PIÑERA: THE COST OF CRIME

“Nations do not have permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests.” Lord Palmerston (British Foreign Minister, 1846-1851).


With all the information that is already known, what is at stake today is the real independence of the SEC, we will see if it succumbs to the political pressures that will come from the White House or will maintain a conduct that dignifies its history.



Today it is announced that President Piñera is literally in the hands of the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), the US Securities and Exchange Commission, for a complaint filed in October of 2017 that “tells in detail how the current President, Half an hour after participating in the LAN board meeting – where the company’s financial statements and plans for the following year were revealed – he contacted brokerage Banchile to buy a six-million-share package that was at sale. “as El Mostrador publishes.

If there was any doubt about the crime of using privileged information from Piñera, in the purchase of shares of LAN, with this new publication is dissipated, as well as if the SEC would initiate an investigation into it, well, the year began past. Both questions are resolved.

Faced with this scenario that Piñera faces, it is worth asking: How will the SEC act?
Will it follow the path of its legal definition, that is, Independent Agency of the United States government?

The other option is to have a political vision, that is, the SEC is a permanent entity of the North American State, therefore it must watch over the permanent interests of the United States.

In this second scenario, the only thing of value for the US that has seen, sees and will see in our country, are natural resources, yesterday was copper and today is Lithium.

FIRST THREAT: CHINA

In the global context, the US competition is with China, apart from its “commercial war” is the “geopolitical war”, reflected for example in that China less than a month ago gives its explicit support to Maduro’s Venezuela, with a loan of 5 thousand million dollars, the same Venezuela that Trump threatens: “a coup could succeed quickly”

In Chile, Lithium exploitation is led by SQM, with the Albemarle company from the USA that already signed an agreement in 2017 with Corfo to extend its exploitation contract and increase the authorized quota for the production of lithium to 82 thousand tons per year during the next 27 years.

This agreement ensures the national sale of up to 25% of the production for industrialized products, with a preferential price. For this, Corfo has called an international tender to award this production to those investors who offer and develop in Chile the most attractive alternatives of high added value, such as the production of lithium cathodes, components of lithium batteries, solar metal lithium and lithium salts, among others.

It is in this scenario that enters the company China Tianqi, one of the leaders in the lithium industry worldwide -founded in 1995 as Shehong Lithium Industry Co. Ltd., acquired and renamed by Tianqi Group in 2004-, which not only wants maintain the current percentage that it has in SQM, but – as already announced – is interested in acquiring the one that today is in the hands of the Canadian Nutrien, former Potash Corp.

This possible fact would imply that Tianqi could control 70% of the global lithium market.
This is something that the US can not accept.


SECOND THREAT: COMMUNITIES


The Atacameño communities are the second threat to the exploitation of Lithium, and in recent years SQM has faced increasing demands from indigenous peoples in the fields of their exploitation, mainly due to environmental pollution and water encroachment.
It is for this reason that President Piñera cancels the signing of the Escazú agreement in the Assembly of the United Nations, which takes place in New York, originally scheduled for September 27, and which Chile was supposed to also sign, according to what they established 24 countries in Costa Rica last March.

 

The treaty aims to improve access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters in Latin America and the Caribbean.
It also allows communities to participate in a binding manner in the environmental assessment of projects that request to be installed in certain areas. The latter was what caused the cancellation of the signing of the agreement, installed the communities in general as possible objectors of industrial projects, in a binding manner.
Piñera went to the US to negotiate with Trump not to be investigated by the SEC, for this he compromises not to deliver the lithium to Chinese interests and free of environmental commitments with local communities to the exploiting companies (not signing an Ezcasu agreement), this is the cost for Chile of the crime – of use of privileged information – of Piñera.

Alejandra Huerta.

Chilean journalist

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