Ibero-American News Digest
Argentina Defies Budget Cutters, Defends General Welfare
Feb. 28 (EIRNS)Over the past month, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has bucked the insane budget-cutters and austerity-mongers that dominate most governments of the trans-Atlantic region, and taken firm steps to defend her countrymen's welfare. This has provoked howls from City of London bankers and their Wall Street allies, who complain that Argentina isn't "playing by the rules."
The financial sharks are upset that on Feb. 2, the President announced a 17.3% increase in the minimum government pension, bringing it to 1,272 pesos or $318. In 2003, when the late Néstor Kirchner first took office as President, the minimum pension amounted to 150 pesos, covering 3 million people. The latest increase will benefit 5.4 million retirees. From 2002 to date, pensions have increased by 718.5%.
President Fernández reported that the pension hike was made possible by a record 40.5% increase in tax revenue between January of 2010 and January of 2011. The Argentine economy grew by 9.1% in 2010.
Financiers are also wailing about the government's Feb. 15 announcement that it will protect domestic industry by restricting the import of an additional 200 products, bringing to 600 the number of goods subject to Non-Automatic Licenses (LNA).
Goldman Sachs economist Alberto Ramos immediately griped that "the pursuit of protectionist and other mercantilist policies are likely to hurt the overall efficiency of the economy and could lead to retaliatory trade measures." Industry Minister Debora Giorgi replied that Argentina has the right to defend its domestic market from unfair competition. In a Feb. 27 press release, she noted that critics of import restrictions "prefer to import and sell without creating domestic jobs, while with the Non-Automatic Licences (LNA), the government is defending more than 1 million jobs" created since 2003.
In a Feb. 24 speech launching the Strategic Argentine Industrial Plan, President Fernández de Kirchner charged that "there are still those who attack the government when it defends national industry and jobs, as if it were resorting to almost illegal practices." Understand this, she said. "The free market, as it is prescribed to us from [foreign] power centers, doesn't exist. We have to put an end to the myth of the free market."
Mexico LYM Weekly Radio Show Taps into National Ferment
Feb. 24 (EIRNS)On Feb. 22, the Mexican LaRouche Youth Movement's (LYM) weekly Internet radio show on www.deliberadamenteradio.com, only their fourth program to date, had a huge jump in online listeners, indicating that it is beginning to become an institution for those seeking to learn more about LaRouche's ideas. Week 1 had 8 listeners; Week 2170; Week 3130, and Week 41,300, a ten-fold jump, almost all of whom stayed for the entire hour-long program.
Lyndon LaRouche commented: "This is a global syndrome. Wherever we tap into it, we find it. It's like Moses: you strike with the rod, and you get the water."
The Feb. 22 show included a 30-minute interview with EIR's Ibero-America editor Dennis Small, on the global mass strike against the British Empire, and on LaRouche's forecasts and the findings of the Angelides Commission.
Colombia-China 'Dry Canal' Talks
Feb. 28 (EIRNS)Building a "dry canal" joining Colombia's Caribbean and Pacific coasts by rail has been discussed since the days of the great President Rafael Nuñez, who ordered studies for building the first cross-isthmus rail canal in 1882, when Panama was still part of Colombia. Under any serious global development program, construction of a Colombian inter-oceanic crossing, whether by rail or by river, such as the Atrato-Truandó project favored by President Belisario Betancur (1982-86), or both, is a historic necessity, the LaRouche movement's most recent discussion of this conception being available in the LaRouchePAC video titled "Taming the Darien Gap."
China and Colombia are discussing cooperation on the construction of such an inter-oceanic project, a 220-km rail line which would connect a new city under discussion for near Cartegena, on the Caribbean coast, with Colombia's Pacific coast. The project was revealed by President Juan Manuel Santos in a Feb. 14 interview with London's Financial Times, as one of several joint projects being discussed, including a longer (791 km) cross-Colombia railway and expansion of the Pacific port of Buenaventura.
China is Colombia's second-largest trading partner, and Santos acknowledged that "Asia is the new motor of the world economy." China's Ambassador to Colombia, Gao Zhengyue, told the Financial Times that China views Colombia, with its important strategic position, "as a port to the rest of Latin America."
The projects proposed so far, however, are flawed, as they are geared to increased raw material exports from Colombia, and using Colombia as an assembly depot for low-tech Chinese products to be exported to the rest of the Americas. That globalized trade model is disintegrating, under the general, global financial and economic breakdown crisis. Reorient the discussions of a dry canal, as a subsumed part of the fight to create a new global economic system, typified by cooperation on the construction of the worldwide rail network, and a whole new perspective comes into play.