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US Public Diplomacy Chief Heading to Latin America


U.S. public diplomacy chief Karen Hughes is accompanying Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Chile for Saturday's inauguration of incoming President Michelle Bachelet.

Hughes told VOA's Spanish branch in an exclusive interview Thursday that Ms. Bachelet's inauguration comes at a very historic time for Chile and Latin America as a whole. Hughes said she is inspired by Ms. Bachelet's life story, particularly when one thinks about the war on terror.

Ms. Bachelet and her parents were imprisoned and tortured during General Augusto Pinochet's 1973 to 1990 military dictatorship. Her father, Air Force General Alberto Bachelet, died in prison.

Hughes is the first under secretary of state for public diplomacy to visit Latin America. She says the region is a priority for her as well as President Bush. Hughes is also scheduled to travel to Colombia, Panama, Brazil and El Salvador for meetings with officials and other members of civil society. Hughes lived in Panama for three years as a child.