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A Conversation With Michelle Bachelet

President Of Chile

Speaker: Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile
Presider: Garrick Utley, President, Neil D. Levin Graduate Institute of International Relations And Commerce
September 25, 2008
Council on Foreign Relations



GARRICK UTLEY: (Sounds bell.) Good afternoon. As some of you know, one can ask people for a period of silence and be ignored or one can do this -- (sounds bell) -- and for some reason in our DNA we grow quiet. It works.

I'm Garrick Utley, and it's my pleasure this afternoon to welcome all of you and the president of the Republic of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, to our lunch session. This is a special -- a very intensive period we're living through here in New York City, as well as Washington and the United States -- the U.N. General Assembly meeting, where the president has been very, very busy and also with the events that are transpiring in Washington even as we speak with the current financial crisis. And I'm sure we're going to touch on a number of these points.

In welcoming the president, we'll hear some of her comments initially, then have a discussion, a conversation that I will conduct with her for a few minutes and then, of course, turn it over to general discussion with all of us here in the room today.

Let me just mention that this is the David A. Morse lecture for this year, and details are in the brochure you have about the distinguished line and list of speakers who have addressed the council's members over the years as part of the Morse lecture series.

Secondly, I would like to state that this is on the record today. And thirdly, as usual, please turn off all cell phones, wireless devices; and putting them on vibrate doesn't count. Off. This is not so you will disturb your table mates or table partners, but so it will not interfere with those who are listening to the simultaneous interpreting, not to mention those at various security services which have their own networks and discover that there can be interference. Anyway, we ask for your understanding on that.

I will not go into great detail about the president, because Michelle Bachelet's biography is in your folder. Let me just say a couple of things that struck me as we were speaking here just a moment ago. As you know and as her bio states, she and her family suffered greatly during the Pinochet era back in the 1970s. Her father died in prison. She and her mother were imprisoned. When they were released, they went into exile in Australia, then to Germany and then back. So she has followed one of those paths to the summit of political authority and power in Chile which is not normal, and really shared by few people in other countries. So her life has been both -- has been marked, I should say, by this personal experience.

She's been president for nearly four years, or three years and going on to her fourth year in a term as president, the first female president of the Republic of Chile.

And I could go on, but I would just stop and mention two interesting things from our lunchtime conversation. She is a physician and she was minister of Defense. I said, "Well, how do you train to be a physician and be minister of Defense?" And she said, "Well, after my medical studies, I entered politics and government for my party, the Socialist party in Chile, and I felt it was very important that we on the left understand the military." And she studied there. She studied in Washington at the Inter-American University, on military affairs, and then later became minister of Defense. I think that's testimony to the breadth of her interest and curiosity and the way she perceives the political role of a minister or indeed of a president.

I'm going to invite the president now to address us for a few minutes. Madame -- Michelle Bachelet, will you please come up to the podium and address us. And those of you who are curious about the correct pronunciation, Michelle Bachelet prefers the French pronunciation because that's the way her father pronounced it. (Laughter.

Madame President, the podium is yours.


PRESIDENT MICHELE BACHELET: Well, good morning. Or good afternoon to everybody. And thank you to Richard and Garrick. And I wish to thank the Council of Foreign Relations for having invited me to address this important forum.

And it's an honor to be here and to share some thoughts with members of the council.

Well, the United States is in the midst of an electoral year. Both parties have completed their presidential tickets and have entered into the most critical phase of the campaigns. And regardless who wins the presidential race in November, the new administration will have a major impact on the direction world affairs will take.

And I would like to focus my remarks on the topic of cooperation between Chile and the United States in the global and regional context. Let me begin by assuring the United States that it can count on Chile as a reliable partner, not as an unconditional ally, but certainly an open and frank one, a country that attaches great importance to multilateralism and international law, the principle of consensual solutions to international controversies, and the exhaustion of diplomacy in response to crisis. This partnership with the United States goes beyond any administration in particular, and therefore Chile's ready to collaborate with the new president and his team.

We live in a complex world. The United States is unique amongst nations in terms of the scope of its power. However, globalization has expanded the list of worldwide problems and has made it clear that the only way to tackle global challenges effectively is through multilateral cooperation, given that -- (inaudible) -- and challenges are emerging worldwide, problems that affect us all, such as terrorism, climate change and the energy crisis, poverty, uncontrolled migrations, organized crime, pandemics and even (protectionism ?). And of course, to put it more in (the consciousness ?), today the -- (IMF ?) said that the crisis will be -- could be named as the three Fs, he said, the food crisis, the fuel crisis and the financial crisis.

Well, the strategy, then, to confront all of these problems should be collectively generated and to collectively generate the public good -- the global public good so as to develop the governance capacity required for the 21st century. In this perspective, we feel that the world, Latin America and Chile are ripe for renewed and strengthened multilateralism, and Washington's decisive engagement will be critical.

The current global landscape is quite different from the not-too- distant past. The process of globalization has intensified, and the world is moving towards new forms of governance. The European Union's influence is steadily increasing as it (expands ?), and a handful of developing country, including China, India and, I would add, Brazil, are consolidating into major political and economic powers with a truly global reach, while a growing number of developing countries, Chile among them, are also becoming middle income or even developed societies.

The bottom line of all this is that those multilateral institutions designed more than six decades ago, essentially the U.N. system, are no longer fully adequate for managing today's global challenges.

