Warnings

BERLIN/SANTIAGO/LA PAZ | | chile

BERLIN/SANTIAGO/LA PAZ (Own report) - In light of the extensive nationalization projects undertaken in Bolivia, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), closely affiliated with the ruling CDU party, is positioning its Latin American branch offices and their partner organizations to oppose the government in La Paz. A few days ago, Bolivia entered an economic alliance with Venezuela and Cuba and introduced measures for the nationalization of the energy industry, which will also affect European companies and is sharply criticized in Berlin. At the beginning of next week, high-ranking KAS representatives will discuss the next steps with several undersecretaries of state, federal parliamentarians, as well as, Brazilian experts in a two-day conference. The conference will serve as preparation for the EU's Latin America Summit (May 11), which will be focused on the Bolivian economic measures ("New Populism in South America"). Decisive circles in German foreign policy and the KAS branch office in Chile have, for quite some time, opposed the re-orientation of Bolivian economic policy. In the 1980s, the German foundation established contacts to the Chilean Christian democratic opposition of that period and maintains outstanding relations with the country's ruling elite. Its mother party displayed open sympathy for Augusto Pinochet's putsch regime in 1973.

The Bolivian nationalization plans have been criticized for months by Berlin [1] and serve as grounds for unambiguous warnings by the German foreign minister, as well as by the EU. Peru could also be included into Bolivia's close cooperation with Venezuela and Cuba, following a possible victory of the opposition's presidential candidate, Ollanta Humala. This perspective poses a threat to German and EU corporate interests, particularly since the earlier plans for closer economic linkage of South America to the EU is on the verge of failure. The future of the state alliance "Comunidad Andina" (the Andean Community) [2], with which the EU intended to finalize a free trade agreement, is uncertain since Venezuela declared its withdrawal in April. The union Mercosur [3], with which the EU also seeks a free trade agreement [4] is likewise threatened with collapse. The president of Uruguay made known, that his country is considering leaving the alliance.

Concern

In view of the threatening setbacks, due to the growing economic influence of the People's Republic of China's gaining significance in Latin America [5], the KAS is mobilizing its Latin American branches as well as their partner organizations, to take steps against the states of the new alliance: Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia. In mid-March the KAS branch office in Chile convened the "competent members for international questions" including "former ambassadors, defense and foreign ministers" of the CDU's Chilean sister party, the Partido Demócrata Cristiano Chileno (PDC), to a "workshop" on foreign policy to reach this objective. "The danger of populism spreading in Latin America was consensus among those present," is how the KAS later paraphrased the common opposition agreed upon against the measures taken by Bolivia and other neighboring states for the protection of their national economies.[6] A few days later, the organization entrusted several journalists of the Chilean print media with their "concern, that populist movements are spreading in the region." During a background discussion, Chilean journalists learned from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, what is really concealed behind this apprehensive term ("Populism"). According to KAS "free-market economy" is in danger, if sovereign governments in Latin America apply economic protectionism - a daily practice of Germany, of other core states in the EU, as well as, of the USA, as long as their own economic sectors are protected. The use of identical mechanisms to fend off competition on the Latin American continent, compels the KAS to appeal to higher values: "democrats in parties and governments" should counter an assumed populism with a "commitment to rule of law." This was the appeal launched by this German Foundation during the background discussion with representatives of the Chilean Press.[7]

Very Positive

The KAS has been active in Chile for approximately 40 years and has influence on the PDC (Partido Demócrata Cristiano Chileno), a partner party to the "Concertación" alliance. That alliance has governed since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship. A PDC member is foreign minister. The German Foundation has learned from him that he "will take a critical stand in relation to the left-wing populists of Latin America, led by the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez."[8] In light of the escalating situation in Latin America, the KAS seeks to further strengthen the German wing of the PDC and relies, among other things, on the party's educational facility (Instituto Chileno de Estudios Humanísticos/ ICHEH). The Foundation made known that the new ICHEH President, Otto Boye, lived in Germany for 14 years and worked several years at the Chilean Embassy in Bonn. He spoke "very positively about cooperating with the KAS". The KAS office in Chile also considers that close relations with the new PDC Chairman, Soledad Alvear, elected a few days ago, gives reason for "hope for an improved cooperation between PDC, ICHEH and KAS."[9]

