Ibero-American News Digest
Pinochetistas Seek Confrontation with Bolivia, Venezuela
Chile's unrepentant Pinochetistas are gunning to break up South American unity, by demanding that the U.S. declare Chile a "non-NATO ally" to confront an alleged security threat stemming from Venezuela's military treaty with Bolivia signed last May. The Chilean daily El Mercurio kicked off the NATO campaign with a daily propaganda barrage that Bolivia's plan to build 20 military bases in the region, as stipulated in the treaty and with financing from Venezuela, is a threat to the entire region, and to Chile in particular. El Mercurio's owner and editor, British asset Agustin Edwards, was one of the key organizers of the 1973 coup against Salvador Allende that put fascist Augusto Pinochet in power,
This coincides with the Bush Administration's frantic efforts to prevent Chilean President Michelle Bachelet from backing Venezuela's bid for a UN Security Council seat, as she has indicated she may do, when the issue is voted on Oct. 16. Paraguay and Peru have also jumped on the bandwagon, with Peruvian President Alan Garcia warning from Washington about possible Venezuelan "military aggression" against other countries in the region. Three Chilean intelligence agencies are reportedly investigating the matter, and warning that Bolivia is crawling with Venezuelan soldiers, and that President Hugo Chávez will be providing massive amounts of military equipment to the Bolivian Armed Forces. One of the bases will be near the Silala River, jurisdiction over which is a matter of dispute between Chile and Bolivia.
Never subtle, Mercurio points out that this situation could "complicate" Chile's UN vote, and in its Oct. 11 editorial, noted that with a "convulsed regional panorama," and "Bolivia's institutional precariousness," it would make sense for the U.S. to declare Chile a "non-NATO ally," as occurred some years ago with Argentina, when IMF toady Carlos Menem was President.
President Bachelet, however, played down any concern over the Venezuelan-Bolivian military treaty, noting on Oct. 10 that Chile has made decisions to modernize its Armed Forces, and therefore Bolivia certainly has the right to make a "sovereign" decision to do the same. "We assume," she said, "that any decision of this kind does not go against anyone else's interests.... This kind of defense cooperation between two countries seems quite normal." Asked whether the treaty would affect Chile's vote at the UN, she responded, "We will make a decision that adequately considers all of our country's interests, in the world and in the region."
Kirchner Warns: The Past Has Not Been Defeated
A new "disappearance" has hit Argentina. On Sept. 28, President Néstor Kirchner addressed the turmoil created by the Sept. 18 disappearance of 77-year old Julio López, whose testimony in the trial of an operative in the regional kidnap-and-terror Operation Condor, Miguel Etchecolatz, was key in securing the latter's conviction and life sentence. Referring to the 1976-83 dictatorship, and the fascist repression that accompanied it, Kirchner added, "We can't allow that past to repeat itself ... but we will not be intimidated.... We have no right to be afraid."
A day before Etchecolatz was to be sentenced, López disappeared without a trace, raising public fears that the presumed kidnapping reflects a reemergence of the same fascist networks that operated with impunity in the 1970s and 1980s under the aegis of Operation Condor. A series of provocations from both the left and the right have occurred in the weeks since López disappeared, creating an environment of extreme tension. The judge who presided over the Etchecolatz trial has received death threats, as have other judges involved in trials of former military officers accused of human rights violations.
Noteworthy was a letter written by the last head of the military junta, Gen. Reynaldo Bignone (ret.), in which he urged the country's youth to "finish the job that my generation couldn't, or didn't know how to finish." The implicit message is that subversion has to be wiped out. The letter appeared on the website of the "Complete Memory" organization, just prior to its Oct. 5 demonstration at the Plaza San Martin to commemorate the "victims of subversion." Leader Cecilia Pando, a well-known right-wing provocateur, gathered between 5,000-7,000 retired and active-duty military, as well as civilian sympathizers, for the event. The same day, just two blocks away, a Trotskyist group held a counter-demonstration against those who "committed genocide" under the military dictatorship.
