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Luxury Living Special Section


Luxury Living

A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat

March 2019

MARCH 2019



Sticker Shock

Luxury Home Prices in


Brexit: Buck Stops With Irish Backstop

Twenty years of peace followed three decades of violence known as “The Troubles” in Ireland and Northern Ireland, thanks to an internationally acclaimed peace accord. But now, the fear is that the shootings and bombings may return, and the reason why can be summed up in just one word: Brexit. PAGE 8




D.C. Area Hit Record Highs

hose of us who pay rent or mortgages in the D.C. metro area don’t have to be told that things can get pricey here. But “pricey” is going to a whole new level. Properties with price tags of $23 million and even $62 million are redefining high-end living for area real estate. When a 48,900-square-fo ot residence previ-


In 2017, AOL co-founder Steve Case sold his Merrywood seen above and below, estate, for $49.5 million. Last May, it sold for $43 million — a record at the time — to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia.



ously owned by AOL co-founder James Kimsey went up for sale last spring for $62.95 million, it set a new record for the most expensive home. It has features such as an infinity pool and 30-car garage, plus a guest house that architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed. SEE RECORD PRICES • PAGE 28

| MARCH 2019





United States

U.S. Corruption: Trump’s Swamp Getting Murkier

President Donald Trump may have promised to drain the swamp, but a recent survey on the top 20 “cleanest,” or least-corrupt, countries in the world shows that the U.S. may be getting dirtier under his watch. PAGE 10

From a temporary office in D.C., Carlos Alfredo

Vecchio, the U.S.-recognized envoy for Venezuela, is fighting to dismantle the dictatorship that has

plunged what was once Latin America’s wealthiest

nation into abject misery — and help his friend and

colleague, 35-year-old Interim President Juan Guaidó,


Hirshhorn Comes Alive with ‘Pulse’

“Pulse” feeds off visitors’ heart rates and biometric data to bring the museum experience to life. PAGE 32

bring democracy back to Venezuela. PAGE 15

People of World Influence


North Korea’s Kim Tries To Outfox Trump

Royce Promotes Power of Exchange

President Trump’s follow-up meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is a chance for him to choose substance over style. Noted Asia expert Van Jackson, however, believes the former reality TV star will once again choose the latter over the former. PAGE 4

Marie Royce, wife of recently retired Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), has carved out her own long career in business, academia and now government as assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs. PAGE 18

GOURMET GALA 2019 May 8, 2019 | 6:00 p.m. National Building Museum 440 G Street NW, Washington, D.C. More than 50 U.S. Senators and Representatives will participate in this competitive cook-off as celebrity chefs. Their dishes will be judged, and awards will be given in six categories of achievement. Special recognition will be given to legacy chefs, those members of Congress who’ve been celebrity chefs for 10 years or more. March of Dimes is fortunate to have the continued support and leadership of these chefs over the years.

Volume 26


Issue 03



March 2019


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Photo taken at the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, D.C., by Lawrence Ruggeri of




8 10





PEOPLE OF WORLD INFLUENCE Van Jackson says North Korea’s Kim is outfoxing Trump by playing the long game.




The Irish backstop has become the main hurdle holding up Britain’s divorce from the EU.


Despite his vows to clean up politics, corruption seems to be on the rise in Trump’s America.




Kosovo’s U.N. envoy fights for recognition amid the on-again-off-again feud with Serbia. MEDICAL


An ambassador and his friends in Norway turn the volume up on public diplomacy.



Obesity-linked cancers are on the rise among young Americans.

Synetic Theater goes silent to tell the story of poet Cyrano de Bergerac.





Luxury home prices in the area are hitting record highs, although the market is still a relative bargain.

Venezuela’s U.S.-recognized envoy insists that democracy will triumph over dictatorship.


BENEFICIAL EXCHANGES Marie Royce says investing in educational exchange offers America tremendous returns.





The Hirshhorn Museum comes alive by tapping into the vital signs of its visitors.


Colombian-born artist Carolina Mayorga’s pink houses tackle dark subject matter.


WD | People of Wor ld Influence

Summit of Style Over Substance Asia Expert Says North Korea’s Kim Is Outfoxing Trump by Playing Long Game BY ERIC HAM


n the lead-up to the second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, The Washington Diplomat sat down for a one-on-one with noted scholar and author Van Jackson. He offered his thoughts on the second meeting between the two mercurial leaders and how it might shape U.S.-North Korea relations, as well as the region. The much-anticipated follow-up to the historic Singapore summit offers Trump the opportunity to choose substance over style. However, Jackson believes that, once again, Trump will choose the latter over the former. He predicts this encore performance will generate more headlines for the former reality television star, but little headway in breaking the nuclear stalemate that has bedeviled the administration since Trump met with Kim in Singapore last June. That meeting came after a series of ballistic missile tests by the North and escalating rhetoric between the two leaders, who lobbed insults at one another and sparked fears of a nuclear confrontation. The Singapore summit raised hopes that Trump’s unconventional, off-thecuff governing style might finally lead to a breakthrough in the decades-long nuclear impasse with Pyongyang. Tensions have indeed cooled since the summit. Trump canceled military exercises with South Korea and stopped threatening the North with a pre-emptive strike or regime change. Meanwhile, Kim has refrained from further missile or nuclear bomb testing and improved relations with South Korea and China. But otherwise, there hasn’t been any tangible progress despite Trump’s claims to the contrary. Kim insists that the administration offer sanctions relief and a security guarantee before any denuclearization takes place — the opposite of the U.S. position. Kim has also thus far refused the administration’s demands to provide a full inventory of the North’s nuclear assets. In fact, recent satellite imagery released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies suggests that the North has as many as 20 undisclosed missile sites and may be expanding, not dismantling, its missile program. And while international sanctions remain in place, the maximum pressure campaign that many credited for bringing Kim to the negotiating table appears to be losing steam, especially as Kim establishes warmer relations with his country’s economic lifeline, China. All of this confirms what many experts — and U.S. intelligence agencies — have long suspected: that the North will continue its historic pattern of



If Kim did decide to denuclearize, he wouldn’t be motivated by President Trump as he sees the president as a liar and Trump will be leaving office soon. Kim plays the long game to see what deal he can get from president to president. VAN JACKSON

author of ‘On the Brink: Trump, Kim, and the Threat of Nuclear War’

dragging out talks while secretly building up its nuclear arsenal, because it has no intention of unilaterally relinquishing a weapons program it believes is key to the regime’s survival. Experts also worry that faced with this grim reality and the prospect of bad press, Trump will be eager to cut a deal without getting much in return for the sake of declaring victory. That’s why all eyes will be on the summit — scheduled for Feb. 27 and 28 in Hanoi, Vietnam, as of this printing — to see if the administration continues to demand an all-or-nothing approach or accepts a more phased implementation (which, as past efforts have shown, is no guarantee of success either). But Jackson, author of the 2018 book “On the Brink: Trump, Kim, and the Threat of Nuclear War,” believes the sequel to the Singapore summit will

be another substantive letdown. He argues that Trump is more interested in showmanship than the arduous work of building sustainable denuclearization accords. As a result, he warns that the situation on the Korean Peninsula remains as dangerous as ever, if not more so — because both men have “personalized” the nuclear crisis without doing any actual legwork to resolve it, leaving the world vulnerable to the whims of two capricious leaders. And between the two leaders, Jackson says Kim clearly has the upper hand. In fact, he claims the young dictator has already played Trump “because he knows Trump is playable,” as Jackson told Axios’s Mike Allen last December. A former Pentagon strategist, Jackson says Kim is biding his time for the next president because he sees Trump

as too erratic to cut a deal with anyway. In the meantime, a summit, filled with empty rhetoric, is perfectly suited to Kim’s aims — which is to “run out the clock” on the administration while elevating the dictator’s international standing. In addition to waiting Trump out, Jackson says Kim’s strategy includes showering the president with effusive praise; rendering his team of negotiators irrelevant; and continuing the global charm offensive, all while keeping his all-important nuclear arsenal intact with an eye toward eventual reunification of the Korean Peninsula. Jackson is a frequent commentator on Asian security and defense matters. From 2009 to 2014, he held positions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as a strategist and policy adviser focused on the Asia-Pacific, in addi-

tion to serving as senior country director for Korea. He is currently a global fellow with the D.C.-based Wilson Center and a senior lecturer of international relations at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. Contrary to popular opinion, Jackson says it wasn’t Trump’s maximum pressure campaign that brought Kim to the bargaining table. Rather, previous sanctions instituted by President Obama forced the regime to ramp up its nuclear weapons program. With that program now firmly in place and the threat of preventative war off the table, Kim is entering negotiations from a position of strength and can switch gears to focus on the country’s economy. This is in line with Kim’s so-called “byungjin” strategy to pursue nuclear weapons capability while also developing the economy. In fact, while many Korea watchers believe the isolated dictator might be desperate to make a deal, Jackson says not so fast. He believes it is Kim — not Trump; not South Korea’s Moon Jae-in; and not even China’s Xi Jinping — dictating the international moves at play. The Asia specialist thinks the oft-cited belief that Kim is motivated by survival is more fiction. Jackson argues that the driving force for Kim is, in fact, the unification of the Koreas, a long-held goal of the ruling family dynasty. On that note, Jackson predicts

VAN JACKSON: The intel chiefs said everything experts believe. President Trump is lying on North Korea. TWD: What is President Trump’s motivation to lie? Granted he has played fast and loose with the truth before and throughout his presidency. VJ: He lies for the sake of diplomacy. But what does that get us? Pursuing diplomacy means working toward the goal of nuclear arms control. But what it all means ultimately is North Korea — Kim Jong-un, specifically — is playing President Trump and isolating him from the rest of his administration. TWD: How so? PHOTO: BY DAN SCAVINO JR.

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un shakes hands with President Donald Trump at the start of their summit in Singapore last June. That first summit did not lead to tangible progress in getting the North to denuclearize; the hope is that the second meeting in Vietnam produces more concrete results.

that the only movement in the near future will be the two Koreas growing closer together. He doesn’t believe Kim will budge on the nuclear front, especially under the current administration, which is why the U.S. should accept the North’s nuclear status and focus instead on dialogue and arms control. Jackson talked about this and

other issues during a recent interview where he didn’t mince words about the two leaders at the heart of this high-stakes nuclear drama. *This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT: The chief intelligence and national

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security heads for the major U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, CIA and director of national intelligence, testified before Congress and contradicted President Trump’s assertions on North Korea. What is your take on the disconnect between the president and his handpicked intel and security chiefs?

VJ: Kim sends friendly letters to President Trump that flatter him — thereby, moving President Trump to take steps outside of his national security team, steps that are advantageous to the Kim regime because Trump does not escalate the pressure on Kim denuclearizing or offer hard evidence of ongoing steps toward denuclearization. TWD: Is Kim’s plan working? SEE JACK S ON • PAGE 6

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A guard stands outside as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepares to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang on Oct. 7, 2018.


VJ: Yes, the plan is working. The Kim regime used an enormous amount of time planning the [Singapore] summit. This is an effort to keep away from the hard work of doing actual diplomacy — diplomacy that might have led to actual substantive deliverables that Kim would not be willing to undertake. TWD: If what you say is true, that the Trump administration is being played, isn’t that a reflection of the president’s national security team, specifically Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton? VJ: [North Korea] state media describes Bolton and Pompeo as “ieokpoong,” or “headwind,” meaning everyone is an obstacle to making trouble except Trump. TWD: Surely Stephen Biegun, President Trump’s chief negotiator for the talks, is making inroads. He is a longtime Washington operative having worked for the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and understands the geopolitical landscape.

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VJ: Steve Biegun is a corporate executive. He’s not experienced in dealing with North Korea. He hasn’t had any major breakthroughs with actual concessions from North Korea. TWD: It appears the president believes that he alone can bring about success. VJ: Trump has this theory of personal diplomacy or as I like to call it, the “hubris of ignorance,” where he repeatedly puts himself at the center of the issue because only he can fix the problem. None of his personal efforts have paid off. Not with Russia, not with Iran and not for the United States. This president is only interested in headlines. TWD: What about North Korea? What is its endgame? VJ: Much has changed for North Korea as they are seeking sanctions relief. Normalized relations helps with that effort. Meet-

ings with regional leaders including [Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe, Moon and Jinping certainly go a long way. None of these efforts — normalization, sanctions relief — require meetings with Donald Trump, but it helps. TWD: But this charm offensive by Kim isn’t possible without the overtures from Moon. The South Korean president has staked his presidency on normalized relations with North Korea. Is Moon the catalyst in all of this? VJ: Yes, he has been critical to everything since 2018. The Olympics, pivoting out of a stance of defiance. Kim needed a friendly face in Moon and that shift happened Nov. 28, 2017 [when North Korea successfully fired an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental U.S.]. TWD: So Moon opened the door and now it is Kim pulling the strings? VJ: Yes, the nukes got him to the dance. They [nuclear weapons] got him this far. Denuclearization is a fantasy. If Kim did decide to denuclearize, he wouldn’t be motivated by President Trump as he sees the president as a liar and Trump will be leaving office soon. Kim plays the long game to see what deal he can get from president to president. Kim is attempting to run out the clock on the Trump presidency. North Korea, in the end, will screw us over. Trump diplomacy is fake, but it gives us a view into how far North Korea is willing to go. TWD: You paint a very grim picture for U.S. security interests. Given this gloom and doom outlook, is it worth pursuing diplomatic engagement with North Korea? VJ: All aspects of diplomacy are worthwhile. However, the technical diplomacy isn’t happening. We haven’t worked out any of the backroom issues from which the pageantry is derived. Where this ends up is in 2020 a new president inherits a new environment with a nuclear North Korea — so a worse situation than when Trump came into office. Long-term national security is worse off due to a lack of technical cost and buy-in. The major cost for this administration was buying into the show of summits without the legwork. SEE JACK S ON • PAGE 45

15th Annual




WD | Europe

Brexit’s Dividing Line Irish Backstop Threatens U.K.’s Divorce from EU, and Northern Ireland’s Fragile Peace BY JONATHAN GORVETT


EWRY, Northern Ireland — Here, where the Belfast-toDublin highway squeezes between steep, inland hills and the chilly waters of the Carlingford Lough inlet, the only sign nowadays of an international frontier is a sudden change in speed limits. Crossing the border, the road signs shift abruptly between kilometers-perhour in the Republic of Ireland and miles-per-hour in the U.K.’s Northern Ireland. It seems an insignificant shift these days, but between 1968 and 1998, within just a few miles of where this new road now runs, 16 people were killed and 18 wounded at crossings on this now almost invisible frontier. They were the victims of some 14 bombings, numerous shootings, roadside executions, arson attacks and car rammings, with most of them civilians caught in the crossfire during the three decades of violence known as “The Troubles.” Indeed, this border, which runs for some 210 miles west and then north from here, was a focal point for conflict throughout that bloody and bitter time. Over 3,500 people were killed in the violence back then, which pitted paramilitaries from the nationalist Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) — which sought to end British rule over Northern Ireland — against the British Army and British nationalist paramilitaries from groups such as the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). Periodically, the violence reached across to the U.K. mainland and continental Europe, too, yet flickered constantly here along the border. “The violence was relentless and every day,” said freelance journalist Rachel Lavin, who has deeply studied and reported on this frontier’s dark history. “The border was constantly the focus for dramatic incidents, with smuggling, killings, bodies being dumped — while all around people tried to continue with their daily lives.” Now, 20 years after those shootings and bombings stopped — thanks to an internationally acclaimed peace accord — the fear here is that they may be about to return. And the reason why can be summed up in just one word: Brexit.


In terms of international frontiers, the border is a relatively recent one, dating back to 1922 and the still-controversial treaty that ended the Anglo-Irish War. The treaty partitioned the island of Ireland along meandering, county lines



A mural in Belfast behind a gated wall depicts “The Troubles,” the three decades of violence between Irish and British nationalists. Brexit has resurrected fears that the fragile peace in Northern Ireland could be threatened by the potential return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

This is a fragile, post-conflict society and a warning has to be issued that we need to protect the peace process. Those people who talk so loosely about a no deal [Brexit] are grossly irresponsible. It would quite simply be disastrous. COLIN HARVEY

professor of human rights law at Queen’s University in Belfast

into an independent, majority Catholic and Irish-identifying south and a majority Protestant and British-identifying north — although the south still contained a significant Protestant minority and the north a significant, Irish-identifying Catholic one. From its beginning, the border was thus a place of division, symbolic of a wider struggle. It was never accepted by more radical Irish nationalists, both north and south, who continued to press for a united Ireland. At the same time, it was seen as a key determinant of identity by many northern Protestants. “The physical border represents a history of grievances,” Peter Sheridan, former assistant chief constable in the Police Service of Northern Ireland

(PSNI) and now CEO of the peacebuilding charity Co-operation Ireland. “In the 1950s, there was an IRA campaign along it, and then there were the Troubles. The violence always started on the border, then spread to Belfast and Londonderry.” In 1998, however, that violence came to an end with the signing of the Good Friday, or Belfast Agreement, between the U.K., the Republic of Ireland and eight political parties from both north and south of the border. The U.S. played a major role in this, via President Bill Clinton, while Canadian Gen. John de Chastelain oversaw the decommissioning of weapons held by the paramilitaries. Within a few years, the British Army had withdrawn, while the watchtowers,

army bases and checkpoints that lined the border were dismantled and taken away. The 208 road crossing points — almost one for every mile of frontier — were also reopened. Life for border communities began to return to normal. At the same time, as the states on each side of the border were both members of the European Union and its single market, there was also no need for any normal border checks on goods, services and people flowing across. Indeed, “EU membership was the background assumption of the entire peace process,” said Colin Harvey, professor of human rights law at Queen’s University in Belfast. “It was like the air that we all breathed.” Common EU membership enabled the border to go from being the most patrolled and militarized in Western Europe to its current, almost intangible status, removing a key flashpoint for division and tension. Businesses that worked on both sides of the border became common, with a high degree of integration springing up. “They say that nowadays, it takes four or five border crossings just to get a pot of yogurt from cow to breakfast table,” said Tom Healy, director of the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI) in Dublin, pointing out the level to which farmers and food businesses have be-

come straddled right across the frontier. “The Belfast Agreement made the border invisible,” added Sheridan. “It also said to people in Northern Ireland, you have the right to choose your birth right — Irish or British or both — and we will uphold that. One of the great things, too, was that it also created a Northern Irish identity. Both Catholics and Protestants in the north became settled in the idea of an identity within the EU.” All this, however, hit an unexpected wall when, on June 23, 2016, the U.K. (although not Northern Ireland) voted by a small margin to exit the European Union.


“After Brexit,” said professor Harvey, “the border becomes an external frontier of the EU, separating EU member Ireland from non-EU member U.K. With Brexit therefore comes the potential re-emergence of a profoundly destabilizing ‘hard’ border.” To avoid this hard border, British Prime Minister Theresa May and EU leaders came up with the so-called Irish backstop, which has now become the main hurdle to a Brexit deal. Assuming the U.K. does not crash out of the EU on its scheduled departure date — March 29 — the country would enter into a transition period until at least the end of 2020, during which time it would remain in the EU single market and customs union while negotiating a more permanent relationship. The Irish backstop would ensure that if the U.K. and EU fail to come to a longterm trade arrangement after the transition period ends, the Irish border — Britain’s only land border with the EU — will remain open and invisible. If that happens, Britain would remain in the EU customs union (whereby goods among member states are not charged tariffs), and Northern Ireland would be bound by many rules of the single market (i.e., adhering to a single set of product standards) until some agreement can be reached. The pro-Brexit camp says this will effectively tie Britain to EU rules forever, essentially rendering the Brexit divorce moot. Supporters of the backstop say it is a necessary last resort insurance policy to prevent the type of violence that plagued the region for decades. Indeed, both EU and U.K. leaders quickly agreed after the 2016 Brexit vote that any deal on Britain’s leaving, known as the withdrawal agreement, had to guarantee


Today, the only sign of a border between the U.K. and Ireland is a change in speed limits from kilometers to miles along a country road in Newry, Northern Ireland, seen below. If the U.K. crashes out of the European Union in a no-Brexit deal, violence could re-emerge along that border. There is also the more general fear that seamless trade at the U.K. border will be disrupted by massive delays because of newly imposed customs checks, as seen above in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, which sits outside the EU customs union.

past March 29 to avoid a hard crash. Securing the support of the DUP will be critical to any deal, as will offering skeptics in May’s own party reassurances on the backstop, such

as a time limit or a unilateral exit clause. (Thus far, the EU has ruled out considering alternatives to the current backstop agreement.) At the time of this writing, there had been little progress on these issues, raising the spectre of the U.K. simply crashing out of the EU without any arrangements in place. While this would likely be catastrophic for the highly interconnected British and Irish economies — the International Monetary Fund predicts around 50,000 job losses in Ireland alone — it would also be potentially fatal for communities on the border, and for peace. “From day one of a ‘no deal,’ there will have to be a custom’s border,” said Paul MacFlynn, senior economist at NERI’s Belfast office. This is because the EU would have to protect its single market and impose fall-back World Trade Organization tariffs on Britain. Yet the presence of physical infrastructure at the border would be disastrous for many local businesses. “Their whole business model, with supply chains that go back and forth across the border, would just

collapse,” said MacFlynn. It would also be a red rag to many Irish nationalists, including more radical elements. Indeed, “There are people who want to use violence and will no doubt seek to,” said Sheridan. “Whether they have the capacity or not is debatable, but the PSNI chief constable recently asked for 400 more officers, so clearly he thinks there is a possibility of a renewed campaign.” This has left many — both north and south of the border — increasingly frustrated with what they see as a lack of awareness in mainland U.K. in particular over how Brexit has put the peace process at risk. “No one wants to be alarmist,” said Harvey, “but tensions are rising here. This is a fragile, post-conflict society and a warning has to be issued that we need to protect the peace process. Those people who talk so loosely about a no deal are grossly irresponsible. It would quite simply be disastrous.” WD Jonathan Gorvett (jpgorvett. com) is a freelance writer and journalist specializing in Near and Middle Eastern affairs.

E M B A S S Y R O W, D. C .

