Pinochet, infuriated by Mr. Barnes’s activities, barred the ambassador from his palace and ordered his image cropped from ceremonial news photos. But years later, with Pinochet an aging international pariah, Mr. Barnes was awarded Chile’s highest honor in recognition of his contribution to the restoration of democracy.
“He had a very hard time here in Chile,” Andres Zaldivar, a longtime Christian Democratic senator, wrote in a Chilean newspaper last week, noting that Mr. Barnes faced constant harassment from the regime but always “kept the embassy open to us in the opposition.” Without intervening in domestic politics, Zaldivar wrote, Mr. Barnes was “a very important factor in the democratic transition process.”
Harry George Barnes Jr. was born June 5, 1926, in St. Paul, Minn. After Army service, he graduated in 1949 from Amherst College in Massachusetts and joined the Foreign Service in 1950, pausing in mid-career to receive a master’s degree at Columbia University in 1968.
Besides his wife of 64 years, the former Elizabeth Sibley, survivors include three children, Douglas M. Barnes of Miami, Sibley A. Barnes of Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Pauline M. Barnes of Walpole, N.H.; a brother; and a grandson. A daughter, Adrienne Barnes, died in 2003.
Mr. Barnes made a mark during other postings beside Chile. In Nepal, he was remembered for commandeering a U.S. government plane to obtain rabies vaccines for some children who had been bitten by a dog.
In Romania, while he was deputy chief of the U.S. mission in the 1960s during the communist reign of Nicolae Ceausescu, it was discovered that Mr. Barnes’s voice was being picked up and broadcast from inside the embassy. In an oral history years later, he recalled a colleague handing him a note that said, “You’re on the air.”
After a little experimenting, the mystery was solved: A microphone had been planted in the heel of one of Mr. Barnes’s newly-repaired shoes.
“I had sent them out with our maid,” he recounted. When they came back, something seemed amiss. “One heel felt a little bit higher, so I sent them back. When they came back they were OK, but that of course gave a clue to as to where to look.”