U.S. Ambassador John Gavin, the former film actor whose appointment by President Reagan triggered widespread criticism, said today that he is resigning his post to return to private life.
The surprise announcement came nearly five years after Gavin took up the post at the request of Reagan, his good friend and former Hollywood colleague.
"It has been a splendid challenge to represent you and our people in what is, perhaps, our most important bilateral relationship," Gavin said in a letter to President Reagan read to reporters at the U.S. Embassy.
"Much has been accomplished during this period. We have assisted Mexico in times of crisis.
'The Time Has Come'
"I believe, however, that I have accomplished the major task you set for me, the time has come for me to return to the private sector and meet new challenges.
"I will depart my post on or about the 15th of May, 1986," he said.
The 1981 appointment of Gavin, a former film star who appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's movie "Psycho," sparked widespread criticism in Mexico and editorials suggesting the appointment of Mexican comedian Cantinflas (Mario Moreno) to Washington.
Also during his five-year tenure, Gavin was criticized for meeting with opposition political parties and for staunchly defending Reagan's hard-line anti-communist Central American policies.
He had been invited by the Administration to stay in his post until Reagan's term ends.
There had been speculation during Gavin's tenure that he was interested in other government jobs--such as ambassador to the United Nations or secretary of commerce--or that he was considering a race for the U.S. Senate from California. Such job changes never materialized.
Gavin made his announcement the day before his 55th birthday.