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Cablegate: Santiago Feb. 20-22 Media Report

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TAGS: ECON KMDR KPAO PGOV PREL SNAR EFIN CI
SUBJECT: Santiago Feb. 20-22 Media Report

Pi????era Administration

1. It is expected that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will
Pi????era's swearing-in ceremony on March 11. The presidents of
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Uruguay,
and Guatemala have confirmed their attendance (La Tercera, 2/21).

2. On Thursday President-elect Pi????era appointed his
undersecretaries, plus directors or assistant directors for budget,
the National Environmental Committee, Chile Deportes (Chile
Sports), and the assistant director of the National Council for the
Arts and Culture. As with his ministers, Pi????era chose engineers
from the Catholic University, with graduate studies abroad --
mostly in the United States--, and with ties to conservative think
tanks and institutions such as Instituto Libertad y Desarrollo and
Fundacion Jaime Guzman. But unlike his ministers, the future
undersecretaries have more political experience: 20 have worked in
state organizations and 7 have been members of legislative or
government commissions. The average age of the future
undersecretaries is 45.1, 20 are from Santiago; 11 are women, 20
men; 15 are UDI, 7are RN, one belongs to an opposition party
(PPD), and 16 have no formal party affiliation; 63% have graduate
studies, and nine studied at the University of Chile (Conservative,
independent La Tercera, 2/21)

3. Pi????era did not yet name the undersecretary for defense.
Sources said that among the possible candidates is current army
Commander-in-Chief Oscar Izurieta. The general has a Masters in
political science with a concentration in international relations
and will retire on March 9. Another candidate is Izurieta's
predecessor, Juan Emilio Cheyre. This general set a landmark by
publicly and officially accepting in 2004 the army's responsibility
for human rights violations committed during the military regime.
Cheyre is currently head of the Catholic University's International
Studies Center (Conservative, influential newspaper-of-record El
Mercurio, 2 /21).

4. Pi????era officials have asked Chile's cultural and press
attaches in embassies abroad to stay in office until April 30, that
is, more than a month after the new president is sworn-in, to
assist the new administration in the transition (El Mercurio,
2/21).

5. On Friday, Pi????era criticized the Bachelet administration's
fiscal management noting that his administration would be
inheriting a US$7 billion deficit. Pi????era said his administration
would work on an "austere" budget to resolve the "most urgent
needs." La Moneda was not pleased with Pinera's remarks and said
the deficit was "moderate" and the result of the economic crisis
(La Tercera 2/20).

OAS

6. The delegates at the Rio Group Summit in Mexico have already
moved forward on the creation of a new regional organization for
Latin American and the Caribbean. The new organization would merge
the Rio Group and Caricom and exclude the United States and Canada.
While the exclusion of the United States is a concern for countries
such as Colombia and Peru, Bolivian President Morales said that if
the Rio Summit wishes to "leave a mark," it must "ask for a new OAS
without the United States." In this context, Bachelet said that
although the proposal is heading "in the right direction," a new
organization must "never be seen as replacing the OAS." Bachelet
said the new organization should be "an association among
governments to articulate policy and not replace the OAS" (El

Mercurio, 2/22).

Haiti

7. In Port-au-Prince, Presidents Bachelet and Preval discussed
Brazil's proposal, endorsed by the United States and France, to
create an international aid cooperation agency. Bachelet has been
asked to coordinate the agency. Sources said she is willing to
accept, but must first have a sense of how the agency will operate,
what resources it will have, and what authority will be invested
upon her (El Mercurio, 2/22).

Chile Other Countries

8. President Bachelet and her Guatemalan counterpart Alvaro
Colom signed a bilateral free trade agreement (Government-owned La
Nacion, 2/22).

9. Chilean company IDC will sue the Hugo Chavez government
before the International Center for Settlement of Investment
Disputes for the expropriation of the concession of the airport on
Isla Magarita in 2005 (La Tercera, 2/20).

Science

10. Chile is willing to transfer 55,000 hectares for the European
Southern Observatory to build the largest telescope in the world,
the E-ELT, in the north. Chile would give 18,900 hectares for free
on

the Armzones hill and 36,200 surrounding the hill in
concession and protected from any activity that might interfere
with the light. The government is also guaranteeing electricity
supply (La

Tercera, 2/20).
SIMONS

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