Ibero-American News Digest
Argentina's First Lady Warns of 'Destabilization Plan'
First Lady Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner warned this week of a "hidden destablization plan" intended to create "a certain climate of violence" just before October's Congressional elections. Mrs. Kirchner, who, in addition to being First Lady, is a Senator from Santa Cruz province, spoke from the city of Rosario Aug. 24, at a rally officially launching the electoral slate of her husband's Victory Front. Addressing an audience including almost the entire cabinet, 15 governors, and 300 or more candidates, Kirchner pointedly referenced the "incredible" violence unleashed last week by the Jacobin "piquetero" movement of unemployed in the city of Buenos Aires, and also in Santa Cruz. "I speak of a plan, or perhaps something darker," she said, implying that some of the Jacobin leaders were linked to former President Eduardo Duhalde.
Interior Minister Anibal Fernandez told La Nacion: "I know that people from the other side have financed those who call themselves piqueteros," the paper reported on Aug. 25. He also charged that these mob leaders "have received benefits from political leaders" for leading anarchistic and violent protests.
Argentina is, once again, being hit by a carefully coordinated left-right assault. First, Wall Street's friends are pushing the line put out a month ago by the synarchist Wall Street Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady, that President Nestor Kirchner is "soft on terrorism." The daily La Nacion, the bible of Argentina's right-wing "nationalists," is playing the key role in whipping up hysteria over the fact that the government was considering asylum requests made by six members of Colombia's FARC who entered the country last year. There is nothing to indicate that the government acted improperly in this matter, but Deputy Guillermo Cantini (formerly allied with Wall Street's Domingo Cavallo), wants to haul Interior Minister Anibal Fernandez before Congress for questioning on the case, while others that Kirchner "is letting terrorists flood the country."
As if to prove Wall Street's point, this past week, the hard-core Jacobin piquetero unemployed movement, tied to left-wing synarchists throughout Ibero-America and Europe, mobilized to shut down the capital city of Buenos Aires, demanding increased government anti-poverty subsidies. They threatened drivers, caused traffic chaos, and set up 50 tents in front of the Presidential Palace for four days. Although their protests ended Aug. 19, the Jacobins say they will be back in ten days with a more aggressive mobilization, to "break the arm of Kirchner's policies" under the slogan "Fatherland or death."
Responding to right-wing demands for repression, President Kirchner identified the piquetero leaders as leftist "provocateurs, who come to provoke because they seek victims. While no one knows who finances them, they serve a useful purpose to those right-wing sectors who say we must repress," he said. The President called for judges and prosecutors to act against the piqueteros, "within the law," but vowed that "we will not fall into any provocation" posed by these groups.
Paraguay Joins Bush Campaign vs. South American Neighbors
Since U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's Aug. 16-17 visit to Paraguay, that impoverished South American country is being swung like a wrecking ball against its neighbors. First came the announcement that the government wants to negotiate a free trade accord with the U.S., even though that would violate the Mercosur Charter, of which it is was a founding member. Now, it is reported that the Paraguayan government has announced it will not designate an ambassador to Ecuador, on the grounds that Paraguay does not recognize the legitimacy of President Alfredo Palacio's government. This earns Paraguay the dubious distinction of being the first Ibero-American nation to back the Bush Administration's efforts to overthrow Palacio.
Vice President Luis Castiglioni, the Cheney toady who is running the show in Paraguay these days, declared arrogantly on Aug. 23 that Paraguay doesn't give a hoot about its neighbors' complaints over U.S. troops being invited in, because it will not make its foreign policy based on "the caprice, interest, and ideology of the people who surround us."
A manic Castiglioni announced also that Gov. Jeb Bush's Florida has agreed to allow Paraguayan textiles to enter tariff-free, and that this will create 200,000 new jobs within three months. Paraguayan textile manufacturers, while happy to be able to sell anything, suggested at most, 10-20,000 jobs would result, and that only after much investment in plant and equipment.
Peru Wooed as Well
Rumsfeld crony Gen. Bantz Craddock, head of the U.S. Southern Command, arrived in Peru on Aug. 23, for a two-day visit, following on the heels of the Defense Secretary's brief Aug. 18 stop there, El Comercio reported Aug. 23 and 24. There was little reported publicly about the visit, other than discussions on "regional security." Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was to follow on Aug. 25 to discuss trade and investment, but Hurricane Katrina forced those plans to be put off.
Financial Vultures Out for Ecuador's Resources
A 12-day strike in Ecuador's two major oil-producing provinces, Sucumbios and Orellana, that led to violent clashes with the military, and the declaration of a state of emergency in those provinces, have placed the question of who will control Ecuador's oil revenues front and center.
Since Aug. 21, sixty delegates (the majority of them elected officials who led the protests) from the two affected provinceswhich produce more than three-fourths of the state's oil and half of private company oilhave been negotiating with representatives of the Palacio government and oil companies, to end the stand-off. Their demands have ranged from kicking Occidental Petroleum, the largest private company in Ecuador, out of the country for long-term violation of contract, to allocating a larger portion of the tax collected on private oil profits toward local development. As one protest leader put it, "We want at least 50% of oil revenues to stay in Ecuador.... Occidental takes 84% and leaves us 16%."
An end to the strike was finalized on Aug. 25, involving a number of concessions to the protesters, including an oil company agreement to pave 160 miles of new roads, and the government's agreement to allocate about two-thirds of the 25% income tax paid by the oil companies for local needs. Occidental will not be ousted.
The Palacio government, which earned the enmity of the banks almost from its inception earlier this year by legislating to channel oil revenues away from debt repayment and toward social needs, must tread a careful path: It could easily go the way of the recently ousted and highly unpopular predecessor government. Aware of President Palacio's quandary, the financial community is upping the pressure. An IMF mission was in Quito last week, demanding a series of new austerity measures, along with firm assurances that foreign debt payments will take priority in the national budget. And Standard & Poor has just announced that it may cut Ecuador's "CCC+" credit rating "if the current impasse results in greater financial stress."
Zepp-LaRouche Addresses Audiences in Colombia
German Chancellor candidate Helga Zepp-LaRouche gave an extensive global strategic briefing Aug. 24 to 85 people, located at three sites in Colombiatwo universities and the office of the Lyndon LaRouche Association in Bogotavia Internet and phone hookup. Due to technical problems, three other universities which had scheduled to participate, were unable to do so.
Among those present at the LaRouche offices in Bogota, were aides to seven Congressmen and three members of state security agencies, in addition to university students and subscribers to Resumen Ejecutivo and Solidaridad de las Americas. Students and professors from the Autonomous University Foundation of Colombia (FUAC) and the Catholic University of Bogota also participated.
Zepp-LaRouche, who is a candidate of the BueSo party, concluded by issuing a special call to Colombian youth to follow the example of U.S., European, and other youth, at LaRouche's call, have assumed responsibility for giving a new direction to the nations of the world, beginning with the study and reproduction of the most advanced ideas of humankind's Classical thinkers and scientists. Zepp-LaRouche urged those attending to form Reading Societies of the works of Lyndon LaRouche, so that they can be ready for the challengeand the opportunityposed by the current world strategic crisis.