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Carlos Trujillo named as U.S. Ambassador to OAS

If confirmed to the OAS ambassadorship by the U.S. Senate, Trujillo would have to resign his powerful post as House budget chief in the Florida Legislature.
Miami state Rep. Carlos Trujillo, left, introduced then-vice presidential nominee Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, at the Miami-Dade Republican Party’s 2016 Lincoln Day dinner. PEDRO PORTAL
Published Oct. 26, 2017
Updated Oct. 26, 2017

Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Trujillo is moving up in the Trump administration, to be U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States.

The White House announced Trujillo's appointment Thursday, just two months after President Donald Trump named him one of four U.S. representatives to the United Nations General Assembly. That job made Trujillo, an early Trump campaign supporter who attended the president's inauguration, one of U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley's four deputies.

"It's an honor to be nominated," Trujillo said as he was heading to the airport for New York, where he is giving a speech Thursday on war crimes in Rwanda at the International Criminal Tribunal. At 34, Trujillo said he is the youngest Trump nominee.

Trujillo's impending appointment was first reported by Politico Florida. Trujillo has been traveling to the U.N. since the second week in September but did not give up his legislative seat.

If confirmed to the OAS ambassadorship by the U.S. Senate, Trujillo would have to resign his powerful post as House budget chief in the Florida Legislature and live full time in Washington — though the timing of that resignation is unclear. It could come after the 2018 session ends March 6, if the Senate doesn't schedule a confirmation hearing until then. Once scheduled, he expects the hearing process to take two months.

Two Republicans have already filed to run for Trujillo's GOP-leaning House District 105: former U.S. Rep. David Rivera and Doral Councilwoman Ana Maria Rodriguez. So have two Democrats, Javier Estevez and Ross Hancock. The district extends from western Miami-Dade County into Collier County. Trujillo is term-limited next year.

As OAS ambassador, the Cuban-American Trujillo would become a leading voice on U.S. policy toward Cuba and Venezuela, countries of key importance to South Florida immigrants and to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Trujillo friend and Trump go-to adviser on Latin America. Trujillo is bilingual and a married father of four.

"It's a great platform to bring the issues facing Venezuela and Cuba to the forefront, to bring democratic institutions to each of them," Trujillo said.

"Growing up in Miami, the diversity of the community means you know people who are struggling from Venezuela because of [President Nicolás] Maduro, from Nicaragua because of the sandinistas — you see how all these policies affect people in their very own community," he added. "Most of the people I represented for the last seven years were affected by these polices."

The OAS nomination had been in the works before Trujillo's U.N. appointment, but it took longer for the White House to fill that higher-profile position. The U.N. appointment is temporary and ends in December.

Trujillo was not formally interviewed for the OAS position but instead had general interviews previously when he was up for the ambassadorships to Argentina and Panama. He said that under White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, there has been an emphasis on moving more nominations forward.

Last year, Trujillo memorably presented then-candidate Trump with a classic Cuban guayabera at a Little Havana campaign event. In June, Trujillo shared the stage with Trump senior counselor Kellyanne Conway at a Miami-Dade Republican Party fundraising dinner.