Calderón Promises Chile Model for Mexico
Chile's coalition government is a good model for Mexico to follow, said Mexico's dubious President-elect Felipe Calderón during his Oct. 5-6 visit to that country. "I'm interested in forming a coalition government in Mexico," he told Chilean legislators Oct. 5, and "I think that the road taken by Chile under the Concertacion's leadership ... is the road that we have to explore."
The structure of Chile's "Concertacion" government was set up by dictator Augusto Pinochet before he left office in 1990, to ensure the continuation of the murderous "Chicago Boy" economic model, even after the return of "democracy." Of the four parties making up Chile's government, the Socialist and Christian Democratic parties are often at loggerheads with each other; the two remaining parties are relatively weak. The right-wing Pinochetista "opposition" meanwhile enjoys significant leverage, due to the electoral system that Pinochet rigged.
President Michelle Bachelet, who is not from Chile's elites, was elected in December 2005 by going around the Concertacion's constraints, and appealing directly to the population. The simultaneous visit to Santiago of Calderón and Spanish synarchist (and former Prime Minister) José Maria Aznar, served to whip up Chile's right wing, which is determined to keep Bachelet from breaking with the free-market model and working more closely with the informal Ibero-American Presidents' Club.
Energy Privatization Battle Off and Running in Mexico
Mexico's Energy Ministry declared Oct. 9 that the only way Mexico can guarantee sufficient levels of oil production in coming years is through a constitutional amendment allowing a foreign takeoveruh, investmentin the state oil company Pemex. Undersecretary Hector Moreira told an interviewer that there was more oil to be discovered and exploited in Mexico, but that changes needed to be made to the Constitution to allow "alliances" between foreign companies and Pemex. Next, the president of the Senate energy commission, PRI legislator Francisco Labastida Ochoa, after meeting with President-elect Felipe Calderón, declared that he, too, believes Mexico will face an oil crisis, unless an energy "reform" is carried out, and claimed favorable conditions now exist to carry out such a "reform." However, Labastida did admit that certain PRI party statutes prohibiting such treason would have to be "modified" first.
National resistance leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador, addressing 80,000 people marking the close of the hotly contested gubernatorial campaign in López Obrador's home state of Tabasco on Oct. 10, reminded people that he will form an "itinerant government" on Nov. 20, which will not allow the looting of the budget to continue. Those who stole the Presidential election will not be allowed their privatizations, to hand over national assets to foreigners, nor greater sacrifice on the part of the population. Let me be clear, he said. "We are going to keep the jerk [Calderón] on a very short leash." We will not allow him to continue with the privatizations of the electrical and oil industries, nor to make education available only to the privileged.
Ecuador's 'Citizen Revolution To Have a Nation Once Again'
Under that slogan, former Finance Minister Rafael Correa has become the frontrunner in Ecuador's Presidential race, where 13 candidates are contending in the first round of voting on Sunday, Oct. 15. Correa has warned that the IMF/World Bank are "part of the problem, not the solution," and is vowing to restructure the country's foreign debt a la Argentina. He has denounced interest payments on the foreign debt as "usurious" and is promising an investigation into debt that is "illegitimate."
If elected, he has promised to cancel a longstanding contract with Washington to provide the U.S. with the Manta military base, and has promised to undo the dollarization which has wreaked havoc with Ecuador's economy, and to abandon negotiations for a Free Trade Pact with the Bush Administration.
Descriptions of Correa as a Hugo Chávez-wannabe abound in the international and financial press, with U.S. "analysts" claiming Bush Administration nervousness over a possible addition to the "Chavez axis" with a Correa victory at the polls. Anti-Correa forces inside Ecuador have taken this a step further; Correa's campaign staff has issued an alert that posters are appearing across Ecuador showing Chávez and Correa together. Calling it a dirty trick by his enemies, Correa's staff is calling on supporters to take down the posters where they find them. Correa's leading opponent is Alvaro Noboa, a billionaire banana magnate who has declared that, as "the leading investor in the country," he pledges to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. This is Noboa's third run for the Presidency.
Should one be necessary, a runoff election between the two top contenders in the Oct. 15 vote, will be held Nov. 26.