If these institutions are not reformed, and fail to reflect the diverse and complex political environment that prevails -- prevails nowadays, they will be unable to provide the kind of governance that the 21st century calls for.

In today's interdependent world, a threat to one becomes a menace to all. And no state can defeat these challenges and threats alone. In many respects, the United Nations are turning to an (imperative ?) ?for all/ role?. The United Nations continues to be the only source of legitimacy to address global challenges, and the sole body capable of mobilizing world public opinion.

That is why my government is fully committed and actively involved in U.N. reform process, where we all have played a leading role, and wherefore Chile has played a leading role in initiatives such as the creation of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission, the development of the U.N. Democracy Fund, the management reform process through the so- called Four Nations Initiative, and the reform of the Security Council, where Chile's permanent representative was appointed -- Ambassador Munoz -- (inaudible) -- was appointed vice chairman of the task force instructed to deal with this difficult matter.

And we are really pleased with the recent breakthrough agreement that will allow for intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform to formally begin on a specific date within the present session of the General Assembly, after almost 15 years of (unconductive ?) talks.

The United Nations should become a proactive agent in the dissemination of democratic principles. U.N. Democracy Fund, an American-led initiative that has enjoyed the active support of Chile's member of its board, should continue to grant resources to grassroots- level projects, especially NGOs, and work with -- (inaudible) -- in countries lacking democracy.

From our point of view, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights should also play a stronger role in this area.

The Community of Democracies, of which the U.S. and Chile are among its founders and members of its convening group, can also play a more prominent role by implementing the agreements of its four ministerial conferences and coordinating position at the United Nations through its democratic caucus.

The respect for human rights is nowadays not so much a matter of having international standards, but rather questions of compliance with those standards. In this vein, universal ratification of human rights instruments as well as the withdrawal of reservations to them remain a pending task. Of course, standard setting and developing new institution will be still needed.

One case in point is the notion of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, adopted in the 2005 World Summit Outcome by the head of states and government. This concept is one of the most important developments in the field of international law in the last decade, as it provides a truly comprehensive framework to address the most serious crime, so as to avoid the recurrence of new Rwandas and Srebrenicas.

In May, Chile was elected by the U.N. General Assembly as member of the Human Rights Council with the largest number of votes in the Latin American region. We view this result as a sign of trust in the world we have been carrying out -- in the work we have been carrying out both domestically and at the international level. And I hope that the United States will reconsider its stands toward the Human Rights Council and soon become one of its member, working from within to strengthen it.

Chile will work with all countries to have a strong council as an effective mechanism to address human rights violation wherever they may occur. And we will bring to the council a vision towards achieving full gender equality and respect of human rights and fundamental freedom through the implementation of international obligations and commitments.

Climate change and the threat of global warming are challenges we must confront collectively. If we're unable to stop global warming, its effect will be irreversible for humanity and, indeed, for life on earth. And despite differences on how to respond to this challenge, through a combination of mitigation, adaptation, technology and financing, world leaders have agreed on a road map for negotiation to taken place in the United Nations -- (inaudible) -- of the U.N. Convention on Climate Change, which has been already ratified by 192 states. And we hope that the United States will actively shape and become part of the post-Kyoto multilateral regime being negotiated for the future.

The food crisis affecting the international community directly harms the most vulnerable and the poorest and entails potential consequences on a global state that, if not tackled with determination, could result in a major tragedy, a silent tsunami, as it has been described.

The World Bank has indicated that high food prices are a matter of daily struggle for 2 billion people and that an additional hundred million have fallen into poverty in the last two years due to the rise in the price of foodstuffs.

The food and energy crisis can be a major source of social and political unrest. Therefore, urgent measures are needed to assist the most vulnerable countries and populations that are being heavily affected by high food prices.

We should be watchful of speculative strategies that may be influencing the high level of food prices. In this respect, new impetus must be given to agriculture, promoting greater investment in scientific and technological research.

Moreover, the food and energy crisis urges us to derive the greatest productive benefit possible from the planet's agricultural potential, and this can be done only by eliminating all of agricultural subsidies and other market-distorting mechanisms that are affecting the developing world.

Along these lines, concerted action is required in the international economy.

Chile and the United States have been enjoying the positive fruits stemming from our bilateral free trade agreement. However, global trade talks in Doha have recently come to a standstill, and we need to get things moving, given that both the present global economic crisis and international inflation rates are indicated -- indicating that we need to give a new look to the current international financial system

At the top of our agenda lies the commitment to implement the Millennium Development Goals. We ought to decisively advance a work program that we agreed upon to achieve the goals by 2015.

Nevertheless, this will not be possible if we fail to react to the food crisis, if we do not strive to reinvigorate the international economy, and if we are unable to conceive a (normative ?) financing mechanism.

Despite major difficulties that need to be overcome to achieve the Millennium Goals by 2015, some progress has been made. Our confidence lies on our own (skills ?). Chile is an American economy that has demonstrated to the world that those goals can be met, and moreover that it's also possible to defeat poverty and advance towards development.

Between 1990, when we recovered democracy, and 2007, Chile increased several times the size of its economy and managed to reduce poverty from 13.7 percent (sic) when we started the first -- the first democratic government after the military regime to 13.7 percent in 2006. Chile has obtained most of the goals and is presently striving to achieve all of them before the deadline.

