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Cablegate: Santiago Dec. 17 Media Report

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TAGS: ECON KMDR KPAO PGOV PREL SNAR EFIN CI
SUBJECT: Santiago Dec. 17 Media Report

Lead Story

1. Paul Fontaine, chief economist of independent presidential
candidate Marco Enriquez Ominami, joined Sebastian Pinera's
campaign team. Cristian Larroulet, of Pinera's Economic Council,
underscored similarities with Enriquez-Ominami's economic program,
adding that some of those proposals could be included in Pinera's
program. Paul Fontaine praised Pinera's team for being willing to
include in their program "progressive and liberal" initiatives set
forth by Enriquez-Ominami (Conservative, influential El Mercurio,
12/17).

U.S.-Related News

2. Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela's remarks in
Argentina caused controversy. Valenzuela said that U.S. businesses
were concerned over "judicial insecurity" in Argentina and that he
had seen a significant "change" in U.S. companies, which in 1996
"were enthusiastic about investing" in Argentina. The Foreign
Ministry in Buenos Aires released a statement saying that the
government had not received any complaints from U.S. companies with
investments in the country. Minister of Interior Florencio Randazzo
also regretted that the "relapse" of U.S. officials, "when there
are expectations with regard to a new stage in U.S. foreign policy"
(El Mercurio, 12/17).

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3. The OAS General Assembly has not yet set a date for the
election of its next secretary general, where Jose Miguel Insulza
will run for reelection. In U.S. Senate circles there is some
concern that attempts to hold the election before February could be
tied to Chile's election calendar. The same sources said that this
concern was strengthened by images of Insulza next to presidential
candidate Eduardo Frei during the recent presidential election.
While countries such as Brazil and Argentina support Chile's
request to move the date of the election, others such as the United
States and Venezuela are inclined to discuss the matter calmly in
January (El Mercurio, 12/17).

Death of former President Frei

4. The defense attorney of physician Pedro Valdivia requested
the recusal of Justice Alejandro Madrid in the Frei case on the
grounds that the judge had expressed "empathy for the Frei family."
The Santiago Appeals Court agreed to review the recusal and removed
the judge from the case until it issues a resolution (Conservative,
independent La Tercera). The process to review a recusal takes at
least a month, which means that Justice Madrid could be out of the
Frei case until after the runoff presidential election on January
17 (El Mercurio, 12/17).

5. Laura Borgel, one of the forensic experts who ran
laboratory tests on former President Frei's remains, said that
laboratories in the United States, Canada, and Sweden confirmed her
results that show the presence of sulfonic salt in Frei's body.
Borgel said that this element "damages cell growth, which is what
killed Frei." Borgel said that in 2007 she received the results of
tests conducted by the U.S. Army that concluded that "cell damage"
in the remains, "could be attributed to mustard gas." She said that
the FBI's lab tests did not find this element, "because they were
looking for drug abuse, such as cocaine and not mustard gas" (La
Tercera, 12/17).
SIMONS

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