Ibero-American News Digest
LYM Exposes 'Wall Street in the Eyes of Colombia'
As U.S. Ambassador to Colombia William Wood was readying himself on July 14 to address the attendees at this year's bankers' seminar, "Colombia in Wall Street's Eyes," organized yearly by the U.S. Council of the Americas, the Colombian National Association of Financial Institutions (ANIF), and Foundation for Development (Fedesarrollo), a member of the LaRouche Youth Movement, Pedro Rubio, Jr., took the microphone, and held up the famous LaRouche in 2004 campaign poster showing Richard Grasso, then head of the New York Stock Exchange, in an embrace with Raul Reyes, a leader of the narcoterrorist FARC, in June 1999.
"As LaRouche has demanded, this alliance of the Wall Street banks with the drug trade, which has destroyed Colombia, must be ended. A new international monetary and financial system must be created, along the lines LaRouche has proposed. This proposal has already been endorsed by the Italian Parliament," Rubio told the 700 attendees, who included the crême de la crême of the country's financial elite. While the anguished organizers of the event tried to mobilize their logistics and security staff to throw him out, some applauded his intervention, while most seemed stunned by the unexpected denunciation of the FARC-Wall Street alliance. After the microphone was cut off, Rubio was escorted from the auditorium by a couple of statuesque usherettes.
Ambassador Wood tried not to lose his cool, beginning his address by saying, "I have always liked to be in countries where there is freedom of speech, even when it has not been programmed on the agenda," so that it was clear that he had had nothing to do with the "LaRouche" incident.
The speeches which followed, by New York representatives of JP Morgan, HSBC, and Deutsche Bank, confirmed that the Wall Street/drug-trafficking alliance is still in place. All, like their Colombian counterparts, demanded the most brutal Schachtian austerity to prop up the destroyed international financial system.
IMF Questions Argentina's 'Right' Even To Negotiate
For the first time since its founding, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) applied to Argentina a clause which forces member countries to prove they deserve the right just to begin negotiations for an agreement. On July 13, Argentine officials had to meet for several hours with the IMF executive board and gain its approval for the start of negotiations, with no guarantee that any agreement would even be forthcoming. According to all reports, the discussion was brutal. Italian and Japanese representatives in particular argued that Argentina has made no gesture of conciliation that would qualify it for the Fund's support. The board reportedly only relented grudgingly after the German and U.S. delegates intervened on Argentina's behalf.
Negotiations are to begin soon and will be tense, at best.
What sticks in the IMF's craw, is Argentina's refusal to bow before it. Ten days before the negotiations were to begin, on July 6, Argentina's principal debt negotiator, Secretary of Finances Guillermo Nielsen, told a Buenos Aires seminar on foreign debt organized by El Cronista that when Argentina negotiated its debt restructuring agreement with the majority of its bondholders despite IMF opposition, it demonstrated that "there can be life without the IMF, even if that life can be difficult. Countries lift themselves up when they decide to do so," Nielsen said.
It were well the IMF remembered that its mission is to enhance stability. Instead, the IMF irresponsibly extended clearly unsustainable loans right up until Argentina's debt blew outloans which then left the country as capital flightand then, immediately changed policy, and cut Argentina off. Then, when Argentina attempted to restructure its debt, the IMF backed the bondholders' demands for greater payments.
The Argentine government, however, from the Presidency, to the economic team and the Congress, held firm in the negotiations, he said. The lesson from this experience, is that "it is not enough to take correct decisions, but it is as important, or more important, even, to have the strength, the emotional resistance in the face of adversity, to stick to the right road."
Peruvian Bishops Warn National Stability at Risk
Speaking in the name of Peru's Catholic Bishops Council, Msgr. Hugo Garaycoa warned on July 6 that the situation in Peru could become uncontrollable if the road blockades, strikes, and protests which are sweeping the country continue unabated. People must accept dialogue as the way to resolve problems, he urged.
"We are worried that the stability of the country is being undermined as the idea of the Nation is lost, and we see ourselves as a political and social conglomerate, in which everyone looks out for their own demands.... The authorities and politicians are not responding adequately to the necessities and demands of our people." The "economic indicators" look good, but "the majority of our people do not see any improvement in their family or social situation," the Bishop remonstrated.
