Ibero-American News Digest
Argentine President: London's Genocide Was 'Treason'
March 2 (EIRNS)With unerring aim, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner spat directly in the British Queen's eye for the second time in four months, demonstrating a much-needed knowledge of who the global enemy is.
Last Nov. 20, Fernández declared that anniversary of a 1845 battle by Argentina against the British to be National Sovereignty Day, so that Argentines remember British free trade as their historic enemy. Now, on Feb. 24, she attacked the British-run Triple Alliance War of 1865-70, in which troops of her own Argentina joined with Brazil and Uruguay to annihilate Paraguay, which had become the most industrialized nation in South America, by adopting Alexander Hamilton's American System of political economy.
Standing next to Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo at the bi-national Yacyreta hydroelectric dam on the Argentine-Paraguayan border, Fernández praised the revered hero of that war, "the great patriot" Marshall Francisco Solano López, who, against all odds, led the Paraguayan resistance to the Brazilian, Uruguayan, and Argentine troops, which were deployed against their own interests by a British Empire desperate to stamp out any examples of the successful American System in South America. That war, Fernández de Kirchner said, should better be called the "Triple Infamy" or the "Triple Treason" war, for "the shame that [it] meant for the history of the continent, which decimated the region's first industrial nation." Today, she added, we are thankfully free of "false regional conflicts, instigated from abroad to abort our possibilities of integration and unity."
Recalling Argentine leader Gen. Juan Perón's 1974 visit to Paraguay, during which he returned the war booty seized by Argentine soldiers who looted the Paraguayian capital of Asunción in 1870, Fernández remarked, "Isn't it curiousParaguay, governed by Marshall Francisco Solano López, had the first foundries, the first railroads, the first factories, and we, under Perón's Presidency ... had also become the first industrial country of Latin America."
Still true to its British masters, Argentina's La Nación took offense at what it called "An Absurd Tribute to a Dictator," by a President who "maliciously ignored history," by proclaiming Solano López to be a "great patriot." The right-wing daily was founded by Bartolomé Mitre, the general who led the allied troops who slaughtered Paraguay in the name of restoring "democracy."
Argentine President: 'End the Myth of the Free Market'
March 3 (EIRNS)While announcing the National Strategic Industrialization Plan 2020 on Feb. 24, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner defended her country's right to industrialize, and to protect both industry, and the workers who contribute to its advancement.
Outlining goals for the year 2020, Fernández debunked the notion that Argentina owed respect to the free market. Since 2003, she reported, 5 million new industrial jobs have been created, along with 140,000 new companiescompared to the 50,000 businesses and factories that were shut down during the heyday of the free market in the 1990s.
Last month, citing the need to protect domestic industry from unfair competition, Industry Minister Debora Giorgi had added 200 more products to a list of imports that would no longer be granted automatic licenses, bringing the total to 600. The City of London was outraged.
Too bad, said the President. "There are still those who, when the government takes steps to protect labor and national production, accuse it of almost illegal practices." But "we know that [the free market], as such, doesn't existnot here, nor in any other part of the world. The free market, as it is taught and preached to us from [foreign] power centers," doesn't exist. That myth should end.
The industrialization plan, elaborated in conjunction with the UN Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), tends to emphasize import substitution. Whatever flaws that approach includes, Fernández is adamant that industrialization will not be halted.
Beginning at the end of March, the government will sponsor a series of regional seminars, inviting business, labor, and other sectors to debate the ten priority areas the new plan identifies for development: food/agriculture, textiles, shoes, lumber, construction goods, capital goods, agricultural machinery, autos and auto parts, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and the petrochemical industry. Not mentioned, but absolutely a key area for national development, is the nuclear energy industry.
Mass Strike Hits Honduras
March 4 (EIRNS)High school teachers and students in Honduras took to the streets for a fifth day this week, protesting a government program to "decentralize" education, which they denounce as the first step toward eliminating public education altogether, through privatization.
Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the world. With unemployment at 50-80%, nearly one-third of Hondurans are chronically malnourished, and the cost of cooking gas and food is soaring.
A two-hour discussion with EIR's David Ramonet on Radio Uno's Saturday AM talk show in San Pedro Sula, Honduras's second-largest city, on March 5, located the Honduran fight within the global mass strike, which led to a lively discussion of Lyndon LaRouche's solutions to the systemic crisis.
'A Crime Against Brazil'
March 4 (EIRNS)Brazil's Central Bank hiked the country's benchmark interest rate, already the highest in the world, by another half-point on March 2, to 11.75%. London's Financial Times dismissed the increase as "dovish"; spokesmen for the Inter-Alpha Group of banks and George Soros had demanded an even bigger increase to keep their carry trade speculation going.
But for the outspoken president of the Brazilian Machinery and Equipment Industry Association (ABIMAQ), Luiz Aubert Neto, the increase is "a crime against Brazil," and particularly against manufacturing. "People are partying on the ship with the cheap dollar" (which results from the inflows of speculative money), "but if we don't change financial policy, this ship is going to run aground, and we are all going to sink," he warned. All while the Brazilian government spends close to $110 billion a year on interest rate payments alone.
Abram Szajman, head of Fecomercio-SP (São Paulo's Federation of Goods, Services and Tourism Businesses), charged the Central Bank with "strangling the country's economic growth." Inflation (the pretext for the rate hike) is a global phenomenon, he said, so reducing consumption in Brazil will not stop the rise in commodity prices, but will transfer resources to the financial sector.
IT Workers Union chair Antonio Neto denounced the rate hike as "more money wasted on speculation."
Meanwhile, unemployment has begun to rise again, and consumer credit (which has driven a domestic bubble) dropped by 5% in January.
Food Crisis and Cholera Spell Hecatomb for Haiti
March 4 (EIRNS)The genocidal implications of soaring world food prices upon still-devastated Haiti, in the midst of a cholera epidemic set to rebound next month, cannot be overstated.
So many non-governmental organizations involved in combatting cholera are now withdrawing from Haiti that the World Health Organization stated on Feb. 18, that it is trying urgently to keep Haiti's anti-cholera efforts from collapsing. The withdrawals are being justified on a small drop in the death rate, but mortality rates remain at over 10% in some rural areas, and the disease is expected to rebound during the April-June rainy season.
Food prices, and particularly the price of rice, are higher than they were in 2008, when food riots erupted. The prices for rice and red beans, staples of the Haitian diet, represent the biggest fluctuations, averaging close to 10% and 11% a year, respectively, according to a recent USAID report.
Haiti normally imports almost half of its food supply, especially rice, wheat (or flour), and corn meal, and the prices of imported foods, particularly rice, have been rising since last October. The price of rice now is approximately 38% above the five-year average and 27% higher than January 2008.
Food production this year has been contracting. Because of the cholera epidemic, the labor supply in the fertile Artibonite Valley and irrigation districts of the Central Plateau was almost 30% lower than average, which meant that 10-15% of the rice crop was not harvested. The area planted in the December/January growing season was 30% smaller than the previous season, the USAID reports.