Argentine Ambassador Héctor Timerman, who is generally considered to be among the most thoughtful members of the international diplomatic community posted in Washington, was intent on projecting a democratic telegram to political Washington voicing all of Latin America’s resounding support for President Zelaya and that if the U.S. sits out this dramatic turn of events, it will be to the Obama Administration’s loss. It was no accident that Ambassador Timerman hosted the Reina event. A graduate of Columbia University in New York City (as was Obama), he went on to have a brilliant career as a newspaper editor, and later enter his country’s diplomatic service as the Consul General in New York. For his entire life Timerman has been involved with the democratic efforts of his famed late father, Jacob Timerman, who was sentenced to jail by the Argentina military junta for being the publisher of the pro-democracy Argentine daily, La Opinion, a bitter experience about which he would later write a stunning memoir.
Among the many ambassadors in attendance at the Argentine event were the ambassadors to the U.S. from Chile, the Dominican Republic, Spain, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, as well as the Brazilian, Ecuadoran, and Canadian ambassadors to the OAS, the forthcoming Brazilian ambassador to Pakistan, and the recently restored Venezuelan ambassador to the U.S., the highly regarded Bernardo Álvarez.
The reception occurred on the heels of Ambassador Álvarez’ return to Washington, and U.S. Ambassador Duddy’s being allowed to return to Caracas, as part of an effort to mend U.S.-Venezuela relations. However, at this time, Colombian President Álvaro Uribe then came forth with a series of stunning allegations against regional left-leaning governments including that the FARC’s guerillas had made a campaign contribution to Rafael Correa’s 2006 presidential campaign and that the Chávez government had transferred a number of 20-year old Swedish anti-tank missiles to the FARC. These charges, both vehemently denied, came at a time when the U.S. had been concluding negotiations of the use of three air force bases with the possibility of two naval bases in the country, following Ecuador’s decision to not renew the existing lease on the U.S. base in Manta, Ecuador.
Ever since the illegal expulsion of President Zelaya that began the Honduran crisis focused on extra-constitutional change, the Argentine government of Christina Fernandez de Kirchner has taken a leading role in defending the status and legitimacy of President Manuel Zelaya. As for the role of Ambassador Timerman, one has to go back to the heroic days of Argentine Ambassador Rafael Vazquez to identify such a commitment of high quality democratic practices to an Argentine ambassador to the U.S. During that epoch beginning in 1976, Vasquez tirelessly fought in conjunction with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and other Washington-based groups to save the lives of hundreds of Argentine dissidents at the hands of Argentine death-squads.