The United States ambassador to Spain and Andorra from 2013 to 2017, James Costos, is currently enjoying a holiday in his favourite destination in the world, Majorca. But he returned to Spain with a heavy heart just a few days after the Barcelona terror attacks.
"I would like to send my condolences to all of Spain. I did a few TV interviews before I left the States and sent messages to the King and the prime minister and tweeted a number of messages of support. It was horrific, absolutely horrible, but having lived in Spain and having visited the country for years, I know that the Spanish are strong and resilient people. Look at how the Ramblas was back to normal just the following morning. And that is the message we have to send these people, they are not going to ruin or change our lives," Costos told the Bulletin.
"I just wish I was still ambassador and could have a more influential role in helping and be more supportive. But the relationship between the States and Spain is very strong and I know America will be standing tall by Spain.
"I remember when president Obama had to cut short an official visit to Spain because of a terror incident back home. The first people to sign the book of condolence in the embassy in Madrid were the current King and Queen of Spain. Throughout history both countries have been extremely supportive of each other and exchange a lot of information and intelligence."
In fact, it was Costos who first introduced President Obama to the then Prince and Princess of Asturias only to have to introduce them again to Obama as King and Queen when the Obamas came to Spain. Costos developed a very close relationship with Obama and that continues to this day. On leaving the White House, the first place the Obamas went to stay for three days was with Costos in Palm Springs, having previously stayed there in 2014 during a trip to California.
"We were on the final flight of Air Force One to California and those few days together were fascinating. The former president and I talked a great deal of what we had achieved in office and what the future held. Obama has his foundation set up to promote the arts, culture, education, sports, true values - all of the kind Trump does not agree with.
"I am no longer a politician, so I can only comment on Trump as a civilian, but he certainly is not the right person to be running the United States. In fact, he is becoming an irrelevant president. We saw that last week when his business councils failed. The private sector does not want to have anything to do with him. No one is looking to the White House and Washington any more. The private sector has its own morals and they are sticking to them and getting on with business and I admire that. They are pushing Trump out of the picture. Business is business and the private sector does not want Trump interfering. The United States is certainly a very different country to what it was six months ago."
James Costos is not just in Majorca because he loves the island and feels at home here. Last night he became only the fourth person to receive the Majorcan of the Summer Award from the Asociacion Mallorquines de Verano.
"I feel extremely humbled and proud, it’s a great honour for me. While I was ambassador I used to do so much to promote Spain and Majorca in particular that some people would jokingly accuse me of being more the ambassador to Spain than the United States.
"And what makes it even more special is that this was the birthplace of Fray Juniper Serra, who founded the missionaries in California, which where I come from. I was honoured to have taken King Felipe and Queen Letizia to visit a few of those missionaries.
"For me, having found Majorca, being in Majorca has kind of brought me full circle. Fray Juniper Serra went to California, never to return, and here I am in Majorca, where he came from. On becoming ambassador one is bestowed with the privilege of being able to design one's own coin with a motto, and my motto was taken from Fray Juniper Serra. His was ‘always forward’ and mine is ‘always forward together’ and that is how I see the US relationship with Spain.
"The Obamas and the Spanish royal family are very close and they love Spain. The former first lady and daughters visited Spain and Majorca on a number of occasions, and I am determined to invite and get the Obamas to come and explore and enjoy Majorca together."
But while he loves the island, he and his partner discovered it by accident. "We were staying with some friends in Mexico and on the table was a postcard of a cala. It looked so beautiful and we asked where it was. ‘It’s where my uncle has a house, it’s in a place called Formentor.’ 'Where’s Formentor?' ‘Majorca.’ 'Where's Majorca,' we replied. ‘It’s a Spanish island.’ So off we went, did some research, decided to come and we’ve never looked back.
"We were coming here long before I was named ambassador. Ironically, the house the uncle lived in has since been bought by some American friends of ours and we often visit them there, in the house we saw on the postcard all those years ago. There are so many reasons we came to Majorca. It feels like something brought us here and we are meant to be here, and I am always doing my best to promote this paradise island."
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