News and Document archive source
copyrighted material disclaimer at bottom of page

NewsMinewar-on-terrorlatin-america — Viewing Item

Chile replaces US ambassador { May 14 2003 }

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)

With Trade Pact Pending, Chile Replaces U.N. Envoy Who Angered U.S. Over Iraq
By Nora Boustany

Wednesday, May 14, 2003; Page A25

Juan Gabriel Valdes, Chile's outspoken ambassador to the United Nations, a socialist who irked U.S. and Spanish diplomats with his passionate defense of multilateralism at the most critical time leading up to the U.S.-led war against Iraq, is being sent to Buenos Aires in June.

The former foreign minister, who was also his country's top diplomat in Spain, will be replaced by Heraldo Muñoz, a former Harvard classmate of U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, in an apparent nod to American displeasure and to facilitate the promised signing of a free trade agreement with the United States.

The signing, due to take place last week, was delayed by Washington's disappointment with the reluctance of Chilean President Ricardo Lagos -- at the request of a wide spectrum of Chilean political parties and union representatives -- to support the Bush administration at the United Nations on Iraq. President Bush did sign a free trade pact with Singapore, a willing member of the alliance against Iraq, at a White House ceremony last week.

Hours after the announcement in Santiago last Wednesday that Chile would change U.N. ambassadors, Bush offered encouraging words, saying, "We have an important free trade agreement with Chile that we will move forward with." Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also gave positive signals during a meeting with Chilean Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear, but no top U.S. official gave a definite date for the signing, pending an expected U.N. vote on a U.S. proposal to lift sanctions against Iraq.

Diplomats in Washington said Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick will probably sign the agreement on behalf of Bush in Florida this month. Sources at the Chilean Embassy confirmed that they were made aware of the same information but said they had not received any official notification. A spokesman at Zoellick's office declined to comment yesterday on "the specifics or the details" of the signing and reiterated the positive signals given by the White House.

The Chilean newspaper La Tercera reported that the U.S. ambassador to Santiago, William Brownfield, welcomed the decision to replace Valdes with Muñoz, saying, "It is very good news." Brownfield had complained to the Foreign Ministry -- as did the U.N. ambassador from Spain, a key U.S. ally on Iraq -- about the boastful "tone" and "tactics" used by Valdes to underline his president's refusal to go along with the war, and his zeal in defending that position. At the peak of the Iraq crisis, the newspaper reported that Valdes told Socialist senators that if Lagos ordered him to vote in favor of the United States, he would resign.

Valdes did not return telephone calls yesterday to his U.N. office.

Valdes, whose family has stayed in Santiago because his wife is involved in a major environmental project, has indicated he had previously expressed interest in moving to a posting closer to Chile. Quoting Chilean opposition sources, the Spanish news agency EFE reported from Santiago last week that Valdes had become "persona non grata" in Washington and an impediment to improved relations with the United States.

Was Valdes the fall guy in the uncertainty over the future of the free trade agreement?

Cautions From Singapore's Premier
Singapore's prime minister, Goh Chok Tong, said in Washington last week that the toll from severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, offers only a taste of the catastrophe that a biological weapon of mass destruction would cause in densely populated East Asia. In an address delivered at the Asia Society gala dinner on May 7, Goh warned that SARS is a serious challenge "now for East Asia and soon, I believe, for the rest of the world."

Goh said North Korea had taken advantage of international preoccupation with Iraq to push forward with its nuclear weapons program, but seemed "to be reconsidering its position" after the Americans' swift victory over the Baghdad government. "In this regard, the Chinese have a saying: 'Sha yi jing bai.' It means, 'Punish one to awe one hundred.' "

"The war was necessary," he said. "But Americans should understand that the change in articulation of U.S. goals from 'removal of WMD' to 'regime change' has caused uneasiness in East Asia. Regime change exacerbates existing insecurities for countries without a functioning democracy." Goh noted that the quick victory in Iraq and Iraqi jubilation at the fall of Saddam Hussein helped "contain protests" and "seriously dented" the confidence of extremists.

He warned, however, that the challenge from political Islam would continue. "External influences on Southeast Asian Islam will not evaporate. Nor will apprehensions about the purposes of American power," he cautioned, underlining that Southeast Asia's command of sea lanes linking the Pacific and Indian oceans could pose a global strategic problem if political Islam gained ascendancy in that region.

"It will be of immense help to secular Southeast Asian governments and moderate Muslims if America's enormous power is now harnessed to bring peace to the Middle East," he added. "The road map to peace takes on a new urgency."

Morocco Celebrates an Heir
A spokesman at the Moroccan Embassy said a "golden book" to commemorate the birth of a male heir to the throne has been opened for well-wishers. Crown Prince Hassan, named after his late grandfather, King Hassan II, was born to King Mohammed VI last Thursday in Rabat. Morocco has been ruled by Alaouite sovereigns since 1664.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Bolivia leader forms socialist indigenous cabinet
Bolivia shocks world with gas nationalization { April 2006 }
Brazil poor occupy farms hoping for help
Bush tours latin america for social justice { March 8 2007 }
Chile elects first woman pro free trade socialist
Chile embraces free market socialism { March 20 2005 }
Chile replaces US ambassador { May 14 2003 }
Ecuador congress ousts president amid protests { April 20 2005 }
Half million brazilians killed over land disputes { December 2008 }
Hypocrisy of outcry over bolivia renationalisation { May 16 2006 }
Labor organized murdered in el salvador { December 2 2004 }
Latin america democracy strained by poverty
New bolivian leader criticized neoliberal reforms { January 23 2006 }
Peru crackdown strikers { May 28 2003 }
Priest defends landless peasants in brazils amazon
Sandinista leader hoping for return in nicaragua
Sandinista leader leads nicaragua polls { October 24 2006 }
South america eyes common currency { April 2008 }
US warns nicaraguans against coup { September 9 2005 }

Files Listed: 19


CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple