Ibero-American News Digest
Lopez Obrador Campaign Holds Up FDR as Model
"Using FDR as Model, Presidential Hopeful Out To Build New Deal for Mexico," the June 23 Washington Post headlined its article playing up PRD candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's program as a plan for a "Mexican New Deal." Two campaign advisors, Jose Maria Perez Gay and Manuel Camacho Solis, told the Post that "Roosevelt didn't solve all of America's problems, but he gave American society a sense that they were on the right track... If it weren't for Roosevelt there would have been great social unrest in the U.S. We have the same situation here."
Putting of FDR front and center is new for the campaign, although the candidate himself, in his book, An Alternative Project for the Nation, Lopez Obrador stressed the good relations which existed between Franklin Roosevelt and Mexico's nationalist President, Gen. Lazaro Cardenasa point emphasized again in the candidate's discussion of international relations in his 50-point program, where it is noted that the policy undertaken by FDR "created favorable conditions for the reforms which were implemented during the Cardenas period." In his book, Lopez Obrador discusses how FDR came into office in the midst of a profound economic crisis, and in his first 100 days in office adopted a "whirlwind" of measures which "considerably increased the presence and influence of the public power in every aspect of U.S. life, without affecting the foundations of a market economy nor the democratic principles which guide that political system."
The elections are on July 2, and are too close to call, as the pollsters have it.
U.S. Chavez Obsession Angers Regional Allies
U.S. thuggery against Ibero-American governments, warning them not to back Venezuela's bid for a UN Security Council seat, or even to so much as shake President Hugo Chavez's hand, is backfiring. Back in April, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice threatened the Chilean government that should it back Chavez, it "could fall into a group of losers against U.S. interests," a threat not warmly received in Santiago, the Los Angeles Times reported on June 19, citing diplomatic sources. Ibero-American governments have more important things than Hugo Chavez to worry about, such as poverty and other pressing social issues. Besides, the Jamaica Gleaner warned recently, "there is no admiration for the U.S.," and supporting Washington on any issue is not a popular stand.
Now, the Bush Administration's Chavez obsession has led it to attack the third-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Honduras. Officially, 50% of Hondurans are unemployed, and some estimate the actual figure is 80%. The United Nations estimates 49% of Hondurans live in extreme poverty, and aid agencies say one out of three Hondurans suffer critical hunger, yet the Bush team is determined that country pay full price for oil.
On June 16, the U.S. Embassy announced it would suspend issuance of new U.S. visas for Hondurans from June 16 to Aug. 11, shortly after the embassy issued a statement protesting that the Honduran officials had met with representatives of Venezuela's state oil company, Pdvsa, to discuss oil imports, including possible construction of an oil refinery in Honduras. Ostensibly, the visa suspension is because of fraud, but a Honduran diplomatic source told EIR that the State Department has been pressuring Honduras, since at least March 2006, not to sign an oil deal with Venezuela, which offers oil at less than world market rates to neighboring countries. Shell, Texaco, and Exxon argue that any such deal would "change the rules of the game." The U.S. actions provoked President Manuel Zelaya to issue a statement that Honduras is not a colony, and the visa suspension is "vulgar, unjust, and arbitrary." U.S. Ambassador Charles Ford brazenly replied that just as Honduras makes its own decisions (i.e., on oil), so the U.S. makes its own decisions (to suspend visas).
Kirchner Scores U.S. for Abandoning Region
"U.S. participation in [Ibero-America] is cold; we have no good integration discussions with them, because what they propose as integration is not auspicious for our region," Argentine President Nestor Kirchner told the Spanish Parliament in a June 22 address. Argentina, and most of the rest of Ibero-America, don't look to the United States for positive solutions. "During our most difficult moments, we either had to overcome [our problems] ourselves," or turn to countries like Spain, which, during the 2001-2002 economic crisis, offered "solidarity" and economic assistance, he recalled. "In our judgment, [the country] that should be carrying out that role in the region, isn't doing it; so obviously we are going to have to create other channels...."
