Ibero-American News Digest
Kirchner Denounces Financier Interests Behind 1976 Coup
In his March 24 speech commemorating the 30th anniversary of the 1976 military coup in Argentina, President Nestor Kirchner denounced the synarchist financial groups that had "knocked on the barracks door" and demanded the coup and savage repression "to impose their economic and political project," of speculation and destruction of industry. In effect, Kirchner identified the same Shultz-Kissinger-Rohatyn and Chicago School fascists that were behind the Chilean coup three years earlier and the deployment of Operation Condor throughout the Southern Cone to enforce their policies.
Accompanied by his Cabinet and the heads of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, the Argentine President spoke at a ceremony at the national Military Academy in the country's most important Army base, Campo de Mayo. The explanation for the 1976 coup "cannot be reduced to a phenomenon in which just the Armed Forces were the protagonists," he said. Every time Argentina's constitutional order was subverted in the many coups of the 20th Century, "the press, the Church, the political class, and certain sectors of society, also played their role. I say this, because not everyone has yet admitted their responsibility for those events" of 1976.
"When someone opened the barracks doors to go out and take power ... it was because others had previously gone to knock on those doors; powerful economic interests, whose representation [in society] has been, and is, a pathetic minority, worked tirelessly to undermine our democratic institutions and facilitate that final assault on our Constitution."
It was these groupings, Kirchner said, that "tried, and succeeded for some time, in turning the Armed Forces into their instrument, and protagonist of this project that so affected society's structure." Generalized terror "was the only way they could impose a political and economic project to replace the process of industrialization that substituted imports, with a new model of financial valuations and structural adjustment, combined with reduction of the role of the state, foreign indebtedness, capital flight, and, above all, a social disciplinary process that permitted the establishment of an order which the democratic system couldn't guarantee them."
Kirchner named junta Finance Minister and British agent Jose "Joe" Martinez de Hoz, who is believed to be hiding out in Buenos Aires, as having been at the center of the project. That economic and social model "had a brain, had a name which we Argentines must never erase from our memory, and that is Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz. And I hope that also, memory, truth, and justice will someday be done," he said.
Brazil Has an Astronaut in Space!
Millions of Brazilians watched the televised launch on March 30 of Russia's Soyuz with Brazil's first astronaut aboard. Three minutes after launch, shots from inside the spacecraft cabin showed viewers a beaming Marcos Cesar Pontes pointing to the Brazilian flag on his spacesuit, and giving a thumbs up. The 43-year-old Air Force Lieutenant Colonel told reporters before launch that he was taking with him a Brazilian flagand a soccer jersey from the national team.
The launching of a Brazilian astronaut and his eight-day stay on the International Space Station (ISS) will give impetus to the scientific and technological development of the country, and bring the Brazilian Space Program closer to the population, the head of the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), Sergio Gaudenzi, said happily on March 28. People will learn that Brazil has a complete space program: a launching pad, launch vehicles, satellitesand now an astronaut. Among the eight experiments Pontes will carry out in the ISS, are two prepared by students at two high schools, who will be following their progress throughout the trip.
Argentina To Build More Nuclear Plants
Argentina is joining the international "resurgence" of nuclear power, Clarin's economist Danile Muchnik reported March 27. Many national companies, among them, the premier nuclear technology producer INVAP, are participating in international bidding to provide nuclear technology to the U.S., Canada, China, Korea, Algeria, Peru, Egypt, Venezuela, and Australia, he reported.
Some months ago, the government announced that it would complete construction of the Atucha II nuclear plantin mothballs for almost two decadesand allocated funding for hiring personnel and purchasing equipment. When completed, Atucha II, the country's third functioning reactor, will provide 700 MW to the national grid.
The National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) points out that nuclear energy is vastly cheaper than oil. Energy Minister Daniel Cameron stated that not only is there not a plan to privatize Atucha II, but that the project will be used to expand jobs in the area where the reactor is located. Uranium mining will be geared up, and steps taken to "repair the loss of two generations of scientists and professionals due to decades of inactivity," Muchnik reported. The plant will use combustible elements produced in Argentina with the support of the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA), and priority will be given to local contractors and suppliers. The environmentalists may scream, Muchnik warns, but reality demands nuclear energy.
