- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2003

Hot, steamy weather and seasonal sojourns among the Embassy Row set weren’t about to dissuade Latino diplomats from giving a proper sendoff to two departing colleagues — and one special American amigo — at the residence of Dominican Ambassador Hugo Giuliani Cury Thursday night.

“It’s just a small group saying goodbye to three friends,” Mr. Cury said as he greeted guests in the dark, wood-paneled library where a small window air conditioner struggled vainly against the heat.

The Kalorama mansion, which was purchased in 1954 during the rule of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo and is slowly being renovated, is without a central air system, Mr. Cury’s daughter, Maria Teresa Giuliani, explained. That definitely nixed any idea of a traditional Dominican fiesta with merengue dancing and mobs of guests.

“You can’t invite people and then make them suffer,” she said outside on the terrace, where traces of a slightly cool breeze could be detected as the sun went down.

About 30 guests turned out to say farewell to Paraguayan Ambassador Leila Rachid Cowles, who takes leave to become her country’s foreign minister on Aug. 15; Nicaraguan Ambassador Carlos Jose Ulvert (who is returning to a business career); and Emilio Gonzales, formerly a director of Western Hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council, who said he was “taking a respite” from government but is remaining hopeful his services will be needed “at a later date.”

Mrs. Cowles was particularly elated at her appointment, which occurred as a result of the recent victory of Paraguay’s center-right Colorado Party.

“We are a new country since our revolution,” she said, referring to the ouster of longtime military strongmen Gen. Alfredo Stroessner from power in 1989. In the bad old proto macho days, she noted, no woman would ever have received an ambassadorial post, much less served as foreign minister.

At 47, Mrs. Cowles is part of a youthful vanguard that has replaced the old gerontocracy. “There are now very young people in power,” she said, noting that the new president and vice president are just 46 and 40, respectively.

An entirely different set of circumstances was in play when Mr. Ulvert engaged Eduardo J. Sevilla Somoza, Nicaragua’s ambassador to the United Nations, in lively banter reflective of their country’s political traditions.

Mr. Sevilla Somoza’s late father, Guillermo Sevilla Sacasa, was Nicaraguan ambassador to the United States from 1943 to 1979 — one of the longest tenures of any accredited diplomat in history. His monopoly on that post — to say nothing of his concurrent service as envoy to the United Nations, Canada, Cuba, the Organization of American States and the World Bank — may be explained by the fact that he was then-Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza’s brother-in-law.

“When I was first appointed to the post, I told my wife I was not going to be like his father and stay 36 years,” Mr. Ulvert said with a laugh, “but then I got kicked out after a year.”

Nicaraguan politics, both men insisted, are still very much a family matter. “We all know about each other. We can joke about it.” Mr. Sevilla Somoza said.

Guests included the ambassadors of Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica; international public relations consultant Edward J. von Kloberg III; Carolina Mejia, daughter of Dominican President Hipolito Mejia; Eduardo Aguirre, director of the bureau of citizen and immigration services of the Department of Homeland Security; and Otto Reich, Mr. Gonzales’ former boss at the National Security Council, who was recently appointed as President Bush’s special envoy for Western Hemisphere initiatives.

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