From Volume 5, Issue Number 21 of EIR Online, Published May 23, 2006

Ibero-American News Digest

Mexico Moves Towards Nuclear-Power Revival

The Mexican government has established a committee to plan out expansion of nuclear energy development. Nuclear engineering circles in Mexico are delighted at the announcement, made May 11, that Mexico is moving to expand its nuclear sector. Work towards this has been going on for two years by leading people in the institutions, sources report, but the move was finally made official with formation of a "Nuclear Energy Decision-Making Committee," whose mission is to analyze the feasibility of the government developing a program for the expansion of nuclear power in Mexico. On May 11, Secretary of Energy Fernando Canales Clariond presided over the first meeting of the committee, which includes high-ranking officials of the Energy Ministry and the Federal Electricity Commission, leading nuclear experts from Mexican nuclear and electrical research institutes, and from the National Commission on Nuclear Security and Safeguards. The committee divided their work into three sub-committees: Confining Radioactive Waste; Adding Additional Nuclear Capacity; and Fuel Diversification.

The first decision of the committee was that it would define a nuclear-energy policy by next October, which would provide the next administration a working plan.

The Energy Secretary's announcement reiterates that under Mexico's Constitution, the state has sole control over nuclear resources and the generation of energy based on this technology.

Ibero-American 'Oil for Nuclear Power' Conference

An "Oil for Nuclear Power" conference, to be broadcast over the Internet from Mexico City and Buenos Aires June 15, co-sponsored by EIR and the LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM), is intersecting the optimism in Mexico created by the announcement of the "Nuclear Energy Decision-Making Committee."

The LYM kicked off the organizing for the conference on April 12, with a statement, "The Future Is Now: Oil for Nuclear Technology." The statement quotes from LaRouche's call, made during his March visit to Monterrey, for a program of Mexican reconstruction. "LaRouche is right," the LYM statement says. "In order to plan what we must do today, we require a clear concept of what the next 50 years must be.

"Mexico's oil industry must be rebuilt from the destruction imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the bankers since 1982. The oil industry, under [former President Jose] Lopez Portillo, was used to provide the resources to fund education, health care, and the building of essential infrastructure.... It will take some five-seven years to rebuild Mexico's oil industry back up to the level of 1982. That must be done, at the same time that we move towards a nuclear power-based economy. Oil and nuclear are complementary—if we view them from the standpoint of the next 50 years."

The conference will feature a report on the LaRouche-led battle in the U.S. for auto reconversion, as well.

South America's Presidents Club Has Financiers Foaming

Four points of attack on South American governments last week exemplify the latest attempts to stir up trouble among and in the South American nations:

1) On May 15, the State Department announced that Venezuela is "not fully cooperating" with the United States in fighting terrorism, and therefore, it will impose an arms embargo upon it, on the pretext that the Chavez regime is establishing close intelligence relations with Iran and Cuba (both designated as "state sponsors of terrorism" by the State Department), and that the regime has ties to Colombian narcoterrorist groups.

This "pro-terrorist" designation is aimed not only at Venezuela, but at polarizing and dividing South America. The Bush Administration has already blocked Brazil's agreement to sell Venezuela military training planes—causing problems between Venezuela and Brazil—by asserting U.S. veto rights over transfer of U.S. technology used in those planes. By specifying the Colombian terrorists as a reason for Venezuela's blacklisting, the Cheneyacs are upping the pressure on Colombia's Alvaro Uribe to break off participation in the emerging "Presidents' Club."

2) On May 14, Correio Brasilense, the daily of Brazil's capital Brasilia, leaked a document allegedly prepared by "the intelligence services of Brazil's Armed Forces," arguing that Brazil must change its current national defense policy to prepare for a possible war in South America. Some troops scheduled to beef up Amazon region defenses, should be instead deployed to Brazil's southern borders with Bolivia, Uruguay and, Paraguay, the document is said to urge. Naming Hugo Chavez as a "destabilizing factor" in the region, the document argues Brazil should adopt as its hypothesis of war, that within the next 15 years, "there could be direct combat with up to two coalitions of South American nations, or between one of [Brazil's] neighbors and a military superpower."

