Ibero-American News Digest
LaRouche on Ecuadorean Radio!
EIR's Ibero-America editor Dennis Small was interviewed Jan. 5 on Radio 530 in Quito, Ecuador for 20 minutes, to discuss the significance of the new Democratic majority in the U.S. Congress. More important than the fact of the Nov. 7 results per se, is how they were achieved, Small explained, going into LaRouche and the LaRouche Youth Movement's mobilization of American youth to usher in the New Politics. He pointed out that LaRouche is now bringing about a return to the policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the U.S., and that this means that Ecuador and Ibero-America, like the rest of the world, now have an interlocutor in the Democratic Congress led by LaRouche's ideas.
The half-dozen questions called in after Small's interview were cautiously optimistic about what the U.S. shift means for Ecuador and the world, and allowed a review of the global financial crisis and LaRouche's programmatic solutions; the need for the impeachment of Cheney and Bush to stop their war drive and provocations, such as the Ecuador-Colombia border conflict; how to stop the drug trade with great development projects; and an invitation to listeners to tune in to LaRouche's Jan. 11 webcast (see InDepth this week).
The interviewer responded strongly to the idea that Cheney and Bush were behind the border conflict between Ecuador and Colombia, and that Ecuador's new President Rafael Correa could play a positive global role, in alliance with Argentine President Nestor Kirchner and other South American leaders.
LaRouche Youth Hit Ibero-American Airwaves
On Jan. 8, immediately following a rebroadcast of Dennis Small's interview, the same Ecuadorean radio station interviewed Colombian LYM leader Pedro Rubio, Jr. for 15 minutes. The interviews intersect non-stop organizing by the Colombian LYM, via telephone, into Ecuador's new government, Congress, and political parties, around LaRouche analysis and proposals. Then, on Jan. 10, Rubio was also interviewed for 30 minutes on Radio Nuevo Mundo in Guatemala, where he briefed listeners on the LYM's campaign to resolve the Colombia-Ecuador conflict in the context of the drive for a New Bretton Woods and LaRouche's programmatic alternatives (see this week's InDepth). Host Carlos Wehr asked Rubio to come back, and urged all the Ibero-American chapters of the LaRouche Youth Movement to use his program to reach Guatemalan youth.
Ecuador Tells the IMF: We Don't Need You
Ecuador will pay off $33 million it owes to the International Monetary Fund, but will take no further loans, nor sign a new letter of intent with the Fund, the Correa government's incoming Finance and Economics Minister Ricardo Patino told IMF representatives who paid him a several-hour "courtesy-call" on Jan. 9. The IMF vultures tried to offer their advice on how Ecuador should manage its private foreign debt, and reportedly expressed their "concern" about the budget and payment arrears on debts the new government faces. With a nice touch of irony, Patino reported that he told them "they shouldn't get all worried, because that is our problem, and we will know how to take care of it."
The principal arrears amount to $900 million, owed to provinces and municipalities. Patino remarked that, "it's strange that they fell behind only on payments to domestic creditors, but not with the foreign creditors. Not a single foreign debt is in arrears, but there are a billion dollars in arrears on domestic debt."
Chavez Announces Re-Nationalization Drive
As he began his new term in office on Jan. 9, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced his intention to re-nationalize everything that had been privatized during the previous governments of Carlos Andres Perez and Rafael Caldera, starting with the telecommunications firm CANTV, and including electricity and the oil companies that exploit heavy oil in the Orinoco belt. Basic industryiron, steel, and aluminumdeveloped by the Venezuelan state in the 1940s and 1950s, and then sold for peanuts over the last 20 years, is also included.
The announcement came after the swearing-in of Chavez's cabinet which includes 13 new members and a new Vice President. Chavez reported that he's sending enabling legislation to the National Assembly to make the reforms needed to launch "the socialism of the 21th Century."
In his speech announcing constitutional reform, Chavez also pointedly attacked the "autonomy" of the central banking system as "disastrous" for the nation. The clause in the 1990 Bolivarian Constitution affirming the autonomy of the central bank is wrong, he said, underscoring how ridiculous it is that the government has to submit a form to the central bank every time it needs foreign exchange, while most of the foreign exchange is generated by the state-owned oil industry.
