Ibero-American News Digest
Cocalero Leader Elected President of Bolivia
Evo Morales was elected President of Bolivia Dec. 18, receiving the highest vote of any Presidential candidate in decades: 54%, with 80% of the vote counted, as of Dec. 22. Morales swept the poorer areas of Bolivia, and is credited with 60% in the capital, La Paz, and a surprising 30% in the wealthier and non-Indian region of Santa Cruz. In addition, his Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party appears to have won only one seat short of a majority in the Senate.
The Bolivian election represented a choice between two poisons: the financiers' free trade, supported by the two defeated candidates, and the financiers' left-synarchist option, represented by Morales. Morales, picked up years back by international mega-speculator and drug-legalizer George Soros, and groomed to become the leader of the country's coca-growing peasantry, has ties to Colombia's narcoterrorist FARC; Morales promised in his campaign that as President, he would legalize all production of coca (the chief ingredient in cocaine) in Bolivia, and campaign for its legalization internationally. Peruvian Nazi-communist Ollanta Humala, in second place in polls for Peru's April 2006 Presidential elections, met with Morales in March in Bolivia, and has welcomed his coca legalization plans.
Voters did not vote for Morales because of his coca program, however, but because he promised to break with the free-trade policies which have lowered living standards in the nation for 25 years.
What Morales actually does, once sworn in as President in January, will be shaped in great part by what comes out of the huge political and social upheavals under way internationally, especially in the United States. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Argentina's Nestor Kirchner, and Brazil's Lula da Silva all welcomed Morales's election, and the head of Mercosur (Common Market of the South), "Chacho" Alvarez, called for Bolivia to be made a full member. Negotiations with U.S. financial circles to "moderate" his promise to nationalize Bolivia's oil and gas industry have been under way for months.
Lula, Uribe Advance Infrastructure Agenda in South America
South American integration, particularly of its physical infrastructure, topped the agenda of talks between Presidents Alvaro Uribe (Colombia) and Lula da Silva (Brazil) during the Brazilian President's Dec. 14 state visit to Colombia, his third since taking office.
The agreements signed, including a $200 million loan from Brazil's National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES) for Colombia to pave missing sections of a highway which runs from Brazil to Colombia's Pacific coast, marked steps towards implementing the grand continental infrastructure projects discussed at the historic March 29, 2005 summit of the Presidents of Brazil, Colombian, Venezuela, and Spain (see "Integration is the New Name for Peace," in InDepth, EIR Online #15, 2005). Uribe again emphasized during Lula's visit to Bogota, as he had in the March meeting, the importance of developing the South American waterways as an functional, integrated transport system throughout the continent. The relevant officials are drawing up a "Memorandum of Understanding on Binational Infrastructure and Physical Integration Projects," the two Presidents announced in their final communique.
Security cooperation, particularly along their common border, was also discussed. Colombia finalized the long-delayed deal to buy 25 Super Tucanos fighter planes from Brazil, a deal the Bush Administration had blocked previously.
A revealing sidelight to the mental state of both Presidents was provided by Uribe, who praised Lula at least three times, in two different speeches, as a model of how a leader can try to do something to aid the poor, without scaring foreign investors. Indeed, both Uribe and Lula exemplify Presidents who would like to do something to better their nation and peoples' condition, but have yet found the courage to face up to the fact that they must help change the global system, in order to do so.
GM Economist Suggests U.S. Work with Argentina's Kirchner
Asked by the Inter-American Dialogue to comment on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whether anti-Americanism will continue to rise in Ibero-America in 2006, and what the U.S. will do to rebuild relations with Ibero-America, Jonathan Flott, economist for General Motor's Latin America, Africa, and Middle East division, called for the United States to be more "pragmatic" in its relations with the region. Chavez will do what Chavez will do, regardless of what the U.S. does, he said, but, "the key are leaders such as [Argentine President Nestor] Kirchner who may lean towards Chavez, but who are also looking for support on substantive issues, and are willing to moderate their positions in the pursuit of broader national interests." His answer was published in the Dec. 21 "Latin America Advisor" newsletter of the Dialogue. (See InDepth this issue, for the latest on the "substantive issues" upon which President Kirchner is seeking cooperation.)
The Dialogue, a financiers' think tank set up in 1982 to stop Lyndon LaRouche's influence in the region, is launching what appears to be a kind of "Who lost Ibero-America?" debate. "Relations between the United States and Latin America today are at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War," IAD president Peter Hakim acknowledges in an article titled "Is Washington Losing Latin America?", published in the January-February issue of Foreign Affairs. Hakim warns that U.S.-Latin American relations have "seriously deteriorated," and are "in tatters." Few Ibero-Americanspoor, rich, in government or outconsider the U.S. to be a dependable partner, and the United States and its international agenda are discredited throughout the region. Hakim's only proposal, however, is for the U.S. to pay more attention to implementing more of the same: free trade.
Mexican Outrage Over U.S. Border Wall Grows
Comparing Bush Administration plans to build a nearly 700-mile fence along areas of the U.S.-Mexico border to a new "Berlin Wall," the Mexican government is organizing an international campaign to stop the measure. On Dec. 17, the House of Representatives passed a vicious "border security" bill, sponsored by two Republicans, House Judiciary Committee chairman James Sensenbrenner and Homeland Security Committee chairman Peter King, which, among other things, authorizes the construction of specially-reinforced fencing, with special lights, sensors, and cameras, across key border regions of the states of California, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Bush is fully behind the measure, and the Senate will be taking up debate on the legislation in February.
Mexican President Vicente Fox called the idea "disgraceful and shameful," and declared at a ceremony celebrating the International Day of the Immigrant that, "It is impossible that in the 21st Century, we are building walls between two nations that are neighbors, between two nations that are brothers, between two nations that are partners.... The entire population of the United States ... are migrants who have come from all over the world, and have build that great nation." Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said that Mexico "will not put up with, is not going to permit, will not allow a stupid thing like this wall" to be built, and promised to "raise a storm of criticism" against it. Mexico's government has even taken out ads urging Mexican workers in the U.S. to denounce rights violations on that side of the border.
Whether he meant to or not, Fox hit the nail on the head when he said that this "shameful moment, where walls are being built, security systems are being reinforced, and human and labor rights are being violated more and more, will not protect the economy of the United States."