Bill Richardson: Advocate for Americans Held Overseas Passes

Remembering Bill Richardson: Advocate for Americans Held Overseas Passes Away at 75

After serving as the governor of New Mexico and in Congress, Mr. Bill Richardson embarked on a career in public and diplomatic service, achieving considerable success. Bill Richardson, who served two terms as the governor of New Mexico and spent 14 years in Congress, then dedicated himself to the release of Americans held captive or wrongfully detained by foreign nations or suspected of being held inappropriately by hostile foreign governments. Bill Richardson passed away on a Saturday in Chatham, Massachusetts, at the age of 75.

The announcement of his passing was made by the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, but the cause of death was not disclosed.

During President Bill Clinton’s tenure, Mr. Richardson, after serving in the House of Representatives from January 1983 to February 1997, including as a member of the New Mexico delegation following his early stint in the Clinton administration, served as a United Nations ambassador. He was also Chairman of the Hispanic Caucus in Congress and served as Secretary of Energy under Mr. Clinton’s administration from 1998 to 2001.

Born in California, where his mother was born in Mexico City and his family resided to secure his citizenship, and with a connection to William Brüstter, who was a traveler for Mayflower, Mr. Richardson was raised in Pasadena. He served two non-consecutive terms as the sole Hispanic governor of the country from 2003 to 2011.

Democratic Representative Gabby Giffords of Arizona called Mr. Richardson’s statement highlighting his influence as a political force within the Hispanic community, a fact recognized by our nation.

Bill Richardson
Bill Richardson

However, his popularity in his home state – where he was reelected in 2006 with a 68 percent to 32 percent margin, a record for New Mexico – did not translate nationally.

In 2008, Mr. Richardson ran a brief campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination but placed fourth in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Despite his service in the Clinton administration, he endorsed Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama.

After winning the presidency, Mr. Obama nominated Mr. Richardson as Secretary of Commerce, but Mr. Richardson withdrew his name due to investigations into alleged improper business dealings in his home state. He was never charged with wrongdoing, and the investigations were later dropped.

After completing his second term as governor, Mr. Richardson showcased the diplomatic skills he had honed through a combination of public and private work, first learned in college and then advanced in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he worked on relations with the states.

He negotiated the release of hostages and American soldiers held by hostile foreign governments in countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, and Colombia on behalf of nearly 80 families. I’ve admitted to committing acts of rescue, improving people’s lives, and saving lives,” he once stated.

In 2006, he secured the release of American journalist Paul Salopek, who had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, from Sudan. The following year, he traveled to North Korea to obtain the remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean War.

Remembering Bill Richardson
Remembering Bill Richardson

He aided in the negotiations for the release of Michael White, a Navy veteran who was held by Iran in 2020, and met with Russian government officials months before the release of Trevor Reed, a former Marine, in a prisoner exchange.

He also helped secure the release of American journalist Danny Fenster from a jail in Myanmar in 2021 and negotiated for the freedom of Tyler Dooley, who crossed into Russia from Poland.

After speaking with leaders such as Saddam Hussein and Fidel Castro, Mr. Richardson once described himself as an “informal undersecretary for thugs.” He further elaborated on this in his 2013 book titled “How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories From a Master Negotiator.”

Richardson Center Vice President Mackie Burgess stated in a statement that “there was no one with whom Governor Richardson did not speak if he promised to bring someone towards freedom.”

While observing all of Mr. Richardson’s public offices, the Center stated in a statement that his enduring legacy would be in “foreign diplomacy” so that they could open doors for negotiations with non-governmental organizations to bring back individuals taken into custody.

William Blaine Richardson III entered this world in Pasadena on November 15, 1947. His parents, of Anglo-American and Mexican descent, worked in banking in Boston, where they met, and he was born on a ship when his father, a biologist, was stationed. Method of collecting specimens for the museum.

Bill Richardson told The Washington Post in 2007 that “it was a complex issue not to have been born in America by his father.” That’s why his mother, Maria Luisa Lopez-Collada Marquez, the daughter of a Mexican mother and a Spanish father who had been his father’s secretary, was sent to California to give birth to Bill.

Bill Richardson
Bill Richardson

When he was 13, Bill Richardson was sent to the United Nations and he graduated from the Middlesex School in Concord, Mass. In 1970, he earned a bachelor’s degree in French and politics from Tufts University, and in 1971, he earned a master’s degree in international affairs from the Fletcher School of “Law and Diplomacy” is associated with Tufts University.  , which is affiliated with Tufts.

In 1972, he married Barbara Flavin, whom Bill Richardson met in high school. They have two children together. Their daughter, Hyder Blaine Richardson, is also among their stepchildren.

After working in Washington, Mr. Richardson was influenced by politics and went to New Mexico, where, seeing his Hispanic heritage, Bill Richardson thought that running for public office was the biggest opportunity for him. He ran for Congress in 1980 and lost – his only electoral defeat until the 2008 presidential race – but was elected from a new district surrounding northern New Mexico.

While in Congress, he sponsored several bills related to American Indian rights.

His record as Secretary of Energy was somewhat controversial. During his tenure, he became embroiled in a dispute over the handling of sensitive information on nuclear weapons secrets stored in a computer at the Los Alamos National Laboratory when he went missing, along with failed government investigations and firings during the Wen Ho Lee investigation. A former weapons scientist who spent nine months in solitary confinement – for mishandling computer files, not for leaking sensitive information – and eventually settled with the federal government for $1.6 million and received a pardon from a federal judge.

Bill Richardson established higher energy efficiency standards for appliances and other equipment, established the National Nuclear Security Administration, which implemented a program to secure nuclear warheads and oversaw the return of 84,000 acres of federal land to Utah’s Northern Ute Tribe.

As governor, he increased teachers’ salaries, abolished the death penalty, signed legislation allowing concealed carry of handguns, established a fund for performance-based public works, supported gay rights, raised the minimum wage, and proposed a four-year-old kindergarten program. – Old, but he refused to pardon William H. Bonney, also known as Billy the Kid, for the 130-year-old murder of New Mexico’s sheriff. (Mr. Bonney is said to have been promised clemency if he testified in another case.)

Bill Richardson said of his governorship, “It’s the most fun you can have. You can get things done. You have an agenda.”

In 1997, when he was at the United Nations, the White House asked Mr. Richardson to interview Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern who was involved in Mr. Clinton’s impeachment, and who wanted to return from Washington to New York. A job. It is said that he offered her a position, which she declined.

He generally made his way, though, through hard bargaining and a sympathetic personality.

In his first campaign for governor, he established a Guinness World Record by shaking 13,392 hands in eight hours at the New Mexico State Fair. And to what extent he went to impress the president, who, when they went to visit the leaders who appointed him ambassador to the United Nations, became legendary. It is not necessary that they always have means.

In December 1996, Bill Richardson helped secure the release of three relief workers, an American, an Australian, and a Kenyan, who were held captive in Sudan, which the United States had designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, after convincing rebel leaders to drop their demands of millions of dollars. Collect ransom and settle prisoners for trading rice, jeeps, radios, and health surveys in the camp affected by their diseases.

When Bill Richardson returned to Washington to brief President Clinton on the negotiations, an article from The New York Times about a meeting on the president’s desk about matters of state was prominent in the Oval Office. Bill Richardson clearly described a negotiating table that included barefoot, rifle-wielding boys and mules, who sat on the roofs of huts as if they were cooking a goat.

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