The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee met in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday morning to review nominations, including that of Florida International University politics professor Frank Mora to serve as ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS).
The OAS addresses issues that affect the Western Hemisphere. Mora has previous experience working as U.S. deputy assistant secretary for defense for the Western Hemisphere from 2009 to 2013.
Three other nominations were reviewed in the meeting, including that of Elizabeth Bagley as U.S. ambassador to Brazil, Mari Aponte as U.S. ambassador to Panama and Michelle Kwan as U.S. ambassador to Belize.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, expressed the need for the OAS ambassador to pay special attention to human rights issues.
“I would say Russia is not the only country of concern for me with regard to the OAS,” said Portman. “I’m curious as to how you think the OAS should address human rights challenges in Cuba, democratic backsliding in Nicaragua, also what’s going on in Venezuela, and what you would do to support President Maduro’s efforts in Venezuela.”
Mora began his statement by thanking his parents for fleeing communist Cuba for the United States.
“Thank you for your unwavering love and support for the many sacrifices you made after fleeing from communist Cuba so that my brother Jorge and I could have the opportunity to fulfill our dreams and give back to a country that so generously provided for my family,” said Mora.
Mora said the OAS should work to promote regional economic prosperity, ensure the safety of people within their countries and hold countries accountable for their treatment of citizens.
He emphasized that Cuba continues to deny its citizens basic freedoms.
“The OAS must respond in a concerted way to these massive abuses of human dignity,” said Mora. “If confirmed, you can be sure that I will forcefully highlight the struggle of Cubans on the island in their fight for freedom and human rights.”
Mora hopes to advocate for the OAS Revenue Revititiation and Reform Act of 2013 – which promotes democracy and human rights in the Western Hemisphere – and also to support the United States’ hosting of the Ninth Summit of the Americas in June.
Mora underscored the importance of the suspension of Russia’s OAS observer status due to its war in Ukraine.
Mora would succeed Carlos Trujillo, an FIU Board of Trustees member, as ambassador if confirmed. Senators are able to submit questions to nominees until May 20 at 5 p.m. as the foreign affairs committee and full Senate await their meetings to vote on the nominees.
The next step in confirmation is the foreign affairs committee vote. Then nominations go to the full Senate for a hearing and vote. It is unknown when these meetings will take place.