SANTIAGO – United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis signed a cybersecurity agreement with Chile on Thursday in his first official trip to Latin America.
“A topic that is of great interest is cybersecurity, that is something for which Latin American countries are not well prepared, and we must recover lost time,” President Sebastian Piñera said during the ceremony in Chile’s presidential palace, La Moneda.
Hoy el Pdte @sebastianpinera junto al Ministro @albertoespina @mindefchile sostuvo audiencia con el Secretario de Defensa de EE.UU., James N. Mattis @DeptofDefense @EmbajadaEEUUcl Ambas naciones firmaron una declaración conjunta para colaborar en ciberseguridad y ciberdefensa pic.twitter.com/uNjvkRct9O
— Prensa Presidencia de Chile (@presidencia_cl) August 16, 2018
He also stressed Chile’s desire to “maintain its privileged relationship” with the U.S. as two countries that share a “commitment” to democracy and human rights.
For his part, Mattis said that “this agreement recognizes the threats that our democracies face at this moment, in this very disputed terrain, and expresses our determination to fight them together”.
Beyond the agreement, Mattis said that the two governments have committed to collaborate on other matters of common interest, such as technological innovation in fields as diverse as military medical research or the development of drones.
“In our conversations, we were preparing the ground, building an even stronger relationship,” said Mattis.
He praised Chile for being a beacon of “democratic stability” in a sea of “uncertainty.”
#ICYMI: while in Santiago yesterday, #SecDef Mattis met with #Chilean President @SebastianPinera to discuss long-standing defense relations between our two countries. #SecDefTravels pic.twitter.com/DR6w6vqOMa
— U.S. Dept of Defense (@DeptofDefense) August 17, 2018
Also, the Secretary of Defense took the opportunity to introduce Vice Admiral Craig Faller, who is called to be the next person in charge of the Southern Command ( SouthCom ) of the Armed Forces, which is the one that operates in the Latin America and the Caribbean area.
Chilean Defense Minister Alberto Espina Otero, who was also present at the ceremony, stressed the importance of the agreement reached.
Los ciberataques son un grave problema para los países. Por eso firmamos con el Secretario de Defensa de EEUU James Mattis un compromiso para trabajar juntos en temas de Ciberdefensa a través de intercambios, ejercicios y capacitación 🇺🇸🇨🇱 @mindefchile @EmbajadaEEUUcl pic.twitter.com/JtHCmqshgD
— Alberto Espina Otero (@albertoespina) August 16, 2018
“The United States has the technology and knowledge, and for us, as a country, it is very important to have with them concrete agreements to carry out training exercises and exchange of information, “he said.
The minister pointed out that these agreements will materialize over the “next months”.
Brazil was the first stop on Mattis’ agenda. During his visits to Brasilia and Rio de Janerio, the head of the U.S. Pentagon called Brazil a democracy and said the South American giant should “lead the solution to the Venezuelan crisis,” in an open call for interventions against the Venezuelan government.
Ties between the U.S. government and the governments of Brazil and Argentina have improved considerably. Brazil’s unelected president Michel Temer has invited the U.S. to use the Alcantara missile and rocket launching base and to conduct joint military exercises in the Amazon, while Argentina’s Mauricio Macri reached an agreement allowing the U.S. to build three bases.
A day before Mattis arrived in Chile, foreign minister Roberto Ampuero began consultations with his counterparts in the region to coordinate a definitive withdrawal from the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), the only regional integration body without U.S. or Canadian presence.
Mattis traveled from Chile to Bogotá, where on Friday he plans to hold a series of high-level bilateral meetings about “Venezuela’s tragic situation” before heading back to Washington.