Ibero-American News Digest
LYM Launches Campaign To Defend Mexico's Social Security
The LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM) in Mexico launched a new flank in the international campaign against social security privatization and on behalf of the general welfare principle, with the distribution beginning Jan. 11, of a new leaflet, entitled "Regarding the Reform of the ISSSTE Law: Don't Be Screwed by Pinochet's Chile!"
The Social Security Institute in Service of State Workers (ISSSTE), which covers over 2 million state worker affiliates, half of whom are teachers, is the next target of the privatization fascists. The proposed reform is to offer privatized pension accounts to young workers entering the state sector work force, and to leave existing workers with the dwindling public pension funds.
On Feb. 1, the Mexican Congress will begin its debate on the ISSSTE "reform," and so the Congress, political parties, trade unions, and others, are the first that will be blanketed with the new LYM leaflet, which reads in part as follows:
"With the beginning of 2005, an agreement was struck, according to which, pension fund administrators may now invest up to 20% of those funds in the international speculative casino. Further, in the upcoming regular sessions of Congress, the plan is to reform the ISSSTE Law, in order to be able to also appropriate the savings of 2 million Federal employees, for the purpose of injecting that capital into the moribund international speculative financial system. With this, a new phase in the great swindle was launched, which will endas with the international speculative system itselfin bankruptcy and, perhaps, in the loss of those funds.
"This effort is part of a drive to impose global fascism led by the government of George Bush and Dick Cheney, who also seek to privatize social security in the United States, stealing the pension funds to refinance the bankrupt Wall Street banks, even at the cost of killing their elderly."
Argentine Debt Restructuring Underway
The Argentine government formally launched its program Jan. 14 to restructure $82 billion in defaulted debt. Investors now have several weeks in which to decide whether or not to exchange the bonds they hold, now in default, for the new bonds offered by the government, which involve a write-off of over 50-60% of their value. In a Jan. 12 press conference, Finance Minister Roberto Lavagna warned that debt which is not swapped "may remain indefinitely in default." Were there to be a 50% level of bondholder acceptance, he would "consider the operation concluded," as this would mean that at least two-thirds of the defaulted debt would be restructured.
Lavagna noted that while Argentina was discredited when it defaulted, prior to 2001, "it had become a guinea pig. While the foreign debt expanded without limit, Argentina enjoyed very great prestige, and it was like a happy little place to do business.... But you don't earn prestige satisfying economic or ideological powers. Recovery occurs when the country has growth and permanently creates decent jobs, obtains investment, and doesn't resort to new indebtedness, but rather reduces it, as we do now."
IMF Director for Italy, Pier Carlo Padoan, however, repeated the threat that both the IMF and Group of Seven have made: If there isn't at least a 75% acceptance rate, "it can't be said that [Argentina's] debt problem is resolved." Nicola Stock, head of the Italian bondholders association Task Force Argentina, and co-chairman of the vulture fund front group Global Committee of Argentina Bondholders (GCAB), is screaming bloody murder, charging that the restructuring proposal "was the culmination of the most transparent scam in history." Stock testified before the Italian Parliament Jan. 12, urging legislators "to support us strongly in our campaign against Argentina." But Italy's CONSOB securities commission, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), have both given a green light for the Argentine restructuring, and many banks and investment funds say they intend to participate, if for no other reason than that they want the process to be concluded.
Separatist Oligarchs, Cocaleros, Launch Campaign To Oust Bolivian President
George Soros's favorite cocalero leader in Bolivia, Evo Morales, issued a call for early Presidential elections on Jan. 13, piggy-backing his bid for power upon the Santa Cruz oligarchy's parallel drive to force the President to grant the province autonomous control over the gas reserves in its territory, or leave office.
Ever ready to take full advantage of chaos, Morales broke his opportunist alliance with the President on Jan. 13, declaring President Mesa "the greatest enemy of Bolivia." Morales called for Presidential elections to be moved up from 2007, declaring "I am ready to be the President," and announcing he will give a televised address to the nation on Jan. 16.
Bolivia's political crisis swung out of control this month, after the government raised the gasoline price by 10%, and that of fuel oil by 23%as demanded by the International Monetary Fund. On Jan. 4, transportation workers went out on a 24-hour strike in most parts of the country, blockading some primary access routes as well as the country's major east-west highway. This was followed on Jan. 10 by a national strike led by the Bolivian Labor Federation (COB) and other civic organizations. Demanding also that the government cancel the contract with the foreign company which provides water and sewage services to it, El Alto, the impoverished city adjacent to the national capital, joined the national strike. Simultaneously, but under separate political control, a 48-hour civic strike was held in the southeastern provinces of Santa Cruz and Tarija, on Jan. 11-12, in protest against the fuel hikes.
Mesa responded that he would resign, rather than employ force against the protesters, "with the certainty that that violence could cost human lives." This was a clear reference to the way that deposed President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada tried to smash the mass strike that occurred in October 2003, which finally forced him out of office. On Jan. 11, Mesa's government then announced they would cancel the contract with the corrupt French company that had failed to provide adequate water at reasonable rates to the city of El Alto (see note below). The strike in El Alto was halted as a result.
