Costa Rica will soon have a U.S. ambassador.
S. Fitzgerald Haney was confirmed Saturday by a voice vote in the U.S. Senate, according to Washington sources. The U.S. Senate Web site confirmed the confirmation.
Haney is a New Jersey businessman and has Latin American experience. He speaks Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew and conversational French.
He also is unusual mixture of race, religion and culture. Haney, who is married to a rabbi, has served on a number of non-profit and community boards such as the Foundation of Jewish Culture: Ayecha, a resource organization for Jews of color and as an appointed member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, said the U.S. Embassy here at the time of his appointment. He was educated at a Jesuit university.
He appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee twice. His appointment was last July, but Senate politics intervened and he and a list of other appointments by President Barack Obama were in limbo for months.
Like all recent ambassadors, Haney and his wife, Andrea Dobrick Haney, are heavy contributors to political causes, in this case Democratic. The couple has four children, who are expected to travel to Costa Rica.
Haney has been a principal and director of business development and client service at Pzena Investment Management, in New York City, a position he has held since 2007. On its Web site, the firm said it has a diverse, global client base of respected and sophisticated institutional investors, high net worth individuals and select third-party distributed mutual funds for which it acts as sub-investment adviser.
Haney’s last appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations committee was March 10.
In a departure from the usual canned statement, Haney praised his mother, Sandra Haney:
“As a young widow with two young children, she left home and family to provide my brother and me with the best education and opportunities she could. Working during the day and going to school at night, she showed us, by her example, that the United States is truly the land of opportunity for those who work hard on a level playing field. She did not have it easy as a single African-American woman raising two children alone in the 1970s, but she never gave up, and she knew her sacrifices would allow her children to have a better life.”
He said that his highest priorities would include helping Costa Rican officials fight crime and to promote Central American integration.
“As outlined in the Strategy for U.S. Engagement in Central America, the region will not prosper without better regional cooperation on trade, infrastructure development, strengthened democratic institutions, energy integration, and investment,” he said. “Greater integration has long been an aspiration in Central America, but effective mechanisms for achieving that goal have remained elusive.”
He also said he would work to create stronger linkages between the American chambers of commerce in Central America, so that the private sector is fully incorporated into the process of seeking solutions to the region’s development challenges.
In both his appearances he said that U.S. expats in Costa Rica totaled 100,000 and “if confirmed, their safety and well-being will be my top priority.”