From Volume 6, Issue 18 of EIR Online, Published May 1, 2007

Ibero-American News Digest

Kirchner: Infrastructure Investment Is for the Public Good

April 26 (EIRNS)—In an April 26 speech at the Presidential Palace, before businessmen and workers from the construction industry, Argentine President Nestor Kirchner tore apart the argument made by "neoliberal economists," who say that investment in infrastructure is an unproductive expenditure.

So, he explained, "whether or not houses are built, is not their problem; whether or not streets are paved is not their problem; it's not their problem whether or not people have clean water ... or whether people have decent sanitation services.... They all have those services. They don't care whether or not we have highways, or everything a nation should have—ports, infrastructure, hospitals, which is part of the next government's agenda, to consolidate public health in Argentina."

Neoliberal economists don't like it, Kirchner said, but "for us, it's totally clear: public investment means jobs. It means economic transformation, and growth, dignity, and improved living conditions." There were the (IMF-dictated) economic prescriptions that "created the tension of exclusion," Kirchner said, but "we prefer those prescriptions which brought us the tension of growth."

The Argentine President pointedly noted that in the London Economist's recent ranking of nations according to their "competitiveness," Argentina had placed 27th. Bankers meeting in neighboring Chile at the World Economic Forum on Latin America April 25 repeated that Argentina wasn't a good "investment choice." But Kirchner responded, "let them put us in 550,000th place—as long as there is no Argentine without work, no table without food, no child who can't go to school, or attend university." These are the pressing issues of our time, President Kirchner said, and now is the time to prepare the policy agenda for the years ahead, with a view toward creating a "strategic Argentina."

Argentine First Lady Defends Presidential System

April 24 (EIRNS)—In an April 24 speech before the Executive of the Mexican Senate, attended also by the heads of the party caucuses and the Foreign Affairs Commission, Argentine First Lady and Senator Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner delivered an optimistic message on how Argentina has been able to recover from its near disintegration, by using the powers inherent in the U.S.-based model of Presidentialism, which both countries share.

This is a crucial conceptual intervention, at a time when Mexico's synarchists are demanding that the Presidential system be replaced with a parliamentary one, to ensure the destruction of the nation-state. In January 2007, the LaRouche Youth Movement in Mexico identified this fight as the central issue for the survival of Mexico and its neighbors, in a pamphlet printed in Mexico and circulated throughout Ibero-America, titled: "How To Constitute a New Mexico, Preamble for Our Constitution; A New Politics Begins" (see Feb. 2, 2007 EIR).

Senator Fernandez said that in Argentina, because of the history of the 1976-83 dictatorship, and the corrupt "democratic" governments which followed it, citizens lost their trust in the Presidential system. "You know," she said, "that our Presidency, our Constitution, is a copy of the American Constitution." People saw that candidates made all sorts of campaign promises, but when they became President, they did something else. So people lost faith in the institution, because they saw that those elected officials didn't really represent "the interests of the majority, but only those of economic groups." The institution was discredited.

Now, after four years of the Kirchner government, this has changed, Fernandez said, and detailed for the Mexican Senators how her husband's economic policy, which she has identified elsewhere as modeled on FDR's New Deal policies, has begun to turn things around, reducing poverty, creating jobs, promoting industrial and economic growth. It was not the institution that was the problem, she said, but those who occupied it.

Mrs. Kirchner also underscored that both Argentina and Mexico now have a "fantastic opportunity" to strengthen their ties and to work together to deepen regional integration. "This is part of the reason which has brought me here to Mexico," she said. Mexico is at one end of the continent and Argentina at the other, "as if these were the two arms of the region."

This is another crucial intervention. For most of the 20th century, Mexico was at the forefront of integration efforts, but it has been increasingly absent from this process, when not openly attempting to sabotage it, since the IMF seized control of its affairs in 1982.

After a lively exchange with the Congressmen, Mrs. Kirchner said she would like to arrange for Mexican Senators to visit the Argentine Senate, to begin a process of deliberation and reflection on these vital issues.

