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Right-wing billionaire Pinera wins presidency in Chile

The CBC reports that, “Sebastian Pinera has won Chile’s election, becoming the country’s first democratically elected right-wing president in 52 years. With 60 per cent of polling stations reporting nationwide, the billionaire had 52 per cent to 48 per cent for Eduardo Frei, a former president who represents the ruling centre-left coalition that has governed Chile for 20 years. With two-thirds of the votes counted, Frei conceded defeat Sunday.”

The Council of Canadians is working on a number of issues in Chile including: the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan investments in private, for-profit water there, Canada Pension Plan investments in the destructive Patagonia power project, water markets and the allocation of water, and adoption in Chile of the right to water.

We will be looking at the implications of Pinera’s election on these issues.

For instance, Reuters reports that Pinera supports creating “incentives for private companies and mining firms to build desalinization plants to feed mining operations in water-scarce regions like the mineral-rich Atacama desert.”

The Santiago Times reports that Pinera’s opponent Frei “fared best in less populated parts of the country, though not in southern (Patagonia) Aysen, where residents strongly oppose government-supported plans to build a major hydro-electric dam project.” The Telegraph UK adds that Pinera’s business empire includes “a 300,000 acre swathe of forested land in Patagonia which he has vowed to protect.”

The CBC news article is at http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/01/17/chile-vote.html.