In addition, Chile has set even more ambitious goals for itself. Chile's currently a middle-income country, and within the next few years its per capita income, measured through the use of the purchasing power parity, will be in excess of $20,000 per year. In keeping with this, the country's now in the process of conducting reforms that will enable us to make a strong leap towards development.

Nonetheless, we are concerned by the lack of progress with regard to the Millennium Development Goals in other countries. Aside from the developed countries' commitment to official development assistance, ODA, that must be made by all, the establishment of a normative financial mechanism that promote -- (inaudible) -- for development should also be encouraged.

Chile, together with Brazil, France, Norway and the United Kingdom, launched in New York in September 2006 the International Drug Purchase Facility, UNITAID, aimed at providing long-term access to quality treatment at the lowest price in the struggle against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. And we have been providing significant financial resources for this effort.

But let me return to our region, the Americas. We share a common geography as well as common values such as democracy, freedom and respect for human rights. This shared perspective will help us tackle together the many global and regional problems we face. If there is a common denominator, it is that for all these global challenges, common solutions are needed. Today's reality calls for a reformulation of the way in which we search for answers.

We are optimistic. The past shows that U.S. and Latin America relationship can move forward on a path of mutual understanding and common effort. Certainly, there has been differences, but we have also reached high levels of emissary cooperation in our history.

We definitely do not want a new Cold War in the Americas. On the contrary, U.S.-Latin American relation must retain the cooperative feature established in the framework of the Summit of the Americas process. And we must continue to pursue a process of emissary dimension, although regularly updating the agenda so as to keep -- to keep it in close harmony with the evolution of our countries that demand more democracy and social equity.

Let me say some words about a special country, Haiti, currently the only country in the Latin American region that is in the U.N. Security Council's agenda. It's a case in point of what we can do together.

Chile has close to 600 troops on the ground, as part of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, and will continue to provide its unwavering support to this country, with a view to fostering its development and enduring peace.

However Haiti desperately needs a strengthened, long-term support from the international community. I was talking yesterday with President Preval. I mean, they have long-term problems. But now in one month, they have had four hurricanes. And they have lost all the agriculture. They have lost lots of bridges.

So he was asking me, asking us for help in the, you know, immediately but also to try to, I would say, to strengthen and to make a call to donors, so we can really, really work on middle-term and long-term response to Haiti's terrible problem. Because democracy has to deliver.

We put so important a priority in democratic elections in Haiti. We have had so many military there and also a lot of money and resources there. But the life of the people are not changing. Why should somebody believe that democracy is the best system?

So we need to do more because we do a lot. But through NGOs, through -- but I have the impression that the money which comes directly to the people is much less. And maybe they're not seeing the difference. And we need to, I think, reanalyze the way the donors are working, with Haiti, is the best way there is. So I think this is something, I hope, you keep in mind. Because I think we have to improve things there.

Nevertheless the agenda goes far beyond. Latin America and the United States must work together on -- (inaudible) -- immigration, organized crime, energy security and climate change.

The region has made great strides on the political, economic and social fronts.

Thanks to the successful democratization process in the '80s and '90s, today we enjoy unprecedented levels of freedom, and we are continuing to enlarge the democratic movement.

We have also made progress on the economic front. The region has enjoyed seven years of economic growth. That's something that we haven't seen before that for so long and has been very successful despite the present unfavorable international scenarios.

So there is more to be done, of course, on our part. We must increase competitiveness, promote innovation and ensure that all members of our societies participate in the development process, what we have called social cohesion. We need to go further in social cohesion, too. On the social front, we must make our societies more inclusive and socially cohesive. This is an outstanding (debt ?) that the policies of the so-called Washington consensus -- and we are talking in the table about that -- were unable to address.

And there is a good reason to be optimistic. Just consider what has been accomplished in the last few years in Chile, Mexico, Brazil and other countries where economic growth has been encompassed by a systematic and unprecedented reduction in poverty. At the -- yesterday I was -- I heard once again President Lula explaining how many million people have come from out of poverty in Brazil and that 20 million people in Brazil have gone into the middle class. So there are -- there is good policies that can produce very good results in order to help people with their standards of life.

At the (emissary's ?) level, we must promote the rights of democracy and fully implement the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which proclaims that the people of the Americas have a right to democracy, and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.

Democracy in Latin America is facing serious tensions in some countries, and I'm sure many of the questions will go in that direction. And we shouldn't end the road to a civilized dialogue through proactive good offices, diplomacy, to avoid breakdowns that will only hurt the citizens of these nations.

Consistent with this approach, in view of the crisis in Bolivia, and in my capacity as president pro tempore of the Union of South American Nations, UNASUR, that we just came into concrete life in Brazil in May this year, when we already ratified the treaty -- I mean, approved the treaty. Now it's being ratified by all our congresses.

One week ago, I convened an emergency meeting to send a clear and unequivocal sign of support to the democratic regime and to the legitimately established government of Bolivia, our sister and neighboring country. It is imperative to secure Bolivia's territorial integrity, to stop violence and promote a sustained dialogue between the government and the opposition.

And I was talking yesterday -- was it yesterday? Or -- I don't know -- yesterday, yes, because -- a very busy week, with the president, Evo Morales, and he had to leave because he had today negotiations again. They are sitting down now. It looks like it's going in a good direction. It looks like. I mean, maybe it's a little bit early to say anything, but I think we are -- as UNASUR, we are making the best to help, to create all the best conditions for this dialogue and negotiation.

And these efforts should be in parallel, in addition to those already being deployed by the Organization of American States, to which the government of Chile grants full -- (we support ?). Latin America is ready to address today's challenges for working together with the United States.

Despite many obstacles -- I'm finishing, so -- (laughter.) Just be patient a couple of minutes. Despite many obstacles and these perceptions, we are confident. Our optimism stems from the fundamental, unavoidable fact that the world demands greater cooperation. And we are at the point where we can make that happen, while systematically instilling new life into our relations with United States.

The U.S. can make an enormous contribution at this new stage of global development by taking a leadership role, cooperating with the international community and deepening -- (inaudible) -- cooperation and political dialogue.

If successful, this will lead to a much better future, a future that our peoples demand it and deserve it. So thank you very much. (Applause.)

UTLEY: (Off-mike.) Thank you very much, Madame President. (Off mike) -- you really covered, I think, and anticipated many of the questions of -- (off-mike). I just wanted to follow up on --

BACHELET: (Inaudible) -- questions?

UTLEY: On a couple of points you mentioned -- let's start really with South America.

You mentioned you are the president of this new South America security body, UNASUR, dealing with Bolivia. In the economic field, MERCOSUR has involved a number of South American countries for some years now. You have a Banco del Sur development bank. You're getting -- developing these regional cooperative collaborative agencies and institutions. Sometimes the membership varies.

Do you see -- I'm not asking about the need and the necessity. How do you see these region-wide collaborative entities proceeding? How are they going to make a -- have a major impact or not?

BACHELET: Well, first of all, I should clear that UNASUR is not a security organization. It's the union of the nation who is trying, through integration, find good responses to our common needs. In that way we have six or seven commissions, just for information for everybody. One of them is a commission of the -- (inaudible) -- and security -- but the main ones are social policies, social cohesion. And we're having an -- (inaudible) -- official policies in Chile with the power, you know.

We are working very hard infrastructure. We are -- (inaudible) -- before we are working and have a group working on energy issues, so how can we -- I mean, we have enough energy possibilities in Latin -- in South America. But if anyone tries to find its answers, I mean, there will be -- the access to some energy possibilities are bigger than others or getting it like a network of energy possibilities.

It's an indication -- one important issue, financial issues, and in the Banco del Sur fund countries -- I mean, there are some others not. It's not mandatory. It's voluntary. And what else we're working on? I mean -- and so we're doing that.

We have also a lot of other interregional, subregional, trilateral small groups. For example, we have the community of the continent -- the Andes, we have MERCOSUR, we have -- (inaudible) -- that's also with the Caribbean and Latin -- South America -- Latin America, Central American countries and Mexico.

So I would say we have always understand as Chile's policy -- foreign policy that we -- it's not a contradiction to be in different -- I mean, we act at different levels -- regional, subregional, sub- groups and so on -- trying to produce better results.

Your question is, is this going to work?


BACHELET: This is going to help everybody? (Laughter.)

Same question we ask ourselves every time -- (laughter) -- when we go from one meeting to another and we say, okay, guys, what can we show?

But I would tell you, we are working on, probably on -- at the end of the year, we will have another UNASUR meeting where we're going to approve many of these proposals, specific and concrete proposals. Because one of the things that we have been saying is, okay, good discussions, good rhetorical, but now we need action. And we have, we are considering a complete agenda in each of these things that would produce results.

But just to finish, I think that what happened one week ago showed that UNASUR can be effective. Because in less than 48 hours, I called all the other presidents.

There are 12 countries in UNASUR. And 9 of them could come because, for example, President Alan Garcia from Peru, he needs, to go out of the country, special permission from the Senate. And that permission has to be published in some, and so I called him Saturday. He couldn't be on Monday afternoon, because that was too difficult to call. So, and the other was the president of Guyana and Suriname. For them, it's very difficult to go also.

So I think, and it was effective. And the declaration of -- (remarks in Spanish) -- that's the presidential palace -- I think, for one, it had a symbolic meaning. But it was very important because next day, President Morales was sitting together with the opposition in a completely different environment. Everybody wants to talk and, I think, it helps. And so it could be also effective politically. And that's very important.

UTLEY: To pick up a quick quote that you mentioned, in your comments, democracy has to deliver.


UTLEY: We certainly know that. And we know the history of the last 15-20 years, as democracy has spread, as the market system has spread. And there have been some positive results.

The question is, I think, that many of us have is, how much -- how solid is this progress, the democracy, because of the results it can deliver? And I would leave that to one I know would otherwise be the first question. What do you think of Venezuela and President Hugo Chavez? (Laughter.) So let's get that out of the way now. (Laughter.)

BACHELET: Well, on Tuesday afternoon, I make, I delivered a speech in Harvard University at Kennedy School. And my theme was, how is democracy in Latin America?

And I think I -- for all of you, it's very well known that in the three years that have passed we have had 21 countries who have elected democratically its new presidents. And all the elections were really impeccable. And the election results were accepted by everybody. So if you think of democracy and the idea of electing its leaders, I think Latin America, it's very -- has a very good record right now.

Secondly, do you believe -- you think on democracy and economic growth, because in order to deliver, to give more goods to all the people, you need to have economic growth. And it has been, as I already said in my -- in my last remarks, that Latin America has been growing the last eight or nine years pretty much and at a very high rate of growth.

But probably, I think, we still lack on delivering the goods for the -- to fulfill the needs of the people. And I think that's one of the things that's important. I mean, I think governments have to be more -- have to have better results. And we are working on that in specific areas.

Today, when we were -- we just came from a special meeting on MDGs 4 and 5, and there were the presidents of -- (inaudible) -- Finland, and me, because we are very strong supporting this sort of commitment. We have an initiative. And WHO director, Dr. Chan, said -- well, she told about the -- (inaudible) -- and she said she will have three Rs and the three Rs will be -- in order to respond to the crisis, in order to fulfill the development goals, we need three Rs: responsibility, resources and results. And I think we need to work on all that, too.

But I am optimistic. And I said that I'm historically optimistic, otherwise it would be very rare to be the president of Chile, a woman. (Laughter.) So it's -- it's something --

UTLEY: Let me just --

BACHELET: And you -- do you want to go -- but I'm not avoiding your second -- sorry. (Laughter.) I mean, I will -- I will answer it, and I'll answer it as the president of UNASUR.

UTLEY: Okay.

BACHELET: We have as -- we have -- in our country, we understand the relation between the countries, between -- with the president, its relation from one state to one state. I mean, with some leaders sometimes you are very good friends, with other not that good friends, or whatever. That's not the problem, because it's not a meeting of friends.

It is the relation between chief of states. In Chile, I am the chief of state, I am the chief of government. And in that sense, we can have a different opinion, but we -- I would say if UNASUR will have any result, it is to understand that we need unity respecting our diversity. And that means that some countries, like ours and like me, believe in free trade, and some others don't believe in free trade.

And some people have styles of leadership different, and some are more colorful -- (laughter), and some of us are -- and some of us are more like the Chilean people. If you ask somebody what defines the Chilean people, a lot of things, but I would say we are serious people. We're reliable people. And we're very serious, and we have more volume when we speak and so on. (Laughter.) And so we don't get very news -- in the newspaper. Many people seek headlines. But we understand that we have to work together, respecting our differences, and using the diplomatic channels when we have any problem.

UTLEY: Good. Well, Madame President, you have this audience revved up. Let's see how "colorful" -- to use your word -- the council membership is. I see hands going up. Please identify yourself, ask a direct question to the president, and we'll try to get as many questions as possible.

The lady right here.

BACHELET: But just let me say, if somebody else asks me again the question, I will take the First Amendment. (Laughter.)

UTLEY: Okay. Fifth.

QUESTIONER: I can assure you, you're not boring and you're very colorful.

BACHELET: The Fifth Amendment. Okay.

QUESTIONER: I'm Cora Weiss. And Garrick introduced you as a victim of torture. Both of the candidates for president have rejected torture. They're opposed to it. What if you, as a victim, were to convene a conference at the United Nations to abolish torture, to figure out how to get rid of it? Even though it's already illegal, it's widely practiced. And your success convening the unity meeting around Bolivia clearly is an indication of your capacity to be a global convening leader.

BACHELET: Did I understood right and you asked me how could we really change the situation of torture in the world? Is that it?

QUESTIONER: That you would convene a conference with the U.N., as a -- if you would convene a conference with the U.N. as one means of doing that.

BACHELET: Yes, I think that could be necessary. But of course, no -- if I would have the answer, probably I would win the Nobel Prize. But I will convene on that.

(Soft laughter.)

BACHELET: I will work on that. It's very important for us.

UTLEY: Okay.

BACHELET: We have approval of the international agreements regarding this.

But you know what? I think that every one of us has to really make an important work in our countries in order that you have to work a lot in how you -- because I was Minister of Defense -- how you work with the armed forces, police forces in order to -- and how you can assure the rule of law, but work hardly, so in the case of POWs or what -- they are seen as POWs when there are tensions inside the country or wars, civil wars, something like that, or we have to work against police brutality and so on. So those things we can do multilaterally, but also each one in our countries have to make our job.

UTLEY: Okay.

A question right there. We're going to go back to the back of the room.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Peggy Hicks with Human Rights Watch. You spoke about Chile's role as a new member of the Human Rights Council, a body that's been blocked in many actions by human rights abusers who claim that those who speak about human rights abuse are northern imperialists who are trying to influence domestic affairs. As a southern leader, is Chile ready to step in at the council and play a leadership role, pushing it to take action, not just to discuss crises in places like Georgia, Zimbabwe, Somalia, and to really move on those issues?

BACHELET: Well, yes, because we believe that even though we respect sovereignty, when we are talking about humanitarian -- terrible problems, it is a need for the United Nations to be involved in actions and in some -- and we -- many of those things cannot wait, cannot wait the normal, formal bureaucratic procedures.

So Chile will be a very active -- it's been very active there, and I think we have to discuss which is the best way to intervene, and we will always be pushing hard on that.

UTLEY: Let's move back. There was a question -- yes, please, sir. Please identify yourself.

QUESTIONER: Thank you very much. Mahesh Kotecha, Structured Credit International. My question, Madame, is on the multilateral reforms that you mentioned. There was an article a few days ago by Paul Collier, an Oxford don, also an economist from the World Bank -- he was previously there -- challenging the relevance and the currency of the Millennium Development Goals. I wonder if you could comment on that issue and then if you could comment more broadly on the needs for multilateralism's reforms.

BACHELET: Well, the first thing that I could say is that we are looking at the possibility of meeting the Millennium Development Goals with some concern, because of the crisis we spoke about and also the financial crisis originated in United States and other countries will affect us all. As a matter of fact, if you put together food and fuel crisis, in Chile we have had already already some consequences, and we had inflation as an important consequence. Because of the fuel prices and the high price of oils, we have decreased our productivity, because we are 70 percent -- (word inaudible). So it's much more difficult for us to produce. It's more expensive to produce.

And so we have been having, I would say, some consequences already. We have defined enemy number one as inflation because it affects everybody, and mainly poor people. And we are working hard on that. That means we have to not go -- we don't want to go into economic recession, because that would lead into, of course, unemployment and all the consequences we know.

So I tell you this because I think that we have to work hard on how we tackle this problem, how we respond to this and avoid going into a worldwide economic recession that won't let us met the requirements.

But if you look at the Millennium Development Goals in general, there has been advances since eight years ago until now, but there are two particular millennium goals who are very, very incredibly less advanced, and that is number four and number five. That is infant and maternal mortality. And it's really incredible, because it looks like women and children in the world are invisible. I mean, it's very difficult to push political leaders to take stronger actions in this field.

And that's why some of us, some of the leaders, are working specifically on those areas.

But -- so what are we thinking? And yesterday we made a (conference press ?) with President Lula, President Rodriguez Zapatero, with the foreign minister of France, Bernard Kouchner, and me, because we were the four founders of this initiative against hunger and poverty in the world. And we have been looking not only for rhetorical actions, because that's a contradiction -- (chuckles) -- rhetorical and action -- but mainly we think we need to do much more than die in office, and we have to develop new ways, innovative ways, of financing these possibilities.

And in that sense, we presented yesterday some possible new innovative mechanisms. And I have this little paper, because in English I have to have the names. One of them -- that we are calling for special drawing rights of the FMI for countries who are contracyclical and because of the crisis -- and it's not their fault, and they need more possibilities, more credit. The second, for example, is the (correct course ?) of remittances by workers to their home countries. And the third, for example, is to regulate tax financial havens, because we need more money, we need more resources, and that we need also to find new, more creative way.

What have we done in our initiative? We have developed -- we have obtained resources through taxes on international sales, tickets and tariffs.

QUESTIONER: (Off mike) -- air fare.

BACHELET: Yes, and air fare. And then we -- Chile -- that is a small country who is not rich -- has been able to go in to obtain resources through -- for drugs in HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis that are taking a lot -- have saved a lot of lives.

And I'm just showing one possible new form of doing things. And in that sense, we have to continue. And we have the opportunity, because at the end of the year, we have in Qatar, in Doha, the new conference on this issue and how we assure more resources for development, more money for development. So I think we have to find a way, and we have the possibility.

And on multilateralism reform --


BACHELET: -- well, first of all, U.N. reform. And we -- I mean, I'm talking about the global reform, but also I'm talking about the reform of the Security Council. We truly believe -- and I tried to say it in my remarks -- the world has changed since the United Nations was created, since the Charter of San Francisco, and we need to (adequate ?) to the real world today that has a lot of (representation ?) of part of the world who today are not represented adequately in the Security Council. We need to go further. And I won't say exactly what we will want, because we are starting negotiations and -- but Chile has always said that we believe that there are a lot of other countries, like India, like Japan, like Brazil, like Germany -- well, who else?

Am I forgetting someone? Who has to be --

QUESTIONER: China, then --

BACHELET: No, China's already in the -- who should be permanent members and that we should include a more -- look for ways of putting there more countries so it will really have the representation of the real world, more African countries, more Latin American and Asian and so on.

And the second thing is I would say we have to reevaluate how we're doing things in the different -- other organizations to see if we are as -- I show as an example what we are doing in Haiti, because sometimes it's a good idea. But when you see it in the paper, it's wonderful, but you -- when you see it in the place, direct place, it's not working. And my idea, if -- when you have made so much effort and you think to -- speak about Haiti, because I know this -- (inaudible) -- well, because Chile decide to go with the United States, Canada and France, and the first time when the president -- former president left the country, we were in 48 hours there with our troops.

But we really need to not only work on security, not only work in democratic -- democracy of election, we need to assure development. And what I think -- there is maybe something that has to be -- we thought is that when we give money through agencies -- I mean, a government is not only legitimate because it was elected. Legitimacy means that they can have also the resources, the money to do the programs. If all the programs are doing through the agencies and the agencies have more money than whole of the budget of the country, how can you really deliver? If you want to deliver, you need -- I mean, we have to trust them.

We can find ways of assuring that the money will be -- will produce results. But we can't trust -- otherwise, it's like, you know, everything's going by the other way around. And I think we have to rethink about it.

UTLEY: Good. Way at the back, Wendy, then we'll back up --

QUESTIONER: Wendy Luers, with the Foundation for a Civil Society and the proud grandmother of three Chilean grandchildren. This is not a rhetorical question. Over the past eight years, Latin America, in essence, has been ignored by our government in the United States.

At the moment, two U.S. ambassadors have been thrown out of two countries in Latin America. You, as a popular leader in the United States, can lead the effort to make the new administration, whichever it is, pay attention to Latin America. How would you go about doing that? (Laughter.)

