From Volume 7, Issue 5 of EIR Online, Published Jan. 29, 2008

Ibero-American News Digest

Most Ibero-American Leaders in Denial Over Crash

Jan. 24 (EIRNS)—Mexico's Central Bank Governor Guillermo Ortíz reflected some sense of reality in his remarks Jan. 23-24, admitting that his country can't escape the effects of the global financial crash, although he couched it as a problem of the U.S. economy above all.

Speaking from Davos, Switzerland, where he was attending the World Economic Forum, Ortíz underscored that Mexico would be badly affected by the U.S. "recession," because the Mexican economy is so linked to the United States—40% of Mexico's GDP is based on exports to the U.S. market. He added that all of this has implications for the rest of Ibero-America as well.

The key, Ortíz said, "is how extensive the financial collapse will be in the United States and the developed countries." And it's not just an issue of the subprime market, because other credit markets in the U.S. and Europe are affected, now including credit insurers. "There is great uncertainty," he said, warning that this crisis could last for some time.

In contrast, President Felipe Calderón told a group of investors Jan. 23 that "the country can be at peace. This is just a temporary conjuncture, and Mexico will come out of it just fine ... we have a solid project which is for the long term."

Other Ibero-American Presidents and government officials are also stuck in varying states of denial, for the most part, proclaiming that their countries are "well situated" to face whatever comes. Brazil argues that it will be the least affected, because it has been "preparing for this moment for a long time." Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner has dubbed this crisis the "jazz effect," mistakenly arguing that it originated with the United States, and claims that with its "consistent model," and its unique way of "inserting itself into this globalized world," Argentina will weather the storm very well.

Tinder Piles Up for London's South American War

Jan. 21 (EIRNS)—Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez declared in his nationwide TV show Jan. 20 that he had ordered the militarization of Venezuela's border with Colombia, supposedly to stop contraband across the border—the latest in a string of provocations scripted in London. If the National Guard can't stop the contraband, the entire army will be sent to the border, and if necessary, we'll arm the people and call up the reserves, he swore, all the while denouncing Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe as a "coward, liar ... a man who doesn't deserve to be President of anything, much less a country. A man like that only is good to be head of a mafia."

And while the immediate response of the Colombian government was that they will not militarize the border on their side, top officials of the Bush-Cheney Administration continue to troop through the Colombian capital, to issue threatening statements against Chávez and his government—also scripted in London. On Jan. 18, it was Adm. Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said the Venezuelan military buildup is destabilizing to the region; on Jan. 20, drug czar John Walters charged the Venezuelan government with facilitating the transport of a third of the cocaine produced in Colombia through Venezuela, on the way to Europe and North America. Next, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to visit Bogota.

The situation is being primed for war. To whose benefit?

In its July 16, 1999 issue, EIR published an investigative feature entitled "London Subjects South America to Jacobin 'Chávez Project,' " detailing how and why British interests were sponsoring Chávez's bid for President. The cover of that issue ran the infamous picture of the "Grasso Abrazo," New York Stock Exchange chief Richard Grasso hugging Chávez's declared ally, Rafael Reyes of the Colombian narcoterrorist FARC.

London-Venezuelan Jacobin links are not new, as Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) brags today. "Venezuela and the U.K. have strong historical links. These date back principally to British involvement in Venezuela's independence struggle and support for both Francisco de Miranda and Simón Bolívar, the 'Liberator,' both of whom spent time in London," the FCO's country profile explains. Chávez, it adds, "visited the U.K. as a guest of the British government in October 2001 and on a private working visit in May 2006. Venezuela and the U.K. enjoy a cordial and constructive relationship."

Lyndon LaRouche has noted that Bolívar at least had the good sense, at the end of his life, to repudiate his earlier British ties.

Brazilian Judge Bans Sales of Killer Video Games

Jan. 21 (EIRNS)—Last October, Federal Judge Carlos Alberto Simões de Tomaz of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, issued a ruling banning the sales of the CounterStrike and Ever Quest videogames, arguing that they posed a threat to public safety. On Jan. 18, the Goias state government began to enforce the ruling, and the rest of the nation is expected to follow suit.

In his ruling, Judge Simões stated that these two games "stimulate subversion of public order, threaten the democratic rule of law and public safety," for which reasons, he said, their sales and distribution in Brazil should be prohibited. The national Department for the Protection and Defense of Consumers (Procon), linked to Brazil's Justice Ministry, subsequently advised its state and municipal offices to begin carrying out the judge's order.

It is noteworthy that in a June 13, 2002 speech before the São Paulo State Appellate Criminal Court, Helga Zepp-LaRouche addressed this subject of media violence, in a presentation entitled "Stop the 'New Violence'; Create a New Renaissance." Mrs. LaRouche described the violence found in games such as CounterStrike as a "threat to human civilization," and discussed her international campaign to have these games banned.

According to O Globo, Judge Simões' ruling was the result of a civil suit brought by federal law enforcement authorities, to have these games banned nationwide. The website of Procon's Goias office states that the two games are "inappropriate for public consumption," as they "incite violence, promote the idea that the weakest must succumb to the strongest, and disseminate [the ideas] that death, hate, and pain are pleasureable."

Particularly alarming to Brazilian authorities were the variants introduced into both games for a Brazilian audience, which included scenes of shootouts between police in Rio de Janeiro and drug-traffickers in the favelas (slums). According to specialists, these scenes "teach war tactics, where players must possess knowledge of hiding places, as if they were guerrillas." In making his ruling, Judge Simões reportedly consulted an earlier analysis by Federal Judge Claudia María Rezende Neves, also of Minas Gerais, in which she urged public action against similar violent games—Mortal Kombat, Duke Nukem, Blood, Requiem, Doom, and Postal—recommending that their sales be prohibited in Minas Gerais.

Chile's Private Pension Funds Go Up in Smoke

Jan. 24 (EIRNS)—Panic has struck Chilean government officials and authorities who oversee that country's private pension system. They've been huddled in meetings over the past two days, fearing—correctly—that the meltdown of the global financial system could spell the doom of the private pension funds, known as AFPs, which have a large percentage of their assets tied up in speculative investments abroad.

EIR warned in December 1995, when private pension funds totalled $25 billion, that this would be the ultimate fate of the pension boondoggle that was imposed on Chile by force in 1981 by the fascist Pinochet dictatorship, under the watchful eye of George P. Shultz. The whole house of cards could come crashing down very quickly, EIR stated in a Dec. 11, 1995 press release, because at least two-thirds of that $25 billion was invested in highly speculative paper linked to the international derivatives bubble.

Twelve years later, that now-gigantic bubble is exploding, as are the investments which Chile's AFPs have made in it. The funds today total $104 billion, a whopping 80% of which can be invested outside the country. Since July 2007, the AFPs have lost $10 billion. As the percentage the funds could invest abroad was increased over the years, the funds' controllers jumped into every conceivable "creative" investment possible. Now the workers who were forced to put their funds into the privatized system will pay for it.

On Jan. 23, Guillermo Arthur, president of the Association of Pension Fund Administrators, urged workers to remain calm, and not to worry that the five major AFP funds were showing negative profitability. After all, he said, these investments are made to finance a pension 30 or 40 years from now. People shouldn't get upset if there's an "abrupt fall in the market one day, or in a week, a month, or even a year." The key, he said, is to just wait until this bad period blows over, and the situation is "stabilized."

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