Ibero-American News Digest
LaRouche Youth Hold 'Goodbye Cheney!' Parties
In Mexico City, Bogota, and Buenos Aires on Tuesday Nov. 29 at noon, members of the LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM) surprised embassy personnel, police, and passers-by with boisterous "Goodbye" parties for the Vice President of Torture Dick Cheney, in front of the U.S. embassies in those cities. Replete with banners, singing, and, depending on the site, an assortment of balloons, confetti, mate, nachos, and the like, in each case, the principal banner or poster read, in English: "LaRouche Says to Cheney: Good-Bye and Good Healthand Let the Party Begin!"
In Mexico City, the LYM set special words for the very well-known Mexican song, "Las Golondrinas" (the swallows, birds that leave and never come back) which is a typical song for a farewell, and had a second banner reading (in Spanish) "Best Seller 'Kama-Torture' written by Dick Cheney (after his departure from the White House)." City police officers who showed up to ask them to leave, were invited to join the party, and ended up bowled over, as one of them told the organizers, by how educated the LYM was, seeing that they could sing, speak various languages (they gave political briefings in English and Spanish throughout), and understood economy!
The Argentine LYM opened their "party" by delivering a note to Embassy staff for U.S. Ambassador Lino Gutierrez inviting him to join them, given "the vacuum in government of the Cheney-Bush administration, caused by the administration itself," to celebrate the fact that "a new leadership emerging in the United States, stemming from a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. Congress together with the leadership of economist and statesman Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr."
'Infrastructure Diplomacy' Advances in South America
"Historic agreements" have been reached between Argentina and Venezuela, Presidents Nestor Kirchner and Hugo Chavez announced after their meeting in the heart of Venezuelan state-owned industry, Puerto Ordaz, and Ciudad Guayana on Nov. 20. The Presidents agreed to start feasibility studies for a 6,000-kilometer natural-gas pipeline which would run from Venezuela to Argentina, through Brazil, to supply the needs of the Southern Cone and eventually integrate it to projects with Peru and Bolivia. They discussed also the need to link Caracas to Buenos Aires by railroad, and a new "South American Monetary Fund"no details providedto finance those projects.
Their meeting marked the latest advance in the strategy of securing stability and peace through cooperation on great continental infrastructure projects which was kicked off at the March 29, 2005 four-nation summit (Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, and Spain) in Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela. (See InDepth, Issue no. 15).
In the short-term, Venezuela agreed to buy another $300 million of Argentine debt this year, on top of the $950 million already bought; and they pledged to buy another $1.2 billion for next year. These financial instruments, said Chavez, could be the seed of a new South American bank that can finance the development projects. Argentina will also receive 5 million barrels of gasoil daily, which is 33% of Argentine farm consumption and more than 50% of current imports by Argentina.
Pipeline Deal Between Colombia and Venezuela Signed, Too
On Nov. 24, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe signed a deal with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez for the construction of a 215-kilometer natural-gas pipeline uniting Falcon state in Venezuela's northwest to Colombia's northern region. The project was first discussed at the March summit meeting in Ciudad Guayana referenced above. Now, Uribe and Chavez have given the green light for the actual construction of the pipeline, which will start sending gas from Colombia to Venezuela in 18 to 24 months. In a second phase, it will be extended to Panama and Central America. It will cost $300 million, and will be financed by Venezuela.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez noted on Nov. 23 that "this meeting [with Uribe] will hurt more," some in the United States, "than the other" meeting, that which he had just held with Argentina's Nestor Kirchner. At their joint press conference, journalists were trying to pit one President against the other, but Chavez said: "Everybody knows that President Uribe and I have different points of view in many matters; but we recognize Alvaro Uribe as the only lawful President and authority of Colombia, and we do not support any armed group attempting to overthrow the lawful government of Colombia"a clear reference to the FARC issue which has previously divided them.
For his part, upon his return, President Uribe told Radio Caracol that Colombian and Venezuelan economic development is codependent and reciprocal. "We have a history, a common present and future, with the fellow Republic of Venezuela. As long as the Venezuelan economy prospers, the Colombian economy will prosper and vice versa," Uribe said. He emphasized that it was this outlook that had brought about the "energy alliance" forged last week, despite ongoing political differences between the Uribe and Chavez governments.