Life Is No Longer One Dimensional PHOTO: BY OLIVER DIXON, CC BY-SA 2.0

no return to customs posts and identity checks on the island of Ireland. To formalize this, Britain first proposed that if such an agreement had not been reached by March 29, a customs barrier would come down between mainland U.K. and the island of Ireland — both north and south. This would avoid the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, with the frontier instead moving to the middle of the Irish Sea. Northern Ireland would stay part of the EU customs union and single market, while the rest of the U.K. left. Yet, while some businesses in Northern Ireland saw this potential special status as a major chance for their region to benefit economically from Brexit, this arrangement proved unacceptable to the largest British-identifying, Protestant grouping in the north, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). They saw this as an unacceptable loosening of the bonds between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. With May’s government needing the support of the

DUP to stay in office after her Conservative Party lost its majority in elections in 2017, the DUP’s concerns also took on much greater weight. May thus moved to adjust the scope of what had become known as the backstop to include the whole U.K., in the event of no deal being reached. The EU subsequently agreed to this position, yet the withdrawal agreement then met with a storm of protest from within May’s own party. Leading supporters of Britain leaving the EU argued that unless the backstop had an agreed time limit, it might keep the U.K. effectively within the EU customs union and single market indefinitely. This objection helped sink the agreement in the U.K., with parliament voting overwhelmingly against it on Jan. 15, 2019. It remains, however, the deal still offered by the EU, which has repeatedly stressed it is not willing to reopen substantive negotiations on a new one. Since then, British politics has been dominated by efforts to find a work-around to this conundrum, possibly by extending Brexit negotiations

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WD | United States

So Much for the Swamp Despite Vows to Clean Up Politics, Corruption Seems to be on the Rise in Trump’s America BY KARIN ZEITVOGEL


resident Donald Trump may have promised to drain the swamp, but a recent survey shows the U.S. may be getting dirtier under his watch. The U.S. has dropped out of the top 20 “cleanest,” or leastcorrupt, countries in the world on the internationally recognized Corruption Perceptions Index. Berlin-based Transparency International (TI) has compiled the index every year since 1995, but only started ranking countries on a zeroto-100 scale in 2012, when it changed its methodology. Corruption is defined by TI as the abuse of entrusted power for political gain. In today’s America, that may ring true with many, and they may not be surprised to learn that the U.S. no longer ranks up there with the Denmarks and New Zealands of the world. It never has, in fact, but the U.S. “arguably has been a critical leader globally in the fight against corruption and if we’re starting to model a decline in that fight, it has negative effects around the world,” said Zoë Reiter, TI’s acting representative to the U.S. “If we’re starting to break ethical norms at the highest levels of power here, if we’re starting to question the free press, if we’re trying to attack the system of checks and balances, that can be interpreted as a green light by the rest of the world that the U.S. is not going to continue to be a strong policing agent against corruption globally. That is not good for the U.S. and not good for countries around the world,” Reiter told The Washington Diplomat. As its name states, the Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries by perceived levels of corruption. The most recent report, released in January 2019, was based on expert assessments and surveys of businesspeople. It rates 180 countries on a scale of zero to 100, where, not unlike a school grading scale, 100 is the best/ least corrupt/what everyone should aspire to, and zero is off-the-grid bad/riddled with corruption. The U.S. shed four points and dropped six places to take the 22nd spot on the


President Donald Trump shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a July 16, 2018, meeting. Since his election, Trump and his campaign team have been dogged by allegations related to their relations with Russia.

If we’re starting to break ethical norms at the highest levels of power here, if we’re starting to question the free press, if we’re trying to attack the system of checks and balances, that can be interpreted as a green light by the world that the U.S. is not going to continue to be a strong policing agent against corruption globally. ZOË REITER

Transparency International acting representative to the U.S.

most recent index, just under France and immediately above the United Arab Emirates. Of course, the irony of the perceived rise of corruption in America during the Trump presidency is that the current resident of the White House campaigned on a pledge to drain the proverbial swamp in Washington. Many interpreted that as a promise by a political outsider to clean up American politics and make government work better for ordinary Americans. They were under no illusion that Trump meant that he’d clean up the Reflecting Pool near the Capitol or


the Tidal Basin in time for cherry blossom season.


But in Trumpian America, the pump that was supposed to drain the swamp appears to be ejecting fresh sludge into it. There are currently 17 ongoing cases against Trump and his associates, ranging from alleged foreign influence on his presidential campaign committee to Trump’s tax payments. Most notably, the investigations into Trump and his campaign team’s ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin have

hung over his administration from day one, and continue to threaten his presidency. Recent revelations that Trump may have been pursuing a Trump Tower deal in Moscow throughout the 2016 GOP primary — despite repeatedly claiming he had “nothing to do with Russia” on the campaign trail — amplified concerns that the real estate mogul is using his political gains to line his pockets and those of his family. For example, foreign governments and business people have been accused of seeking to curry favor with the presi-

dent or influence decisions by him by frequenting his hotel in Washington or granting favors to members of his family. Some T-Mobile executives checked into the Trump property off the National Mall at least 10 times prior to having their company’s $26 billion merger with rival Sprint approved by the Trump administration, according to a report in The Washington Post. In November, China approved more than a dozen trademark applications for first daughter Ivanka Trump, who is also an advisor to the president. And despite Trump’s care-

fully crafted persona as an advocate for the working-class American, the president has stacked his Cabinet with millionaires dogged by allegations of conflicts of interest. This includes Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who’s been accused by former colleagues of siphoning or stealing over $100 million during his investment career and of potentially violating criminal conflict of interest laws. Other Cabinet members have splurged on extravagant perks — on the taxpayer’s dime. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned after he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for trips on private planes. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned in the wake of multiple ethics investigations into his travel and business deals. Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), stepped down amid a raft of ethics scandals, including his use of round-the-clock security detail, installation of a soundproof phone booth in his office and first-class flights to places such as Morocco and Italy. And despite his immense personal wealth, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin racked up a nearly $1 million taxpayer-funded tab for using military aircraft, including a $40,000 trip to Miami. In addition to the questionable use of taxpayer funds, the Trump administration has gradually eroded the institutions that keep executive power in check. That includes the media. Trump’s attacks on journalists have polarized an already-divided nation. Negative coverage of the 45th president is regularly dismissed as fake news. Meanwhile, Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border has been slammed as an overreach of power and con-

• pay-to-play politics • the so-called revolving doors in Washington that allow elected officials to move from government roles to positions in the private sector, and lobbyists and others with potential conflicts of interest to walk into plum government jobs • the abuse of the U.S. financial system by corrupt foreign kleptocrats and local elites. All have been happening for years in Washington and elsewhere, but the latest corruption index shows that the opinions of businesspeople and experts are aligning with those of ordinary citizens, whose perceptions of high-level corruption were measured by TI in a 2017 survey called the U.S. Corruption Barometer. Carried out roughly a year after Trump’s election, the survey showed that 44 percent of Americans believe that corruption NOTE: Although every effort is made to assureis your ad isinfree of mistakes in from spelling pervasive the White House, up 36 and content it is ultimately up to the customer make proof. percent in to 2016; andthe thatfinal almost seven in 10 believe the government is failing to fight cor— the up from half in 2016. The first two faxed changes will be made at noruption cost to advertiser, subsequent changes PHOTO: AMY ROSSETTI / WHITE HOUSE Th e public’s trust U.S. institutions approved. didn’t will be billed at a rate of $75 per faxed alteration. Signed ads inare considered In 2018, President Trump honored physician and philanthropist Miriam Adelson with the Presidential start sliding downward when Trump was Medal of Freedom, which was also bestowed on Elvis Presley, baseball great Babe Ruth and the elected, though, said Reiter. Erosion of trust Please check this ad carefully. Mark any changes to your ad. late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Her husband, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, donated has been going on for generations. Major inci$20 million to help Trump get elected in 2016 and over $120 million to the Republican Party during dents this century include the fabricated reathe 2018 election. If the ad is correct sign and fax to: (301) 949-0065 sons that led needs the U.S.changes into war with Iraq and demned as an attempt to hollow out the con- the Trump administration’s chipping away at the 2008 global financial crisis, which wiped (301) 933-3552 stitutional system of checks and balances,The ac- Washington democratic Diplomat institutions, are some of the key out a large amount of wealth among the midcording to Slate. issues that TI says are helping to push the U.S. dle class after the housing bubble burst. The resulting recession was blamed in part on a Approved down__________________________________________________________ in the Corruption Perceptions Index. lack of oversight, which severely dented the Changes ___________________________________________________________ PUBLIC TRUST SLIPS These are broadly summarized as: belief that the U.S. system was accountable to

___________________________________________________________________ • wealthy individuals wielding influence over government SEE COR R UPT ION • PAGE 12

These and other scandals that we don’t have the space to mention here, along with

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CORRUPTION PERCEPTIONS INDEX 2018 The perceived levels of public sector corruption in 180 countries/territories around the world.

SCORE COUNTRY/TERRITORY 88 87 85 85 85 85 84 82 81 81 80 80 77 76 76 76 75 73 73 73 72 71 70 70 68 68

Denmark New Zealand Finland Singapore Sweden Switzerland Norway Netherlands Canada Luxembourg Germany United Kingdom Australia Austria Hong Kong Iceland Belgium Estonia Ireland Japan France United States United Arab Emirates Uruguay Barbados Bhutan

RANK 1 2 3 3 3 3 7 8 9 9 11 11 13 14 14 14 17 18 18 18 21 22 23 23 25 25

67 66 65 64 63

Chile Seychelles Bahamas Portugal Brunei Darussalam

27 28 29 30 31

63 62 61 61 60 60 59 59 59 58 58 58

Taiwan Qatar Botswana Israel Poland Slovenia Cyprus Czech Republic Lithuania Georgia Latvia Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Spain Cabo Verde Dominica Korea, South Costa Rica Rwanda Saint Lucia Malta Namibia

31 33 34 34 36 36 38 38 38 41 41 41

58 57 57 57 56 56 55 54 53

41 45 45 45 48 48 50 51 52

52 52 52 51 50 49 49 48 47 47 47 46 46 46 45 45 45 44 44 44 43 43 43 43 42 41 41

Grenada Italy Oman Mauritius Slovakia Jordan Saudi Arabia Croatia Cuba Malaysia Romania Hungary Sao Tome and Principe Vanuatu Greece Montenegro Senegal Belarus Jamaica Solomon Islands Morocco South Africa Suriname Tunisia Bulgaria Burkina Faso Ghana

53 53 53 56 57 58 58 60 61 61 61 64 64 64 67 67 67 70 70 70 73 73 73 73 77 78 78

41 41 41 41 41 40 40 39 39 38 38 38 38 37 37 37 37 37 37 36 36 36 36 36 36 35

India Kuwait Lesotho Trinidad and Tobago Turkey Argentina Benin China Serbia Bosnia and Herzegovina Indonesia Sri Lanka Swaziland Gambia Guyana Kosovo Macedonia Mongolia Panama Albania Bahrain Colombia Philippines Tanzania Thailand Algeria

78 78 78 78 78 85 85 87 87 89 89 89 89 93 93 93 93 93 93 99 99 99 99 99 99 105

35 35 35 35 35 35 35 35 34 34 34 33 33 33 32 32 32 32 31 31 31 31 31 30 30 30 29

Armenia Brazil Côte d’Ivoire Egypt El Salvador Peru Timor-Leste Zambia Ecuador Ethiopia Niger Moldova Pakistan Vietnam Liberia Malawi Mali Ukraine Djibouti Gabon Kazakhstan Maldives Nepal Dominican Republic Sierra Leone Togo Bolivia

Very Clean 0-9



30-39 40-49








Take wealthy Americans influencing government, for instance. This has been a time-honored tradition for years, even generations, but recently, the phenomenon has gained steam and dollar signs. Right-wing casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, for example, donated more than $123 mil-

lion during the 2018 election cycle to the Republican Party to try to cement the conservatives’ majority in the U.S. legislature. On the other side of the aisle, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and liberal billionaire Tom Steyer spent $95 million and $72 million respectively to help Democrats or liberals unseat Republicans. Donations by wealthy Americans often made their way to the recipient through a super PAC, another recent American “innovation.” These independent political action committees can raise


28 27 27 27 27 27 26 26 26 25 25 25 25 25 24 23

Honduras Kyrgyzstan Laos Myanmar Paraguay Guinea Iran Lebanon Mexico Papua New Guinea Russia Comoros Guatemala Kenya Mauritania Nigeria Bangladesh Central African Republic Uganda Azerbaijan Cameroon Madagascar Nicaragua Tajikistan Eritrea Mozambique

132 132 132 132 132 138 138 138 138 138 138 144 144 144 144 144 149 149 149 152 152 152 152 152 157 158

23 22 20 20 20 20 19 19 19 18 18 17 17 16 16 16 16 14 14 13 13 10

Uzbekistan Zimbabwe Cambodia Democratic Republic of the Congo Haiti Turkmenistan Angola Chad Congo Iraq Venezuela Burundi Libya Afghanistan Equatorial Guinea Guinea Bissau Sudan Korea, North Yemen South Sudan Syria Somalia

158 160 161 161 161 161 165 165 165 168 168 170 170 172 172 172 172 176 176 178 178 180

This work from Transparency International (2019) is licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0

No data


taxpayers and working people. “Since then, there hasn’t been a sense that things are really changing,” said Reiter.

129 129 132

29 29 29 29 29 28 28 28 28 28


SCORE Highly Corrupt

105 105 105 105 105 105 105 105 114 114 114 117 117 117 120 120 120 120 124 124 124 124 124 129

unlimited amounts of money to donate to a political cause in hopes of influencing the election, but they aren’t allowed to donate directly to a campaign. They sprang up like mushrooms after the Supreme Court’s now infamous Citizens United decision in 2010, when justices voted five to four that political spending is protected speech under the First Amendment, which means the government could not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections. Spending by labor unions and companies did “not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption” so long as it was not done in concert or coordination with a political candidate’s campaign, the Supreme Court

held. Prior to Citizens United, the amount an individual could give to a candidate or cause was limited to $2,500, and corporations and unions could give nothing. But the 2010 decision opened the floodgates to unfettered spending. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, corporations and other entities spent more than $800 million in the 2012 election cycle, including political activity by tax-exempt “dark money” organizations that don’t have to disclose their donors. The Adelsons also donated over $20 million to help Trump get elected in 2016. Then, in 2018, Miriam Adelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor conferred by the U.S. The Israeli-American physician

and philanthropist shared the coveted award with the likes of Elvis Presley, baseball great Babe Ruth and the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Her inclusion on the list of recipients drew ridicule and scorn, and “gobsmacked so many,” wrote Washington journalist and commentator Robert Schlesinger. Adelson getting the award “perfectly captures the crassly transactional nature of Donald Trump and his presidency,” Schlesinger wrote in a Nov. 16, 2018, article for NBC News. “The only person who gave more money to Trump’s presidential run, according to the Center for Public Integrity, was the Donald himself…. It pays to play: Not only is Miriam Adelson getting the medal, but Trump personally lobbied Japanese Prime Min-

ister Shinzo Abe on Sheldon Adelson’s behalf for a casino license.”


Which leads us neatly to the second strike against America on TI’s corruption list: pay-to-play. This is defined as paying for access to politicians or government contracts, or in more succinct language, as bribery or greasing palms. Pay-to-play is becoming more and more commonplace in today’s America, although it often happens on the quiet, through a back door. For instance, a report published by USA Today in September 2017 found that businesspeople and lobbyists are gaining access to Trump by becoming members of his golf clubs. In August 2018, a







The CPI scores 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and businesspeople.







Since 2012





Since 2012






Since 2014

Since 2015

































13/100 10/100 0





2013 to 2018. A PERFECT SCOREPrior to that, he served four terms in the House and three in the Senate. HIGHESTfor SCORINGResponsive REGION According to the Center Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research WESTERN EUROPE & EUROPEAN UNION group that tracks money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy, the number of lobbyists who went through the /100 revolving door on CapitolAVERAGE HillREGIONAL doubled beSCORE




tween theDEMOCRACY 111th and 112th Congress — the CRISIS OF one that was seated after the Republican Party SINCEback 2006, control 113 COUNTRIES SEEN took of the HAVE House inA the 2010 DECLINE IN THEIR DEMOCRACY SCORES* midterms. WHEN WE TALK ABOUT DEMOCRACY WE MEAN: Of course, that was well before Trump promised in his campaign to drain the swamp of Washington insiders. In January 2017, Trump took what might be seen as a step to fulfill that promise when he signed an executive that lobbyists take a POLITICAL RIGHTS, who CIVIL RIGHTS, FREE ANDorder FAIR STRONG barred AND LIKE RIGHT TO LIKE ACCESS TO A ELECTIONS INDEPENDENT government job from participating PROTEST FAIR for TRIAL two INSTITUTIONS years in matters they had lobbied for while in public service. It also banned Trump appoinBeating corruption is crucial to healthy CORRUPTION UNDERMINES DEMOCRACY tees from lobbying for five years after leaving democracy. There are no full democracies that score below 50 on the CPI. Similarly, the administration. very few countries which have autocratic *Freedom House

characteristics score higher than 50.

This work from Transparency International (2019) is licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0

Neither ban appears to be working, though, perhaps because the order included waiver exemptions or maybe because it’s just not being enforced. “The data show former lobbyists in various roles throughout the federal bureaucracy and often working for agencies they once lobbied, which appears counter to the spirit of Trump’s edict,” writes the Center for Responsive Politics.


It’s scant consolation that the U.S. isn’t the SEE COR R UPT ION • PAGE 14












The index offers an annual snapshot of perceived public sector corruption by ranking countries from all over the globe.

*In these six examples, we report the year between 2012 and 2018 from which the score change is statistically significant

SINCE 2017



Since its inception in 1995, the Corruption Perceptions Index, Transparency International’s flagship publication, is the leading global indicator of public sector corruption.




Since 2013




Since 2015






100 is very clean and 0 is highly corrupt
















CPI 2018

probe by independent news organization ProPublica found that three members of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida were exerting “sweeping influence” on policies at the Veterans Affairs Administration. Known as the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd,” the troika of Trump golf buddies sit on an informal council that “spoke with VA officials daily … reviewing all manner of policy and personnel decisions. They prodded the VA to start new programs, and officials travelled to Mar-a-Lago at taxpayer expense to hear their views,” ProPublica wrote. None of the three has any experience in the military or in government. Meanwhile, the revolving door is spinning furiously in Washington since Trump’s arrival. Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is an example of this. The erstwhile lobbyist for a coal mining company was named deputy administrator of the EPA last year as thenAdministrator Pruitt sank deeper and deeper into a quagmire of scandal. Pruitt exited the agency in July 2018 and Wheeler was elevated to acting administrator. Some call this a reverse revolving door, although by their nature, revolving doors take people effortlessly in and out of buildings and, in many cases, cushy jobs. Usually, the person going through the door is leaving government for a private sector or lobbying gig, but the doors spit people out in both directions, and from both parties. For example, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) who was appointed by the governor of Arizona to replace Sen. John McCain after his death from brain cancer last year, lasted four months in government before leaving public service through the revolving door to return to the Covington & Burling law firm. Kyl was senior counsel for government affairs there from


Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2018 reveals that corruption is contributing to a crisis of democracy around the world.










16 Including:


The following countries have recently experienced a decline in the health of their democracies* and control of corruption.


Since 2013

Since 2012





9 Since 2012



Since 2015



Every dot in this graphic represents a country’s CPI score. The numbers in the circles represent the average CPI score for that political system. CÔTE D’IVOIRE








Since 2014

Since 2015








*From Freedom House

*In these six examples, we report the year between 2012 and 2018 from which the score change is statistically significant


Throughout the world, political leaders who run on a populist platform are gaining power and undermining democracy. High corruption rates can contribute to increased support for populist candidates.




*Tony Blair Institute for Global Change





In these countries, populist leaders campaigned against corruption, but they are threatening to undermine the same institutions they were elected to represent, paving the way for more corruption:

*Freedom House


Beating corruption is crucial to healthy democracy. There are no full democracies that score below 50 on the CPI. Similarly, very few countries which have autocratic characteristics score higher than 50.






Corruption CONTINUED • PAGE 13

only country that’s sliding away from democracy and deeper into corruption. TI notes there is a negative correlation between corruption and the health of democracy. “With many democratic institutions under threat across the globe — often by leaders with authoritarian or populist tendencies — we need to do more to strengthen checks and balances and protect citizens’ rights,” Patricia Moreira, managing director of Transparency International, said in a press release. “Corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions and, in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption.” In the EU, the region that boasts the highest average score on the Corruption Perceptions Index, Poland, for example, has shed three points in four years and was ranked 36th jointly with Slovenia in the 2018 Index — two spots lower than Israel and Botswana. Poland’s conservative government has interfered in the independence of both the judicial system and the media, says TI. “These acts serve to dismantle a system that enables checks and balances, which are vital to democracy and in the public’s best interests,” the global corruption watchdog said. Hungary has fallen by nine points over the last seven years. A litany of ills led to Hungary’s downslide, including the passage of legislation that imposed restrictions on “foreign-funded” NGOs, the criminalization of support for refugees, the expansion of the power of the minister of justice to appoint judges and accusations that Hungary misused EU funds. In Hungary and Poland, populist rhetoric has been used to discredit public scrutiny. “In both countries, democratic institutions and values are at risk,” said TI. The media has been used in both countries to portray groups opposed to the government as enemies of the nation, which “deepens existing divisions




Several of Trump’s Cabinet members have resigned due to ethics scandals such as splurging on taxpayer-funded perks, including, from left, Secretary of Heath and Human Services Tom Price, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

among citizens and takes public focus away from politicians.” America’s C-minus rating is, however, much better than the average score on the index. Two-thirds of the 180 countries and territories surveyed by TI scored below 50. The average score was an appalling 43, equivalent — if we keep the grade analogy going — to getting your name and the date wrong on a test and then not answering any of the questions. The vast majority of the countries assessed have made little or no progress against corruption, said TI. The countries at the bottom of the index — Somalia with 10 points and Syria and South Sudan with 13 points each — are wracked by insurgency or civil war. But those countries aren’t the U.S., which has long assumed the mantle of global leader on a number of fronts, including ethics in government. “Given the role of the U.S. in the world, it’s critical that we recoup lost ground and ensure that, at the highest levels of power, we’re modeling a much stronger commitment to ethical norms and integrity,” said Reiter. “We need effective controls against conflicts of interest at

the highest levels of power. We need to work toward greater transparency and disclosure regarding political spending. We need to protect and shore up our system of checks and balances on political power and guarantee free and fair elections for all Americans. And we can’t allow for unacceptable speech against our different branches,” added Reiter, referring to Trump’s repeated characterization of the Russia probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller as a witch hunt. That being said, Americans can thank the Trump presidency for helping to shine a light on what needs to be done to fight corruption. “I think it’s fair to say Trump’s presidency is illuminating the areas where we really need to push for change to ensure greater integrity and accountability of our elected officials,” said Reiter. WD Karin Zeitvogel (@Zeitvogel) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat. Managing editor Anna Gawel (@diplomatnews) contributed to this report.



