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Amb. Hans Hertell Confirmed By U.S. Senate
New envoy to D.R. expects to be in job within a month; describes relationship as one of the most important to U.S.
By JOHN COLLINS
October 4, 2001
"It is a great honor to represent our country the United States and our President George W. Bush in the Dominican Republic (D.R.)," said Hans Hertell of San Juan, after being advised that the U.S. Senate confirmed his nomination by voice vote Sept. 26. "Im proud to be an American and Im proud to be a Puerto Rican."
Indicating that he expects to be sworn in "within the next couple of weeks," Hertell said he sees himself on the job in Santo Domingo "in 30 days or less." While he has attended the orientation seminar which ambassadorial nominees receive, there is protocol (or tradition) that precluded him from in engaging in certain activities or commenting about details of his proposed new job prior to his confirmation by the Senate.
Before taking up his new position, Hertell said he would be consulting with members of the Bush Administration and meeting with other figures in the nations capital with a particular interest in the D.R. including D.R. Ambassador to the U.S. Roberto Saladin.
"The D.R. is one of the most important relationships which the U.S. has in the world and in the region," said Hertell. "Paramount in our shared interests are democracy, respect for human rights, increased trade, and the promotion of open markets."
Expressing gratitude to President Bush for his confidence in him, Hertell said "it is most appropriate during Hispanic Heritage Month to praise the President for appointing more Hispanics to public office than any other president before him. He is also concerned about Latin America including the D.R."
Pointing to the Santo Domingo embassy as "one of the most important of the U.S.," Hertell said most federal agencies have offices there "which reflects a number of the highest priorities of the U.S." Among the "big issues" he listed trade, immigration, narcotics interdiction, and money laundering.
"The Santo Domingo embassy has a full agenda on a number of issues," said the new envoy. "Because of its geographic location, the D.R. has emerged as a major transshipment point for narcotics into the U.S." Acknowledging the contributions of the increasing numbers of Dominicans who have immigrated to the U.S., Hertell said he looks forward to meeting with community leaders. Another problem he faces in the D.R. is the role of a number of U.S. energy companies, like Enron and AES, and the chronic cash flow problems they encounter in getting reimbursed by the government.
The new envoy is a successful attorney and businessman and sees the need to promote expanded business and trade between the U.S. and the D.R as an important aspect of his new role. "The D.R. is an important trading partner of the U.S. and I intend to work diligently to expand the relationship," said Hertell.
Trade with Puerto Rico important
While acknowledging that the D.R. "is the most important trading partner of Puerto Rico in the region," Hertell said his new role "will be to promote the business interests of the entire U.S. including Puerto Rico. I think it would be a natural consequence of my appointment to assist and facilitate the administration of Gov. Sila Calderon in her commitment to expand commercial interests with the D.R. I would welcome the opportunity."
"The D.R. is a fascinating country with a fascinating history and culture," said Hertell.
Asked if his Puerto Rican origin might have weighed favorably in President Bushes decision to nominate him to the ambassadorial post in the D.R., Hertell said, "Im sure it was no coincidence. I really look forward to this assignment. I speak the language, I know the culture and I know the people."
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.