Washington, Sep 2 (EFE).- Former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, who was also the United States ambassador to the United Nations and energy secretary under former US president Bill Clinton, died at the age of 75 at his home, the Richardson Center said Saturday in a statement.
“He lived his entire life in the service of others – including both his time in government and his subsequent career helping to free people held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad,” Mickey Bergman, vice president of the Richardson Center, said in a statement.
“The world has lost a champion for those held unjustly abroad and I have lost a mentor and a dear friend.”
Richardson died in his sleep at his summer home in Massachusetts, US media outlets such as CNN reported.
The Democrat dedicated his post-political career to working to free Americans detained abroad.
Born on November 15, 1947 in California to a Mexican mother, Richardson worked throughout his career to release hostages and prisoners in countries such as North Korea, Iraq, Cuba, Russia and Sudan.
He was named several times as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, including this year’s.
Richardson was born in Pasadena, California, although he grew up in Mexico City, where his father, a banking executive of Anglo-American and Mexican descent, was stationed.
He worked in Henry Kissinger’s State Department during the Richard Nixon administration (1969-1974) and in 1982 he was elected to the House of Representatives from New Mexico.
He spent 14 years in Congress, where he met Bill Clinton (1993-2001) and became involved, circumstantially, in negotiations to free hostages.
It was in 1994 when Clinton asked him to participate in the release of two American pilots whose helicopter was shot down in North Korean airspace, as Richardson happened to be visiting the country.
In 1997, Clinton appointed him US Ambassador to the UN (1997-1998) and, a year later, he was appointed Secretary of Energy until the end of the Democratic President’s second term.
He was the highest-ranking Hispanic politician at the time.
During that period he also participated in several foreign policy missions, including a negotiation in Baghdad with Saddam Hussein to secure the release of two US aerospace workers who had been captured.
After the end of the Clinton administration in 2002, Richardson became the only Hispanic governor in the US at that time, and the fifth in the history of New Mexico, the state with the highest percentage of Latinos in the country.
He served two terms as governor and in 2008 sought the Democratic nomination for the presidency, but dropped out after the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries.
Among his most recent assignments, Richardson mediated several prisoner exchanges between the United States and Russia, including basketball player Brittney Griner and US student Trevor Reed late last year. EFEpem/ks