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Cablegate: Chile Media Report - December 17

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DE RUEHSG #1110 3521845
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R 171845Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4147
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 3678
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 2213
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 1191
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0585
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1882
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RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
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UNCLAS SANTIAGO 001110

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR KPAO PGOV ECON PREL SNAR EFIN CI
SUBJECT: CHILE MEDIA REPORT - DECEMBER 17

Lead Stories
------------
1. Dailies highlighted Raul Castro's participation at the Latin
American and Caribbean Summit in Brazil. Also highlighted was the
drop in the price of gasoline.

U.S.-Related Stories
--------------------
2. Chilean and U.S. delegations discussed the results of the FTA,
in effect since January 1, 2004. The head of the Chilean
delegation, Andres Rebolledo, expressed satisfaction that during the
first five years of the agreement bilatera trade has grown by 155%.
The United States is the source of the largest percentage of
accumulated direct investment in Chile since 1974, which amounts to
US$16.537 billion through July of this year. This is 25% of the
total (Estrategia, business and financial, circ. 30,000, 12/17).

3. Finance Minister Andres Velasco will travel to New York to meet
with investment bank officials and assess the state of the global
financial crisis (Estrategia, 12/17).

4. The Superintendency of Banks and Financial Institutions informed
today that the Santander-Santiago Bank is the only financial
institution in Chile that has reported losses due to the fraud
committed in the United States by Bernard Madoff (La Nacion,
government-owned, editorially independent, circ. 4,200, 12/17).

Cuba
----
5. The Latin America and Caribbean Summit taking place in Brazil
included sessions of Mercosur, UNASUR, and the Rio Group. Both
progressive and conservative heads of states in Mercosur unanimously
called for the U.S. to lift the embargo on Cuba, and agreed to open
their markets to an array of Bolivian products that will no longer
be able to enter the United States duty-free under the Andean Trade
Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA). With regard to the Rio
Group, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorin said that Cuba's
accession to the group could be interpreted as a message for the
United States: "showing the direction in which the wind is blowing."
The UNASUR extraordinary meeting created a Defense Council to
promote military exchanges, mutual trust, and coordination of
activities related to peace missions and aid relief, among other
things (La Nacion, 12/17).

6. Diplomatic sources who asked for anonymity said Foreign Minister
Alejandro Foxley officially expressed to his counterpart in Cuba
Bachelet's desire to meet with representatives of the Cuban
opposition during her visit to the island. Reportedly, the Cuban
Foreign Ministry committed "only to possibly review the request" (El
Mercurio, 12/17).

7. President Hugo Chavez proposed to extend until April 2009 the
vote to decide who will become the UNASUR Executive Director.
Bachelet, as head of the entity, agreed. This action prevented the
bloc from an imminent break (El Mercurio, 12/17).

8. The Chamber of Deputies passed a bill requesting President
Bachelet recognize the State of Palestine and to elevate the status
of is diplomatic mission in Chile from a Consulate to an Embassy (La
Tercera, 12/17).

SIMONS

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