Chile's Defence Minister Vivianne Blanlot submitted this week a detailed report of the controversial Copper Reserve Law, reaffirming the desire of the government of President Michelle Bachelet to modify or repeal the Pinochet-era legislation.
The current law mandates that ten percent of the state-owned copper company Codelco's revenue be spent for military purposes. Copper values and exports have grown in recent years, reaching unprecedented highs this past year and providing record profits for Codelco. The result has been one billion US dollars earmarked for Chile's Armed Forces. Chile's military has increased arms purchases accordingly ÃÂ¢€" buying F-16 fighter jets from US and Holland, submarines from France, frigates from Britain and Holland and German tanks equipped with the latest technology. However these recent military acquisitions have caused alarm in neighbouring countries like Peru and Bolivia. Since first coming to power in 1990, the Chilean centre-left Concertación coalition has tried several times to repeal or modify the Copper Reserve Law, but always unsuccessfully. Blanlot's report contains a detailed analysis of how Copper Reserve law has functioned in past years, and outlines possible ways for modifying it. If the law is modified or repealed, new regulations for Chile's military spending must be established. This will result in debate about congressional control of the military budget. President Michelle Bachelet will review the report and is expected to official propose modifications in March. The Santiago Times - News about Chile