Archive for the ‘Chile’ Category

Chile: Bachelet in Washington

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

bachelet[Translation of an article from Punto Final of Santiago for July 11, 2014. See original here and related articles here and here.]

By Álvaro Ramis

The president’s recent visit to the United States allows us to analyze the relations between the world’s leading power and our country in the context of the awakening of Latin American consciousness in defense of its sovereignty and in pursuit of integration. Michelle Bachelet showed up for her appointment in the Oval Office of the White House at an especially delicate time in the relations between the United States and Latin America. It is not trivial to stress this aspect of it. It is not just the countries of ALBA (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América — Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) that are currently in a state of open tension with the Obama administration. The differences also encompass countries like Brazil, affected by the policies of economic spying on its strategic enterprises, and Argentina, which finds itself attacked by the recent United States court ruling barring it from settling its credit commitments if it does not agree at the same time to pay the so-called “vulture funds” a sum greater than 13 billion dollars, which threatens its long-term stability. In the midst of all these serious contradictions, the relations between Chile and the United States may seem like a minor consideration. But Chile’s unique position gives it a strategic role in the eyes of Washington. When Obama called Bachelet his “second favorite Michelle,” after his wife, he was not exaggerating. The United States has few friends left in Latin America and those that remain are there more from obligation or duress than from conviction. Within that framework, Chile wants to be the pretty girl playing hard to get. Chilean diplomacy, led by Minister Heraldo Muñoz, has termed the strategy “convergence in diversity.” An elegant way of declaring that in strategic disputes Chile is not going to fall in line but will pursue its own interests, in a pragmatic way. That is the official position but is it the reality? (more…)

Chilean students prepare for 2014: “We want a response on our own terms”

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

a3 xx[Translation of an article from El Clarín of Santiago, Chile, for December 26, 2013. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Paula Correa

Before the presidential runoff, the students made it clear that neither of the two candidates represented them and that, beyond who won the election, the only guarantee they could see for going forward as a movement lay in mobilization and the pressure they could generate.

Melissa Sepúlveda, president of the Federación de Estudiantes de la Universidad de Chile (FECH), stressed the differences between president elect Michelle Bachelet’s platform and the demands the students have been making since 2011. “We have been emphatic in revealing the existence of profound differences, at a programatic level, with the Nueva Mayoría. We see that they mention only the end of profit making in institutions that receive resources from the state and, for us, since it is a social right, there can be no room at all for profit in education. Profiting has to end at all levels of education. What we want is a response on our own terms to the demands that the student movement has made,” she said. (more…)

Chile: Cambridge professor José Gabriel Palma on Bachelet’s second term

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

x Michelle_Bachelet“Small changes with nothing changed”

[Translation of an article from Página/12 of Buenos Aires for December 20, 2013. See original here.]

There is more and more activism on the streets of Chile. Analyst José Gabriel Palma wonders how long president elect Bachelet can “continue to appease the demands with this ‘gatopardismo .’”

By Marcelo Justo

The runoff was the easy, predictable part. Now Michelle Bachelet’s problems begin. Surveys show that an overwhelming majority of the people want deep changes to a model that for a while was the wonder of the world but that is now a disappointment to Chileans themselves. The constitutional legacy of dictator Augusto Pinochet is hampering their aspirations decisively. Despite her sizable victory at the polls, she does not have the majority in the Senate she needs to bring about a profound transformation. Página/12 spoke by telephone with José Gabriel Palma, a Chilean professor of economics at the University of Cambridge, who is in his country keeping track of political developments. (more…)

Chile: An economic plan drawn up 40 years ago

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

x chile copperNeoliberalism in the extreme

[Translation of an article from Punto Final for September 6, 2013, as republished in Clarín of Santiago on September 8. See original here.]

By Paul Walder

It’s been 40 years since the coup d’état. A period that has passed with the slowness of social paralysis, of frozen consciences. A period that has allowed for the installation by force of the most unbridled capitalism on the planet, a model that was later to be adjusted and perfected until its consolidation.

