Mari Carmen Aponte

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Mari Aponte
Mari Carmen Aponte ambassador.jpg
United States Ambassador to El Salvador
Assumed office
June 29, 2012
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Sean Murphy (Acting)
Succeeded by Jean Manes (Designate)
In office
September 27, 2010 – January 2, 2011
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Robert Blau (Acting)
Succeeded by Sean Murphy (Acting)
Personal details
Born 1946 (age 69–70)
Puerto Rico, U.S.
Alma mater Rosemont College
Villanova University
Temple University

Mari Carmen Aponte is a Washington DC-based attorney who is currently serving as U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, a position she first held from August 2010 until December 2011 and then from June 14, 2012, until present.[1][2] Prior to that she was serving as a member of the Board of Directors of Oriental Group, a major financial and banking services enterprise in Puerto Rico. President Obama also nominated her as the United States' Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States,[3] but the Senate had not acted upon that nomination upon adjournment in December, 2014.

Early years and personal life[edit]

Aponte was born in Puerto Rico and attended school in the United States. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Rosemont College, a Master of Arts in Theatre from Villanova University and a Juris Doctor degree from Temple University, one of a few female law students enrolled under an affirmative action program, after serving a stint as a public school teacher.[4] In 1979, she was appointed as a White House Fellow by President Jimmy Carter, serving as a Special Assistant to former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu, who served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

A close friend of former Resident Commissioner and Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, she actually was his landlord and housemate during his four years of Congressional service in Washington, DC. She is also a close friend of Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who swore her in as only the eleventh Puerto Rican United States Ambassador since 1898.[5]

In the early 1990s, Aponte dated an insurance salesman named Roberto Tamayo. Tamayo was accused by a Cuban intelligence defector of spying for the Cuban government. Tamayo was alternately said by a US intelligence source to be an FBI informant. Aponte's relationship with Tamayo, which ended in 1994, has been brought up by Republican Senator Jim DeMint as a reason not to confirm her as ambassador to El Salvador in 2011.[6]

Ambassador nomination under President Clinton[edit]

In 1998, President Bill Clinton nominated Aponte to serve as the United States' ambassador to the Dominican Republic. However, Aponte asked that her nomination be withdrawn from consideration by the Senate after her involvement with Roberto Tamayo was made public.[7] After Aponte's nomination was withdrawn, Clinton designated Aponte a special assistant in the Office of Presidential Personnel.[8]

Work for the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration[edit]

In 2001, Puerto Rico Governor Sila Calderón appointed Aponte to be executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, a post she held until 2004.

Ambassadorship under President Obama[edit]

Aponte was serving as a member of the District of Columbia Judicial Nominations Commission when President Obama nominated her in December 2009 to serve as ambassador to El Salvador.[1] After the Senate failed to act upon her nomination over a period of eight months, Obama gave Aponte a recess appointment to the post in August 2010.[9] The recess appointment lasted through the end of 2011, meaning that for Aponte to remain in office until the end of Obama's term in office in January 2013, the Senate would need to confirm Aponte before the end of 2011.[10]

In 2010, Aponte helped organize and hosted President Obama's state visit to El Salvador as part of a Latin American tour that also included Brazil and Chile.

In August, 2011, she personally hosted a visit from U.S. Supreme Court Justice (and fellow Puerto Rican) Sonia Sotomayor, who met with her Salvadorean counterparts.[11]

In December 2011, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed for cloture on Aponte's nomination, in an effort to break Senate Republicans' filibuster of her nomination. On December 12, 2011, the Senate held a cloture vote on Aponte's nomination. The cloture vote required 60 votes in order to cut off debate and allow the Senate to proceed to an up-or-down vote on Aponte's nomination. However, the cloture vote failed in a mostly party-line, 49–37 vote, with 49 senators voting for cloture and 37 senators (including Reid for parliamentary reasons) opposing it.[12]

Because Aponte did not win Senate confirmation before the end of 2011, her tenure in El Salvador ended at the end of December 2011, and she returned to the United States.

On June 14, 2012, the Senate held another cloture vote on her nomination, which passed, 62-37, effectively assuring her the ambassadorship.[13] Immediately after the passage of the cloture vote, the Senate held a voice vote on Aponte's nomination, and she was confirmed.[14]

Ambassador Aponte was also appointed by President Obama as Permanent Representative to the OAS, but the Senate adjourned in December, 2014 before taking up her nomination.

Private sector activities[edit]

Aponte has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Oriental Group, a major financial and banking services enterprise in Puerto Rico, from 1998 to 2001 and from 2005 until appointed as ambassador to El Salvador.

In addition to practicing law for decades, she was a vice chair of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health and a consultant to the Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network (HITN).

She served as a director at the National Council of La Raza, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the University of the District of Columbia and Rosemont College. She presided over the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia and the Hispanic National Bar Association.


  1. ^ a b "President Obama nominates Mari Carmen Aponte as new Ambassador to El Salvador". Embassy of the United States San Salvador, El Salvador. 2009-12-09. Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  2. ^ "US ambassador leaves El Salvador after Senate fails to ratify her". Washington Post. December 30, 2011. [dead link]
  3. ^
  4. ^ [1] Archived March 17, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Pioneras". El Nuevo Día. 24 September 2010. Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  6. ^ Collins, Gail (9 December 2011). "The Ghosts of Boyfriends Past". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "Obama Pick for Salvador Post Withdrew Prior Nomination Over Cuba Concerns". Fox News. 17 December 2009. 
  8. ^ "Aponte, Mari Carmen". AllGov. Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  9. ^ "President Obama Announces Recess Appointments to Key Administration Posts". The White House. 2010-08-19. Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  10. ^ [2][dead link]
  11. ^ "U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor Visits El Salvador". Embassy of the United States San Salvador, El Salvador. 2011-08-15. Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  12. ^ "Roll Call Vote On the Cloture Motion (Cloture on the Nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte, of the District of Columbia, to be Ambassador to the Republic of El Salvador )". U.S. Senate. December 12, 2011. Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  13. ^ "Roll Call Vote On the Cloture Motion (Upon Reconsideration, Motion to Invoke cloture on the Nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte to be Ambassador to the Republic of El Salvador )". U.S. Senate. June 14, 2012. Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  14. ^ [3] Archived May 2, 2012 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Robert Blau
United States Ambassador to El Salvador
Succeeded by
Sean Murphy
Preceded by
Sean Murphy
United States Ambassador to El Salvador
Succeeded by
Jean Manes