Ibero-American News Digest
Miami Cuban Exiles Ga-Ga Over Pat Robertson
Hurricane Katrina was not the only thing blowing hard over Miami in recent days. Much of the anti-Castro Cuban exile community in the city also huffed and puffed, on the many Spanish-language radio talk shows, in support for "Diamond Pat" Robertson's call to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Caller after caller said Robertson should be elected the next President of the United States, as they were whipped into a frenzy as the stations played Reverend Pat's incitement to murder over and over again, some as many as five to six times in the span of 15 minutes. On one show, the announcers held a contest, in which callers had 30 seconds to list five different ways to kill Chavez (and Castro). "If the U.S. can commit a whole army to get rid of Saddam, why can't it send a brigade to oust Chavez and Fidel?" several asked, apparently forgetting the Bay of Pigs. "Why is it so difficult for the U.S. to have someone just kill Chavez before he becomes a threat as big as Fidel?"
In our four-article package on "Moon Over Parana: Dick Cheney's 'Spoon-Benders' Rampage Through South America," in InDepth this week, the reader will find more on the strategic context and implications of Robertson's provocation.
Will Chile and Argentina Adopt Rumsfeld Military Plan?
Adding yet another provocation to the tense Southern Cone situation is the announcement that a standing joint Argentine-Chilean military command is to be created. Although it is to operate under the cover of a UN peacekeeping force, if carried out, this would constitute the first step within South America towards the supranational regional military force which U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has sought since 2002.
The announcement was made Aug. 28 by Chilean Defense Minister Jaime Ravinet on the occasion of a visit by his Argentine counterpart, Jose Pampuro. The latter, who has acted against Argentine President Nestor Kirchner on more than one occasion, supports it.
It's improbable that Kirchner would endorse any joint military force that might be used against other Ibero-American nations, but this is what Rumsfeld has in mind. In his remarks at the port city of Valparaiso, where he met with Pampuro, Ravinet noted that such an Argentine-Chilean force would be permanent in nature, and would require "modifying doctrine" as well as equipping the militaries of both nations. The actions of this force, Ravinet said, shouldn't be limited to just "confidence building." Pampuro, who was also slated to meet with President Ricardo Lagos, gushed that by 2010, Argentina and Chile could be "strategically associated."
One particularly provocative aspect of the ceremony attended by Ravinet and Pampuro in Valparaiso was that Argentine and Chilean soldiers who had trained together for six months arrived on the Esmeralda, the ship that had served as a temporary prison and torture center following the bloody Sept. 11, 1973 military coup that overthrew President Salvador Allende.
Financiers Push Brazil To Open the Derivatives Spigot
Following discussions at the Second International Derivatives and Financial Market Congress held in Brazil during the last week of August, the Brazilian Central Bank headed by former BankBoston International President Henrique Meirelles announced that it is evaluating changing the regulations governing the issuing of credit derivatives, along lines proposed at that Congress. Currently, only banks are permitted to sell hedges for credit risk, and proponents argue that if the door is opened for anyone hedge funds, pension and mutual funds, and insurance to sell them, then Brazil too can vastly expand its derivatives market.
During the Congress, the head of Brazil's Commodities and Futures Market (BM&F), Manoel Cintra Neto, cited the fact that in Brazil, only 10% of companies use derivatives, as opposed to 90% in the U.S.; this he mentioned as evidence of how vast an expansion awaits, should the regulation change be adopted. The BM&F is already the fifth-largest exchange in the world; imagine what it can be if it opens up fully to the "fantastic" flows of the international derivatives markets, Cintra Neto told O Globo on Aug. 18.
Nothing But a Service Economy in Chile
Even as Paraguayan President Duarte gushed that "Chile is the photograph which many nations of Latin America would like to hold up as an example for history," during his Aug. 28-30 visit to Chile, the Chilean daily El Mercurio reported on Aug. 30 that two-thirds (66%) of all new jobs created in that "prestigious and serious" Chile over the past 12 months are in the category of "self-employed." That includes anything from street-vendors to unemployed professionals who try to get any kind of work, driving taxis, repairmen, etc. Chile's Labor Minister says this shows Chile is "normalizing."
El Mercurio also documented the disastrous state of the private pension system in which employers have appropriated workers' funds, and kept them rather than depositing them in private accounts. Employers have thus stiffed at least 150,000 workers registered with the private AFP (pension) system. The biggest culprits are large municipal companies, or companies on the verge of bankruptcy.
OAS Secretary General Calls for Extradition of Posada
Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), on Aug. 29 called upon the U.S. to extradite Cuban-American terrorist Luis Posada Carriles to Venezuela. "In the world context of the combat against terrorism, terrorists have to face justice. It would not be explicable that this process could not go on," Insulza noted.
That same day, Posada Carilles, the CIA-trained anti-Castro terrorist who was the deputy to Felix Rodriguez in El Salvador during the illegal Contra resupply operation in the 1980s, refiled his request for political asylum in an El Paso, Texas court proceeding. Before joining Rodriguez in El Salvador, Posada escaped from a Venezuela prison where he was being held in connection to the October 1976 bombing of Cubana Airlines Flight 455. In his court appearance today, Posada's attorney asked that he be transferred to Miami, Fla.
Venezuela has demanded that he be extradited.