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Battle for Venezuela Exclusive: Venezuela’s U.S.-Recognized Envoy Insists Democracy Will Triumph Over Dictatorship BY LARRY LUXNER


ess than two miles east of the shuttered Venezuelan Embassy in Georgetown, Carlos Alfredo Vecchio plots his country’s return to democracy. Working from a temporary office in a downtown D.C. office building, Vecchio, 49, is now Venezuela’s chargé d’affaires in the United States — at least according to Washington, not Caracas. His mission: nothing less than the immediate dismantling of the mafia state he says his country has become under the increasingly authoritarian presidency of Nicolás Maduro — and a return to normalcy led by Vecchio’s longtime friend and colleague, 35-year-old Interim President Juan Guaidó. “Our message is clear,” Vecchio told us. “This is about democracy versus dictatorship — the fight between the free world and the Maduro dictatorship, which is totally controlled by the Cuban regime. We are dealing with a criminal state. They’re involved in drug trafficking, money laundering and human rights abuses, and we need to end this now.” Ending Venezuela’s misery, however, will be a mammoth undertaking. Some 87 percent of its 30 million people now live in poverty. Hyperinflation could hit 10 million percent this year, with prices doubling every 19 days. Everything from medicine to clean water to electricity is in short supply. Venezuela’s homicide rate is now among the world’s highest. State oil monopoly Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), which manages the world’s biggest crude oil reserves — even more than Saudi Arabia — can no longer produce enough gasoline for domestic consumption because its refineries are working at only 20 percent capacity. More than 3 million desperate Venezuelans have fled, most of them emigrating to Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay, sparking a regional refugee crisis. Meanwhile, Maduro and his cronies are blocking desperately needed foreign aid from entering Venezuela, creating a standoff with the U.S.backed opposition at the border that could devolve into violence. Maduro has refused the aid deliveries, which he calls a U.S.-orchestrated ruse, despite the fact that his people have lost an average of 24 pounds in the last 12 months. Even assuming some aid delivery gets through, the plight of the Venezuelan people is set to worsen in the wake of sanctions that the Trump ad-


We have people on the streets, we have momentum, and we need to end the dictatorship…. They can prolong the agony but they won’t be able to stop the change. CARLOS ALFREDO VECCHIO

chargé d’affaires of the Venezuelan interim government to the U.S.

ministration slapped on the country’s oil exports. Trump has also insinuated that the U.S. might intervene militarily to topple Maduro, although talk of regime change has been met with fierce pushback, both at home and abroad. The administration is clearly hoping to pressure Venezuela’s military to switch sides, but so far, the military brass has largely stood behind its embattled president. That’s because the military, which is deeply intertwined in the country’s business interests, has as much to lose as Maduro does if a new government takes control. So for now, Maduro, 56, a former bus driver and union leader, still physically occupies the presidency. But that has not deterred a reinvigorated opposition from trying to unseat him. On Jan. 23, Guaidó invoked a constitutional provision to declare himself president after calling Maduro’s May 2018 re-election victory a sham.

He was immediately recognized as the country’s rightful leader by the United States, Canada, more than a dozen European nations, Israel, Australia, Japan and most of Latin America. Russia and China — Venezuela’s key backers — along with Cuba, Iran, Turkey and North Korea continue to support Maduro’s chaotic rule, while Mexico and Uruguay are instead calling for dialogue. “Latin America has played an important role as never before,” said Vecchio. “All the countries in the Lima Group have been clear in that Maduro is an illegitimate president.” Vecchio bases Maduro’s illegitimacy on the fact that under Venezuela’s constitution, when there is no elected president — which was the case because Maduro fraudulently won last year’s elections — it falls to the president of the National Assembly to take office in the interim. (The oppositionheld National Assembly is the only democratically elected institution in

Venezuela today, although Maduro created his own constituent assembly in 2017 to usurp its powers.) “We are starting from a point where Juan Guaidó is the president, and from there, we start the process of holding free and transparent elections,” Vecchio told Brendan O’Boyle of Americas Quarterly on Feb. 13. “We are not going to participate in a false dialogue…. After each dialogue every year since 2014 there have been more political prisoners and the economic crisis increases. So we are going to push forward our belief that the only thing that is up for negotiation is the date when Maduro leaves and that is it.”


Fluent in English and totally at ease speaking with reporters, Vecchio was born and raised in Caripe, a small town located about eight hours’ drive east of Caracas. He earned his law degree in 1992, the same year Hugo Chávez led an unsuccessful military coup for which he was imprisoned. Vecchio went on to win a Fulbright scholarship that enabled him to study at Georgetown, and later at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he earned a master’s in public administration and eventually returned to Venezuela to teach in public schools and gradually SEE VENEZ UEL A • PAGE 16 MARCH 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 15


Venezuela CONTINUED • PAGE 15

immerse himself in opposition politics. In 2009, he and two other men — Leopoldo López and Juan Guaidó — jointly founded the Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) party to oppose Chávez. When the president died in March 2013 at the age of 58 from cancer, his deputy, Maduro took over. In February 2014, López called for protests and the opposition leader was arrested shortly afterward. An arrest warrant was also issued for Vecchio, who fled to the United States and has been working ever since to rid Venezuela of Maduro and his government. “For many years, I have been working jointly with Guaidó to build a strong political organization in Venezuela. We have also been a key party within the [opposition] coalition [in the National Assembly], so I have a very close relationship with both [Guaidó and López],” Vecchio told us. “Thanks to this relationship, the National Assembly approved the decision of the interim president to appoint me as ambassador to the United States.” Vecchio hasn’t yet presented his diplomatic credentials to President Trump. Such a White House ceremony could occur “within weeks,” he said. Meanwhile, the State Department has given him a certificate granting him the right to assets and property in U.S. bank accounts of the Venezuelan government. “This is not a regular situation,” he said, claiming that diplomats loyal to Maduro stripped the Washington embassy of valuables on

their way out. “They dismantled everything, but we need to recover all of it legally because I want to have in the official record how we received those assets, to show the Venezuelan people what they did.” Until that happens, Vecchio’s movement, Visión Democrática, leases office space from the Inter-American Dialogue, a D.C. think tank that occupies most of the eighth floor of a 15th Street office building. Michael Shifter, president of the Dialogue, has known Vecchio for at least 10 years. He calls Venezuela’s new interim ambassador “extremely impressive and sharp,” and says he’ll play an important role for Guaidó in Washington. “I have a very high regard for Carlos Vecchio. He’s got the background, skills and temperament for the job,” Shifter told us. “He’s very committed to democratic transition, but he’s levelheaded and realistic, and he’s been in this fight for a long time.” Shifter, whose group hosted Vecchio for a Feb. 4 event, “Venezuela: Between Hope and Uncertainty,” said his friend will do well among both Democrats and Republicans. “He’s not going to be on one side or the other. He’ll try to build bridges and generate support,” he said. “There is clearly broad, bipartisan support for democratic transition in Venezuela, but this is a very polarized city, with a sort of reflex to be against whatever Trump tries to promote. There’s a lot of mistrust of Trump among Democrats … but Vecchio is the right person to navigate this political environment. He knows he needs the support of the Trump administration, and he also knows that the Dem-


At left, a man in the Venezuelan city of Maracaibo hauls a cart of bananas. Food shortages have become so acute in Venezuela that people have lost an average of 24 pound over the last year. Above, shelves sit empty in a Venezuela store in November 2013 following a decision by the government to force consumer electronic retail stores to sell products at much lower prices — weeks before municipal elections that returned the ruling party to power. This massive sale of goods caused shortages in the months that followed.


Cars drive below a barrio in Venezuela. Some 87 percent of the country’s 30 million people now live in poverty. On Jan. 23, Juan Guaidó, seen below, invoked a constitutional provision to become interim president after declaring Nicolás Maduro’s May 2018 re-election victory a sham.

ocrats control the House and that he really has to get bipartisan support.”


Vecchio also spoke Jan. 30 at the Atlantic Council, which has been very supportive of efforts to bring democracy to his country. “He’s off to a very good start,” said Jason Marczak, director of the council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. “He doesn’t have a full embassy team like other ambassadors have. But he’s eloquent and articulate, and he’s able to maneuver in different circles. It’s clear just from the limited time he’s been in this role how well he’s able to work on a bipartisan basis among different constituencies.” Part of Vecchio’s role, said Marczak, will be to educate


lawmakers about the damage Chávez and Maduro have inflicted on Venezuela — “folks like Bernie Sanders and others on the Hill who have started becoming critical of U.S. policy there.” While much of the criticism has come from the Democratic side, Republi-

cans have also been wary of Trump’s willingness to consider a military intervention. Last year, the administration even held secret meetings with “rebellious military officers from Venezuela” who were hoping to depose Maduro, according to a Sept. 8 report in The New York Times.

But on Capitol Hill, there appears to be little appetite for a foreign invasion. “I do worry about the president’s saber rattling, his hints that U.S. military intervention remains an option,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said during a recent hearing on Venezuela. “I want to make clear to our witnesses and to anyone else watching: U.S. military intervention is not an option.” The choice of Elliott Abrams — a key architect of the U.S. invasion of Iraq — to become the administration’s point man on Venezuela, however, amplified concerns that Washington’s true aim is to seek regime change in Venezuela by force. Rep. Ilhan Omar (DMinn.) ripped Abrams apart during a testy Feb. 13 House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, where the newly minted lawmaker confronted Abrams over his role in the Iran-Contra scandal and his support for right-wing governments in Central America during the 1980s. At one point, she asked Abrams whether he would “support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide if you believed they were serving U.S. interests, as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador or Nicaragua?” Rep. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wasted no time hitting back at Omar on Twitter, suggesting that “an apologist for the murderous Maduro regime and serial anti-semitic tweeter has no standing to attack anyone on human rights.” Yet even Rubio, a prominent anti-Cuba hawk, has hedged on the issue of whether the U.S. should in-

vade Venezuela. And despite the heated rhetoric, administration officials may be open to dialogue, according to a Feb. 15 Associated Press report in which Maduro said his foreign minister recently held secret talks in New York with Abrams. But experts worry that if anything happens to Guaidó, all bets are off. Another concern is that when U.S. sanctions begin to bite and conditions in the country deteriorate, Venezuela could spiral into violence. On the flip side, if the crisis drags on, the opposition could lose its momentum and peter out. Amid these fears, the interim government has appealed to Socialist Party officials to defect and join a transition government. Vecchio insists his government supports only a “peaceful transition” of power, and most Beltway pundits say they have no reason to suspect otherwise. “This is one of the few issues where there is general agreement,” said Marczak, noting that U.S. sanctions against the Maduro regime are only effective as long as they’re done in cooperation with Latin American and European allies. “As the situation develops, it’s critical that Venezuela does not become a wedge partisan issue, and that those on the extremes of either party do not dominate the airwaves.”

Venezuela at a Glance Independence Day July 5, 1811 (from Spain) Location Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana

Flag of Venezuela

Capital Caracas Population 31.6 million (July 2018 estimate) Ethnic groups Unspecified Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African, indigenous people

GDP growth -14 percent (2017 estimate)

Religious groups Nominally Roman

Population below poverty line 19.7 percent

Catholic 96 percent, Protestant 2 percent, other 2 percent

GDP (purchasing power parity) $381.6 billion (2017 estimate)

GDP per-capita (PPP) $12,500 (2017 estimate)

Unemployment 27.1 percent (2017 estimate) (2015 estimate)


Industries Agricultural products, livestock,

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is portrayed as a puppet of Cuba’s Fidel Castro during anti-government protests in 2014.

raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, iron and steel products, crude oil and petroleum products SOURCE: CIA WORLD FACTBOOK


Of paramount importance, Vecchio said, is putting Venezuela’s tattered economy back on the path to recovery. Oil sales, which accounts for 95 of the country’s export revenues, have fallen from an annual high of 3.5 million barrels a day in 1998 to about 1.2 million barrels in 2018 — the lowest level in 28 years. The country will be squeezed further as U.S. oil sanctions imposed on Jan. 28 by the Trump administration take effect. Any money going to PDVSA will be frozen in U.S. accounts. According to The New York Times, these penalties are likely to block $7 billion in assets and cause $11 billion in export losses over the next year for Venezuela’s government. These sanctions could theoretically break the cash-starved regime because over 40 percent of Venezuela’s oil exports go to the U.S., and American refiners are among the few customers that pay cash for Venezuela’s oil (whereas shipments to China and Russia go toward repaying Venezuela’s debt). Maduro has long accused the U.S. of waging an “economic war” that, among other things, choked off foreign investment to his country. But economists say Venezuela’s wounds are self-inflicted. Chávez used the country’s energy wealth to fund an ambitious socialist revolution — one that collapsed under the weight of tumbling oil prices and interventionist economic policies. Maduro continued many of those ruinous policies — among them, price controls to contain capital flight; printing money to finance a yawning fiscal deficit; replacing the technocrats in charge of PDVSA with loyalists and inexperienced military managers; and raiding PDVSA’s coffers to cover government’s overspending. Recovery will now be that much harder because of the damage done to the country’s oil monopoly, once considered one of the best-run companies in Latin America. “They have destroyed PDVSA,” said Vecchio, noting that the conglomerate is now rife with mismanagement and corruption. “We want to open our oil sector to domestic and foreign investment. We will need the private sector; there is no way to do it without them. Otherwise, the oil will stay in the ground, and poverty will remain above ground. We need to create revenues. We must also renegotiate our foreign debt, re-


Above, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro speaks to the Supreme Court — which is stacked with Maduro loyalists — during his second inauguration in January 2019 following an election last May that was widely seen as flawed and unfair. Below, Maduro waves to the crowd with Diosdado Cabello Rondón, former speaker of the National Assembly, to his right. Cabello has been accused of corruption, drug trafficking and nepotism.


open and restart our economy.” That means repaying an estimated $65 billion to foreign bondholders, which Vecchio says will only happen with a change of government. The country will also require a Marshall Plan-type recovery package involving the World Bank, the IMF, the InterAmerican Development Bank and possibly the Organization of American States.


But that change of government can only happen with the support of the armed forces. In late January, Venezuela’s military attaché in Washington, Col. José Luís Silva, defected and declared his support for Guaidó, prompting the Maduro regime to immediately accuse Silva of “treason and cowardice.”

Whether more defections will follow remains to be seen. Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, said this depends, to some degree, on actions taken by Trump, who has so far refused to take military options off the table. “I don’t see Maduro leaving peacefully,” Farnsworth told the Miami Herald on Feb. 4. “He’s not going to wake up with an epiphany, he’s going to have to be forced out. If it happens, it’s going to be by Venezuelans … members of the security forces or members of his own coalition, if they see him as ineffective.” But Chávez purged the military shortly after he came to power and shrewdly stacked it with left-wing loyalists. He also rewarded top military officers with plum government posts and control of key industries such as oil, mining and food distribution — lucrative holdings that they would lose if Maduro were ousted. The military has also been accused of widespread abuses, including arbitrary killings. While Guaidó has pledged amnesty for soldiers if they back his interim government, many are still fearful they could face repercussions under a new administration. In addition, the Atlantic Council’s Marczak said that thanks to years of Cuban government influence, Venezuela’s military is intentionally segmented into disjointed units not wholly integrated into one central force, in order to prevent uprisings. “It’s not monolithic,” he said. “There’s a difference between the 200 or so generals getting rich off Maduro’s corruption and all the soldiers struggling to feed their families. My hope is that the offers of humanitarian assistance will entice some soldiers to take a second look at their support of Maduro. President Guaidó needs more power, and that power will eventually come from support from the military.” Vecchio himself realizes this won’t be easy, but insists he sees light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. “We have people on the streets, we have momentum, and we need to end the dictatorship,” he said. “They can prolong the agony but they won’t be able to stop the change. We need to keep the pressure domestically, in Venezuela, using the National Assembly to facilitate a smooth transition. The majority of soldiers and troops are with us, because they have families, too, and they’re suffering the same thing ordinary people are feeling.” As for the dictator in Caracas, Vecchio warns that time is clearly running out. “If Maduro wants to leave the country, we’re open to that discussion,” he said. “But this option to negotiate his exit could close any time, and he knows it.” WD Tel Aviv-based journalist Larry Luxner is news editor of The Washington Diplomat.


WD | United States

Mutually Beneficial Exchange Marie Royce Promotes Power of Educational Exchange to Further America’s Interests BY AILEEN TORRES-BENNETT


arie Royce, wife of recently retired Rep. Ed Royce (RCalif.), former head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has carved out her own long career in business, academia and now government. President Trump nominated her to be the State Department’s assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs (ECA), and she sailed through her confirmation hearing with the unanimous backing of the Senate, leading to her swearing-in on March 30, 2018. Royce has spent more than 30 years working in the private sector for businesses ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Her international experience prior to the State Department includes being a business liaison to 80 countries and leading an international grant program between two universities as a former professor. A popular figure on the diplomatic circuit, Royce could often be seen at embassy receptions. Now, she still works closely with embassies and foreign governments, but with a focus on promoting U.S. foreign policy through educational, cultural and sports exchanges. And it’s kept her busy. She often stops by to deliver remarks at various functions, whether it’s the launch of the Women and Entrepreneurship International Visitor Leadership Program; the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue; the espnW: Women + Sports Summit; or hosting a Facebook Live panel discussion with Fulbright Program participants during International Education Week. The Fulbright Scholar Program is a cornerstone of the State Department’s education agenda. Roughly 1,600 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars and 900 visiting scholars receive Fulbright grants, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals. Approximately 370,000 Fulbright scholars have participated in the program since its inception in 1946. Royce often works with embassies to highlight Fulbright’s longstanding relationships with various countries such as Italy and Switzerland. In September, for example, she traveled to Britain, Greece and Finland to engage with their respective Fulbright commissions while also encouraging more U.S. students to study abroad. The Fulbright Program was one of the few education and cultural initiatives at State that wasn’t targeted for drastic cuts in Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget. But most of the proposed cuts



Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce speaks about the latest Open Doors report on international educational exchange at a briefing on Nov. 13, 2018.

[Educational] Exchanges have been around for more than 75 years because we have always had bipartisan support for the work we do. I am proud of that. I am also proud that nearly one in three world leaders today are alumni of our programs. That is a tremendous return on investment for our country. MARIE ROYCE, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs

to State Department funding never passed muster on Capitol Hill. While many Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including Royce’s husband Ed, agree that the State Department and USAID are overdue for reforms, they’ve consistently advocated for strengthening American diplomacy and shot down budget cuts that many viewed as draconian. As a result, most education programs at Foggy Bottom have remained intact, giving Royce a strong mandate. She took time out of her busy schedule to answer questions about her role as an assistant secretary at State. THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT: How does your previous experience

play into your current role? MARIE ROYCE: My experience as a former corporate executive and educator has translated very well into my current role as assistant secretary of state. At the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, we facilitate exchange programs that range from professional exchanges to cultural exchanges. At the core of our exchanges is creating people-to-people connections. I’ve had many opportunities to interact with classroom and exchange participants at an organic level, where my skills as an educator have been useful. I treasure my time as an educator, and I fully understand the power of education in diplomacy.

As a former corporate executive, I had to manage and interact with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and nationalities. At the State Department, that is also a crucial part of the everyday job. From our program officers to ambassadors, I have the opportunity to meet someone new and learn something new each day. Additionally, I am an exchange participant alumna myself. In 2001, I traveled to Poland and Hungary through the American Council for Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) exchange program. I joined colleagues from different ends of the political spectrum and from different parts of the country on one of the first trips overseas following 9/11. By the end of the trip, we were a united group. I still

keep in touch with my ACYPL colleagues today. The impact that exchange programs have in the lives of participants is immeasurable.

skills needed to thrive in male-dominated fields such as STEM through TechWomen or promoting inclusion for people with disabilities through Sport for Community, our team seeks to ensure our programs are allencompassing.

TWD: You were sworn into office at the end of March 2018, so it’s been a relatively short period of time. What was the learning curve you had to master? MR: Educational and cultural exchanges are often some of the first engagements that the United States has when establishing diplomatic relations with another country. Of course, there are always challenges when you start a new role. But I am looking forward to promoting the new initiatives we are spearheading in the bureau. The goals for my bureau include advancing American foreign policy objectives, increasing Americans’ global competitiveness, countering disinformation and radicalization, encouraging strong civil society institutions and ensuring our programs are effective. I’m told it’s the most comprehensive strategy ever written by the bureau. TWD: Your portfolio is educational and cultural affairs. That covers a lot. What are you focusing on in these areas? MR: I am very enthusiastic about promoting and strengthening the department’s cultural and educational diplomacy efforts on a global platform. As you mentioned, this is a great responsibility, and given the administration’s America First approach to foreign policy, my team and I are keen to showcase how ECA’s exchange programs are beneficial to Ameri-

TWD: If you work under a tightened budget, what do you prioritize?


Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce participates in an October 2018 luncheon for TechWomen, which brings emerging women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central and South Asia and the Middle East together with their professional counterparts in the United States.

can citizens. When exchange students are visiting the United States, the money they spend in local communities helps to boost the economy. In fact, 97 percent of our budget goes to American organizations and businesses. Additionally, our programs foster mutual understanding between participating countries, which results in making our homeland more peaceful and secure. I am really passionate about all of our programs. We have flagship exchanges such

as Fulbright and the International Visitor Leadership Program that are our focus, but we’ve also been exploring new and innovative ways to connect people around the globe. I’m particularly excited about the Stevens Initiative, which is a virtual exchange program that connects U.S. students with young people at universities in the Middle East and North Africa to build career and global competence skills. I am also very focused on diversity. Whether it’s providing women with the

MR: As assistant secretary, I have to ensure that the bureau is able to respond quickly and positively when there is a foreign policy challenge or a diplomatic opportunity. Exchanges have been around for more than 75 years because we have always had bipartisan support for the work we do. I am proud of that. I am also proud that nearly one in three world leaders today are alumni of our programs. That is a tremendous return on investment for our country. No matter what budget we receive, we will continue to focus on proven programs for American and foreign young leaders, professionals and students that have both the scope and flexibility to serve the U.S. national interest. ECA was the first bureau in the State Department to establish a full-time evaluation office, and I am committed to a culture of measurement and accountability to the American taxpayer. TWD: What are the highlights so far of your job? MR: I have experienced so many great moments thus far. I’m honored to work alongSEE R OYCE • PAGE 20



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TWD: What do you hope to accomplish overall in your position?

me first. If you look at my calendar, there is barely a moment when I am not meeting with someone. And that’s what I want people to take away, that I am passionate about exchanges because exchanges matter to foreign policy. Exchanges are in the national interest. This year, we launched five new exchanges in the area of religious freedom, because that is an enduring priority. These exchanges focus on religious pluralism in the United States and the protection of minority populations. I want ECA programs to be representative of the diversity of American political, social and cultural life. Through all of our exchanges, we must keep our eye on the prize: promoting American leadership and furthering American values and foreign policy goals. And I hope to expand our work to promote American prosperity. We are increasing the global skills of Americans and furthering the reach of U.S. businesses and institutions through several existing, and some new, programs. My goal is to continue to form more publicprivate partnerships over the next couple of years. As we do, exchanges will expand, and the State Department will be helping American companies meet the future leaders of tomorrow. WD

MR: My team will tell you that I try not to let a U.S. ambassador leave Washington without meeting with

Aileen Torres-Bennett is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.


side the extraordinary men and women of the bureau that work tirelessly to further our mission. It has been rewarding to travel around the globe to meet with stakeholders and program alumni to discuss the impact of our exchange programs, best practices and to share new ideas. The highlight of my trip to Thessaloniki, Greece, was attending the Digital Communicators Network Influencers Forum, where I engaged with participants on the importance of creating networks to combat disinformation. It was energizing to meet so many people who care so passionately about their countries’ futures. I was particularly honored to participate in the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the U.S.U.K. Fulbright Commission in September at Parliament. This partnership has made history by producing 13 Nobel Laureates, three members of the U.S. Congress, at least seven members of the British Parliament, six MacArthur fellows and 22 Pulitzer Prize winners. During the event, the U.K. announced that they would increase their financial contribution to the Fulbright partnership, and we were pleased to announce a new


Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce, center, celebrates with participants of the 2018 Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Mid-Year Conference in December 2018. Over 400 FLTAs from 55 countries, teaching at 178 U.S. higher education institutions, convened in Washington, D.C., to participate in workshops and share their experiences.

