Cablegate: Chile Media Report - December 7-10
DE RUEHSG #1075/01 3451513
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101513Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4058
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 3662
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 2202
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 1173
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0567
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1869
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 5842
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 4126
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 2010
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
UNCLAS SANTIAGO 001075
STATE FOR R/MR, I/PP, WHA/BSC, WHA/PDA, INR/IAA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR KPAO PGOV ECON PREL SNAR EFIN CI
SUBJECT: CHILE MEDIA REPORT - DECEMBER 7-10
1. Chilean newspapers highlighted likely cabinet changes that will
take place today. Dailies also highlighted the victory of the U.S.
team in the Under 20 Women's Soccer World Cup. Headlines continue
to give coverage to the impasse between Chile and Peru and Foreign
Minister Alejandro Foxley's role in this conflict.
2. Interview with Admiral James Stavridis, U.S. Southern Command
Commander, entitled, "Venezuela is not a Threat for the United
States." Asked why the image of the United States has deteriorated
in the region, Stavridis said, "I disagree with that premise. In my
trips to the region I have found excellent military relation, not
just with Chile, but also with Nicaragua, Bolivia, Argentina, and
other countries." Asked about Venezuelan-Russian exercises in the
Caribbean, and what he believes are the main threats to the region,
the officer said, "We have a dialogue with Venezuelan officers.
Southcom has looked for a chance to conduct exercise with
Venezuela's military and I consider these relations as professional
and cordial (...) The Russian Fleet has a global project; these
exercises with Venezuela concern only those countries. I don't see
Venezuela as a military threat. Russian presence is not a problem.
The main threat is poverty... because other problems stem from it ,
such as crime and narcotics trafficking. We would like to see a
joint effort to minimize that scourge." On the closure of the Manta
base in Ecuador, the Admiral said, "We will simply have to
re-accommodate our forces in other countries, such as El Salvador
(La Tercera, conservative, independent, 12/6).
3. All dailies covered the U.S. team's victory in the Women's Under
20 soccer World Cup: "U.S. swept with all the awards in the Under
20 Women's Soccer World Cup" -- "No competition for the Gringas" (El
Mercurio, 12/8); "U.S. clearly showed that it is of the First World
-- The Americans defeated North Korea 2-1" (La Cuarta, 12/8); "The
Americans were Best at Everything." Not only did they take the cup
with them, they also swept with all the individual awards. Those
who spent time with them said they displayed friendliness and good
manners on and off the field (La Tercera, 12/8); U.S. Women's Soccer
Team Visits La Moneda Presidential Palace. Minister Spokesman
Francisco Vidal greeted them (La Tercera, 12/9); "U.S. Team conquers
all -- Gringuitas win the cup and everyone's hearts (La Tercera,
4. Chilean Ambassador to the U.N. Heraldo Muoz talks about
reactions in the international organization to Obama's future
cabinet members. On Susan Rice: "The reaction is positive,
because... she will have a cabinet position, which is the same rank
this office had in the Clinton administration with Madeleine
Albright, with direct access to the President." On Hillary Clinton:
"She is remembered for her negotiating skills" (La Segunda,
conservative, afternoon, circ. 33,000, 12/ 5).
5. Beginning in January 2009, an array of Chilean frozen and canned
vegetables will begin entering the U.S. market with zero tariffs.
This is the result of recent talks between the two countries to move
forward the 12-year gradual tariff elimination program set in the
bilateral FTA that came into effect in January 2004. Carlos Furche,
head of the Foreign Ministry's International Economic Relations
Department, Direcon, said the talks show that it is possible to
expand the FTA ahead of time when both parties benefit (El Mercurio,
conservative, influential newspaper-of-record, circ. 129,000, 12/8).
6. UDI Congressman Rodrigo Alvarez will become the first opposition
congressman to chair the Chamber of Deputies in 50 years and the
first "Harvard Boy" to hold that office. Alvarez holds a Masters
degree from the Harvard School of Law (El Mercurio, 12/7).
7. The 52-story Titanium Tower will be finished in mid- 2009. It
will be the highest building in the country, at least for a few
months. Just two blocks from it is the Costanera Center, which is
still under construction and is also programmed to be finished
around the same time. The Costanera will be ten stories higher than
the Titanium. (Note: the Titanium is right across the street from
the Embassy, El Mercurio, 12/7).
8. 48% of CEOs polled by Miller & Chavalier in Latin America and
the United States said that corruption is a "significant obstacle"
to doing business in Bolivia and Venezuela. The United States,
Chile, and Costa Rica were ranked as the most transparent countries
in which to do business (La Tercera, 12/10).
9. Chilean congressmen are outraged at Peruvian Foreign Minister
Jos Garcia Belaunde, who said Chile should eliminate the law that
allocates 10% of copper revenues to the armed forces. Garcia said
this would "contribute to peace in the region."
"This is an intervention in Chile's internal affairs," said
Congressman Jorge Tarud (PPD), echoing the feeling of many others.
The GOC also rejected the remarks. Minister Spokesman Francisco
Vidal labeled Garcia's comments as "unacceptable intromission in
Chile's internal affairs." Vidal urged both countries to put the
incident behind them and to look to the future (El Mercurio,
10. The GOC has closed the impasse with Peru caused by General
Edwin Donayre's inflammatory remarks. However, it stands by its
position that Peru should have immediately retired the General for
his remarks (El Mercurio, 12/6).
