UK Ambassador Gives Farewell Speech
UK ambassador speaks at farewell talk about his experiences in Chile before leaving his position at the end of January.
SANTIAGO — Yesterday the British ambassador to Chile, Jon Benjamin, gave a farewell speech at the Ex Congreso Nacional about his experiences in the country, a little over two weeks before leaving his position. The speech was organized by the Senate’s Extension Center and the Israeli embassy in Chile, and was moderated by journalist Claudia Aldana.
Ambassador Benjamin, who has been the UK’s representative in Chile since 2009, was joined by President of the Chilean Diplomat Academy, Pablo Cabrera, and ex Chancellor Mariano Fernández. Mr. Cabrera praised Benjamin’s time as ambassador, saying that he always emphasized the importance of equality and adhered to a “policy of integration.”
Benjamin’s career with the British Diplomatic Service began in 1986, since which time he has lived in Sweden, Germany, Turkey, and Indonesia. He revealed yesterday that the initial challenges that faced him in Chile were of a “linguistic, not geographical” nature. He completed an intensive Spanish course in the UK several weeks before leaving, but later discovered that this was of limited use as the Castilian Spanish taught in Europe is rather different to the Chilean dialect.
The Ambassador went on to describe his four years in the country as “very intense”, citing the catastrophic earthquake that devastated Chile in 2010, only a couple of months after had taken up his position, as one of his greatest trials. He said it was the country’s response to a national crisis that really helped him to understand the spirit and resilience of this “marvelous” country.
Benjamin, the former Head of Human Rights at the British Foreign Office, mentioned his enjoyment working with the Chilean government to promote green growth, improve security for the country, and learn from the financial and energy institutions, wisdom which he will take back to the UK. He closed with how he was glad to see social progress in Chile over the last few years, such as LGBT rights.
Ex Chancellor Mariano Fernández ended the talk by praising the ambassador’s work of integrating the UK and Chile over recent years, both economically and culturally. He feels confident that Benjamin will do well in whatever country he finds himself in after leaving Chile.
Ambassador Benjamin will leave his position on Jan. 31 and will be succeeded by Fiona Clouder. She will begin in mid February as Chile’s new British Ambassador.