Cablegate: Santiago Nov. 9 Media Report
DE RUEHSG #1070/01 3132013
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 092012Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0240
INFO RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0143
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 0139
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0081
UNCLAS SANTIAGO 001070
STATE FOR R/MR, I/PP, WHA/BSC, WHA/PDA, INR/IAA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON KMDR KPAO PGOV PREL SNAR EFIN CI
SUBJECT: Santiago Nov. 9 Media Report
1. The national scholastic test for fourth graders shows
that only 24% have the level of language skills required for that
grade. The test also confirms that the gap that exists between
private and public education remains unchanged; only 12% of
low-income school students achieved advanced level skills
(Conservative, in dependent La Tercera, 11/9).
2. Sources in Santiago said there are "talks" underway with
the United States for a "possible' meeting between Presidents
Bachelet and Obama at APEC to discuss, among other things, the
difficult situation in Honduras. Bachelet will meet at APEC with
Chinese President Hu Jintao (Conservative, influential El Mercurio,
3. Arturo Valenzuela was confirmed Assistant Secretary of
State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. His appointment is of
special importance given the absence of a special envoy to the
region (El Mercurio, 11/7).
4. Editorial: "Chile's forestry sector has gone through some
rough times because of the subsidy that U.S. cellulose producers
receive.... It is evident that this subsidy is hurting forestry
companies in Chile and in other countries.... On Tuesday, Chile's
Foreign Ministry will submit its complaint regarding the subsidy to
the Chile-U.S Free Trade Agreement Administration on behalf of
local forestry companies. This is important, because regardless of
the outcome, it will clearly set Chile's position on a situation
that affects commercial relations between the two countries" (El
5. Editorial: "The House approved the health reform by a
small difference.... This victory is good for the president...
because in the eyes of the average American he has moved slowly in
the yet inaugural stage of his office.... This disenchantment ...
exists abroad too, where there is the growing perception that the
president is having a hard time dismantling the interventionist,
unilateral, and adversarial structure set up by his predecessor
"(Government-owned La Nacion, 11/9).
6. Editorial: "President Obama will have to carefully weigh
the emotional effect of Fort Hood before escalating the conflict in
Afghanistan. This won't be easy, because the memories of Vietnam
have been lingering for some time. Fort Hood has brought back for
some the worst fear, which is that U.S. society is trapped in a war
without destiny and that is taking the lives of young promising
individuals for motives that are not fully understood"
(Conservative, influential newspaper-of-record El Mercurio, 11/9).
7. In the Communist Party's Congress in Brazil, President Luiz
Inacio Lula da Silva referred to the Colombia-U.S. military
agreement: "Dear comrade Obama, we don't need U.S. bases in
Colombia to fight narcotics trafficking in South America. We will
take care of South America and our borders and you look after your
consumers. The world will be better this way" (La Tercera, 11/8).
8. China's authorization for Disney to build a theme park in
Shanghai is timely considering President Obama's upcoming visit to
China. Both countries have strong differences and very conservative
sectors in Washington believe that it is just a matter of time
before the two enter a Cold War, especially given China's recent
military growth. The U.S. President wants to strengthen ties with
Beijing and will most likely seek a constructive relationship with
President Jintao (El Mercurio, 11/9).
Marriott Hotel Bombing
9. Police stains, churches, banks, embassies, and hotels have
been targets of explosive devices since 2004. On Tuesday one
device detonated outside the Marriott Hotel. It was the 14th this
year and the 102nd since 2004. The Public Ministry has requested
the FBI's cooperation in the investigation of these attacks,
particularly with regard to their manufacturing and its information
on anarchist organizations worldwide. The FBI, on the other hand,
has inquired about trends of these types of bombings in Chile. In
the framework of this cooperation, prosecutors, and police officers
traveled in March to FBI headquarters in the United States to train
in the investigation of explosive devices. In 2001, the FBI also
assisted with the investigation of the "letter bombs" received by
the U.S. Embassy in Santiago. Embassy sources said that this type
of cooperation occurs every time there is a request for it (La
10. 15 members of the U.S. Special Forces were staying at the
Marriott Hotel where the bomb detonated last week. They had been
participating in the "Southern Star" military exerQ with
soldiers from Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay and decided toQa
few days after the exercise concluded. Local prosecutors
immediately began looking into the possibility that this was a
directed and planned attack, but it soon became evident that it was
a coincidence. One reason is that the device was placed in a
bathroom and not in a conference room or on the floor where the
foreigners were staying. The second is that the statement issued
by the anarchist organization that claimed responsibility did not
mention the intent of attacking foreigners or U.S. interests (El
11. President Bachelet named General Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba
Army Commander-in-Chief. Fuente-Alba will take office in March
2010. But human rights organizations are questioning the general's
appointment because of his alleged presence in Calama in 1973 when
the so-called "Death Caravan" arrived in that town. Fuente-Alba has
testified twice that at the time he had been assigned to another
town. Government spokesperson Carolina Toha said on Friday that the
judge investigations the case had "completely ruled out" the
general's participation in human rights violations ((El Mercurio
11/7, 11/8; La Tercera, 11/8).
12. El Mercurio-Opina September poll shows that Sebastian Pinera
leads the presidential race with 38 percent in the cities of
Santiago, Valparaiso, and Concepcion. Eduardo Frei and Marco
Enriquez-Ominami received 21.5 and 20.4 percent respectively, which
is a technical tie. In a runoff, Pinera would receive 41.9 percent
of the votes and Enriquez-Ominami 37.7 percent; Pinera versus Frei,
42.7 and 36.8 percent respectively.
13. The election propaganda campaigns will start on Friday.
This includes the television political spots (La Tercera, 11/8).
Note: The television propaganda is aired in two 20 minute blocks
every day from noon to 12:30 and from 10:40-11:00p.m. On weekends
the second block is aired 8:40 to 9:00 p.m.
14. Police intelligence sources and regional prosecutors have
records that the leaders of the radical Mapuche organization CAM
trained in Colombia's FARC camps in the border with Ecuador from
2004-2006. Their analysis also shows that since 2006, the CAM has
changed its tactics and began attacking trucks, civilian vehicles,
and began using high caliber weapons (El Mercurio 11/9).
15. BB King, "The King of Blues," will perform in Santiago on
March 27 at Teatro Caupolican (La Tercera, 11/7).