Now IMF'S Krueger Has Deployed into Brazil
Anne 'Freddy's Sister' Krueger (the IMF's number 2) showed up in Brasilia on Dec. 1, to meet with Brazilian President Lula da Silva, his economic team, and the Central Bank chief with one message: "Stay the Course." This was Krueger's first trip to Brazil in two years, and although the pretext for her meetings with the government was that she was in Brazil anyway to be the keynote speaker for a seminar in Rio de Janiero on "Strengthening Global Financial Markets", she descended on the country on the heels of the Kirchner-Lula summit and in the midst of an economic policy brawl in Brazil that just will not be silenced.
The IMF's dragon lady threw her support to embattled Finance Minister Antonio Palocci, calling him "a very important member of the team [who] deserves a lot of credit for what he's done." And were he to leave, she said, any replacement would have to stick with the "structural reforms and prudent macroeconomic policies"the policies which are destroying the country. of GNP.
Financier worry is only increasing over the brawl which broke out after the blistering interview given by Lula's chief of cabinet, Dilma Rouseff, to O Estado de Sao Paulo on Nov. 9. Dilma there ridiculed Palocci's plan for a 10-year austerity pact as "fantasy-ridden" and not authorized by the government. "For the love of God!," she exclaimed, a 10-year plan cannot be drawn up on the basis of nothing but tables and a macroeconomic model, ignoring the existence of 180 million Brazilians, and economic, social and political factors. She demanded that the surplus not be raised, and that government funds be released for infrastructure and other projects.
When Dilma was not reprimanded, on Nov. 21-22, financier interests, domestic and foreign, delivered an ultimatum that not only should Palocci stay, but the primary budget surplus (revenue siphoned off for debt payments) must be raised at least to 5%, and attacks on policy coming from within the government must stop. As London's Financial Times put it on Nov. 22: "Brazil's hard-won economic stability hangs in the balance" in the Palocci fight; were he to be forced out of government, "the impact of his departure on financial markets would be severe." Ten days later, Krueger was sent in, toowith as yet little effect. (See "Kirchner Positions Himself To Do Battle With the IMF," in InDepth this issue, for the broader continental context of this fight).
Argentine Industrialists Mobilize Behind American System of Economics
At its two-day annual conference, Argentina's Industrial Union (UIA) called for strengthening the "national entrepreneurial class" and "national capitalism" to guarantee the country's reindustrialization, always in solidarity with the population. Like President Nestor Kirchner, the industrialists association is promoting a policy of harmony of interest between government, labor, and industry. The theme of the Nov. 28-29 conference was how to "re-nationalize" the economy, which was looted by foreign predators during the free-market privatization days of the 1990s.
Vibrant industrial growth is the best way to provide quality jobs, good wages, better education and "more social inclusion for all," said UIA president Hector Mendez. In closing the conference, he borrowed lines from John F. Kennedy, saying "this is not the time to think of what the country can do for us, but what we can do for our country."
Pinochet Indicted on Multiple Charges
Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was indicted Nov. 22 on charges of tax evasion, use of false passports, lying about his person assets, and crimes against the state. The charges are related to the $28 million fortune which Pinochet illegally accumulated between 1973 and 2000, much of which was secretly stashed in foreign banks such as Riggs Bank and Citibank, as well as in a number of offshore shell companies, under assumed names.
In mid-October, the Supreme Court upheld the June 2005 ruling by the Santiago Appeals Court to strip Pinochet of his immunity as a former head of state, which allowed Judge Carlos Cerda to proceed to the indictment. Cerda is particularly looking into how Pinochet used the Army Chief of Staff's office, the Military Office of the Presidency, the national Customs Office and other government agencies to illegally purchase goods for his personal use, or to set up shell companies through which his illicitly obtained fortune was laundered. Judge Cerda is also seeking information on travel to and from Chile of two Citibank executives who managed Pinochet's accounts in the Citibank Private Bank, among whose "elite" customers were drug-money launderer Raul Salinas de Gortari of Mexico.