On January 29, 2003, a poorly pressed key when typing an email address almost destroyed the Chilean financial system. It was all because the then secretary of the president of the Central Bank, Pamela Aranda, had entered the night before the computer of her boss, the president of the Central Bank, Carlos Massad, to send privileged information about the dollar to her lover and general manager of the brokerage Inverlink, Enzo Bertinelli. The next day, Massad noticed that an email had bounced for having misspelled the address and exploded the Corfo-Inverlink case. As Sandra Radic and Iván Weissman headlined in their El Mostrador chronicle in 2015, that was “the day when the Chilean financial system was on the verge of bankruptcy and nobody knew it.”
The Corfo-Inverlink case shook the national political and financial scene to levels comparable only to the crisis of the banking system of 1981. It was in the midst of this situation, probably without knowing the real consequences of what was happening, that then-President Ricardo Lagos appeared in a morning in the armchair of his living room explaining that what was happening was “as if they entered my house, stole a vase and then took it to a reducer. That’s Inverlink’s role… But the vase is discovered and obviously I’m going to get it back because the vase is mine.”
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After the vase theory was known, Troy burned because it was not true that the Chilean State could recover its vase, rather it was the opposite, and the holders of Chilean sovereign bonds were about to invoke the “cross default” clause, which would have led the government to bankruptcy. It is in this black scenario that Ricardo Lagos and his Finance Minister, Nicolás Eyzaguirre, surprisingly took out the letter that immediately cooled the temperature of the Chilean and international markets by announcing Vittorio Corbo as the new president of the Central Bank.
The appointment of Alberto van Klaveren to the Foreign Ministry, keeping the proportions, has similarities with the effect that the appointment of Vittorio Corbo had after the vase episode. Both appointments returned the soul to the body, in the case of Corbo it went to the financial market, in the case of Van Klaveren to our neighbors and to Chilean diplomacy.
President Gabriel Boric has spent 12 months of a string of mistakes and excesses in the field of international relations, “it was impossible to have done worse,” says a senior Chilean diplomat. The main responsible for this excessiveness is President Boric himself, who made and undid without the possibility of counterweight by Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola, while he was celebrated by a team of inexperienced advisors from the Second Floor who did not seem to realize the confusion that the President produced among the neighbors and in the international arena.
Diplomacy is an art where things are not told, they are not said, they are only executed, hopefully in silence and with great modesty. It is the results that speak in diplomacy and are never celebrated, they are only kept in the drawer of the objectives achieved.
President Boric’s list of mistakes is long, very long and it is not necessary to recall it in detail because it bores and exhausts. The last episode was just last January, during the VII CELAC Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, when the President told the world what he thought about the complex Peruvian political situation after the dismissal and arrest of President Pedro Castillo for attempting a “self-coup”, which resulted in Congress appointing parliamentarian Dina Boluarte as interim president and serious social mobilizations took place. some of them very violent.
In this context, Boric declared in front of the leaders attending the meeting and the international press that: “we cannot be indifferent when today in our sister Republic of Peru, with the Government under the command of Dina Boluarte, people who go out to march, to demand what they consider just, end up shot by those who should defend them. More than 50 people have lost their lives and that should shock us.”
He also took the opportunity to recall dark times, “it is also unacceptable that the universities of America relive the sad scenes of the times of the dictatorships of the Southern Cone, as happened recently with the violent entry of the police to the University of San Marcos. In the face of these abuses, I reiterate Chile’s willingness to contribute toall multilateral spaces to accompany an inclusive dialogue capable of building democratic governance and ensuring respect for human rights.”
As former Chilean ambassador and academic José Rodríguez Elizondo said after listening to him, “due to its geopolitical situation, Chile should take into account the effects of intervening in other people’s sovereignties. International relations are state policy, regardless of the ideology of the rulers. From that point of view, those statements were not prudent and do not contribute to the best regional position of our country.”
But the most serious thing about the presidential speech, according to Rodríguez Elizondo, was that the president was opening a Pandora’s box: “It’s a matter of looking at our neighbors. Bolivia has no diplomatic relationship with us and Evo Morales is a great activist against our national interests. With Argentina we have conflicts over sovereignty and pending diplomatic problems. With the only neighbor that we did not have objective problems was Peru and now, against our historical spirit, we took the initiative to tell its president how it should face the developing crisis,” he said in an interview published in Ex-Ante.
