A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.
By David Gaddis Smith
The designation of Earl Anthony Wayne as ambassador to Mexico could have a little something for everybody.
Wayne has experience with drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, money laundering, terrorism, economics, the push for financial transparency, energy issues, Wikileaks and smoothing feathers — all experience that can come in handy in Mexico. President Felipe Calderón of the National Action Party was angered by the Wikileaks cables on the drug war from Ambassador Carlos Pascual, contributing to Pascual's untimely departure.
Wayne is married, unlike the past two ambassadors, which raised eyebrows when Tony Garza dated and then married one of Mexico's richest women and when Pascual dated the daughter of a top Institutional Revolutionary Party official. Once Garza was out of the limelight, his marriage to beer heiress María Asunción Aramburuzabala ended in divorce. Previous item about the issue in MexicoPerspective.com.
While Wayne may have more of an antiterrorism background than some Mexican officials might prefer — they don't like Mexico being compared to Pakistan or Afghanistan or for the war on Mexican organized crime to be likened to one against terrorism — he has much other experience that could help out U.S.-Mexican relations.
Mexican newspapers have been full of stories in recent days about the fight against human trafficking. In 2008, Wayne received the Paul Wellstone Anti-Slavery Ambassador of the Year Award.
While Wayne took French in high school, he did take Spanish when he was named ambassador to Argentina in 2006, where he helped smooth strained relations. Wayne moved to become the No. 2 official in the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan in 2009, and was gone from Buenos Aires when some of his cables about Argentina were released by Wikileaks. Cable on Argentine corruption.
Wayne was involved in the fight against drug trafficking in Argentina and also in Afghanistan, where he joined Afghan leaders for the opening of a counternarcotics police center on June 17, 2010.
When push comes to shove, the business of Mexico comes down to business. Wayne was assistant secretary of state for Economic and Business Affairs from June 2000 until June 2006. He received the Cordell Hull Award for Economic Achievement by Senior Officers in October 2010. He has experience in energy matters (think Pemex).
In his post for economic and business affairs, Wayne went after the financing of terrorism and pushed for more transparency in the funding of Muslim charities to curtail the amount of money diverted from some of those charities to terror organizations. The Houston Chronicle story on Wayne's possible appointment quoted Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, as saying: "While he lacks experience in Mexico, Ambassador Wayne has an impressive resume as a diplomat with invaluable experience in counterterrorism."
Wayne was born in Sacramento in 1950 and grew up in Concord. He attended the University of California at Berkeley, where he gave a long video interview in 2004. He also received master's degrees from Princeton, Stanford and Harvard. His 1980s stint as national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor may help him deal with the Mexican media.
Ambassador Wayne and his wife, Pam, visit the Kabul Zoo
UPDATE: The reference to Pam Wayne has been removed from the press release.
Their visit to the zoo can be seen on Page 23 of the following newsletter:
UPDATE, August: Wayne is confirmed as ambassador by the U.S. Senate.