Fulbright public-private partnership between the Smithsonian Institution and the British Fulbright Commission that will support a new Fulbright award for British participants — the FulbrightSmithsonian Scholar Award in Human Health and Wellbeing. I was also honored that Ivanka Trump has helped us support the

work of the bureau, and that we could have several strategy sessions together. She has made videos for us, including our Young African Leaders Program, and met with several groups of amazing women participants, including the Trafficking in Persons Report Heroes and the Fortune-State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Part-

nership. We look forward to working with her on projects to empower women around the globe.


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Balkans | WD

War Wounds Kosovo’s U.N. Envoy Fights for Recognition Amid Ongoing Feud with Serbia BY LARRY LUXNER


RISTINA, Kosovo — Teuta Sahatqija, Kosovo’s envoy to the U.N., lives every day with bitter memories of the war that ripped her country apart 20 years ago. On April 5, 1999, Sahatqija fled her home in the village of Gjakova with her husband and their four children — ranging in age from 4 to 10 — as neighbors’ houses were burning and corpses littered the streets. “I found myself in the middle of the road with all the kids, not knowing where to go,” she said. “Without food or security, we were forced to flee through the mountains, and ended up in Albania — first in Krumë, a town near the border, then to Tirana. Up until today, so many families don’t know where their loved ones are.” Some 13,500 people are believed to have been killed during the two-year conflict between Serbia and its former restive province, while over 1 million Kosovars were displaced. According to Kosovo government statistics, 1,641 people are still missing. “Serbia knows where their bodies are, but they are not releasing that information,” Sahatqija claimed. “Unfortunately, it’s a matter of politics.” These days, politics and the ghosts of the past pretty much define the life of Sahatqija, a seasoned diplomat who according to her country’s protocol carries the rank of ambassador, but whose official title is consul general of Kosovo in New York. “Kosovo is a special case,” she explained in an interview in Pristina, her nation’s capital city. “Regardless of the title, every nation knows what our true mission is.” Sahatqija’s objective: to get as many nations as possible to establish diplomatic relations with Kosovo, and have her small, struggling country admitted to the U.N. — and eventually NATO and the European Union as well. In the 11 years since Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia, 116 nations have recognized Kosovo, including 23 of the European Union’s 28 members. But five EU member states — Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Spain and Slovakia — still refuse to establish ties with Kosovo. Russia, China, India, Iran, Israel and, of course, Serbia have all given Kosovo the cold shoulder. So has Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, even though 95 percent of Kosovo’s 1.8 million inhabitants profess Islam. Some countries have held back recognition of Kosovo in solidarity with Serbia and the Orthodox Church; others because of the precedent it would


A banner next to the Kosovo Parliament building in Pristina calls on Serb authorities to open the sealed archives on the fate of Kosovars who disappeared during the ethnic cleansing campaign of the late 1990s.

It’s been almost 20 years since the liberation of Kosovo and 11 years since our declaration of independence…. We need full, complete normalization of relations with all our neighbors.


consul general of Kosovo in New York

set with regards to secessionist movements in their own countries. “It’s been almost 20 years since the liberation of Kosovo and 11 years since our declaration of independence,” Sahatqija said. “We need full, complete normalization of relations with all our neighbors, and for Kosovo to have full access to all international organizations.” We caught up with the 56-year-old former lawmaker at a café down the street from Kosovo’s parliament, where, until moving to New York two and a half years ago, she served for more than a decade representing her party, the Democratic League of Kosovo. In addition to her native Albanian, Sahatqija is also fluent in English, Serbian, French, Turkish and Italian. She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electronic engineering from the University of Pristina.

Sahatqija frequently meets with other countries’ ambassadors to the U.N. and often attends receptions hosted by countries that have already recognized Kosovo. Despite the lack of direct communication between Sahatqija and her Serbian counterpart at the U.N., she said, “I have a lot of friends in Serbia, and when I was a member of parliament, I initiated a dialogue with women parliamentarians from Serbia.” She hopes that “the second Kosovo is admitted to the U.N., our mission will change only its name, but our work will continue as before.”


But that won’t happen until Kosovo overcomes its bitter feud with neigh-

boring Serbia. One-third the size of Maryland, landlocked Kosovo was once an autonomous province of Serbia. In fact, during the Middle Ages, Kosovo was so central to Serbia’s cultural, diplomatic and religious life that it was known as the “Serbian Jerusalem.” Sahatqija’s own birthplace, Prizren — a quaint, compact city bisected by the picturesque Bistrica River flowing under graceful stone bridges — was the capital of the entire Serbian Empire in medieval times. But over the centuries, ethnic tensions gradually built up between the predominantly Orthodox Christian Serbs and Kosovo’s Muslim Albanian-speaking majority. During World War II and until the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Serbia was the largest of the six republics that SEE KOS OVO • PAGE 22 MARCH 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 21

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Rising Star, Setting Sun is a riveting new history that explores the complicated, poignant, and consequential transition of power from Dwight D. Eisenhower to John F. Kennedy. The exchange of leadership between the thirty-fourth and thirtyfifth presidents of the United States marked more than a succession of leaders. It symbolized—and triggered—a generational shift in American politics, policy, and culture. Drawing extensively from primary sources, including memoirs and memos of the time, Rising Star, Setting Sun paints a vivid picture of what Time called a "turning point in the twentieth century." Praise: "The presidential transition from Eisenhower to Kennedy starkly contrasted the parties, temperaments, and generations of the two leaders, yet the transfer of power proceeded amicably in the national interest. John Shaw's Rising Star, Setting Sun slips behind the veil of civility to take the measure of both men and assess their personal antagonisms." —Donald A. Ritchie, Historian Emeritus of the United States Senate and author of Electing FDR: The New Deal Campaign of 1932

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1/2 page vertical print 22 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MARCH 2019

—Donald A. Ritchie, Historian Emeritus in of the United States Senate and the KLA, resulting a quick, decisive vicauthor of Electing FDR: The New Deal Campaign of 1932

tory over Serb forces. Abadi argues that while brief U.S.-led military offensive Pegasusthe Books, hardcover, May 2018, ISBN: 9781681777320 has been largely forgotten by Americans, made up the Yugoslav federation. Following it marked a key inflection point in interthe bloodshed in the Balkans that saw the national politics, setting a precedent for 1/4 page print disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, future interventions and widening the strongman Slobodan Milošević fought to schism between the West and Russia. “The war started a conversation about maintain Belgrade’s hold on Kosovo during humanitarian intervention that continues the 1998-99 war. But after NATO launched an intense aerial bombing campaign to to this day. The agonized policy debates in prevent a humanitarian disaster in Kosovo, recent years about entering Syria and Libya Serb forces were driven out and the area fell to oppose brutal dictators are reprisals of concerns first raised in the Balkans,” he under U.N. administration. wrote. “The Kosovo war also foreshadowed the return of great-power politics, spurring AMERICAN ADULATION the rise of revanchist nationalism in both It’s hard to overstate the enthusiasm Russia and China that the West contends average Kosovars feel for Americans giv- with today.” The issue of Kosovo continues to divide en their role in liberating their territory. Pristina’s main landmark is an 11-foot- Russia and China on the one hand and "EssentialClinton and entertaining reading." Western nations such as the U.S. on the high bronze statue of of President Over K. Serbian — and Russian — ob— a show of gratitude for the man who other.—Betty Koed, Historian launched the NATO bombing campaign jections, Kosovo seceded from Belgrade that paved the way for Kosovo’s indepen- in 2008. Animosity from the Balkan wars remains palpable, and while both Kosovo STAR, SETTING SUN: dence nine yearsRISING later. And in November 2017, Kosovo’s post and Serbia want to join the EU, Brussels Dwight D.featuring Eisenhower, John Kennedy, and therelations bothF. sides must normalize office issued a 2-euro stamp Rep. says Presidential Transition thatthey Changed America can join the bloc. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) — the first time in liv- before So today, Kosovo is a sovereign repubing memory a U.S. congressman has been so honored. As a lawmaker, Engel pushed lic with its own president, flag and stamps, Rising Star, Setting Sun is a rivhard for the Clinton administration to but not its own currency. Its people use the eting new historywho that explores intervene against Milošević, had en- euro, although Kosovo isn’t a member of complicated, poignant, and gaged in ethnicthe cleansing against the Kos- the eurozone or even the EU. consequential transition of powovars. er from Dwight D. Eisenhower to While Serb forces were guilty of comJohn F. Kennedy. mitting the majority of atrocities during POSSIBLE MILITARY the fighting, Kosovo is not completely ESCALATION The exchange of leadership blameless, either. The Kosovo Liberation between the thirty-fourth and In 2013, the two Balkan neighbors Army (KLA), which prompted Milosevic’s thirty-fifth presidents of made tentative steps toward reconciliacrackdown by the launching an insurrection United States marked more to secede from Serbia and create a “Great- tion, agreeing not to block the other’s path than a succession of leaders. er Albania,” hasItalso been accused of war toward EU membership. But ongoing dissymbolized—and triggered— crimes. That includes gruesome crimes agreements have largely derailed those efa generational shift in American against Serbs, including theand alleged politics, policy, culture.trad- forts. Most recently, Kosovo slapped a tariff of ing of organs harvested from prisoners of 100 percent on Serbian goods in response war. Drawing extensively from While the allegations against the now- to Belgrade’s efforts to block Kosovo from primary sources, including disbanded KLAmemoirs do notand risememos to theoflevel the of joining international organizations such as those lobbed at time, SerbRising forces, theSetting KLA’sSun own Interpol. Star, paints a vivid of what Another dispute erupted in late Decemspotty track record gave U.S.picture officials pause Timeover calledwhether a "turningto point during the debate inter- ber when Kosovo’s parliament approved vene in the the twentieth century." the creation a 5,000-man standing army, “U.S. officials were aware that moralistic along with 3,000 reservists, over the next rhetoric cloaked political risks: Intelligence decade. agencies privately KLA Serbian Vučić "Johnwarned Shaw's that Risingthe Star, Setting Sun slips President behind theAleksandar veil of civility to said was trying to provoke Serbian of massacres theassess movetheir violated international law and take the measure both men and personal antagonisms." in hopes of persuading support warned that it could a military —Donald Ritchie, Historian Emeritus of the Unitedprovoke States Senate and reits bid for independence,” wrote Cameron sponse byThe Belgrade, if 1932 the newly author of Electing FDR: New Dealespecially Campaign of

formed army targets the remaining Serbs in Kosovo, who number around 120,000 in an otherwise ethnic Albanian population of 1.8 million. Sahatqija countered that her country’s military plans don’t represent a threat to anyone. “Why should Serbia be concerned that Kosovo has an army?” she asked. “Each and every sovereign state has its own army. Under our constitution, we are not allowed to fight foreign wars, so our army is for protection, and that should be an added value to all neighboring countries, and to NATO.” The U.S. ambassador to Kosovo agreed that it is “only natural” for a sovereign state to have an army to defend itself, but NATO officials disagree. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted after the announcement that he regrets “the decision to initiate a change of the Kosovo Security Force mandate was made despite the concerns expressed by NATO.”


Many experts say it’s unlikely that Kosovo — or Serbia, which maintains its own 28,000-strong army — will want to start a confrontation that would trigger a response from NATO. But many ex-


Teuta Sahatqija, Kosovo’s envoy to the U.N., hails from Prizren, a quaint, compact city that was the capital of the entire Serbian Empire in medieval times.

perts worry that another proposal, ostensibly aimed at resolving tensions in the region, could wind up exacerbating them. Last June, Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaçi floated the idea of “correcting borders” in exchange for settling the issue of Kosovo’s statehood. This would likely en-

tail Pristina giving Serbia control over a Serb-populated province in northern Kosovo. In return, Serbia would cede control of three Serbian municipalities in the strategically important Preševo Valley that are inhabited mainly by ethnic Albanians. U.S. and EU officials were ini-

tially receptive to the controversial land swap deal, which supporters say offers a practical solution to a seemingly intractable problem. But others, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are alarmed by the prospect of redrawing borders along ethnic lines. They warn that carving up

territory based on ethnicity not only sets a dangerous precedent for the world, but in particular for a region where ethnic grievances have fueled some of history’s most devastating conflicts. Sahatqija declined to comment on the ongoing “land swap” talks, which have since largely stalled. “I wouldn’t enter into a conversation about what this dialogue can bring,” Sahatqija said, declining to speculate on whether Kosovo and Serbia will make a deal. “It is up to both countries and the EU, with U.S. help, to find an agreement that is suitable for both parties.” Yet not all Kosovars (or Serbs for that matter) favor such an exchange of territories. Some don’t want to give up territory or be uprooted from their homes, while others say it may open a Pandora’s box in the Balkans, reigniting old wounds in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia. Agron Bajrami, editor in chief of Koha Ditore, Kosovo’s leading newspaper, called the proposed land swap just another form of ethnic cleansing. “It could turn into a nightmare,” he wrote in an October 2018 article for The Guardian. “This land swap would result in fewer Serbs living in Kosovo and fewer Albanians in SEE KOS OVO • PAGE 45

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WD | Medical

Expanding Epidemic Research Shows that Obesity-Linked Cancers Are On the Rise Among Young Americans BY STEVEN REINBERG


s more young American adults struggle with extra weight, they are paying an even steeper price as the rates of obesity-related cancers rise in this age group. Obesity has already been linked to rising rates of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and knee replacements. Now, new research suggests cancer can be added to that list, and the rate of obesity-related cancers is certain to keep climbing among those ages 25 to 49, researchers report. “The fact that increases were mostly in obesity-related cancers is due to the obesity epidemic, and we would expect that the incidence would increase as this younger population ages,” said lead researcher Dr. Ahmedin Jemal. He is scientific vice president for surveillance and health services research at the American Cancer Society. In fact, these cancers are rising faster among younger adults than older folks, and that could stall or reverse years of progress in reducing cancer deaths, the study authors said. To try to curb the trend of rising cancers among the obese, Jemal thinks that primary care doctors need to screen all their patients for obesity. Family doctors also need to counsel patients to lose weight. Although screening for most of these cancers isn’t available or useful for younger patients, colon cancer is an exception, Jemal said. Last year, the American Cancer Society lowered the age to start colon cancer screening for people at average risk from 50 to 45. Communities, too, need to take actions to promote healthy lifestyles, Jemal suggested. These can include mandating calorie counts on prepared foods and restaurant meals, and restricting sales of sugar-sweetened drinks. In addition, communities can provide more opportunities for people to exercise by creating bike and walking paths. According to the study, the cancer incidence increases were particularly severe in six of the 12 obesity-related cancers. These include cancers of the colon, uterine, gallbladder, kidney and pancreas, and multiple myeloma — a bone marrow cancer. Jemal’s team looked at 18 other types of cancer, but only two showed a similar increase, while eight cancers related to smoking showed a drop, and the rest remained stable. For the study, the researchers analyzed data from 25 state cancer registries that cover 67 percent of the U.S. population. The investigators looked at 30 of the most common cancer types, including 12 obesity-related cancers, diagnosed from 1995 through 2014. Incidence of multiple myeloma and cancers of the colon, uterus, gallbladder, kidney, pancreas and thyroid increased in younger adults, the findings showed. For example, the average annual rate for pancreatic cancer was about 1 percent in those ages 40 to 84; 1.3 percent in those ages 35 to 39; nearly 3 percent in those ages 30 to 34; and 4 percent among those ages 25 to 29. Over the six types of obesity-related cancers, the 24 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MARCH 2019


The fact that increases were mostly in obesityrelated cancers is due to the obesity epidemic, and we would expect that the incidence would increase as this younger population ages. DR. AHMEDIN JEMAL

scientific vice president for surveillance and health services research at the American Cancer Society

annual increase ranged from less than 1 percent in uterine cancer to 3 percent for kidney cancer among those ages 45 to 49, and from 1 percent for multiple myeloma up to 6 percent for kidney cancer among those ages 25 to 29. However, although the rates are increasing faster among young adults, the overall rate is lower than among older adults, according to the report.

LEARN MORE: For more on cancer and obesity, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute at

The rate of breast cancer, also obesity-related, has not changed in young women. It could be that some types of breast cancer are on the rise while others are in decline, the researchers suggested. Other factors, such as changes in screening age and age at first pregnancy and number of children, might also play a role. These findings seem to reflect the obesity epidemic that has been raging for 40 years, the study authors said. In the United States, the rate of obesity more than doubled between 1984 and 2014. Obesity is one of the most preventable causes of cancer. About one in 12 cancer cases in the United States are caused by excess weight, the researchers noted. Obesity is an emerging risk factor that is driving a number of important cancers, said Elizabeth Platz, a scholar in cancer prevention at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore, Md. Platz believes the problem is so vast that targeting individuals won’t make a dent in the obesity epidemic. She also doesn’t think that a magic pill to lose weight, if one existed, is a good approach. Going down that path could lead to a host of new problems and side effects, Platz said. “Changes have to happen at a societal level,” she suggested. “What this study is showing is that it’s generations of people.” Cultural change — getting people to eat less and exercise more — is needed, she explained. “We need the political will,” Platz said. The report was published online Feb. 4 in The Lancet Public Health. WD Steven Reinberg is a HealthDay reporter. Copyright 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Luxury Living A Special Section of The Washington Diplomat

March 2019


Sticker Shock

In 2017, AOL co-founder Steve Case sold his Merrywood estate, seen above and below, for $49.5 million. Last May, it sold for $43 million — a record at the time — to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia.

Luxury Home Prices in D.C. Area Hit Record Highs •


hose of us who pay rent or mortgages in the D.C. metro area don’t have to be told that things can get pricey here. But “pricey” is going to a whole new level. Properties with price tags of $23 million and even $62 million are redefining high-end living for area real estate. When a 48,900-square-foot residence previ-



ously owned by AOL co-founder James Kimsey went up for sale last spring for $62.95 million, it set a new record for the most expensive home. It has features such as an infinity pool and 30-car garage, plus a guest house that architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed. SEE RECO RD P RI CE S • PAGE 28


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Record Prices CONTINUED • PAGE 26

In 2017, another AOL co-founder, Steve Case, sold his Merrywood estate on the market for $49.5 million. The 23,000-squarefoot home, built around 1919, was the childhood home of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The seven-acre property has indoor and outdoor pools, a lighted tennis court and nine bedrooms, to name a few amenities. It sold last May for $43 million — a record at the time — to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia. “Those are just enormous numbers for us here. Those are New York, Miami, L.A. numbers,” said Jonathan Taylor, founder and managing partner at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. Driving these digits is the influx of not just political figures but industry ones, too. “We’re starting to see some bigger money come here, like Jeff Bezos, for example,” Taylor said. Last year, the Amazon founder paid $23 million for the biggest house in D.C., a 27,000-square-foot property that used PHOTOS: GORDON BEALL / TTR | SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY to be the Textile Museum (which he’s currently renovating and expanding for The Falls estate, seen above, went up for sale Those are just enormous numbers last spring for $62.95 million, setting a new a price tag of $12 million). record for the most expensive home in the for us here. Those are New York, Bezos announced last November region. It even came with a guest house that plans to build a second Amazon headarchitect Frank Lloyd Wright designed, below. Miami, L.A. numbers. quarters in Crystal City, Va., and all eyes Beyond the record-breakers, the price of highhave turned to how that could affect the end homes in the area has been generally JONATHAN TAYLOR housing market. (In February, Amazon trending upward. announced it was pulling out of the founder and managing partner at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty ter of 2010, according to real estate brokerage second headquarters location in New Redfin. In McLean, Va., the average luxury York City after local protests, although price point for the quarter was $3.97 million, the decision will have no impact on the followed by $3.15 million in Chevy Chase Crystal City move.) and $2.56 million in Bethesda, Md. Since then, home searches from What’s more, there’s no sign of a real estate technology hubs nationwide into Crysmarket slowdown in the metro area. Washtal City spiked over 700 percent, acington home values have risen 5.9 percent in cording to real estate firm Trulia. The the past year and will rise 5.6 percent within biggest concentration — 33 percent the next year, according to Zillow. D.C. ranks — of HQ2 employees will likely live in second in the country for the number of milFairfax, with Arlington coming in seclionaires per capita, while Maryland ranks ond at 16.4 percent and D.C. third at fourth and Virginia ranks 10th, according 13.2 percent, according to a report by to Phoenix Marketing International’s annual the Stephen S. Fuller Institute at George Phoenix Wealth & Affluent Monitor survey. Mason University. “New money — what we call flash cash The influx of 25,000 highly skilled money — has come to Washington,” said workers, many making six-figure salaMike Anastasia, a realtor with the Kilcullen ries, is likely to push up home prices Group, part of Long & Foster | Christie’s In— and possibly push out middle- or ternational. low-income residents. Already the D.C. “We were this stale, conservative town where nobody wanted to know what kind region is the fourth most expensive city in North America, according to The Economist. When Amazon set up shop in Seattle, home prices surged to double the national of money they had for the longest period of time throughout our history, and I think over the last six or seven years, as major corporations have moved in and more political average between 2010 to 2017, according to Metrostudy data. But experts caution that the arrival of the retail giant to the nation’s capital won’t power has come to Washington, I think you’ve seen people who had money in other necessarily cause home prices to skyrocket. For one thing, those additional 25,000 jobs places are now moving to Washington with it, and they don’t mind showing it.” For comparison, in 2013, when Anastasia sold a 15,625-square-foot mansion on will be spread out over a decade or more, and any price hikes are likely to be gradual. The Trulia report, for instance, noted that while there was a significant uptick in home Chain Bridge Road in McLean for $12 million behind a home that former Secretary of State Alexander Haig had owned, it was among the largest sales in searches since Amazon’s announcement — with the region at the time, he said. real estate agents already touting the move to entice That house had something in common with the AOL co-foundbuyers — home prices had to yet to show any disers’ homes: They all sit on what has become known as McLean’s cernable increase. Gold Coast, an exclusive stretch of land where most homes overLong & Foster, which set up a website for Nationlook the Potomac River and few sell for no less than $5 million. al Landing — the name Amazon gave to the HQ2 Dwight Schar, founder of NVR Inc., a homebuilding and mortarea — predicts that the so-called Amazon effect gage company, sold his Gold Coast mansion, situated next to Merwill add 3 percent to the appreciation the Washingrywood, for $35 million in 2017. ton housing market would otherwise experience, Buyers are “typically the people who are seeking to influence WTOP’s Jeff Clabaugh reported in December 2018. government in different ways — the defense contractors, the “I think there’s a general enthusiasm, and no one heads of industry,” Anastasia said. “There’s very few homes along expects that suddenly hundreds of buyers are lining that Gold Coast, but they seem to go very quickly.” up to buy and compete for things, but there is enThe arrival of the Trump administration has also helped drive thusiasm that over the next couple years there will The Sageview estate at 1388 Crenshaw Road in up costs and demand for so-called showcase properties up, Taylor be stability and growth there at a new level, and not Upperville, Va., is currently listed at $5.75 million noted. just for the Amazon people but for all the necessary by TTR | Sotheby’s International Realty. “It was a flurry when the new administration came a year and support and ancillary type of things that come in from it,” Taylor told us. “I think the tide’s coming in and as they say, all boats will float.” a half ago,” he said. “They were newcomers to the area, and they were all very wealthy, The exact impact HQ2 could have on the luxury market remains to be seen, but this and there were sales in D.C. of $12.6 million, $10.7 million to these guys, and we don’t area has become a destination for many people in the tech industry and they tend to be see a lot of things over $10 million in the District.” Some members of the president’s team didn’t wait for homes to go up for sale, he younger with more disposable income, Taylor added. “I think we’re primed for that.” In the second quarter of 2018, the average luxury price point for D.C. proper was SEE R ECOR D PR ICES • PAGE 30 $2.54 million, up 0.6 percent year-over-year, but up 24 percent since the second quar-