Good Advice

The contact to Mario Fernández Baeza, a member of the Chilean constitutional court is a good example of close personal links to Chilean Christian democrats. The jurist is linked to the KAS since he studied in Germany in the '70s, on a KAS scholarship - also under Professor Dr. Dieter Nohlen, the former KAS representative to Chile. Fernández Baeza worked from 1990 to 1999, with two brief interruptions, as undersecretary of state in the Chilean Defense Ministry and served as defense minister from 2000 to 2002.[10] In 2003, he was dispatched as ambassador to Germany for three years - an appointment, received between 1990 and 2003 already by four other KAS scholarship holders. At a joint meeting on KAS premises in Santiago, Fernández Baeza recently advised his successor to use the appointment as ambassador to Berlin "to [contribute to] a close cooperation with the German political foundations, particularly the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, to which both he and she have the close ties."[11] Fernández Baeza had received already years ago the German Order of Merit for his efforts in promotion of German/Chilean relations.

Order

KAS developed its contacts to the Chilean Christian Democrats in the 80's, when the transition from Augusto Pinochet's military regime to parliamentary democratic forms began to appear. Pinochets putsch on September 11, 1973, which put a bloody end to the nationalization plans of the Chilean president at the time, Salvador Allende, had reliable supporters in circles of the German Christian democratic parties. The CSU party newspaper wrote on September 22, 1973 "in view of the chaos, that had prevailed in Chile, for the Chilean suddenly the word 'order' once more takes on a sweet sound." One month later, in light of the pogroms taking place, CDU General Secretary, Bruno Heck expressed at the time after returning from a stay in Chile: "as far we could see, the military government deals with the prisoners optimally."[12] In reference to the neoliberal economic policy, implemented by the Pinochet regime, in consultation with its foreign sponsors, German business circles were full of admiration: "the principles of a free market economy are practiced more today in Chile, than here at home and some of the results border on marvels."[13]

More Aggressive

The foundations that formed the basis of that Chilean economic policy remained intact after the Pinochet regime. The Konrad Adenauer Foundation can take credit for having participated in this continuity. According to Berlin government advisors, the "Concertación" in power since 1990, are continuing the "macro-economic (...) policy of the 'Chicago Boys' under Pinochet".[14] The clearly more aggressive line being taken in German foreign policy and their various foundations located between La Paz and Mexico City shows the intention of imposing this on the other Latin American states.

[1] see also Wandel durch Entwicklung
[2] Mitglieder sind derzeit noch Bolivien, Kolumbien, Ecuador und Peru.
[3] Mitglieder sind Argentinien, Brasilien, Uruguay, Paraguay und Venezuela.
[4] see also Gestolpert and Wichtiger Markt
[5] Die Volksrepublik China hat in den vergangenen Jahren ihren Wirtschaftsaustausch mit Lateinamerika vervielfacht und erhält inzwischen mehr als vier Prozent der gesamten lateinamerikanischen Exporte. Rund ein Drittel der chinesischen Auslandsinvestitionen fließt nach Lateinamerika. See also New strategic orientation and Neuer Anlauf
[6] Workshop: Herausforderungen der Außenpolitik für die neue chilenische Regierung; Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Chile, März 2006. Der Bericht der deutschen Stiftung über das Treffen endet mit dem Hinweis: "Die Gäste dankten der Stiftung für die Initiative, einen Beitrag zur Debatte über internationale und außenpolitischen Fragen zu leisten und baten um eine Fortsetzung dieser Treffen in der Zukunft."
[7] Journalistengespräch über Herausforderungen für die neue chilenische Regierung; Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Chile, März 2006
[8] Michelle Bachelet beruft sieben Christdemokraten in ihr Kabinett; Länderbericht der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung 02.02.2006
[9] Partnerrunde mit den Leitern der von der KAS in Chile geförderten Institutionen; Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Chile, April 2006
[10] see also Siegeskreuz
[11] Almuerzo-Coloquio mit Herrn Marion Fernández Baeza, Mitglied des chil. Verfassungsgerichts; Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Chile, April 2006
[12] Hans-Werner Bartsch, Martha Buschmann, Gerhard Stuby, Erich Wulff (Hg.): Chile. Ein Schwarzbuch, Köln 1974
[13] Dr. Otmar Emminger, ehemaliger Präsident der Bundesbank, zitiert nach: Gaby Weber: "Krauts" erobern die Welt, Hamburg 1982
[14] Die neue politische Landkarte Lateinamerikas; SWP-Aktuell 6, Februar 2006

see also Generalsprotest, Zuerst Gerechtigkeit and Was kommt nach Castro?