The Obama White House announced yesterday that it is nominating Arturo Valenzuela to be the next assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Valenzuela will succeed Thomas Shannon, who has held the position since 2005. The Senate must approve Valenzuela’s nomination.
Valenzuela, a professor at Georgetown University, was the director of Western Hemisphere Affairs in the National Security Council in Bill Clinton’s White House. There, he was a principal proponent of increased military assistance to Colombia under the 2000 Plan Colombia appropriation.
Valenzuela is the third Obama appointee with responsibility for U.S. policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean. The others are Dan Restrepo, a former legislative staffer and lawyer who is the director of Western Hemisphere Affairs in the National Security Council; and Frank Mora, a professor at the National War College who is now deputy assistant secretary of defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs.