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Cablegate: Chile Media Report - December 24

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FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
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UNCLAS SANTIAGO 001143

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STATE FOR R/MR, I/PP, WHA/BSC, WHA/PDA, INR/IAA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR KPAO PGOV ECON PREL SNAR EFIN CI
SUBJECT: CHILE MEDIA REPORT - DECEMBER 24

Lead Stories
------------
1. The president of the Chilean Association of Municipalities
issued a statement harshly critical of the Education Law,
characterizing it as an impediment to improving education, primarily
because of its rigid labor provisions. Relatedly, dailies
highlighted the results of the recent national PSU college
admissions tests, which revealed that the achievement levels of
students in private schools greatly exceeded those of students in
public and state-subsidized schools.

U.S.-Related News
-----------------
2. The U.S. Government stated that the white powder detected in a
suspicious envelope mailed to the U.S. Embassy in Santiago,
apparently from Texas, tested negative and is an innocuous
substance, similar to the powder that was found in envelopes
received by 16 other U.S. diplomatic missions throughout the world.
"They have all tested negative," said Department of State Deputy
Spokesman Robert Wood (El Mercurio, conservative, influential
newspaper-of-record, circ. 129,000, 12/24).

3. Twenty-five Chilean students who traveled to the United States
in a program known as "Work and Travel," administered by Experience
Corp., have been "abandoned" in Lafayette, Louisiana, and Lake
Tahoe, California. A spokesman for the group said they did not
obtain jobs and have contacted the company and the Chilean consulate
without response (El Mercurio, 12/24).

4. The new patenting entity National Industrial Property Institute,
Inapi, will begin operation on January 2, 2009. The institute will
be completely autonomous and its launching will coincide with the
Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) coming into effect. Inapi Director
Cristsbal Acevedo said that the United States must explain the
parameters it is using to keep Chile on its Priority Watch List on
industrial property since Chile "has taken noteworthy steps such as
the PCT, Inapi, and the creation of a special unit for industrial
property crimes, but still is depicted as a paradise for piracy,
which is disproportionate" (Diario Financiero, business and
financial, circ. 30,000, 12/24).

5. International commentator Andres Oppenheimer, in today's
Mexican daily "Vanguardia," published an interview with Assistant
Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, which carries an explicit message
on OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza's intention to run in
Chile's next presidential election. The general view, writes
Oppenheimer, is that the summit in Brazil and other recent summits
have outshone the OAS. Shannon underscored the OAS's role in
sending observer missions and human rights panels to several
countries, but said the organization "has not done so well in the
resolution of border conflicts, such as those between Colombia and
Ecuador, or with internal crises, such as the one in Bolivia."
Regarding Insulza's intention to become a presidential candidate,
Shannon said, "being Secretary General of the OAS is a full-time
job, and if there should come a time when a Secretary General feels
he cannot be on the job full time, he must say so" (La Segunda,
conservative, afternoon, circ. 33,000, 12/23).

6. Other Chilean papers also reported Assistant Secretary Shannon's
remarks on the OAS Secretary General, which come amidst speculation
on whether Insulza will be a presidential candidate. It is said to
be the first time a diplomatic official has voiced criticism
regarding Insulza's plans. In Chile there is awareness that the
situation is becoming complicated for Insulza. However, Insulza's
inner circle said that the U.S. Ambassador to the OAS, Hector
Morales, had informed the Secretary General that Shannon's words
were not intended as criticism and that the United States is
well-satisfied with his performance.

7. The 25-year-old woman from the U.S. who died this past week in a
Santiago apartment was named Andrea Scamihorn. She had taught
English in Chile, and was preparing to return to the United States.
A roommate found Ms. Scamihorn dead in the shower, with the water
still running. Officials told Ms. Scamihorn's family they believe
the death was caused by carbon monoxide leaking from the water
heater. Fundraising efforts have been started to help the family
cover the expenses of returning the body home to Indiana
(www.thestarpress.com, 12/24).

URBAN

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