Global Americans and the Canadian Council for the Americas presents “Two gringos with questions,” an interview series featuring political and cultural leaders from across the Americas. In the tenth episode, Chris and Ken talk to Ambassador John Feeley, former U.S. Ambassador to Panama.
Now a retired U.S. diplomat, Feeley focused much of his nearly 30-year career on Western Hemisphere issues, both in Washington and throughout the region. He was confirmed by the United States Senate to be Ambassador to Panama on December 9, 2015 and retired from his post last year.
His resignation was far from ordinary. After the events of Charlottesville and the administration’s response, Feeley felt he could no longer serve the President. In December, he drafted his resignation letter and on a trip to Washington D.C., he delivered the letter to the White House. Ambassador Feeley tried to keep his resignation under the radar; however, on January 11th, when he announced his resignation on the Embassy Website, reports were circulating that President Donald Trump had referred to a number of countries as “shit-holes.” As rumors spread that Feeley resigned because of Trump’s comments, the State Department reportedly leaked Feeley’s letter. Angry at the leak, Feeley decided to publicly declare his reasons for resigned and wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post titled “Why I could no longer serve this president.”
Prior to working in Panama, Feeley was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the State Department. Feeley previously served as the Summit of the Americas Coordinator, overseeing the substantive preparation for Secretary Clinton’s engagement in the 2012 Cartagena Summit, and as Deputy Chief of Mission in Mexico from 2009 to 2012.
From 2004 to 2006, Feeley served as a Deputy Executive Secretary in the Office of the Secretary of State, where he was responsible for managing information flows to Secretaries Powell and Rice, as well as coordinating their overseas travel. Prior to joining the State Department in 1990, Feeley served on active military duty as a helicopter pilot in the United States Marine Corps. He is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.
Ambassador Feeley currently runs Gotham Lights LLC, a Miami and Washington, DC-based consultancy that promotes greater mutual understanding between the United States and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. He is also a political consultant for Univision, providing on-air analysis and publishing a regular opinion column.
To discuss U.S. policy in Latin America, Chris and Ken talk to Ambassador Feeley about Panama’s relationship with China, U.S. policy on Venezuela and his resignation from the Trump administration.