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Chilean Ambassador to the U.S. to speak at Vassar. Thursday, February 7, 2008

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — Ambassador of Chile to the United States Mariano Fernández will discuss the promises and challenges of Chile in the 21st century, on Thursday, February 7, at 5:00pm in room 200 of Rockefeller Hall. Ambassador Fernández was invited by professors Michael Aronna (Hispanic studies), Katherine Hite (political science), and Lisa Paravisini (Hispanic studies), who this semester are co-teaching the college's International Studies course "Political Landscapes of 21st century Chile."

From 2002-2006 Mariano Fernández served as Ambassador of Chile to the United Kingdom, and he was earlier Chile's ambassador to Spain, Italy, and the European Community, as well as his nation's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. Also an experienced journalist and attorney, Ambassador Fernández completed his first stint with the Chilean Foreign Service from 1967-1974.

While in exile in Bonn, Germany from 1974-1982, Ambassador Fernández was Editor of "Development and Cooperation" magazine, Chief Editor of the news agency IPS-Dritte Welt Nachrichtenagentur, and Chief Editor of "Handbuch der Entwicklungshilfe".

Vassar's multidisciplinary course "Political Landscapes of 21st century Chile" will incorporate the study of texts, films, and special lecturers – including the address by Ambassador Fernández – and delve into Chilean literature, poetry, music, politics, and society across markedly distinct historical periods. How Chile mediates political conflict and comes to terms with its recent traumatic past, as well as how the nation seeks economic growth without harming the environment or worsening social inequality, will be among the subjects the class will examine. Chile's approach to respecting cultural difference, and how it balances among national, regional and international commitments, will also be explored.

Co-teachers Aronna, Hite, and Paravisini describe Chile as "an important model across several epochs – a pillar of state formation and stability throughout much of the nineteenth century; a 'showcase' of Latin American democracy in the 1950s and 60s; a heady, short-lived attempt at a 'Chilean road to socialism' under Salvador Allende; an infamous dictatorship [under general Augusto Pinochet], and a model of 'modernity' in contemporary economic and political terms. Chile's new president Michelle Bachelet [2006-present] is herself a powerful international political symbol as a woman, a socialist, a former political prisoner, a physician, and a single mother, and Bachelet began her presidency maintaining her campaign promise to guarantee gender parity in the cabinet and throughout the executive branch."

Posted by Office of Communications Friday, February 1, 2008