President of Chile Makes Stop at UC Berkeley

Photo: Chilean President Michelle Bachelet spoke at International House on Thursday, attracting an audience of about 500 people.
Ashley Trott/Photo
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet spoke at International House on Thursday, attracting an audience of about 500 people.

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Chilean President Michelle Bachelet Speaks at the I-House

Chiliean President Michelle Bachelet speaks about her views on the future and the effects of globalization.

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Chilean President Michelle Bachelet visited the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Friday to investigate possible alternative energy technologies that could be used to help combat Chile's "severe energy crisis."

The visit came after Bachelet signed an agreement with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that created a partnership between Chile and California aimed at promoting innovation, higher education and alternative sources of energy.

Bachelet spoke of the developmental ties between California and Chile at a lecture sponsored by UC Berkeley's Center for Latin American Studies at the International House.

According to Bachelet, who has two nephews who graduated from UC Berkeley in the 1990s, thousands of Chilean citizens attended college in California and then returned to Chile to use their education in positive ways, from economic endeavors to the arts.

"They have returned to make outstanding contributions to my country's advancement," she said in her talk.

At the lecture, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau presented Bachelet with the Berkeley Medal, UC Berkeley's top honor, for reflecting "the ideals of the University of California at Berkeley."

Bachelet said her administration is focusing on improving education and providing Chileans with tools to succeed as a means to obtain development. She said she hopes to increase the number of Chileans with masters degrees or higher to 30,000 within the next 10 years.

"Higher education will be our shortcut to development," she said.

The lecture was not without incident; Bachelet began her lecture about an hour late and protesters outside the event caused security to close the 490-capacity Chevron Auditorium before everyone could get in.

"Chilean security closed the room so not everyone with tickets was able to get in," said Jean Spencer, the outreach and publications coordinator for the center.

Josie Lehrer, an audience member who is doing a study about sexual assault and dating violence at the University of Chile, said she thinks that both Chile and California will benefit from their partnership.

"I think it's really exciting," she said. "California is obviously a leader in green initiatives. I think Chile could benefit from a formal collaboration with California and vice-versa."


Ashley Trott is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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