U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay: Who Is Leslie Bassett?

Saturday, August 09, 2014

On July 16, 2014, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent the nomination of Leslie Ann Bassett to be U.S. ambassador to Paraguay to the full Senate for its consideration. Bassett was nominated to the post by President Barack Obama on June 4. If confirmed, it will be the first ambassadorial post for Bassett, a career Foreign Service Officer.

 

Bassett came from a military family. Her grandfather was a general in the U.S. Army; her father graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy; and her two uncles served in the Vietnam War.

 

After graduating from the University of California-Davis in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in international relations, Bassett worked as a copy editor for Computer Business News in Boston.

 

After joining the Foreign Service, her early assignments included posts in Tel Aviv, Israel; San Salvador, El Salvador; Durban, South Africa; and Managua, Nicaragua. It was a rough initiation to the diplomatic corps. According to an article (pdf) Bassett wrote for Foreign Service Journal in 2010, she was shot at and took part in an embassy evacuation in El Salvador; her house was ransacked during her time in Nicaragua and she narrowly escaped a mob; and she served in Israel during the second intifada. Back in Washington, Bassett also served as desk officer in the Bureau of African Affairs and an assistant in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

 

In 1994, Bassett was named special assistant to the under secretary of state for political affairs. The following year, she was detailed to the National Security Council. Bassett moved back to the State Department in 1996 as legislative management officer in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs and in 1997 was back as pecial assistant to the under secretary of state for political affairs. During this period, Bassett earned an M.A. in writing in 1998 from Johns Hopkins University and an M.S. in national security policy studies from the National War College in 1999.

 

Bassett returned to Latin America in 1999 as counselor for political and economic affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. In 2001 she was posted to Africa as the deputy chief of mission in Gaborone, Botswana.

 

In 2004, Bassett was assigned to the embassy in Mexico City, first as political counselor, then in 2006 as deputy chief of mission. She was named deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines in 2009 and took a similar job in Seoul, South Korea in 2012, where she has served since.

 

Bassett, who has a daughter, speaks Spanish and French.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

The 9th A-100 Class: A Snapshot (by Leslie A. Bassett, Foreign Service Journal) (see pages 38-41) (pdf)

Official Biography

Testimony before Senate Foreign Relations Committee (pdf)

State Department Cables (WikiLeaks)

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