Ibero-American News Digest
Zepp-LaRouche Takes Food Campaign to Ecuador Radio
June 1 (EIRNS)As the food crisis begins to dominate the political and economic agenda in Ibero-America, Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche and Iván Angulo Chacón, the Ecuador representative of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), discussed the global battle to secure food, on Ecuador's Radio 530-AM program on May 30, with program host Patricio Pillajo.
The focus of the discussion, was the Schiller Institute's call to double world food production and end biofuels, and move from there to initiate a just, new world economic order. That call has been endorsed, so far, by one sitting Congressmen in Argentina, and six in Mexico, along with a growing number of other labor, farm, and grassroots leaders from the region.
An archived recording of the discussion, in Spanish and English, is available on the Spanish page of the LaRouche's Political Action Committee (www.larouchepac.com), and is circulating in other Ibero-American countries.
Sonoran Institutions Join Pro-PLHINO Committee Campaign
June 3 (EIRNS)Sonora Sen. Alfonso Elias Serrano and Congressman Carlos Navarro López, along with the presidents of the Northern Sonora Agricultural Organizations Association, and the North West branch of the national manufacturing association, CANACINTRA, and the head of the National Peasant Federation (CNC) in the state, yesterday joined spokesmen for the "Pro-PLHINO of the 21st Century Committee" for a press conference in the state capital, Hermosillo, exposing the plans by the head of the National Water Commission (CONAGUA), José Luis Luege Tamargo, to sabotage construction of the tri-state Northwest Hydraulic Plan, known as the PLHINO.
Two messages were delivered at the press conference:
First, that any attempt by Luege Tamargo to divert the funds allocated by Mexico's Congress for the technical studies required for the great engineering project to begin, would constitute "a crime against the Mexican population," at this moment when it is threatened by hunger as a consequence of the world food crisis.
Second, that the statewide officials present have thrown their full support behind the Pro-PHLINO Committee's campaign to ensure that the decades-old water project finally gets built. Speaking for the Committee at the press conference was its Secretary and founder, Alberto Vizcarra Osuna, well-known as Lyndon LaRouche's leading associate in the state of Sonora.
Clearly, leading Sonorans are ready for a fight against oligarchic agents such as CONAGUA's Luege Tamargo, who think they can block the PLHINO.
Sen. Elias Serrano emphasized, that if the PLHINO is not built, Mexico could face food scarcity. The Mexican State, therefore, must implement measures which resolve the causes of the food crisis; we have to get to work on this quickly, before there are social uprisings in Mexico over food, as have occurred in other countries, he said.
The World Should Not Follow Mexico's Food Policies!
June 4 (EIRNS)Mexico's Agriculture Minister went before the FAO summit on Food Security this morning, to promote an agricultural policy equivalent to the Aztec school of cardiology,
Alberto Cárdenas Jiménez, speaking on behalf of the Felipe Calderón governmentand the reactivated Synarchist movement in Mexico in which he is a key playerheld up Mexico as one of the most open economies in the world, and called the food price crisis an opportunity to make sweeping changes, citing the Calderón government's decision last week to remove all tariffs on food imports. In other words, to adopt even more radical versions of the very policies which turned once-food self-sufficient Mexico into the world's eighth-largest importer of food (with a population of a little more than 100 million people), dependent on international markets to supply over 25% of its most basic food staple, corn, at prices it cannot pay. Lifting all tariffs will finish off what's left of Mexico's ability to produce its own food.
That is precisely the Calderón's government objective, as stated by the head of Mexico's National Water Commission, José Luis Luege Tamargo on April 6. (See InDepth May 27, "Luege Tamargo: WWF's Hitman Against Mexico.")
Guatemala Adopts Aztec Model, Too
June 2 (EIRNS)Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom has taken the desperate and insane step of permanently eliminating tariffs on food imports, in hopes of addressing the food crisis wracking the nation. This mimicking of Mexican President Calderón's policy, is sure to result in disaster, and has already provoked a backlash from national producers who want to know how they will be protected from an anticipated flood of cheap food imports.
By lifting tariffs on ten key food items, Colom basically eliminates the 18-year timetable by which the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) was to fully go into effect. This measure, he said, "should be interpreted as a change in economic policy," which, he hoped, would "bring benefits to the poor" by allowing cheap food into the country tariff-free.
Congressman Mariano Rayo warned that the announced measure can't have positive results, unless it offers incentives to Guatemalan farmers to produce food. The head of the Guatemalan-American Chamber of Commerce expressed similar concern. According to the World Food Program, the increase in food prices over the past year has increased the poverty rate from 51-54%, and the extreme poverty rate from 15.2-20.2%, out of the total population of 13.3 million.
Argentina: Instead of Avarice, Think of the Poor!
June 5 (EIRNS)Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner delivered a warning to striking agricultural producers today, that it is time to stop thinking of their own high profits, and show some compassion for those poor citizens who have no homes, jobs, or potable water. "Avarice," she said, "is one of the sins which God most condemns."
Speaking in the working-class district of La Matanza, where she inaugurated potable water projects, the President referred to the producers who have been on strike for 90 days, protesting higher export taxes on soybeans and sunflower seeds, announced by the government on March 11. Most of the strike leaders have made a financial killing in the soybean craze, and don't want the state interfering, while the strike is used by the British as a vehicle for attempting to overthrow the President.
Fernández explained that the higher export taxes are intended to make sure that high international commodity prices weren't passed onto the internal market: "We want bread, beef, fruit, and vegetables to reach everyone's table, at a price they can pay and not the price paid abroad!" She also expressed regret that angry and frustrated truckers who have been put out of work by the producers' highway blockades, and are now tossing milk and other foods onto the highways to protest.
For this to happen at a time when there are still too many Argentines who go hungry, is unthinkable, the President said.
"Who can afford to go for 90 days without working" as the striking producers have done? "Only those who have accumulated much profit and much wealth. Everyone else has to go out to work. Those who have to get up every day ... know this very well," she said. "It's always the most humble who lend a shoulder, and they have done so to lift up this Argentina again. Please, in the name of those who don't yet have potable water, or a job or a house, I ask you to think a little more about them and a little less about yourselves."
Workers Strike Across Chile
June 6 (EIRNS)This week saw an explosion of strikes in Chile by workers fed up with rising fuel and food prices, and frustrated by the Bachelet government's failure to overturn the neo-liberal economic and social policy associated with the 1973-90 Pinochet dictatorship.
A strike by long-haul truckers, demanding government action on the price of diesel fuel and high tolls, particularly rattled the government, because this mode of transport is the only way that food, raw materials, and other essentials are delivered in the country. There are no functioning railroads, as these were destroyed by the Pinochet dictatorship and never rebuilt. Once the truckers' strike began to affect food supplies in the interior, and threatened mining operations in the north, the government agreed to a 50% decrease in the tax on diesel fuel, and promised to keep the price stable over the next three months.
Several other sectors mobilized over such issues as the rising cost of living, driven by higher fuel and food prices. On June 4 alone, aside from truckers, employees for the postal service went on strike over wages. High school and university students, as well as professors, held a nationwide strike to protest the government's education reform law.
The reform is supposed to strengthen public education which was essentially dismantled by the Pinochet dictatorship, but students and teachers say it doesn't go far enough. The right-wing Alliance for Chile is threatening to sabotage the reform altogether, should the government dare to respond to protests by improving on the proposed law. Students and teachers who demonstrated in Santiago on June 4 were harshly repressed by police.
According to an activist who worked with the LaRouche movement in the 2005 fight to defend social security, people have had it with a "socialist" government "whose policies aren't socialist, but rather free-market ones."