- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2006

Diplomatic departures can be sad affairs, especially those of popular envoys who have made a mark on the Washington social scene. In the case of Bolivian Ambassador Jaime Aparicio and his beautiful wife, Pamela, however, no tears need be shed as their three years en poste come to an end. The popular couple will be remaining in Washington — at least for now.

That explains why “We’re sad they’re leaving, but happy they’re staying” was the prevailing sentiment at the “farewell” bash they hosted at their official residence Tuesday night.

“The thing I like best is that they’re only moving to Westmoreland Hills,” affirmed former Chief of Protocol Lloyd Hand, who has been to more than his fair share of goodbye parties on Embassy Row.

“Many ambassadors come and go, and you never meet them. Others, like Jaime and Patricia, make a real difference,” Mr. Hand explained as Cafe Milano owner Franco Nuschese and Chilean Ambassador Andres Bianchi nodded in agreement.

A cross section of guests from politics, journalism, society and the arts turned out to drink, dine, dance and bid adieu — to the house, anyway. Among them: Ina Ginsburg, Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, Philip and Nina Pillsbury, Henry von Eichel, Finlay Lewis, Debbie Dingell, Edi Gutierrez, Grace Bender, Mary Ann Fish, Hilda Ochoa-Brillembourg and the ambassadors of nearly every Latin American country plus Jordan, Spain, Portugal and Egypt.

The Aparicios’ final curtain comes in the wake of the election victory of radical leader Evo Morales to the Bolivian presidency in December. The new head of state, known for his anti-American rantings, will be sending one of his own political supporters as envoy to Washington before the month is out.

Mr. Aparicio, who supported an opposing candidate, was sanguine about the end of his diplomatic career, most of which was spent trying to negotiate extremely volatile political and economic developments back home.

“It was three difficult years with four different presidents,” he told a reporter with a wry laugh, hastening to add that he hopes to move on to a teaching position or work as a strategic adviser for Latin America.

Bolivia, he added, has large natural gas reserves and rich tin and silver deposits. Many U.S. corporations have to figure out how to continue to do business there despite “a totally new situation and very big risks.”

Kevin Chaffee

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