which will allow the Biden administration to have a chief of mission in the neighboring country for the first time in more than six months.
Salazar, confirmed early Thursday in a voice vote, is the first ambassadorial nominee to be ratified by the Senate since President Biden took office last January.
“Congratulations, Mr. Ambassador,” wrote on his official Twitter account White House Deputy Chief of Staff Cristóbal Alex, who called Salazar a “giant in the Latino community.”
The new head of the American mission in Mexico, 66 years old, 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, in addition to serving as attorney general of that state.
When he arrives in the Mexican capital, Salazar will replace Christopher Landau, who left his post as ambassador in January, when former President Donald Trump left power, and the legation passed into the hands of the chargé d’affaires, diplomat John Creamer.
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.
Salazar’s ratification in the post comes in the same week that Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke by phone and agreed to send the United States to Mexico up to 8.5 million anti-virus vaccines as they evaluate a possible full reopening of the common border.
In addition, a White House delegation led by Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan visited Mexico City on Tuesday.
López Obrador revealed this Wednesday that he invited his counterpart Joe Biden to visit Mexico at the end of next month, although the White House has so far not commented on this possibility.