Daughter of Former President Named Ambassador to U.S.

August 20, 2010

Muni Figueres, daughter of former Costa Rican President José “don Pepe” Figueres, will serve as Costa Rica’s ambassador to the United States, after being nominated by her government Tuesday morning.

Figueres, who served as foreign trade minister in 1986 under then-President Oscar Arias, has also held high-level positions with the World Trade Organization and the Inter-American Development Bank. She is the daughter of Figueres’ first wife, Henrietta Boggs, and half-sister to recently appointed U.N. Climate Chief Cristiana Figueres and former President José María Figueres.

Muni Figueres was born in Costa Rica but was also a U.S. citizen because of her mother’s nationality. In order to accept the post in Washington, D.C., she was forced to renounce her U.S. citizenship.

President Laura Chinchilla said she saw Figueres’ former U.S. citizenship as an advantage to Costa Rica because, through her, Costa Rica “will have fluid access to all the doors we need to knock on in Washington.”

During a press conference Tuesday, Figueres said she was proud to be part of Chinchilla’s team and pledged to work on the implementation of the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States and security measures.

She said, “I don’t have a doubt that Costa Rica is one of the most popular and most loved countries in Washington. I have lived through times where (foreigners) confused Costa Rica with Puerto Rico. But now, there are few people who haven’t been to Costa Rica or don’t want to go to Costa Rica. … It’s a country that, despite its size, has won many sympathizers.”

Asked about losing her U.S. citizenship, Figueres said that it “bothered her,” but after speaking with her mother, she was convinced that “to be Costa Rican is a privilege.”

“It’s an honor that I am going to carry with me the rest of my life,” she said.

Figueres will replace Luis Diego Escalante as Costa Rica’s ambassador in Washington, D.C. Escalante was appointed by Arias.

–Chrissie Long

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