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ket is far, far more affordable than those,” Taylor said. “It’s also more stable. We don’t have the big highs and lows that you’ll find [elseCONTINUED • PAGE 28 where]. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm here for the lifestyle in D.C., compared added. “Several of those were just to these other metropolitan areas identifying a seller who wasn’t on with the big numbers,” he added. the market but just trying to find the “We’re seeing a lifestyle that’s more right property. People said yes [to complete now as the city is evolvselling,]” Taylor said. ing with The Wharf and everything Traditionally high-end areas near Nats Park.” such as Georgetown, Kalorama, These ultra high-end prices are Massachusetts Avenue Heights still fairly new to D.C., Anastaand Potomac continue to thrive. sia told us. “It’s still eye-popping. For instance, Robert Allbritton, There’s only five or so homes in Virfounder of Capitol News Co., ginia sold above $10 million every bought a 19th-century Georgeyear,” he said. town home for $24.56 million in The challenge now is keeping up PHOTO: SEAN SHANAHAN / TTR | SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY 2007; Evermay, a 217-year-old with the new Joneses, Anastasia mansion with a library and park- The residence at 2501 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, #PH2B, is listed at $5.25 million said. “The biggest problem we’ve by Jonathan Taylor of TTR | Sotheby’s International Realty. ing for 100 cars, sold in 2011 for had — and this is what we’ve seen $22 million; and the Embassy of Kuwait bought Fessenden House in 2015 for — is new, available, high-end inventory to meet the need of that client base $18 million. has been pretty much nonexistent except in D.C.,” he said. But high prices are turning up in surprising spots, too, Anastasia said. For It’s a basic issue of supply and demand. One way he’s seeing the demand example, he recently served as the listing and selling agent for a 25,000-square- being met is through infill, or the building of bigger homes on lots where foot home that sold on May 29, 2018, for $4.1 million in Fairfax County, Va., smaller, older ones once stood. Another is through the expansion away from just west of the Fairfax County Parkway. The 13-year-old home sits on almost D.C. toward areas like Loudoun County and Great Falls in Virginia and more 3.5 acres and has a guardhouse, eight bedrooms, four finished levels, an in- northern destinations in Maryland. door pool with a retractable roof, an indoor squash/racquetball court and a Challenges aside, the luxury home market, which includes those priced at screening room. $1 million or more, may have seen its share of ups and downs but it remains And high prices are turning up in more recently developed areas, such as relatively stable. Within D.C. itself, the luxury home market saw the number Loudoun County, Va. Take the $22 million sale in 2007 of Llangollen Farm, of sales increase by 8.7 percent, while median sale prices fell by 1.5 percent which broke records at the time, and a $13.5 million home in Bluemont cur- in the third quarter of 2018, according to Long & Foster’s Quarterly Capital rently listed on Zillow. Region Market Report. Still, the D.C. area is reasonably priced compared to other areas. The luxury “People find us a very good value,” Taylor said. “It’s a very positive market price point for the second quarter of the year in Beverly Hills, for instance, was here, and I don’t see that really changing.” WD $18.24 million, and Miami Beach’s was $9.5 million. “We’ve had a couple that are reaching those levels, but generally our mar- Stephanie Kanowitz is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

Record Prices


Culture arts & entertainment art

diplomatic spouses



Diplomacy on High



The Washington Diplomat | March 2019






A motley crew of diplomats and friends in Norway

moonlight as musicians for the band Diplomatic

Immunity, which offers a

rare note of harmony in a

political climate brimming with divisiveness and rancor. PAGE 33


Silent ‘Cyrano’ Cyrano de

Bergerac is one of the

great wordsmiths of romantic

The Hirshhorn Museum has once again em-

How surpris-

approach with its latest blockbuster exhibition,

braced an immersive and Instagram-friendly


ing, then — and bold — of Synetic Theater to take

“Pulse” — but this crowd-pleasing show isn’t

on “Cyrano de Bergerac” in one of its signature

afraid to confront the alarming elements that

wordless, movement-based productions. PAGE 35

come with the entertainment. PAGE 32



Play on ‘PINK’ D.C.-based, Colombian-born artist

Carolina Mayorga cleverly applies the color pink to put a dark spin on our notions of home and

homelessness. PAGE 36





WD | Culture | Art

Beating ‘Pulse’ Immersive Exhibit Comes Alive by Channeling People’s Heart Rates, Biometric Data •


Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Pulse THROUGH APRIL 28


(202) 633-1000



he Hirshhorn Museum has once again embraced an immersive and Instagram-friendly approach with its latest blockbuster exhibition, “Pulse” — but this crowd-pleasing show isn’t afraid to confront the alarming elements that come with the entertainment. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s “Pulse” series, the Mexican-Canadian artist’s D.C. debut, is a rollicking experience for visitors, who find themselves instrumental to the art itself. The three installations — “Pulse Index,” “Pulse Tank” and “Pulse Room” —use heart-rate sensors and exhibition-goers’ own biometric data to create the kinetic, responsive visualizations on display. It’s a fun, disorienting show and the Hirshhorn’s largest interactive technology exhibition to date. Curator Stéphane Aquin, who has known Lozano-Hemmer for 20 years, said the museum had originally envisioned the show as a single work. “Rafael said, ‘I want 50 works.’ I said, ‘I want one.’ And then we settled for three,” Aquin recalled to The Washington Diplomat. “He came up with the better idea, of doing three quadrants, three main pieces with pulse-detection technology.” The show, which covers the entirety of the Hirshhorn’s second floor, is in many ways a perfect fit for the national museum of modern and contemporary art. “More importantly, we thought it was a significant project for us, being on the National Mall. It’s a very loaded place to invite an artist who is both Canadian and Mexican. It felt like a NAFTA type of project,” Aquin said. “And to have him display pulse-detection technology works, and allow every visitor to project his pulse, his life beat, onto the building, felt especially relevant.” Each installation gives visitors an opportunity to be part of the moment by capturing their fingerprints and heartbeats to create flashing lights, cascading waves or massive snapshots blown up on the walls of the museum. While it’s undeniably entertaining, there is a brief moment of dread before giving away that vital data. “We thought more of it in terms of relevance to everyone to have these biometric works that transcend borders right on the Mall,” Aquin noted. Art and technology, heartbeats and fingerprints, individuality and community merge in these works in surprising ways. The show kicks off with “Pulse Index,” which documents a visitor’s fingerprints while also tracking their heart rate to help generate the massive display. Thousands of individual fingerprints fill the curved walls of the Hirshhorn, an anonymous, seemingly repetitive but deeply personal display of one’s identifying information. As more people participate, older recordings get recycled and “the display’s rotating projections become a metaphor for the human life cycle,” according to the museum. In “Pulse Tank,” sensors pick up on the visitor’s pulse, transforming it into little ripples over an illuminated water tank that are then reflected as shadows on the gallery walls. The third and final part of the experience — because in many ways, that’s 32 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | MARCH 2019


Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael LozanoHemmer’s installation series “Pulse” responds to visitors’ heart rates and other biometric data to create kinetic, interactive visualizations.

a more accurate description than exhibition — is the most exhilarating and disorienting. “Pulse Room,” which features very social mediaready incandescent light bulbs hanging from the ceiling, is a mix of light and sound that pulses to visitors’ heartbeats. It’s an exciting, immersive experience that demands attention from the minute one walks into the space. PHOTO: CATHY CARVER “I love ‘Pulse Room,’ I love the capacity that work gives us ... to animate the entire building, to project one’s most vital, deepest and visible truths and signs of life onto the public sphere. It’s such a rich experience and it’s both intimidating and empowering. You let your heartbeat out there to be seen by everyone,” Aquin said. “It’s very illuminating and a fantastic thrill. That’s why people come. It’s a unique work of art,” he added. By tackling the themes of surveillance and identity, borders and community, “Pulse” serves up challenging ideas in an easy-to-consume format that’s built on audience participation. It’s a dynamic, not-to-miss show — and yet another hit for the Hirshhorn. The museum’s recent string of successes stems from deeply considering “the strong streak within the Hirshhorn’s DNA and history to follow the evolution of material, techniques and PHOTO: PETER MALLET technologies in art,” Aquin said. “We’re still in that trajectory of exploring new media, and I think Rafael’s work really fit into that. We’re assessing the fact that art is not just a spectacle, it’s an experience. People want to engage with it and how they engage with it transforms the work of art,” Aquin said. “The visitor basically makes the work of art, transforms it and projects himself in the public space.” WD Mackenzie Weinger (@mweinger) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

Music | Culture | WD

Vocal Diplomats Motley Crew of Musicians Conducts Public Diplomacy at a Very High Volume •



n a quiet street in Oslo, the almost-famous international diplomatic band hauls their equipment out of the van to the backyard of a local couple (he’s American, she’s Norwegian) hosting a birthday bash. The sounds of rock ‘n’ roll ensue, from Norwegian classics like “Splitter Pine” to Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” to “Sunset Moose,” an original song by the one American in the band, acting U.S. Ambassador to Norway and lead guitarist Jim DeHart. Diplomatic Immunity, which released its first (and only) CD “A Foreign Affair” last June, features an all-star lineup of diplomats and friends who moonlight as musicians: Canadian Ambassador to Norway Artur Wilczynski (drummer); U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires to Norway Jim DeHart (guitarist/ singer); Wilczynski’s Canadian partner, Randy Stocker (rhythm guitar/pianist); American Embassy Motor Pool Dispatcher Ørjan Tverbakk (bass player); and fitness trainer and musical theater actor-turned-lead singer Erik Skøld. The band has played venues around Oslo over the last three years, including gigs at the local Hard Rock Café, a show for the Norwegian Parliament and Oslo Pride events. This is soft power public diplomacy, grassroots style. It’s fun and it works. It’s also a rare note of harmony in a Washington political climate brimming with divisiveness and rancor. To learn more about this motley crew of musicians, friend of the band and former diplomat Shawn Dorman interviewed Diplomatic Immunity during a recent visit to Oslo. *This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

SHAWN DORMAN: In one sentence, describe the band Diplomatic Immunity? DEHART: Diplomatic Immunity is a Norwegian-Canadian-American hard rock band based in Oslo, Norway, conducting public diplomacy at a very high volume. SD: How did you meet the other people in the band? How did the band form and why? DEHART: I met Artur and Randy at a horse race in Oslo and we hit it off — even more so when I learned that Artur played the drums and Randy the guitar and piano. We got together in Artur’s basement and then pulled in Ørjan, our embassy’s motor pool dispatcher. Ørjan had grown up in Oslo’s punk/thrash scene, had enough tattoos for all of us and played the meanest bass guitar I had ever heard. Unfortunately, we were all pretty useless as singers. Artur mentioned that his personal fitness trainer, Erik, aspired to a career in musical theater. Why not invite him over? And so we did, and the band was born. WILCZYNSKI: I played in a band before we were posted to Norway. It was called the D-Flat-Dees, inspired by DFATD, the acronym of our Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. We had a lot of fun and managed to use the band to encourage charitable donations to the Government of Canada Charitable Workplace Campaign. When we arrived in Oslo, I actually took out an ad on a Facebook page dedicated to musicians. Little luck — it was at the horse race that it all came together. SD: When did you start playing together?


The band Diplomatic Immunity, which released a CD called “A Foreign Affair” last June, features an all-star lineup of diplomats and friends who moonlight as musicians in Norway.

DEHART: This was late in 2015 as the dark Norwegian winter was settling in. By the way, I had real doubts about Erik, who had grown up on a different musical planet and had never even heard of bands like The Clash or White Stripes, let alone ever sung their songs. But after about five practices, he hit his stride and became our phenomenal front man. WILCZYNSKI: It was practicing in the basement at the Canadian official residence in Oslo, trying to hammer out some tunes that all of us could play (or figure out). I am an amateur drummer. For me, this started out as a way to make new friends and try to improve my musical abilities. I was very intimidated by Ørjan and Jim’s abilities on their instruments. At first, I didn’t want to embarrass myself. In the end, it turned into so much more. SD: Where was your first gig? WILCZYNSKI: A reporter with the national Norwegian broadcaster NRK was dating a colleague of mine at the embassy. She told him about me — a gay immigrant to Canada who also played in a rock band and was planning to play at Oslo LGBT Pride. He thought that was cool and decided it could be a good piece for television. We were originally going to play in the residence living room, but it was a spectacularly sunny day so we set everything up outside. We played “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes, “Handle with Care” by the Traveling Wilburys and “Ohio” by Neil Young. I still remember Ørjan saying something about how long it took for his band — back in the day — to even get a little media coverage, and here we were a bunch of diplomats and friends getting national media attention without having paid our dues or even having played for a real audience yet. That’s when we realized the potential of the band in shining a light on our countries and on the issues we cared about. DEHART: We did the whole thing backward, appearing on national TV before we even had enough songs to play a gig. When I asked the camera guy how we sounded, he said, “I’ve heard much worse.” I chose to take that as a compliment. SEE IM M UNIT Y • PAGE 34 MARCH 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 33


Diplomatic Immunity has played in various venues around Oslo over the last three years, including gigs at the local Hard Rock Café, a show for the Norwegian Parliament and Oslo Pride events, seen below.

had a bad show, though we did have some bad moments. On the Bear Stage at Oslo Pride, my guitar got bumped and went dramatically out of tune, leading to the worst guitar solo in the history of “Hotel California.”

Immunity CONTINUED • PAGE 33

SD: What was your “most diplomatic” show? Least diplomatic show? DEHART: We played inside the Norwegian Parliament, a venue with some serious gravitas, for a group of politicians and senior officials. Fortunately, the wine had been flowing for several hours before we took the stage. WILCZYNSKI: Agree with Jim. It was very cool to be pushing our gear through the lobby of the Parliament building to set up in one of the committee rooms. I was supposed to have a conference call with one of our senior colleagues back at the Canadian Foreign Ministry. I said I couldn’t do it because my band was playing at Parliament. He said that was one of the best — and most original — excuses he ever heard for why someone should miss a call. As for least diplomatic show, well, that wouldn’t be very diplomatic of us to say…. All of them had an effect on the audiences that saw us. Regardless of our level of ability, the fact that diplomats would play songs like “London Calling” by The Clash or “Rockin’ in the Free World” by Neil Young broke the stuffy stereotype many people had about diplomats and helped shape an image of Canadian and American officials that made us more approachable and fun.

WILCZYNSKI: Loved the shows at Herr Nilsen, but the shows that I will remember most were the ones we did for Pride both at the [Canadian official] residence and on the Bear Stage. For me, they were an opportunity to use music to convey a message of equality and inclusion. They gave me as an ambassa-

DEHART: We have some devout fans, including Egypt’s ambassador to Norway, who sent us a list of more than 50 songs she insisted we had to learn. SD: That song, “Splitter Pine,” how can I get that song out of my head? DEHART: You can’t, and that’s OK. That Norwegian classic was designed to form a natural bulwark between your brain and any song by Céline Dion, and it works. WILCZYNSKI: Jim, don’t bring Céline Dion into it! Céline is an icon — but it’s OK if she keeps playing in Vegas! By the way, I still have no idea what that song is about. All I know is that when Norwegians hear it after a couple of beers, they can’t help but sing along and jump up and down repeatedly. SD: Who has previously been in another band? Please tell us about it.

The band broke stereotypes. It portrayed a different image of what diplomats do and gave a chance for our personalities to come out.

SD: What was your favorite show and why? Worst show and why?


Ambassador of Canada to Norway

dor the platform to speak about issues that I and my government care about. As I mentioned, musically, I am the least talented of the five of us. The opportunity to play drums on a big stage with hundreds of people in front of us are moments I will never forget.

SKØLD: I loved playing every single gig. All of them have had great moments where we as a band have connected with the audience and the music has filled the room and our bodies. Herr Nilsen, Hard Rock Café, Pride at the residence and Pride Park, Frognerseteren, the U.K. residence.

SD: Do you have groupies? Who are they?

DEHART: The Herr Nilsen Jazz Club will always be my favorite Oslo venue. I think the three shows we played there were among our very best. We never

WILCZYNSKI: I think some of our ambassadorial colleagues were among our most devoted fans. They came every time. We were asked to play at the farewell


reception for our close friend, super-fan U.K. Ambassador to Norway Sarah Gillett. I was so thrilled that she asked. We gave her our CD and a T-shirt from the band, and I will never forget her dancing in a Diplomatic Immunity T-shirt while we played “London Calling” in a fancy reception room in the U.K. official residence in Oslo. It said a lot about the power of doing something different, unconventional and interesting. It brings people together.

DEHART: Just about everywhere I’ve served, I’ve managed to be in a band. Eighteen years ago, I put a notice on the State Department bulletin board and fellow FSOs Conrad Tribble and Benjamin Weber answered the call. We formed a rock group called Rogue State and were sailing along until our drummer decided we were terrible and dumped us on the eve of our first big gig. Later, in Afghanistan, I was in Danger Pay, which was more or less the house rock band at the U.S. Embassy Kabul’s Duck and Cover bar. Those were some pretty wild shows. With audiences starved for entertainment, PSP [priority staffing] posts make for great gigs!

SKØLD: Diplomatic Immunity is the first band I play in. But I have played in different musical theater shows all across Norway, such as “The Sound SEE IM M UNIT Y • PAGE 44

Theater | Culture | WD

Wordless Wordsmith Synetic Relies on Silence and Verbal Gymnastics to Tell Story of ‘Cyrano’ •




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ithout a doubt, Cyrano de Bergerac, the title character of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play of the same name, is one of the great wordsmiths of romantic literature. Like the biblical Aaron, who gives voice to his more famous brother, Moses, Cyrano, a soldier and brilliant poet, articulates the longings of the handsome but tongue-tied lover Christian toward the object of their mutual affection, Roxane. Language is the medium by which Cyrano overcomes the stigma of an enormously long nose, protects himself from ridicule and indirectly expresses his feelings for Roxane. It’s nearly impossible to imagine Cyrano apart from his rapier wit and the dulcet cadences of his poetry. How surprising, then — and how bold — of Synetic Theater to take on “Cyrano de Bergerac” in one of their signature wordless, movementbased productions. Having tackled “Hamlet,” “Faust” and other worldclass dramas renowned for their verbal gymnastics, perhaps Synetic felt “Cyrano” (the title given to this adaptation) was not such a stretch after all. There are hurdles to overcome, however. Many audience members will not be intimately familiar with Rostand’s late 19th-century masterpiece, apart from Steve Martin’s 1987 film adaptation (which transforms the original tragedy into a romantic comedy). Similarly, the linguistic fireworks that are Cyrano’s trademark and by which he makes his way in the world can only be suggested here. Nonetheless, as adapted by Nathan Weinberger and debut-directed by Vato Tsikurishvili, who also plays Cyrano, this wordless adaptation of a highly verbal play offers dazzling visuals, incorporating the fluid movement, dance and acrobatics that are synonymous with Synetic productions. It was choreographed by Vato’s mother and company choreographer, Irina Tsikurishvili. Particularly striking is Tsikurishvili’s decision to locate the story in the métier of clowning. (In the director’s notes, he suggests a connection between Cyrano and the great clowns of cinema, who sometimes appear to use comedic genius to cover inner pain.) The set design by Phil Charlwood evokes the inside of a commedia dell’arte theater, with its double staircase, top platform, multiple archways and tall rear draperies. Similarly, each character appears wearing clown nose and makeup, dressed in a motley costume suitable for acrobatics or for telling jokes. Of course, Cyrano’s proboscis nose is more prominent than all the others.


Synetic Theater applies its signature wordless, movement-based style to tell the story of Cyrano de Bergerac.

