Ibero-American News Digest
Racist Gore: Bolivia Is 'Over-Developed'
May 15 (EIRNS)Speaking May 11 at the launching of his "National Productive Plan" at the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, Argentina's President Nestor Kirchner offered a polemical counterpoint to "Al Gordo's" racist assertion in the same city, at the First Biofuels Congress of the Americas, that nations such as Bolivia had "spoiled" nature by building infrastructure and developing the countryside.
Bolivia is the poorest nation in South America, which in some key areas, such as electric power consumption per capita, falls below the levels of the African nation of Zambia, for example. As the World Bank's own statistics demonstrate, in 2004, Bolivia consumed 435.12 KWh per capita, compared to Zambia's 692 KWh per capita. Argentina, by contrastwhich is by no means a developed nationconsumed 2,300.77 KWh per capita for the same year. Also in 2004, only 60% of Bolivia's urban population had access to improved sanitation facilities, compared to Zambia's 59%, and Argentina's 92%. Again, according to the World Bank, the life-expectancy of Bolivians in 2005, was 65 years. Overdeveloped?
In his speech, Kirchner described the mentality that Gore exemplifies, although without naming him. In opposition to those committed to building the nation, there is Argentina's right wing, "which says that wealth has to be concentrated in a few hands; who want a country of services, [who say] you have to control spending, because if you build too much housing, the books won't balance, and that's no good. That's how the neoliberals think. Of course," he said, with a hint of sarcasm, "if there are better hospitals ... with better equipment and more investment, you will discover new diseases, and spend even more money." For the neoliberals, he noted, this is spending too much money. "But for us, it's justice, security, giving people what they really deserve."
Addressing the infrastructure deficit in poorer northern region of Argentina, Kirchner stated firmly, "We have to multiply investment; we have to bring them electricity, gas, roads, strengthen the hospitals. We have to have huge investment in infrastructure, because it can't be the case that people lack basic services.... These are inalienable rights of all human beings."
Brazil: 'Ethanol Soaked in Blood, Sweat, and Death'
May 17 (EIRNS)Brazil's ethanol is the cheapest in the world, and the Bush Administration has hired Brazil to promote its ethanol program as the economic salvation for poor countries from the Caribbean to Africa. That the Bush family and administration would promote a product based on slavery is no surprise, but what's wrong with Brazil's President Lula da Silva?
President Lula was confronted directly in his May 15 press conference on this scandal: What is the Brazilian government going to do to stop the "exploitation of slave labor" in the nation's sugarcane fields, as it expands ethanol production? Rede TV correspondent Marcos Roberto Silva asked. Will it propose legislation to regulate labor conditions? Lula acknowledged cane-cutting conditions need to be "humanized," but said he preferred "discussions" between companies and workers, not regulation.
A film produced with the aid of the Brazilian Catholic Church's Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) documents the slave labor conditions of Brazil's sugarcane plantations, and was shown at a recent hemispheric meeting in Havana, Cuba, by the filmmaker, Maria Luisa Mendonca. Cuban President Fidel Castro made the text of the film available in a May 15 article in Cuba's Granma.
"In Brazil, sugar and ethanol are soaked in blood, sweat, and death," a Ministry of Labor researcher in Sao Paulo told Mendonca. Cane cutters are not even paid an hourly wage, but only by piecework, expected to cut 15 tons a day, and, at the end of a day which often begins at 3 a.m. and ends at 8 p.m., earn $3, at most.
Cutters are usually migrants, poor, and often indigenous, and include many children. They are brought to the sugar fields by contractors who control their lives. Workers in the Northeast report they are paid sometimes in vouchers; sometimes not at all, if the foreman doesn't feel like "calculating cane" that day. No benefits, no maternity leave, no vacation, no health care, no food. They are transported in cattle trucks, treated worse than animals, which are at least given water. No bathrooms or running water are provided; often they don't have even wood for cooking, unless they go out and scavenge it for themselves. Protective equipment is not provided, and many people work barefoot, or at best in sneakers, swinging machetes in fields. In March 2007 alone, the Ministry of Labor rescued 288 sugar workers from direct slavery in Sao Paulo alone.
