From Volume 5, Issue Number 12 of EIR Online, Published Mar. 21, 2006

Ibero-American News Digest

Brazil Drafts 15-Year Nuclear Energy Plan

Science and Technology Minister Sergio Rezende announced March 7 that Brazil has a plan to build seven nuclear plants over the next 15 years, two of them in the country's most impoverished region, the Northeast. Rezende made this revelation in interview with BBC Brazil, while he was in London, accompanying President Lula da Silva on a state visit. Rezende said he wants the government to approve the National Nuclear Energy Plan by the end of July. Once that happens, construction of the already-started Angra 3 would be completed, and then one new nuclear plant would be started every two to three years afterwards, for the following 15 years. This will be controversial, he said, but nuclear energy should stop being seen as the "ugly duckling." These plants can be built near urban centers, unlike hydroelectric plants, and costs will cheapen soon due to the worldwide renaissance in nuclear energy, he argued.

Rezende also announced that the formal inauguration ceremonies for the start-up of Brazil's uranium enrichment program on an industrial scale—pushed back repeatedly as the international campaign on Iran escalated—should occur in April, when President Lula can attend. Small-scale production has already begun, he said.

Isto-E magazine, which called Rezende's revelation of the nuclear plan a shocker, because no one knew that the government was giving nuclear power such attention, reported in its issue dated March 15, that the Science Minister visited the Joint European Torus (JET) fusion program while in London, and that the president of the National Nuclear Energy Commission Odair Goncalves, had joined Lula's team in London—after a trip to Moscow for which his agenda had not been revealed.

The decision to expand Brazil's nuclear capabilities beyond its two existing plants is still being fought out, however. After his meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Argentine President said that the government has not decided yet whether it will approve the National Nuclear Plan. Economics Minister Antonio Palocci quickly told reporters that hydroelectric plants, not nuclear, is what is needed.

To encourage Brazil’s move toward nuclear energy, EIR has translated the Mexican LaRouche Youth Movement's call to "Use the Nuclear Option to Stop Fascism'’ (see Feb. 24 EIR Indepth (#7) into Portuguese, posted it to EIR's Portuguese-language web page, and circulated it within Brazil's extensive nuclear institutions.

Kirchner: We Will Not Treat People 'As if They Were Cattle'

Slamming the free market, cartels, and speculators for toying with people's lives and raising beef prices, Argentine President Nestor Kirchner demonstrated a "take-no-prisoners" approach to defending the general welfare in the battle to keep meat prices within consumers' reach. The Argentine Beef Consortium (ABC) of large exporters and slaughterhouses is hysterical that Kirchner is personally taking on this issue, going so far as to consider shutting down the privately-run Liniers beef market in Buenos Aires, which sets the reference price for the rest of the country. But the head of the small producers' organization, the Argentine Agrarian Federation (FAA), defended Kirchner's actions, saying "This is for the general welfare."

In a hard-hitting, nationally televised speech March 14 in Rio Negro, Kirchner directly addressed Argentines as well as their neighbors in other countries. Powerful interests have to understand that “for a country to move forward, it must have an absolutely responsible economic process which reflects solidarity." Stating that he had asked large producers to cooperate in bringing down the beef price—to no avail—Kirchner warned, "I'm not going to budge. No beef exports for 180 days, and if I have to make it 360 days, I'll do it, because I'm convinced it's necessary.... To those of you watching me on television, you know how this famous pricing scheme works.... They say this is how free enterprise works.... But nobody believes that it's supply and demand," that sets the beef price, Kirchner said. "We know how it's done, how they manipulate.... This trickery no longer has a place in Argentina, and we Argentines aren't willing to tolerate it any longer."

The Argentine President told citizens that if the price doesn't come down, they should stop buying beef. "Let [the speculators] feel the power of Argentine consumers.... Don't let them sell at the price they want." He told slaughterhouse workers not to heed the owners' threats, that they would lose their jobs because of Kirchner's regulatory controls. "The national and provincial governments will give you all the support necessary to put an end to this type of extortion. It's not the case, that if exports are halted we're going to throw people out of work, as if they were cattle. That practice has ended. People are people in Argentina; they have rights and qualities, and the dignity to feel like Argentines."

