President Michelle Bachelet travels to Japan and Australia this Friday in an 11-day tour of Asian nations that includes a summit meeting of the APEC regional trade group in Australia.
Her agenda also includes a strong lobbying effort to secure Chile a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. "Chile has influence on a global level," said José Miguel Vivanco, president of Human Rights Watch for the Latin American region. "When Chile talks about human rights issues, the rest of the world listens attentively and respectfully". Chile already holds a seat at the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights but will have to compete with Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela to obtain one of the 47 Human Rights Council positions. Analysts believe Argentina and Brazil are almost assured of sufficient votes to be elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council. This means Chile will most likely have to square off with Venezuela for the third seat slotted for South America. Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez is expected to work hard to secure the position, following his country's failure to get a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council last year. Still, analysts believe that Chile has the advantage of being one of only two Latin American APEC members. If Bachelet plays her cards right during the APEC summit in Australia, she might secure enough support from APEC member countries to catapult Chile into the seat. Santiago Times