Ibero-American News Digest
Greenspan to Mexico: Privatize Pemex!
June 16 (EIRNS)Speaking to a forum of Mexican businessmen via video hookup from the U.S. June 13, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan warned that Mexico was facing a "huge fiscal crisis" due to a drop in oil production and therefore revenue, and that only continually rising oil prices and direct foreign investment in the Mexican energy sector could prevent it. He insisted that an amendment to lift the constitutional ban on private investment in Mexico's energy, while "politically difficult," was nonetheless "indispensable and important."
Greenspan's call feeds into the Calderón government's plans for a reform juggernaut, which includes pending legislation for a "fiscal reform" to increase the tax base through hitting the poorwhether through the IMF's insistence on a value-added tax (VAT) on food and medicine, or through Treasury Secretary Agustín Carsten's call to tax the informal economy, or both. If it succeeds in ramming through the fiscal reform, the Calderón government will go after labor next, as Rodríguez, Secretary General of STUNAM, the trade union of employees of Mexico's National Autonomous University (UNAM), warned, during a joint June 14 Internet forum with Lyndon LaRouche. "Energy reform" (i.e., privatization of oil) will follow immediately thereafter.
Reaction to Greenspan's comments was immediate. Statements opposing oil privatization came from a variety of PRD and PRI legislators. Leading opposition figure Andrés Manuel López Obrador declared that the Mexican people would not permit the Calderón government's sellout of oil to either foreign or domestic capital interests. "If we give away the oil to the monopolies, then our people will no longer have a future, and that would be like signing a life slavery letter in advance," he said.
Mexican State Workers Warn Against Privatization
June 21 (EIRNS)Agustín Rodríguez, the Secretary General of STUNAM, the trade union of employees of Mexico's National Autonomous University (UNAM), warned on June 18 that members of the union would begin to personally follow and monitor each member of Congress500 Congressmen and 126 Senatorsuntil legislators agree to abrogate the new ISSSTE law which privatizes social security for state-sector workers. Along with the National Educators Coordinator (CNTE) and the National Workers Union (UNT), among others, STUNAM charges that the law, passed last March, is unconstitutional and should be overturned.
Rodríguez, who four days earlier had engaged in an Internet dialogue with Lyndon LaRouche, was responding to the 14-page document Mexico's Labor Secretary Javier Lozano sent to the UNT on June 15, stating that the ISSSTE law "is not unconstitutional" and "is not reversible." On June 18, President Felipe Calderón refused to meet with a delegation representing thousands of teachers, trade unionists, and social organizations from several states who had marched from the downtown Zócalo Plaza in Mexico City to the Presidential residence at Los Pinos.
Calderón was apparently too tired from his long meeting the same day with former Spanish Premier José María Aznar, the Francoite fascist who is a mouthpiece for the policies of Dick Cheney and the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD). Calderón, the "spurious" President, as he is known to a majority of Mexicans, instead sent his "Citizen Affairs" director out to meet with the protesters for ten minutes, to tell them, as he tried to push them away from the building and out onto the street, that the Presidency "isn't the proper venue to deal with this problem." A leader of the CNTE responded that the workers would then take their protest to the offices of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, since "that's where the real decisions are made, and not here [at Los Pinos], which only houses the agents of speculative capital."
Rodríguez has announced that all of the organizations opposed to the privatization will set up an indefinite encampment outside the lower house of Congress, and is also calling for 24-, 48-, and 72-hour strikes, to consolidate a nationwide strike.
Correa Enlists Army Engineers To Build Infrastructure
June 23 (EIRNS)The government and the Army Corps of Engineers will work together to rebuild Ecuador's national highway infrastructure, President Rafael Correa announced June 21. After serving as a "witness of honor" for the signing of 12 contracts between the Army Corps of Engineers and Ministry of Transportation and Public Works, Correa underscored that his government is committed to completing projects that have been delayed for a decade or more, which when completed will greatly improve communication, transportation, and trade among several regions of the country.
These projects, he emphasized, will be built "using our own capabilities, in which we have confidence." He urged the Army engineers to live up to the trust which people have placed in them, and produce "well-made projects" which demonstrate the abilities of the public sector.
Among the projects which demonstrate "a change in mentality," prioritizing Ecuadorean abilities, Correa said the Navy's Dredging Unit will be rehabilitated, to be deployed wherever it is needed. He also announced that Ecuador's Oil Fleet (FLOPEC) will be forming a strategic alliance with the state oil firm Petroecuador to transport fuel and build storage facilities for imported gas. This is in addition to plans to build several hydroelectric plants and oil refineries.
Kirchner Tells Brits: The Malvinas Belong to Argentina
June 15 (EIRNS)Speaking on the 25th anniversary of the June 14, 1982 ending of the Malvinas War, Argentine President Néstor Kirchner responded to statements made that day by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who hailed the British "victory" over Argentina "in a noble cause." June 14 was a national holiday in Great Britain.
In stark contrast to the late fascist Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who loved to brag of his obeisance to the British Crown (and who supported Thatcher in the Malvinas War), Kirchner reminded Thatcher that the British win had been a "colonial victory, totally unacceptable in the eyes of the world, in which Argentine youngsters and officers who fought for their sovereignty were massacred." (Britain seized the Malvinas from Argentina in 1833, and has held it ever since.) Britain may have won a battle because it is a powerful nation, Kirchner told Thatcher, "but you shall never possess the reason and justice that makes the Malvinas Argentine."