CHILE: President denies anti-Chavez front

November 17, 1993

Coral Wynter & Jim McIlroy, Santiago

On February 18, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos denied that Chile was involved with the United States in forming a common front to counteract the influence in the region of the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez, according to a report in the Santiago newspaper La Tercera on February 19.

Lagos will be replaced on March 11 by newly elected President Michelle Bachelet, a member of the social-democratic Socialist Party of Chile. Bechelet was a refugee in Australia for several years after fleeing the Pinochet military dictatorship in the 1970s.

The Chilean government denial follows a recent claim by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that, "We are working with responsible governments, including left governments, such as Brazil and Chile, to try to counteract these influences [of Hugo Chavez]".

"I don't know of a common front", Lagos said. "It appears to me that [Rice] said that we have good relations, we are working with other governments of the left in the region, and she gave as examples Chile and Brazil. I think that a bad interpretation has been given to what she said."

Lagos declined to ask for clarification from Rice, or send a protest note to Washington, so as not to involve Chile in the dispute.

A Chilean government spokesperson indicated that the government wants to avoid opening a breach with Chavez, who will arrive in Santiago shortly to participate in the ceremony to swear in Bachelet as the new president.

Rice's attack generated a strong reply from Venezuela, and obliged Chile and Brazil to clarify their positions. The Brazilian chancellor Celso Amorin admitted that in a recent telephone conversation with Rice he made a strong defence of his government's friendship with Chavez.

Lagos said, "We have shown that we have good relations with the Venezuelan president. There are certain positions of President Chavez that one couldn't share, but it is better to have a policy of collaboration, of interchange and of open dialogue.

"At times we talk to the US with regard to this and other countries, but in regard to an invitation to form part of a front, I have no knowledge of that, at this time."

According to a report in the February 21 La Tercera, one of the themes of a proposed meeting between Chavez and incoming president Bachelet at the time of her inauguration in March, will be the issue of support from Santiago for the admission

of Venezuela into the United Nations Security Council.

Venezuelan Ambassador to Chile Victor Delgardo said that Venezuela was counting on Chile to support its bid to fill the Security Council vacancy that will be left by Argentina in December, and that Venezuela last year backed the candidature of the Chilean minister Jose Insulza for general secretary of the Organisation of American States, in spite of initial opposition from the US.

Delargo also noted: "[Bachelet] has said that her priority is going to be Latin American integration. These are very optimistic signals for us."

From Green Left Weekly, March 1, 2006.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.