'Let them Eat Biofuels!' Calderon Tells Poor Mexicans
On Jan. 8, Mexican tortilla production companies raised the price of this diet staple from 6.5 to 8 pesos per kilo, with the possibility of it increasing to 10, and perhaps as high as 15 pesos, over the next three months. Finance Minister Eduardo Sojo announced that the government will not resort to controls to keep the price down, but will let the "market" do its magic, while encouraging increased production and "competition," and deal with any shortages through increased imports. Tortillas, which are made from corn or flour, are essential for poorer Mexicans, as it is often their only food source.
Simultaneously, the government announced that a "strategic" component of its national economic development program will be expanded corn production for a Brazilian-style national biofuels energy program, as well as for exports to the United States for its biofuels program. So, in reality, farmers will be encouraged to produce more corn, not for human consumption, but for biofuels!
So the government's purported strategy is a cruel joke. Under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), increased corn imports from the U.S. lowered local prices and put many Mexican producers out of business, although now, increased demand for ethanol in the U.S. is pushing prices up again. But Mexican producers are bracing themselves for the imposition of the next phase of NAFTA over the next two years, when tariffs on agricultural imports from the United States will be lowered to zero in many cases, making it impossible for farmers to compete with cheaper U.S. products. More producers will join the 2 million farmers which NAFTA has already driven into bankruptcy.
Victor Suarez Carrera, director of the National Association of Marketing Companies (ANRC), warned of the "food dependence" into which Mexico has fallen, due to increased imports that have discouraged local production and control over grain marketing by cartels such as Cargill. The culprit for problems in productivity and production of Mexican corn is "neoliberal policies," Suarez charged. They have decimated agriculture. "There isn't enough supply to meet demand," he said, "but authorities should focus their policies on production for human consumption rather than for biofuels. Last year they spent an estimated $10 billion for imports, and this year it could be $15 billion, with the corresponding [negative] economic consequences."
Argentina To Investigate 1970s-Era Death Squads
Argentine Federal Judge Norberto Oyarbide has reopened a criminal case against the Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance (AAA), the 1970s-era death squad run by the synarchist Lopez Rega (a.k.a. "the Sorcerer"), and linked to the fascist Propaganda Due (P-2) lodge and Operation Gladio networks in Europe. The AAA was responsible for a minimum of 1,500 murders, kidnappings, and disappearances in the period leading up to the 1976 military coup. Lopez Rega was the Minister of Social Welfare under President Isabel Martinez de Peron, who took power in 1974 after the death of her husband Gen. Juan Peron. Lopez Rega made himself an indispensable "counselor" to Gen. Peron when the latter was exiled in Spain, accompanied him on his return to Argentina in 1973, and operated inside the government with Peron's acquiescence.
The decision by Judge Oyarbide to arrest former AAA leaders Rodolfo Almiron in Spain two weeks ago, and Juan Ramon Morales in Buenos Aires on Jan. 8 (both former bodyguards of Lopez Rega), based on 1986 arrest warrants, is significant. It could shed further light on the workings of the fascist apparatus that plunged Argentina and the Southern Cone into the "dirty war" of the 1970s and 1980s, of which P-2 was only one part.
President Nestor Kirchner's local fascist enemies, who yearn for a return to the "good old days" of military dictatorship and free trade, are starting to get nervous, and have warned him not to proceed with these prosecutions.
Judge Oyarbide has characterized the AAA atrocities as crimes against humanity for which there is no statute of limitations, as far as prosecution goes. The AAA's crimes were "orchestrated from the apparatus of the State, under whose protection and guarantee of impunity it acted, and was the foretaste of the systematic plan developed with the advent of the 1976 coup." Oyarbide had indicated he might subpoena Isabel Peron to testify in the case, but on Jan. 11, Federal Judge Hector Raul Acosta of Mendoza issued a warrant for the former President, and she was arrested by Interpol at her home in Madrid on Jan. 12. Acosta wants to question "Isabelita," as she is known, in the cases of two citizens who were "disappeared" by the AAA in 1976, while she was President.