Combined with sound design by Konstantine Lortkipanidze, the effect can sometimes be dreamlike, especially in the earlier stages of the story, but it can also border on the manic, as when the character of Time (an addition of Tsikurishvili’s that is played by his sister Ana) steps in to remind Cyrano that the opportunities to express his true love for Roxane — and possibly win her for himself — are slipping away. Cyrano is a man overcome by his fear of rejection. There are many lovely moments to appreciate in this production: An early “swan dance” by Roxane (Maryam Najafzada), in which she appears to lose her feathers; an intense pas de deux in which Cyrano’s commander, de Guiche (Philip Fletcher) attempts to take Roxane for himself; a hilarious (and central) scene in which Cyrano helps fellow soldier Christian (Matt Stover) write a love letter to Roxane; and recurring military “lineups” that feature de Guiche giving orders to his marionette-like recruits. Physical acrobatics abound throughout the production and are nowhere more moving than in a late reunion scene involving a now bent and walker-bound Cyrano and Roxane. Time has passed them by, as Tsikurishvili rightly emphasizes, but the memory of what might have been lingers in the air. Was Cyrano such a clown to surrender to his (real or imagined) fear and for never expressing himself to Roxane? Were they all clowns for playing a game with their loves and desires? Are we all clowns because, in the end, we can do little more than laugh at what is, ultimately, a tragic fate? Tsikurishvili sends us away thinking about these things, the tick of time at our backs, perhaps reflecting on what we may or may not have said when it came to matters of the heart. It may be that the only thing we can really do now is move. WD Deryl Davis is a freelance writer and adjunct professor of drama, literature and film at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. MARCH 2019 | THE WASHINGTON DIPLOMAT | 35

WD | Culture | Art

Play on ‘PINK’ Colombian-Born Artist Juxtaposes Carefree Color with Serious Subject Matter •


PINK Ranchos and Other Ephemeral Zip Codes THROUGH MAY 19


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he color pink often has fun, frilly, feminine connotations — a pink dress, pink bubble gum or pink flowers for example But D.C.-based, Colombian-born artist Carolina Mayorga cleverly applies the color pink to examine our notions of home and homelessness. She invites audiences to enter what she calls her “PINK-mented reality,” in which she uses her bicultural background to reinterpret temporary dwellings such as cambuches, or tent-like structures made from scrap material. The resulting exhibit, “PINK Ranchos and Other Ephemeral Zip Codes,” on display at the Art Museum of the Americas, uses an otherwise playful color to tackle serious subject matter. “‘PINK Ranchos’ is an investigation on issues of home and homeless juxtaposed to my conceptual and aesthetical obsession with the color pink, a color I’ve studied for the last eight to 10 years,” Mayorga said. “I apply the color to create a pleasing, even beautiful interpretation of the themes of my interest, usually of political and social content.” Mayorga’s works offer a fascinating dichotomy, as she uses the usually cheerful pigment to create dilapidated, depressing structures. This visually pleasant color palate stands in sharp contrast to the meaning behind the works, which hint at displacement, dislocation, relocation, exile and eviction. Adding another layer to her work is the fact that the color pink is heavily associated with women and children, who often symbolize the concept of home. “It is really hard to work on these topics and deepen into subjects that we would rather dismiss, forget and deny such as the experience of women and children, the most vulnerable and overlooked characters,” Mayorga said. “They face harsh situations and are usually the victims of war and violence.” The project is the culmination of a yearlong investigation into the world of homelessness. Mayorga also relies on memories of her native Colombia and current life in Washington, D.C., to give an international dimension to her pieces. Her artistic journey was inspired by a visit to La Guajira, Colombia, in 2016. During that trip, Mayorga witnessed extreme poverty, mostly involving abandoned women and children. “As I became more aware about these issues, I began to find common experiences in other Latin American countries I’ve visited and even in my hometown of Washington, D.C.,” she said. “These observations led me to the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, where I found testimonies by women who share similar experiences of displacement, exile, dislocation and eviction caused by violence and war throughout Latin America and the U.S.” Mayorga used excerpts of some of these testimonies as part of an interactive installation and performance called “Cambuche Party: A PINK Musical,” which was presented during the opening of the exhibit on Feb. 14. “Cambuche Party” featured



D.C.-based, Colombian-born artist Carolina Mayorga uses the color pink to explore the concept of home in works such as “Cambuche Party,” above, “Rec Room NW, DC,” below, and an untitled work from the series “Pink Ranchos and Other Ephemeral Zip Codes,” at left.

three musical numbers inspired by life in cambuches and ranchos. After its world premiere in D.C., the exhibit will be shown in Colombia. “There are elements in the exhibit that come directly from my experience of growing up in Colombia,” Mayorga said. Examples include a piece called “Latin American Tejo,” a version of a popular throwing sport originally from Colombia. “My native country has always been the source of inspiration for my work, but I also use my bicultural experience as a Colombian-American to look at issues in a more universal way,” Mayorga added. A naturalized American citizen, Mayorga has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally for two decades. Her artwork addresses social and political issues, often serving as a commentary on migration, war and identity. As far as new projects, Mayorga said that at the moment she is focused on her “PINK Ranchos” project as it branches out through related programs, such as collaborations with local artists, interactive community-based pieces, discussions and more. WD Kate Oczypok (@OczyKate) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

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WD | Culture | Film

Cinema Listings *Unless specific times are listed, please check the theater for times. Theater locations are subject to change.

ENGLISH The Aftermath

Directed by James Kent

(U.K./U.S./Germany, 2019, 108 min.)

Following World War II, a British colonel and his wife are assigned to live in the ruins of Hamburg during the post-war reconstruction, but tensions arise with the German widower who previously owned the house. In this charged atmosphere, enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal. ANGELIKA MOSAIC OPENS FRI., MARCH 22

Alita: Battle Angel

Directed by Robert Rodriguez (U.S., 2019, 122 min.)

A deactivated female cyborg is revived, but cannot remember anything of her past life and goes on a quest to find out who she is (English and Spanish). ANGELIKA MOSAIC ANGELIKA POP-UP



Directed by Joe Penna (Iceland, 2019, 97 min.)

Stranded in the arctic after an airplane crash, a man must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in the hopes of making it out alive. ANGELIKA MOSAIC


On the Basis of Sex

Directed by Mimi Leder (U.S., 2018, 120 min.)

This is the true story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her struggles for equal rights and what she had to overcome to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA


If Beale Street Could Talk Directed by Barry Jenkins (U.S., 2018, 119 min.)

A newly engaged Harlem woman races against the clock to prove her lover’s innocence while carrying their first born child. LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA


The Brink

Directed by Alison Klayman (U.S., 2019)

“The Brink” follows Steve Bannon through the 2018 midterm elections in the United States, shedding light on his efforts to mobilize and unify far-right parties in order to win seats in

the May 2019 European Parliamentary elections. To maintain his power and influence, the former Goldman Sachs banker and media investor reinvents himself — as he has many times before — this time as the selfappointed leader of a global populist movement. LANDMARK’S THEATRES OPENS FRI., MARCH 29

Can You Ever Forgive Me? Directed by Marielle Heller (U.S., 2018, 106 min.)

Melissa McCarthy stars as Lee Israel, the best-selling celebrity biographer who finds herself unable to get published because she had fallen out of step with the marketplace, so she turns her art form to deception. LANDMARK’S BETHESDA ROW CINEMA WEST END CINEMA

Captain Morten and the Spider Queen

Directed by Kaspar Jancis (Ireland/Estonia/Belgium/UK, 2018, 79 min.)

Created by talented animators from the west of Ireland, Estonia, Wales and Belgium, “Captain Morten” is Ireland’s first stop-motion feature animation. Dreamy 10-year-old Morten whiles away his days building his toy ship and trying to avoid the ire of his reluctant guardian, Anna. After a chance meeting with the inept magician Senór Cucaracha, Morten is magically shrunken down to the size of an insect and trapped aboard the deck of his own toy ship (part of the Capital Irish Film Festival). AFI SILVER THEATRE SAT., MARCH 2, 1 P.M.


Directed by Yvan Topolánszky (Hungary, 2018, 93 min.)

It’s 1942 and America is on the edge of war. Hungarian-born film director Michael Curtiz, under government pressure, gets a chance to influence public opinion about war by directing a new propaganda film: “Casablanca.” It does not come the best time though. Curtiz is working on helping his Jewish sister emigrate from Hungary before the Nazis get to her, his daughter appears on set with the purpose of getting answers why Curtiz had abandoned her as a child (English and Hungarian; part of the D.C. Independent Film Festival). THE CARNEGIE INSTITUTION FOR SCIENCE SUN., MARCH 10, 7:10 P.M.


Directed by Lara Hewitt (U.K., 2018, 93 min.)

Valentine Hermann is a young New York actor whose German grandfather had a datsche, a summer house, just outside of Berlin. Valentine goes to spend a summer in the garden house but discovers that someone is already there: Adam, a refugee trying to escape deportation


(part of the D.C. Independent Film Festival).


The Devil’s Doorway

Directed by Aislinn Clarke (U.K./Ireland, 2018, 77 min.)

Northern Ireland, 1960: Father Thomas Riley and Father John Thornton are dispatched by the Vatican to investigate reports of a miracle — a statue of the Virgin Mary weeping blood — at a remote Catholic asylum for “immoral” women. Armed with cameras to record their findings, the priests instead discover a depraved horror show of sadistic nuns, Satanism and demonic possession (part of the Capital Irish Film Festival). AFI SILVER THEATRE FRI., MARCH 1, 7:15 P.M.

Don’t Leave Home

Directed by Michael Tully (U.S., 2018, 86 min.)

After unveiling her new sculptural exhibit on Irish urban legends, artist Melanie Thomas is contacted by Father Alistair Burke, a reclusive Irish priest who, legend has it, once painted the portrait of a young girl who later disappeared on the very day her image vanished from the painting (part of the Capital Irish Film Festival). AFI SILVER THEATRE SAT., MARCH 2, 8:30 P.M.

Facing the Dragon

Directed by Sedika Mojadidi (Afghanistan, 2018, 80 min.)

In this intimate documentary, Sedika Mojadidi follows two compelling Afghan women, within the government and the media, through the pivotal period after the international withdrawal from Afghanistan. We see Afghan women on the frontlines struggling to maintain their hard-won rights in a country where lawlessness, political instability and violence remains the standard way of life (part of the D.C. Independent Film Festival). THE CARNEGIE INSTITUTION FOR SCIENCE SAT., MARCH 9, 2 P.M.

The Favourite

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (Ireland/U.K./U.S., 2018, 119 min.) In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah governs the country in her stead. But when a new servant Abigail arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. ANGELIKA MOSAIC



Fighting with My Family

Directed by Stephen Merchant (U.K./U.S., 2019, 108 min.)

A former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining

World Wrestling Entertainment.


Float Like a Butterfly

Directed by Carmel Winters (Ireland, 2018, 101 min.)

Encouraged from a tender age by her father’s affection for Muhammad Ali, Frances has the fire and discipline to be a great fighter — if only people could see past their narrow notions regarding her gender (part of the Capital Irish Film Festival). AFI SILVER THEATRE SUN., MARCH 3, 2:30 P.M.

Free Solo

Directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (U.S., 2018, 100 min.)

Follow Alex Honnold as he becomes the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite’s 3,000ft high El Capitan Wall. With no ropes or safety gear, he completed arguably the greatest feat in rock climbing history. ANGELIKA POP-UP

Genesis 2.0

Directed by Christian Frei and Maxim Arbugaev (Switzerland/China/Russia/ Korea/United States, 2018, 112 min.)

On the rugged, remote New Siberian Islands, “mammoth hunters” search the melting permafrost for the remains of these extinct beasts. Their finds, ranging from tusks to a perfectly preserved specimen with blood still in her veins, have attracted the interest of scientists who believe they can resurrect the species through the emerging discipline of synthetic biology (English and Russian). FREER GALLERY OF ART SAT., MARCH 23, 2 P.M.

Gloria Bell

Directed by Sebastián Lelio (Chile/U.S., 2019, 102 min.)

A free-spirited woman in her 50s seeks out love at L.A. dance clubs. ANGELIKA MOSAIC OPENS FRI., MARCH 15

Grace & Goliath

Directed by Tony Mitchell (U.K./Ireland, 2018, 93 min.)

When Hollywood big shot Josh Jenkins sweeps into Belfast to make a movie, it’s not long before everything goes wrong and he’s left stranded and penniless. Feeling sorry for the actor, a hotel cleaner invites him to stay with her crazy family — and gradually the people of this strange city manage to touch his heart (part of the Capital Irish Film Festival). AFI SILVER THEATRE SAT., MARCH 2, 3 P.M.


Directed by Neil Jordan (Ireland/U.S., 2019, 98 min.)

A sweet, naïve young woman

The Washington Diplomat


March 2019

trying to make it on her own in New York City, Frances doesn’t think twice about returning the handbag she finds on the subway to its rightful owner. That owner is Greta, an eccentric French piano teacher with a love for classical music and an aching loneliness. Having recently lost her mother, Frances quickly grows closer to widowed Greta — but Greta’s maternal charms begin to dissolve and grow increasingly disturbing as Frances discovers that nothing in Greta’s life is what it seems in this suspense thriller.

significant artists of the 20th century, Robert Mapplethorpe discovered himself both sexually and artistically in New York City throughout the ’70s and ’80s. Filmmaker Ondi Timoner explores Mapplethorpe’s tumultuous life from moments before he and Patti Smith moved into the famed Chelsea Hotel, home to a world of bohemian chic.


On the cusp of adulthood, fraternal twin teen sisters Emma and Chantal are worlds apart. Emma is self-conscious and unsure of which path to take in life. Chantal, meanwhile, is beautiful, confident and knows exactly where her life is headed. When their parents go away for the summer, their simmering sibling rivalry threatens to boil over, especially when the mysterious boy next door moves back in (part of the Capital Irish Film Festival).



Hotel Mumbai

Directed by Anthony Maras (Australia/U.S., 2019, 125 min.)

Based on the true story of the 2008 terrorist attack on the famed Taj Hotel in Mumbai, hotel staff risk their lives to keep everyone safe as people make unthinkable sacrifices to protect themselves and their families (multiple languages). ANGELIKA MOSAIC OPENS FRI., MARCH 29

The Hummingbird Project

Directed by Kim Nguyen (Belgium/Canada, 2019, 111 min.)


Metal Heart

Directed by High O’Conor (Ireland, 2018, 90 min.)


The Mustang

Directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre (France/U.S., 2019, 96 min.)

A pair of high-frequency traders go up against their old boss in an effort to make millions in a fiber-optic cable deal.

Roman Coleman, a violent convict, is given the chance to participate in a rehabilitation therapy program involving the training of wild mustangs.



I, Dolours

Ruben Brandt, Collector

Dolours Price, the infamous IRA radical convicted of bombing England’s Old Bailey in 1973, granted a series of revealing interviews in 2010 on the strict condition of their posthumous release. The interviews, brought to life through vividly cinematic reenactments, uncover the birth of her fierce commitment to Irish Republicanism (part of the Capital Irish Film Festival).

Ruben (whose name combines two famous artists, Rubens and Rembrandt) is a psychotherapist tormented by terrible nightmares in which he is attacked by people (and monsters) from famous paintings. Some of his criminal patients, including lovely kleptomaniac cat burglar Mimi, decide to steal the paintings to help cure him. Eventually, the mysterious “Collector” quickly becomes the most wanted criminal in the world, as gangsters and headhunters chase him while the reward for his capture grows astronomically (English and Hungarian).

Directed by Maurice Sweeney (Ireland, 2018, 82 min.)


Lords of Chaos

Directed by Jonas Åkerlund (U.K./Sweden, 2018, 118 min.)

In 1987 Oslo, 17-year-old Euronymous is determined to escape his traditional upbringing, and becomes fixated on creating “true Norwegian black metal” with his band Mayhem. He mounts shocking publicity stunts to put the band’s name on the map, but the lines between show and reality begin to blur. AFI SILVER THEATRE MARCH 8 TO 14


Directed by Ondi Timoner (U.S., 2018, 102 min.) Arguably one of the most

Directed by Milorad Krstic (Hungary, 2019)


The Silver Branch

Directed by Katrina Costello (Ireland, 2017, 75 min.)

When farmer/poet Patrick McCormack and his rural community are drawn into a divisive battle with the government over a planned visitor center, he and a small group of friends take the fight to the Irish High Court in order to protect the fate of this iconic wilderness (part of the Capital Irish Film Festival). AFI SILVER THEATRE SUN., MARCH 3, 12:45 P.M.

Film | Culture | WD Stan & Ollie

Directed by Jon S. Baird (U.K./Canada/U.S., 2018, 97 min.)

Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly bring their brilliant comedic chops to bear as legendary comedy duo Stan “Laurel” and Ollie “Hardy” in this hilarious road movie recounting the pair’s famed 1953 “farewell” tour of Britain and Ireland. Angelika Pop-Up The Avalon Theatre

Tito and the Birds

Directed by Gabriel Bitar (Brazil, 2018, 73 min.)

In this animated adventure about a little boy and his journey to save the world, Tito, a shy 10-year-old boy, lives in a world on the brink of pandemic. Fear is crippling people, making them sick and transforming them. Tito realizes, based on his father’s past research, that there may be a way to utilize the local pigeon population and their songs to create a cure for the disease. AFI SILVER THEATRE MARCH 1 TO 7


Directed by Chad Hahne (Cuba/U.S., 2019, 79 min.)

This documentary tells the story of how a group of drag queens carved out a space for the LBGTQ community in Cuba, against all odds, at a time when performing in drag was illegal and homosexuality was denounced as a product of capitalism (part of the D.C. Independent Film Festival). THE HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN WED., MARCH 6, 7:30 P.M.

They Should Not Grow Old Directed by Peter Jackson (U.K./New Zealand, 2019, 99 min.)

Through ground breaking computer restoration technology, filmmaker Peter Jackson’s team creates a moving real-to-life depiction of the WWI, as never seen before in restored, vivid colorizing and retiming of the film frames, in order to honor those who fought and more accurately depict this historical moment in world history. ANGELIKA MOSAIC


Under the Clock

Directed by Colm Nicell (Ireland, 2018, 76 min.)

“Under the Clock” explores the social history of Ireland through the heartwarming tales of ordinary people whose relationships began at one of Ireland’s most famous meeting places (part of the Capital Irish Film Festival). AFI SILVER THEATRE SUN., MARCH 3, 11 A.M.


Directed by Adam McKay (U.S., 2018, 132 min.)

“Vice” explores how a bureaucratic Washington insider quietly became the most powerful man in the world as vice president to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways still felt today. ANGELIKA MOSAIC


into his orbit: a spirited woman who offers romantic possibility, and a wealthy and sophisticated young man she returns from a trip with.

Film Festivals Galore In addition to the D.C. Independent Film Festival and the Capital Irish Film Festival this month, two other major festivals are taking center stage in the nation’s capital in March. Given the current wave of climaterelated headlines in recent months, this year’s Environmental Film Festival (DCEFF) takes on added resonance as it fills up screens all over D.C. from March 14 to 24. Founded in 1993, DCEFF has become the largest environmental film festival in the world, presenting over 100 films to audiences of more than 20,000 and collaborating with over 110 partners, including museums, embassies, universities and area theaters.


FRENCH Chantrapas

Directed by Otar Iosseliana (France/Georgia, 2010, 122 min.)

Niko is determined to make his own films his own way, but as he butts heads with official censors and state-appointed producers, the artist finds that creative freedom is far more elusive than he imagined in this satirical comedy-drama (French and Georgian; part of the D.C. Francophonie Festival).

This year’s opening night film is “The River and the Wall,” which follows five friends on an immersive adventure through the unknown wilds of the Texas borderlands. They travel 1,200 miles on horses, mountain bikes and canoes to document the last remaining wilderness in Texas as the threat of new border wall construction looms. Another local cinematic staple, the New African Film Festival, returns for its 15th year from March 7 to 17. Co-present-

For More Information For a complete list of films from both festivals, visit and

over in pain during a family gathering, her cousin Lena whisks her off to a hospital, telling her family she is taking her to the pharmacy to seek relief from a stomach ache. In fact, Sofia has gone into labor without knowing she was pregnant. Lena must implore a doctor to allow her unmarried cousin to deliver at his facility, where Sofia is dismissed immediately after the birth and instructed to come back with the father or face prosecution. Holding her newborn daughter, Sofia leads her cousin to one of Casablanca’s slums, in search of the father she barely knows (French and Arabic; part of the D.C. Francophonie Festival).





Directed by Gaspar Noé (France/Belgium/U.S., 2019, 95 min.)

French dancers gather in a remote, empty school building to rehearse on a wintry night. The all-night celebration morphs into a hallucinatory nightmare when they learn their sangria is laced with LSD. ANGELIKA POP-UP OPENS FRI., MARCH 8


Directed by Alain Gomis (France, 2017, 123 min.)

Living her life in the chaotically vibrant Congolese capital of Kinshasa with a proud defiance, Félicité doesn’t need marriage, a man or even love to get by. But when her son is injured in a traffic accident, she must find a way to pay for his operation, and embarks on a double journey: through the punishing outer world of the city and the inner world of the soul (French and Lingala; part of the D.C. Francophonie Festival). EMBASSY OF FRANCE TUE., MARCH 12, 7 P.M.


Directed by Meryem Benm’Barek (France/Qatar, 2018, 80 min.)

When 20-year-old Sofia buckles

The Invisibles

Directed by Claus Räfle (Germany, 2017, 110 min.)

Berlin, February 1943: The Nazi regime declares the Reich’s capital “free of Jews.” But some 1,700 Jews managed to survive the war living in Berlin, hiding in plain sight: “invisible.” Claus Räfle’s gripping docudrama traces the desperate and ingenious adventures of four real-life survivors who seemed to be ordinary German youths trying to navigate the scarcities and prohibitions of Berlin at the height of World War II. LANDMARK’S THEATRES OPENS FRI., MARCH 22

Never Look Away

Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (Germany/Italy, 2018, 188 min.)

Young artist Kurt Barnert has fled to West Germany, but he continues to be tormented by the experiences of his youth in the Nazi years and during the GDR-regime. When he meets student Ellie, he is convinced that he has met the love of his life and begins to create paintings that mirror not only his own fate, but also the traumas of an entire generation (German and Russian). ANGELIKA MOSAIC

ed by AFI Silver Theatre, Africa World Now Project and afrikafé, the festival showcases the vibrancy of African filmmaking from all corners of the continent. The opening night film, “The Burial of Kojo,” marks the feature debut of Brooklyn-based Ghanaian musician Samuel “Blitz the Ambassador” Bazawule. It follows the story of Esi as she recounts her childhood and the tumultuous relationship between her father, Kojo, and her uncle, Kwabena. When both men embark on an illegal mining expedition together, Kojo goes missing, presumably trapped in the mineshaft. After the police are unable to find him, young Esi sets out on a magical adventure to find her father — but will she be too late?


HEBREW Family in Transition

Directed by Ofir Trainin (Israel, 2018, 60 min.)

This documentary tells the story of the only family in Nahariya, a small traditional town in Israel, whose lives change completely after their father announces that he’s transitioning to become a woman. Their mother chooses to stay with her spouse through the whole process but just as it seems that life is back to normal, she takes a sharp turn and shakes everything up again. THE AVALON THEATRE WED., MARCH 27, 8P.M.

