From Volume 5, Issue Number 48 of EIR Online, Published Nov. 28, 2006

Ibero-American News Digest

Kirchner: IMF Is Wrong—Infrastructure Investment Is Productive

Addressing the annual conference of the Argentine Construction Chamber Nov. 22, in which the LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM) intervened, President Nestor Kirchner firmly challenged the International Monetary Fund's argument that investment in infrastructure is only an expenditure and cannot be considered a productive investment. There should be a reevaluation of how this issue is analyzed, Kirchner said, by looking at Argentina's experience over the past few years. There, he noted, you will see "that public works, the investment in infrastructure in Argentina, was not only a great creator of jobs and social inclusion; by once again generating an investment in infrastructure, it has allowed us to rebuild a country that was absolutely destroyed."

This point must be "globally understood," he said. Public investment "is fundamentally an element of transformation of economic growth and quality of our country, and not an unproductive expenditure, as many tried to argue for so long." This policy, which the government has made a top priority, Kirchner said, will help the country climb out of the Hell into which it fell because of the insane policies of the past. This has to be a long-term, well-thought-out strategy, he said, "because otherwise we'll be left only with conjunctural policies, and you know that at the door of one Hell there is another Hell. So, we have to decide ... to formulate policies of state as we take this step out of Hell and into Purgatory." Kirchner emphasized that his approach is to design long-term policies "that transcend the conjunctural to become a strategic model."

The Argentine leader also took the opportunity to ask his audience of construction executives whether they weren't better off without the IMF's interfering with economic policy. By paying off the $9 billion owed the Fund in December of 2005, "we put an end to the story of the infamous visits, where [we were told] the Fund is coming, and we have to do what it says!" For years, we applied the Fund's policies, Kirchner said, "and look what happened to us! Don't you wake up feeling better, knowing that no commission of geniuses is going to descend on us, and tell us what Argentina has to do? What we do in Argentina is the responsibility of the Argentines, because we've recovered our decision-making ability."

Colombia-U.S. Free-Trade Pact May be Doomed

On Nov. 22, after two years of negotiations, the Bush Administration signed a bilateral Free-Trade Pact with the Colombian government, at the offices of the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington. But while the ink was still wet, voices from both continents were insisting the trade deal would never fly.

Democratic Congressman Sander Levin (Mich) and other leading Democrats sent President Bush a letter on Nov. 21 signalling that they would reject the free-trade deals reached with both Colombia and Peru. Levin said the agreement would not receive the support of Democrats, because under the administration's fast-track procedures, the Congress cannot change or add to the agreements. That means that the Congress must reject the deal in order to amend it.

Indeed, both Colombian Trade Minister Botero and U.S. Trade Representative John Veroneau admitted at the Nov. 22 signing ceremony that the treaty might need to be renegotiated! First, it has to be approved by the new Democratic-controlled Congress, where Democrats have strongly criticized the pact as reinforcing unfair trade and labor practices. Incoming Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) has already issued a letter, saying that Democratic support for the FTA would depend on significant treaty modifications protecting workers and the environment. Speaking from Vietnam, Bush insisted that the opposition is submitting to "the old temptations of isolationism and protectionism, and America must reject them."

Reflecting the viewpoint of a significant faction of the Colombian legislature, Colombian opposition senator Jorge Robledo has declared that there is not a single Colombian labor organization that supports the FTA, because it violates national sovereignty and makes the neoliberal policies that have ruled in Colombia for the past 15 years irreversible.

Mexico Is the U.S.'s Tenth-Largest Creditor!

Attending an information technology conference in Monterrey, Mexico on Nov. 18, former President Bill Clinton revealed this startling fact, noting that it makes no sense for the United States to borrow from Mexico and then turn around and complain about illegal immigration. According to Mexico's "legitimate President," Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, 38% of Mexico's working-age population makes less than $2.72 a day. Clinton told a local TV station he'd love to be an advisor to Felipe Calderon (who was "elected" by vote fraud in the July 2 elections). His advice, Clinton said, would be: Don't invest any more money in U.S. paper; put the money instead into Mexican companies which can generate jobs, and earn the same interest rate, or a fund to create companies.

Beware George Soros, Argentine Anti-Drug Leader Warns

In mid-September, the president of the Argentine Anti-Drug Association, Claudio Izaguirre, warned his fellow citizens that it would be dangerous to allow international speculator George Soros any further involvement in the country. At a time when Soros is increasing his investments in Argentina—he just purchased 65% of a major dairy co-op—Izaquirre pointed out that not only is Soros a "financial predator" who has destroyed the economies of many nations through speculative attacks, but he also promotes drug legalization.

Argentines should be on the alert, he warned. Soros could well be planning to throw his sizable resources behind the bill now before the Argentine Congress, proposing decriminalization of a "personal dose" of marijuana. It is premised on the idea of "harm reduction"—that is, you'll harm yourself less if you consume just "a little bit" of drugs. But, Izaguirre states, the argument that drug consumption is a "personal choice" reflecting "individual freedom," is a fraud. The fact that drug consumption has soared by 380% in Argentina since the introduction of this lying argument, tells it all, he concluded.

All rights reserved © 2006 EIRNS