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Minister Alberto van Klaveren participates in tribute to former U.S. Ambassador Harry Barnes

Tuesday, October 3rd 2023

Barnes House. This is the name given to the residence of the U.S. ambassadors in Chile as of Tuesday, October 3, 2023. It is a tribute to Harry Barnes, U.S. representative in Chile between 1985 and 1988, who played a key role in the promotion of democracy and human rights during his mission.

The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alberto van Klaveren, who highlighted the work he did to support the process of democratic transition.

"Ambassador Barnes, without having set foot in Chile before his posting, demonstrated from the very first moment his strong commitment to democratic values and his intention to see them restored. This was expressed in front of the dictator Augusto Pinochet when he presented his credentials, where he indicated, among other things, that 'the diseases of democracy can only be cured with more democracy'. His words caused the general's displeasure, who would end up nicknaming him 'Dirty Harry'", the minister recalled.

He also highlighted his work to safeguard the referendum process of October 5, 1988. In addition, the Minister placed special emphasis on the diplomatic efforts he made so that the mother of Rodrigo Rojas de Negri, exiled in the United States and banned from entering the country, would travel to Chile to see her son before he died due to the seriousness of his injuries, caused by being burned alive by agents of the State, alongside Carmen Gloria Quintana.

Ambassador Barnes' assistance, along with his wife, Elizabeth A. Barnes, at Rojas de Negri's funeral meant that he was forbidden to re-enter La Moneda and was removed from any official image in which he might appear. "However, his commitment to the Chilean people, human rights, democracy and justice remained unwavering. And, for that, our country will be eternally grateful to him," the Secretary of State emphasized.

The tribute, led by U.S. Ambassador Bernadette Meehan, was attended by Harry Barnes' widow, as well as part of his family.