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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria (Spanish pronunciation: [mi?t?el ?at?e?let]; born September 29, 1951) is a moderate socialist politician who was President of Chile from 11 March 2006 to 11 March 2010—the first woman president in the country’s history.

She won the 2006 presidential election in a runoff, beating center-right US dollar billionaire businessman and former senator Sebastián Piñera with 53.5% of the vote.

She campaigned on a platform of continuing Chile’s free-market policies, while increasing social benefits to help reduce the gap between rich and poor, one of the largest in the world.

Bachelet, a pediatrician and epidemiologist with studies in military strategy, served as Health Minister and Defense Minister under President Ricardo Lagos.

Bachelet is the second child of archaeologist Ángela Jeria Gómez and Air Force Brigadier General Alberto Bachelet Martínez.

Facing growing food shortages, the government of Salvador Allende placed Bachelet’s father in charge of the Food Distribution Office. When General Augusto Pinochet came to power in the September 11, 1973 coup, General Bachelet, refusing exile, was detained at the Air War Academy under charges of treason. Following months of daily torture at Santiago’s Public Prison, on March 12, 1974, he suffered a cardiac arrest that resulted in his death. On January 10, 1975, Bachelet and her mother were detained at their apartment by two DINA agents, who blindfolded them and drove them to Villa Grimaldi, a notorious secret detention center in Santiago, where they were separated and submitted to interrogation and torture.[13] Some days later they were transferred to Cuatro Álamos (“Four Poplars”) detention center, where they were held until the end of January. Later in 1975, thanks to sympathetic connections in the military, both were exiled to Australia, where Bachelet’s older brother Alberto had moved in 1969.

Her paternal great-great-grandfather, Louis-Joseph Bachelet Lapierre, was a French wine merchant from Chassagne-Montrachet who emigrated to Chile with his Parisian wife, Françoise Jeanne Beault, in 1860 hired as a wine-making expert by the Subercaseaux vineyards in southern Santiago.

In February 1979, Bachelet returned to Santiago, Chile from East Germany. Her medical school credits from the GDR were not transferred, forcing her to resume her studies from where she had left off before fleeing the country. [citation needed] She graduated as M.D. on January 7, 1983. She wished to work in the public sector wherever attention was most needed, applying for a position as general practitioner; her petition was, however, rejected by the military government on “political grounds.” Instead, because of her academic performance and published papers, she earned a scholarship to specialize in pediatrics and public health at Roberto del Río Children’s Hospital (1983–1986). During this time she also worked at PIDEE (Protection of Children Injured by States of Emergency Foundation), a non-governmental organization helping children of the tortured and missing in Santiago and Chillán. She was head of the foundation’s Medical Department between 1986 and 1990. Some time after her second child with Dávalos, Francisca Valentina, was born in February 1984, she and her husband legally separated. She is a separated mother of three and describes herself as an agnostic.

In 1990, after democracy was restored in Chile, Bachelet worked for the Ministry of Health’s West Santiago Health Service and was a consultant for the Pan-American Health Organization, the World Health Organization and the German Corporation for Technical Cooperation.

Driven by an interest in civil-military relations, in 1996 Bachelet began studies in military strategy at the National Academy for Strategic and Policy Studies (Anepe) in Chile, obtaining first place in her class.[2] Her student achievement earned her a presidential scholarship, permitting her to continue her studies in the United States at the Inter-American Defense College in Washington, D.C., completing a Continental Defense Course in 1998. That same year she returned to Chile to work for the Defense Ministry as Senior Assistant to the Defense Minister. She subsequently graduated from a Master’s program in military science at the Chilean Army‘s War Academy.

In 1996 Bachelet ran against future presidential adversary Joaquín Lavín for the mayorship of Las Condes, a wealthy Santiago suburb and a right-wing stronghold. Lavín won the 22-candidate election with nearly 78% of the vote, while she finished fourth at 2.35%. At the 1999 presidential primary of Coalition of Parties for Democracy (CPD), Chile’s governing coalition since 1990, she worked for Ricardo Lagos’s nomination, heading the Santiago electoral zone.

On March 11, 2000 Bachelet—virtually unknown at the time—was appointed Minister of Health by President Ricardo Lagos. She began an in-depth study of the public health-care system that led to the AUGE plan a few years later. She was also given the task of eliminating waiting lists in the saturated public hospital system within the first 100 days of Lagos’s government. She reduced waiting lists by 90%, but was unable to eliminate them completely and offered her resignation, which was promptly rejected by the President.  Controversially,  she allowed free distribution of the morning-after pill for victims of sexual abuse.

