- The Washington Times - Monday, September 12, 2005

Guests couldn’t help swaying to a samba beat as they waited to greet Brazilian Ambassador Roberto Abdenur at his country’s national day celebration last week. The infectious rhythms were drifting in from the tented garden of his striking Embassy Row residence, originally designed by famed architect John Russell Pope for newspaper heiress Katherine Medill McCormick and her diplomat/publisher husband, “Colonel” Robert Sanderson McCormick.

Although more than 500 people turned out to quaff spiked citrus drinks and nibble on delicious cheese, cod, shrimp and corn hors d’oeuvres Tuesday night, the usually festive Latin mood at one of the fall’s first social events was decidedly more somber this year.

Not surprisingly, much of the talk among the foreign envoys in attendance was what they, on behalf of their countries, had offered to help New Orleans and other areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

“I remember hearing that there were three American cities with real character: Boston, San Francisco and New Orleans,” Chilean Ambassador Andres Bianchi said. “And when we visited New Orleans three years ago it not only fulfilled my expectations but exceeded them.”

“So, it is a double tragedy,” the otherwise jolly diplomat noted. “Besides the horrible human dimensions, who knows how much of this historic and unique city will ever be the same again.”

Argentinean Ambassador Jose Bordon mentioned how his country had offered aid from “the best we have, the White Helmets, our civilian special forces for tragedies, who are recognized by the United Nations. Portuguese Ambassador Pedro Catarino said his country had “offered use of some of our oil reserves.”

“It has been terrible,” Mr. Catarino added. “We are also working with the European Union and NATO to do whatever we can.”

Gail Scott

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