Spain & Meridian House….

Spain & Meridian House….

Photo credit: Janet Donovan

“In Latin America, they refer to Spain as ‘La Madre Patria’ because there is so much cultural overlap.  So, I think it’s perfectly appropriate that we have this kind of connection tonight as the Ambassador hosts the Meridian dinner. The Meridian House for us at the State Department is an absolutely indispensable partner,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs John Feeley.

“And, if you just look around this room tonight, you will see some of the finest academics & journalists. We have a number of private-sector people. We have a heavy representation of the energy companies. And this is sort of the perfect Meridian microcosm,” he pointed out.


Ambassador Gil-Casares (center)

“What Meridian does exceptionally well for over fifty years is bring together thought-leaders, and opinionaters, and people who study subjects to create spaces for exchange, for sharing of cultures, sharing of ideas, and this Gala evening is just a marvelous sort of high point where we take a moment to celebrate. There is a marvelous program that we have at the State Department called ‘The International Leadership Visitor’s Program.'”

“When you see that the program is run and administered by Meridian House, you kind of just step back and you go, ‘All right, wait. We’re in good hands. We don’t have to worry about it.’ And it’s that kind of partnership with Meridian that the State Department values so very, very much. So, I would like to also thank all of you who are representing, hosting, or sponsoring Meridian.  What you get for that sponsorship is an amazing network of over a hundred-and-sixty-seven heads of State, heads of Government, three Nobel laureates, all part of the Meridian network. And what do they do? They’ve come to The United States to share. The Ambassador had five representatives from Spain participate in one of the programs this year that was run by Meridian House. It’s just a marvelous network,” he emphasized.


“So tonight is about networking,” Feeley concluded, “but also having a good time. It’s about eating some of the finest food I guarantee you will find in Washington here. I too would like to thank our hosts, I would like to thank Meridian, and I would like to thank all of the sponsors on behalf of the State Department and the Meridian microcosm that we are tonight.”

“We’re not always late – the Spanish,” Ambassador Gil-Casares informed his guests prior to his toast and long after guests had arrived and enjoyed plentiful hors d’oeuvres including tortilla de patata.  “I had a meeting with Secretary of Defense Hagel at three o’clock and because of all the things that are going on in the world, we were postponed until 6:30. So, I rushed back and here I am.  And the last time that the embassy hosted this dinner, I was called to Madrid to a meeting that was scheduled six months in advance so again I was not here.  So I am very glad to be here tonight, especially since the idea of building bridges, getting to know each other, establishing connections is important now more than ever because of what is happening in the world.  I am happy to host you all so I am going to ask you raise a glass to Meridian.”


In between the Salmon Tartar, Duck Conifit with Wild Rice, Vanilla Ice cream and lot of Paso a Paso – Verdejo Lan Crianza 2011, Ambassador Gil-Casares was presented with ‘the blue box’ by John Feeley.  “This is my favorite part,” said Feeley.  “I get to be sort of like Bob Barker on The Price is Right. On behalf of Meridian House, and all the companies, I have been asked to present this beautiful Tiffany’s crystal ball to you as a symbol of our thanks for hosting this dinner and for convening such an interesting group here tonight. Thank you very much Mr. Ambassador. Thank you, thank you very much. We all like this blue color. Every woman in this room knows distinctively what that blue means.”