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Cablegate: Santiago October 5 Media Report

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R 052150Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
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TAGS: ECON KMDR KPAO PGOV PREL SNAR EFIN CI
SUBJECT: Santiago October 5 Media Report

Lead Story

--------------

1. Gas company "Geotermica del Norte" was able to close the
leak caused by its exploration activities near El Tatio geyser
field in northern Chile on September 8 (All dailies, 10/5).

U.S.-Related News

------------------------

2. Women's National Service (Sernam) Minister Laura
Albornoz will attend a Department of State meeting on gender issues
with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It is foreseen that
Albornoz will invite the Secretary to attend the launching of the
OAS Inter-American Women's Year next year (La Tercera, 10/5).

3. At the G-7 meeting in Istanbul, U.S. Secretary of the
Treasury Timothy Geithner said that the economy is recovering "with
more strength and sooner" than initially foreseen, adding that it
would be a mistake to withdraw economic stimulus programs at this
stage (La Tercera, 10/4).

4. Wall Street analysts who are looking closely at
Chile's December presidential election agree that regardless of who
is voted into office, Chile's economic model is unlikely to
experience significant changes (La Tercera, 10/3).

5. The associate director of SUNY Learning Network,
Alexandra Pickett, is in Santiago to speak on education
technologies at professional institute INACAP (PAS program, El
Mercurio, 10/5).)

6. Economist Esther Duflo will be in Santiago to
inaugurate MIT's J-Pal Center, an entity that fights poverty
through scientific research and evaluation of public policies. The
center will be located in the Catholic University (El Mercurio,
10/4).

Chile/Peru

-------------

7. Yesterday, President Alan Garcia insisted on
maintaining the controversy with Chile over the Salitre military
exercise by criticizing Santiago's invitation for Peruvian
authorities to attend the exercise. "An invitation to observe
military maneuvers is not the most satisfactory invitation one
would hope for. I hope that in the future there are other types of
demonstrations having to do with technology, mining, labor, that we
would be most happy to attend," said Garcia (El Mercurio, 10/3).

8. La Moneda is concerned that Peruvian President Alan
Garcia will use his meeting with Pope Benedict in November to
portray Chile as a country embarked in an arms race and Peru as
making efforts to maintain peace (El Mercurio, 10/4).

Military

---------

9. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research
Institute (SIPR), South American countries have significantly
increased their defense expenses in recent years either to replace
old materiel or for strategic reasons. Brazil and Venezuela lead
the trend, but there is also Colombia, with its agreements with the
United States for a permanent supply of weapons and the use of
military bases. And then there is Chile that has been improving the
quality of its military for some time. The increase in the price of
raw materials such as oil, copper, and soybeans has yielded
benefits for countries such as Brazil, Ecuador, and Chile and would
be the reason for the increase in military expenses, said SIPR (La
Tercera, 10/4).

Honduras

-------------

10. OAS envoy to Honduras John Biehl: "The de facto government is
in control.... Repressive incidents do occur, but are not reported
by the press.... The government has a calm yet strong hold of the
country, but there are no massive human rights violations at this
time" (Government-owned La Nacion, 10/4).

11. De facto President Roberto Micheletti said he had met with OAS
Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza in a military base north of
Tegucigalpa at the end of August. According to the local press,
U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens was also at the meeting
(El Mercurio, 10/3).

12. Micheletti admitted that it had been "a mistake" to expel
President Zelaya from the country. "The military in charge should
have taken him to the court, but instead expelled him to avoid a
civil war," said Micheletti in an interview with Brazilian magazine
"Veja" (El Mercurio 10/4).

13. Challenging the Obama administration, Republican Congressmen
Jim DeMint, Aaron Schock, Peter Roskam, and Doug Lamborn met
separately in Honduras with Micheletti, Supreme Court justices, and
four presidential candidates. DeMint's spokesperson said this was
not an endorsement of any of the candidates (El Mercurio, 10/3).

Indigenous Conflict

-------------------------

14. A Centro de Estudios Publicos (CEP) survey shows the
following figures for the indigenous Mapuche population in the
Region of Araucania: 12% illiteracy, 20% poverty and up to 35% in
some communities, only seven years of schools on the average, and
with one of the highest inequity rates in the country, where those
with the highest income earn up to 11 times more that those with
the lowest (El Mercurio, 10/4).

Environment

----------------

15. The Water Directorate issued a report stating that the leak in
the geyser field El Tatio has damaged the subterranean water
reserves for the Region of Antofagasta (Financial Diario
Financiero, 10/5).

Nuclear Weapons

----------------------

16. Raul Sohr column: "One of Latin America's achievement is that
it has not introduced ... atomic weapons. But this condition is
now threatened, at least in words.... Last week acting Brazilian
President Jose Alencar said, 'a nuclear weapon used as deterrent is
important for a country (such as Brazil) with a 15,000-kilometer
border'.... In 2007, Army General Jose Benedicto de Barros said
that Brazil could use atomic weapons to defend its patrimony. 'The
world lacks water, energy, food and minerals and Brazil is rich in
all of these,' said the general.... Latin America was a pioneer
and example when it signed the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty
in 1967.... Brazil hopes to occupy a permanent seat in the U.N.
Security Council ... and some of its strategists believe that a
nuclear device could give it the leverage needed to achieve this.
But Brazil would be betraying Latin America's call for peace if it
were to acquire atomic weapons. Worse yet, it would turn into a
threat for its neighbors by becoming a target for other powers,
discourage regional integration, and would be used as an excuse for
others to follow the same destructive path" (La Nacion, 10/4).
SIMONS

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