Ibero-American News Digest
Forbes Magazine Glamorizes Sinaloa Cartel Head
March 12 (EIRNS)Forbes magazine's new list of "The World's Richest People" includes the head of Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, as its No. 701, with a net worth of $1 billion.
Guzmán escaped from a Mexican prison in a laundry cart in 2001, days before he was to be extradited to the U.S.
While the U.S. Justice Department announced a successful strike against the Sinaloa cartel, including the arrest of 48 people a few weeks ago, Steven Forbes's magazine responds by glorifying its chief, and listing his occupation as "shipping."
Mexican President Felipe Calderón blasted Forbes' cynical glorification of the drug trade which is killing Mexicans: "I deeply regret that what appears to be a campaign against Mexico is escalating, such that public opinion, and even magazines, are not only attacking and lying about the Mexican situation, but are even exalting criminals, something which, here in Mexico, we consider an apology for crime. But this will not frighten us, or change in the slightest, our firm determination to strengthen the rule of law in Mexico."
Bolivian President: 'Let Them Eat Coca Leaves'
March 11 (EIRNS)Speaking at the Vienna meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (UNCND), Bolivian President Evo Morales explained that he was there on behalf of the "ancient" Andean coca growers and chewers, to protest coca's inclusion on the UN's list of illegal narcotics. Prior to arriving in Vienna, Morales had said he was greatly indebted to the coca leaf, as it had helped him reach the Presidency.
To put it more accurately, it was Morales' ties to coca producers, both in Bolivia and the rest of the Andean region, that won him the support of the Nazi-trained drug kingpin George Soros, which in turn allowed him to win the Presidency. Morales defended Soros's drug legalization scheme long before he became President of Bolivia.
Morales held up a coca leaf, chewed it, and then argued that "just because I'm acullico ["chewing coca"], it doesn't mean I'm drug-dependent. If this were the case, [UNODC head Antonio María] Costa, presiding here, should take me to jail."
Morales said that he expected the Obama Administration would help him to get the UN to exclude coca from the list of illegal narcotics. He concluded by admitting that he had chewed coca for at least ten years, and at the age of 50, "I'm perfectly fine."
LYM to Fernández: 'Be Historic! Go With LaRouche'
March 7 (EIRNS)"Forget the BritishGo with LaRouche" at the upcoming G20 summit in London, was the message that two members of the Argentine LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM) told President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner at a March 6 gathering at the Presidential Palace, for the celebration of International Women's Day.
"Be historic, Cristina. At the G20 forget the British. Gordon Brown is a fascist, and Keynes was too. Listen to LaRouche! We told you, it's LaRouche!" The LYM members were referring to the fact that British Minister of State in the Foreign Office Lord Malloch-Brown, London's point man for the G20 summit, is aggressively courting Argentina to support the agenda of "reforming" the IMF, rather than putting the global monetary system through bankruptcy reorganization, as LaRouche demands.
The President said nothing, then shook hands with the LYM member, and left.
Argentine Agro Producers Threaten President
March 13 (EIRNS)Argentine farmers are protesting again against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, demanding that she rescind all protectionist measures put in place to defend the internal market, such as export taxes. Leaders of the four largest producer organizationsthe Rural Society, Agrarian Federation, Coninagro, and Rural Confederationsargue, as they did during their four-month strike in 2008, that the President is hurting the agricultural sector with onerous taxes, and doesn't understand farmers' needs.
In reality, it's the global financial meltdown, combined with the worst drought in 50 years, that have caused the agricultural sector's problems, resulting in sharp declines in this year's production of wheat, corn, rice, and soybeans, among other crops. Fernández de Kirchner has already removed some export taxes, even though this will affect the government's revenue. The decline in speculation-driven commodity prices has made a big dent in farm revenue, as well.
Despite the fact that the producers do not represent a homogenous political grouping, there has been talk for some time of forming a "party of the countryside," looking toward legislative elections now scheduled for June. Taking advantage of the fact that some prominent members of the government's Victory Front congressional bloc have broken with the President, the opposition seeks to deprive Fernández of her legislative majority.
Some have even more ambitious goals. An opinion piece circulated by the "Segunda Republica" group on March 12 argued that Fernández isn't qualified to serve as head of state, but lamented that Argentina's Presidential system is an impediment to easily removing her from office. The author called for the Presidential system to therefore be replaced with a British-style parliamentary system, in which "the Congress is the supreme power," and a President could be removed without causing an "institutional breakdown."
Chilean Workers Demand State-Run Pension System
March 11 (EIRNS)Chile's CUT labor federation has organized a series of marches, beginning today, and extending over the next several weeks, to protest huge losses in private pension funds, and demand a state-run system. The planned protests will culminate in a nationwide general strike on April 16.
With backing from George P. Shultz, godfather of the George W. Bush government, the fascist Pinochet dictatorship imposed the private pension system on Chileans in 1981. At Shultz's urging, G.W. Bush tried, but failed, to ram that same system down the throats of Americans in 2005.
Chile's $110 billion private pension fund has declined by at least a third in the past year, as a result of huge losses incurred by failed investment in exotic overseas financial instruments. The collapse of insurance giant AIG, along with ING, Metlife, and Principal Financials, constitutes another lethal blow to the private system, as these companies insured tens of thousands of Chile's private pensions. Pension expert Manuel Riesco warns that the private AFP system effectively no longer exists.