Monday, July 12, 2010

At UN, Venezuelan Flutes and Beer, Clintons Shadow on Ban, Singapore's Vida Loca

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 10 -- The sounds of Venezuelan flutes echoes Friday evening from the UN General Assembly entrance down to the Security Council in the basement.

There was a celebration of the declaration of independence of the “Bolivarian Republic,” complete with Venezuelan rum, arepas and the country's best known beer, Polar.

Ironically Hugo Chavez is dueling with Polar's owner. But as one Bolivarian diplomat told Inner City Press, beer is beer, and politics, politics.

The turn out was good, including Japan's Permanent Representative Takasu who early in the day spoke outside the Security Council about the sinking of South Korea's Cheonan ship, Perm Reps of Luxembourg and Argentina and Bolivia among others, and a jazz trio playing John Coltrane songs.

The hit, however, was the folkloric Venezuelan group, flute and cuatro and stand-up bass. They played a Mercedes Sosa cover song. There were paintings of Bolivarian heroes, and a handout mentioning “the Great Colombia -- seeds of what would later become Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama.”

There was a rumor that pro-Chavez Oliver Stone might make the scene, in the wake of his movie “South of the Border.” A more UN specific rumor was told to Inner City Press: the team of Ban Ki-moon is concerned about getting a second term, due to issues like the Gaza flotilla and Sri Lanka, and the chance that one of the two Clintons might suddenly want the job.

They'd give Ban some climate change position,” a well place source predicted to Inner City Press.

Hugo Chavez previously at UN, Cerveza Polar and owner not shown

All week people had complained how the UN has gotten less fun with Mr. Ban at the helm. The old Delegates Lounge and its culture have been killed; now even the cafeteria stops serving food at 2:30, and the place is empty by six.

The action has moved outside of the UN. Singapore, for example, threw a party Friday night, on the second floor of its 51st Street mission. The crowd was mostly third and four tier diplomats, the ones who actually do the work in the budget and other committees. The DJ was Latin, playing such songs as Camisa Negra and even the old Living La Vida Loca. Under Ban Ki-moon, the UN is no longer Living La Vida Loca, but rather Seca, Aburida. But where there is life, there is hope. Watch this site.

Footnote: also at the cusp of foreign policy and pop music, Jennifer Lopez was forced to cancel a concert in Northern Cyprus after Greek Cypriots protested.

Lopez claimed she hadn't known there was any issues, just as Sting did after playing in Uzbekistan for $1 million and the daughter of strongman Islam Karimov. For shame..

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