From Volume 7, Issue 6 of EIR Online, Published Feb. 5, 2008

Ibero-American News Digest

Cuba, Venezuela Champion British Anti-Dollar Campaign

Jan. 28 (EIRNS)—The Sixth Summit of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), a rump caucus formed by Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and the Dominican Republic, was held in Caracas, Venezuela this weekend, and celebrated the accelerating demise of the dollar, sounding Bush-like cries of "bring it on!"

Ibero-American peoples should help bring about a "post-dollar era," the vice president of Cuba's Council of State, Carlos Lage, proclaimed. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez echoed him, as he and others revelled in what they called "the collapse of capitalism" and the "U.S. empire," from which they delude themselves they can isolate their countries, by pulling their reserves out of U.S. and European banks, and trading with other countries—countries whose economies will collapse along with the collapse of the dollar. The formation of "an ALBA bank" was also announced at the summit, with a $1 billion capital base, as were plans for an ALBA defense pact.

Chávez is showing signs of having regressed to the mental level of a '68er pothead, under the influence of his self-professed daily chewing of coca leaves. Turning, in front of the cameras, to Bolivian President Evo Morales during the summit, Chávez complained that he was running out of coca leaves, and needed to replenish his supply—with "the good stuff" that Evo personally sends him, not some "industrial" coca leaves. Upon receiving a bag on the spot from Morales, he started chewing immediately.

Scientific studies carried out by Peruvian medical doctors in the 1930s and '40s, demonstrated that the difference between coca chewing and cocaine ingestion is only a matter of the dose delivered. While not all coca-chewers are addicted, coca-chewing affects mental activity (producing excitation, modification of perceptions, thought, and emotionality), as well as metabolism, due to the effects of the small amounts of the alkaloid, cocaine, from the leaves.

Ad Demands Calderón Back Public Works, Infrastructure

Feb. 1 (EIRNS)—The Pro-21st Century PLHINO Committee of Sonora, Mexico today published half-page ads in two of Mexico's largest-circulation national dailies, Reforma and Universal, and three statewide Sonoran newspapers (Imparcial, Tribuna del Yaqui, and Expreso), demanding that President Felipe Calderón meet to discuss the urgency of adopting a vigorous policy of public works investment in infrastructure, to ensure an adequate supply of water, power, and food for the country, under crisis conditions.

The advertisement was signed by the 26 farmer, labor, and business associations of Sonora, and by the LaRouche Youth Movement, which make up the Pro-PLHINO Committee, which was founded by LaRouche's associates.

The international financial crisis is not a "cyclic episode" (as Calderón hysterically insists), "but a systemic phenomenon, whose gravest manifestation is the hyperinflationary process which is hitting the price of food, especially," the open letter to Calderón declares. This adversity, combined with the return of Mexicans expelled from the U.S. because of its economic crisis, creates a reality which must be addressed, if shortages and social instability are to be avoided, they warn.

Investment in proposed projects such as the tri-state Northwest Hydraulic Plan (PLHINO) are required to increase the productive powers of the national economy and strengthen the domestic market, so Mexico can face the extreme conditions which are coming, the ad states.

The committee's mobilization was designed also to raise the level of discussion among the agricultural producers who are filling the streets of Mexico City with their tractors, but remain caught up in discussing how to reform globalization's dead baby, the North American Free Trade Accord, without an adequate idea of what needs to be done.

Rural Producers Stage Mass Anti-NAFTA Protests in Mexico

Jan. 31 (EIR)—Up to 100,000 peasants and farmers from throughout the country demonstrated in Mexico City today, against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which as of Jan. 1 lifted all protection for local production of corn, beans, milk, and other staples. Organizations from every political party, as well as new organizations created specifically to fight NAFTA, gathered in Mexico's capital with tractors, trucks, horses, cows, and mules, to force the government and the Congress to renegotiate NAFTA, or, as some of them demand, to dump it all into the trash can.

The LaRouche Youth Movement in Mexico distributed leaflets on the hyperinflation threat, illustrated with cartoons of the horror of Weimar Germany. They carried a giant banner reading: "You Still Don't Understand?! The Real Problem Is the World Financial Collapse," with a drawing of a little President Calderón trying to climb up a mountain, not noticing that the safety line around his waist is tied to an enormous fat man plummeting head-first down behind him, who looks like Mexico's two-ton Treasury Secretary Augustín Carstens. The man is labeled "World Financial System."

The rural producers were joined by the Electrical Workers Union and its Nuclear Energy Workers affiliate, protesting against the reform of the energy laws that the Calderón government is trying to ram through, to privatize electricity generation and distribution, and the state oil company as well. Many other trade unions joined the demonstration. Simultaneously, there were demonstrations in the capital cities of most Mexican states, in front of the offices of the Agriculture Department.

Although this was a non-partisan mobilization, one of the principal speakers at the meeting at the huge Zocalo plaza in downtown Mexico City, where the demonstrations converged, was opposition leader Manuel López Obrador.

NAFTA's Harvest: 40% of Mexicans Suffer from Malnutrition

Jan. 30 (EIRNS)—A report just issued by the Economic Research Institute of Mexico's National Autonomous University (UNAM) indicates that approximately 40 million people suffer from some form of malnutrition. According to specialist Felipe Torres, 25 million of that total, living largely in rural areas, are severely malnourished.

Torres used the phrase "nutritional risk" to describe the condition of those 40 million, which he attributed to an income too small to purchase nutritious food. At the same time, he warned, the decline in educational levels severely limits the opportunities available to people, such that Mexico is rapidly reaching the breaking point. Nor does malnutrition only affect rural populations, he said. At least 40% of Mexico's urban population is in a similar situation.

This stark reality is fueling the demonstrations against the implementation of the final chapter of NAFTA, which is flooding Mexico with cheap food imports and delivering a death blow to domestic agriculture.

All rights reserved © 2008 EIRNS