It has been four decades divided into two great stages, the first under the harshness of dictatorial violence, the second marked by the seductive pleasures of consumption. If in other places and other epochs those 40 years were long enough for several wars and revolutions, Chile after the coup and the repression fell into a heavy sleep that left the way clear for counter-revolution and the collapse of all its social and labor conquests. Chile, which at the beginning of the ‘70s of the last century passed through a singular revolutionary process without a shot being fired, began the next century with an economic and social structure more fitting to the 19th century. The oligarchy, made up of a few traditional families and other more recent arrivals, took possession of the country, of its natural resources and of the lives of millions of workers and consumers. (more…)

Chile: Prosecutor closes investigation into 2010 San José mine cave-in

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

x mineros“One of us would have to be dead for there to be justice,” one of the 33 rescued miners said

[Translation of an article by BBC World as published in El Mostrador of Santiago, Chile, for August 2, 2013. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

“Many people think we are fools, but we aren’t. We are humble.” From the other end of the telephone line, the voice of Mario Sepúlveda sounds full of anger and impotence. He speaks slowly but strongly. Mario is one of the 33 miners who were trapped underground for 70 days after a cave-in at the San José mine in Copiapó, in northern Chile, in 2010. He is also the most outgoing and cheerful of them. Known since the rescue as “Super Mario,” he was one of the leaders recognized by his companions and a key figure when it came to keeping up morale in order to assure that the 33 came out of the disaster practically unscathed. But now Mario’s cheer is running out, he says.

The decision by the Public Ministry to close the investigation into the cave-in at the San José mine, with no charges being filed against those presumed responsible, has sparked anger and surprise. “We learned about it on the news,” Sepúlveda tells BBC. (more…)

Case of Chilean girl sparks international debate on pregnancy in childhood

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Experts warn of physical complications and disrupted emotional development

[Translation of an article by BBC World as published in El Mostrador of Santiago on July 12, 2013. See original here.]

The case of a pregnant 11-year-old Chilean girl has stirred a profound debate nationally and internationally on the circumstances that led to her condition and on the reactions the case has generated. This occurs in the same week that the United Nations observes World Population Day [on July 11], bringing to light the problem of pregnancy among adolescent girls.

Abortion under any circumstances is prohibited in Chile, which has divided the country, since it prevents termination of her pregnancy, putting at risk the lives of both the girl, known as Belén, and of the fetus. Belén’s is not an isolated case; according to a report by the United Nations Population Fund, some 16 million girls under the age of 18 give birth every year, mostly in the developing world, and three of every 100 of them are girls younger than 15. (more…)

“Little Haiti”: Chilean city attracts recent wave of Haitian immigration

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Stories of trafficking of immigrants are common in Quilicura, home of the largest Haitian community in the country

[Translation of an article from Opera Mundi of São Paulo, Brazil, for March 2, 2013. See original here.]

By Víctor Farinelli

Fewer than 20 ten years ago, Haitians now number almost 4,000 in Chile as a whole. The majority come through the Dominican Republic, drawn by promises of jobs and prosperity, but are then abandoned to their own fate in a country with a cold climate and a scant welcome for new inhabitants.

Between 2009 and 2011, 2,600 new Haitians came into the South American country, compared with the little more than 700 who left. In 2011 alone, of the 1,369 who arrived, 1,056 managed to stay in Andean lands.

There are many reasons for the phenomenon, but one of the main ones is the work of immigrant trafficking gangs. Although many Haitians who live in South America have passed through countries like Peru, Argentina and Brazil, the bulk of the flow into Chile comes directly through the Dominican Republic. There are at least two gangs operating there who take them directly to Santiago. (more…)

Chile: The invisible Mapuche

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

[Translation of an article from Clarín of Santiago, Chile, for January 30, 2013. See original here and related articles here and here.]

