U.S. State Department Geographic Bureaus: Latin America Bureau

U.S. Department of State
95/10/25 Remarks/Bio: Amb. William Hughes at Swearing-in Ceremony
Bureau of Inter-American Affairs

U.S. Ambassador William J. Hughes
October 25, 1995

Thank you Mr. Vice President for those extremely kind and generous remarks. I want to thank you for taking time from your very crowded schedule to officiate here today, and particularly for helping to make my nomination to be Ambassador to Panama a reality. Mr. Vice President, we are all proud of your leadership and vision for the future and honored by your presence here today.

I am pleased that Deputy Assistant Secretary Patterson agreed to represent the State Department in these ceremonies today. I look forward to working with you Ann and the many other talented Americans that serve our country here and abroad under the fine leadership of President Clinton and his Secretary of State Warren Christopher.

I want to especially thank our President for the confidence he has placed in me by this appointment. I am so very proud and honored to serve as President Clinton's personal emissary and our country's Chief of Mission in the Republic of Panama. It is a wonderful opportunity, for which I will be eternally grateful.

I would also like to thank my former colleagues in the United States Senate for confirming my nomination. While there was a little linkage delay along the way, I am free at last. Thank God, I am free at last. Seriously, I am very grateful for the Senate's support of my nomination.

It is also a distinct honor and pleasure to have one of New Jersey's two great United States Senators with us today, Senator Frank Launtenberg. Senators Bill Bradley and Frank Launtenberg could not have been more supportive and helpful throughout this process. I value their counsel and friendship. Frank, thank you for being here today and for being such a great partner over the years. Although Senator Bradley could not be with us today, I know that I speak for all when I say that our State and the country suffered a great loss by Bill Bradley's decision to leave the Senate at the end of this term. He has made us all proud.

I am simply overwhelmed by the turnout today. There are many members of my family here, including my sisters, as well as so many friends from back home, from my days as a prosecutor, from my years on Capitol Hill and some new friends from the months here at State. I am happy to see my former Congressional and Sub-committee staff as well as my new Deputy Chief of Mission, John Bennett, our colleagues from the Office on Inter- American Affairs and my professors from the National Foreign Affairs Training Center. I am very pleased that Sharon Bisdee, Chief of Presidential Appointments, Assistant Secretaries Mary Ryan and Harriet Babbitt and Ambassadors Tony Quainton and Tom McNamara were able to join us today. Nancy and I are truly grateful for your excellent instruction, support and friendship. Muchas gracias para todas su ayuda!!!

I am likewise deeply honored by the presence of so many of my friends and colleagues from the House of Representatives, the Judiciary and the Executive Branch. I want to particularly acknowledge the presence of Mack McLarty, Counselor to the President and former Congressmen Bill Alexander of Arkansas, Butler Derrick of South Carolina, Ron deLugo of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Matt McHugh and Bob Garcia of New York, Bob Roe and Frank Guarini of New Jersey, former Republican leader, Bob Michel and Congressmen Charlie Rangel of New York, Ike Skelton of Missouri and Congresswoman Marge Roukema of New Jersey.

From my law school and prosecutor days, I am so happy to see in the audience my long-time friends, the Honorable Joseph Rodriguez, Judge of the Federal District Court of New Jersey, Prosecutor Harris Cotton and Judge James O'Neill.

I am also delighted by the presence today of General Barry McCaffrey, the Commander and Chief of the Southern Command, as well as Under Secretary of the Army Joe Reeder, Chairman of the Panama Canal Commission, and the other Distinguished Members of that Commission, Panamanian and American. I look forward to working closely with you in the months ahead.

It is a singular honor and a distinct pleasure to have so many distinguished Panamanians here today. I want to particularly welcome Ambassador Ricardo Arias, the distinguished Ambassador to the United States from the Republic of Panama and the Minister-Counsellor of the Embassy, Mr. Fernando Eleta.