Ecuador Plans 'Legal Action' vs. World Bank Blackmail

April 23 (EIRNS)—Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa announced during his regular national radio address April 21 that not only is he going to expel the World Bank's representative from Ecuador, but that he is planning to take "the pertinent international legal action" against the World Bank for its attempted blackmail against the Ecuadoran government.

Correa was referring specifically to 2005, when the World Bank withheld disbursement of $100 million in pre-approved credit to punish Ecuador over Correa's decision—then, as Finance Minister—to reform the Petroleum Fund legislation, thereby giving priority spending of oil revenues to social needs over debt repayment. Correa was ultimately fired by the Palacio government, under that blackmail pressure.

Said Correa in his radio address, "Ecuador is nobody's colony; it is a sovereign nation, and we will not tolerate blackmail from this international bureaucracy." He added that, "The economic policies most applauded by the country's elite, by the bankers who have bankrupted us, by that infamous international bureaucracy, the IMF and World Bank, were the policies that destroyed the most jobs" in our country.

Venezuela to IMF and World Bank: 'Ciao'

April 21 (EIRNS)—On April 15, Venezuela paid the remaining $3.3 billion that it owed to the World Bank, thereby bringing to zero the amount it owes to the Bank and the IMF. Venezuela Finance Minister Rodrigo Cabezas stated happily: "Gentlemen of the IMF and the World Bank, we tell you, 'Ciao.'" Venezuela has now joined Argentina, Brazil, and Ecuador in paying off their entire IMF obligations, and telling that august institution, and destroyer of nations, to go jump in the lake.

What comes next? Will the IMF and World Bank's role in Ibero-America be replaced by the pro-development Bank of the South, which Argentina, Venezuela, and Ecuador are trying to establish this year? That will depend in large measure on the outcome of next week's meeting between Argentine President Nestor Kirchner and Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The Brazilian government, which is visibly factionalized over whether and how to participate in the Bank of the South, has been the fly in the ointment in the plan, to date.

Venezuela Moves Towards Maglev Rail

April 27 (EIRNS)—The Science, Technology, and Social Communication Committee of the Venezuelan Congress held a hearing on April 26 on the project to link the nation's capital, Caracas, with the nearby La Guaira port. Gen. Raul Baduel, Venezuela's Minister of Defense, and engineer Alberto Cerra Bals, the head of the project, addressed the committee, and Cerra brought along a scale model of the maglev train to demonstrate its various uses for transport of people or cargo.

Cerra Bals has been working on this project for 40 years, but he was always turned down until Gen. Baduel endorsed the idea, whereupon Bals moved the project to the ministry's premises. Now he also has the support of the Infrastructure and the Science and Technology Ministries, as well as the Autonomous Institute of State Railroads, but still has no funds to build his prototype. Last Dec. 26, President Hugo Chavez saw the plans and the scale model, and pledged to support the project.

Congressman Manuel Villalba, head of the Science Committee, declared that "this is a project that can be the solution to the problem of mass transit in Venezuela," and suggested that it could be extended to the difficult, mountainous terrain of the Andean region of the country.

The committee agreed to work with the Defense Ministry on securing the necessary funding. The official TV channel referred to the project as a "technology in the service of humanity," and underscored Baduel's remarks on the environment-friendly kind of technology that magnetic levitation represents.

The scale model will remain in the halls of the National Assembly, where the general public can view it.

Argentina Promotes Small Reactor for Developing Nations

April 24 (EIRNS)—Argentina's small CAREM reactor is ideal for developing nations, said Planning Minister Julio De Vido, speaking in Sydney, Australia April 20. The small prototype, currently being developed by Argentina's National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) and the state-run INVAP company, will generate 25 MW of electricity when it becomes fully operational by 2012, but, De Vido said, the plan is to increase that to 250 MW by 2020.

Speaking at the April 20 ceremony to inaugurate the Argentine-made OPAL reactor built for Australia, De Vido underscored that CAREM is ideal for energy generation in remote areas, at a reasonable cost. Once it's developed, he said, the plan is to sell it to Asian and other developing sector-nations, which want to expand their use of nuclear energy but don't have the resources for huge investments. According to the Argentine Planning Ministry website, the government will spend $300 million to complete the CAREM reactor.

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