BACHELET: Well, I think in my remarks, I've said that I think this is really a need, because we think that the United States cannot be out of Latin America. And I'm not talking of intervention. I'm talking about relationship. (Laughter.) Please, don't get me wrong. (Laughter.)

There was this old joke, and I hope nobody -- nobody of you feel bad about this old joke, because it was told to me by an American ambassador, not in Chile, in a multilateral agency. And he said to me, some people say that the reason -- because there's no -- this is a bad joke, really. (Laughter.) It's not a good idea. It's not a good idea, but it was a joke that the Americans told me. The reason why in the United States there has never been a coup d'etat is because in the United States there is no United States embassy. (Laughter.)

And I'm not saying that I agree with that, because I really believe the United States must be involved in the progress and the future of Latin America. But I also think that you cannot see us as children. We have to be treated as adults. We are adults and we have been behaving well. (Laughter.) I'm talking about Latin America. Maybe there can be differences, with some presidents, (with some processes ?). But as I and as we understand that UNASUR or whatever multilateral organization can be effective if we understand unity but respect diversity. Otherwise, it won't work.

And I think that Latin America, when I say we are behaving well, it means we are -- we have democratic governments, we have economical growth, we have -- if you compare Latin America, there's -- (inaudible) -- at all in the development millennium goals fulfillment. I mean, we (will ?) achieve many of them, some countries better than others.

So I would say we can -- we must do that. How can I -- I mean, how -- what I have been doing already.

For example, one area that has been important, I know that maybe in this room not everybody agrees also with this, but you know, for Chile, the FTA with the United States was wonderful. And I have to tell you it was good too for the United States. It was good too. And we were talking to ambassador. I mean, the exports that you have done to Chile is -- we're like in the first or second place, I mean, in the kinds -- I mean the amount of money the United States has gained exporting to Chile is, it's bigger, and right now even it's bigger (as that ?) we are importing. And really it has been an important result.

And also or Chile, of course, but many countries who want FTAs with the United States, there are those groups, like from my political, I would say, world, and who are against it because they feel that an FTA with the United States would be an aggression to them. I mean because also they feel that their own production will be attacked and so on, and because some of them also have some protectionist definitions or decisions.

So what I've been doing, I've been sending people from my congress, from my party, to talk to those people, to talk to trade unionists, to say -- to show that this is not a menace, it is not a threat. In an FTA, you can put everything that is agreed between two countries, and that's one way also.

But also I think we should try to find out (programs/progress ?), but real (programs/progress ?), important, of relevance for Latin America, that Latin America will feel that United States is seeing us as partners. And I think that's -- and of course, I will try to do my best, and I can imagine a lot of other issues.

UTLEY: We're really running short of time. Robin, question here, and we'll see if we can get one more.

QUESTIONER: Robin Duke, Alan Guttmacher Institute. Dr. Guttmacher pioneered and developed the contraceptive pill. You're a doctor, Mr. President -- Madame President, and you have done a very great deal in the field of contraception in Chile, which I understand is a big challenge. Do you believe that there's a chance the morning-after pill can take off in Chile? This would avoid abortion. These are issues that affect the human rights of women. And it's a very important medical issue.

BACHELET: Well, thank you for your question.

When I was minister of Health, I -- in Chile we have -- we are very -- we have very good regulations for -- like FDA and with -- we have an institute of public health who decides with a technical board which drugs -- all kind of drugs -- can come -- can come into the country and can be commercialized and which are prohibited. There's very -- a lot of scientific surveys done and they use this like technical suggestion. So the government cannot just decide that.

So -- but as a matter of fact, when I was minister of Health -- that was from 2000 to end of 2001 -- we did that. We studied the after -- the morning-after pill. We decided that it was okay. And now from that time on, it's -- you can buy it everywhere. The thing is that immediately after I did that, of course opposition and links and groups -- some groups started to put these different obstacles for it.

But as I tell you, today -- and since 2002, everybody can buy in the pharmacy. I mean, it's not needed anything special to just go -- as in anything in our country, with a -- (inaudible) -- because that's the way Chile regulates this kind of thing and it's okay.

Afterwards, when I was -- when I was minister of Defense, the minister of Health at the time tried to introduce that second thing. When it is commercialized, you can buy it. It's free -- commercialized. I mean, it's not for free. You have to pay. But -- and then we said, well, let's take it into the health facility, the public health facilities, because there are people who cannot buy it. And it was a big, big discussion. At that time, President Lagos decided to put it for cases of sexual abuse and rape, because it was a difficult and a complicated issue with the church and so on.

And when I came into office, we tried to introduce in -- (inaudible) -- so it would be for any case. The opposition presented something in the constitutional court and they -- because there was this all-new -- (inaudible) -- of our contraceptive -- all forms of contraceptive, from natural forms into -- until the morning -- day- after pill.

And unfortunately they said that they didn't have -- the lawyers said that they did not have the evidence that this wasn't abortive, so they refused -- they -- not they refused, they challenged that, and they said it wasn't possible that we distribute -- that the minister of health distributes for open use the morning-after pill.

But in the primary health system, this is -- it is not the minister of health who administrates the facilities or the municipalities. So we have said to the mayors: You are free to use it. We have the -- we have -- not the right, we have the -- (in Spanish) -- the duty of providing things to the people. So we buy it, and any municipality who wants to buy it from us, (we fill that ?).

