From Volume 5, Issue Number 40 of EIR Online, Published Oct. 3, 2006

Ibero-American News Digest

Guess Who's Making an Oil Grab in Mexico?

The Nazi duo who brought you Augusto Pinochet—Felix Rohatyn and George Shultz—are now out for Mexico's oil. Scarcely had Felipe Calderón been proclaimed President-elect of Mexico on Sept. 5, than his International Affairs Coordinator, Arturo Sarukhan, was hustled off to a hush-hush private meeting on Sept. 12-14 at the plush Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, Canada, to discuss "Continental Prosperity in the New Security Environment." The co-chairmen of the event were Pinochet-patron George Shultz; Pedro Aspe (Mexican Finance Minister under Carlos Salinas de Gortari, and currently a member of the top-level bankers' network PlaNet Finance—along with none other than Felix Rohatyn); and former Alberta Prime Minister Peter Lougheed.

Present for the panel on "A North American Energy Strategy," which discussed "deep integration" (ouch!), were top Pemex official Vinicio Suro, representatives of Chevron and other international energy groups, top Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) specialists, and various members of the Bush-Cheney Administration. According to press accounts, the meeting focussed on the interrelationship between North American defense systems, militarization, national security, borders, immigration, military production, and the control over North America's energy reserves. That's pretty much a thumbnail sketch of the energy policy which Dick Cheney drafted when the Bush Administration took office.

A week later, on Sept. 21, Forbes magazine pulled together a closed-door meeting in Mexico City of international bankers, businessmen, and Mexican government officials and politicians, who discussed "Designing the New Mexico" and drooled over "the future of Mexico's oil"—i.e., its privatization.

Not So Fast, George

News of the Forbes and Shultz meetings leaked out to the Mexican press provoked a firestorm of opposition inside Mexico. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, touring his home state of Tabasco (which is in the heart of the country's oil belt), issued a statement warning foreign and national investors that "the oil industry of the country is not for sale," and that Mexicans "will not allow the national patrimony to continue to be handed over." Those who fraudulently named Calderón as President-elect, he said, are now "circling like buzzards" over the oil and electricity sectors.

On Sept. 27, a National Front for the Defense of Energy Sovereignty was formed, on the 46th anniversary of the nationalization of the electrical industry, with the stated purpose of stopping the private takeover of all aspects of Mexico's energy resources. Organizers from the Mexican Electrical Workers (SME) warned that should any government attempt to put through energy "structural reforms," they would organize a national strike.

Joining the SME and leaders of López Obrador's movement from the PRD party at the founding meeting, were former PRI Sen. Manuel Bartlett, and leaders of the Social Security workers, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and trolley workers' unions.

Cárdenas Joins Wall Street in Attacking López Obrador

Having failed to stop Andrés Manuel López Obrador otherwise, the international Synarchists are now trying to fracture his PRD party, and pull it out from under him. Cuauhtemoc Cárdenas—whose political weight within the PRD and Mexico stemmed from the fact that he is the son of the fiercely nationalist Mexican President who nationalized its oil industry, Gen. Lázaro Cárdenas—broke with his father's tradition, and stepped forward to launch a frontal attack on López Obrador for daring to lead a resistance movement to save Mexico.

In an interview published Sept. 18 in Spain's La Vanguardia newspaper, Cuauhtemoc denounced López Obrador for breaking with the "institutions," a move he charged "damages all the Mexican left." He declared it a "grave error" for López Obrador to have been named "the legitimate President of Mexico." The PRD party has yet to question what López Obrador is doing, "but many are going to do so shortly," he promised; "many people who have remained silent until now" will be forced to speak out.

Ten days later, only one Federal PRD Deputy, newcomer Francisco Santos Arreola, has joined Cárdenas in walking into the dustbin of history by attacking López Obrador.

Thus, it is not surprising to find that among the Mexican participants at Shultz's North American "oil grab" confab was the top international advisor to Lázaro Cardenas, Cuauhtemoc's son. Lázaro, the PRD Governor of the state of Michoacan, like his father, opposes López Obrador's decision to break with the dying system. His International Affairs Advisor is Carlos Heredia, a professional "leftist" whose career has been backed by the financiers. Heredia, who spoke at the Shultz conference, is vice president of the CFR's partner institution, the Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales (COMEXI), and participated in the CFR taskforce in 2005 on how to establish a supranational "North American" government by the year 2010.

