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Cablegate: Chile Media Report - August 19

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

Leading Story
----------
1. Opposition Deputy Gonzalo Arenas reacted aggressively against
Minister of the Interior Edmundo Perez Yoma during his testimony at
the Chamber of Deputies yesterday. Minister Perez Yoma was
testifying on the violent events in Region Nine involving Mapuche
indigenous, but his explanations did not fulfill Deputy Arenas'
expectations. Deputy Arenas threw to the Minister's face the
document pardoning a Mapuche leader who had been indicted for
terrorist acts. (El Mercurio, conservative, influential, 8/19)

SOUTHCOM General Fraser in Chile
--------
2. Interview with SOUTHCOM Commander General Douglas Fraser who is
on an official visit in Chile. General Fraser was asked about the
recent U.S. - Colombia defense cooperation agreement: "We need to be
very specific... These are not U.S. bases. The United States does
not need to have bases, and with this agreement it is not attempting
to establish them," he told El Mercurio. General Fraser noted that
the agreement regulates the U.S. longstanding cooperation with
Colombia by supporting its "fight against narcoterrorism and the
FARC." He explained that the bases will be controlled by Colombians
who will decide which activities will be carried out. "Plan
Colombia has been very successful, but what is important is that
although Colombia has been successful --in reducing the number of
kidnappings and homicides, and the country's atmosphere is good--
the fight hasn't ended. The FARC have decreased but they are still
there, therefore it is necessary to continue supporting (Colombia's)
efforts," he said. General Fraser also presented a multilateral
focus to his mission as head of SOUTHCOM and pointed out the need to
work with all Latin American countries to confront common threats.
He ruled out a conventional military crisis in the region, but
underscored his concern about the impact of transnational illegal
trafficking and the potential implications for drug trafficking. "To
me the main problem is security because (drug trafficking) is well
financed and they have good weapons. We need to find a good way of
dealing with that problem and the only way to do it is by working
together. "We invite Venezuela to participate in exercises. They
are openly invited to our schools. In the past we had good
relations with Venezuela and we seek to recover them..." General
Fraser noted that he is optimistic and that he sees great
possibilities for cooperation with countries in the region. He
emphasized, though, that each country must decide over its defense
requirements. He said that the United States "would like the
militaries to purchase U.S. equipment, I will not say that we
wouldn't like that." (El Mercurio, conservative, influential, 8/19)

U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement
------------------------------------------
3. Wire story reporting on Secretary Clinton's press conference with
Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Belaundez in Washington. Secretary
Clinton noted that the agreement does not involve creating permanent
U.S. bases in Colombia. She pointed out that the agreement "does not
concern" other countries in the region. (La Tercera, conservative,
independent, 8/19)

UNASUR
------
4. The opposition Alliance is inclined to vote against Chile's
membership in UNASUR. In the next few days, Chile's Foreign Ministry
will try to reinitiate negotiations with the opposition in order to
ratify by September the draft treaty that creates UNASUR. Last year,
on August 19, 2008 the initiative was submitted to Congress for
approval. The strong controversy unleashed two weeks ago by
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Quito has raised strong
reticence among Chilean opposition senators. Chavez' remarks
announcing "winds of war" in the region and the events in Quito are
seen by Chileans as a threat that could damage the relations between
South America and the Obama Administration. (El Mercurio, 8/19)

SIMONS

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