ICELANDIC Woman at War

Directed by Benedikt Erlingsson (Iceland/France/Ukraine, 2019, 101 min.) Hall is a 50-year-old independent woman with a quiet routine as a popular choir director in a small country town. But she leads a double life as a passionate environmental activist, engaged in secret warfare against the giant power company that is (in her opinion) desecrating the countryside and hastening global warming (Icelandic, Spanish, English and Ukrainian). LANDMARK’S THEATRES OPENS FRI., MARCH 8


Directed by Kihachi Okamoto (Japan, 1968, 114 min.)

Two down-on-their-luck swordsmen arrive in a dusty town and become involved in a local clan dispute in this pitch-black action comedy. FREER GALLERY OF ART WED., MARCH 6, 2 P.M.

Mori, the Artist’s Habitat Directed by Shuichi Okita (Japan, 2018, 99 min.)

In the last 30 years of his long life, reclusive artist Morikazu Kumagai (1880-1977), a.k.a. Mori, almost never left his Ikebukuro home. Instead, he took pleasure in observing the cats, fish, birds, and insects living in his luxuriant garden, eventually rendering them in his distinctive paintings. FREER GALLERY OF ART SUN., MARCH 17, 2 P.M.


Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda (Japan, 2018, 121 min.)

After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning the hardships she faces. Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets and tests the bonds that unite them. WEST END CINEMA

Penguin Highway

Directed by Hiroyasu Ishida (Japan, 2018, 118 min.)

Budding genius Aoyama is only in the 4th grade, but already lives his life like a scientist. When penguins start appearing in his sleepy suburb hundreds of miles from the sea, Aoyama vows to solve the mystery. When he finds the source of the penguins is a woman from his dentist’s office, they team up for an unforgettable summer adventure (part of the D.C. Independent Film Festival; includes an anime breakfast experience for children over 8). THE MIRACLE THEATER SAT., MARCH 2, 10:45 A.M.

KOREAN Burning

Directed by Lee Chang-dong (South Korea, 2018, 148 min.)

In this searing examination of an alienated young man, a frustrated introvert’s already difficult life is complicated by the appearance of two people


MANDARIN Bitter Money

Directed by Wang Bing (France/Hong Kong, 2016, 152 min.)

The Chinese city of Huzhou is home to 18,000 clothing factories employing some 300,000 laborers. This unobtrusive, empathetic documentary follows a handful of these workers through their daily routines, capturing their camaraderie and the precariousness of their lives. FREER GALLERY OF ART SUN., MARCH 3, 2 P.M.

Dead Souls

Directed by Wang Bing (France/Switzerland, 2018, 495 min.)

Over 10 years in the making, Wang Bing’s latest project records testimony from survivors of a hard-labor camp in the Gobi Desert. The 495-minute documentary also surveys the harsh landscape, where the bones of those who didn’t survive remain. It will be shown in three parts, each followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker. FREER GALLERY OF ART SAT., MARCH 9, 12 P.M. (PART 1) SAT., MARCH 9, 4 P.M. (PART 2) SUN., MARCH 10, 1 P.M. (PART 3)

Monster Hunt

Directed by Raman Hui (China/Hong Kong, 2015, 118 min.)

Join students from D.C.’s Chinese language immersion schools to watch a 3-D adventure that broke box office records. Brush up on your Mandarin or simply relax and enjoy the fantastic tale of a time when humans battled monsters — until the birth of Wuba, a monster king who wants to end the war. FREER GALLERY OF ART THU., MARCH 14, 10:30 A.M., FRI., MARCH 15, 1:30 P.M.

Mrs. Fang

Directed by Wang Bing (France/China/Germany, 2017, 102 min.)

This “unflinching, challenging, provocative film” (Jessica Kiang, Variety) presents the final days of a woman dying of Alzheimer’s in a small fishing village. FREER GALLERY OF ART FRI., MARCH 1, 7 P.M.


Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski (Poland/U.K./France, 2018, 89 min.)

“Cold War” is a passionate love story between a man and a woman who meet in the ruins of postwar Poland. With vastly



WD | Culture | Events

Events Listings *Please check the venue for times. Venue locations are subject to change.


Shane Pickett: Djinon Djina Boodja Look at the Land I Have Travelled

During his lifetime, Shane Pickett (1957-2010) was one of Western Australia’s most significant contemporary Aboriginal artists. “Djinong Djina Boodja (Look at the Land That I Have Travelled)” features works from the most radical and significant phase of his career. Balancing innovation with tradition, modernity with an ancient spirituality, they are complex visual metaphors for the persistence of Nyoongar culture against the colonizing tide of modernity. EMBASSY OF AUSTRALIA ART GALLERY


The Gifts of Tony Podesta

The first major exhibition drawn from the museum’s Corcoran Legacy Collection features photography and sculpture donated by Tony Podesta over the past decade to the Corcoran Gallery of Art, which is now part of the American University Museum’s holdings. AMERICAN UNIVERSITY MUSEUM


Jiří Kolář (1912-2002): Forms of Visual Poetry

During the communist regime in Czechoslovakia, modernist Czech poet and visual artist Jiří Kolář (1914-2002) encountered considerable challenges, including a prison sentence for the critical stance toward the system expressed in his poetry. Whether because “images” were less easily censurable than “words” or for other, personal reasons, from about 1959, he focused exclusively on visual arts. Yet most of his mixed-media works remained profoundly concerned with the word/image relationship, and can best be described as “visual” poetry. AMERICAN UNIVERSITY MUSEUM


Michael B. Platt + Carole A. Beane: Influences and Connections

Standing at the foot of Australia’s sacred sandstone monolith known as Uluru, Michael B. Platt and Carol A. Beane envisioned a world invisible to many others. The world is at once primordial and imminent, spiritual and mortal. Inspired by the ancestral stories told by the indigenous keepers of Australia’s most sacred grounds, Platt and Beane fuse poetic image with word. AMERICAN UNIVERSITY MUSEUM


Ursula von Rydingsvard: The Contour of Feeling

This major exhibition celebrat-

The Washington Diplomat animal figures.

ing one of the most influential sculptors working today marks the most ambitious Ursula von Rydingsvard exhibition to date in the United States and her first solo exhibition in Washington, D.C. Featuring 30 sculptures, a wall installation and 10 works on paper, the exhibition focuses on the artist’s signature works — monumental, organic-shaped sculptures made from carved cedar wood — as well as other pieces that are on view in this project for the first time.



Good as Gold: Fashioning Senegalese Women



Open to Interpretation

Artist Claudia Samper focuses on birds as her subject matter, closely observing them and growing to appreciate their apparent freedom, inclination to explore, early rising habits, dedication to their young, lyrical songs and their colorful plumage. Using these avian metaphors, she creates paintings, drawings and transparencies to explore the perception of human communication. EMBASSY OF ARGENTINA


First Chefs: Fame and Foodways from Britain to the Americas

Just like today, getting food from farm to table in the early modern British world was hard work. And just like today, most of that hard work went unrecognized. “First Chefs” tells the stories of the named and unnamed heroes of early modern food culture, and juxtaposes the extravagance of an increasingly cosmopolitan and wealthy upper class against the human cost of its pleasures: the millions of enslaved women, children, men, servants, gardeners, street criers and laborers who toiled to feed themselves and many others. FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY


Ambreen Butt – Mark My Words

This is the first solo exhibition in Washington, D.C., for PakistaniAmerican artist Ambreen Butt (born 1969). Featuring 13 mixedmedia works on paper, “Mark My Words” reveals the connection between the artist’s global consciousness and the physical mark-making techniques that she uses to create her works. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WOMEN IN THE ARTS


The Culture of Time and Space

This exhibition of digital media art explores the convergence of Korean traditional beauty and contemporary technology, featuring works by Korean media artist HyeGyung Kim. Kim focuses on the convergence of digital media and Taoism through the medium of East Asian antiques. She experiments with connections between digital media and traditional


In “Poetic Chicle” at GALA Hispanic Theatre, a Salvadoran’s American dream is upended when President Trump ends temporary protected status for his mother and thousands of others who now face deportation. Oriental art that represents Korean beauty through projection mapping and interactive media. Ultimately, Kim hopes to provide an experience beyond space and time through this artistic dialogue, while also introducing the vibrancy of Korean contemporary media art and the deep connections possible between traditional aesthetic values and today’s digital technologies. KOREAN CULTURAL CENTER


Dream of Reality: An Homage to Joy Laville from the Kimberly Collection The Mexican Cultural Institute presents works from its Kimberly Collection showcasing the paintings of Joy Laville in dialogue with some of her contemporaries, who, like her, worked and lived in Mexico and shared similar thematic obsessions and traces of the plastic language. MEXICAN CULTURAL INSTITUTE


Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Pulse

Innovative Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer brings the largest interactive technology exhibition to the Hirshhorn. “Pulse” takes up the entire second level, with three major installations using heart-rate sensors to create audiovisual experiences from visitors’ biometric data. Together, the biometric signatures will create spellbinding sequences of soundscapes, lights and animations. HIRSHHORN MUSEUM AND SCULPTURE GARDEN


PINK Ranchos and Other Ephemeral Zip Codes

Through this series of interconnected works, Colombian-American artist Carolina Mayorga invites the audience to enter a PINK-mented reality and experi-

ence her bicultural interpretations of those living inside ranchos, cambuches, shelters and other ephemeral zip codes. This site-specific multimedia project is the result of a year of artistic investigation on issues of home and homelessness and the artist’s fascination with the color pink. By applying the pigment to women and children (characters typically associated with home), memories of her native Colombia, 14 years of residency in D.C. and AMA’s permanent collection, she has created a pleasing environment to contrast the experiences of those living in exile, displacement, dislocation, relocation and eviction.



Zilia Sánchez: Soy Isla (I Am an Island)

The Phillips presents the first museum retrospective of Cuban artist Zilia Sánchez. This longoverdue exhibition examines the artist’s prolific yet largely unknown career that spans almost 70 years, featuring more than 60 works including paintings, works on paper, shaped canvases and sculptural pieces, alongside illustrations, design sketches and ephemera. Many of Sánchez’s works reference protagonists from ancient mythology (such as Trojans, Amazonians, and Antigone—all warriors and female heroines). Others have reoccurring motifs of lunar shapes, erotic topologies and tattoo drawings that map physical and psychological spaces. THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION


Shaping Clay in Ancient Iran

Potters in ancient Iran were fascinated by the long-beaked waterfowl and rams with curled horns around them. This exhibition of ceramics produced in northwestern Iran highlights animal-shaped vessels as well as jars and bowls decorated with

March 2019

against the world beyond its borders, and the consequences that closed borders bring in their wake, Cirkus Cirkör’s voice as an advocate for crossing boundaries has grown stronger. Tickets are $19 to $85.

In the cities of the West African nation of Senegal, stylish women have often used jewelry as part of an overall strategy of exhibiting their elegance and prestige. Rooted in the Wolof concept of sañse (dressing up, looking and feeling good), “Good as Gold” examines the production, display, and circulation of gold in Senegal as it celebrates a significant gift of gold jewelry to the National Museum of African Art’s collection.






Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths

More than 225 works of art — including blades and currencies in myriad shapes and sizes, wood sculptures studded with iron, musical instruments and elaborate body adornments — reveal the histories of invention and technical sophistication that led African blacksmiths to transform one of Earth’s most fundamental natural resources into objects of life-changing utility, empowerment, prestige, artistry and spiritual potency. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN ART


Portraits of the World: Korea

Pioneering feminist artist Yun Suknam (born 1939) uses portraiture to gain insights into the lives of women, past and present. A wood assemblage portrait of her mother is the centerpiece of this exhibition, which includes portraits of American artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Louise Nevelson, Marisol, Kiki Smith and Nancy Spero. NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY


The Washington Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty

The romantic and timeless tale of a magical kiss and the beloved story of Princess Aurora, her handsome prince and the evil Carabosse. A quintessential classical ballet inspired by the fairy tale of true love’s kiss and the triumph of good over evil. Tickets are $25 to $160. KENNEDY CENTER EISENHOWER THEATER


World Stages: Cirkus Cirkör – Limits

Sweden’s Cirkus Cirkör has consistently explored and defied limits through performances and research projects, as well as through the interactions of circus and society, audiences and participants. In light of Europe’s ever-tightening boundaries

TUE., MARCH 19, 7:30 P.M.

Akiko Kitamura’s Cross Transit

“Cross Transit” steps into the history of folk culture in Cambodia as captured by photographer Kim Hak and transformed into movement by international choreographer and dancer Akiko Kitamura. Tickets are $29 to $39. KENNEDY CENTER TERRACE THEATER

FRI., MARCH 1, 6 P.M.

A Conversation with Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Eva Longoria Bastón

In this family-friendly event, Sotomayor will discuss her life story, from her birthplace in the South Bronx through her journey to become the first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the Supreme Court. Tickets are $22.25. GW LISNER AUDITORIUM

THU., MARCH 7, 6 P.M.

Art and Urban Planning Policy

What is the relationship between urban planning policy and creativity? Our guest speakers will explore the intersections of art, innovation, and policy. Andres Blanco from the InterAmerican Development Bank’s Housing and Urban Development’s Cities Lab will moderate a talk on the subject and provide insights on the role of creative platforms and innovation that transform sustainable urban development in the region. For information, visit IDB CULTURAL CENTER

THU., MARCH 7, 6:45 P.M.

The Spanish Craze by Richard Kagan

“The Spanish Craze” is the compelling story of the centurieslong fascination with the history, literature, art, culture, and architecture of Spain in the United States. Professor Richard L. Kagan of the Library of Congress offers a revisionist understanding of the origins of hispanidad in America, tracing its origins from the Early Republic to the New Deal. Admission is free but RSVP is required; for information, visit FORMER RESIDENCE OF THE AMBASSADORS OF SPAIN

SAT., MARCH 9, 9:30 A.M. TO 3:30 P.M.

Churchill: The Man Behind the Myths

In a wide-ranging daylong examination, historian Kevin

Events | Culture | WD

Matthews discusses Winston Churchill’s tempestuous career as an army officer, war correspondent, member of Parliament, and minister in both Liberal and Conservative governments to reveal a man too often hidden by the post-World War II myths that surround him. Tickets are $160, including lunch; for information, visit S. DILLON RIPLEY CENTER

WED., MARCH 13, 6:45 P.M.

Dubai: The Gulf’s Emerald City

Dubai is all about dazzle: soaring skyscrapers, ultraluxurious hotels and shopping developments. It has also been criticized as artificial city, and a place more hospitable to monied foreign visitors than its own residents — 85 percent of whom come from other countries. Urban scholar Yasser Elsheshtawy examines how members of the city’s marginalized and invisible communities were able to carve out places in which they can feel at home. Tickets are $30; for information, visit S. DILLON RIPLEY CENTER

SAT., MARCH 16, 9:30 A.M. TO 4:15 P.M.

Morocco’s Royal Cities: An Artistic and Cultural Mosaic

The rich textures and monuments of Morocco’s four royal cities — Fez, Marrakesh, Meknes, and Rabat — reflect their positions on the crossroads of Northwest Africa’s trade routes with the Western Mediterranean and the Islamic world. In this richly illustrated day-long program, art historian Lawrence Butler explores Morocco’s great royal cities over time, through the lenses of art and architecture. Tickets are $140; for information, visit S. DILLON RIPLEY CENTER

WED., MARCH 20, 6:30 P.M.

The Story of H by Marina Perezagua

Spanish writer Marina Perezagua presents her new book, “The Story of H,” which describes a searing quest by a Japanese woman and an American soldier to find a girl who goes missing in the aftermath of Hiroshima, a journey that spans the globe and travels to the darkest corners of the human mind and memory. For information, visit washington-dc/. KRAMERBOOKS


Francophonie Festival

The D.C. Francophonie Cultural Festival celebrates the diversity and richness of the French language and Francophone communities around the world through a series of cultural events and outreach programs presented every spring in the capital of the United States. 2019 highlights include “The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Canadian Response and Global Context (Québec)” on March 11; a meet and greet with artist Jacqueline Ravelomanana


at the Embassy of Madagascar on March 22; and La Grande Fête at the French Embassy on March 29. For information, visit www.

The Master and Margarita

The Devil descends on 1930s Moscow, wreaking havoc on the city’s corrupt literary and social elite. Meanwhile, a brilliant writer known as the Master is imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital by Soviet censors, and his devoted lover Margarita joins forces with the Devil and his demonic crew in a courageous effort to rescue the Master from his fate. What follows is a diabolical extravaganza complete with a satanic magic show, a fast-talking black cat, and a midnight ball hosted by the Devil himself. Tickets are $19 to $45; for information, visit


MUSIC SUN., MARCH 3, 5:30 P.M.

Johannes Moser and Till Fellner

The “radiant playing” (The Baltimore Sun) of German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser unites with the refined artistry of Austrian pianist Till Fellner. Together, they juxtapose Beethoven’s intimate Op. 102 sonatas, written in 1815, with a varied group of works from a century later. Tickets are $42; for information, visit




WED., MARCH 6, 7:30 P.M.

Washington Performing Arts: Steven Isserlis, Cello

Acclaimed worldwide for his profound musicianship and technical mastery, British cellist Steven Isserlis enjoys a unique and distinguished career as a soloist, chamber musician, educator, author and broadcaster. Tickets are $55. KENNEDY CENTER TERRACE THEATER

MON., MARCH 11, 7 P.M.

Diego Guerrero

Spanish artist Diego Guerrero has always transcended Flamenco in his music. Guerrero is not only a singer, but also a multifaceted musical producer, arranger, composer and guitarist, and one of the top reference points when it comes to the fusion of Flamenco with other genres like Afro-Cuban rumba or jazz. Tickets are $15 to $25; for information, visit washington-dc/.


“Confection” is a multisensory dance/theater performance at Folger Theatre that contemplates cultures of consumption using accounts of the extravagant banquets and sumptuous feasts held by the aristocracy of the late 17th-century. FRI., MARCH 15, 7:30 P.M.

Elham Fanoos, Piano

Elham Fanoos is a leading Afghan pianist of his generation. His life’s work is to represent a positive face of Afghanistan’s future and to provide hope to musicians and artists living under threats to their creative expression all around the world. Fanoos has performed as a soloist on State Department-sponsored appearances at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall in New York City. He also performed at the Library of Congress for the 2017 Anne Frank Awards Ceremony, and he has played for members of the diplomatic corps of Australia, China, Germany, Italy and Korea. Tickets are $125, including Afghan buffet; for information, visit EMBASSY OF AFGHANISTAN

SUN., MARCH 24, 3 P.M.

Vienna to Hollywood: Chamber Music at the Barns A number of Viennese composers successfully bridged the void between the concert hall and the movie theater: this performance explores the robust harmonies of two such composers, violinist Fritz Kreisler and Erich Korngold. Violinist Sean Lee and the Sitkovetsky Trio make their Barns debuts. Tickets are $40. WOLF TRAP

TUE., MARCH 26, 7:30 P.M.

Lobkowicz Trio

All three members of the Lobkowicz Trio are renowned soloists and chamber players who have made a name for their ensemble both at home and abroad on the International


TUE., MARCH 12, 7 P.M.

María Terremoto

Spanish artist María Terremoto comes from the Terremoto family musical legacy. She was the youngest artist to ever receive the Giraldillo Award for New Artist at the Seville Flamenco Biennial, and she just released her first album, “La huella de mi sentío,” in which she presents the cantes (songs) that have been with her since childhood. Tickets are $15 to $25; for information, visit www.spainculture. us/city/washington-dc/.

FRI., MARCH 29, 7:30 P.M.

A Night in Vienna: Julian Schwarz, Cello Marika Bournaki, Piano

Marika Bournaki is a Canadian pianist who has toured internationally as a soloist and recitalist, and was the subject of the awardwinning documentary “I am Not a Rockstar,” chronicling her development from age 12 to 20. Julian Schwarz is an AustrianAmerican cellist from Seattle who was the first-prize winner at the 2013 Inaugural Schoenfeld International String Competition in Hong Kong. Together, they will play a program of Beethoven, Shubert, Schumann and other classics. Tickets are $75, including reception with wine; for information, visit www.



Using accounts of the extravagant banquets and sumptuous feasts held by the aristocracy of the late 17th-century as a springboard, “Confection” is a multisensory dance/theater performance that contemplates cultures of consumption and poses the questions: How much does sweetness cost, and what are we willing to devour to satisfy our appetites? In this 45-minute experience, audiences are granted exclusive access to the Folger’s magnificent Paster and Sedgwick-Bond Reading Rooms, with a performance that winds its way through these massive and ornate spaces, and are invited to savor bite-sized delights designed by local pâtissiers. Tickets are $40 to $60. FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY

It’s Art Basel, Miami’s weeklong party for the rich and famous, where socialite darling Julie reigns over the blowout her real estate mogul father is throwing at his South Beach hotel. But when her fiancé dumps her in front of the crowd, Julie hides from her humiliation — and her father — in the hotel’s barely used storage kitchen. Her companions are Christine, a cocktail waitress who recently fled violence in Venezuela, and Christine’s fiancé John, an Uber driver from the Miami slums. This explosive elixir of power, class, and race in Latinx communities is a bold and contemporary take on August Strindberg’s “Miss Julie” by vibrant rising voice Hilary Bettis. Tickets are $20 to $90.




“JQA” shines a spotlight with humor and care on an ineffectual presidency, the idea of government and how a society lives in relationship to it, and the American experiment as it continues to evolve. Tickets are $40 to $95.


Jade Jones stars as Little Red Ridinghood in the Ford’s Theatre production of “Into the Woods.”




Habib Koité and Bassekou Kouyate

Forced into exile for political reasons, Spain’s renowned philosopher Miguel de Unamuno confronts a young fisherman, a general and a journalist about their beliefs regarding freedom, reason and faith while he plans his escape from the island of Fuerteventura. Tickets are $48.


Aaron Posner’s JQA

WED., MARCH 13, 8 P.M., THU., MARCH 14, 8 P.M.





Habib Koité , “Mali’s biggest pop star” (Rolling Stone), is joined by “the Hendrix of his instrument” (Uncut Magazine), Ngoni player Bassekou Kouyate for two collaborative performances bringing innovation and a sense of togetherness to The Barns. Tickets are $45 to $55.

Johannes Brahms Competition 2014 in Pörtschach, Austria, where they took home the top prizes. Tickets are $95, including buffet and wine; for information, visit

The Old Man, The Youth, and The Sea (El Viejo, El Joben y El Mar)

After a bad health scare, Octavia decides to put off her troubles and blow off some serious steam with her friends June and Imani. Will one last epic night on the town — a true test of their friendship full of outrageous, absurd encounters — lead to epiphany or disaster? Tickets start at $46. WOOLLY MAMMOTH THEATRE COMPANY

Queen of Basel




WD | Culture | Spotlight

Diplomatic Spotlight

March 2019

New Ambassadors The Meridian International Center hosted a reception for recently accredited ambassadors to the U.S. on Jan. 15. The event included envoys from Afghanistan, Armenia, Chad, Chile, Costa Rica, Lesotho, Sudan, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Slovakia and South Sudan. From left, back row to front row: Ambassador of Slovakia Ivan Korcok; Meridian President and CEO Stuart Holliday; Ambassadors Ngote Gali Koutou of Chad; Philip Jada Natana of South Sudan; Fernando Llorca Castro of Costa Rica; Varuzhan Nersesyan of Armenia; Mohamed Atta Abbas of Sudan; Martha Bárcena Coqui of Mexico; Roya Rahmani of Afghanistan; Otgonbayar Yondon of Mongolia; Keith Azzopardi of Malta; and Sankatana Gabriel Maja of Lesotho.


