Cablegate: Visit to Arica: Strong Bilateral Cooperation On The


DE RUEHSG #1170/01 3371125
O 031125Z DEC 09



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Visit to Arica: Strong Bilateral Cooperation on the
Chilean-Peruvian Border

1. Summary: The Ambassador got a close-up view of the close
ties Chile has with southern Peru during his November 14-17 visit
to Arica. Local leaders noted the close integration between people
and business and excellent law enforcement cooperation. The
Ambassador met with local officials, university faculty, and
experts in education, international property rights, energy and
environment, and agriculture, and his visit received broad media
coverage. End Summary.

2. Accompanied by the Press Attach????, a DEA Chemical
Investigator, and a Consular Officer, the Ambassador visited Arica,
just a few miles from the Peruvian border. In a series of meetings
with the Mayor, the Intendente (governor), and University of
Tarapaca Faculty, local authorities emphasized that Peru is a good
neighbor. The border region does not share the tension that exists
in the two capitals that has been the topic of news headlines.
Arica and Tacna (Arica's sister city in Peru, just across the
border) have close and long-standing economic ties and enjoy a high
degree of law enforcement cooperation. Chileans and Peruvians alike
regularly travel between the two cities for tourism, shopping,
dining, and business opportunities, and local leaders only expect
that those ties will continue to grow.

3. Arica's relative economic decline is of great concern to
local business, education, and political leaders. Arica's
population has been falling in recent years, regional unemployment
(over 10%) is among the highest in the country, and most university
graduates abandon Arica for Santiago or Iquique/Antofagasta where
employment opportunities are better. Arica has no significant
mining industry base; leaders rely on its gateway status for trade
to Peru and Bolivia, its good beaches, its tourism resources, and
its four-season agricultural potential as possible engines for
future growth.

4. In a discussion on border security and counternarcotics at
the Chaculluta Port of Entry with the head of the Policia de
Investigaciones de Chile's (PDI) Organized Crime Unit, the PDI
thanked the Ambassador for the law enforcement assistance offered
by DEA and FBI. U.S. agents have worked closely with their Chilean
counterparts for years in the region on counternarcotics efforts,
conducting training classes and sharing information in specific
cases. As in a previous visit to Iquique, GOC law enforcement
officials noted a significant surge in illicit cocaine shipments
from Bolivia. GOC law enforcement officials also stated that the
economy of Arica depends heavily on the large number of Peruvians
who work in the agricultural sector, especially in the fertile
Azapa valley south of Arica. There are more than 4,000,000 border
crossings annually, including more than 830,000 crossings by
Peruvians with work permits. Managing the flow of these workers
and tourists without disrupting the economy and maintaining
security is a top priority for Chilean and Peruvian law enforcement

5. While at the Peruvian border, the Ambassador was briefed
on Chilean demining activities in the area around Arica. Chile has
had an active demining program since 2004 and has successfully
deactivated thousands of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines along
the border with Peru and Bolivia. The program, using a sifting
excavator and other heavy equipment on loan from the US, has
promoted goodwill with the neighboring countries, and the
protocols followed to protect civilians during the demining
operations are a visible example of close interagency cooperation
between civil and military authorities in Chile to achieve an
important humanitarian objective.

6. Education was a topic that frequently was mentioned during
the Ambassador's visit. The Ambassador promoted the Youth
Ambassador program at both the North American College and with
Arica Mayor Waldo Sankan. Mayor Sankan is emphasizing English
education and international exchanges in the region, including a
goal to establish bilingual public schools over a period of years.
The Ambassador also met with students in the American Corner at the
University of Tarapaca.

7. In the last two years, the Embassy has actively supported

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) initiatives in Arica, including
seminars for prosecutors and investigators on piracy and
counterfeiting in the region and a seminar for judges on the
judicial experience in the United States of prosecuting
intellectual property crimes. A direct result of these efforts are
new courses at the University of Tarapaca law school aimed at
protecting intellectual property rights. The University of Tarapaca
is the first in Chile to offer IPR academic programs and is working
with the city of Arica to support IPR programs for students in
local public schools. In an IPR Roundtable at the University of
Tarapaca, Ambassador Simons congratulated the faculty on their

8. Another key focus of the Ambassador's visit was energy and
the environment. On November 16, the Ambassador spoke to more
than 85 faculty members, students and local leaders at the
Universidad de Tarapaca's Saucache Campus on "Chile-U.S. Bilateral
Relations: The Future of Energy and the Environment." The speech,
which highlighted the Obama Administration's energy and climate
change policies, generated a lively question and answer session
that showed the interest of the audience in these areas.
Separately, the Ambassador toured a solar house that university
students and faculty are constructing; met with a private company
that is conducting research on new plant species that produce
higher yields and are more heat and drought tolerant; and talked
with local government about projects focused on energy efficiency
and solar power.

9. Ambassador Simons also met with 21 members of the local
American community, former Fulbright and IVLP participants, and
indigenous rights leaders. The Ambassador gave interviews to La
Estrella de Arica and Radio Cappissima, and he appeared live on
Arica TV's morning talk show. The trip to Arica generated a high
degree of interest from the media and local officials. Local press
were present at several key locations during the Ambassador's visit
and asked questions ranging from what is the USG view of Chilean
presidential elections to inquiries about the Ambassador's interest
in education and environmental policy.

© Scoop Media

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