CommunityEmbassy Row
by Rose Maramba


By mid-September 2013 the much-awaited US Ambassador-Designate to Spain and Andorra James Costos had arrived in Madrid, after the fruitful and highly successful tour of duty of his predecessor Ambassador Alan D. Solomont. Accompanied by his partner of 14 years, Michael S. Smith, the Ambassador-Designate and Mr  Smith were received by the Deputy Chief of Mission Luis G. Moreno and senior officials of the U.S. Embassy, at the Barajas airport.

Soon after, on 16 September 2013, the Ambassador-Designate delivered copies of his Letter of Credence to the Chief of Protocol of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation then immediately met with Foreign Affairs Minister José Manuel García-Margallo.

Ambassador James Costos. Photo courtesy US Embassy, Madrid

Ambassador James Costos. Photo courtesy US Embassy, Madrid

Following this important occasion in his new career, Ambassador-Designate Costos assumed his duties as the chief American diplomat of the U.S. Mission to Spain which includes the U.S. Embassy in Madrid and the U.S. Consulate General in Barcelona. However, it was only after presenting his Letter of Credence to H.M. the King of Spain on 24 September (he would go through a similar process in Andorra) that Mr Costos would officially become the U.S. Ambassador  to the Kingdom of Spain (and the Principality of Andorra).

Incidentally, His Majesty had had to receive Ambassador Costos’  credentials, along with those of the Ambassadors of Equatorial Guinea, Finland, Gambia, Guinea, Iraq, Luxemburg, Lebanon, Macedonia,  Malta, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Switzerland and Vietnam at the smaller La Zarzuela Palace on the outskirts of Madrid where he was more comfortable, instead of the customary Royal Palace; he was in terrible pain from an infection on his prosthetic hip implant for which he was operated on the very same day. (For the credentials presentation click here. Ambassador Costos is second to the last to present his Letter of Credence.)

Of liberal bent as can only be expected of an appointee of the Obama administration, and at the same time equipped with savvy pragmatism as would a business person have to be, Ambassador James Costos has enjoyed an outstanding international business career. Until recently he served as Vice President of Global Licensing and Retail which he created for the purpose of expanding Home Box Office’s (HBO’s) domestic and international interests. While with HBO he served, and still does, on the Board of Directors of the Humane Society of the United States, America’s largest animal protection organization. Additionally, he passionately supports such cultural and humanitarian organizations as the Santa Monica Museum of Arts and Human Rights Campaign.

The arts in commerce is another strong suit of the Ambassador’s. He actually started out in the fashion and retail industry in New York where he was once the Vice President of Retail Operations for TOD’S,  as well as Hermes of Paris. He was also Head of Promotions and Consumer Products at Revolution Studios, a start-up production company, and President and CEO of the entertainment marketing and licensing agency Eight Cylinders Inc.

Ambassador Costos is monitored as he delivered his speech at the awarding of the Golden Bream in Rota. Photo courtesy US Embassy.

Ambassador Costos is monitored during his acceptance speech of the Golden Bream in Rota. Photo courtesy US Embassy.

As Ambassador, Mr Costos was really off to a good start. On the 27th of September he went and received the prestigious Urta de Oro (Golden Bream) 2013 that the Rota Town Hall awarded the US Embassy in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the Rota Naval Station, the sprawling joint US-Spanish naval base  in the town (sometimes referred to as city) of Rota, at the southern tip of Spain. Rota is greatly appreciative of the advantages brought by the presence of US military and civilian personnel to the town.

In his acceptance speech, the Ambassador said: “In these 60 years the city of Rota has been the best example of friendship and cooperation between Spain and the U.S.”

The Golden Bream is awarded during the Feria de la Urta (Bream Fair) which is held in August, but this year Rota postponed the awarding ceremony to September so Ambassador Costos could attend. The video, which was specially put together for the occasion, was helpfully subtitled in English; Rota thought it was much too early for the new Ambassador to acquire proficiency in Spanish! (Video)

The naval station which is in the province of Cadiz, together with the other military bases built by the United States around Spain in the 1950s and the 1960s, has played a crucial role in the recovery of the Spanish economy following the utter devastation of the Spanish Civil War and the slow ending of Spain’s isolation from the world as a consequence of the Franco dictatorship.

US-Spanish Color Guard

US-Spanish Color Guard, Rota Naval Station (.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Raymond Enriques)








Ambassador Costos and his partner Mr Smith were residents of Los Angeles, California before coming to Spain. The Ambassador earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1985 from the University of Massachusetts.

Main source: The US Embassy in Madrid