11. Peruvian President Alan Garcia criticized Chilean Foreign
Minister Alejandro Foxley for "demanding" the immediate retirement
of General Donayre for his inflammatory remarks about Chile. "Just
as General Donayre's words were unfortunate... so were the remarks
by a foreign minister (Foxley) saying, 'I order you to do this or
that'" said President Garcia (La Segunda, conservative, afternoon
12. Former Army Commander-in-Chief Juan Emilio Cheyre said on the
diplomatic impasse: "The half truths and slanted views of this
incident have hidden the true problem, which is that Peru and Chile
have been unable to develop a mature and fully integrated
relationship" (La Segunda, 12/5).
13. Peru is accusing Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley of
escalating the conflict over General Donayre to strengthen his
position in the cabinet. President Bachelet phoned Foxley on
November 27 alarmed by the reports of General Donayre's remarks that
any Chilean who entered Peru would leave "in a box," or "in a
plastic bag," but especially by the comment that Peruvian women
should be used as human bombs against Chilean soldiers. She then
instructed Foxley to demand the General's immediate retirement.
Foxley phoned his Peruvian counterpart Jose Garcia the following
morning to relay the message, but did not forewarn that he would go
to the press. Garcia had no time to report to the President about
his conversation with Foxley and accused the Chilean Minister of
using the impasse to strengthen his position in the cabinet.
Foreign Ministry officials dismissed this noting that Foxley was
simply following Bachelet's instructions and that Congress and the
International Relations Council have strongly supported Foxley.
Foreign Ministry officials said bilateral relations between both
countries have been damaged and that Lima will have to take the
first step to repair them (La Tercera, 12/7).
14. Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley received the full support of
the Defense and Foreign Relations committees in Congress with regard
to his position on the impasse with Peru over General Edwin
Donayre's inflammatory remarks against Chile. In the meeting,
Foxley said that Chile must not lose sight that Peru has a pending
litigation against Chile in the International Court of Justice in
The Hague over maritime borders, which could bring further tension
to the bilateral relationship (El Mercurio, 12/10).
15. The mayors who were elected in the October 26 election take
office today (El Mercurio, 2/6).
16. A study conducted by the Ministries of Interior and Justice
reveals that 60% of crimes committed in Chile end up with no charges
and that only 1.2% of those cases end up with a sentence. Under
Secretary of Interior Felipe Harboe said this shows the need to
strengthen investigative skills in the police (La Tercera, 12/7).
17. President Bachelet has only until today at midnight to make a
cabinet change, because that is the legal deadline for those who
wish to run for Congress to leave office. Possible changes are
Under Secretaries Felipe Harboe (Interior), Arturo Barrios
(Culture), and Augusto Prado (Government); Labor Minister Osvaldo
Andrade and possibly Government Spokesman Vidal. Foreign Minister
Alejandro Foxley will stay (All dailies, 12/10).
18. The U.N. Economic Commission for Latin American and the
Caribbean, ECLAC, released yesterday its annual report on social
indicators. The report shows that Chile has fulfilled 100% of the
Millennium Goals with regard to lowering poverty. On the topic of
youth and violence, Chile has one of the lowest rates of youth
deaths by homicide in the region (15 for every 100,000), compared to
countries such as Brazil, where the rate is 176 per 100,000. The
implementation of programs such as the Explicit Health Guarantees
Program, AUGE, and provisional reforms would explain Chile's
improvement (La Nacion, government-owned, editorially independent,
circ, 4,200, 12/10).
Public Opinion Polls
19. La Tercera's poll -- conducted after Ricardo Lagos announced he
would not be a presidential candidate -- shows that opposition
candidate Sebastian Piera leads the presidential race in both a
first round and a runoff election, regardless of the challenging
candidate. To the question, "If the presidential election were this
Sunday, who would you vote for?": Piera received 47% support from
those polled, Jose Miguel Insulza 29%, and Alejandro Navarro
(leftist bloc) 7%. In a race against Frei, Piera scored 46%,
Eduardo Frei 26%, and Navarro 8% (La Tercera, 12/7).
20. Universidad del Desarrollo conducted its own survey. "In a
first round, who would you vote for?": Piera received 45%, Frei
30%, Adolfo Zaldivar 3%. Using the same question, but with Insulza
as a candidate, the poll showed: Piera received 46%, 24% Insulza,
6% Adolfo Zaldivar (La Segunda, 12/5).
21. The Senate passed the General Education Law with 29 votes in
favor and 7 against. The bill "doesn't address the main issue,
which is that education has turned into a business," said PS Senator
Carlos Ominami. PPD Guido Girardi and PS Jaime Gazmuri criticized
the absence of specific proposals in the bill to strengthen public
education (El Mercurio, 12/10).
22. In just a few months daily El Pinguino de Punta Arenas has won
65% of the market in the Magallanes Region. It sells 7,400
newspapers a day and 10,000 on the weekend, surpassing the
circulation of La Prensa Austral, which has been in circulation for
70 years in a city of 130,000 inhabitants. Mauricio Vidal is the
young journalist behind the initiative (Estrategia, business and
financial, circ. 30,000, 12/10).
23. Editorial entitled, "The War on Terrorism": "When the Basque
ETA murdered a renowned entrepreneur a week ago... it looked as if
Spanish and French joint intelligence had been setback.... (But)
The never-ending and strong fight against terrorist activities
deployed by Spain and France is a model that many countries,
including ours, should follow. The ETA's methods... are similar to
those used by the FARC in Colombia and indigenous radical groups in
southern Chile, whose ties to the ETA have been repeatedly
denounced" (El Mercurio, 12/10).