Brazil's Hated Finance Minister Resigns
Antonio Palocci resigned as Brazil's Finance Minister on March 27, driven out by escalating charges of corruption. His ouster opens up the potential for the Lula government to change its disastrous economic policies, as the 2006 Presidential campaign intersects the global financial system blowout in the months ahead. Palocci, once a leader of the Trotskyite wing of President Lula's Workers Party (PT), played a key role as a controller of Lula, convincing him that Brazil had to predicate its economic policy on being "credible" to the markets and the IMF, and, eventually, growth would result. As long as Palocci was Finance Minister, the financiers were told, Brazil would continue to be committed to stripping national institutions through structural reforms, usurious interest rates, and the policy of channeling an ever-higher percentage of national revenues into debt payment.
His replacement, Guido Mantega, called a press conference upon being named to assure everyone that Brazil's economic policies would not change. The financiers are, however, rightfully nervous. Within two hours of the confirmation of Mantega's appointment, IMF chief Rodrigo Rato issued a statement praising the ousted Palocci's "stewardship" of the economy, and insisting that only upon the "foundations" of his policy could Brazil succeed. The president of the Brazilian Banking Federation, Marcio Cypriano, issued his own statement lamenting Palocci's fall, and demanding "continuity" of fiscal responsibility. Palocci's number two, former IMF official Murilo Portugal resigned also; six months ago when Palocci was first named in a corruption scandal, the financiers had been assured that, were Palocci to go, Portugal would replace him.
Mantega has generally argued Brazil cannot buck the system, but as head of the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES) where he had served since the ouster of Carlos Lessa in November 2004, Mantega lined up with the "development" wing of the Lula Cabinet: those arguing for lowering interest rates faster, and lowering the primary budget surplus. He has been outspoken, even in defense of the BNDES's policy of providing long-term loans at lower interest rates to the productive sector, despite IMF demands that "directed credits" be eliminated altogether.
Synarchist Candidate Poised To Win Peru Elections
Nazi-communist candidate Ollanta Humala has moved into the frontrunner position in the Peru Presidential campaign, threatening a possible win in the first round of Presidential elections April 9. Humala has managed to weather several scandals in recent weeks, and has now overtaken rightwing favorite Lourdes Flores in the polls; Flores has promised to continue the same disastrous economic policies that have driven President Alejandro Toledo's approval ratings into single digits. Humala has called both for nationalizing Peru's resources and legalization of the drug trade.
Should Humala win the Presidency, he could throw a monkey wrench into the Ibero-American Presidents' Club that has coalesced around Argentina's Kirchner, Brazil's Lula, and Chile's Bachelet. A former military officer who has repeatedly made bellicose statements against neighboring Chile, Humala has no intention of promoting the peaceful integration of the continent.
While purporting to have "disagreements" with some of his family members, Ollanta Humala is part of an entire clan of loonies: his brother Antauro, who assassinated four policemen during an abortive uprising in January of 2005 and is now in jail awaiting trial for murder, called today for President Toledo, his wife, members of his Cabinet, and the 120 members of the Congress to be dragged before a firing-squad, as traitors. Ollanta's mother recently called for shooting all homosexuals, while his father publicly defended Shining Path's satanic founder Abimael Guzman.
IMF Chief Presses Mexico on 'Structural Reforms'
IMF Managing Director Rodrigo Rato used the occasion of the annual Mexican Bankers Association meeting March 24 to deliver the message that Mexico's Presidential election campaign cannot be used to stall on "reforming" Mexico's energy, telecommunications, and labor laws, and expanding the tax base (by which he means extending the VAT tax to food and medicine so that even the poor would have to pay).
Rato's assurances that the "national consensus" in Mexico behind market stability and fiscal austerity is "impressive," belie the IMF's fears that the elections could shift policy, in the context of South American developments. Rato proposed that "a medium-term framework" be imposed to lock in fiscal reforms, and a "calendar of structural reforms" adopted.