Ibero-American News Digest
Sen. Fernandez de Kirchner: We Are Copying FDR's New Deal
Visiting Ecuador March 21-23, Argentina's First Lady and Senator, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, centered her interventions on the policy issue which makes synarchist bankers most hysterical about her husband's government: the Kirchner government has repudiated the "system of ideas" associated with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and instead turned to Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal public works policy to revive the economy. And it works.
Addressing 300 people at the Latin American College of Social Sciences (Flacso) in Quito, Fernandez de Kirchner recalled that FDR understood that public works and infrastructure projects could serve as the motor to revive the devastated U.S. economy of the 1930s. Nestor Kirchner copied that New Deal policy when he was Governor of Santa Cruz, she said, and he is doing it now as President. We have stressed the importance of "public works and infrastructure, as movement which multiplies economic growth .... Economically it gave birth to industries ... it provided the basic infrastructure required for economic activity, so that businessmen could carry out their activity using railroads, communication systems, airports; and society could do the same, with hospitals, schools, potable water, housing. It's all a 'virtuous cycle,' that also recreates a country's confidence in itself."
Reviewing the last three decades, she recalled that Argentina's recovery from the devastation of the 1976-83 military junta, and the neoliberal economic policy that continued with the return of democracy, could serve as a useful example for other nations. Argentina today is not a model whose specific characteristics should be copied by other nations; each nation's sovereignty must be respected. But, she said, Argentina's experience shows that it is possible to govern on behalf of the general welfare and national interests, and stand up to the IMF, which predicted that any repudiation of its dictates would lead to disaster. Argentina chose not to live with "permanent 'adjustment,' and restriction of internal consumption," Mrs. Kirchner said. And it was not struck dead "by Jupiter."
President Kirchner outlined a national mission, not based on "individual salvation" or the "casino economy," but on the success of the whole nation. And the positive results of that project are visiblein job creation, poverty reduction, higher wages, higher pensions, growing industry, and impressive overall growth.
The Argentine First Lady added that we stand "at a unique moment in the history of Latin America, where integration is a duty .... The system of ideas" put forward by Ibero-American leaders today isn't a matter of dogmatism or ideology, as is often suggested. "It is simply that we have verified in practice that that other system of ideas"the IMF system"caused only hunger, misery, pain and had a devastating effect. It is therefore time that the system of ideas by which we can produce prompt and concrete results which improve our compatriots' quality of life, be given the historic opportunity that Latin America deserves."
Two "Systems of Ideas" Clash at IDB Meeting
With the disintegration of the world financial system as its back drop, this year's annual meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), held March 16-20 in Guatemala and attended by 6,000 people, was quite contentious, as the financiers squared off against the spreading idea that survival requires a return to state regulation of private interests.
The Institute of International Finance (IIF), representing 375 of the world's top banks, released a new report attacking Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador by name for "increasing the role of the state in the economy ... at the expense of market-oriented policies." Writing of possible U.S. "recession" and likely flight of risk capital from the region, the bankers demanded that governments step up reforms to cut pensions, labor protections, and government regulation.
The Argentine and Venezuelan Finance Ministers, however, were busy discussing the "Banco del Sur" project with other delegates, urging the necessity of establishing a regional facility to lend to countries on the basis of physical, not financial criteria. Paraguayan officials announced during the meeting that their country wants to join.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the IMF's fat boy at the Mexican Treasury, Augustin Carstens, and Colombia's Finance Minister Oscar Zuluaga went on record against the Banco del Sur at the meeting, insisting that "the IDB is all the region needs."
IDB president Luis Alberto Moreno flapped around promoting the IDB's so-called "new initiative," "Opportunities for the Majority," whose Bush-like slogan is: "Let no one be left behind." Nothing but refried neoliberalism, the initiative centers on such ideas as:
* Portraying the remittances sent by millions of economic exiles back to their families as the "new" form of foreign aid, which governments must get their hands on. The IDB reported that remittances reached a new record in 2006, at a whopping $62 billion;
* Promoting Mussolini-like Public-Private Partnership programs as anti-poverty measures. A seminar at the meeting on "Private Initiative for Public Welfare" featured lunatic monetarist Hernando de Soto, who's setting up a two-year project at the IDB on this; and
* Reintroducing plantation economies across the region, under the guise of biofuel production. Moreno, a member of Jeb Bush's Inter-American Ethanol Commission, announced that investments worth $200 billion would be needed for mass production of biofuels in the region over the next 14 years, and the IDB will support infrastructure and R&D if they are geared to biofuel production.
