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Cablegate: Chile Media Report - December 18

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR KPAO PGOV ECON PREL SNAR EFIN CI
SUBJECT: CHILE MEDIA REPORT - DECEMBER 18

Lead Stories
------------
1. Dailies highlighted the drop in the price of oil, which is
likely to generate a significant drop in electricity bills and other
utilities. Dailies also highlighted a photograph taken of President
Bachelet during an early morning swim in Brazil, where she was
attending a regional conference; this reigniting the debate over the
right to privacy.

U.S.-Related News
-----------------
2. A delegation of three U.S. Congressmen who visited Chile talked
about the crisis in the automobile industry in the United States.
Democratic New York Representative Gregory Meeks said that the
temporary US$14 billion that President Bush authorized for the
automobile industry will suffice until Congress approves the bailout
plan. "It will be enough to give assurance that the industry will
not disappear and that we will make sure it succeeds," said Meeks.
The three Congressmen concurred that the American people want a
prompt solution to the situation of this particular industry.
"People believe that if the bankruptcy of the automobile industry
were to occur... it would have wider implications for the economy as
a whole, which would be very destructive," said Wisconsin Republican
Congressman Paul Ryan. As to Congressional approval of the Treasury
Department's bailout plan, Ryan said, "We felt we needed to prevent
the collapse of the entire financial system. But now we are moving
toward specific industry sectors and companies, which for some of us
is a concern, because the system was designed for the financial
system from a wider perspective."

3. Congressman Meeks emphasized that this is not about bailing out
all companies at risk, but he underscored that it is important to
rescue automobile manufacturers because approximately 5 million jobs
depend on it. The three Congressmen met with Minister of Interior
Edmundo Perez-Yoma and with other government officials and business
representatives. "We are here because of the great relationship
that Chile and the United States have and to the success of the Free
Trade Agreement.... We believe that the relationship between both
of our countries can serve as an example for all of Latin America,"
said Meeks (Diario Financiero, business and financial, circ. 30,000,
12/18).

4. Figures published on Tuesday by the (Foreign Ministry) Economic
Relations Bureau show that trade between both countries has
increased 155% since the treaty came into effect. The United States
is Chile's principal commercial partner, with a 15.2% share of
Chile's commercial exchange (Diario Financiero, 12/18).

Local
-----
5. Standard & Poor's retained Chile's foreign debt ratings at AA+
due to its low fiscal debt and economic flexibility. This is the
highest ratings in Latin America (El Mercurio, conservative,
influential newspaper-of-record, circ. 129,000, 12/18).

6. National Prosecutor Sabas Chahuan inaugurated the First Latin
American Summit of Public Ministries against the Trafficking of
Persons (La Nacion, government-owned, editorially independent, circ.
4,200, 12/18).

7. An Ipsos December poll shows that approval for Bachelet is now
56.8%. This is 10 points higher than the August poll. The rate of
approval for the government, on the other hand, is only 38.8%, and
the rate of disapproval is 57.6%; 44% believe the country "is moving
in the right direction," and 48.1% believe it is not. The daily
indicates the approval for Bachelet is grounded on the perception
that the President is "natural," "unassuming" (not ostentatious),
can relate to people, and has the capability to face an array of
situations (La Nacion, 12/18).

Cuba
----
8. OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza met yesterday with
Cuban President Raul Castro in Brazil to discuss Havana's accession
to the Rio Group and possible incorporation into the OAS. Castro,
however, was clear in that Cuba would never join the OAS, adding
that the entity "must disappear" (El Mercurio, 12/18).
SIMONS

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