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Cablegate: Chile Media Report - December 20-22

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TAGS: KMDR KPAO PGOV ECON PREL SNAR EFIN CI
SUBJECT: CHILE MEDIA REPORT - DECEMBER 20-22

Lead Stories
------------
1. All dailies highlighted Wal-Mart's offer to purchase Chile's
largest supermarket chain, D&S. Also highlighted was Mahmud Aleuy's
appointment as Under Secretary for National Development.

U.S.-Related News
-----------------
2. Wal-Mart, the world's largest retail company, will launch a bid
to buy D&S, Chile's largest chain of supermarkets. The local
company has committed to selling 23.4% of its shares. Speaking in
Arkansas, where both parties sealed the deal, controlling D&S
shareholder Nicolas Ibanez stated, "This is good news for Chile
because it involves a long-term view. It's about identifying an
opportunity and developing it." Wal-Mart said this will help it
gain a foothold not only in Chile's competitive retail market, but
also in the region (El Mercurio, conservative, influential
newspaper-of-record, Sat. circ. 173,049, 12/20).

3. Finance Minister Andres Velasco said Wal-Mart's decision shows
that foreign investment in Chile is continuing to move forward (Las
Ultimas Noticias, high-circulation, popular, circ. 140,000, 12/22).


4. Chile's Scientific Research Center in Valdivia exported
genetically modified mice to the University of Miami for use in
research on a devastating kidney disease. The center produces a
this type of mouse in a special facility built in accordance with
international standards (El Mercurio, circ. 129,000, 12/22).

5. An individual identified as an exchange student from the U.S.,
whose name was not given, was found dead yesterday (12/19) in a
downtown apartment in Santiago. Initial reports indicate that she
died from inhaling carbon monoxide from a malfunctioning gas water
heater in the bathroom of the apartment (El Mercurio, 12/20).

6. Mary Schapiro, recently designated by President-Elect Obama to
be the next Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC),
was in Chile in June 1997 to take part in a seminar with financial
authorities (La Tercera, conservative, independent, Sun. circ.
222,084, 12/21).

7. General Oscar Izurieta, Commander-in-Chief of the Army, appeared
before the Chamber of Deputies' human rights committee in an inquiry
about the U.S.-based School of the Americas and human rights
violations. Responding to a question on torture, Izurieta said he
has "empirical evidence" that none of the Chilean soldiers who have
studied at that institution were taught techniques of applying
torture. Izurieta added, "I studied there, too, and I do not
violate human rights" (Chamber of Deputies webpage, 12/19).

8. Column by international commentator Libardo Buitrago entitled
"Brazil: Leader of Latin America and the Caribbean":
"Brazil has convened four summits and gathered the leaders of Latin
America and the Caribbean, showing that its foreign policy has
become more open and proactive.... Lula has set out to bring the
region together; thus it was no accident that Mercosur's annual
meeting coincided with UNASUR's as he invented a new one: The
Summit of Latin America and the Caribbean.... The latter was
different from the Summit of the Americas... in that it did not
include global powers, a clear demonstration that Lula has fully
entered the field of regional influence. His strategy is to become
a valid interlocutor for the new U.S. administration and for other
regions of the world.... In this context, he played a new card...
endorsing Cuba's entry to the Rio Group and making sure that the
Latin American Summit Declaration included a call for the United
States to lift its embargo on Cuba. This is a powerful negotiation
tool for when Hillary Clinton takes office as Secretary of State,
because it will create a new political situation, namely that Cuba's
agenda is no longer trapped between Washington and Havana, but is
now open to the region. Lula has let the world know that... the
ball is now in his court. In other words, Brazil has become the
region's true leader" (Diario Financiero, business and financial
daily, 12/22).

Cuba
----
9. Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley said that Chile will
strengthen relations with Cuba in 2009, as part of a process that he
termed "normal" and consistent with the practices of other countries
in the region. Foxley said both countries will sign an array of
cooperation agreements. Sources said that most of these accords
will be sealed during Bachelet's visit to Havana in February (El
Mercurio, 12/20).

10. Foreign Minister Foxley offered a positive assessment of
Chile's foreign policy in 2008, despite the serious impasse with
Peru over recent inflammatory remarks made by that country's Army
Commander-in-Chief. Foxley also announced a possible presidential
trip to Russia in April of next year (El Mercurio, 12/20).

11. Cuban dissident leader Oswaldo Paya said he would not make a
special request to meet with President Bachelet during her visit to
the island. "We have great respect for her, but it is up to her to
decide what she will do during that visit," said Paya (La Tercera,
12/21).

12. Editorial entitled "Cuba and Latin America": "President
Bachelet will make an official visit to Cuba in February.... This is
hard to comprehend, since Chile has historically been committed to
the defense of human rights and has therefore been forced to vote
against Cuba in the United Nations.... There are no interests
compelling Chile to make this special gesture toward Cuba.... Cuba
has also recently attended expanded regional summits, and has
reportedly assessed the possibility of its return to the OAS.
Amidst all this rapid and unexpected process, no one has invoked the
democratic clauses contained in the OAS Charter or in many other
regional agreements.... None of this is conducive to the democratic
transition anticipated in Cuba after half a century. Instead, it
seems that [this process] is a result of the predominant political
inclination and double standard in the region, where dictatorships
are sanctioned according to on their [political] ideology. This
situation is a backward step in the confusing Latin American
scenario.... In the case of Cuba, Latin America is now in debt to
its own principles" (El Mercurio, 12/21).

URBAN

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