Ibero-American News Digest
Bielsa Call for New Bretton Woods Blacked Out
Speaking at the UN General Assembly in the name of the 19-nation Rio Group on Sept. 14, Argentine Foreign Minister Rafael Bielsa issued a call for an international heads-of-state conference like the 1944 Bretton Woods conference, to create a more just global financial system. That's pretty big news, which you can read about in this week's InDepth section. The rest of the media internationally, outside some Spanish-language wire services (ANSA, EFE), have largely ignored this breaking story. Even the Argentine main national newspapers missed the boat on the importance of the Foreign Minister's speech, leaving it to a couple of regional papers to report this breaking news.
The LaRouche movement, however, sent Bielsa's speech out to contacts and presswith instructions for people to watch the webcast which the author of the proposal, Lyndon LaRouche, would be giving on Sept. 16. In Buenos Aires, the LaRouche Youth Movement used Bielsa's clear echoing of LaRouche's work for the final day of organizing people to hear LaRouche's webcast at the Congressional annex, where it was shown on a big screen.
Neo-Con Campaign vs. Kirchner Government Escalates
The campaign to portray Argentine President Nestor Kirchner as "soft on terrorism," picked up again in the wake of reports circulated Sept. 2 by the conservative daily La Nacion, that 26 members of the Islamic fundamentalist group Jamaat Tibligh had entered the country seeking recruits for al-Qaeda. Although the government was aware of this fact, and was closely monitoring the group's whereabouts and activities, Kirchner's political opponents, such as neo-con Ricardo Lopez Murphy, started screaming that Kirchner is "importing terrorists," and others are calling for a Congressional investigation.
When this dirty line was first put out by the Americas editor of the Wall Street Journal, Mary Anastasio O'Grady, on July 8, Foreign Minister Rafael Bielsa reminded Argentines that O'Grady was nothing but a mouthpiece for the "neoliberal" crowd in the United States, who believe "the rule of law ... begins and ends with the right to property," before which the stateand individual freedommust bow (see Ibero Digest, EIR Online #30). When this line was revived again, Bielsa charged on Sept. 2 that opponents are "systematically inventing hypotheses of terrorists" supposedly being "welcomed" by Argentina.
The Jamaat Tibligh members reportedly entered the country from the tri-border region of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, the region Donald Rumsfeld has targetted for military intervention. Bush Administration officials have also expressed concern that the presence of this group in Argentina could endanger "American lives"including that of Bush himselfat the Nov. 3-4 Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina.
Work Begins on South American Inter-Oceanic Highway
The Presidents of Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru gathered at Puerto Maldonado, Peru on Sept. 8, to inaugurate construction of a 2,600-kilometer inter-oceanic highway, which will unite the two coasts of South America through their three countries. The highway will run from the Atlantic coast of Brazil to the Peruvian Pacific ports of Ilo, Matarani, and San Juan. At the ceremonies, where hundreds gathered from the three countries whose borders meet near Puerto Maldonado, President Lula of Brazil declared the inter-oceanic highway to be "a symbol of confidence, friendship, and cooperation between Peru, Bolivia and Brazil, the realization of a dream which Peruvians, Brazilians, and Bolivians have had for decades," and will be a "powerful source of progress," providing jobs for isolated and marginalized populations. Brazil will be providing engineering aid and putting up a good chunk of the financing for much of the work to be done in Peru and Bolivia, the only way the long-stalled project could advance.
In his weekly Monday "breakfast interview" on Brazilian radio on Sept. 12, Lula held up the highway as exemplary of the unity needed between South American nations, and emphasized that Brazil wants to establish a strong partnership with the nations of South America, so that the region can take charge of its own affairs ("owner of our own nose," as the Portuguese saying has it). He stated, for the first time in months, that this means "no longer being dependent on the IMF, dependent on World Bank loans. We will have our own, strong economy, to generate the jobs we need, to distribute the income as we wish."
Corruption Scandal Hits Yet Another Brazilian Official
The latest victim of the corruption scandal unleashed against Brazil last June, is the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Severino Cavalcanti, exposed by Veja magazine on Sept. 9 for allegedly taking the grand sum of $4,300 in 2001 from the restaurant in Congress, in return for renewing its concession without putting it up for bidding. The right-wing opposition parties say Cavalcanti should be run out of Congress for this, and discussion is already underway over who should replace him, should he have to go. Cavalcanti is part of the government coalition, and would be third in line for the Presidency, were Lula and Vice President Jose Alencar to be driven out.
And the Illegal Immigrants in Hurricane Katrina's Way?
Ibero-American newspapers are raising questions about the fate of illegal immigrants caught in the area affected by the hurricane, as reports flood in of the desperate situation of immigrants trying to find shelters where they are not required to register, out of fear that they and their families will be deported. The worst off are those who most recently arrived, who often do not understand English, have no gasoline or money, and do not know where to turn.
Hondurans are the largest Hispanic community in the New Orleans area, which has been the primary entry point from this nation into the U.S. since the end of the 1890s, when United Fruit, the banana company that dominated Honduras's economy for decades, was headquartered there. There are families originally from Honduras going back five generations, in some cases, in the New Orleans area. The Honduran government reports that today some 125,000 Hondurans live in the hurricane-affected area, and as of mid-week, the Consulate, now removed to Baton Rouge, was caring for some 360 people there. Many of those who are legally in the country, in addition to losing their homes and jobs, also lost their immigration papers as well. particularly in and around New Orleans.
According to the Mexican government, some 140-150,000 Mexicansboth legal and illegal immigrantslive in the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama area affected by Katrina. The Fox government is pressuring Bush to declare a 45-day moratorium on deportations of illegal immigrants, so that people will not be afraid to seek assistance, but as of Sept. 9, the spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security would not confirm that the Bush Administration had agreed to this. Statements from some illegals that as bad as the situation in the hurricane-affected area is, it is not as bad as conditions in their hometowns in rural Mexico, provide a shocking reminder of the worse-than-hurricane destruction wreaked by globalization upon much of the world.
Fox Kowtows to Private Interests Even Still
Still living on another planet, Mexico's President Vicente Fox declared that the lesson of Hurricane Katrina is that Mexico must now privatize its oil and gas. In a Sept. 12 speech, Fox announced that Katrina shows that the "lack of deep reforms in [Mexico's] energy sector" has made Mexico vulnerable to shortages and price hikes, and therefore he will send Congress two proposed Constitutional reforms: to expand private investment in the exploration and exploitation of natural gas fields not associated with oil, and to permit private investment in oil pipeline and storage infrastructure. This he called necessary for securing "sovereignty." To gain some political capital, he also announced the government will limit price increases on domestic consumption of oil, gas, and electricity.
The details of his proposed Constitutional reforms have yet to be made public. Congress has refused to pass all his other proposed energy "reforms."
Adding to the Quixote-like insanity of the President's speech, was his announcement that Mexico last week began work on building the first large "windfarm" in Mexico, the $110 million-plus "La Venta II" project, and he called upon Congress to vote up his request for funds for another project to reap the winds, "La Venta III."