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Cablegate: Santiago Dec. 16 Media Report

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SUBJECT: Santiago Dec. 16 Media Report

Lead Story

1. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD) officially invited Chile to join (All dailies, 12/16).

OECD

2. After over two years of work and six million Euros spent
on missions and reports, the Bachelet administration achieved one
of its major goals: Chile's membership in the OECD. The
organization's Secretary General, Angel Gurria, will visit Santiago
in January to meet with President Bachelet and sign the official
agreement for Chile's accession. The agreement must then be
ratified by Congress. Chile is the first South American country to
join the OECD (Conservative, influential El Mercurio, 12/16).

U.S.-Related news

3. President Obama announced the government's decision to buy
the Thompson Correctional Center in Illinois to transfer prisoners
from Guantanamo. This shows that the president is working on
fulfilling his promise to close the naval base before the end of
his first year in office. The transfer of prisoners accused of
terrorism to the United States is, however, an especially sensitive
matter (Conservative, independent La Tercera, 12/16).

Former President Frei's death

4. Doctor Fernando Orrego of the University of Chile medical
school was categorical in his statement regarding the investigation
into former President Frei's death: the forensic experts who tested
Frei's remains must clarify what body tissues they used and what
methods they applied in their tests. They should also specify the
exact amount of the two chemicals found. A final conclusion on
whether Frei was poisoned with thallium and sulfuric mustard can
only be drawn if that information is available, said Orrego. He
explained that studies conducted by the Center for Disease Control,
in Atlanta, reveal that small amounts of thallium can be found in
individuals who have never been exposed to the element. These
studies also recommend not using hair tissue, as one of the Chilean
experts did, because testing for poison in hair tends to be highly
inaccurate (El Mercurio, 12/16).

Presidential election

5. Composition of the new Senate: Almost half of the senators
who will be in office from 2010 to 2014 studied at the University
of Chile. The second largest groups are Catholic University
alumni. The Senate will also have two private university graduates.
Half the senators are attorneys; another large number are
engineers. While 68% of senators attended private schools --
versus 57% the previous term-- 37.5% of deputies come from public
schools (El Mercurio, 12/16).
SIMONS

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