Ibero-American News Digest
Bill Clinton Insists Aid to Haiti Needed
Dec. 16 (EIRNS)-Special UN Envoy to Haiti, former President Bill Clinton, weighed in against Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-Vt.) call for cutting off U.S. aid to Haiti because of the results of the Nov. 28 Presidential election. (Opposition leaders in Haiti have charged fraud.) On Dec. 14, Clinton co-chaired a meeting of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), which is supposed to channel aid to the country, then spent the next day in Haiti, meeting privately with government officials, and visiting a cholera clinic.
Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten stated this week that the Haitian government had to take Leahy's call "seriously," because the United States is getting "frustrated" with Haiti.
Said Bill Clinton: "Legitimate questions were raised about how the vote happened ... [but] it would be a mistake to stop the reconstruction.... In my opinion, nothing has yet happened which justifies that."
The Recovery Commission meeting was reportedly a brawl over the slowalmost non-existentapproval of aid, lack of consultation with the Haitian members of the commission, and approval of projects which the Haitian members charged "do not advance the reconstruction of Haiti and long-term development."
In reality, there is no commitment to short- or long-term reconstruction of Haiti. The Commission's stated goal is to clear only 40% of the earthquake rubble by October 2011, nearly two years later, because it is being done by hand as a "cash for work" program. Meanwhile, the cholera epidemic, a result of the lack of clean water, sanitation, food, and housing, has officially killed over 2,400 people; in reality, many uncounted more.
Argentina Investigates Economic Crimes of 1976-83 Dictatorship
Dec. 13 (EIRNS)Argentina's Justice Minister Julio Alak has set up a special unit to investigate the economic crimes carried out by the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1976 to 1983.
In remarks reported by Veintitrés magazine Dec. 2, Alak explained that the dictatorship's goal was to establish a specific economic model of "free enterprise," intent on smashing the role of the state in the economy. To achieve this, Alak noted, the junta had to "discipline" the population through the use of terror.
Under the regime of Finance Minister José Martínez De Hoz, a wholly owned asset of City of London financial interests, the junta appropriated 604 companies, by threatening, jailing, kidnapping, and torturing businessmen hostile to the government. Assets were seized, agricultural lands confiscated, and companies driven into bankruptcy or taken over by the junta's civilian partners.
Today, Martínez de Hoz remains under house arrest, charged with the November 1976 kidnapping and extortion of businessmen Federico and Miguél Gutheim, who were forced to sign an export contract with China before they were released six months later. The contract was considered to be in the interest of the Finance Ministry.
One of the more notorious cases of appropriation was that of the Papel Prensa newsprint company, owned by the Graiver family, whose assets were seized after David Graiver was killed, and his wife jailed and terrorized. Papel Prensa was then "sold" to the Clarín, La Nación, and La Razón monopolies, which sympathized with the junta. Current President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has recently challenged the legality of that 1976 sale.