Very special national days, diplomatic moves, and a summer barbecue.
By Gail Scott
Oval Office Access
Colombian Ambassador Carolina Barco, the former foreign minister of her country and the daughter of a former Colombian president, enjoys extremely good access at the highest levels of the Bush Administration. It seems that her father, Virgilio Barco, and the President’s father, President George H.W. Bush, held their nation’s presidency simultaneously and enjoyed each other’s company. So, each summer when Colombia’s July 22 national day rolls around, President George W. Bush has hosted a celebration in the White House for Colombia. The first year, 1996, it was Foreign Minister Barco who was there with then-Ambassador Luis Alberto Moreno. This year, Mrs. Barco returned to the Oval Office the very next day as well, with Colombia’s much-in-the-news defense minister, Juan Manuel Santos, who came specifically to thank the U.S. for its assistance in helping with the July 27 release of four political hostages — which included Ingrid Betancourt, the celebrated French-born woman who was running for Colombia’s presidency when she was captured.