From Volume 7, Issue 9 of EIR Online, Published Feb. 26, 2008

Ibero-American News Digest

Nuclear Energy, Uranium Enrichment on Argentine-Brazilian Agenda

Feb. 22 (EIRNS)—The Presidents of Brazil and Argentina met in Buenos Aires today and signed 17 bilateral agreements seen as crucial for regional integration. These include cooperation in aerospace, defense, transportation, and energy, but key among them are plans to build a binational uranium enrichment plant, and set up a binational commission for the purpose of designing a nuclear reactor able "to meet the needs of both countries' electrical systems, and eventually those of the region." These initiatives follow a period of relative silence, since the Dec. 9, 2007 founding of the Bank of the South.

Malthusian financiers in London and New York must be sweating. Scientific and technological cooperation between Argentina and Brazil, especially in nuclear energy, is their worst nightmare. But Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim was grinning, according to O Globo, when he told reporters in Buenos Aires on Feb. 21, "We're taking a step toward nuclear, and even industrial, strategic cooperation, with projects for the use of nuclear energy and building of reactors." He promised that when the announcements were made the following day, they would have a "huge impact inside and outside the two countries."

In his speech before an official luncheon, and later addressing the Argentine Congress, Brazilian President Lula da Silva was emphatic that the strategic alliance between the two countries was "indispensable for us to achieve our national goals, which only make sense if they are seen as part of a broad project of South American integration." Brazil and Argentina "have many responsibilities in building Latin America's growth," Lula said. In particular, they must show solidarity with poorer nations. "What good is a rich Argentina or Brazil, if all the other countries are poor? We have to grow together." In this regard, the founding of the Bank of the South was positive, because "it will allow us some foresight in the face of economic avatars, and give solidity to the region."

In her Feb. 22 luncheon toast to Lula, Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner underscored that the policies of the free market, which in the past buried so many Ibero-American countries, have been overturned, along with geopolitical theories that said that Argentina and Brazil would be in permanent conflict. Those theories prevented Argentina and Brazil from "becoming the axis of transformation of a region," she noted. Whatever differences there are, they can be ironed out, by deepening the process of integration and "the complementarity" of our economies, she said.

Calderón Puts Privatization of Pemex on Fast Track

Feb. 19 (EIRNS)—The announcement by Mexican President Felipe Calderón (PAN party) and his energy secretary, that they expect to send an energy reform proposal permitting foreign interests to "work with" Pemex, to Congress before it recesses on April 30, imperils the state oil company, which is central to Mexico's sovereign development.

Opposition leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the PRD party is organizing a rally against the privatization of the oil industry for Feb. 24, which PRI party nationalists such as former Sen. Manuel Bartlett will attend, too. The LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM) will be there, with a leaflet identifying the global fascist threat that drives the foreign grab for Pemex, and the urgency of Mexico developing its oil, as the transition to a nuclear economy.

Calderón et al. lyingly insist they do not intend to privatize Pemex, nor change the Constitution, which declares the oil to be the inalienable patrimony of the nation, but only to "modernize" it. The claim is made that Mexico's proven oil reserves will run dry within, probably, nine years, and that Mexico lacks the technology to exploit new reserves that lie in deep offshore waters. Calderón is threatening Congress with the argument that if it doesn't agree to bring in foreign interests, it will have to take funds needed for health, education, agriculture, or security, to finance Pemex, or otherwise just let Mexico run out of oil.

How the PRI breaks down on this fight, will prove critical. Top party Congressional leaders have been negotiating with the government on formulas to disguise de facto privatization, which they could accept, but resistance remains within the party to what has historically been considered treason.

Colombia LaRouche Association Warning on British Role

Feb. 18 (EIRNS)—The statement "Anglo-Dutch Cartel Promotes Venezuelan-Colombian War," issued by the president of the Colombian Lyndon LaRouche Association, Maximiliano Londoño, is making waves across the Americas. Today, it was posted on the well-read leftist Bolivian Internet site, Bolpress, reflecting the debate within President Evo Morales's camp over what their Venezuelan ally Hugo Chávez is up to. In Colombia, previously distant institutional layers want to meet with Londoño, particularly to discuss great projects as a strategy to secure peace. Londoño's statement is circulating within the Venezuelan military, and a U.S. military officer involved in policymaking for the Americas, sent thanks for this "most interesting" document, which is "getting onto something."

The statement, published in RIT on Feb. 15, locates the global hyperinflationary blowout as the driver for the "proxy" war against the United States in South America, which the Anglo-Dutch Liberal imperialists seek to provoke. Identifying the long arm of 18th-Century British intelligence chief Jeremy Bentham's warfare against the American System, operating in Ibero-America still today, as the problem, Londoño quoted LaRouche asking: "Is Chávez being a dupe of the British Empire?"

Bolivia Fears Kosovo-Style Break-Up of the Country

Feb. 20 (EIRNS)—Bolivian President Evo Morales warned in a speech on Feb. 19, that the May 4 "autonomy" referendum organized by the southeastern state of Santa Cruz, could lead to a Kosovo-style division of the country.

Four states will vote in the referendum to validate their demand for autonomy from the Federal government, a move Morales argues is illegal and unconstitutional. "The autonomy statutes are virtually intended to divide us ... as in Kosovo, and this is extremely grave. We must all unite," he warned.

In this very tense situation, media sources are highlighting the curriculum vitae of U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, whose prior diplomatic postings were in the Balkans, at the time of the break-up of Yugoslavia. He served as a special assistant to Amb. Richard Holbrooke in the early 1990s, and later headed the U.S. Mission in Pristina, Kosovo's capital. Sources in Bolivia have told this news service that Goldberg frequently travels to Santa Cruz to meet with its civic committee, the entity leading the separatist drive.

According to the Bolpress news agency, the Croatian magazine Globus recently interviewed Branko Marinkovic, the head of Santa Cruz's civic committee, and published it under the provocative headline, "A Croatian Against the Indians." The interview is reportedly circulating in the region, and feeds into the scenario put out a few years back by the American Enterprise Institute, which promoted the break-up of Bolivia into two nations: a white, European one based on the eastern provinces, and a poor, darker-skinned indigenous, one made up of the western provinces.

Ecuador Tells Rohatyn Clone, Slim, To Take a Hike

Feb. 20 (EIRNS)—The Ecuadorian government has told Mexican mega-billionaire Carlos Slim, whose Porta telecommunications firm operates in the country, that unless he ceases his tax evasion and shady business practices, it won't renew the company's contract.

President Rafael Correa also informed Slim on Feb. 16 that if he's not willing to pay $700 million to renew Porta's concession, he can just pick up and leave the country. "In the renegotiation of these contracts, we're demanding a just price for the country, which owns the [telephone] frequencies, and a substantial reduction in costs for customers." Porta's operation in Ecuador is one of Slim's most profitable, Correa said. "That's great, but let it also be for the State and for Ecuadorians."

Slim, who boasts of being the richest man in the world, is the Felix Rohatyn look-alike who's trying to ram through corporatist infrastructure schemes in Mexico, based on the public-private partnerships so beloved of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

That hasn't impressed Ecuador, however. The internal revenue service is demanding that Porta pay the government $40 million in unpaid taxes for 2004-06, warning that ongoing investigations could reveal that the company owes even more than that. This is the second fine imposed on Porta in less than a month. On Jan. 27, government authorities fined it $27 million for overcharging its customers, after which it was ordered to issue refunds to those customers.

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