Ibero-American News Digest
British Send Minister To Tighten Grip on Brazil
June 23 (EIRNS)British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg paid a two-day visit to Brazil on June 21-22, the first official visit by a British cabinet minister since the Royal Navy ship deployed to "protect" Britain's colonial enclave in the Malvinas Islands was turned away from the Rio de Janeiro port in January 2011.
British dailies, such as the Daily Telegraph, played Clegg's visit as a drive to split Brazil off from supporting Argentina's sovereign claim to the Malvinas. While that is undoubtedly the case, more is at stake. With few exceptions in its history, Brazil has served as faithful toady to the British empire ever since the British Navy transported the Portuguese Royal family to Brazil's shores two centuries ago. But can the British Empire be certain that Brazil might not assert its right to protect its sovereign right to exist, as its Trans-Atlantic financial system disintegrates?
Clegg, accompanied by three ministers (Universities, Trade, and Foreign) and top executives of Britain's defense and oil companies (the notorious BAE Systems included), went in pitching the line that Britain has not made enough of its links with Brazil in the past, and now wants to forge a new partnership for prosperity between Brazil and the UK. The great bribe offered Brazil, is support for Brazil getting a seat on UN Security Council.
Brazil Needs Thousands of Space Scientists
June 22 (EIRNS)During recent hearings in Brazil's House of Representatives, the head of the Brazilian Space Agency, AEB, Marco Antonio Raupp, said a new space plan is being prepared, titled, "Urgent Brazil Space." One of the critical areas to be addressed, he said, is the fact that about half of AEB's 3,000 employees are about to retire. By 2020, all will be eligible for retirement.
One official noted at the hearing that Brazil spends about $200 million per year on its program, which is one-fourth that spent by India. Brazil has, for years, had close cooperation with China in remote sensing satellites, and is now the largest distributor of satellite images in the world.
Last month, Brazil signed an upgraded agreement with Russia, to complete development of Brazil's VLS-1 launcher, which suffered a catastrophic accident in 2003. The Alcantara launch complex, behind schedule, is now slated for its inaugural rocket launch by 2014.
Although private companies will be encouraged to become involved in space development, Raupp assured the Representatives that this participation "does not imply, however, privatization of the space agency," or the government's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) Aerospace Technical Center. By the end of this decade, with increased investment, Brazil could "vaunt into the upper ranks of space-faring nations," reporter Doug Messier from parabolicarc observes.
No Let-Up in Chilean Student Protests
June 27 (EIRNS)Far from being discouraged, leaders of Chile's high-school and college student federations are now mobilizing ever larger sectors of societystudents, parents, workers, and educatorsin response to Education Minister Joaquin Lavin's refusal to consider their demands for a state-guaranteed free public education system.
For months, students nationwide have been protesting and striking, occupying schools and shutting them down, to demand an end to the de facto privatization of public education that occurred under the 1973-90 dictatorship of fascist Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Aside from demanding Lavin's resignation, students have proposed abolishing the Constitution authored by Pinochet's devotees in 1980 and drafting a new one that would enshrine free public education as a "right guaranteed by the State."
The protests have struck a chord with the Chilean population. After mobilizing almost 200,000 people nationwide on June 16 in support of their demands, student leaders have called a general strike for June 30, which they expect to be even larger. Chile's labor federation, the CUT, is backing the strike and also preparing its own 48-hour general strike in August to demand better wages and working conditions. The Catholic Church is urging Lavin to take the student demand for reform seriously.
A former Presidential candidate and advocate of the Mont Pelerin Society's fascist economics, Lavin has so far ignored the fundamental issue driving the student protest, offering instead only to marginally increase some funding to educational institutions.
No surprise here. According to investigative reporter Maria Olivia Monckenberg, author of the book The Privatization of the Universities: a Story of Money, Power and Influence, Lavin has a gigantic conflict of interest in this matter, not to mention an ideological bias against "statist" policies. For years, he's been deeply involved in the creation and funding of for-profit educational entities, as well as in real estate companies that buy up near-bankrupt public universities to convert them to lucrative private ones.
Haiti: Cholera's Death Toll Still Climbing
June 27 (EIRNS)According to Haiti's Public Health Ministry (MSPP), between May 2 and June 12, there were 51,526 new cholera cases reported in the country, including 18,187 in the capital of Port-au-Prince. In the 50-day period from May 2 to June 20, that figure jumped to 70,020, giving the lie to claims by some medical NGOs on the ground that the epidemic is "declining."
Sylvain Groulx, chief of mission for Doctors Without Borders, warns that "the epidemic could surge again at any time." Not only do hurricanes and flooding from the rainy season pose a grave threat, Groulx said, but little has changed in resolving the underlying issue of non-existant sanitation infrastructure.
The lack of clean water or much of a public health infrastructure, in addition to the drying up of outside funding, will all compound to produce a "horrendous impact on this country," the International Society for Infectious Disease warns.
In a June 24 report, the World Health Organization (WHO) admitted that cholera is on the rise in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Fifty Dominicans have died of cholera, out of the 1,727 infected to date.