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Cablegate: Chile Media Report -- December 3

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TAGS: KMDR KPAO PGOV ECON PREL PGOV SNAR EFIN CI
SUBJECT: CHILE MEDIA REPORT -- DECEMBER 3

Lead Stories
------------
1. Chilean headlines noted that former FARC hostage Ingrid
Betancourt will meet with President Bachelet today. Dailies also
highlighted government coalition opposition Senators expressed their
willingness to discuss the education law that will go to Congress
today.

U.S. - Related News
-------------------
2. Headline: "Gary Roughead, USN Chief of Naval Operations: 'I am
not concerned with the Joint Venezuela-Russia Exercises'"
In just a few months, Latin America's seas became the center of
attention of global powers. First, the U.S. Navy resuscitated the
Fourth Fleet after 58 years of inactivity. The response came from
Russia, with the arrival of a powerful fleet to Venezuela. Admiral
Roughead, who is in Chile for the Exponaval fair, downplayed both
events and press reports of an alleged "Russian threat" in the
region. "As I see it, there is a positive motivation in the Russian
and Venezuelan joint exercises. I have no concern about this
(exercise)," he said. The Admiral also demystified the goals of the
Fourth Fleet, which Venezuela, Cuba, and to a lesser degree Brazil,
view as a U.S. attempt to maintain its control of the region. "The
Fourth Fleet has no war vessels, no aircraft, and no submarines,"
emphasized Roughhead, who underscored the Navy's humanitarian
activities in needy zones and cooperation with other navies, such as
during the Panamax exercises. "The Fourth Fleet is the same
organization we have in other parts of the world to conduct naval
operations. When I became Chief of Naval Operations, I found it odd
that we did not have an effective organization in our own
hemisphere" (El Mercurio, conservative, influential
newspaper-of-record, circ. 129,000, 12/3).

3. Headlines: "Admiral Gary Roughhead Impressed with the Chilean
Navy": "No Concern with the Venezuelan-Russian Joint Exercises"
Admiral Gary Roughead, Commander of the world's most powerful fleet,
was impressed with Chile's Navy, particularly with the
professionalism displayed, the technical capability developed by the
local industry and the recently acquired frigates. "Chile has a
very important role to play in securing maritime commercial routes
in the western hemisphere," said Roughead, adding that the situation
in the region is in general positive, but there is concern with
narcotics trafficking. The Admiral said his visit to Exponaval is
an opportunity to expand cooperation between the navies of both
countries. As to the Venezuela-Russian naval exercises, viewed by
local analysts as Moscow's incursion into an area traditionally
under U.S. influence, Roughhead was emphatic in stating that this is
not an issue of concern (Regional daily El Mercurio de Valparaiso,
12/3).

4. James Poterba, Chairman of the National Bureau for Economic
Research, the man who decreed the beginning of the recession in the
United States," said that in his view, "the series of negative blows
will make this recession the worse since the war" (Diario
Financiero, business and financial, circ. 30,000, 12/3).

Venezuela
---------
5. Venezuelan Ambassador Maria Lourdes Urbaneja arrived in Punta
Arenas, southern Chile. She will make a donation to a public
school, and meet with regional authorities, youth, social and
political organizations, and with the Hugo Chavez support network:
The Bolivarian Committee. Asked about what Venezuela expects from
the Obama administration, Urbaneja said, "The greatest expectation
is that with Obama there will be respect of Venezuela's internal
(political) process and respect for the sovereignty of nations...
and the promotion of dialogue among countries (La Prensa Austral
regional daily).

Chile-Peru
----------
6. Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley said yesterday the following
about the Chile-Peru impasse over the inflammatory remarks made by
Peruvian General Donayre: "We are not trying to escalate this, but
we've been clear and are waiting for the issue to be resolved
according to the stated terms we understood." The government
believed the General would be removed immediately. Foxley
forewarned that Chile could decide to recall its Ambassador in Lima
if the General is not retired (La Nacion, government-owned,
editorially independent, circ. 4,200, 12/3).

Economy
------------
7. ProChile, the government's network of commercial offices abroad,
has put together a registry to show how the financial crisis is
affecting Chile's exports in different parts of the world. The data
shows that exports to the United States will be most affected
because of the drop in demand for products tied to the construction
sector. It also reflects a drop in the demand for logistics
services, such as maritime, land and air freight; for financial
services, and in tourism. However, the data also reveals that the
dollar exchange rate has been profitable for Chilean exporters and
that the crisis has opened new business opportunities, such as the
export of frozen and canned food (El Mercurio, circ. 129,000),
12/3).

8. Column by Carlos Cantero, Chairman of the Senate's
Transportation and Telecommunications Commission: "It's important
for the government to make a decision in the short-term on the type
of digital television standard that Chile will use.... I prefer the
Japanese standard, because it seems to me that there is a strategic
development in connection to this standard and that it is moving at
a much faster pace than the others. What we don't want is for
economic blocs or access to markets in the framework of free trade
agreements to affect the decision. We've seen pressure along those
lines. I hope the final decision is for the common good" (El
Mercurio, 12/3).

URBAN

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