Cablegate: Sept. 21 Media Report
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SUBJECT: Sept. 21 Media Report
1. Twenty-three people died in car accidents over the "Dieciocho"
long holiday. All of them were related to alcohol consumption
(Conservative, independent,La Tercera, 9/21).
2. Background: At Unasur, Peru's President proposed that South
American countries sign a "non- aggression pact." On Thursday,
Chilean Defense Minister Francisco Vidal said that such agreements
are signed when there is the threat of an aggression, adding that
the initiative reminded him of the agreement signed by Nazi Germany
and Russia in 1939. Peru was not happy with Vidal's remarks and
its officials decided not to attend a tribute in Lima in honor of
Chilean patriot Bernardo O'Higgins or a reception at the Chilean
Ambassador's residence to celebrate Chile's Independence Day,
triggering a new period of tension between both countries (La
3. Although until yesterday there was no reaction yet to Vidal's
remarks, Peruvian Defense Minister Rafael Reyes asked Chile to
cancel the "Salitre" air force military exercise in Antofagasta.
"Just as we canceled a military exercise last y ear to avoid any
misunderstanding, we would like Chile to have the same attitude,"
said Reyes (La Tercera 9/18)
4. Peruvian Defense Minister Rafael Reyes urged Chile to cancel the
2009 "Salitre" exercise in Antofagasta "just as Peru canceled
several programs in Arequipa to avoid any misunderstanding." In
the exercise a multinational peace force formed by Chilean, U.S.,
French, Argentine, and Brazilian air force contingents confront a
country that does not comply with international treaties
(Conservative, influential El Mercurio, 9/21).
5. Foreign Minister Fernandez asked Peruvian authorities not to
link Minister Vidal's remarks regarding Peru's proposal of a
non-aggression pact among South American countries to the 2009
"Salitre" exercise in northern Chile. Peru's Defense Ministry is
uneasy with the exercise and has urged Chile to cancel it. Chile,
however, has rejected the request stating that the exercise is to
increase peace mission preparation (La Tercera, 9/18).
6. Chilean Foreign Minister Mariano Fernandez said yesterday that
the government "values" President Alan Garcia's initiative to make
military issues transparent, but does not agree with his proposal
regarding a non-aggression agreement, because it reflects a kind of
language used by totalitarian regimes (La Tercera, 9/18).
7. In spite of the tension created by Minister Vidal's opposition
to Peru's proposal for a non-aggression pact, Peruvian Ambassador
Carlos Pareja attended Chile's annual Military Parade on Saturday.
The GOC saw this as an effort to lower tension between the two
countries (El Mercurio, 9/20).
8. Chilean Foreign Minister Mariano Fernandez said he accepted "in
good faith" the explanation given by Peruvian Ambassador Carlos
Pareja on the absence of Peruvian officials at a tribute in Lima
for Chilean patriot Bernardo O'Higgins. Pareja said it had been "a
mistake." In Chile, the Foreign Ministry is annoyed with Minister
Vidal's role in the recent conflict with Peru (La Tercera, 9/20).
9. Foreign Minister Fernandez believes that Peruvian President
Alan Garcia "is mistaken in the language he used, because non
aggression agreements are signed when countries are on the verge of
war, when we are not even close to that." Fernandez added that
Chile "clearly understands" that the proposal is intended for South
America as a whole and not just Chile and Peru (Government-owned La
10. In an interview, SOUTHCOM Brigadier General David C. Garza
explained that the agreement with Colombia gives the United States
access to seven bases and is an extension of previous agreements.
He said this would allow the United States to continue supporting
Colombia on its fight against narcotics and weapons trafficking and
narco-terrorism. "We have no intention to set up bases in
Colombia," said Garza, underscoring that the agreement limits the
number of military and contract personnel. "We have nothing to hide
with this agreement," he said, adding that he believes the region's
concern is the result of lack of information. Garza was asked if
the United States is concerned about Hugo Chavez. "We have over 40
years of good friendship with Venezuela.... We respect the
sovereign rights of nations and decision to modernize their
military systems," he said (La Tercera 9/18).
11. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote President Bachelet a
letter congratulating her on a new Independence Day. In her letter,
the secretary praised the "strong and deep bilateral ties" and said
this is "an opportunity to celebrate Chile's strong democracy" (La
12. Secretary Clinton's letter congratulating Chile on its
Independence Day was well taken by the Executive Office and Foreign
Ministry (Government-owned La Naci????n, 9/18)
13. Secretary Clinton joined Chile on its patriotic celebration by
dedicating a few lines to all Chileans: "On behalf of the people
of the United States I would like to express my sincere
congratulations to the people of Chile on its 199 years of
independence" (High-circulation popular daily Las Ultimas Noticias
14. In New York, President Bachelet will attend a dinner hosted by
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. President Obama will also
attend. Earlier that same day, Bachelet and Obama will also be
among the speakers at the annual session of the Clinton Global
Initiative. On Tuesday, Bachelet and Secretary Clinton will attend
the launching of the Inter-American Social Protection Network and
on Wednesday Bachelet will speak before the Council of the Americas
(El Mercurio, 9/19).
Chile/Peru Maritime Claim
15. Chile has until March 2010, to counter the maritime border
claim filed by Peru with the International Court of The Hague.
Chile's strategy will be to show that since 2005, Peru has changed
its laws to support its border claim: In 2005, it passed a law that
unilaterally set new points of reference along the coast to place
the sea that is currently under Chilean jurisdiction --in
accordance to treaties --, under Peru's jurisdiction; In August
2007, Peru's new official cartography shows that the sea under
Chilean jurisdiction "is an area in dispute;" In January 2008, a
new bill unilaterally assigns the "Punto de Concordia" as the point
of reference to set the land border between the two countries. The
treaties in effect between the two countries set the border using
the "Landmark 1" point (El Mercurio, 9/18)
16. El Mercurio/Opina conducted a survey in March 2006, which
showed that only 28 percent thought that Bachelet would do a better
job than her predecessor Ricardo Lagos. They have now repeated the
poll and figures show that 71.3 percent believe she has outdone
Lagos (El Mercurio, 9/20).
17. Chilean Foreign Minister Fernandez was asked on whether the
United States has true political will to resolve the situation in
Honduras. "The United States has labeled this a coup d'????tat, which
is a very specific term, and is cutting off significant aid ....
Don't read between the lines when things are very clear. The
United States has closed its visa office in Tegucigalpa, which
means that Hondurans cannot travel to the United States where there
are two million Honduran immigrants. What stronger sanction can
there be? The United States is being extremely rigorous with OAS
decisions. I find this noteworthy, because the OAS front has not
moved back an inch" (La Nacion, 9/20-9/26).