Mexico names head of North American Development Bank as new ambassador to the U.S.


Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has selected a veteran diplomat and government insider as the new ambassador to the United States, one of the nation’s most sensitive foreign policy posts, the government said Friday.

The ambassador-designate, Geronimo Gutierrez Fernandez, has served in a variety of diplomatic and security positions in the past two decades, according to an announcement by Mexico’s foreign ministry.

Gutierrez will face the daunting task of representing Mexico’s interests in Washington during the administration of President-elect Donald J. Trump, whose election has unnerved many in Mexico because of Trump’s comments on issues such as trade and immigration.

Gutierrez is managing director of the North American Development Bank, which was created as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the signature trade accord involving Mexico, the United States and Canada.

Trump has proclaimed his intention to consider renegotiating the trade regimen, known as NAFTA. Trump has repeatedly assailed NAFTA as unfair to U.S. interests, an allegation widely disputed in Mexico and among NAFTA proponents in the United States.

Trump’s well publicized campaign threats to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, seek new tariffs on goods imported from south of the border — and his negative characterizations of Mexican immigrants to the United States — have enraged Mexican leaders and average citizens. There is considerable apprehension in Mexico in the run-up to Trump’s inauguration next week.

Mexican officials have repeatedly rejected Trump’s assertion that Mexico would pay for the wall to be built along the border. How Trump proceeds with his plans for a wall — and the source of funding — will be widely watched in Mexico.

But Peña Nieto has vowed to work with Trump in a cooperative fashion. The president recently named as his foreign minister a close advisor, Luis Videgaray, who was the architect of Trump’s controversial campaign visit to Mexico and meeting with Peña Nieto.

Many analysts attributed a drop in the value of the peso in recent months to Trump’s rise in the polls and his election in November.

There is widespread concern in Mexico of a deteriorating economic situation amid broad uncertainty about NAFTA, a declining peso and rising interest rates. Mexico is heavily dependent on U.S. markets for international trade.

Gutierrez is well-versed in issues involving the United States. He has previously served as Mexico’s sub-secretary for North American affairs and for Latin American and Caribbean matters. He also served in the Interior Ministry in Mexico City.

Gutierrez, whose nomination awaits approval from the Mexican Senate, is expected to replace Carlos Manuel Sada Solana, the current envoy to the United States. Sada will attend Trump’s inauguration in Washington on Jan. 20, the foreign ministry said.

The government said Sada will assume the post of sub-secretary for North America.

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