Dangerous Fanning of Divisions in Bolivia

Individuals in the oil-rich province of Santa Cruz, a hotbed of free-marketeer separatism, are reportedly walking around with cellphones showing images of President Evo Morales with a gunshot wound, over which appears the slogan "Viva Santa Cruz!" These threats occur in the context of an increasingly unstable and dangerous political situation, orchestrated by synarchist financial interests inside and outside Bolivia, that have sabotaged the hydrocarbon nationalization plan announced by Morales earlier this year, which is the cornerstone of the government's program and supported by the majority of the Bolivian population.

Under rapidly-deteriorating conditions, mouthpieces of the "left" and the "right" are heightening regional tensions. Denouncing proposed voting procedures in the new Constituent Assembly, the head of the fascist "Nacion Camba" in Santa Cruz accused Morales of seeking "national dissolution," allegedly because voting procedures will undercut Santa Cruz's political power. Then, after Vice President Álvaro García Linera made an uncharacteristically provocative speech last week, urging an indigenous group to take up arms to defend the nation's patrimony, retired Army Gen. Marcelo Antezana charged that Morales is turning Bolivia into a satrapy of Venezuela and Cuba, and leading the country toward "civil war." The military is prepared to act, he warned, should politicians act illegally against the constitutional order.

Concern over a possible civil war is such that Pope Benedict has called on all Bolivians to unite and "work for the common good" and find peace and justice in respect for human dignity, rather than seeking to widen existing divisions.

Argentine Financial Predators Charged with Fraud

Key officials of Argentina's 1999-2001 Presidency, including former President Fernando de la Rua, were indicted Sept. 27 by federal judge Jorge Ballesteros for committing "fraud against the state" in the June 2001 "mega-swap" of $20 billion in foreign debt. Aside from De la Rua, former Finance Minister Domingo Cavallo, and former debt negotiator Daniel Marx were also charged, accused among other things of knowing ahead of time that the swap would "harm the state" but ramming it through anyway.

The only beneficiaries of the deal were Argentina's foreign creditors. The longer-term bonds offered in exchange for short-term debt had higher interest rates—an average of 15.29%—than the old bonds, and the participating banks, led by Credit Suisse First Boston, were paid $160 million in commissions. Former Deputy Treasury Secretary in the Bush 41 Administration, David Mulford, at the time the head of Credit Suisse First Boston's international division, personally handled every last detail of the deal. At the time of the transaction, it was estimated that for the duration of the "mega-swap," Argentina would have paid out $52 billion more in interest and debt payments, than it would have without the swap!

It is fitting that Jorge Ballesteros is the judge who indicted these criminals, as he exhaustively investigated Argentina's foreign debt in the 1980s and concluded that a large portion of it was illegitimate. He handed the case over to Congress, and challenged it to use its constitutionally mandated authority to act accordingly, which unfortunately the Congress never did.

Rafael Correa to Chavez: Don't Insult the Devil!

The front-runner in Ecuador's Oct. 15 Presidential vote, Rafael Correa, begs to differ with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, over his recent comparison of George Bush with the devil. "Calling Bush the devil is offending the devil," Correa said in a Sept. 27 TV interview. Correa described Bush as a "tremendously dim-witted President who has done great damage to his country and to the world."

Correa gained front-runner status by campaigning to end the looting of Ecuador. When asked by investors during a mid-September visit to New York what he planned to do about Ecuador's $10.37 billion foreign debt, Correa said, "We cannot dismiss an Argentine solution"—i.e. a writing-down of the debt. He insisted that no more than 3%-3.5% of a country's GNP should be spent on foreign debt service, while Ecuador currently pays 7%. "We have to pay Ecuadorans first, especially their social needs," he said. All debt would be reviewed, as most loan deals have proven "detrimental" to the country's interests.

Correa is a strong supporter of the current government's decision to oust Occidental Petroleum from Ecuador; opposes a free-trade agreement with the U.S.; says his government would break ties with the IMF and World Bank; and supports South American integration and a regional currency, which he says would enable Ecuador to pursue "an orderly exit" from dollarization.

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