Sunday, May 19, 2024

Senate Committee Begins Hearing on Aponte Nomination

Mari Carmen AponteYesterday, the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations began hearings on the nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte to be US Ambassador to El Salvador.  Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) presided over the hearing.

Senate Republicans have attempted to stall action her confirmation over reported allegation more than ten years old that Aponte had a relationship in 1993 with an individual who had “possible ties” to the Cuban government.  Aponte was cleared by the FBI in 1999 and approved by the agency for top security clearance.

The Obama White House has defended Aponte when announcing her nomination last December by saying that she “received a thorough background check by diplomatic security as part of the nomination process”.

National Hispanic organizations have endorsed the Puerto Rico native’s nomination enthusiastically.  The Hispanic National Bar Association cited Aponte’s work in the government, private, and non-profit sector over a “long and illustrious professional career,” and noted that she was one of the first Latinas to earn the prestigious White House Fellowship.

Janet Murguia, National Council of La Raza President and CEO, applauded “the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for initiating the confirmation process” and urged swift action to confirm her.

Republican attempts to discredit the nominee have set off a firestorm by far right groups and blogs on the Internet calling Aponte “racist” and a “nativist” for her work on behalf of the Latino community.

Mari Carmen Aponte began her career as a teacher in a New Jersey, Puerto Rican community in the ’70s, where she was struck by the inequality at the local schools. In an interview about her law school experience she told of an incident where the judge told her that “people like her” should be at home instead of in the courts. But Aponte won the case and was even congratulated by the judge afterwards.  Saying later, “after that, no matter what they threw at me, I felt I could handle it.”

Aponte is currently an attorney and independent consultant with Aponte Consulting. From 2001-2004, she was the Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA). Prior to that, she practiced law for nearly twenty years with Washington D.C. based law firms.  Aponte has a B.A. in Political Science from Rosemont College, a M.A. in Theatre from Villanova University, and a J.D. from Temple University.