On January 7, 2002 Bachelet was appointed Defense Minister, becoming the first woman to hold this post in a Latin American country and one of the few in the world. While Minister of Defense she promoted reconciliatory gestures between the military and victims of the dictatorship, culminating in the historic 2003 declaration by General Juan Emilio Cheyre, head of the army, that “never again” would the military subvert democracy in Chile.  She also oversaw a reform of the military pension system and continued with the process of modernization of the Chilean armed forces with the purchasing of new military equipment, while engaging in international peace operations.

A moment which has been cited as key to Bachelet’s chances to the presidency came during a flood in northern Santiago where she, as Defense Minister, led a rescue operation on top of an amphibious tank, wearing a cloak and military cap.

In late 2004, following a surge of her popularity in opinion polls, Bachelet was established as the only CPD figure able to defeat Lavín, and she was asked to become the Socialists’ candidate for the presidency.

According to The Economist magazine the government of Bachelet opted to make social protection and the promotion of equality of opportunity her main priority. Since becoming President, her government built 3,500 crèches daycare for poorer children. It introduced a universal minimum state pension and extended free health care to cover many serious conditions.
A new housing policy aimed at abolishing the last remaining shanty-towns in Chile by 2010 featured grants to the poorest families. Some of them had to pay just US$400 for a house costing about US$20,000.

In October 2009 Ms Bachelet’s popularity peaked at 80 percent according to a public opinion poll by conservative polling institute Adimark GfK., and in March 2010 she showed an approval rating of 84%, and in terms of specific characteristics attributed to Chile’s president, ‘loved by Chileans’ reached a record 96%.

The Chilean Constitution does not allow a president to serve two consecutive terms, so Bachelet left office in March 2010.

Chile’s October 16, 2006 vote in the United Nations Security Council election—with Venezuela and Guatemala deadlocked in a bid for the two-year, non-permanent Latin American and Caribbean seat on the Security Council — developed into a major ideological issue in the country, and was seen as a test for Bachelet. The governing coalition was divided between the Socialists, who supported a vote for Venezuela, and the Christian Democrats, who strongly opposed it. The day before the vote the president announced (through her spokesman) that Chile would abstain, citing as reason a lack of regional consensus over a single candidate, ending months of speculation.

Continuing the coalition’s free-trade strategy, in August 2006 Bachelet promulgated a free trade agreement with the People’s Republic of China (signed under the previous administration of Ricardo Lagos), the first Chinese free-trade agreement with a Latin American nation; similar deals with Japan and India were promulgated in August 2007. In October 2006, Bachelet promulgated a multilateral trade deal with New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei, the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (P4),  also signed under Lagos’ presidency.  She also held free-trade talks with other countries, including Australia, VietnamTurkey and Malaysia. Regionally, she signed bilateral free trade agreements with Panama, Peru and Colombia.

At the beginning of 2010 Chile became the OECD’s 31st member, and its first in South America. This acceptance for OECD membership marked international recognition of nearly two decades of democratic reform and sound economic policies; for the OECD, Chile’s membership was a major milestone in its mission to build a stronger, cleaner and fairer global economy

She speaks Spanish (her native language), English, German, Portuguese and French.

In 2009 Forbes magazine ranked her as the 22nd in the list of the 100 most powerful women in the world (she was #25 in 2008, #27 in 2007, and #17 in 2006). In 2008, TIME magazine ranked her 15 on its list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Eleanor Clift wrote on politicsdaily.com on June 10, 2010 that Michelle Bachelet moved the Chilean Government from Macho – to – Maternal. She was clearly the best qualified person to establish and head the new UN institution that was baptized with the terrible name UNWOMEN. And you know what, letting into the UN building a highly qualified person may endanger the minions working there. That, is what doomed on me today, this because I also learned an additional fact about Bachellet’s Chile, and that is why I write this UPDATE.

 www.politicsdaily.com/2010/06/10/…

The additional fact I learned today came from reading material that will appear in an Energy Management Magazine Published in India. The article is by – Ms. Jimena Bronfman, Vice Minister of Energy, Chile , and it deals with Chile moving into leadership position on energy issues – and you guessed right if you said that Dr. Bachelet started this. In effect the Ministry of Energy – which for Chile is a Ministry of Energy Efficiency – was set up at the end of her days in the Presidential Office. We are sure that this was not an easy task to fulfill – but we are sure that it will be one of her most important legacies. We know that Energy Efficiency is not a top priority of the G77 real on-going leadership and this, more then anything else, explains the diatribe we described in our original posting which we updated now.

