- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2000

Looking for ideas

The mayor of Argentina's capital city arrived hungry at The Washington Times Thursday. Although he had just come from the National Prayer Breakfast, he had no time to eat.

"I was too busy praying," said Enrique Olivera, mayor of Buenos Aires.

He did not share the subject of his prayers, but he may have been looking for a little divine intervention with New York bankers. Mr. Olivera is hoping for $1.5 billion in loans to help double the size of the Buenos Aires subway, to about 60 miles of track.

Mr. Olivera was in Washington Thursday on the last leg of a visit that took him from Miami to New York, looking for ideas from other big-city mayors on how they run their governments. He also met with Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

Until 1994, Buenos Aires was like Washington, a capital city run by a federal legislature. Since then, the city has been gradually taking on more municipal responsibilities. Its latest task is to create a city police force from what is now a federal one.

"We still have similar problems," he said of Washington and Buenos Aires. "We are both big cities and capitals. It causes a lot of problems."

Informed that Washington still needs congressional approval of just about every act of the city council, Mr. Olivera said, "It's impossible to run a city under those circumstances."

Mr. Olivera said he shares many of the goals of New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, especially his zero tolerance for crime.

"It's obvious. It's the 'broken-window' concept," he said, referring to the analogy that allowing small crime to go unpunished is like allowing a broken window to go unfixed in an abandoned building. One broken window only attracts more vandalism.

Mr. Olivera became mayor of Buenos Aires two months ago after the previous mayor, Fernando de la Rua, was elected president of Argentina. Mr. Olivera was Mr. de la Rua's deputy mayor, but he has no plans to run for his own term in the May 7 city election.

Mr. Olivera, also a former member of the Argentine Congress, did not say what he would do next. He did, however, try to dismiss rumors that he would be named ambassador to the United States.

"I've heard about that," he said, insisting he has no plans to move to Washington.

Argentina's new ambassador, Guillermo Gonzalez, only arrived last week.

Old job back

Slovenian Ambassador Dimitrij Rupel got his old job back this week, when parliament approved him as Slovenia's new foreign minister.

Mr. Rupel held that position from 1990 to 1993 as the first foreign minister of an independent Slovenia. Later, he was elected mayor of the capital, Ljubljana.

Mr. Rupel, a member of the centrist Liberal Democracy of Slovenia party, returned to Slovenia two weeks ago to campaign for the position. He was elected on Wednesday with strong support even from opposition members.

Mr. Rupel took up his position as ambassador in October 1997, serving as Slovenia's second envoy to the United States.

Mr. Rupel was no stranger to this country. He had taught sociology at the New School for Social Research in New York and at Cleveland State University.

He always expressed great admiration for the United States.

"Americans are the only living example of multiculturalism," he said in an Embassy Row interview. "This country is living proof that multicultural society can exist."

Nominee for Tunisia

President Clinton Thursday tapped a career diplomat to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to Tunisia.Rust Macpherson Deming began his Foreign Service career at the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia and has served several tours of duty in Japan. He is currently the principal deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.His nomination must be approved by the Senate.

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