London Flips over 'Banco del Sur'
If Brazil were to join Argentina's and Venezuela's "Bank of the South" project, the new bank would be "the biggest threat to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) since the 1980s debt defaults," IDB "insiders" are moaning, London's Financial Times reported on March 23. "With the money of Venezuela and political will of Argentina and Brazil, this is a bank that could have lots of money and a different political approach. No one will say this publicly, but we don't like it."
The IDB, set up in 1957, has evolved in recent decades from its original intent of financing regional development, into being a branch of the International Monetary Fund, imposing the same conditionalities. The Banco del Sur is projected to have a capital base of $7 billion, even without Brazil, which is about equal to the IDB and Andean Development Corporation (CAF) combined, with their $4 billion and $3.7 billion, respectively.
Technical teams from Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Argentina met in Buenos Aires March 23, to continue negotiations on the details for the new bank.
Venezuelan Finance Minister Rodrigo Cabezas said from Caracas that he hopes the final planning meeting for the bank will be held in Brasilia, but the brawl within the Brazilian government over whether to join continues. Brazilian Planning Minister Paolo Bernardo stated earlier last week that Brazil prefers to put its money into the CAF, rather than start up a new institution. Bernardo is from the still-dominant monetarist faction within the Lula government.
Spanish Fascists Host Venezuelan Opposition Leader Pena
Venezuelan opposition extremist Alejandro Pena, head of the miniscule Fuerza Solidaria NGO, visited Spain on March 6 to pay personal homage to the fascist movement led by the former Franco official, Blas Pinar. Pena gave a conference at the headquarters of Fuerza Nueva Editorial, the organization created by Blas Pinar 40 years ago as "the" legitimate heir to the Spanish Falange version of fascism. Pena's conference was titled "Toward a Hispanic-American National Force." (Lawfully, the next speech in Fuerza Nacional's conference series was on "From the Cristeros to Today: The Christian Struggle in Mexico," given by one Austreberto Martinez Villegas, "delegate to the National Synarchist Union of Mexico.")
As far back as 2003, EIR exposed Pena's role in the Fascist International being reconstructed by Blas Pinar. Pena is a one-note band, insisting that only civil war can save Venezuela from Hugo Chavez, so there is nothing surprising about his hobnobbing with Spain's unrepentant fascists. What is interesting, is that someone has thrown some money and publicity into building up this self-proclaimed leader of a party, which only received 0.04% of the vote, as some kind of international figure. Since January, he has traveled from El Salvador, to Mexico, the United States, Argentina, Spain, and Italy.
His trip to Washington, D.C. in January reveals that it is the crowd around George Shultz's World War III-promoting Committee on the Present Danger who are now using Pena. Pena was hosted in Washington by the CPD-allied Center for Security Policy, and founded a "chapter" of his Fuerza Solidaria.
The gambit to "mainstream" this two-bit Venezuelan fascist into Italian politics, however, ran aground. Pena was received in Rome on March 8 by high-level Vatican officials, had an official meeting with the Secretary General of the Christian Democratic Union (UDC), Lorenzo Cosa, with whom he even had a joint statement, and was prominently interviewed by a popular national radio show, Radio Radicale, and the national newspaper Il Tempo as if he were the leader of the opposition to Chavez.
But when a young Italian professor, Gennaro Carotenuto, posted an exposé of how Pena was an avowed neo-fascist, sponsored by the Cheney crowd, the game fell apart. UDC leader Cesa, when informed by Carotenuto of Pena's background, publicly distanced himself from Pena, stating: "I did not know that Pena was anti-Semitic and a golpista [coup-monger].... We will not support a coup in Venezuela."