Chilean president Michelle Bachelet officially opened Tuesday in Valparaiso the 2008 edition of the Exponaval fair, South America's most important naval industries event with the participation of 32 foreign delegations and 130 companies and organizations linked to maritime activities.
The three days event is organized by the Chilean Navy and FISA (Santiago International Fairs) is expected to be the framework for business operations to the tune of 500 million US dollars both in the military and civilian fields. "Exponaval has become a meeting point and an opportunity to contact companies in the field of defence and security, a project which was fundamentally rooted in the renovation and modernization plans currently being developed by the Chilean Nay", said Luis Schmidt from the organization committee. "More than 130 exhibitors are participating from countries all over the world: United Kingdom, Holland, US, France, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Brazil, Peru, Greece and Chile, which represent a 15% expansion over the previous event in 2006", he added. Exponaval invited the navies of 52 countries with which Chile has friendly relations and five combat units were expected to be present. However only naval units from Chile, Brazil and Mexico are participating at the fair grounds next to the port and will be open to the public. Units from Argentina and Peru cancelled their arrival at last moment. The Peruvian delegation is absent because of the recent diplomatic spat between Chile and Peru following the release of a controversial video with strong statements from the Peruvian Army chief referred to his neighbours. The Argentine submarine "ARA Santa Cruz" was scheduled to arrive this week "but unfortunately could not make it on time and will not be participating of the fair", said Rear Admiral Cristina Gantes head of the Chilean Navy General Services. Apparently the Argentine submarine has been stranded in Ushuaia for the last two weeks after having suffered "technical problems", which have impeded her from "sailing to Valparaiso" reported the local press.