Chile strongly defended the existence of Mercosur in spite of the current financial difficulties and the fact that Chile itself is only an associate member. Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister, Soledad Alvear, said that Mercosur was more than a simple customs union and involves regional integration in other fields such culture, politics, human and animal health, among others. "Mercosur is particularly important in a world threatened by transnational organised crime, terrorism, drugs and poverty, all challenges beyond the reach of the traditional concept of State-nation", emphasized Soledad Alvear. This week Uruguay and Brazil expressed their concern about the Argentine situation, and Uruguay anticipated it will not continue with the joint external tariff convergence. However in a globalised world , "the best way to advance is the capacity to coordinate", said Mrs. Alvear, adding that Mercosur "has a common foreign policy, which makes the block a particular strong voice in international affairs". Mrs. Alvear confirmed Chilean president Ricardo Lagos participation in the coming Mercosur summit to be held next December 20/21st. in Montevideo.
Legislative elections this SundayIn last minute concentrations and speeches Chile's main political forces are requesting support from the electorate for this Sunday's legislative elections. The ruling centre left coalition Democratic Concertation and the opposition right wing Alliance for Chile, are betting strongly in Sunday's voting with eyes set in the 2005 presidential election. Joaquín Lavin, Santiago's Mayor and leader of Alliance for Chile is optimistic about the outcome and anticipated that "we're going to have the best results ever in a legislative election". However Mr. Lavin refuses to reveal percentages and to compare next Sunday with the last presidential election when he lost to President Lagos 51,31% to 48,69%. Nevertheless both coalitions are concerned about the 1,25 million disenchanted or protest voters out of a total electoral roll of eight million. Ministry of Interior, José Miguel Insulza stated that the ruling coalition will consider itself victorious if it manages 48% of the vote, "five points ahead" of the opp