EIR cannot vouch for the accuracy of the leak, but its publication reflects the drumbeat for war which led President Lula da Silva and his Foreign Minister three times to reject the use of force against Bolivia.

3) London's Economist magazine May 13 issue threatened that "Brazilians may soon pay a price" for the Lula Administration's failure to attack Bolivia for violating contracts by nationalizing oil. Funny thing: The same weekend, the Brazilian weekly Veja published reports it itself admits are unconfirmed, that President Lula and other leaders of his party have secret foreign bank accounts. A spokesman for the government responded that Lula will sue the magazine for this.

4) On May 18, IMF spokesman Masood Ahmed chimed in, evoking the bogeyman of foreign investors fleeing. "The decision of the Bolivian government to nationalize the hydrocarbon sector has potentially far-reaching economic consequences," should negotiations not reach mutually satisfactory agreements on compensation, prices, and new operating contracts, the spokesman said, in answer to a set-up question from a Brazilian journalist, who asked if the IMF thinks the Bolivian nationalization "can negatively affect the investor sentiment towards all Latin America?"

Ecuador Boots Out Occidental Petroleum

"Resource nationalism," as worried bankers call it, is spreading. On May 15, the government of Ecuador announced the cancellation of Occidental Petroleum's contract to operate in Ecuador, and ordered it to leave the country. Occidental—which had been the target of weeks of popular demonstrations—was charged with violating its contract (among other things, it transferred 40% of its concession to a Canadian company in 2000 without informing the government). Interior Minister Felipe Vega dismissed protests that Ecuador was "lining up" with Venezuela and Bolivia. The "only factor in common" with those countries is "the conduct of the oil companies—conduct which is absolutely unfair, seizing our resources," said Vega. Energy Minister Ivan Rodriguez reported on May 16 that the government is considering bringing in one of Ibero-America's other state oil companies to help Petroecuador run Oxy's fields, mentioning Venezuela, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, or Colombia.

Occidental produced 100,000 bpd, about 20% of the nation's total daily output.

In mid-April, Ecuador imposed a 50% tax on the windfall profits of foreign oil companies, which have been raking it in since they had signed longer-term contracts with the government, before the price of oil soared.

Drug Gangs Launch War on Brazil's Largest City

The bestialization created by decades of free trade was displayed in all its horror in Sao Paulo this week, when the First Capital Command (the PCC) drug gang launched a city-wide assault on May 12, which continued for most of the following four days. At least 137 people died in the assault, which included simultaneous uprisings in 70 prisons, and attacks on some 250 police stations, courts, bank branches, and public transit buses.

This was the largest offensive ever carried out by the gang, which controls major portions of Sao Paulo's enormous poor favelas (slums). Ostensibly, the rampage was ordered in response to the transfer of several hundred of its members, including the head honcho, to high-security prisons.

The power wielded over the favelas of Brazil's big cities by these organized-crime battalions has been cited as a pretext for the creation of a multinational military force to police Ibero-America's "ungoverned areas" by Donald Rumsfeld et al. for the past four years. Imagine the calamity that would provoke!

Emergency Foreign Ministers Meeting Provoked by Bush Border Plan

Foreign Ministers from 11 Ibero-American countries held an "emergency" meeting May 19 in Mexico, to discuss Bush's border plan. Foreign Ministers from Central America (Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Belize), Ecuador, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, joined their Mexican counterpart, to coordinate actions. The kind of actions contemplated are similar to those announced by the Guatemalan government (which decried Bush's decision as "deplorable"), to increase personnel in their consulates in Arizona, Texas, and California, to prepare for an increased wave of deportations.

All rights reserved © 2006 EIRNS