Cablegate: Chile Media Report - August 31
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SUBJECT: CHILE MEDIA REPORT - AUGUST 31
1. The UNASUR summit was aired live and showed us a disorganized and
seven-hour debate that concluded with upset presidents and a final
declaration that made no reference to the U.S.-Colombia agreement.
The declaration, however, states that "foreign military forces
cannot threaten the sovereignty and integrity of South American
countries or the region's peace and security." Brazilian Lula da
Silva succeeded in persuading Hugo Chavez to control himself. Rafael
Correa and other heads of state proposed calling a meeting with
President Obama to explain the scope of the agreement with Colombia.
President Lula and other presidents endorsed the proposal, but Uribe
objected to it (Conservative, influential newspaper-of-record, El
2. At UNASUR, Hugo Chavez read the "White Book," a document
presumably written by the Pentagon outlining the "strategic" use of
bases in South America to "dominate oil" in the region. Peruvian
President Alan Garcia ironically remarked to Chavez, "Why would they
(the U.S.) want to control South America's oil, when you sell it all
to them?" Garcia then said it had been a joke (El Mercurio, 8/29).
3. The Pentagon explained that the "White Paper" is a research
paper from the "Air Force University." The Department of State said
it was an "evaluation of alternative global transportation for
emergencies and humanitarian aid" and not "a strategic or policy
plan" (El Mercurio, 8/29).
4. At UNASUR, Hugo Chavez asked his Colombian counterpart to
present the U.S.-Colombia agreement in question to rule out
concerns. He also presented a paper allegedly drafted by the
Pentagon on the use of "expeditionary bases" in the region. In
response to that presentation, President Rafael Correa proposed
calling an urgent UNASUR meeting with President Obama to explain the
use of the military bases. President Uribe explained that the
document read by Chavez had been downloaded from the Internet and
was not a USG official document. Lula agreed with the idea of
meeting with Obama, but to "explain the scope of the U.S. role in
Latin America." This proposal was perceived as a means to decompress
the summit. Lula reiterated that while Brazil "respects" the
U.S.-Colombia agreement, he wants Uribe to provide legal guarantee
that it will not affect the region's stability. The summit's final
statement instructs UNASUR defense and foreign affairs ministers to
design a security strategy and states that "the presence of foreign
military forces cannot threaten the sovereignty and integrity of any
South American nation" (La Tercera, 8/29).
5. Interview with Brazilian Minister Secretary General to the
Presidency Luiz Dulci on the U.S.-Colombia agreement: "The issue of
the U.S military bases in the continent... is complex, because it
differs significantly from U.S. commercial or industrial presence or
investment. This (the agreement) surprised us. We expected a more
creative and cooperative attitude from the United States on issues
of defense with the region.... President Lula spoke very candidly to
President Obama on how this disrupts a process that has been
predominantly positive in all other aspects.... Although we believe
that Obama's intentions are the best possible, the installment of
U.S. bases in the region creates tension.... We don't want that
tension to crystallize and turn into an irreversible conflict" (La
6. Peruvian President Alan Garcia said he has no objection to the
Colombia-U.S. agreement "if the military presence is limited to
Colombia." However, he urged Colombia to provide "explicit
guarantees against any threat" and to assure that the contract
applies only to Colombia. Garcia also laughed at Chavez's remarks
that the U.S. goal is to control South America's oil, since
Venezuela is the one that sells all the oil to the United States.
(Afternoon, conservative, La Segunda, 8/28)
7. At UNASUR, President Bachelet called for "transparency" of
military agreements in the region and to create a climate of "trust"
(Government-owned, La Nacion, 8/30)
8. There was one landmark at UNASUR: This was first time that
South American countries debated the military presence of foreign
powers in the region. Lula da Silva did not conceal his concern over
the installation of U.S. bases or the interest of foreign powers for
resources in the Amazon (La Nacion, 8/30).
9. Lula proposed inviting President Obama to UNASUR to discuss the
role of the United States in the region. This was not an improvised
invitation. Last week Lula invited Obama by telephone, but did not
get an answer. The U.S. President sent Deputy Assistant Secretary
Christopher McMullen to tour the region (La Nacion, 8/31).
10. Senator Edward Kennedy visited Chile in January 1986, amid
heightened opposition to the military regime. The military regime,
through its communications bureau DINACOS, organized a campaign to
ensure that Kennedy found a hostile environment. At the airport
demonstrators battered the car transporting Kennedy, who had to be
flown out on helicopter. The campaign shows the importance that the
GOC assigned to Kennedy, who returned to the United States a
political hero (Column by Ascanio Cavallo, La Tercera, 8/30).
11. President Bachelet wrote President Obama a letter of condolence
for Senator Kennedy's passing away. "An exceptional American leader
whom we admire," wrote Bachelet. She wrote a more personal letter to
the Senator's widow (La Tercera, 8/29).
12. The assist director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the
Native American, Maggie Bertin, will arrive to Santiago to arrange
an exhibit in Washington on the Mapuche culture (El Mercurio, 8/30).
13. The National Electoral Service reported that 100,000 new people
have registered to vote since March. The registration deadline is
September 13 (La Tercera, 8/3).
14. The Executive Office is satisfied with the results of the
recently implemented Transparency Law (Access to Information Law).
9,017 requests for information have been submitted with 275 state
entities and 82.4 percent of them have been answered (El Mercurio,
15. Figures show that since 1994, the indigenous Mapuche
communities that have received the largest amount of land from the
government through direct purchase are the most radical communities.
The government has handed Mapuche communities in Ercilla, Victoria,
and Traiguen 4,000 to 8,000 hectares each. Meanwhile, the more
peaceful communities of Pucon and Villarica have not received any
land through this mechanism. The reason, says Olivia Ygor, from
think tank "Libertad y Desarrollo," is that these communities have
realized that violence yields them results (El Mercurio, 8/30).