By Sarah Coursey, Editor
RIO DE JANEIRO – Dennis Walter Hearne, a career Foreign Service Officer in the US Department of State, assumed duties as the United States Consul General in Rio de Janeiro on August 10. The Gringo Times caught up with Mr. Hearne with just shy of a month under his diplomatic belt, to inquire about his first impressions in the job, viewpoint on Brazil-US relations and his vision of the future between the two countries he is now seeking to further unite.
The appointment marks Mr. Hearne’s fourth diplomatic assignment in Brazil. He was Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia from 2003 to 2007, and had postings earlier in his career as a political and consular officer in Brasília and São Paulo.
A native of North Carolina, Mr. Hearne entered the Foreign Service in 1985. He has a Master of Science degree in Security Strategy from the National War College in Washington, DC, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wake Forest University. He speaks Portuguese and Croatian. He is the father of one son.
Mr. Hearne explained that the strategic alliance between the US and Brazil stretches across a variety of sectors,” Areas where we can build strong partnerships are energy, trade, educational exchange opportunities, to name just a few. The challenge may be to give adequate attention to such a wide range of priorities.”
He also noted that Brazil is finally receiving the positive press that it deserves. “In recent years, there has been a dramatically increased recognition worldwide of Brazil’s position as a regional leader, one which also is viewed as a highly credible voice on major global issues. The robust and sophisticated character of Brazil’s economy is demonstrated by its impressive resilience during the economic crisis.”
Brazil is the only nation in Latin America where Mr. Hearne has served as a diplomat. His other posts have been outside the region in Europe and the Middle East. With regard to Brazil, he decided early on that his fascination with the country would make it an area of specialization for him.
Mr. Hearne added,”I am a dedicated US officer and I love my own country deeply, and I also have great affection for Brazil. As a result, I am constantly inspired to work to strengthen ties between these two continent-sized countries, that have in common their wonderfully diverse populations, and a similarly optimistic outlook on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
As U.S. Consul General in Rio de Janeiro, Mr. Hearne is responsible for overseeing a range of bilateral activities in a five-state district: Rio, Bahía, Sergipe, Minas Gerais, and Espírito Santo. The Ambassador (who has not yet been confirmed by the US Senate) is President Obama’s official representative on a national level.
Strengthening relationships and increasing trade between American and Brazilian businesses has always been an important objective for the US Consulate General and Mr. Hearne intends to continue to assist in whatever way he can in this regard. He is also proud that the US Consulate General in Rio has an excellent and growing relationship with the local chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce, and with other activities, such as the CEO Forum and the Young Professionals group.
On obtaining the position in Rio, Mr. Hearne reflected,”I feel very honored to be assuming the US Consul General’s duties here, and feel blessed to be in this beautiful country and marvelous city. I hope that my language skills and past experience in the country will be assets for the entire Mission and that I can do my part in further strengthening relations between our two countries.”
On a personal note, Mr. Hearne enjoys the common, daily pleasures of Rio. He likes to take long walks on the calçadão or going to the beach on a sunny Sunday, drinking a cafézinho at a corner stand and browsing through the city’s excellent bookstores. He enthused,” Rio has so much character — from its astonishing physical beauty to its historic neighborhoods — that I foresee three wonderful years of getting to know the city at a leisurely pace, and coming to call it home.”