Ecuador’s new U.S. ambassador boasts a 20-year friendship with Donald Trump

Feb 4, 2020 | 13 comments

Ivonne Baki was named Monday by President Lenin Moreno as Ecuador’s new ambassador to the United States. She is stepping down from her current position as ambassador to Qatar to accept the new post.

Ivonne Baki

The appointment will be Baki’s second as U.S. ambassador. She was named by President Jamil Mahuad in 1998 to the same position, and continued her service under President Gustavo Naboa until 2002.

The daughter of Lebanese immigrants, Baki has held official positions in the administration of every Ecuadorian president since 1995, serving as Minister of Industries and Productivity for Lucio Gutiérrez and head of Rafael Correa’s Yasuní-ITT Initiative in 2010 before being named Qatar ambassador by Moreno in 2018.

Baki replaces Francisco Carrión who resigned the ambassadorship in early January in a disagreement with the Moreno government about U.S. drug surveillance flights over Ecuadorian territory. Carrión claimed that Ecuador and the U.S. had not signed an agreement defining the mission of the flights, a claim the government did not deny.

One of Baki’s qualifications for the new job may be her 20-year friendship with U.S. President Donald Trump. Following Carrión’s resigation, Moreno said he was looking for a candidate who could forge close business ties with the U.S. government. Trump provided a large donation to Baki’s Galapagos Conservancy project in 2000 and, through her efforts, held his 2004 Miss Universe Pageant in Quito.

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