The creation of the Ministry of Energy in February 1st 2010 is an important milestone in this process. The law that is the basis for Chile’s current institutional framework also includes the creation of the Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency, a public private entity that will implement the public policies designed by the Energy Efficiency Division of the Ministry.

Energy Efficiency is one of the main goals of Chile’s national energy policy, families are changing their habits and industries, corporations and local governments are trying to reduce their energy consumption by adopting energy-efficient measures. This fostering environment was recently faced by the February 27th earthquake and tsunami that devastated several regions of our country. We have taken this catastrophe as an opportunity and a challenge to rebuild our towns and cities using energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The Ministry of Energy is working with other ministries, such as the Ministry of Housing, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education to include energy efficiency measures and non-conventional renewable energies in the reconstruction of health and education infrastructure and emergency housing. We are also developing a pilot project to rebuild a town with the leading best practices in sustainability and energy consumption, so it can be replicated in other parts of the region and world.

Energy Efficiency is key to Chile’s competitiveness and economic growth. According to studies carried out before the earthquake, energy efficiency measures could help reduce Chile’s energy demand by around 14% by 2020. This would have a positive financial impact in the reconstruction process, as public funds saved by reduction of energy consumption can be reallocated to other priorities of the rebuilding program.

Energy Efficiency will also help Chile, whose economy is based on exports, to reduce its carbon footprint and be competitive in a world that is increasingly carbon-conscious. Although Chile’s contribution to global greenhouse emissions is low compared to many other nations, our wines, copper, fruits, fish and wood products are sold in developed markets that will require sustainable production processes.

In order to achieve our goals we are currently developing the Energy Efficiency Strategy for 2020. At the moment a draft proposal is being reviewed by key actors from the private and the public sectors who will be involved in the actual implementation of the strategy. The main objective of this process is to promote a broad discussion of the specific proposals, introduce appropriate improvements and gain comprehensive support for the energy saving goals contemplated in the strategy.  The official version of the E3 will be published after completion of this discussion period, hopefully by the end of November 2010.

Other challenges for this year include the implementation of the rest of our institutional framework, which will be completed by the creation of the Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency, a public-private non-profit entity that will implement the Ministry’s public policies. It will be funded mainly through public funds but will include private sector representatives in its board. The focus of the Agency’s work will be guided by the E3 strategy; however, we shall also aim at developing other important projects such as education. We strongly believe that a crucial driver for change in these matters is highly-skilled human resources. Therefore, education in schools, undergraduate and post-graduate education is needed to introduce strong energy efficiency programs. Other important aspects of energy efficiency lie in smart-grid and net-metering programs.

Another main priority for 2010 is the development of energy efficiency labelling for cars, new houses and domestic appliances. Labelling is currently mandatory for refrigerators and light bulbs, and we aim to expand this initiative so consumers have all the information available to make the right decisions.

We also want to continue growing our international alliances and cooperation. We have already executed collaboration agreements with several countries and organizations worldwide, and we will work to strengthen and deepen those relationships. Energy Efficiency is a global effort that can be fostered by exchanging best practices that will benefit consumers, industries and countries all over the world.

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The China and Developing States, the full name of the G77 that purports speaking for 130 out of the 192 UN Member States, is a UN charade – simply, because there never was a common interest among all these various States Now, with China becoming at least a G2 with the United States, if not the straight Global Economic Super power, for her to use the leadership of this rag-tag bunch and push into leadership positions at the UN – Libya, Zimbabwe, Sudan etc. resulted in turning the whole UN into a laughable enterprise. Bravo to little Palau that walked out on this continuous obstructionist committee circuit that calls for time-out whenever the UN tries to reach some decision. We watched them at climate Change meetings where Saudi Arabia is their representative.

Perhaps there was once s difference between the industrialized European  – North American countries plus Japan, and the rest of the world – this when the UN was created and the decolonizing process was giving birth to many new UN Member States – in effect multiplying by three the total number of global independent States, but since then much has changed.

The Latin ABC, Mexico, Korea, Turkey, India, Indonesia, South Africa have all knocked successfully at the corporate doors of development and entered the G20. The OECD club includes most of these G20 plus most EU States and Israel that is a perpetual  G77 pariah. They have now real interests to defend and not much time for posturing – so we will see slowly a realignment also at the UN. OK, China and South Africa will not want to give up their positions as leaders of the 130. It keeps some of their diplomats in the circuit and the UN will continue the fiction, but how long hence that the AOSIS/SIDS will still play this game? When will they see that Palau was indeed a trailblazer? Will the lack of action on Climate Change by some of the major OECD members who effectively joined the Saudis in opposing real action on climate, push these States back into the G77 arms?