So we are working on it, but I don't see any problem with the justice. They decided it was not an option. And I believe strongly, not only as doctor but also as a woman, that in a country the role of a government is to assure alternatives, and every person with its own belief can decide which can be used.

In Chile, abortion is not permitted. The military regime put it out, and of course there has been no political (consensus ?) to be able to change this. I didn't have it in my program because in my coalition there are parties that are against it. We have a coalition program. But we are -- and we believe, strongly, as you say, there is really a need for so many women, because we are trying to do harder on sexual educational programs and so on -- but when we fix it, because one thing we are is that we are tenacious, so we will work on that --

UTLEY: You certainly are. (Applause.)

So we just conclude -- really conclude with something that we don't -- really don't have time for more questions, but just conclude with, I think, a question that's on many people's minds. A, you're the first woman, as we know, to be president of Chile. Do you like your job?

Are you enjoying it? And has being a woman been a problem, or has it been in some ways an aid?

BACHELET: Yeah, I enjoy it very much. (Laughter.) No, really, but probably what I enjoy is -- maybe it's not the same as some other people enjoy from this position. I more than enjoy it; I think I'm privileged, because I'm privileged to be able to develop a lot of policies that can go for assuring the care and the quality of life of the people, and that's really a privilege. Secondly, I enjoy it because I have so much contact with the people. And I always said that maybe in our -- in Latin America, we forgot that -- what Abraham Lincoln said, that we have to make -- to govern with, for and by the people. So that's the correct way to -- one of the best -- for and --


BACHELET: -- by, and -- yeah, I said it correctly.

UTLEY: (And of ?).

BACHELET: That's okay. (Laughter.)

And the thing is that I love the contact with the people. Probably that's why I studied medicine. I love to work with the people, to help the people, and in this position, it's (the very position ?) that you can do it. So I enjoy that.

Of course, you know, there are sunny days and cloudy days, as in everybody's life, sometimes stormy days and so on. But I really enjoy it.

And second -- your second question has a very long answer, so I won't do that. But -- and sometimes it has been a help and sometimes has been an obstacle, because what happens -- and I think to anybody who starts doing something new, when you try to change things, I mean, to be -- for me, to be a woman president is not only to wear a shirt -- a skirt. It is also, probably, in my case, it's not a gender issue, maybe, because maybe there are men who understand leadership the same way I understand it. And some women have a very more masculine way of doing things.

I believe leadership for women can also be different -- different, complementary to the men. It's not with the women. No, it's -- it can be different. And in that sense, for me, for example, participation is very important. The perspective of the stakeholders are very important.

So when I thought how to do some very important reforms, like the pension systems reform, I call a big group, a big commission from all perspective, from all political parties, from all stakeholders, I would say. And we developed in very -- in a real fast way a reform that in less than a year was out of the congress and in 1st of July this year started.

And we had a law of alcohol that was 10 years in congress. We have a law for native bushes -- woods and was 15 years in congress. So I believe in a way that you put people together, work all this -- they are really bright people, very committed people. And they work in this and they produce something and then I decide what of all of the -- (inaudible word) -- we will send to -- (inaudible word) -- because of course we do our work.

But what I mean to tell you is that I think leadership can -- sometimes can be different, because of course I can give an order. Of course I can give an instruction. But I think if you consider the -- (inaudible word) -- of the people, specifically those who will impact the lives of the citizens will be -- and also if you hear what they have to tell you about it, the real problems, you will have better choices, better policies, and there will be more listening -- (inaudible) -- the policy will be better.

And it has worked. But sometimes, when you do those, people says, "Ah, she's weak." (Laughter.) And I think not at all. I mean, you have to be very brave to be able to accept peoples' opinion and then to decide this is the best -- the best way to go. But I'm not trying to -- (inaudible) -- myself. What I'm telling you -- and I'm not claiming -- no, not at all, it's just what I want to tell you. When you change things -- the way you do things, not everybody -- and I'm not talking about opposition, even inside our coalition -- the traditional ways of doing politics -- sometimes look a little bit surprised, view as a menace, as a threat that you want to open other group -- other -- (inaudible) -- for the people.

And I think it's a need, because when you see what over the world happens with politics, people -- and people are every day more far away from politicians, when you see that not happen only in Chile, in many other countries, if you ask the population which institutions do you feel reflect better and work better -- in Chile, this is a great, great, great, I think, difference from some years ago -- first place, police forces, armed forces.

And then if you go down, real down -- I'm talking about real down -- politicians, parliaments, judiciary system, because they feel that they don't work, (be thinking ?) on the needs of the people; they use other kinds of -- I mean, that the reasons they work, it's differently.

And so I tell you that I think politics needs fresh air. And I'm talking fresh air, I'm not talking young people. We, the -- as I said, with accumulated youth -- (laughter) -- are very important too. But what I mean, fresh air, is we have to see how we give politics a more -- I mean, if we need to reform the United Nations, we clearly need to reform the way we do with politics, because I think people is getting -- (inaudible) -- more tired here of the way things are.

And he's very nervous because of the time. (Laughter, applause.)

UTLEY: Not the time, your schedule. But I also tell you, as we know, we believe there is a presidential debate scheduled for tomorrow night. (Laughter.)


UTLEY: And there might be space, by acclamation, for a third participant -- (laughter, applause) --

BACHELET: (Chuckles.)

UTLEY: -- a president who has straight talk. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you.

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