- The Washington Times - Monday, September 3, 2007

Talking baseball

The new U.S. ambassador to Venezuela kept his remarks short as he stepped off a commercial airliner to take up his post in a country led by one of the most anti-American presidents in the Western Hemisphere.

Ambassador Patrick Duddy told reporters at the Caracas airport last week that Americans and Venezuelans have much in common.

“A love of baseball and culture and, of course, we share a love of freedom and democracy,” he said.

Baseball might be a safe subject. More than 200 Venezuelans have played in the major leagues in the United States since 1939. Two — second baseman Melvin Dorta and catcher Jesus Flores — play for the Washington Nationals.



Talk of freedom and democracy, however, could be interpreted by populist President Hugo Chavez as some kind of seditious message to Venezuelans, who have seen both values eroded under his socialist rule.

Mr. Duddy added that he hopes for a “deepening of relations between our two great countries.”

Mr. Chavez, who remains one of the top oil suppliers to the United States, has repeatedly accused the Bush administration of plotting to overthrow his government. He called President Bush the devil in a speech at the United Nations last year.

Mr. Chavez frequently denounced Mr. Duddy’s predecessor, Ambassador William Brownfield.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

c Olusegun Adeniyi, spokesman and special assistant for communications to President Shehu Musa Yaradua of Nigeria, who meets with administration officials and White House reporters.

Tomorrow

c Genaro Arriagada, former minister of the presidency of Chile; Ana Mercedes Botero of the Andean Promotion Corp.; Fernando Bustamante, minister of internal and external security policy coordination of Ecuador; Miguel Castilla of the Andean Promotion Corp.; Mauricio Davalos, Ecuador’s minister of economic and production policy coordination; Gustavo Fernandez, former foreign minister of Bolivia; Enrique Garcia, president of the Andean Promotion Corp.; Alvaro Garcia Linera, vice president of Bolivia; Marcelo Paixao of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; Miguel Rodriguez Mendoza, former deputy director-general of the World Trade Organization; Ana Maria Sanjuan of the Central University of Venezuela; Eduardo Stein, vice president of Guatemala; Alfred Szwarc of the Brazilian Sugar Cane Industry Union; Juan Gabriel Valdes, former foreign minister of Chile; Eduardo Valencia, president of the National Financial Corp. of Ecuador; and Jorge Valero, ambassador of Venezuela to the Organization of American States (OAS). They attend the annual trade and investment conference sponsored by the Andean Promotion Corp., the OAS and the Inter-American Dialogue.

Wednesday

c Srgjan Kerim of Macedonia, president of the 62nd session of the U.N. General Assembly, who meets with administration officials to discuss the priorities of the new session, which opens Sept. 18.

c Aftab Seth, India’s former ambassador to Greece, Japan and Vietnam. He addresses the Hudson Institute on the future of democracy in India.

c Geoff Loane of Ireland, a regional director of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who joins a panel discussion on Somalia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Thursday

c Defense Minister Jyri Hakamies of Finland, who addresses the Center for Strategic and International Studies on U.S.-Europe relations.

c Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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