Conflict around President Hugo Chavez is "encouraged by the United States, which tries to portray a supposed 'little monster' in everything [Venezuela] does," Kirchner added. He and others are labelled "populist," a term used by certain sectors "to slander the [principle] of self-determination of nations, and the search for justice, equality, and inclusion...."
Look at Ibero-America, he said. Governments are called all sorts of things"populist" or "progressive." But the reality is that "we are countries trying to rebuild ourselves. We must understand what Bolivia is going through," he said, as an example. "After Haiti, it's the second-poorest nation in the region. They've gone through the worst experiences." President Evo Morales is trying to bring about a transformation, which the long-suffering Bolivian people demand, Kirchner said.
Spain Tells U.S. To Stop Obsessing; Work with Kirchner
"Argentina is a constructive partner which will increasingly exercise that stabilizing effort in the region, where many are obsessing over the political direction of Venezuela, Cuba, and Bolivia," Spanish Foreign Minister Migual Angel Moratinos told the Argentine daily La Nacion (a nest of President Nestor Kirchner's enemies), June 21, that the Zapatero government was indeed signing a plan of action for a "strategic relationship" with the Kirchner government. The Kirchner government has political authority in the region, and is helping stabilize the area, Moratinos said. Washington should turn to Argentina and Spain for advice, he added.
The unhappy La Nacion reporter asked how private investors could be encouraged to invest where the State was taking over the economy again. The Argentine government's criteria must be respected, Moratinos answered. The country's economy is developing. "It is growing, creating employment, achieving social cohesion. The policy of President Kirchner must be supported."
Bolivian Re-Nationalization Continues; Chile Affected
Bolivia announced this week that it will reestablish majority state control over six more companies in the strategic economic areas of telecommunications, railroads, and electricity. Minister of Development Planning Carlos Villegas said the government will purchase sufficient stock from the private owners of companies in these areas, to regain 51% state control. The move continues the reversal of the piratization of the Bolivian economy effected under Rio Tinto Zinc's President Gonzalo Sanchez de Losada in the 1990s. Italian, U.S., and Chilean interests will be affected by the move.
Chilean Foreign Minister Alexander Foxley responded that the Chilean government will not comment nor intervene in Bolivia's renationalization of the railroads, despite the fact that the powerful Luksic group (Anglo-Chilean interests) owns half of one of the railroads which will be restored to majority state control. In principle, the government of Chile should not get involved in situations involving particular companies, Foxley said, because companies that invest abroad assume "a certain risk."
Pinochetistas: 'Honeymoon Is Over' with Bachelet
The Pinochetista right wing in Chile has begun aggressively attacking Chilean President Michelle Bachelet for having "failed" during her first 100 days in office. Business magnate Sebastian Pinera, Bachelet's opponent in last year's elections, claimed "the ship is taking on water." Joaquin Novoa, the head of the synarchist UDI, accused Bachelet of not doing enough to deal with "crime" and "security" matters. When a delegation of Congressmen travelled to Bolivia in early June, and made unauthorized remarks, the right-wing Alliance for Chile charged that Bachelet wasn't even in charge of foreign policy. Subsequently, the Senate Foreign Relations committee cancelled an upcoming Congressional trip to La Paz to attend an inter-parliamentary conference.
The synarchists aren't sure that Bachelet is under their control, particularly under current global conditions and the ferment in Ibero-America. Despite electoral promises to the contrary, the Alliance for Chile now warns that it will obstruct the bill Bachelet has submitted to Congress to reform the infamous "binomial" electoral system set up by dictator Augusto Pinochet, which makes it almost impossible for any independent or third-party force to be elected to Congress. Bachelet's spokesman, Ricardo Lagos Weber, recently stated that the binomial system "is neither just nor legitimate...it is a holdover from the dictatorship.... It is obscene."