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Cablegate: Chile Media Report - December 19

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR KPAO PGOV ECON PREL SNAR EFIN CI
SUBJECT: CHILE MEDIA REPORT - DECEMBER 19

Lead Story
----------
1. Dailies highlighted that state-owned copper mine Codelco is
studying the possible merger of its Andina mine with privately-owned
Los Bronces (Anglo American). The merger would create the largest
copper mine in the world.

U.S.-Related News
-----------------
2. The fall in the price of copper has forced U.S. mining company
Nova Ventura to suspend its operations in Taltal, in the II Region.
The company is linked to the investment bank Quantek Asset
Management, and had resumed operations just a year ago. The mine
decreased its labor force from over 500 to around 70 (Diario
Financiero, business and financial daily, circ. 30,000, 12/19).

3. Finance Minister Andres Velasco will meet this week in New York
with Brian O'Neill, a senior official of the U.S. Department of the
Treasury with responsibilities for the Western Hemisphere, as well
as with the Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York,
and with leaders of J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs. Velasco will
also have lunch at the Council of the Americas (El Mercurio,
conservative, influential newspaper-of-record, circ. 129,000,
12/19).

4. It took American Duane Pederson nine years to complete the
process of building a luxury resort in Chilean Patagonia, in the XI
Region. Pederson said that it "will be the most luxurious in South
America. The lodge will be on the hills of Margarita Island, amid
cascades, rivers, and white sand beaches. Accommodations will cost
from US$900 to $2,000 per night. Pederson spent years in obtaining
authorization to build the marina, the right to use rivers for a
hydroelectric plant, and the necessary environmental approvals,
among other things. "The process is exhausting, because no pocket
can sustain this amount of paperwork," he said. Clients will be
flown to the island on a private plane (Que Pasa, conservative,
influential weekly, 12/19).

Local
-----
5. Foreign investment in Chile grew 254% from January until the
first two weeks of December 2008, when compared to the same period
in 2007; total growth is reported at US$ 2,959 billion. This is a
record for the last ten years, reports the Foreign Investment
Committee (Estrategia, business and financial daily, circ. 30,000,
12/19).

Chile and Other Countries
-------------------------
6. UNASUR members have been unable to reach consensus on a
candidate to occupy the office of the entity's Executive Secretary,
and have started looking for new names. Reportedly, one of these
names is that of former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos (La Tercera,
conservative, independent, 12/19).

7. Cuban President Raul Castro and his Brazilian counterpart Lula
da Silva met in Brazil and issued a series of messages for the
United States and Europe. "Latin America and the Caribbean are
beginning to understand each other," they said. Lula said that Cuba
should receive some form of reparation for its expulsion from the
OAS, including an apology. Castro referred to Brazil as Latin
America's "older brother," adding that "We want our neighbors in the
north and in Europe to know that we will defend our people."
Castro, however, lost his smile when a journalist asked him about
the "prisoners of conscience" in Cuba. "If you want the dissidents,
I can send them to you tomorrow, with family and all. But give back
our five heroes," declared Castro, referring to the five Cuban
agents imprisoned in the United States. Washington responded by
"recommending" the immediate release of the dissidents, noting that
they were imprisoned for expressing their opinion (La Nacion,
government-owned, editorially independent, circ. 4,200, 12/19).

Survey
------
8. A survey conducted by the Diego Portales University shows that
the majority of Chileans want the government to take a more active
role in pension funds, public transportation, banking, universities,
and even in the supermarket sector. 71.6% of respondents said that
utility companies should be state-owned; 67.2% that pension fund
administration should be state-owned; 65.7% that there should be
more state banks; 58.1% that the government should own and
administer public transportation; 52.3% that the state should
administer universities; and 51.9% that there should be a
state-owned supermarket chain. Other results: There was a 52.7%
rate of approval for Michelle Bachelet. 37.2% said they would vote
for Sebastian Piera, 17.1% for Ricardo Lagos, 6.5% for Eduardo
Frei, and 5.5% for Jose Miguel Insulza (All dailies, 12/19).

SIMONS

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