From Volume 6, Issue 17 of EIR Online, Published April 24, 2007

Ibero-American News Digest

LYM to Bachelet and Uribe: Join the Bank of the South!

Four members of the Colombian chapter of the LaRouche Youth Movement intervened in an April 19 event in Bogota honoring visiting Chilean President Michele Bachelet. More than 500 of the country's elites were in attendance, among them the mayor of Bogota, former Presidents, the accredited diplomatic corps, the military command, the church leadership, and other pseudo-intellectuals.

Right after Bachelet addressed the group, and just as Colombian President Alvaro Uribe was preparing to speak, the LYM members stood up to sing, holding posters that read, "LaRouche Says: Stop the Fraud of Global Warming! Al Gore Is a Fascist! Pushing Ethanol Is Genocide! Bachelet: Al Gore is going to Chile to revive Pinochet's fascism! Bachelet and Uribe, YES to the Bank of the South, NO to the IMF!"

After the LYM's intervention, Uribe opened up the debate by saying, "Okay, muchachos, give me a reason to go against biofuels." LYM member Pedro Rubio replied, "Mr. President, biofuels are a genocidal policy that causes starvation in nations that adopt this fraud. Biofuels consume 27% more energy than they produce, and need vast areas of land and of water. To make it profitable, it will need slave labor, which is what is happening in Colombia and Brazil. Nations need nuclear energy to guarantee development with a lasting energy source. Therefore, what is needed is an economic model premised on development and physical economy, like what President Kirchner is doing in Argentina. That is why I invite you and President Bachelet to join the Ibero-American Presidents Club. Peace can be won with development and jobs. "The Train for Colombia and the Metro for Bogota!"

Uribe launched into a bad speech defending biofuels, filling his discussion with rhetorical arguments. Journalists approached the LYM, asking what we thought of the President's response, to which we answered, "Political rhetoric. This debate should be approached from a scientific standpoint, to overturn the global warming and ethanol frauds."

Cuban Embargo: 'Dumbest Policy on the Face of the Earth'

The New America Foundation (NAF), with Col. Lawrence Wilkerson as co-chair, launched a "21st Century U.S.-Cuba Policy Initiative" at an April 18 lunch-hour forum addressed by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz), NAF's Director Steven Clemons, and Wilkerson, the outspoken Marine officer who was former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff. The intent is to end what Wilkerson calls "the dumbest policy on the face of the Earth," the 48-year old failed embargo against Cuba. A planning meeting of people and institutions in the coalition mapped out a publicity and organizing drive prior to the public forum.

Flake, who led a Congressional delegation to Cuba in December of 2006, told the forum, as a Republican, that he thinks that, with the Democrats in the majority, a law lifting the ban on Americans traveling to Cuba can finally be put on the President's desk this year. Flake and New York Rep. Charlie Rangel (D) have sponsored such a bill, with 97 co-sponsors, so far.

Wilkerson and NAF director Steve Clemons had just concluded a four-five day trip to Cuba.

The Cubans "are beating us hollow" on the public diplomacy front in Ibero-America, Wilkerson said. They know more than almost anyone in the world about how to deliver health care to the poor, and they are sending thousands of Cuban doctors and health-care workers into Ibero-America, paid only in barter. If the U.S. is to lead in our hemisphere, it must provide economic assistance, Wilkerson stated.

British Monarchy Attempts Economic Coup in Brazil

The fact that British financial interests are mucking around in Brazil goes a long way toward explaining why the Lula government is throwing a monkey-wrench into plans for the anti-IMF regional "Bank of the South" which Argentina, Venezuela, and Ecuador are pushing.

The place to look is, in and around the activities of Spain's Banco Santander, which is run through its 20-year "strategic alliance" with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), one of the City of London's most powerful financial institutions, with direct links to the British Monarchy. (See "Empire Strikes Back: Spanish Banks Recolonize Ibero-America," EIR, July 2, 2004). The pro-fascist Santander singlehandedly controls nearly 10% of Ibero-America's entire bank assets, including being the largest foreign banking presence in Brazil, with its November 2000 takeover of Banespa bank.

In March 2007, Santander-Brazil's vice president for human relations, Miguel Jorge, was named the country's Minister of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade. Jorge reportedly conditioned his taking the post on being allowed to name a new president of the all-important BNDES, the National Economic and Social Development Bank, which has a $30 billion budget and has been the spearhead of the financing of South America's infrastructure integration projects (to the IMF's dismay). Jorge nominated Gustavo Murgel—another Santander top executive, who was the architect of the Banespa takeover of 2000—as BNDES's next president, contingent on approval by President Lula da Silva.

But, Lula did not approve Murgel, and instead, on April 18, appointed his own choice, economist Luciano Coutinho. Coutinho comes from the "developmentalist" faction of Brazilian economists, as those opposed to pure monetarism are generally known. "My mission at BNDES," Coutinho told O Estado de Sao Paulo after his appointment was made public, "will be to think of industrial and technological development plans which are of greater scope and have a long-term perspective."

The refusal to hand BNDES over to the rapacious Spanish-British Santander Bank will not sit well with these financier interests. On April 18, the Wall Street Journal ran a "news" article spouting the same line as the London Economist editorial and 14-page Special Report in its "Bring on Our New Napoleon, Sarkozy" issue (April 14-20): "Investors" are not happy that Lula is refusing to take down "an overbearing state," by ripping up pensions and labor laws, and imposing the financiers' tax reform. Brazilians, the Economist complains, are "a nation of statists."

Ibero-American Presidents Reject Biofuels Hoax

Contrary to what the Bush-Cheney crowd had hoped, the April 16-17 Ibero-American Energy Summit on Venezuela's Margarita Island demonstrated real resistance to the lying assertion that biofuel development is the only possible solution to the continent's energy crisis. The brawl that took place there was reflected in the fact that Bolivian President Evo Morales refused to sign the final "Margarita Declaration," without expressing "reservations" next to his signature, over the carefully worded article that expresses the Presidents' "recognition of the potential of biofuels to diversify the South American energy matrix."

Out of deference to Brazilian President Lula da Silva, who has allowed himself to be roped into a "strategic alliance" with George Bush to promote hemispheric biofuel development, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tried to tone things down somewhat by distinguishing between George Bush's ethanol plan and Lula's. But Ecuador's President Rafael Correa implicitly referenced the point that the LaRouche movement, and more recently Cuban President Fidel Castro, have been making: the biofuel offensive means genocide. There is, Correa said, the "danger ... that suddenly in regions where there is no more cultivatable land, that now used to produce food might ... be used for ethanol and biofuels. That would certainly be risky." Although very diplomatically, the Presidents indicated their concern over this issue, noting "the importance of ensuring the compatibility of all sources of energy with agricultural production ... and promoting the defense of dignified social and working conditions."

The final Margarita Declaration focusses heavily on the need for infrastructure development as the vehicle to achieve energy integration. But behind-the-scenes debate among the Presidents on the broader political agenda, particularly the proposed Bank of the South, was very intense. With Lula da Silva dragging his feet on the proposal, telling reporters that he still "didn't understand" what the new bank's objective is supposed to be, this fight is far from over. A heated discussion can be expected the following week in Buenos Aires, where Lula will meet with Argentine President Nestor Kirchner for the sole purpose of thrashing out the issue.

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