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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sen. George LeMieux drops 'hold' on ambassador to Brazil



U.S. Sen. George LeMieux says he won't continue to hold up the Obama administration's nominee for ambassador to Brazil. The reason: He said he's gotten assurances from the State Department that issues in Latin America will be addressed.

"In Honduras, the U.S. will continue to normalize relations with that country’s government and President-elect Lobo. Counter-narcotics cooperation will resume, and visa procedures will be normalized," LeMieux says in a news release.

“In Cuba, the U.S. will reopen the process for non-profit organizations to apply for pro-democracy grants, the practice of including members of the Cuban pro-democracy movement in events at the U.S. Interests Section will be restored, Title IV of the Helms Burton Act will be enforced, and the awarding of Cuba Democracy Assistance grants will be done in a fair and transparent manner.

“Ensuring our neighbors in the hemisphere recognize our commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law is fundamental. Leaders in nations that seek to destabilize the region are paying close attention to U.S. actions and the way in which we carry out our policies in Latin America. I look forward to a continuing dialogue on how we can strengthen U.S. relations with the nations of the Western Hemisphere. “

LeMieux was holding up Tom Shannon's nomination through a practice in the U.S. Senate that allows a single lawmaker to block legislation or nominees from reaching the floor.

It's not uncommon but LeMieux's liberal use of holds in such a short time has draw notice. Supporters say it's a sign he's taking the job serious. Critics say he's playing politics, particularly Cuban politics, that could help Gov. Charlie Crist, who is seeking the seat LeMieux now holds in a interim capacity.

Either way, LeMieux got attention.

His action yielded several newspaper stories and editorials and earlier this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called LeMieux. As a result, the State Department agreed to put in writing a number of conditions. The letter is here.


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 1:10pm]


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