US ambassador to Panama resigns because he can ‘no longer serve under Trump’
The US State Department clarified that Feeley had decided to depart prior to Trump’s recent use of racist comment
US Ambassador to Panama John Feeley has resigned, saying he no longer felt able to “faithfully” serve President Donald Trump.
Feeley, a career diplomat and former Marine Corps helicopter pilot, was one of the department’s Latin America specialists and among its senior most officers.
“As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies,” Feeley said, according to an excerpt of a resignation letter.
“My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honour-bound to resign. That time has come.”
Feeley’s departure had been communicated to State Department officials on December 27 and was not a response to Trump’s alleged use of the word “s***hole” to describe Haiti and African countries at a meeting on Thursday, US officials said.
Trump denies using the term.
A State Department spokeswoman confirmed Feeley’s departure, saying that he “has informed the White House, the Department of State, and the Government of Panama of his decision to retire for personal reasons, as of March 9 of this year.”
Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein told reporters he was aware of Feeley’s planned departure on Thursday morning, before Trump’s alleged use of the vulgar term.
“Everyone has a line that they will not cross,” Goldstein said. “If the ambassador feels that he can no longer serve … then he has made the right decision for himself and we respect that.”
US officials declined to discuss Feeley’s reasons for leaving the department after a long career, much of which was spent working on Latin American issues.
Some of Trump’s policies have been widely regarded within the region as hostile to Latin America.
The Trump administration has taken a tougher stance on immigration from Latin America.
Most notably that has included moves to expel hundreds of thousands of immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua who benefited from temporary protection status after natural disasters.
Feeley’s career included serving as the No. 2 official in the State Department bureau that deals with Latin America, as deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Mexico City and as director for Central American affairs in Washington.