William Brownfield, who spent much of his three years as ambassador to Venezuela sparring with President Hugo Chavez, had the last laugh on the authoritarian leader whose trademark is blustering against U.S. "imperialism" and spouting anti-American venom.
At a Fourth of July reception at the U.S. Embassy where he raised a huge American flag, Mr. Brownfield wore a T-shirt that mocked a chant shouted at pro-Chavez rallies by demonstrators demanding the expulsion of the American envoy, who often turned his wry sense of humor against Mr. Chavez's fiery rhetoric.
"Ah, ha! Brownfield IS going away," read the message on the ambassador's shirt.
Mr. Brownfield, whose next assignment is ambassador to Colombia, also poked fun at Mr. Chavez's frequent claims that the United States was planning to invade Venezuela and plotting his overthrow.
Americans will be do "very conspiratorial things" during the week of celebrations for Independence Day, Mr. Brownfield said, citing such activities as attending baseball games.
Mr. Brownfield told the embassy staff at the Fourth of July celebration that he hopes his successor, Patrick Duddy, has better luck with the Venezuelan government. However, he added, relations "are probably going to get worse before they get better."
The Venezuelan government, meanwhile, denounced the career American diplomat one last time.
"William Brownfield came to Venezuela with one mission: to destabilize the government of President Chavez, to topple him, and his mission has failed," Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro told reporters in the capital, Caracas.
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
c Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki of Macedonia, who meets National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley. Tomorrow, he meets Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He is accompanied by Kornelija Utevska-Gligorovska, chief of Cabinet; Vasko Grkov, state counselor for U.S.-Macedonia affairs; and Shpresa Jusufi, ministry spokeswoman.
c Mayor Sergio Fajardo of Medellin, Colombia, who addresses the Inter-American Dialogue about his efforts to reduce crime and drug smuggling.
c Alpha Oumar Konare, chairman of the African Union; Joaquin Chissano, former president of Mozambique; Alejandro Toledo, former president of Peru; Colin Granderson, assistant secretary-general of the Caribbean Community; and Julia Dolly Joiner, an African Union commissioner from Gambia. They address a joint conference of the Organization of American States and the African Union.
c Lloyd Axworthy, a former foreign minister of Canada and now president and vice chancellor of the University of Winnipeg; David Runnalls, president of the Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD); and Oli Brown of Britain, project manager for IISD's Trade and Investment and Security programs. They address the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
c Araz Azimov, deputy foreign minister of Azerbaijan. He addresses the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars about regional energy issues.
c Peter Ramsauer, a member of the German parliament from the Christian Social Union, who speaks at the German Marshall Fund of the United States about Germany's accomplishments as president of the European Union.
c Vladimir P. Averchev, a former member of the Russian parliament from the Yabloko party. He discusses Russian energy issues at the Nixon Center.
c Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.