SAN SALVADOR – El Salvador's next ambassador to Washington is someone President Donald Trump might remember from his days as a beauty pageant boss.
A photo circulating on social media Friday showed a smiling Trump locking arms with Milena Mayorga and two other contestants - Miss USA and Miss Guatemala - on the sidelines of the 1996 Miss Universe pageant, where she was a top 10 finalist. Trump at the time was owner of the pageant.
Mayorga, 44, was appointed Thursday night by President Nayib Bukele as El Salvador's next ambassador to the U.S.
She's a political neophyte with no previous diplomatic experience, having been elected to congress for the first time in 2018.
But she's well known to Salvadorans for years as a popular TV host.
Mayorga garnered the president's attention after denouncing corruption in her conservative ARENA party, which as the dominant force in congress has blocked Bukele's agenda. She later quit the party.
As ambassador, she'll face an uphill battle trying to repair deteriorating relations with Republicans and Democrats in Congress who have increasingly voiced concern that Bukele, although highly popular, is overstepping his authority and threatening checks and balances in the small Central American country.
While Bukele has endeared himself to Trump by backing his hardline immigration policies, he's faced criticism among human rights and pro-democracy activists for defying El Salvador's supreme court and congress.