From Volume 5, Issue Number 15 of EIR Online, Published Apr. 11, 2006

Ibero-American News Digest

Russian-Brazilian Technological Cooperation Advances

Russia and Brazil can implement technological projects at the level of world leaders, said Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, in a meeting with Brazilian power companies April 6. "My meetings with Brazilian colleagues at the government level and with the country's President [Lula da Silva] inspire confidence that the authorities will support companies interested in implementing energy projects," he said. He emphasized that "The level of energy development in Russia and Brazil permits us to speak of prospects for realizing joint ventures in third countries." Fradkov said the two governments planned to increase the volume of trade from the current $3 billion to $10 billion by 2010.

Fradkov visited Brazil from April 4-6, and Argentina from April 7-9, accompanied by a delegation of Russian businessmen and other officials. In Brazil, Fradkov and Brazilian Vice President Jose Alencar chaired a meeting of the High-Level Brazilian-Russian Cooperation Commission, and Fradkov then visited many Brazilian high-technology institutions and businesses, ranging form Petrobras, Furnas, Eletrobras, and Eletronuclear, to the aeronautics firm, Embraer, and the Aerospace Technical Center and National Space Research Institute.

Fradkov spoke of the "so-called technological alliance" between the Russia and Brazil, "the range of whose topics starts with energy, including atomic, and goes up to space explorations, covering aircraft building, and even agriculture where there is also a place for high technologies."

In the energy sphere, he said they hoped to specify proposals: "There is a chance to supply turbines and generators for a hydropower station; the two sides also discussed a chance for participation of Russian companies in building a transcontinental gas pipeline between Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina." Gazprom and Stroitransgaz are interested in joining this project. He also mentioned "joint geological prospecting on land and at sea."

Argentine Finance Minister Targets 'Chicago Boys'

Argentina "descended into Hell" because of the "Chicago boys" economic policies imposed by Synarchist Jose ("Joe") Martinez de Hoz under the 1976-83 military dictatorship, Finance Minister Felisa Miceli said in a March 31 speech. Fortunately, she added, Argentines "didn't heed Dante's warning in the Commedia, 'Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.'" Argentina is today being rebuilt, she said, and unlike that junta, the government has made the general welfare and industrialization its top priority. De Hoz's slogan, "shrink the State and ennoble the Nation," was a despicable lie, Miceli underscored.

The Finance Minister was speaking at a conference she organized to unveil a plaque paying tribute to all those Finance Ministry employees who had been killed, kidnapped, tortured, or disappeared under the dictatorship, and to also recall the package of genocidal free-market policies announced by de Hoz on April 2, 1976. The dismantling of Argentina's industrialization process resulting from that package, reflected a policy of "financial valuation that privileged speculative profits at the cost of the growth of production," she said. This could only be imposed was through sheer terror, murder, torture, and destruction of anyone who dissented, Miceli stated. She then pointedly added that de Hoz's murderous policies "gave birth to" Carlos Menem's economic program, imposed during his 1989-99 Presidency, with the same horrific results.

De Hoz's policies were "philosophically nourished by the ultra-liberal paradigm gaining influence at neo-conservative U.S. universities, whose emblematic center was the University of Chicago, home of the 'Chicago Boys,'" she explained. "This philosophy was loudly endorsed by financial capital linked to speculation, which, at that time, extended its influence by promoting the retrograde reorganization of many societies, and attained international hegemony in the 1980s and 1990s." Miceli pointed out that the 1989 "Washington Consensus" of neo-liberal policies "consecrated that preeminence, of which the Martinez de Hoz plan was a tragic foretaste, and Menem's convertibility plan [one-to-one dollar/peso parity], proof of its most notable deployment."

See "A Time for Truth: For Argentina and U.S.", in this week's InDepth, for EIR's evaluation of the strategic significance of the war which the Kirchner government has declared on the fascist projects of the Synarchist financiers.

Venezuela Increases State Control Over Oil

Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA, seized control of two oil fields previously under a contract granted to France's Total and Italy's ENI, on April 3. Under the privatizing wave of the '90s, Venezuela had granted the multinationals a contract to directly exploit the oil in 32 fields with wells officially qualified as "marginal." However, the fields have already seen more than ten years of continuous exploitation, for which Venezuela has received but 33% of each barrel's value.

Last year the Venezuelan government warned the multis that they had to change the format of that contract to form a joint venture with Pdvsa, in which it would have 51% of the stake. This format will allow Venezuela to gain 80% per barrel. All multis (Chevron, Shell, BP, Petrobras, Repsol, etc.) accepted in the end, except Exxon Mobil, which sold its stakes to Spain's Repsol. (For the European view of this deal, see this week's Europe Digest.)

Chavez Accuses U.S. of Spreading Invasion Rumors

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dismissed suggestions by The Netherlands Defense Minister Henk Kamp, that Venezuela has territorial designs on the Netherlands Antillies, and accused the U.S. government of spreading rumors. During a Parliamentary debate, Kamp said that Chavez was looking "with big eyes" at Dutch islands in the Caribbean. Chavez took on the issue April 3 after watching a demonstration by pilots flying new Russian military helicopters, calling Kamp "a truly ridiculous man." In his Sunday radio show Chavez had said: "He's without a doubt acting as a pawn of Washington."

Last September, Chavez had announced that a U.S. troop contingent visiting Curacao, officially as a recreational tour, was actually practicing for an invasion scenario involving carriers and planes. Now it's confirmed that for the next two months, the U.S. is planning what Ambassador William Brownfield said are regular naval exercises in the region, which will include an aircraft carrier, a destroyer, a cruiser, a frigate, and a 60-plane air wing, in what is considered the largest U.S. military deployment in the area in decades.

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