All this display of President Boric’s diplomatic skills in Buenos Aires was spiced up with the leak of a recording that gave an account of the meeting where Foreign Minister Urrejola and her advisers designed, with the language of a soccer pinchanga, the Chilean government’s response to the outburst of the Argentine ambassador to the country. The recording was known worldwide while Boric and Urrejola attended as guests of the Argentine government the VII CELAC Summit in Buenos Aires.
This and the other several events that have occurred in the last 12 months explain the surprise departure of the entire staff of the Foreign Ministry. Never, since the return of democracy in 1990, had that ministry suffered a raid of the level it suffered on Friday, when the chancellor, her two undersecretaries and the entire clique of advisers who accompanied them left. The arrival of Alberto van Klaveren on the top floor of Teatinos 180 will allow the Chilean diplomatic world to sleep more peacefully and, why not, to several foreign ministries of neighboring countries.
How relevant it will have been for the government that the name of the new chancellor was pristine and gave guarantees to all sectors that, Marta Maurás, the first candidate to occupy the position ended up discarded minutes before the change of cabinet because an old post was known on Twitter where she spoke in favor of immigration. If it was necessary to have such a clean background certificate, the new Minister of Culture, Jaime de Aguirre, or the Minister of Sports, Jaime Pizarro, had much more delicate backgrounds than Mrs. Maurás.
With Alberto van Klaveren comes to the Foreign Ministry the panzer of Chilean diplomacy, a person who has participated silently in all the complex and critical moments that our international relations have faced in the last thirty years. He was part of the team that pulled the strings to bring back former dictator Augusto Pinochet from the United Kingdom and thus calm the tense political environment in which the 1999 elections took place and that allowed Ricardo Lagos to be brought to La Moneda, the first socialist president after the 1973 coup d’état. In the same way, stealthily operated as Chile’s agent before The Hague when the pending border disputes with Bolivia and Peru were being discussed, and one knows how many other operations of this type he will have commanded under the cloak of discretion and diplomacy.
The other vase forado
But in this latest cabinet change, President Gabriel Boric’s vase did not appear broken only on the issue of international relations. One of the biggest and most complex fractures was in the majadero attempt to implement so much “beautiful idea” shouted during the campaign and in his first months in La Moneda.
In this change of cabinet came ministers and ministers who the President considered had had a terrible and/or reprehensible management of their portfolios. In the case of the chancellor, the president had the deference to invite her to his office three days before his replacement was known to tell her personally that he would remove her from office, the president did not do that with any of the other ministers who left the government. It is likely that the president had this gesture with Urrejola because he felt some responsibility for his mismanagement, but it is decisive that he did not have this deference to the other ministers because he was upset about the poor performance they had in their respective portfolios. Culture, Public Works, Sports and Science were serious problems for the government.
Something similar happened in the case of the undersecretaries where it was unsustainable. keep the original creator of the “side letters” of TPP11, José Miguel Ahumada, or the media Undersecretary of Public Health, Cristóbal Cuadrado Nahum, just to name a few. The vast majority of the undersecretaries who left were inoperative or seriously hindered the work of their ministries. The rest of the undersecretaries removed – the least – were to match forces between I approve Dignity and Democratic Socialism.
The need for the balance of power after a year of management occurs after three months of the first cabinet change in which new faces of Democratic Socialism were added to the political committee and the contribution made by this sector with Mario Marcel, Manuel Monsalve, Carolina Tohá, Carlos Montes, Ana Lya Uriarte, among others.
This change of cabinet of President Boric in a first and quick glance might seem a minor change, only of sectoral portfolios, which was intended to achieve balances of power between the two governing coalitions, but it is not so, on Friday Boric acknowledged that governing was not easy and required experienced and efficient ministers who achieved concrete results. Because, finally, as President Lagos acknowledged after the Corfo-Inverlink case, things were not as easy as going and “retrieving the vase because the vase is mine.”
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