Ibero-American News Digest
Argentine President Wins Landslide Reelection
Nov. 6 (EIRNS)Europeans have a lesson or two to learn from Argentina. On Oct. 23, as European leaders met yet again to save a dead financial system by killing nations such as Greece, Argentines delivered a historic landslide victory to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in her bid for re-election.
Fernández won 54% of the vote in the Oct. 23 elections, with her nearest rival obtaining just under 17%. Not since Juan Domingo Perón's 62% victory in 1973 has any Argentine President won such a big share of the vote, and by such a margin. Her party also retook control of the Congress in the historic sweep. A mere eight years ago, when her predecessor and late husband, Néstor Kirchner, first took office, with only 22% of the vote, Argentina was disintegrating under an IMF-induced Hell such as that being imposed upon Greece today. Today, Argentine growth rates, at 8% a year in 2010 and to date in 2011, are second in the world only to those of China.
The Kirchners pulled off this seeming miracle by breaking with British monetarism, favoring the common good over pleasing the IMF. In her Oct. 23 post-election speech, Cristina Fernández pointed out that today, when the whole world has turned upside down, it is easy to see that those policy decisions were correct. Let us be clear, however, she warned, that there are interests directed from abroad which still hope to return the country to those other policies which had destroyed it.
Bearing out her warning, those London and Wall Street-allied foreign interests have been heavily engaged in financial warfare against the government, speculating for months on the unregulated foreign exchange markets, provoking ever-larger capital flight they hope will force the government to change what they call "market-unfriendly" policies.
To stem the capital flight, now running at $3 billion a month, on Oct. 26 the government adopted strict exchange controls, decreeing that all mining, oil, and other energy companies must repatriate all their export earnings. Additional controls went into effect on Oct. 31, requiring individuals wishing to purchase dollars to obtain authorization from AFIP, the federal revenue agency.
London-allied media charge that these measures have only provoked panic and increased capital flight. But on Nov. 5, Central Bank president Mercedes Marcó del Pont debunked that argument, noting that, of those who had purchased dollars between July and September, 37% were either large corporations or wealthy individuals fortunes who bought an average of $100,000 monthly. It is these financial groups and allied medianot the small depositorsthat are speculating on the market, she said, "stirring the waters" and "trying to provoke terror among the small depositors."
Brazil Business, Labor Unite vs. Usurious Interest Rates
Nov. 4 (EIRNS)A "Movement for a Brazil with Low Interest Rates, More Production and Employment" was launched Oct. 18, with an unusual rally in front of Central Bank offices in Sao Paulo. Unusual, because it was led by leaders of two of Brazil's largest industrial associationsthe Sao Paulo State Industrial Federation (FIESP) and the Brazilian Machinery and Equipment Association (ABIMAQ)and of three of the nation's largest trade union federationsthe Unified Workers Confederation (CUT), Forca Sindical, and the ABC Metalworkers Union.
The movement's website points out that, together, these groups represent "the majority of Brazilians who work and produce so that Brazil generates more and more wealth and reduces its inequalities, ensuring social development and economic prosperity."
Brazil's interest rates have been the highest in the world for most of the past 25 years. That turned it into the center of London's global "carry trade" (currency speculation), where foreign sharks such as JP MorganChase, which increased its holdings of Brazilian treasuries by 40% in the last two months, make a killing, almost for free.
This usury has been a hot political issue for years, but the decision for labor and industry to join forces now, is driven by growing nervousness that Brazil might, indeed, go down with the disintegration of that Trans-Atlantic system looting Brazil.
The problem, however, is that the movement remains opposed to an effectthe super-high interest rates, which are killing thembut have not addressed the cause of the problem, which is the international system with which Brazil is in a death embrace. And unless and until Brazil moves the way Argentina haswith exchange controls and putting sovereignty ahead of their creditors' demandsBrazil will not be able to defeat the symptoms.
The movement is gathering signatures on a manifesto that demands that the benchmark rate be sharply lowered and a pro-industry policy be adopted. "A country like Brazil, with an urgent need to grow and develop, cannot have the luxury of transferring enormous amounts of capital in the form of unproductive earnings. Speculative capitals flow into our financial system seeking yields which no other country offers. Nearly 36% of the national general budget goes to pay charges on the debt, resources which could take care of the enormous lack of infrastructure, health care, transportation, telecommunications, education, sanitation, etc."
Haiti's Cholera Rate Highest in the World
Oct. 30 (EIRNS)Just how efficiently Nerobama has applied British imperial policies to depopulate Haiti by killing off its citizens, is seen in the report by physician Dr. Paul Farmer, Deputy UN Envoy to Haiti, and founder of the Partners in Health (PIH) NGO, which has operated in Haiti for more than 25 years.
In October 2010, when the cholera outbreak began, the disease had not been seen in more than 100 years on Hispaniola, the island Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic. Today, one year later, Haiti has the highest cholera rate in the world; it has sickened more than 470,000 people in a nation of 10 million, has killed 6,600, and is on the verge of becoming the leading cause of death by infectious disease.
"It's freaking incredible," Farmer told Associated Press Oct. 18. "In 365 days, you go from no cases to the largest number in the world." Also, cholera is likely to become endemic in Haiti.
Why the rapid spread? "Because Haiti is the most water-insecure country in the world," Farmer explained. The disease could be wiped out readily simply by improving Haiti's water system and sanitation. Why hasn't this been done?
Haiti is now in the middle of its second rainy season this year, creating conditions for cholera's rapid spread. Doctors Without Borders warns that it sees "dangerous and unpredictable fluctuations" in the number of cholera cases.
Extreme Weather, Lack of Infrastructure Bring Disaster to Central America
Nov. 4 (EIRNS)Three weeks after two storms dumped the worst rains in decades upon Central America, an estimated 1.2 million people are endangered, lacking food, medical care and/or homes. Rainfall was triple what is normal for the month of October, with the amount which fell in some areas equalling the amounts dumped by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, one of the worst storms to hit the region in over 100 years.
Many communities in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala remain isolated, after flooding and mudslides wiped out access roads and bridges. Close to 10% of Nicaragua's land area is under water, and the lake that surrounds the capital, Managua, is still rising. The United Nations warned yesterday that worsening food shortages loom, due to damage to crops and agricultural land. It is estimated, for example, that 80% of the corn, beans, and vegetable crops from around San Salvador were completely wiped out or damaged. In a region already suffering widespread malnutritionin Guatemala, for example, nearly half the children are malnourishedthis portends an increase in the death rate.
October's rains were extreme, but given its geography, a relatively thin strip of land connecting the continents of North and South America, severe hurricanes and tropical storms are a fact of life. More than 100 people died (so far) in this storm pattern, but an estimated 11,000 lives were lost to Hurricane Mitch, surpassing the 8,000-10,000 lives lost in 1974 to Hurricane Fifi.
Yet since then, the only changes in the infrastructure, housing, sanitation, and water-management systems, which could help to mitigate the loss of life, have been for the worse, at the same time that governments' in-depth logistical capabilities to mobilize to protect their populations have been systematically dismantled under globalization.