That does keep labor costs low, and multinational cartels and the filthy richBunge, ADM, Dreyfuss, George Soros and Bill "videogame killer" Gatesare rushing to buy up Brazilian sugar mills, to get in on the ethanol export market.
Correa: Health Care Is a Human Right, Not a Commodity
May 15 (EIRNS)Launching a National Campaign for Health, Solidarity, and Social Responsibility on May 8 in the city of Quevedo in Los Rios province, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa lashed out against neoliberal ideology that has defined health care as a "commodity that you buy and sell" in the market. Instead, he sharply warned his listeners, it is "a fundamental right of each human being."
As Radio Sucre reported the same day, Correa told health-care providers to "listen closely." Never again "shall we live off of charity. There is no first-class or second-class health care, but only first-class for those who don't have it."
As the President explained, this new health-care initiative will be run by the state, as it should be, to upgrade health-care services and extend them into some of the most remote areas of Ecuador, where they have been previously unavailable. To address the emergency in the national health-care system, 2,800 doctors will be hired immediately. The national plan will offer free medicine, upgrade medical technology, and make it accessible to all, provide preventive care, and above all, "a humane and dignified treatment for all." Mobile Brigades will be established, and will travel by air, land, and sea to bring both general and specialized medicine, as well as dental services, to needy populations. Medical boats will also travel the rivers of the country's Amazon region, offering specialized care to inhabitants.
Look Who Paid for Lula's Second Presidential Election
May 18 (EIRNS)Santander Bank, the Queen of England's own fascist Spanish bank, was the second-largest contributor to President Lula da Silva and his Workers Party (PT) electoral campaigns in 2006, contributing some $1.7 million, Folha de Sao Paulo reported yesterday. After reviewing the PT's recent report to election authorities, the paper reported its largest contributors were public works contractors, the banks, andno surprise, given Lula's current "obsession" with slavery-based biofuelsethanol producers.
Santander was rewarded with a cabinet seat (Development, Industry, and Trade Minister) and a top Central Bank post, in the second Lula Administration. The bank demanded that it also be given control of Brazil's giant development bank, BNDESa move denounced on the LaRouche PAC website (www.larouchepac.com) on April 18 as an attempted economic coup by the British monarchybut that bid failed.
EIR: 'Go Nuclear!' To Green Peru's Desert Coasts
LIMA, May 14 (EIRNS)EIR's Luis Vasquez Medina raised the urgency of using nuclear energy to power the desalination plants which Peru must build to green its desert coastal regions, during an international conference on "Water for Cities: Desalinization. A New Technology, Looking to the Sea," held at Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola in Lima on May 10.
An expert from Lima's public water company, SEDAPAL, told the conference that the scarcity of potable water along the whole of Peru's coast will become a crisis of the first order within ten years, at the latest, if action is not taken now. He reported that the Peruvian government is studying the possibility of building desalinization plants in three places: the port of Paita in the North, two plants in Lima for the central coastal region, and the port of Ilo in the South.
The panelists, who included speakers from the Spanish desalination and water treatment company, INIMA, which co-sponsored the conference, a Chilean expert, and a Peruvian who has worked closely with the South American Regional Integration Initiative (IIRSA), all agreed that powering desalination plants represents more than half their cost, but they limited Peru's options to using natural gas, which Peru produces.
Nuclear power would be far more economical, Vasquez Medina pointed out, because nuclear plants can be dual-use, generating electricity as well as providing desalination. Such plants could also power the pumping of the Amazon River tributaries and the waters of Lake Titicaca to Peru's arid regions.
The LaRouche movement in Peru has campaigned for just such an integrated approach around nuclear energy for years, publishing an ambitious program in 1990 for the development of Peru, as part of opening the whole interior of South America, by crisscrossing it with transcontinental development corridors. The movement's "Mercantilist Manifesto for an Industrial Peru" is still valid today. That program specifically identified the ports of Paita, Lima, and Ilo as starting points for the needed Atlantic-to-Pacific development corridors, and proposed powering those projects by combining two agro-industrial nuclear complexes ("nuplexes"), NEOLMAR in the North, and the Nucleoelectrica del TITICACA in the South, with the transfer of the hydroelectric bounties of the Amazon Basin and the Lake Titicaca basin.