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THURSDAY, JULY 08, 2010
Chile Threatens to Split South Unity in World Body.
Thalif Deen

 ipsterraviva.net/UN/currentNew.as…

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 7 (IPS) – The Group of 77 (G77) has historically maintained a united front, vociferously protecting the economic interests of developing countries at the United Nations. But its longstanding solidarity is now being threatened by the continued presence of a single Latin American country which recently joined the ranks of a rich elitist group.

Chile, which was formally inducted last May into the 30-member Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), described as an exclusive club of industrial nations, has given no indications of leaving the G77, thereby triggering a sharp division of opinion among its 130 members. “Chile wants to have it both ways,” one G77 member told IPS, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It wants to have one foot in the OECD and another in the G77. But this is unacceptable to some of us.”

When Mexico and South Korea broke ranks with the developing world and joined the Paris-based OECD back in 1994 and 1996, respectively, both countries quit the G77, the largest single coalition of developing countries at the United Nations.

Chakravarti Raghavan, editor emeritus of the Geneva-based South-North Development Monitor published by the Third World Network, told IPS if Chile does not voluntarily quit the G77, the group must find a way around its longstanding convention of consensus decisions, and “politely but firmly throw Chile out”.

“This will be in line with the spirit and the intentions behind the formation of the Group of 77 and its functioning over all these years,” he added.

“It is probably about time that the G77 being an informal grouping expel Chile – on the simple ground that you can’t belong to two different groupings,” said Raghavan, who is considered a foremost authority on the G77, and who has written extensively about the Group since its inception in June 1964.

“It is my impression that Mexico, when it joined OECD, initially wanted to be in both camps, but was told it was not possible,” he added.

On North-South economic issues at the United Nations, the G77 and the OECD hold diametrically opposite views – most or all of the time.

The OECD is home to some of the world’s major economic powers, including the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Japan. Most of the emerging economic powers, including Brazil, India, China and South Africa, are longstanding members of the G77 and not members of the OECD.

But according to the OECD, it is planning to have discussions with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa – all active members of the G77 – “with a view to possible membership”.

The G77 has lost four other members over the years: Cyprus and Malta (both in May 1994) and Romania (January 2007) when they joined the European Union.

A fourth country, Palau, a small island developing nation in the Pacific, withdrew from the G77 in June 2006, ostensibly for financial reasons.

Besides Chile, Mexico and South Korea, the OECD has also added three other non-G77 members into its ranks: Estonia, Slovenia and Israel.

Speaking off-the-record, a diplomat from a G77 country expressed a dissenting point of view when he told IPS: “There is nothing in the G77 rules or guidelines stating that an OECD member has to quit the G77.”

He said Chile is well within its rights to remain a member of the G77.

“And, while there may be a few in G77 who may not be pleased about Chile remaining in the G77, there are no serious moves afoot to push them out of the grouping,” he said. “Most of us, support Chile remaining in the G77. There will be strong resistance from a number of us if anyone tries to eject Chile from the G77.”

And as an after-thought, he added: “The OECD had made leaving the G77 a condition for Mexico’s entry into the OECD. However, when Chile was applying to the OECD, there was no such condition.”

Moreover, he said, Mexico stated that leaving the G77 should not be a condition for Chile’s entry.

Another G77 delegate told IPS that if Chile does not voluntarily leave the Group, as Mexico and South Korea did in previous years, a divided G77 may be forced to take a decision either way.

Meanwhile the former G8 – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia – has been expanded into the G20 to include seven developing nations (besides Australia, Mexico, South Korea, Turkey and the European Union).

The seven developing countries – Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa – are still members of the G77.

Chile has argued that G77 members that belong to the G20 should be considered in the same light as G77 members belonging to the OECD. But the G20 is not considered a formal body like the OECD, which is treaty-based and whose decisions are binding on all its members.

According to an OECD statement, the invitation to Chile to become the Organisation’s 31st member came at a time when the OECD is expanding its relations with the region.

As an OECD member, Chile will participate in all areas of the OECD’s work, from economic and financial policy to education, employment and social affairs. It will also join with other OECD countries to share experiences and best practices, setting new standards and developing new governance mechanisms for its economy and society more broadly.

The statement said that during two years of accession negotiations, Chile was reviewed by some 20 OECD committees with respect to OECD instruments, standards and benchmarks.

The invitation to take up membership confirms that Chile is taking appropriate steps to reform its economy including in the areas of corporate governance, anti-corruption, and environmental protection, the statement said.

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