U.S. Ambassador to Panama John Feeley, who has worked as a career diplomat for nearly three decades, has informed the White House of his decision to resign, saying he can no longer serve the Trump administration.
The resignation was announced by the embassy on Thursday afternoon, just hours before Trump’s alleged remarks about African countries prompted international condemnation. The embassy said at the time that Feeley would resign on March 9 for “personal reasons.”
But in his letter of resignation, which was obtained by the Reuters news agency on Friday, Feeley said he was stepping down because he felt he could no longer serve the Trump administration. One official said Feeley had informed the administration of his decision to step down as early as December 27.
“As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies,” Feeley wrote in his letter. “My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come.”
Pooja Jhunjhunwala, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, confirmed that Feeley had informed the White House, the State Department, and the Government of Panama of his decision to retire for personal reasons. “Ambassador Feeley is a Career Minister in the Senior Foreign Service and one of the Department’s leading Latin America specialists,” she said.
Feeley, who graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, first jointed the State Department in 1990 during the administration of President George H. W. Bush.
From 2004 to 2006, during the administration of President George W. Bush, Feeley served as a Deputy Executive Secretary in the Office of the Secretary of State, where he was responsible for managing the information flow to Secretaries Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, as well as coordinating their overseas travel.
From 2009 to 2012, during the administration of President Barack Obama, Feeley served as deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, where he managed a 37-agency country team that implemented a security cooperation agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and other countries in Central America.
Feeley served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs from 2012 to 2015, during which he was responsible for the daily management of regional policy implementation and the supervision of 50 diplomatic posts across the Americas. He also served as the State Department’s Summit of the Americas Coordinator in 2012 and 2015.
Obama nominated him in 2015 to become the U.S. Ambassador to Panama. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and was sworn in on January 15, 2016. When he steps down on March 9, Deputy Chief of Mission Roxanne Cabral will take over until a new ambassador arrives.
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