Ambassador of Chile Oscar Alfonso Sebastian Silva Navarro, Ambassador of Afghanistan Roya Rahmani and Ambassador of Armenia Varuzhan Nersesyan.

Ambassadors Alfonso Silva of Chile; Roya Rahmani of Afghanistan; Fernando Llorca Castro of Costa Rica; Varuzhan Nersesyan of Armenia; and Mohamed Atta Abbas of Sudan.

Art Collins, founder and managing partner of theGROUP; U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Jean Manes; Meridian Executive Vice President and COO Lee Satterfield; and Ann Stock.

Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative of Small Business, Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness Christina Sevilla and Paloma Martinez Aldama of the Embassy of Spain.

Gerardo Díaz Bartolomé of the Embassy of Argentina, former U.S. Protocol Chief Capricia Marshall and Jan Du Plain.

Geoff Jones of Monarch Global Strategies, Kathryn Minor of EverFi, James Blanchard of DLA Piper and James Jones, chairman of Monarch Global Strategies.

Ambassador of South Sudan Philip Jada Natana and Mary Juan Natana.

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson, Marcia Jackson, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, and Jay Hone.

Ambassador of Mexico Martha Bárcena Coqui and President of the Overseas Private Investment Corp. Ray Washburne.

Ambassador of Mongolia Otgonbayar Yondon talks with Daman Irby of the University of Virginia.

Victor Shiblie and Anna Gawel of The Washington Diplomat and Thomas Coleman of the Department of Homeland Security.

Ambassador of Armenia Varuzhan Nersesyan.

Ambassador of Malta Keith Azzopardi and Loretta Greene, director of international trade affairs at the Department of Commerce.

Brittany Masalosalo of 3M, Janetta Brewer, Eric Guthrie and Omar Vargas of 3M.

Ambassador of Chile Oscar Alfonso Sebastian Silva Navarro, Ambassador of Mexico Martha Bárcena Coqui, former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Laurie Fulton and Meridian President and CEO Stuart Holliday.

EU on the Hill Despite the rocky relations between President Trump and the European Union, the EU Delegation to the U.S. held a talk on Capitol Hill to discuss transatlantic relations and re-launch the bipartisan Congressional European Union Caucus. EU Ambassador David O’Sullivan, who is leaving his posting shortly, urged the U.S. not to “underestimate how far the EU has come” and emphasized that “the U.S. has every interest in the success of the EU project.” PHOTOS: BEN BANGOURA

Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), left, and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), right, pay tribute to EU Ambassador David O’Sullivan.


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, center, is welcomed by guests.

Ambassador of France Gérard Araud, left, talks to Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), right.

Spotlight | Culture | WD

Sous Vide Day at France In honor of International Sous Vide Day on Jan. 26, Cuisine Solutions hosted a charitable dining experience at the French Embassy, where guests explored the modern French roots of the sous vide technique by enjoying innovative cuisine and craft cocktails prepared by Cuisine Solutions chefs. The evening featured hors d’oeuvres from four themed stations — the U.S., France, Thailand and Bruno Goussault (French innovator of the sous vide cooking technique). Dinner dishes included seared St. Pierre with cucumber beurre blanc and sous vide baby fennel, as well as a duo of beef bone-in and boneless short rib with celery root puree and pickled chanterelles. Proceeds from the evening benefited Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), a national nonprofit that educates and guides underserved high school students.

John Meyer; Chairman and CEO of Cuisine Solutions Stanislas Vilgrain; Alki Meyer and Rachel Silverio.

Artist Catalina Garretón.

Mitch Berliner and Debra Moser, both of Central Farm Markets, Drew Faulkner and Dave Faulkner.


Adrian Stewart; Claire King; Yvette Williams, program coordinator of C-CAP; chef LaReva Smith; and Troy Williams, chef coordinator of C-CAP. A.J. Schaller of Cuisine Solutions with Laura Miller and Adam Krupa.

Nycci Nellis and Anna Alexandra-Rojo.

Victor Shiblie of The Washington Diplomat and public relations specialist Heather Freeman.

Prevent Cancer Foundation Tea

Leila Oualha, Aida Murad and Sumayya Tobah

Keiko Thurston; Karen Wordsworth; Jim Wordsworth, president of J.R.’s Goodtimes Inc.; and David Thurston.

Melanie Lytle, architectural historian at Goucher College, and Brian Opdycke of HRGi.

Anita Dahinden, wife of the Swiss ambassador; Gouri Mirpuri, wife of the Singaporean ambassador; and Carolyn Aldigé, founder and CEO of the Prevent Cancer Foundation, attend a tea hosted at the Singaporean Residence. The Mirpuris served as honorary patrons of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s 2018 Annual Spring Gala, “Sensations of Singapore,” and will soon pass the honor to the Dahindens for the 25th anniversary gala, “Switzerland: Postcard Perfect,” on May 9.

Chinese New Year Celebration On Feb. 6, the Meridian International Center co-hosted the ninth annual Chinese New Year Celebration with the Embassy of China. Over 500 guests came together to honor the Year of the Pig and the 40th Anniversary of U.S.-China diplomatic relations. The event featured performances from Guandong Province, including traditional fan dancing, acrobats, painting, magic, instrumental performances, as well as a photographic exhibition showcasing milestones and events during the last 40 years of normalized relations. Matthew Pottinger, senior director for Asian affairs at the White House, talks with Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Hilary Geary Ross and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross talk with Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Chairman of the Meridian Board of Trustees Carlos Gutierrez; Ambassador of China Cui Tiankai, Meridian President and CEO Stuart Holliday; Deputy Chief of Mission of the Chinese Embassy Li Kexin; and Meridian Executive Vice President and COO Lee Satterfield.


Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State Department Bureau of East Asia and and Pacific Affairs W. Patrick Murphy talks with Meridian President and CEO Stuart Holliday.

Jay Taylor, vice president of international affairs for PhRMA, and Carr Slayton, international government affairs manager for Boston Scientific.

Edilia Gutierrez, former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai welcomes guests.

Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai talks with Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan of the Northern Mariana Islands.



SKØLD: Music is very personal and something many people can connect to. People seem to open up when they hear good, fun music. The band members’ different backgrounds also give a message about teamwork and partnership across national borders and cultures.

of Music,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Annie” and “Pippi Langstrømpe.” In my younger years I also did a tour in Beijing to present Western popular music for Chinese high school students.

SD: As Jim heads to Kabul, and Artur and Randy back to Ottawa, what will be the legacy of Diplomatic Immunity in Oslo?

SD: How does your band promote diplomacy and good relations between nations and cultures?

SKØLD: Teamwork, music enjoyment and zest for life.


DEHART: Some spilled beer, though the floors at the Herr Nilsen are mopped pretty WILCZYNSKI: The band broke stereotypes. It regularly. portrayed a different image of what diplomats do and gave a chance for our personalities to WILCZYNSKI: I think we did change the come out. People are more interested in conPHOTO: COURTESY SHAWN DORMAN / DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY way that diplomats are perceived in Nornecting on a personal level and music is incredway. I think that we have created expectaibly effective at doing that. The band opened U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires to Norway Jim DeHart plays tions that diplomats will be more accesdoors. It opened minds about diplomats and on the guitar as part of the band Diplomatic Immunity. sible, fun and a little less elitist than our helped us connect to thousands of Norwegians that we wouldn’t have engaged with without the band. As Jim said, the band was a reputation has us being. conversation starter that helped us bridge to whatever issue we felt was important. For me, it was an instrument to talk about diversity and inclusion. It was a way to SD: What else should we know about Diplomatic Immunity? project, through my participation, Canada as a fun and inclusive place. Based on the feedback we have received, it worked. WILCZYNSKI:We will be hoping for a reunion at some point. You never know when or where. We have become good friends through this band. I will cherish that part DEHART: The average Norwegian is not necessarily interested in our policy mes- of the experience perhaps more than anything. sages. Often, we have to hook them with something of human interest, and the band does that. It grabs their attention and then we have their ear for more serious conver- DEHART: We just released a CD of five original songs called “A Foreign Affair.” You can sations — for example, in connection with Oslo Pride. Also, it’s about humanizing stream it for free on But to get the dirt on all the backstage drama, I’m ourselves. A lot of folks seem to assume that diplomats are a staid bunch, so when afraid you’ll have to wait for a future episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music.” WD we rock out, they’re genuinely puzzled, which leads to interest. The band has opened a lot of doors for Artur and me, raising our profiles across the government and civil Shawn Dorman is a former U.S. diplomat who now serves as editor in chief of The Foreign Service Journal. society. After all, even senior leaders like to rock out and have fun.


its unique physical storytelling and a stylistic twist to this commediainspired wordless adaptation of “Cyrano.” Tickets are $20.



The Heiress MARCH 8 TO MAY 22

Into the Woods

In Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s imaginative, darkly comical remix of beloved fairytales, a baker and his wife set out to reverse a witch’s curse in hopes of having a child of their own. The couple’s quest takes them into the woods, where they encounter Little Red Ridinghood, Jack and his beanstalk, a cautious Cinderella, a sequestered Rapunzel and a couple of lovelorn princes. Tickets are $20 to $83. FORD’S THEATRE



GALita, a program of GALA geared toward families, presents the art and life of Pablo Picasso through his memories of family and friends and his love of bullfights, the circus and all types of performances. Using music, dance, and puppets, “Picasso” explores the artist’s life and what inspired him. Tickets are $10 for children and $12 for adults. GALA HISPANIC THEATRE



A brilliant poet and soldier, Cyrano de Bergerac apparently has it all — except the confidence to win the heart of his beloved Roxane. Lacking traditional good looks and the ability to truly “fit in,” Cyrano partners with his handsome friend Christian, also in love with Roxane but lacking Cyrano’s way with words. Synetic Theater will apply

After growing up subjected to her father’s disinterest and strong resentment, a young woman in the 1850s discovers what love is in her journey toward independence, growth and strength, without an impactful female role model in her life. Tickets are $40 to $95. ARENA STAGE


Nell Gwynn

A humble orange seller from the streets of Drury Lane steps onto the stage and becomes the darling of the Restoration theater. Nell discovers one of her biggest fans is none other than Charles II. Smitten with Nell’s spirit, the king brings her to court as a favorite mistress. Tickets are $42 to $79. FOLGER THEATRE


Richard the Third

“Richard the Third” is the ultimate story of villainy, charting the rise of a tyrant who will stop at nothing to gain power. As he climbs ever higher, Richard bends the world to his will until even his mother can’t bear to own him. A study of both character and society, the play comments sharply on how a nation allows itself to fall into line. Please call for ticket information. SHAKESPEARE THEATRE COMPANY

TUE., MARCH 12, 7 P.M.

Reading: Yours, Lise – Exile Letters by Meitner, Physicist


Austrian-Swedish physicist Lise Meitner is one of the most renowned women in science. In 1944, Otto Hahn won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of the nuclear fission of uranium, the splitting of the atom — a research project Meitner and Hahn started together. In 1938, Meitner, who was Jewish, fled Nazi Germany but still contributed to the research and the breakthrough discovery. From her exile, Meitner corresponded with Hahn, thus the nuclear fission plays a major role in their letters. However, the loss of her work and friends weighed hard on her; her loneliness as well as her concern for the world in these dark times are addressed frequently in her letters, revealing an extremely sensitive, profound and eloquent person. Musician and producer Stefan Frankenberger has created an audiobook based on the letters from exile between Meitner and Hahn, a staged reading of which will be performed by local actors Jennifer Mendenhall and Michael Kramer. Admission is free but registration is required and can be made at EMBASSY OF AUSTRIA

MARCH 12 TO 13

Theater from the Middle East and North Africa: Jogging

A Lebanese woman follows a daily routine of jogging to keep herself safe from obesity, bone diseases and anxiety, creating a connection between her intimate personal space and the city. Tickets are $15.


MARCH 14 TO 16

World Stages: The Last Supper

Making its U.S. premiere, this darkly comedic satire highlights the harsh indifference of the bourgeoisie in Egypt and the hollow exchanges

that masquerade as human connection. Tickets are $15 to $35. KENNEDY CENTER FAMILY THEATER

FRI., MARCH 15, 8 P.M., SAT., MARCH 16, 8 P.M.

Poetic Chicle – The Return of Loco Culebra

In “Poetic Chicle,” Quique Avilés returns to the stage as Loco Culebra, defender of los cafecitos, whom God has sent to earth to check on the state of refugees and immigrants in the Trump era. Through Loco Culebra, we follow Chamba, a Salvadoran child vendor who travels over three decades and three borders to the United States, where he gets an education, marries and becomes a citizen. Chamba’s American dream, however, is threatened when President Trump ends temporary protected status for his mother and thousands of others who now face deportation. Tickets are $20. GALA HISPANIC THEATRE

Mexico border between Tijuana and San Diego, where a migrant woman from Central America, deported when seeking asylum in the U.S., waits for news of the daughter from whom she’s been separated. Tickets are $45; for information, visit



Vanity Fair

Becky Sharp never blushes. As the wily Becky and her gentle friend Amelia scale social ladders and hurdle the whims of fate, only one question matters: How do you get what you want in life? This new adaptation harnesses the frivolity of Thackeray’s novel while recasting its (anti) heroines as complex, vibrant women, delivering “a gift to actors and a goody bag for its audience” (The New York Times). Please call for ticket information. SHAKESPEARE THEATRE COMPANY

MARCH 16 TO 30


A man who sells his soul for worldly gain finds a perfect home in the Beltway as Washington National Opera stages Charles Gounod’s 1859 opera “Faust,” performed in French with projected English titles. After a 25-year absence from its stage, WNO resurrects the French classic filled with depression, damnation and demons, in which the aging Dr. Faust exchanges heaven’s rewards for earth’s mortal pleasures, only to learn his salvation is tragically bound to others. Tickets start at $45.

Three women — an art restorer, her nurse and their military captor — are trapped in a ravaged museum during a catastrophic hundred years’ war. Tasked with restoring a damaged Rembrandt painting, the women find common shreds of humanity as they try to save a small symbol of beauty in their broken world. Please call for ticket information.

Washington National Opera: Faust


MARCH 23 TO 31

La Paloma at the Wall

The InSeries takes “La Verbena de la Paloma,” Spain’s most beloved zarzuela, and sets it at the U.S.-

Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity



arts & entertainment

Plan Your Entire Weekend.


TWD: For all the Trump administration has gotten wrong — in your estimation — it still hasn’t lifted sanctions. VJ: Steve Biegun stated at a conference in Northern California: No sanctions relief before denuclearization. This means 100 percent of sanctions stay in place until complete denuclearization. However, the Trump administration has slid from that and is willing to entertain some sanctions relief in exchange for some denuclearization. [Biegun suggested that while the U.S. would not offer sanctions relief, it could provide other forms of assistance such as humanitarian aid.] Kim believes North Korea has made enough concessions and it is therefore time for the U.S. to make concessions in the form of some sanctions relief. Other concessions the U.S. can make include: one, a declaration to end the Korean War, which I believe President Trump will

do before he leaves office, and two, break the nuclear deterrence [umbrella] with South Korea. TWD: How does South Korea respond to a possible nixing of the nuclear deterrence, whereby the U.S. guarantees to defend its non-nuclear ally. VJ: Response would be mixed. The government is largely controlled by the progressive bloc and right now, they would support all of these concessions. The reason is this gets the South closer to unification with the North, which is what they want. Moreover, progressives are not wedded to the U.S. alliance. Many of Moon’s advisors are not supportive of the U.S.-South Korea alliance. In fact, many of them speak openly against the alliance with the U.S. TWD: If President Trump rhetorically ends the Korean War, what’s the point of maintaining the 28,000 U.S.


troops stationed in South Korea? VJ: Progressives trust Kim Jong-un will be willing to change and give up nukes if treated with respect. In addition, progressives believe unification appeals to Kim. TWD: Where does China fit into all of this? VJ: China and North Korea hate each other but China is willing to maintain an alliance out of convenience. China does not want a nucle-

ar-armed enemy on its border, nor do they want refugees fleeing to China. China prefers a friend on its border to an enemy. Kim refused to meet with Xi Jinping for several years. It wasn’t until Kim was ready to implement his charm offensive that he took a meeting with China’s leader. WD

Above, a statue in Pyongyang commemorates the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea. The number of slabs comprising the belt around the monument and its diameter stand for the date of birth of Kim Jong-il. Kim’s son, and the current ruler of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, is seen below walking into an October 2018 meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Eric Ham is a national security/political analyst on BBC, SkyNews and SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel and the creator of “The PJs! a.k.a. The Political Junkies” digital political show.



Serbia. Both countries would become more ‘ethnically pure.’ Many people would have to leave their family homes and birthplaces. In short, there would be an exchange of populations, not just territories.” He added: “Creating ethnically homogenous territories and states (in short, getting rid of minorities) is hardly a new idea. In Kosovo, throughout history, it’s happened many times. And it has always left deep wounds that simply won’t heal.”

KOSOVO: ‘A BIPARTISAN ISSUE’ In December, in the wake of the proposed land swap and the creation of a Kosovar army, Trump sent a letter to Thaçi prodding him to make a deal with his Serbian counterpart and end the standoff. “Failure to capitalize on this unique opportunity would be a tragic setback, as another chance for a comprehensive peace is unlikely to occur again soon,” said the letter. “The United States has invested heavily in the success of Kosovo as an independent, sovereign state.” In response, Thaçi wrote a Jan. 8 letter in which he said that he is “ready and willing to make compromises necessary to reach a comprehensive and balanced settlement,” although he offered no details on what those compromises might entail.


Turkish Army troops are part of KFOR, the 540-man NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

America’s continued support, both political and financial, is critical for the impoverished Balkan nation. After Trump’s narrow election victory and before he actually took office, there was some concern among Kosovars that his administration would take a less friendly approach toward their situation than the Democrats had. Those fears were compounded by Trump’s adulation of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his constant ranting against NATO, which has been protecting Kosovo’s borders ever since independence. Yet such concern is unfounded, said Sahatqija, because for the United States, Koso-

vo is a bipartisan issue. “It doesn’t matter whether one or another party is in power,” she said. “Kosovo was liberated during the Clinton administration, but we declared independence during the Bush administration. So no matter who is president, Kosovo has the sympathy of both parties. Remember that the statue of Bill Clinton is on a boulevard named after George W. Bush.” Kosovo has worked diligently to cultivate ties around the world, including the United States. In fact, more Kosovars live outside their country than in it, with 300,000 in the New York metropolitan area alone; large

immigrant communities also flourish in Detroit, Switzerland and Germany. Kosovo’s New York mission fronting Second Avenue, just a few blocks from U.N. headquarters, employs six diplomats, each of them responsible for a different part of the world. One of them, Ines Demiri, has been particularly instrumental in generating support for Kosovo among Jewish Americans. Her father, Votim Demiri, is the patriarch of the country’s 56 Jews, nearly all of whom live in Prizren. “Ines is doing a great job,” Sahatqija said. “Thanks to her, we’ve established strong ties with the Jewish community in New York.” Even so, Kosovo’s warmth toward its Jews hasn’t translated into recognition by Israel. “The Israelis never said so clearly, but their fear is that it might resemble the issue of Palestine,” Sahatqija said. “But this has nothing to do with Palestine. Kosovo is a product of the dissolution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It’s the seventh state. Everybody already recognizes six states, so it’s unimaginable why they don’t recognize the seventh.” As if to drive home the paradox, Sahatqija pointed out that Serbia’s wars didn’t involve only Kosovo. “In the 1990s, it had four wars against Slovenia, Croatia and a bloody war of genocide with Bosnia. Kosovo was the fourth victim of Serbian aggression,” she said, noting that 375 Kosovars were massacred in the village of Meja on one day alone. “Even so, Serbia has diplomatic relations with all those other countries. It’s about time we recognize each other and work for the future.” WD Tel Aviv-based journalist Larry Luxner is news editor of The Washington Diplomat.


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Italian and Croatian).


different backgrounds and temperaments, they are fatefully mismatched and yet condemned to each other. Set against the background of the Cold War in 1950s Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, it’s the tale of a couple separated by politics, character flaws and unfortunate twists of fate — an impossible love story in impossible times (Polish, French, German, Russian,



indigenous people, get caught up in a conflict where honor is the highest currency and debts are paid with blood (Spanish, Wayuu and English).





Birds of Passage

Everybody Knows

Directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra (Colombia/Denmark/Mexico, 2019, 125 min.)

During the marijuana bonanza in 1970s, a violent decade that saw the origins of drug trafficking in Colombia, Rapayet and his family, who belong to the Wayúu

Directed by Asghar Farhadi (Spain/France/Italy, 2019, 132 min.)

Laura, a Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires, returns to her hometown outside Madrid with her two children to attend her sister’s wedding. However, the trip is upset by unexpected

events that bring secrets into the open (Spanish, English and Catalan).





Directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Mexico/U.S., 2018, 135 min.)

The most personal project to date from Academy Award-winning director and writer Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma” follows a young domestic worker for a family in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma in Mexico City. Deliver-

ing an artful love letter to the women who raised him, Cuarón draws on his own childhood to create a vivid and emotional portrait of domestic strife and social hierarchy amidst political turmoil of the 1970s.


SWEDISH The Feminist

Directed by Hampus Linder (Sweden, 2018, 91 min.)

In her native Sweden, everybody has an opinion about feminist trailblazer Gudrun Schyman. Some see her as a superhero, others as a villain — but most

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would agree that she’s been one of the most influential politicians of the past decades. Gudrun Schyman has been through all the ups and downs of political life: from humble beginnings in a blue-collar family grappling with her father’s alcoholism, becoming a social worker, rising to lead the Leftist party to record election results; publicly shamed for her struggles with addiction; overcoming her demons, and founding Europe’s first feminist party (part of the D.C. Independent Film Festival; in association with the Swedish Embassy).



15th Annual




Profile for The Washington Diplomat

The Washington Diplomat - March 2019  

The Washington Diplomat is an independent, monthly newspaper serving the Washington D.C. international and diplomatic community with regular...

The Washington Diplomat - March 2019  

The Washington Diplomat is an independent, monthly newspaper serving the Washington D.C. international and diplomatic community with regular...