New U.S. Ambassador Touches Down In Mexico City

By Jorge Valencia
Published: Friday, August 16, 2019 - 3:19pm
Updated: Friday, August 16, 2019 - 9:29pm

The new U.S. ambassador to Mexico arrived in Mexico City on Friday to fill a key diplomatic role that will put him at the center of continued disputes between the two countries on trade and immigration.

Ambassador Christopher Landau, filling a position that has been vacant for more than a year, lands about two months after President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on Mexican imports if Mexico didn’t reduce the number of migrants from Central America and elsewhere reaching the Southwest border. Mexico responded, in part, by militarizing parts of its own southern border.

Landau was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and succeeds Roberta Jacobson, a seasoned diplomat who resigned and retired in distress of what she later called Trump’s “un-American” immigration policies.

“I arrive with my hand extended,” Landau said to reporters in a press conference at the Mexico City airport. “Obviously, there are challenges in the bilateral relationship, but they’re the challenges expected in any close relationship.”

Landau will play an important role in building bridges between the the Trump administration — including senior adviser Jared Kushner and State Secretary Mike Pompeo — and the administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office in December and is rapidly implementing many new policies.

Landau arrives at a troublesome time for the bilateral relationship, said Rafael Fernandez de Castro, a professor at the University of California San Diego and former adviser to Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

“It’s not easy to relate to the Trump administration. It’s not easy to relate to the Lopez Obrador administration,” Fernandez de Castro said. “I hope he can build bridges.”

Landau graduated Harvard Law School, clerked for Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, and has argued nine cases before the Supreme Court, according to the U.S. Embassy.

He will be responsible for coordinating between the 40-some federal agencies that operate out of the embassy and the 11 U.S. consulates in Mexico.

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