By Ricardo Candia Cares

There is nothing new about the militarization of Mapuche lands. The army was in charge of the first version of these pacification efforts in the 1860s, when the state decided that the lands deserved other owners and that the Indians were a nuisance that had to be gotten rid of.

The minister of war at the time, Federico Errázuriz, instructed General Pinto, the hero who led the operation, “Use your weapons and harass them in whatever way you find most prudent in order to punish their rebellion, to strip them of their resources and to weaken them to the point of leaving them powerless…” (more…)

Chile: Proposed privatization of lithium mining generates political, economic and social conflicts

Thursday, August 16th, 2012


((Demonstrators in Santiago, June 22 — photo by Mario Ruiz))

[Translation of an article from Opera Mundi of São Paulo for August 12, 2012. See original here and related article here.]

by Victor Farinelli

Faced with the prospect that 30 years from now its copper deposits will not produce the same as they are producing now, Chile is seeking alternatives to one of the pillars of its economy. Sale of ore is the principal force behind the Chilean GDP and accounts for more than half the country’s exports.

Among the several options, one in particular has the potential of replacing copper in its importance in the Chilean economy: the mining of lithium. The few reserves of lithium already being exploited in Chile represent 41 percent of world production of the mineral and the demand is growing exponentially.

Beyond that, the country is part of the region termed the Lithium Triangle, a name given the triple border between Chile, Bolivia and Argentina, which accounts for close to 85 percent of the known reserves of the material. (more…)

Chile: Newly declassified files reveal details of Pinochet’s espionage network

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

[Translation of an article from El Mostrador of Santiago, Chile, for August 8, 2012. See original here.]

by Mauricio Weibel Barahona

Deceased General Augusto Pinochet’s secret police led an espionage network within and outside Chile that crossed paths with the Vatican, the FBI, Latin American dictatorships and the world press, according to thousands of previously unpublished secret files to which the German Press Agency (dpa — Deutsche Presse-Agentur) has gained access.

The documents, classified for decades, verify that Chilean repressive bodies, first DINA (Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional) and later CNI (Centro Nacional de Información), carried on almost daily correspondence with ministers and other authorities to coordinate operations throughout the world. (more…)

New bases, old interests

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Establishment of military bases in Chile and Peru reveals United States’ intention to increase influence in the region

[Translation of an article from Brasil de Fato of São Paulo for July 5, 2012. See original here and related articles here and here.]

by Patrícia Benvenuti

The hope for new relations between the United States and Latin America continues to be ever more distant. Recent activity, in particular the establishment of new military bases, reveals an attempt by the United States to increase its influence in the region.

On April 5, work on the Personnel Training Center for Peace Operations in Urban Zones was completed in Chile. Located at Fort Aguayo, in Concón, in the Valparaíso Region, the base was constructed in 60 days, considered a record time for this kind of project.

The structure consists of eight buildings, which simulate a small city. The cost of the base, financed by the Southern Command of the United States armed forces, was almost 500,000 dollars. The Center will be used for training the so-called Peace Forces of Latin American nations that are part of United Nations missions. (more…)

Chile: Mine supervisors oppose privatization of lithium production

Friday, June 15th, 2012


((El Mostrador photo))

[Translations of two articles, the first from El Clarín for June 13, 2012, the second from El Mostrador for June 14. See originals here and here and related articles here and here. Copper mining in Chile, nationalized in 1971, is under the control of CODELCO, Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile, the National Copper Corporation of Chile.]

Government plans to hand lithium mining over to private corporations

The government yesterday opened domestic and international public bidding for the exploitation of the country’s lithium mines, which has until now been in the hands of two state enterprises. The winning bidders will be able to extract as much as 100,000 tons of the metal for a period 20 years and will have to pay the state seven percent of the monthly profits as royalties.

Lithium, also known as “white gold,” is used in automobile, cell-phone and computer batteries but also in glass making and medicines. (more…)