Sunday, November 5, 2017

A Journal Interlude from November 12, 1999

Back in Brasilia [after leave at home]. Had quite a homecoming. Got back to not only an overflowing desk but also a slightly fraying, yet still impending cabinet visit. Arrived Wednesday in time for a somewhat frantic tussle with State Department lawyers over the wording of an agreement for signature during Secretary Cohen’s visit. Lost the tussle but learned an important lesson and some useful info for the future. (We will eventually do the agreement anyway.) On Thursday, I used the holiday to catch up on work and -- after watching two episodes of the final five of my favorite Brazilian telenovela taped for me while I was gone -- went off to meet the Secretary at 12 midnight.

On Friday, still not caught up on my trip induced sleep shortage, went into the office early to do some work and then to the hotel for a 9:45 briefing. Spent the rest of the day with the Secretary: meetings with the Senate President, the President, the new Defense Minister, lunch with the Defense Minister and the senior military commanders, a photo event at the Embassy, a press conference and a late afternoon meeting with the Foreign Minister. In between, rode with the Secretary. Had a chance to chat with him (and in between events, with his attractive wife). A decent man and a Republican. We talked about business but also ourselves. I told him about A... attending St. Albans. He told me he is leaving politics after the Administration leaves office. He later told the Embassy staff that he appreciated the sacrifices we folks abroad make in the public service, like the Charge living without his family.

This weekend is another three-day one thanks to another Brazilian holiday. (I like getting two sets of holidays.) I will be guest of honor at the Marine Ball tomorrow and have my rented tux hanging in the closet. I also hope to sleep.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Journal Interludes: October 16 & 23, 1999

October 16:  I had a good week, just three days but filled enough to seem longer.  Met with two ministers on Friday on a case that I insinuated that some on the U.S. side saw as "creeping expropriation."  Got their attention by sharing a press statement we said we were ready to release.  Had a few beers at the Happy Hour on Friday, something I'd never done before.  And waited all day for an agrément that never came.

October 23:  Had a good week.  Secretary of Transport Rodney Slater visited.  Very nice guy.  I met his FAA N1 Gulf Stream at the airport and later went with his whole delegation to a churrascaria for dinner.  Next day we did briefings in the Embassy, a lunch at a lakeside restaurant specializing in Bahian food and then meetings with the government, topped of by an encounter with President Cardoso.  The Embassy handled the visit beautifully and we ended up at the gem and stone museum/shop on the TV tower.  On Friday, we held a Principal Officers conference where our consul generals and consuls came to Brasilia for the day.  In between, I met with representatives of Mattel Toys -- who want help lowering import barriers in Brazil -- and worked more on a nasty case of re-nationalization in which a state government is trying to remove U.S. shareholders of an energy company.

Meanwhile,  the government here quickly granted agrément for a prospective new U.S. ambassador.  There is a 50/50 chance, I’d guess, at his getting approved this year.  I, of course, would rather not have a boss, but can’t say that.  This job is the best I may ever have.  What the heck.

Thursday, October 19, 2017