Peru looks very much like its neighbors, Ecuador and Bolivia, whose governments were overthrown in the second quarter of 2005. Strikes and protests have been concentrated in, although not limited to, the south of the country, as farmers, coca growers, transport workers, and others have taken to the streets to protest, variously, the Free Trade Accord which the government is negotiating with the U.S., the government's "labor modernization" plans, the high price of fuels, and coca-eradication efforts. Protesters are blocking roads, leading to food shortages, for example, in the city of Arequipa.
Making Infrastructure a Popular Cause
On Saturday, July 9, the Governor of the state of Sonora, Mexico, Eduardo Bours Castelo, announced before a thousand-plus farmers from the North West Peasant Alliance, that his government is willing to consider helping build the long-planned North West Hydraulic Plan, or PLHINO.
The LaRouche movement has campaigned for the PLHINO for decades, particularly in the recent period. as the worst drought in the state's history has brought the dams in the state down to 10% of their capacity. Using a model and a map built on the basis of the archived project drafted in the 1970s, LaRouche organizers have been organizing businessmen, farmers, students, and others on how linking the PLHINO to the long-planned but equally stalled North American Water and Power Alliance project, known as NAWAPA, is needed to green and develop the entire Great American Desert region.
The head of the industrial organization CANACINTRA from the south of the state (where most of PLHINO's water would go first) recently promised in a joint press conference with LaRouche representative Alberto Vizcarra, that he would organize to get CANACINTRA national backing for the project. The city councils from Ciudad Obregon, Hermosillo and three other cities have passed resolutions urging the long-stalled PLHINO be finally built.
Central America Agrees To Form RDF
Under the auspices of a Central American Presidential summit on integration and cooperation, held June 29-30 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, a Rumsfeld-style "Regional Deployment Force" (RDF) was agreed upon. The pretext for its creation is the very real problem of the violent "maras," or gangs, which cross borders with impunity. Acceptance of the concept of the RDFanathema to the principle of a sovereign defense of national interestssets a dangerous precedent for the entire hemisphere, however.
Attending the summit were the heads of state of the Central American countries, Mexico's Vicente Fox, Colombia's Alvaro Uribe, and Dan Fisk of the U.S. State Department's Western Hemisphere Affairs division, as well as representatives from the Inter-American Development Bank, Organization of American States, and other multinational agencies. The deal for the RDF was struck in the final stages of the two-day summit, under the special impetus of the U.S., whose representative, Fisk, apparently arrived in the late hours of the summit to push the project forward.
According to the joint statement issued at the end of the summit, the Presidents and other delegates agreed to create "a rapid response force that will allow for greater cooperation, flexibility and success in the fight against narcoterrorism and other emerging threats." Said Honduran President Ricardo Maduro, "This resolution basically orders the creation of this force within each country in its first phase; in the second phase, they will be conducting joint operations, and in the third phase, combined operations."
Castaneda Takes Presidential Campaign to Washington
Invited, along with former Canadian Foreign Minister Perrin Beatty, to address the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on U.S. border relations, former Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Jorge Castaneda used the occasion to promote his Presidential ambitions where they started: in the United States. Castaneda had been the Anglo-American establishment's candidate of choice until recently, when the PRD's Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AML0) received prominent coverage as the purported frontrunner in the 2006 Presidential elections, and the financial oligarchy made a major move to take over the AMLO candidacy through assets such as former Salinas protégé Manuel Camacho, who has risen as a close aide for AMLO. Castaneda remains a significant Wall Street option, howeveras a policy initiator, as a spoiler, and even as a potential "dark horse."
Besides answering questions related to U.S.-Mexico relations, migration, and security, Castaneda emphasized that the Mexican situation is ripe for his candidacy. He described the population's mood as against everything and everyone; but, he asserted, "an organization with an idea ... can take advantage of such unrest and rejection" of the existing political parties. If not, he warned, "that unrest may be manipulated and used in favor of an authoritarian temptation that always existed in Mexico, or a populist temptation that also always existed in Mexico." "Populism" is the catchword used in Mexico to describe the pro-development policies of José Lopez Portillo and other nationalists.