Ibero-American News Digest
Reopen the Yair Klein File!
Aug. 29 (EIRNS)The Aug. 27 arrest in Moscow by Russian authorities of Israeli arms trafficker and mercenary retired Israeli Lt. Col. Yair Klein, opens the door for international cooperation to clean out an arms intelligence and arms-for-drugs mafia which has played a central role for more than two decades in spreading wars across at least three continents:
* Central and South America: where Klein went from participating in the mid-1980s Iran-Contras operation to directing the creation of the paramilitaries in Colombia, from 1987-1989;
* Africa: where he was jailed in Sierra Leone from 1999-2000 for his role in trafficking weapons to the diamond-running Revolutionary United Front (RUF) insurgents;
* His home base of Southwest Asia itself.
The most developed case is against Klein and his Spearhead Ltd. (Hod Hadanit) "counterterrorism" security company. Klein was convicted in absentia by a Colombian court in 2001 of training the drug cartel's paramilitary forces in terrorist tactics in the late 1980s. Colombian Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo told reporters on Aug. 28 that Colombia had initiated extradition proceedings so that Klein could serve his ten-year-plus prison sentence.
Klein was up to his eyeballs in the 1980s "Iran-Contra" arms-for-drugs trafficking operation of George H.W. Bush, Elliott Abrams, Israeli Gen. Revaham Ze'evi, et al. As that operation was exposed, Klein began receiving money from a U.S. State Department operation set up by Abrams to train a Panamanian "contra" force against Gen. Manuel Noriega, in the run-up to the December 1989 invasion of Panama.
At the same time he was being funded by the Project Democracy crowd in Washington, Klein was sent to Colombia to arm and train Medellín cocaine cartel kingpin Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha and his hit squads, which later evolved into the Colombian "paramilitaries," distinguished for their bestiality. It is for this that Klein was convicted.
Still pending, is his role in the Aug. 18, 1989 assassination of Luis Carlos Galán, the popular anti-drug candidate who was heading toward victory in the 1990 Presidential elections. Galan's assassination sealed Colombia's fate as a bastion of the drug trade, and one of the weapons with which he was shot has been traced back to Klein.
Informed of Klein's arrest, Sen. Juan Manuel Galán, Luis Carlos's son, said that Klein's extradition could prove historic, and ensure that those responsible for killing his father do not remain protected.
Drop in Remittances by Threatens Mexican Economy
Aug. 31 (EIRNS)Remittances sent home by Mexican workers in the United States fell by 2% in the second quarter of 2007the first year-on-year quarterly drop ever. With the destruction of Mexican manufacturing, which was accelerated by NAFTA in 1994, millions of Mexicans fled to the U.S. as economic refugees, in a desperate effort for survival for themselves and their families. Mexico today not only exports goods to the United States; it exports its labor force, which cannot survive inside the country, under the policies of British "globalization." Nearly 13 million Mexicansover 10% of the populationhave emigrated to the United States.
As a result, remittances grew by nearly 20% per year between 1994 and 2006, reaching a staggering $23 billion last year. That is more than Mexico earns from any other source of foreign exchange, other than its oil exports. With a serious decline in remittances86% of which are used by the families back in Mexico for basic "sustenance," according to a recent Bank of Mexico studyMexico will face an economic and social explosion in the short term.
The rate of growth of remittances has been dropping steadily since the beginning of 2006, as the collapse of the U.S. economy translates into a loss of jobs for even cheap-labor immigrants: While they grew by 20% in the second quarter of 2006, that dropped to only a 3% increase in the first quarter of 2007, and to negative 2% the following quarter.
The current blowout of the U.S. housing market is going to wreak havoc in this layer: The single largest area of economic activity of workers who send remittances, is construction, with 18.6% of total migrant employment. Even agricultural labor, which has historically been migrants' main activity, is now only 16.5% of the total.
Chilean Labor Demands 'New Deal' from Bachelet
Aug. 30 (EIRNS)"Chile tomorrow will have greater dignity because its working men and women today are saying 'Listen to us. Chile demands a new deal, a new social and political commitment,' and we're going to demand that from the streets, no matter what the cost." With these words, Arturo Martínez, Secretary General of the CUT labor federation, summed up the events of Aug. 29, when thousands of workers took to the streets in a national "day of action" to demand that President Michelle Bachelet enact significant changes in her economic and labor policy, and fire cabinet ministers still wedded to the "Chicago Boys' " neo-liberal model.
