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Cablegate: Chile Media Report - November 22-24

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DE RUEHSG #1030/01 3292005
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 242005Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3986
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 3639
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 2182
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 1149
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0543
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RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 1991
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RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

UNCLAS SANTIAGO 001030

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STATE FOR R/MR, I/PP, WHA/BSC, WHA/PDA, INR/IAA

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TAGS: KMDR KPAO PGOV OPRC PREL PGOV EFIN CI
SUBJECT: CHILE MEDIA REPORT - NOVEMBER 22-24

Headline Stories
----------------
1. At the APEC Summit in Lima, President Bachelet called on the
private sector to forge alliances with the public sector to protect
employment and prevent massive layoffs. The President will travel to
Cuba in February to open the Havana International Book Fair and meet
with Fidel Castro; The Christian Democratic party argues Bachelet
must also meet with the opposition.

U.S.-related News
-----------------
2. Foreign Affairs Minister Alejandro Foxley and Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice met briefly during APEC. Reportedly, they talked
about U.S. accession to the P4 (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and the
December 10 Pacific Rim (Pathways to Prosperity) Ministerial in
Panama. The Pacific Rim encompasses countries that have signed FTAs
with the United States and therefore is viewed as a bloc that
counters far-left governments in the region (La Tercera,
conservative, independent, Sun. circ. 222,084, 11/23).

3. Foreign Affairs Minister Foxley was asked about the
region's reaction to Obama's election and he said: "It was well
received and there is significant expectation that he will renew
dialogue and resolve conflicts. Latin America... is asking (the
United States) to take its participation in the P4 seriously and to
continue with its integration and projection in the Asia-Pacific....
It's hard to find an international leader as open to dialogue, who
represents diversity, and who promotes understanding as strongly (as
Obama)," said Foxley. He said this will make it harder for some
countries to "to attack the empire," adding that Obama "will be
highly respected by an array of countries and social strata" (La
Tercera, circ. 101,000, 11/24).

4. Chile's APEC delegation said President Bachelet was
responsible for including the P4 on the summit's agenda, noting this
is a "diplomatic victory." In his remarks, President Bush talked
about the U.S. negotiations to join the P4 as an example of his
administration's defense of free trade and as a tool for global
economic development (El Mercurio, Sun. circ. 260,108, 11/23).

5. U.S. company Monsanto bought 180 hectares in the VI
Region for US$6 million to produce seeds, soy, and canola.
McDonalds went ahead with its expansion plan in Chile and will open
10 new restaurants by 2011, increasing its operations by 15% (El
Mercurio, circ. 129,000, 11/24).

Cuba
----
6. Bachelet will visit Cuba in February of 2009 to
inaugurate the Havana Book Fair and meet with Fidel Castro.
Bachelet has privately said that Chile is "indebted" to Cuba,
because Castro welcomed military-regime era political exiles, who
include several of her friends. The trip would make Bachelet the
first Chilean president to visit the island since the onset of
democracy in 1990, and the first in 37 years. But the trip will
have political costs. The DC party said that as the representative
"of all Chileans," Bachelet must also meet with the opposition. DC
President Jorge Burgos said the President also should make special
gestures, such as including in her delegation Patricio Walter and
Exequiel Silva. Both have been repeatedly denied visas to Cuba
because of their active role in the defense of political rights on
the island.

7. Chile and Cuba have had full diplomatic ties since 1995, but
these have been strained over Chile's vote in the UNHRC and Havana's
acknowledgment that it gave refuge to several Chilean terrorists who
fled a high security prison. The trip is also a reflection of the
differences in foreign policy between Bachelet and the Foreign
Ministry, which is not organizing the trip to Havana. While Foreign
Minister has given priority to ties with the United States and the
Pacific Axis, Bachelet has prioritized the strengthening of ties
with Latin American countries through regional entities such as
UNASUR (La Tercera, circ. 101,000, 11/23 and 11/24).

Nuclear Energy
--------------
8. Finland wants to invest in nuclear energy in Chile.
Finnish Ambassador Iivo Salmi said his country can contribute by
sharing the appropriate regulatory framework to develop nuclear
energy and providing training for nuclear reactor management.
Finland has the right credentials in this regard. It's one of the
countries with the lowest levels of CO2 emissions in the world and
is developing the most advanced reactors today (La Tercera, Sun.
circ. 222,084, 11/23).

Education
---------
9. A 2008 Institute for International Education (IIE)
survey shows that Chile is among the 20 preferred destinations for
U.S. college students. U.S. Cultural Attach Michael Orlansky said,
"There is much interest in learning Spanish and in learning more
about Chile's economy, history, and politics. Plus, it's a fairly
safe place with an array of accommodations available for students
(La Tercera, circ. 101,000, 11/24).

10. University Alberto Hurtado and Georgetown University
signed an undergraduate and graduate cooperation agreement that
includes student and teacher exchange programs and technical
assistance (El Mercurio, circ. 129,000, 11/24).

Local Politics
--------------
11. RN Presidential candidate Sebastian Pinera is trying
to win over the environmentalists with whom he will inevitably clash
over the HydroAysen dam project. In this context, Pinera is working
with environmental NGOs on the promotion of non-conventional
renewable energy initiatives. He also organized a seminar with
Chistopher Paine from the Nature Resource Defense Council to discuss
Barack Obama's environmental proposals (La Nacion, government-owned,
editorially independent, Sun. circ. 16,200).

Press
-----
12. La Tercera and CNN Chile signed a strategic alliance
accord that will allow both organizations to share news stories,
editorial commentary and an array of press products (La Tercera,
Sat. circ. 195,626, 11/22).

Surveys
-------
13. A survey in La Tercera shows that RN presidential
candidate Sebastian Pinera is ahead the presidential race. To the
question, "if the election were this Sunday, who would you vote
for?" 38% said Piera, 12% Ricardo Lagos, 4% Eduardo Frei, and 3%
Jose Miguel Insulza. According to the survey, in a runoff election
with Insulza, Pinera would receive 54% and Insulza 32%; in a runoff
with Lagos, Pinera would obtain 52% and Lagos 35%; in a Pinera
versus Frei contest, Pinera would earn 53% and Frei 33% of the vote
(La Tercera, Sat. 11/22).

Editorials
----------
14. Defense journalist Raul Sohr wrote: "One of the most
difficult issues that President Obama will face is Iran. Many of
his advisors are advocates of reinitiating a dialogue with Teheran.
But with or without dialogue, Washington must make sure that Iran
will effectively abandon its plan to build nuclear weapons" (La
Nacion, 11/24).

15. "Medvedev's Business and Naval Maneuvers": "Many see
Russia's interest in strengthening ties with Latin America as a
direct challenge of the historical U.S. influence in the region....
The most controversial issue for the United States will be the
presence of Russian President Medvedev during naval exercise headed
by Russia's nuclear cruiser, Peter the Great, with the Venezuelan
navy. The exercise is a provocation, since the Russian vessels will
stay in the Caribbean, which is an area that Washington considers as
its area of influence. It's possible that Obama's arrival at the
White House will lower the tension between the two former rivals of
the Cold War, and that Medvedev will have to start a different type
of relationship with the new U.S. President. And in that
relationship, the issue of Latin America will take a take a
different course" (El Mercurio, circ. 129,000, 11/24).

SIMONS

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