Ibero-American News Digest
Castro: Bush Biofuels: 'Internationalization of Genocide'
In the second such blast at the Bush Administration's global biofuels drive in the space of a week, a clearly very much alive Fidel Castro Ruiz penned an article under this provocative headline, appearing as the lead item in the April 3 edition of Cuba's daily Granma Internacional.
A week earlier, in Granma's March 29 edition, he had warned that "more than 3 billion people in the world will be condemned to premature death from hunger and thirst," if food is used for fuel. In this latest attack, he takes aim at the March 31 Camp David meeting between Brazilian President Lula da Silva and George Bush, in which ethanol production, and particularly the Brazilian model of ethanol based on sugarcane, was a key topic of discussion. Castro protests that he has no intention of meddling in Brazil's internal affairs, but then goes on to describe in stark detail Cuba's own brutal history of sugar production based on slave labor and colonialism. This, he said, means that "We, therefore, have accumulated more experience than anyone on the social effects of this crop."
As for the "colossal squandering of grains to produce fuel," Castro states, no one "has answered the fundamental question: Who is going to produceand wherethe more than 500 million tons of corn and other grains that the U.S., Europe, and other wealthy countries need, to produce the huge number of gallons of ethanol that the large American and other corporations demand in exchange for their costly investments?" The biofuel boondoggle will only save rich countries less than 15% of their automobiles' annual fuel consumption, the Cuban leader caustically points out. "Yet at Camp David, Bush has declared his intention to apply this formula internationally, which means nothing less than the internationalization of genocide." Where, Castro asks, "are the poor nations of the Third World to find the minimal resources for their survival?"
The Brazilian government didn't take kindly to Castro's remarks. But speaking in Brasilia on April 4, Lula's foreign policy adviser Marco Aurelio Garcia went through contortions trying to defend his boss from Castro's attack. He made the ridiculous statement that "hunger in the world is not a problem of lack of food, but lack of income," and then lamely accused Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of making ethanol into an "ideological fuel."
Inter-American Development Bank Pushes Green Fascism
The current president of the IADB, former Colombian Ambassador to Washington Luis Alberto Moreno, is at the same time co-chairman of the Inter-American Ethanol Commission (IEC), founded last December by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and former Brazilian Agriculture Minister Roberto Rodrigues, who is also a major agribusiness tycoon. All three spoke at the April 2 conference in Washington, "Towards a Hemispheric Biofuels Market: The Outlook for Private Investment," along with former Kissinger Associates' executive David Rothkopf. So, now the IADB's priority activities are indistinguishable from those of the IEC, whose aim is to use ethanol to resurrect the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which went down in flames in 2005 due to heavy Ibero-American resistance.
At the April 2 conference, Rothkopf made a presentation of the "study" prepared by him for the Bank, "A Blueprint for Green Energy in the Americas," which he described as a call to make the Caribbean "the Gulf of Ethanol." This would be the alternative to the Persian Gulf, he said, and dependency on Mideast oil. The IEC and IADB are promoting numbers of projects, of varying sizes depending on a country's geography, extending from Brazil to Haiti. The idea is to make biofuels from anythingcane, sorghum, any oil seedso as not to depend only on corn. The only condition for this allegedly lucrative investment is a free market and no controls on investments.
Which Bondholders Paid S&P To Attack Argentina?
Since it's now been revealed that Standard & Poors accepts payments from certain companies in exchange for granting them a good rating, and is in legal trouble for this practice, we wonder how much S&P's Ratings Director Joydeep Mukmerji gotand from whomto defend those predatory bondholders who refused to participate in Argentina's 2005 debt restructuring and are still demanding payment. This, and his threats against the Kirchner government, don't have much clout right now, given S&P's legal troubles.
Mukmerji took the occasion of his March 28 visit to Buenos Aires to complain that the government's successful economic policies, which have produced annual growth rates of 7-8% for four years in a row, are "only short-term ones," that "cannot be sustained in the long term." An 8% growth rate "isn't normal or sustainable for Argentina," he proclaimed. according to La Nacion March 28. As an example of the "policy adjustments" he demanded be made, Mukmerji said that President Kirchner should decide to pay those "hold-out" bondholders who lost their money. Otherwise, he threatened, "we don't know what might happen were the Kirchner Administration to issue and place a bond in New York, London, or some other market," implying the possibility of an embargo. If Argentina wants to gain access to the international markets," this fool lectured, "it must do something with the bondholders."
Will Kirchner Give Royal Dutch Shell the Boot?
This is the question that has Anglo-Dutch oligarchs sweating. On March 29, Argentine President Nestor Kirchner signed a decree prohibiting any foreign oil company from operating inside Argentina, if it has also signed contracts with the British government for exploration or exploitation of oil in the South Atlantic waters off of the disputed Malvinas Islands in the South Atlantic. This occurred just a few days before the 25th anniversary of Argentina's April 2, 1982 retaking of the Malvinas, that Great Britain had illegally seized in 1833, and renamed the Falklands.
Kirchner also ordered cancellation of a 1995 agreement with Britain for bilateral oil exploration in the South Atlantic, charging that the UK had used it only to consolidate its illegal occupation of the islands.
While there are only three small oil companies currently operating in this region, and none has activities inside Argentina, the big question is what will happen to Royal Dutch Shell. Pursuant to a 1996 agreement signed with the British government, Shell began offshore exploration operations in the Malvinas watersbut it also has operations inside Argentina. Together with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Kirchner has mooted that he may well boot Shell out of the country and take over its operations, having had more than one run-in with the company. This was something the two Presidents discussed when they met in Venezuela on Feb. 21.
Pinochetistas: Where Is Carl Schmitt When We Need Him?
Like most of Chile's Pinochet-loving right wing, Hernan Larrain of the Independent Democratic Union (UDI) insists that Chile can only be saved from the "chaos" he says President Michelle Bachelet has caused, if it returns to the ideas of UDI founder Jaime Guzman Errazuriz. An ardent follower of both Adolf Hitler's "Crown Jurist" Carl Schmitt, and Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, the "Catholic" Guzman became dictator Augusto Pinochet's key adviser only days after the Sept. 11, 1973 coup that overthrew President Salvador Allende, and is best known as the architect of the Constitution of 1980 which enshrined much of Schmitt's fascist legal doctrine.
During an April 1 ceremony in Santiago, commemorating the anniversary of Guzman's 1991 assassination, Larrain repeated the synarchist financiers' line that a recent transit crisis caused by Bachelet's "ineptitude" and lack of "experience" brought untold suffering to the Chilean people. "Chile needs the UDI ... we must build it as an alternative to give a good government to Chile," Larrain pontificated. How would Guzman have dealt with the current crisis? "Given his profound dedication to service, he would have come out like a lion to denounce the abusive treatment received by millions of Santiago residents as a result" of the Transantiago transit fiasco. "What motivated Jaime," he said, "was his unequivocal defense of the dignity of the very poor," Larrain said.
This is a rather remarkable assertion, given the destruction wrought by the University of Chicago free-market model that Pinochet imposed in the 1970s and 1980s, enforced by the fascist Operation Condor repression apparatus that Jaime Guzman and the UDI fully supported.