Workers in Santiago, the capital, and in several other cities marched, protested, blocked streets, and slowed down public transportation to make their point that economic inequality has changed little since the days of the fascist Pinochet dictatorship of 1973-90. Even legislators from Bachelet's own Socialist Party joined the mobilization, and called on the President to fire her Finance Minister Andrés Velasco, a former economics professor at Harvard University.
Despite harsh police repression, the CUT has vowed to continue its protest, using as its mascot a dairy cow appearing under the slogan, "We're tired of being milked for the benefit of a very few." Chile this year has had windfall profits from the rising price of copper, its chief export, and the economy is expected to grow by 6%. But half of its workforce of 6 million earns a minimum monthly wage of $260, compared to an estimated $1,000 required for a family of four to live comfortably.
This was not a general strike, but CUT leaders warn that that could be the next step if the government fails to act. As the CUT's Martínez warned before the strike, unless the government addresses the country's profound social and economic inequality, it could face an uncontrollable "social explosion."
Bank of the South Runs Into New Obstacles
Aug. 31 (EIRNS)A scheduled Aug. 23 meeting in Rio de Janeiro of the finance ministers of the seven South American countries involved in founding the Bank of the South, was postponed indefinitely, according to Brazilian finance ministry sources cited by AFP wire service. This is the second major roadblock this year that has been thrown in the way of the establishment of the Bank, which was originally scheduled to be created in June 2007 as part of a "new financial architecture" for the region, to replace the genocidal economic policies of the IMF and the global speculative financial system.
Most press accounts miss the boat entirely on the real fight that is going on around the Bank of the South, by ascribing Brazil's stonewalling to its purported desire to make the Bank an appendage of its own domestic infrastructure plans, or to gain lopsided trade advantage.
"I don't think so," Lyndon LaRouche commented yesterday. "As I've noted previously, there are some powerful international banking interests that have a grip on the politics of Brazil. And there's a pattern there, which is not exactly new, in which they are the ones who are putting the monkey-wrench into the gears. You're looking at the British banks, with their allied Spanish banks such as Santander and BBVA, which are operating on behalf of the British empire and its friends, to jam up the Bank of the South.
"You have Brazilian government people and so forth who want the Bank to go forward," LaRouche elaborated, "but you also have against them the political control of the international bankers. And I would say that the problem here, which is what it has been all along, are the concerns of the British-related bankers, like the Caribbean pirates of the Cayman Islands."
Exemplary of the problem described by LaRouche is the role of Banco Santander's former vice president for human relations, Miguel Jorge, who was named as the country's Minister of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade in March 2007. Santander could gain significant additional leverage inside Brazil, if and when the proposed acquisition of the Dutch ABN Amro bank by Santander and its British ally Royal Bank of Scotland is consummated. ABN Amro owns Brazil's third-largest private bank, Banco Real, which Santander would take over if the acquisition goes ahead.
Argentina Opens Uranium Mine; Step toward Nuclear Future
Aug. 29 (EIRNS)Argentine President Néstor Kirchner signed an agreement with the provincial government of Salta yesterday, to reopen the Don Otto uranium mine.
The mine had been shut down, first by the 1976-83 military dictatorship, and then again in the 1990s by free-market ideologue President Carlos Menem.
But, in the words of Planning Minister Julio De Vido, things have changed now. The long-stalled Atucha II nuclear power plant will be completed, and discussions have begun with Canada on building a fourth reactor. The heavy-water plant in Neuquen that was paralyzed when Kirchner took office in 2003, is now producing heavy water again, the material needed as a moderator for the Canadian CANDU nuclear reactor.
In the next phase, Argentina will develop production of its own, the CAREM light-water reactor, De Vido said. This small reactor, built entirely by Argentine scientists and using national technology, has a generating capacity of between 100 to 250 megawatts, and is considered to have great potential for use in developing nations.