U.S. Steelworkers Defend Mexico's Mineworkers

The United Steelworkers of America held a march in support of Mexico's Metalworkers and Miners Union March 17 in Philadelphia, starting at the Liberty Bell and ending at the Mexican Consulate. The USW, which has a strategic alliance with the 250,000-strong Mineros union, protested the Fox government's bald maneuver to replace the leadership of the union with a rump caucus of toadies, after the miners union charged that company negligence and government collusion were responsible for the deaths of 65 miners in a single mine accident on Feb. 19. USW Secretary Treasurer Jim English called the attempt to oust Mine and Metallurgical Workers head Napoleon Gomez "a shameful act of naked aggression against the human rights of workers who make their living under the most dire circumstances." AFL-CIO vice president Linda Chavez Thompson and Pennsylvania AFL-CIO president Bill George also attended.

On March 16, the Mineros filed a suit against the shareholders, directors, and executives of Grupo Mexico's Industrial Minera Mexico, along with President Vicente Fox's Secretary of Labor, Francisco Javier Salazar, and two government inspectors, charging all of them with "premeditated industrial homicide" in the Pasta de Conchos coal mine in Coahuila, where the 65 miners died. The conditions are so bad in that mine that the bodies of those who died remain underground. A team of miners who tried to reach the area of the explosion again last week announced, as they emerged from the mine, that the company had lied about how close they had gotten to the area of the explosion, over a mile down, and they would not go back down until they were provided adequate equipment and security, or more miners would die in the attempt to reach those who already perished. The response of Grupo de Mexico's management was to prohibit miners from talking to the press.

The government's union-busting attempt has only added to the national outrage at the scandalous slave labor conditions under which the miners work, provoking a national mobilization of the Mexican labor movement as a whole.

Uribe's Supporters Sweep Legislative Elections in Colombia

Critical Congressional elections held March 12 in Colombia, produced a major sweep by the six-party coalition of political forces backing President Alvaro Uribe's reelection bid. Presidential elections will be held in May, and Uribe is now considered a shoo-in for a second four-year term. The Colombian Constitution was amended recently to allow for second-term Presidencies, and so Uribe's victory will be an historic one.

Despite voter abstention rates as high as 60%, in large part due to the narcoterrorist FARC's pre-election terror campaign and widespread assassination threats against candidates around the country, Uribe's supporters will be taking 65 of 102 seats in the Senate, and 90 of the 166 in the lower House, knocking the Liberal Party, dominated by the pro-drug former Presidents Alfonso Lopez Michelsen and Cesar Gaviria, out of their long-held majority in the Congress.

Among the Uribe coalition forces who swept the election was the Alas Equipo Colombia group, which maintained its bloc of five Congressional seats. Maximiliano Londono, the president of the LaRouche Association who ran for Senate on the Alas slate, has announced that the association will campaign for the Presidential elections under the war cry: "A Train and Nuclear Energy in Search of a Candidate."

U.S. Southern Command Joins Crusade Against Venezuela

U.S. Southern Command General Bantz Craddock added his voice to that of such luminaries as Condoleezza Rice, Pat Robertson, and Bruce Willis, in statements March 13 before the Senate Armed Services Committee, in which Bantz called Hugo Chavez's Venezuela a "destabilizing force" in the Americas.

Craddock pointed to the petrodollars pouring into Venezuela, and claimed that they were "not being used in Venezuela, but throughout the region," presumably to support unwelcome (to the Bush-Cheney cabal in Washington) new regimes or electoral campaigns in the Andean region, such as Evo Morales in Bolivia and Ollanta Humala in Peru. He also referred to Venezuela's ongoing arms-purchase negotiations, particularly with China, suggesting that these transactions are not being conducted in a "transparent" way or from national defense concerns.

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