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Cablegate: Positive Reaction in Chile to Obama's Election

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSG #0986/01 3112004
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 062004Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3927
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 3609
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 2157
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 1117
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0511
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1829
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 5779
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 4086
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 1966
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SANTIAGO 000986

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR KPAO PGOV OPRC PREL PGOV CI
SUBJECT: POSITIVE REACTION IN CHILE TO OBAMA'S ELECTION

1. Summary: Every Chilean daily on November 6 gave extensive
coverage to reactions about Barack Obama's election, including
remarks by President Bachelet and local political party leaders.
The Ambassador also received calls about the election results from
an exuberant Senate President Adolfo Zaldivar, Foreign Minister
Foxley, and former Foreign Minister Juan Gabriel Valdez. Prominent
Chileans, including former President Lagos and OAS Secretary General
Insulza, made positive remarks about Obama's victory. Virtually all
editorials commented on the significance of Barack Obama's election
and its impact in the United States and the world, noting the high
expectations for the next U.S. President. Many cited Bush
administration's economic policies and foreign policy as factors in
Obama's victory. Dailies also gave prominent coverage to President
Bachelet's public statement congratulating the President-elect on
his historic victory (see para 10). End Summary.

2. The Ambassador received phone calls on November 5 from Senate
President Adolfo Zaldivar, Foreign Minister Foxley, and former
Foreign Minister Juan Gabriel Valdes about the U.S. election
results. All three saluted the election as a great demonstration of
the depth of the U.S. democratic system and an inspirational event
for Latin America and the world.

Editorials on Obama Victory
---------------------------

3. The following are editorial excerpts from Chile's leading
dailies:

4. "Obama's Victory." "Barack Obama's victory as the first
Afro-American President is an unquestionable landmark in U.S.
history.... He also represents a different way of looking at
international issues.... This implies a change in the government
and has given way to enormous expectations in his country and the
rest of the world, which poses a significant challenge for the
newly-elected president.... In his campaign speeches, Obama has
shown notable qualities, but he has also left several unanswered
issues; he has not explained his ambiguity with regard to free trade
agreements" (conservative, influential newspaper-of-record El
Mercurio, circ. 129,000).

5. "Historical Outcome in the U.S. Presidential Election": "At a
moment in which the United States seemed to be going through a
severe identity crisis because of the vacuums and mistakes of its
authorities, this election will give its leadership an injection of
optimism and confidence that could restore the strength and
efficiency of the government in a scenario that looks difficult both
domestically and internationally, in the short-an mid-term"
(conservative, independent La Tercera, circ. 101,000).

6. "Obama, Hope for Dialogue and Cooperation": "Obama was not
elected for his race, but because he was the best candidate.... Two
factors that explain his victory are his opposition to the war and
rejection of the financial speculation that led to the crisis....
It won't be easy for Obama to fulfill his promises, especially
because the Bush administration has stirred resentment against the
United States. But as of now, Obama has the support of the large
majority of the world's population.... In Chile, neoliberals have
already expressed their doubts, because Obama has rejected the free
trade agreement with Chile. But the basis for that view lies in the
need to expand international commercial relations beyond the mere
exchange of goods to promote the harmonious development of nations,
including labor and environmental protection. The expectations of
Obama are high... and he has asked for patience.... But what is
clear is that the history of the United States and of the world
changed as of yesterday" (government-owned, editorially independent
La Nacion, circ. 4,200).

7. "Obama and Latin America": "The expectations about what the new
White House occupant will do are even higher given the current
international financial uncertainty. There is hope that in Chile's
case he will move forward to, as President Bachelet said, 'work
together to further strengthen the relationship among our peoples
and seize not just the economic opportunities, but also the
training, technological exchanges, and cultural developments that we
share'" (business and financial daily Estrategia, circ. 30,000).

8. "The New U.S. President": "Obama has the enormous challenge of
putting the United States back in the seat it deserves, moving away
from the antibodies that the Bush administration's diplomacy
created. The big question is how protectionist his foreign policy
will be, especially since he addressed the possibility of
renegotiating free trade agreements over, for example, environmental
and labor provisions. These elements are especially important for
South America in general, but especially for Chile" (business and
financial daily Diario Financiero, circ. 30,000).

Chileans Upbeat on President-Elect Obama
----------------------------------------

9. The following are statements by prominent Chileans about the
U.S. presidential election result:

-- Former President Ricardo Lagos: "With Obama there is a better
chance for understanding in the world, which faces increasing
unrest" (La Segunda, conservative, afternoon daily, circ. 33,000).

-- OAS Secretary General Jos Miguel Insulza: "There is no doubt
that the United States will change.... There will be a fundamental
change in U.S. policy from what it has been in the past years....
Obama is the best reflection of the hope for change" (La Segunda).

-- Minister Secretary General to the Presidency Jose Antonio
Viera-Gallo: "Barack's election is as if someone opened the window
to let in fresh air" (El Mercurio).

-- Socialist Party President Camilo Escalona: "The lesson is that
solidarity is more important than greed" (El Mercurio).

-- PRSD President Jose Antonio Gomez: "He won with votes of young
people and independents. That is the lesson we must note in Chile
(El Mercurio).

-- UDI President Jovino Novoa: "This shows the strength of U.S.
democracy" (El Mercurio).

-- RN President Carlos Larran: "It (Obama presidency) raises
questions, for example, whether he will appoint judges based on
their support of legal abortions" (El Mercurio).

-- PPD President Pepe Auth: "(This shows that) People vote for a
road to the future and not events of the past" (El Mercurio).

-- PRI President Jaime Mulet: "Just change is possible when people
participate, especially those who do not do so regularly, such as
young people." (El Mercurio)

-- RN Senator Hernan Larrain: "Obama's victory was not only
expected, it is also healthy because it means a change in power" (La
Nacion).

-- Communist Party Secretary General Guillermo Teillier: This is a
good chance to observe what Obama will do.... The United States
must change its politics in the world, end the wars in several parts
of the globe and change its attitude toward Latin America... taking
differences into account" (La Nacion).

-- PS President Camilo Escalona: The United States has moved the
barriers as to what is possible, toward greater equity and less
discrimination" (La Nacion).

President Bachelet: "A Historic Moment"
----------------------------------------

10. President Michelle Bachelet made very positive remarks about
President-elect Obama during a function she attended on November 5:

11. "Let me take this opportunity to publicly congratulate the
election of Barack Obama as the new President of the United States
and to wish him, from this country far south in the Americas,
success in his endeavors. This is a historic moment, because today,
when the world faces serious challenges in areas as important to
people's lives as the energy crisis, the economic crisis, and the
food crisis, it is obvious that the entire international community
requires new solutions and greater concern for those who are most
vulnerable. And I am certain that Barack Obama is the expression of
a nation's dream of a better future and one full of hope."

12. "I know that his main concerns are social justice and equal
opportunity, which he has summarized in his slogans for 'change' and
'hope.' These are certainly the same principles that inspire us in
Chile. I am confident that both countries will continue to work
together to further strengthen the relationship among our peoples
and take advantage of new opportunities, not just on economic
issues, but also in regard to training, technological exchange, and
the cultural development that we already have."

13. President Bachelet concluded expressing her "best wishes for
all the people of the United States."

SIMONS

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