And last, but not least, I want to thank Nancy, my wife of almost 39 years and our children. She is my best friend, a terrific mother and the love of my life. Nancy was also my campaign manager for most of my 20 years in Congress, although I must confess she resigned a few times during each campaign. Mr. Vice President, I think you can understand that. Nancy and I are extremely proud of our children, our son Bill, Jr. and our daughters Lynne, Barbara and Tama and our sons-in-law Doug, Barry and Dan. And, of course, our grandchildren Kristin, Anna, Barry, Brendan and Bryan are a bonus. They are our pride and joy.

Today really marks a new and exciting chapter in our personal lives. Nancy and I look forward to serving in Panama and are grateful for the opportunity to get to know her people and experience first hand the country's rich and diverse cultural heritage. Indeed, to serve our country at this historic time in our relationship with the Republic of Panama is the opportunity of a lifetime. I leave for Panama next week not only as the personal emissary of the President of the United States, but as the Chief of a Mission charged with the responsibility of insuring a smooth and successful transition as we fully implement the Carter-Torrijos Treaties in the next four years. It is a not only a task of monumental proportions, but one which will help to chart that nations course for decades to come.

That important transition, together with the scheduled re-location of the Southern Command from Panama to Florida in 1997 will open a new and exciting chapter in the relationship between our two great countries. It will now require a great commitment of resources and talent by both nations as we work together - as full partners -to provide for the continued successful operation of the Canal into the next century and beyond. At the same time, it will provide a golden opportunity for the Panamanians to put to productive and beneficial use the military properties that will revert to Panama in the years ahead. It will also be the basis for a new and special relationship between our two great nations-one built on mutual respect, friendship and common interests.

More than with most nations, world commerce is truly the lifeblood of Panama. As the nation moves to a more open and market-oriented economy, I intend to work closely with President Perez Balladares and his Administration as they take steps to broaden their economic base, combat poverty and unemployment and strengthen their democratic institutions. President Clinton was extremely pleased with the recent official working visit by President Perez Balladares and the commitment Panama has made to these and other forward-looking initiatives.

Panama's strong stand in favor of policies which effectively combat narcotics trafficking, money laundering, alien smuggling and international terrorism are particularly noteworthy and are to be applauded. Panama's recent moves to protect intellectual property rights and to preserve the environment are likewise very positive steps forward. President Clinton has pledged his full support of these policies, and I can assure you that they will enjoy a very high priority in our Mission.

As Panama continues to assume its rightful role as a leader in hemispheric and world affairs, we all stand to gain. It is a rare privilege to serve in the high office of Ambassador to Panama at this historic time. I assume my duties and take on the challenges that are ahead with much hope, high expectation and great enthusiasm. Thank you.


BIOGRAPHY William J. Hughes U.S. Ambassador to Panama

William J. Hughes was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Panama on October 25, 1995. Prior to this appointment Mr. Hughes represented the 2nd District of New Jersey in Congress from 1975 to 1995. He was born October 17, 1932 in Salem, New Jersey. He earned a B.A. from Rutgers University in 1955 and a law degree from Rutgers in 1958. He was an associate at Loveland, Hughes and Garrett in Ocean City, New Jersey from 1959-67. From 1967-82 he was a partner there and from 1972-76 he was president of the law firm. From 1960-70 he was a county prosecutor in Cape May, New Jersey.

In 1975 he successfully ran on the Democratic ticket for Congress. He served on the Judiciary Committee (1975-95) as chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime (1980-90) and chairman of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property and Judicial Administration (1991-95). As chairman of the Crime Subcommittee, he was responsible for oversight of the Drug Enforcement Administration. He also served on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee's (1977-95) Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Navigation Affairs, Subcommittee on Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment, and Subcommittee on Oceanography. He was a long-time member of the Committee on Aging, including serving as its chairman(1993). He has worked on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, been chairman of the Older Americans Caucus, and served on the Board of Visitors of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Mr. Hughes is married to Nancy Lucille Hughes and has 4 children. He resides in Ocean City, New Jersey.


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