Cablegate: Chilean Senator Emphasizes Importance Of
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SANTIAGO 001586
DEPT FOR WHA/BSC, WHA/CAR
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PINR HA CI
SUBJECT: CHILEAN SENATOR EMPHASIZES IMPORTANCE OF
DIPLOMATIC TIES WITH U.S.
1. Summary: Senator Juan Antonio Coloma, head of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, spoke about the future of
Chilean international relations at the Latin American Faculty
of Social Sciences (FLACSO) on July 20. Coloma, who met with
WHA A/S Noriega in Washington on July 11, emphasized the
importance of stronger diplomatic ties with the U.S. as a
logical follow-up to the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement. He
also discussed Chile's involvement in Haiti. End summary.
Diplomacy: Chile's New International Strategy?
2. Coloma told the audience, which included members of the
diplomatic community and the Chilean Armed Forces, that the
success of Chile's international relations depended on
increased international engagement and the
professionalization of its diplomatic corps. Coloma said the
U.S. was increasingly becoming a strategic partner for Chile,
due to the success of the Free Trade Agreement, shared values
like democracy, human rights and market orientation, and
cooperation on key challenges to regional security like
narcotrafficking and terrorism.
3. Coloma stated that Chile needed to refocus its diplomatic
efforts to reflect its interests in various regions. Chile's
diplomatic representation to the European Union countries
roughly reflects its economic ties there, according to
Coloma. However, the U.S. -- with a quarter of Chile's
overall two-way trade -- only receives approximately five
percent of its diplomatic resources. Coloma argued Chile
should expand its diplomatic presence in the U.S.,
particularly in the Midwest and southern states, to reflect
and support the important commercial linkages that already
exist. Coloma said Chile's foreign service also needed to
dedicate more effort to the growing importance of the Asian
basin and China.
4. Senator Coloma characterized Chile's involvement in the
U.N. Mission in Haiti as an "opportune intervention," despite
his initial doubts. Chile's armed forces had gained
international recognition as an effective and professional
force through its Haiti deployment. Coloma noted the
deployment highlighted humanitarian support as a major
component of Chile's military mission. It would also help
lower regional concerns about Chile's military modernization
plans. "To be part of the world is to be part of
everything," he said, noting that Chile had to play a role in
international affairs. At the same time, Chile does not want
to remain in Haiti forever, he added. Coloma said former
President Aristide's supporters are trying to undermine or
even derail the upcoming elections, and the nation remains
extraordinarily unstable. Unless real progress can be made
to improve security and ensure successful elections, Chile
will need to consider its exit strategy.
5. Coloma is the president of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee and a member of the opposition Independent
Democratic Union (UDI), but showed clear support for the
Lagos administration's foreign policy, for stronger ties to
the U.S., and for continued engagement in the international
arena. His speech is an example of the general consensus
across the political spectrum in Chile on free market
economics and foreign policy as well, although Coloma is more
publicly pro-American than most.