Thursday, January 27, 2011

Copper Law

The infamous Chilean Copper Law has been reformed, though not removed.  To provide more transparency, its management is moving from the Superior Council of National Defense to the Finance Ministry.  This type of reform has been in the works for a while, but accelerated due to a recent controversy over transparency that led to the resignation of Defense Minister Jaime Ravinet and his replacement by Andrés Allamand, an old hand in Renovación Nacional.

This is a win for President Piñera and the center-right, as they show themselves committed to an issue the Concertación had struggled in vain to reform, and can point to it as indicating more transparency.  However, I blogged almost exactly a year ago about how Piñera has indicated he wants to get rid of the Copper Law entirely, but obviously that did not happen.

A real victory for civilian supremacy over the armed forces, however, would be to remove the law entirely.  It may take a Nixon-China moment, where only a president of the right could get it done.  For fiscal conservatives, it does not make sense to throw sums of money quite that large at the military.  I'm not sure, though, whether Piñera's willingness to take a smaller step right now indicates this is off the table again for a while.


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