Cablegate: Santiago Oct. 10-13 Media Report


DE RUEHSG #0978/01 2862020
R 132019Z OCT 09



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Santiago Oct. 10-13 Media Report

Lead Story


1. Chile played Colombia in Medellin and won 4-2,
therefore qualifying for the World Cup (All dailies, 10/11).

U.S.-Related News


2. After almost a month and a half of controversy over the
"Salitre" exercise, the U.S. Embassy in Santiago commended the
transparency in the organization of the exercise to avoid
misunderstandings. "In preparing the exercise, military officers
of our countries clarified the scenario to assure that all
audiences clearly understood the nature of the event- which is not
offensive-- and to give greater transparency to neighbor countries
in the region," said an embassy spokesperson. "The government of
Chile has worked hard to promote goodwill," he added. Chilean
defense sources said that U.S. Ambassador to Chile Paul Simons was
one of the main supporters of modifying the hypothetical scenario
of the exercise. Defense Minister Francisco Vidal admitted there
had been talks among the Air Forces, but "never an official
suggestion" from the USG to the Foreign Ministry to change the
scenario. Foreign Minister Mariano Fernandez said that "If I had
any information it is not for me to provide it to the public
opinion." The initial scenario, and which upset Peru, involved a
fictitious country in the north invading another in the south,
prompting the intervention of a U.N. peace force. The new scenario
is of a dictator on an island (Conservative, independent La
Tercera, 10/10).

3. Chilean sources said the U.S. suggestion to change the
scenario of the exercise was a result of Peru's complaints in
Washington. Sources in Lima said that Foreign Minister Jose Garcia
Belaunde and Defense Minister Rafael Rey conducted a strong lobby
with the countries participating in "Salitre" to either to cancel
the exercise or modify the hypothetical scenario (Conservative,
influential El Mercurio, 10/10).

4. The tension over "Salitre" has decreased since Chile
announced it would make a "minor technical adjustment" to the
exercise. Political scientist Guillermo Holzmann says that Peru's
stance on this matter has to do with its strategy to establish in
the international community that Chile is preparing military and
offensively. The end goal, he says, is to put pressure on the
court of The Hague which has to rule on Peru's maritime claim
against Chile (Government-owned, La Nacion, 10/13).

5. Columnist Hernan Felipe Errazuriz: "Chile and Peru seem
unaware of the poor state of their relationship. ... As if they had
no experience, both governments practice diplomacy through the
press in a spiral of absurd bragging. The latest Peruvian
complaint - and in which Chile got caught in - was a military
exercise organized by the Air Force.... Due to Peru's
incomprehensible complaint, the hypothetical location of the
exercise was changed.... It is likely that more conflicts and
incidents will occur, perhaps even coarser, since lately that has
been the tone of the relationship .... Alan Garcia wrapped himself
in the Peruvian flag some time ago to improve his declining
popularity and to attract nationalists by portraying Chile in The
Hague as an aggressor and usurper. But nothing will change if the
foreign ministries of both countries to not carry out a
professional and calm work to lead bilateral ties along a
constructive path" (El Mercurio, 10/10).

6. President Bachelet congratulated President Obama on the
Nobel Peace Prize: "I am truly content with this great award that
President Obama has received as a great leader in the fight for
peace... This is a new opportunity to state new challenges. It is
also a call on all international political actors to make that
goodwill come true" (El Mercurio, 10/10).

7. Craig Kelly, former U.S. Ambassador to Chile and current
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, met recently in Santiago with
the Eduardo Frei and Sebastian Pinera's presidential campaign heads
Rodrigo Hinzpeter, Cristina Bitar, Enrique Correa and
BelisarioVelasco to talk about the presidential race and the
political situation in Latin America, among other topics (La
Tercera, 10/11).

8. Hispanic organizations The Cuban-American National
Foundation, The National Race Council, and the Latin American
United Cities League urged the Senate to confirm Arturo Valenzuela
as Assistant Secretary for Latin American stating that the delay in
his confirmation is hurting Washington's policy in Latin America
(El Mercurio, 10/10).

9. Secretary Clinton's spokesperson Philip Crowley assured
that the Obama administration and the Secretary of State stand
strongly behind Arturo Valenzuela's nomination (El Mercurio,

10. Minister Laura Albornoz, head of Chile's National Women's
Service, met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other U.S.
officials at the opening of the Women's Entrepreneurial Leaders
Conference in Washington as president of the OAS Inter-American
Women's Commission (Government-owned La Nacion, 10/12).

11. Minister Laura Albornoz met in Washington with Tina Tchen,
White House Council on Women and Girls; Melanne Verveer,
responsible for women's issues in the Department of State, and Lynn
Rosenthal, White House advisor on the same issue, to discuss
logistics about women's centers and trafficking in women in Latin
America (El Mercurio, 10/10).

12. A team of NASA scientists will arrive in Punta Arenas
tomorrow to launch Operation Ice Bridge, a six-week project to
measure and study the ice sheets over Antarctica and the effects of
the increase in sea level (Popular leading circulation Las Ultimas
Noticias, 10/11).

Indigenous Affairs


13. Yesterday night at 10:30 p.m., hooded individuals attacked a
toll booth, burned a truck, and fired at five vehicles including a
police car on the international Ruta 5 highway in the Ninth Region
in Victoria. The truck driver and his assistant said they had
encountered a barricade on the road and had phoned the police when
a group of individuals held them at gunpoint, threatening to kill
them. Just a few kilometers from Victoria earlier in the evening
Giselle Martinez was driving her car with her 13-year old daughter.
She saw a barricade ahead and started to turn back. Hooded
individuals fired at her car, stopped two other vehicles and tried
to rob them. No one was injured. At about 2 a.m. another group of

15 individuals also armed fired at the toll booth just two
kilometers from the highway. The toll operator ran and hid as the
individuals destroyed the booth and spray painted, "This is Mapuche
territory." The incidents occur just two days after the government
announced it would complete land acquisitions to satisfy the
demands of 115 Mapuche communities (El Mercurio, 10/10).

Local Politics


14. Results of a telephone poll conducted by "La Tercera" in
cities of more than 20,000 inhabitants: Pinera leads with 39%,
Marco Enriquez Ominami 24%, and Frei 20%. In a runoff between the
following candidates: Pinera 48% and Frei 39%; Pinera 44% (5 less
than in July) and M.Enriquez 43%, which is 21 % more than in July
(La Tercera, 10/10).

© Scoop Media

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