Ibero-American News Digest
U.S.-Brazil Fight Looming Over Venezuelan Plane Deal
Brazil may file suit against the Bush Administration at the World Trade Organization, for the U.S. veto of the planned sale of military training planes to Venezuela by the Brazilian company Embraer, Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told Folha de Sao Paulo on Jan. 23. The U.S. claims a right to veto the sale, because the Embraer planes use technology originally from the United States. Amorim called the veto "absurd, without acceptable justification, and without basis in international regulations." He made clear that it was viewed as an attack on Brazil, not just Venezuela, warning that the Bush team is "stepping on our calluses." Amorim has spoken twice with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and with Commerce Secretary Robert Portman, and told Folha that Rice's response has been unsatisfactory. Venezuela is not a military threat to anyone; the planes are not for combat, and if the U.S. has this policy, Embraer was never informed of it when it signed the deal, Amorim said.
CFR's Castaneda Calls for New Kissinger Commission
Under the title "Mending Fences South of the Border," former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda penned an op-ed in the Washington Post Jan. 21, calling on the Bush Administration to form a commission modelled on the 1960s Rockefeller Commission or the 1980s Kissinger Commission on Central America, to help bridge the gap between Ibero-America and the United States. Wall Street's "fair-haired boy" in Mexico, Castaneda claims such "instruments" for dialogue and policy-formulation have had some success in the past, and suggests they might again.
Castaneda's proposal reflects the flailing around in Council on Foreign Relations and Inter-American Dialogue circles over what to do about the fact that the United States' control, credibility, and influence in South America is at an historic low. As Castaneda admits, "U.S. relations with Latin America are in utter disrepair. Rarely over the past half-century has the chasm in perceptions been so wide, the resentments and mistrust so deep." The bind this crowd finds itself in, is that they are unwilling to give up the free-trade, anti-nation-state policies which created the current crisis in the region, and thus the conflict with Washington.
EIR this week features a package on the fascinating fight developing in South America against free trade and the Nazi policies of the Shultz-Rohaytan-Kissinger crowd which run the Bush-Cheney Administration (see "Kirchner Rallies S. America To 'Build the New Times'"; "Nazi Alito's Friends Lose in Chile"; and relevant documentation in this week's InDepth section). A U.S. freed of the Cheney policies, would find many friends and allies in the Americas.
Ecuador Demands IMF Be 'Reconceptualized'
One day after telling a visiting mission from the International Monetary Fund that Ecuador "does not need the support of the Fund, nor the monitoring of the Fund to define our policies," on Jan. 19, Ecuadoran Government Minister Alfredo Castillo called for the IMF to be "reconceptualized" altogether, since "there is not a single country in the world ... where it can demonstrate that its policies have been good for rescuing any sector of humanity from backwardness." Rather, the IMF has taught us that "indebtedness is development." Castillo, who also strongly opposes a free-trade agreement with the U.S., added that his government's priority was the protection of social investment.
Castillo said a reform of the entire international financial system was imperative, and that his government was going to form a commission to evaluate Ecuador's $11.3 billion foreign debt, "not for purposes of non-payment, but to determine what we owe, and why we owe so much." For example, "Why do we have to pay 45% of our budget in monstrous indebtedness?" Castillo acknowledged that his views were not shared by Finance Minister Diego Borja, noting that, "it is very difficult [for him] to share an opinion born from the depths of our people."
LaRouche Land-Bridge Proposals Discussed in Ecuador
In the context of a discussion of alternatives to the Panama Canal, the widely read El Universo of Guayaquil, Ecuador, chose to highlight U.S. economist Lyndon LaRouche's proposal for developing the South American continent through a high-speed railway network in its Jan. 24 edition. "In his proposals, the former [Presidential] candidate suggests that the railway routes would not only represent rapid travel from one place to another, with connections to Eurasia and Africa [across the Bering Strait], and between Central and South America, crossing the new sea-level inter-oceanic canal, whether in Panama or in Colombia; these would constitute development corridors."