Despite the momentary calm in El Alto, various community organizations in La Paz have blocked streets, demanding the cancellation of state contracts with the electricity company Electropaz, the Spanish company Iberdrola, and the Italian-run Telecom. Trade union and neighborhood organizations in the central city of Cochabamba are organizing new marches to protest the fuel price hike, and in the cocalero base of Yungas, peasants are threatening to shut down highways next week, also to protest the fuel rate hikes.
Although the strike in Santa Cruz also came to a close, the top 50 business leadersthe Civic Committee of Santa Cruzare now entering into a hunger strike against the Mesa government, with the goal of breaking away and forming an autonomous government. The Santa Cruz region in Bolivia's southeast is considered the center of the country's "oligarchy," and the area where the bulk of the country's hydrocarbon wealth is centered.
Saner elements within the trade-union movement warned EIR that the removal of President Mesa would be extremely dangerous. Were he to resign, he would be replaced by Hormando Vaca Diez, currently the President of the Senate, whose separatist tendencies are well known.
Privatized Utilities Slammed for Failing To Provide Contracted Services
Two Ibero-American governments moved this week to rein in the privatized utilities which have been looting their nations.
Faced with a national strike over various demands, the Mesa government of Bolivia moved to satisfy one major demand of a part of the strikers, by cancelling on Jan. 11 the contract of the French company, Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux, to provide water to the neighboring cities of El Alto and La Paz. The Bolivian subsidiary of the French company, Aguas del Illimani, began operating in Bolivia in 1997. Its contract specified that the company was to provide universal running water and sewage service to the poor, largely squatter city of 800,000 in El Alto. Protesters have shut the city down, demanding the company's contract be cancelled, given that 200,000 people still have no running water, and the company charges exorbitant rates to connect homes to running water. Citing the company's breach of contract, the Mesa government agreed.
On the same day, Jan. 11, Argentine Planning Minister Juli De Vido called a press conference to announce that the government was slapping fines on three energy companies and a water companyall private, and foreign ownedfor failing to provide adequate service, as contracted. The government did not accept the electricity companies' claim, that several neighborhoods in Greater Buenos Aires were blacked-out Jan. 3-6, due to a summer "heat wave." Rather, the government charged that the companies' failure to invest in the capacity required, was responsible. In addition to monetary fines, the companies were given ten days to present an investment plan to resolve the shortages. Likewise, the water company, Aguas Argentinas, was slapped with a 2 million-plus peso fine, for a recent cut in provision of running water, failing to adequately inform the affected population, or provide emergency services.
Humala Fascists Brag About Chavez's Support
Violence "is the only way to defeat a President like this one," threatened Isaac Humala, father of former Army Major Antauro Humala who is now in jail for his Jan. 1 seizure of a police station, in demand that Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo be overthrown. Proclaiming his son to be a hero, he told the daily Correo on Jan. 2 that a patriot must be a subversive. "Christ was, and we are too."
Four days before his New Year's Day takeover of a police station in the town of Andahuaylas, Antauro Humala gave a raving speech at Lima's National Engineering University (UNI), warning that "to obey the law is stupid.... [I]t is necessary for the students to take to the streets, to burn tires, to take the universities, to put on Spiderman masks.... [T]hat's the way it has to be. If the rules of the game aren't changed, then burning tires, taking over schools and protests are just.... The only solution is to destroy the farm and behead the farmer, so that the pig can be regenerated into a citizen.... Insurgency is now a historical necessity in the country, so we don't have to wait for another 500 years."
This is the movement backed not only by the oligarchic Hitler-lovers based at the La Razon daily (see Ibero-America Digest, Jan. 11), but financed as well by Venezuelan synarchist Hugo Chavez. Humala's former girlfriend, Nora Bruce, told Peru's Caretas magazine last week, that Humala had revealed to her that Chavez particularly helped finance the "ethno-nationalist" movement and its newspaper "at the beginning," until the publication was able to finance itself. Bruce added that between August and September of 2004, Antauro had invited her to travel with him to Venezuela, and indicated at that time that he intended to stage a rebellion in Peru. The editorial of the Dec. 25, 2004 edition of Humala's newspaper Ollanta issued "A Call to Arms, Citizens!" and formally announced its "second mobilization," warning that the "ethno-Cacerists" swear "to again take up arms when the Fatherland requires it, and hell, it requires it now!"
Chavez's regional "Bolivarian" movement is also mobilized behind Humala's movement. Ecuador's National Indigenous Confederation (Conaie) backed Humala for boldly rising up against injustice and the Toledo government. Bolivian terrorist Felipe Quispe sent Humala a public "revolutionary and fraternal greeting from Bolivia," on Jan. 10, stating that all "multi-ethnic" forces in the region must, like Humala, stand up to the servile governments which oppress them.