Ibero-American News Digest
Bolivian Government Falls; Nation Heads for Civil War
The night of June 6, Bolivian President Carlos Mesa tendered his resignation, in a televised address to the nation. He then made a second address, to issue a dramatic appeal: "The country cannot play with the possibility of breaking into a thousand pieces. This is a plea from a President on his way out, to a country that is on the edge of civil war."
After several days, the leaders of the two houses of Congress who were constitutionally next in line stepped aside, and Supreme Court President Eduardo Rodriguez was sworn in as President on June 9. Rodriguez immediately announced that early Presidential elections would be held within 150 days.
Mesa's resignation followed weeks of protests by tens of thousands of peasant farmers and miners, who have blockaded all roads into the capital, La Paz, halted most inner-city commerce and transport, cut off all highway connections to other countries, occupied seven oil-and-gas fields, and held increasingly violent demonstrations to demand nationalization of the country's oil-and-gas wealth and the convocation of a Constituent Assembly to reform the government. The primary leadership of the protests has been the MAS Party, led by Evo Morales, leader of the nation's coca-farmers.
There will be no solution, however, to Bolivia's crisis, until the overturning of the International Monetary Fund policies which, over the past two decades, have looted the nation and driven its impoverished people over the brink. According to the Bolivian Statistical Institute, 36% of Bolivia's 8.7 million inhabitants are unemployed; 64% live below the poverty line; and 37% are indigent. Among children, 51% are anemic, and 27% have suffered at least one instance of acute diarrhea. Both these maladies are frequent causes of death.
Bush Intervention Plans Rejected at OAS Meeting
The Bush Administration failed to ram through a "democracy" initiative at the June 5-7 Annual General Assembly of the Organization of American States in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Against the backdrop of a crashing world economy, and profound crises afflicting every nation in the region, the Ibero-American nations refused to adopt the U.S.-proposed mechanism to "monitor" democratic institutions, including surveillance and policing capabilities by "civil society" and NGOs. Opposition had been expected, but not the "ferocity" which it encountered from at least ten of the major Ibero-American countries.
The final document, "Declaration of Florida, Delivering the Benefits of Democracy," instead emphasized that democratic stability is intimately linked to economic development, and levels of poverty, unemployment, and social problems. Not included, but particularly telling, was a proposal made by Argentina, which states that "the generation of decent, productive jobs, discrimination-free trade, and the reformulation of the multilateral financial system" are required to strengthen democratic stability in the region.
This is precisely the kind of discussion which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice identified as a "threat" to the region, in an interview published June 5 in the Miami Herald. Rice attacked those "tendencies" in Ibero-America that refuse "to tell people that there are going to be difficult choices" on the economy; those who either "find either external ways to blame conditions ... or to say that, well, we don't have to keep up with the fundamentals of good economic performance, we don't need to worry about open markets, ... you don't have to be fiscally responsible. That's a bad thing and that sometimes happens in Latin America."
Brazil's Amorim Gives Rice a Lesson in Democracy
"Democracy cannot be imposed; it is born of dialogue," Brazil's Foreign Minister Celso Amorim stated in his June 6 address before the OAS General Assembly. He argued that the Inter-American Democratic Charter, passed in 2001, does not override the OAS founding charter, which specifies that the principles of non-intervention and sovereignty, along with peace, justice, and solidarity, must determine relations among the member states. "Cooperation and dialogue, rather than interventionist mechanisms, must be the key concepts."
A day earlier, Amorim rejected the U.S. proposal to create a permanent committee of the OAS to monitor democratic institutions in the hemisphere, issue annual evaluations, and act preemptively to prevent crises before they occur, as an attempt to turn the OAS into some kind of "a security council."
Key Synarchist Named Mexico's Interior Minister
Carlos Abascal was named Mexico's new Interior Minister, by far the most powerful position in the Federal government after the Presidency itself. The June 2 designation places Abascal, until now Labor Minister in the Fox government, in the critical post for shaping the 2006 Presidential elections in Mexico. The outgoing Interior Minister, Santiago Creel, is the likely PAN Party candidate, and he reportedly hand-picked Abascal to succeed himand presumably to ensure his electoral victory.
Carlos Abascal is the son of Salvador Abascal, one of the founders of the fascist National Synarchist Union (UNS) of Mexico. The younger Abascal is also a leading ideologue of Mont Pelerinite ultra-liberalism, and is the author of the notorious Abascal Law for labor "reform"Pinochet-style fascist labor recyclingwhich he pushed as Labor Minister.
Lopez Obrador Pushes High-Speed Rail for Mexico
Mexico City Mayor and PRD Presidential pre-candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced that, if elected President, he intends to promote the construction of a high-speed train. A press release issued on June 6 by his office specified that he is "studying the possibility of linking Mexico City to the northern border with a rapid train, a bullet train, with two branches, one of which goes to Guadalajara, along the Pacific route, through the cities of Tepic, Culiacan, Hermosillo, and Mexicali, ... and on the other side, all the way to Laredo, passing through Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, Saltillo, and Monterrey."
U.S. statesman Lyndon LaRouche found the proposal very interesting, but emphasized that such a rail system must not only transport passengers, but also freight. The transport of passengers is useful, but the most important thing is the integration of the economy.
Army Corps of Engineers Mobilized for Brazil Project
The Brazilian government will use the Army's Engineering Battalion to launch the huge project to divert the waters of the Sao Francisco River, according to Valor Online of June 6. This project, first discussed more than 150 years ago, has more recently been associated with the work of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) under Franklin D. Roosevelt's Administration. President Lula da Silva and several of his cabinet members have often referenced the significance of the Sao Francisco project, as being similar to the TVA in its potential for opening up huge areas now plagued by drought, to agricultural and other development in Brazil's arid northeast.
In 1942, a technical mission sent to Brazil by FDR, headed up by his friend Morris Llewellyn Cooke, identified the Sao Francisco River Valley as an ideal site for TVA-like development. Cooke later wrote, in his study, "Brazil on the March: a Study in International Cooperation": "The San Francisco Valley is a valley of poor people. They are poor because of drought, flood, some worn-out and much-eroded land, disease, ignorance and lack of industrial opportunities.... What the United States has done for the people of the Tennessee Valley through the Tennessee Valley Authority, Brazil can do for those in the valley of the San Francisco."
The government appears to be putting the project, previously delayed by environmental groups, on a fast track. The National Integration Ministry will sign a permanent agreement with the Army in order to begin work on the project by the end of July. It is estimated that the project will take 14 months to complete.
Although private engineering and construction firms will also participate in the project, enlisting the Army, whose Engineering Battalion has a reputation for excellence, will "bypass bureaucratic procedures," Valor explains. The engineers will build canals at two points to catch the river's water, and transport it to two dams from which it will be pumped to a network of canals built throughout the region. In 1994, Brazil's then-Public Works Minister Aluizio Alves told EIR that the project to divert the Sao Francisco's waters would neutralize the terrible drought which regularly affects the semi-arid regions of four northeastern statesCeara, Paraiba, Rio Grande do Norte, and Pernambuco. Increased food production resulting from the use of irrigation, would help mitigate hunger, generate employment, and increase the population's income, Alves said.