Ibero-American News Digest
Work Begins on How To Restore U.S.-Cuban Ties
March 2 (EIRNS)U.S.-Cuban anti-drug cooperation is being put forward as a key step in preparing the political terrain for the Obama Administration to begin reversing five decades of failed United States policy towards Cuba, codified in the 47-year-old embargo.
Institutionalizing the United States and Cuba's common interest in cooperating against the drug trade, can serve as a confidence-building measure for restoring cooperation between the two countries in other areas, three speakers argued at the Inter-American Dialogue's Feb. 27 meeting on "The U.S. and Cuba: Counter-Narcotics Partners?" The three speakers emphasized that U.S. military and law enforcement have maintained ad hoc but effective anti-drug cooperation with their Cuban counterparts since the 1990s, but Mexican and Colombian cartels are watching for a security vacuum to develop in Cuba during the transition out of the Castros, as an opportunity to move back in, and it is in U.S. interest to aid an orderly transition and head this off.
That policy, which has been urged by U.S. military and law enforcement circles for several years, was also proposed the week before by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The report prepared by Lugar's senior committee staffer, Carl Meacham, on his January 2009 visit to Cuba, reports that the Cuban government has expressed interest in signing such a formal agreement with the U.S. government.
"Today it is clear that a reform of our policy would serve U.S. security and economic interests in managing migration effectively and combatting the illegal drug trade, among other interests. By seizing the initiative at the beginning of a new U.S. Administration and at an important moment in Cuban history, the USG would relinquish a conditional posture that has made any policy changes contingent on Havana, not Washington," the report argues. "Sequenced engagement" would have a swift impact on the region, "to the benefit of the security and prosperity of the United States."
Initial steps towards change are expected before the Fifth Summit of the Americas is held April 17-19 in Trinidad and Tobago.
U.S. Military To Repair Relations with Southern Neighbors
March 8 (EIRNS)Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Mexico last week, with the message that the Obama Administration believes in diplomatic engagement, and that "Latin America is every bit as important as any other part of the world" to the United States.
Mullen noted that the global financial crisis is further complicating an already complicated world, and affecting all security priorities dramatically in the year or two ahead. Therefore, we have to be sure that the U.S. and its southern neighbors strengthen their relations, he told students at the Chilean War College. "We have to pay attention to each other. We have wonderful personal ties. We have economic ties. We've got to figure out how to pull together."
Mullen is rebuilding relations shredded by the arrogance and neglect of the Bush Administration toward Ibero-America. Notably, the Brazilian Defense Minister and military command gave Mullen a full-honor welcome at their fiercely-nationalist Amazon Command headquarters, and flew him to an outpost on the Brazilian-Colombian border.
Trade War Looms Over Brazil and Argentina
March 5 (EIRNS)Like most nations hit by the global financial meltdown, Argentina and Brazil have taken protectionist measures to defend their internal markets, national production, and jobseven though this formally violates regulations of the Common Market of the South (Mercosur), to which they both belong.
The dramatic 40% drop in trade between them for the first two months of this year is leading to a crisis in bilateral relations, as the two governments and each nation's business organizations hurl insults at each other, each accusing the other of unfair practices, etc.
On March 3, Brazil's Foreign Trade Minister Welber Barral threatened to file a complaint against Argentina at the WTO, warning that "all protectionism must be punished." Argentina's Industrial Union (UIA) responded by accusing the Brazilian government of subsidizing its companies so that they can turn around and buy up Argentine companies.
The degree of acrimony may jeopardize the March 20 meeting that the Argentine and Brazilian Presidents are scheduled to have to discuss the situation. Rather than blame each other, the two would do well to point the finger at the Anglo-Dutch imperial financier interests which created the global crisis, and recommend that Lyndon LaRouche's New Bretton Woods proposal be adopted as a solution.
Galbraith: No Recovery, Until Economists Change How They Think
March 5 (EIRNS)University of Texas's James Galbraith, son of FDR advisor John Kenneth Galbraith, shook up a seminar in Brazil's capital today with a blunt message: there is no recovery in the immediate future, and there will not be one until the economics profession gives up its mental habits of recent years.
The two-day conference was organized by the Economic and Social Development Council (CDES), an advisory body to President Lula da Silva. It brought together leading Brazilian economic figures, and a few international visitors, and was broadcast live on television, radio and the internet.
Just days before, the President embarrassed himself by declaring that Brazil, the last to be hit by the global financial crisis, would be the first to get out of itmerely an extreme version of the prevailing delusion amongst the Brazilian elite, that Brazil can survive the global breakdown crisis, which most refuse to acknowledge is systemic, and involves them.
The inclusion of voices such as Galbraith on the speakers list at the seminar indicates that some among the President's advisors want more realistic views heard.
Galbraith challenged the delusion that the crisis is going to go away by itself, without governmentsand economistscoming to terms with the systemic reasons the crisis occurred. The legacy of the mental habits of the economics profession are impeding an effective response to the crisis. The forecasts of the economists are way too optimistic; their proposals are extremely inadequate, defined by what they believe "can be sold."
This crisis comes from the system itself, Galbraith stated, and the abdication by the State of its regulatory responsibilities; the clear message was given that the most rapacious and reprehensible actions in the financial sector would go unpunished. The markets justified, celebrated, and rewarded fraudulent practises with drove out honest activities.
Time will now have to pass before what is true, becomes accepted, and action taken, he said. Meanwhile, opportunities are being lost, and the crisis becomes deeper.
Mexican President: 'Drugs Are the Slavery of the 21st Century'
March 6 (EIRNS)In interviews published by Le Monde March 5, and Agence France Press (AFP) on March 4, in anticipation of President Nicolas Sarkozy's arrival in Mexico on March 9, Mexican President Felipe Calderón rejected any idea of drug legalization or negotiating with the drug cartels, as advocated by agents of the Nazi-trained George Soros. Drugs, he said "are the slavery of the 21st Century," and Mexico will never surrender to the cartels.
He also warned the United States that it must deal with the huge drug-consumption problem inside its own borders, facilitated by "corrupt American officials" whose complicity with the drug cartels helps fuel the drug trade. "I want to know how many American officials have been prosecuted for this."
Le Monde questioned Calderóon about the proposal to decriminalize drugs advocated by former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, one of three stooges of the Soros-financed Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy (LACDD). Calderón was adamant: "A number of people believe that this would reduce profits from illegal drugs. As for me, I believe that the idea of legalization means resigning ourselves to losing several generations of Mexicans, because drugs are the slavery of the 21st Century."
Calderón also ridiculed the argument used by some, that negotiating with the cartels is a way of reducing violence. "This is an incredibly naive idea, and I would even say, a stupid one," he said. "That's how people thought in the old political culture. But to make a deal with [organized] crime solves nothing." On the contrary, he said, such deals made in the past allowed the drug trade to "grow like a cancer, like a huge infection, because it benefitted from the complicity of a lot of leaders. As a result, you're giving the criminals the key to the house!"