In my nearly 30 years as a Foreign Service Officer, I have spent two-thirds of my career abroad in eight countries, including Venezuela as the U.S. Ambassador.
For my first assignment, I was sent to Chile during the difficult days of the Pinochet regimeand later served in Central America during the period of the negotiations to end that region’s civil wars. I was posted to Paraguay the year after a coup that toppled its longtime dictator. Later, I served in Haiti and Bolivia where efforts to combat drug trafficking, build a democratic government and alleviate poverty made for my most challenging assignments.
Working in often dangerous and unhealthy conditions is not unusual for our country’s diplomats serving at the more than 245 posts we maintain around the world. Every day in some of the most remote and difficult places on the globe, American diplomats are trying to promote peace and foster democracy, open markets to American goods and ensure a level playing field for American businesses. They are engaged in the effort to prevent terrorism, stop human trafficking and prepare for health pandemics and natural disasters.
Our nation gets a very healthy return on its investment in diplomats and development experts. The State Department’s budget totals about one percent of the entire federal budget. Deep and disproportionate cuts to that one percent could have an adverse impact — not just on our national security but on our economic security as well. » Read the rest of this entry «