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Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile clarifies: the President of the IWC does not represent the position of Chile

Valparaiso, May 06, 2010 (CCC News) – The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile, Alfredo Moreno, responded to the concerns made last Monday by senator Juan Pablo Letelier, deputy Guillermo Teillier and representatives of the Chilean NGOs Centro Ecoceanos, Centro de Conservacion Cetacea and Ecoanimal, in relation to the ambiguous position of the current government to the pro whaling proposal lead by the Chilean commissioner and current president of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), Cristian Maquieira.

In a video interview posted yesterday by the Library of the National Congress of Chile (BCN), Moreno affirmed that “the position of Chile has not changed in anything; we are in favor of the conservation and non lethal use of whales”.

In relation to the negotiation proposal of the IWC that was presented by Maquieira on april 22nd – and that generated strong criticisms from pro whaling and conservation countries as well as NGOs – Moreno affirmed that Maquieira “does not represent Chile at the IWC”.

Moreno added that the role of Maquieira is to “seek a consensus position to make an agreement in the IWC, he has prepared a position to see weather there is consensus or not”.

The statements were made after the concerns expressed by national NGOs on Monday in relation to the silence of the government of Sebastian Piñera regarding a proposal that has been unanimously rejected by the international community. Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Iceland, Unites States, Mexico and Brazil, all members of the drafting group of the proposal, have already expressed their disagreement to the initiative, showing that there is no consensus to adopt the proposal.

Chilean senator Juan Pablo Letelier stated in an interview to BCN that “it is a shame that Chile is being viewed by the eyes of the world as a country that justifies whaling operations”.

About the position that Chile will adopt in the next IWC meeting in Morroco in june, Moreno affirmed that “Chile mill make its own decision, maintaining the position of the country”. The declarations of Moreno refer to the Policy of State of Chile supportive of the protection and non lethal use of whales. In 2008, this policy was reflected in the establishment of one of the major national whale sanctuaries in the planet. Additionally, Chile is a member of the Buenos Aires Group, which among others, maintain a permanent commitment towards the moratorium on commercial whaling, the rejection of the so-called “scientific whaling” and the respect for whale sanctuaries.

Letelier added that “the policy of State of Chile is pro conservation and non lethal use of whales. This policy of State means we recognize not only that we do not want any whaling operations in our waters (…) but also to promote this position in the international community”.

Elsa Cabrera, executive director of Centro de Conservacion Cetacea, affirmed that “We welcome the statements of Minister Moreno but we believe there needs to be more clarity about the role of ambassador Maquieira in the Chilean delegation to the IWC”. Cabrera recalled that under the IWC, only the Commissioners can be appointed as Chair of the Commission, so technically ambassador Maquieira is still the representative of Chile at this international forum.

Senator Letelier concluded that “it strongly calls our attention that ambassador Maquieira, who represents the current government of Chile, is apparently negotiating proposals that go in a different direction, damaging the image of Chile, damaging what has been the Chilean policy in these matters and this is why we want an explanation. If the government of Piñera has a different opinion from him, this should be clarified and actions should be taken, not only to reject the proposal but to replace Mr. Maquieira as soon as possible”.