Ibero-American News Digest
IMF Flips as Argentina Refuses 'To Follow the Rules'
Nestor Kirchner's government in Argentina is providing critical intellectual and political leadership in South America's growing rebellion against globalization (see "Ibero-America Marches Against Globalization: Bolivia Nationalizes Its Hydrocarbons Industry," in this week's Indepth), as it demonstrates that economies can grow only when the rules of the present system are broken. Thus, when Argentine Finance Minister Felisa Miceli met with IMF Managing Director Rodrigo Rato during the Fund's annual meeting in Washington in April, he was beside himself with rage over the Kirchner government's defiance of IMF policy dictates. The daily Clarin's veteran economist Marcelo Bonelli reported it this way on April 28:
In response to Miceli's assertion that government efforts to control prices through sectoral agreements had been successful, Rato fumed, "You are wrong!... To really stop inflation, you have to lower the exchange rate, raise interest rates, and reduce public spending to cool off internal demand."
Miceli: "I want to make it clear that we aren't going to cool off the economy, as the Fund proposes.... You have your opinion and we have ours. But we are going to continue with our policy, because it has produced excellent results."
A more enraged Rato: "The entire world applies the measures that I explained, and they work, because they obey an economic logic!! Why does Argentina have to be different?"
Miceli: "I think that the Fund is evaluating things with a large degree of resentment toward Argentina." In other words, Mr. Rato, you blew it on Argentina, and we don't have to listen to you any more!
Argentina Puts Priority on Developing Science
The austerity policy that forced thousands of Argentine scientists to leave the country and work elsewhere in the 1980s and 1990s, has been reversed by the Kirchner government, which has announced significant increases in funding for scientists' salaries, and for scholarships at the National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET). Education Minister Daniel Filmus reported on April 28 that CONICENT workers, researchers, and scholarship recipients would receive a 19% increase in their wages and funding between now and August. Since 2003, when Nestor Kirchner took office, the government has increased the average wage of CONICET employees by 141%, and as Filmus emphasized, this is done particularly with youth in mind.
"Those who used to enter a CONICET program, traditionally had little chance of finding a job in the country, and in large part were tempted to leave and develop their skills outside of Argentina. So now, we are privileging that [youth] sector." Filmus noted that between 2003 and 2006, the number of scholarships for doctoral programs increased by 158%. The total number of researchers at CONICET has increased to 5,280 from 3,600 two years ago, and the goal is to incorporate 500 researchers per year into CONICET'S programs. All of these developments, Filmus said, "show the importance the President places on science and technology.... Science and technology are integral to the country's development and growth strategy. They have to do with keeping our best cadre, best professionals, researchers, and scientists in the country."
The focus on educating young people in science and technology is crucial for Argentina's plans to expand its nuclear energy program, by completing the country's third nuclear reactor, Atucha II, whose construction was halted in 1994. As Energy Secretary Daniel Cameron pointed out in a speech in May of 2005, because the nuclear sector was largely neglected, beginning at the end of the 1980s, "It has lost almost two generations of scientists, professionals, and workers." The average age of the scientists still working in the sector is 54, and "we don't have a lot of time to pass the baton." By building Atucha II, gearing up uranium mining, getting the heavy-water plant operating, and transferring technology and knowledge among the participating agencies and personnel, Argentina's nuclear sector can develop with a renewed sense of optimism, Cameron said.
Mexican Congress Votes To Create National Space Agency
On April 26, the lower house of the Mexican Congress voted 225-83 on a PRI initiative to create a Mexican space agency (Aexa), that would coordinate with both universities and the private sector. With an initial budget allocation of less than $2 million, it will focus first on communication and weather satellites. The hope is that such an agency will bring Mexico into the international aerospace community, giving the country access to cutting-edge technology and research in areas such as robotics, electronics, and telecommunications.
It still remains for the Senate to approve the bill, which if passed, will launch the agency into operation as early as next year. The ruling PAN Party voted against the initiative, but was outvoted by the combined PRI and PRD Parties. PRD deputy Omar Ortega, head of the science and technology committee, said, "This could be very important for the technological development of the entire country. It is the moment for Mexico to involve itself in industrial and research projects related to these activities, and to enter into programs of international collaboration."
Mexico is not a total novice in the field. In 1959, Mexico put a rocket 90 km into space, and in 1969, created the National Commission of Outer Space, but that commission was shut down in 1977.
Fox Drug Legalization Attempt Stymiedfor the Moment
The Fox government in Mexico came within an inch of legalizing consumption of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD, Ecstasy, and other "recreational" drugs, at the end of April. A bill to legalize "personal use" drugs of all sorts, already approved in the Chamber of Deputies, passed the Senate on April 28, with the support of the governing National Action Party (PAN), needing only President Vicente Fox's signature to become law. Fox, who has pushed drug legalization since his election in 2000, supports the bill: "This law gives police and prosecutors better legal tools to combat drug crimes that do so much damage to our youth and children," said Fox's spokesman Ruben Aguilar, after the Senate vote.
George Soros's top drug legalizer, Ethan Nadelmann, director of Soros's New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, was in ecstasy at the news, piously promoting the bill for supposedly removing "a huge opportunity for low-level police corruption."
Pressure from saner circles in the United States, however, convinced Fox that signing the law would not be politic, at least for the moment, and on May 3, Fox announced he had sent the bill back to be reworked.
The quantities which would have been "legalized" are: 2.2 pounds of peyote, 25 milligrams of heroin, 5 grams of marijuana (about four joints), or 0.5 grams of cocaine (about four "lines"), and about two pills of LSD, Ecstasy, amphetamines, and others. As LaRouche's Anti-Drug Coalition once said: You can't "legalize" something that is illegal under natural law.
Who's Lying About the LYM in Mexico?
Certain Mexican media have begun a lying campaign asserting that the LaRouche Youth Movement was behind a breach of PAN Presidential candidate Felipe Calderon's security. On April 25, a strange incident occurred at a public appearance in Mexico City of PAN candidate Calderon. A group of four or five individuals, wearing George Bush masks, approached Calderon and "congratulated" him for his economic policies, and for handing Mexican sovereignty over to the United States. The individuals got within arm's length of the candidate, passed through his security, and calmly left a few minutes lateralso undisturbed.
That evening, Televisa TV anchor Joaquin Lopez Doriga announced that it had been "confirmed" that the individuals in question were members of the LYMa total lierecalling that the LYM had indeed disrupted a Calderon rally two days earlier by raising his links to international synarchist bankers and the Nazi International. The next day, the daily Milenio also reported that "the LaRouche Youth Movement" had donned Bush masks and had penetrated Calderon's security.
On May 2, another incident occurred which was also falsely ascribed to the LYM. Milenio reported that at a Calderon rally, a group of youth raised posters saying "PAN = Extreme Right Wing," and "Felipe = A Right-Wing Millionaire," adding that it was "members of the so-called 'LaRouche' group, who at various events have protested against the Panista. On this occasion, the youth had Bush masks in their hands ... however, on this occasion they were not able to get near the presidential candidate." Lopez Doriga reported on the new incident, saying that the two actions posed "the gravest danger" to the candidate.
The Mexico LYM responded with a statement denying their involvement in either of these incidents, noting that whatever they do, they do so openly and in their own name. The statement also wonders if the masked men were not perhaps Zapatista Sub-Commander Marcos (who has an affinity for masks), or if the entire affair were not perhaps a publicity stunt perpetrated from within Calderon's own camp, desperate because his standing in the polls is in fact a lot lower than is being reported.