From Volume 7, Issue 10 of EIR Online, Published Mar. 4, 2008

Ibero-American News Digest

Global British Assassination Strategy Threatens Mexico

Feb. 27 (EIRNS)—An apocryphal news item reporting that Mexican opposition leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) had been assassinated in the central plaza of Mexico City, was briefly but prominently posted on the website of the national Mexican daily Milenio Feb. 25. The item was purportedly issued by the official news agency, Notimex, and is variously reported to have remained on the website between five and 30 minutes, before being replaced. While some suggest that the inflammatory note was the work of a hacker, as of today's news stories, neither Milenio nor Notimex had issued any comment on the incident.

"PRD Fractures After the Death of AMLO, Says [PRD leader] Acosta Naranjo," the headline read, adding: "The PRD leader lamented the death of the so-called legitimate president and attributes his death to an assassination organized by the presidential forces themselves, although he admits that he lacks sufficient information, and it is also suspected that German terrorists linked to a Mexican publication are involved."

Whatever the who, what, and how of this specific incident, it must be viewed as a serious threat to the stability of Mexico, perpetrated by British imperial interests which Lyndon LaRouche has denounced for fomenting global chaos and destabilization. As LaRouche commented when the Ottawa Sun put out a false story about a hit against Barack Obama: "This is the kind of stuff that creates confusion in the population; that then creates the cover for an assassination, and people point back to such writings as 'evidence' of an assassination plot."

López Obrador: Cardenas Beat the Oil Multis, Thanks to FDR

Feb. 29 (EIRNS)—Mexican opposition leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador pointed to a key lesson of history for today, when he identified the crucial role which U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt played in ensuring Mexico was able to finally win the battle to enforce sovereign control over its oil in 1938.

López Obrador, along with other opposition figures in both the PRD and the PRI, is urging Mexicans to mobilize to block the intended privatization of Mexico's state oil company, PEMEX, in the immediate months ahead. Interviewed by Carmen Aristegui of CNN in Spanish on Feb. 27, López Obrador warned that once a law opening the door to privatization is passed, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.

Look at our own experience, he said. Article 27 of the 1917 Constitution established that Mexico's oil and subsoil resources belong to the nation, but for decades no government could pass a law enforcing that right, because the oil companies operated as a state within a state, doing what they wanted, protected by their private police and paramilitary forces. President Calles tried to pass such a law, but was unable to, confronted by pressures which even included talk of a secret invasion plan.

In 1938, Gen. Lazaro Cardenas (President, 1934-1940) expropriated the foreign oil multinationals, establishing PEMEX, which within years became a world-class company, despite the then-British ambassador's stated conviction that people of "degenerate Indian blood" could never run oil refineries.

López Obrador pointed out that Cardenas was a man of principle, and that he was able to pull off his victory against the "arrogance" of the oil companies, because during his term in office, FDR, "one of the best Presidents which that country has had," was President of the United States.

Probe of Ecuador's Foreign Debt Yields 'Scandalous' Results

Feb. 25 (EIRNS)—A six-month investigation of Ecuador's foreign debt, carried out by the Commission on the Integral Auditing of Public Credit, has yielded "scandalous" results, President Rafael Correa reported on his weekly radio show Feb. 23.

"What was done with the foreign debt is incredible," Correa said. The investigation, which is not over, has shown that a portion of the debt is illegitimate, and won't be paid, he said. Moreover, there will be "trials of those bad Ecuadorians who participated in these shameless acts." Correa cited as an example how government officials signed contracts with creditors in which they renounced the government's right to take any legal action, should the contract be annulled, couldn't be executed as written, or were found to be illegal.

One of the Commission's foreign members is Argentine lawyer Alejandro Olmos, who worked with his father in investigating Argentina's illegitimate debt. In an interview published Feb. 25 in Reseau Voltaire, Olmos praised Ecuador as the first government to audit its foreign debt. He notes that a Brazilian member of the Commission has demonstrated that from 1982 onward, Ecuador was always a victim of "bankers' arithmetic"—it paid out more than it received, and it didn't matter what it paid, because it always owed more.

Olmos cited a 1991 report by a manager at Ecuador's Central Bank, that Ecuador paid off the same loan two and three times, due to rampant disorganization at the bank. In another case, a contract for a $200 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank, included clauses stipulating that the money would be granted only if state enterprises were privatized in return.

Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil Devise Energy Strategy

Feb. 24 (EIRNS)—Bolivian President Evo Morales met with his Argentine and Brazilian counterparts in Buenos Aires Feb. 23, to discuss solutions to the energy crises afflicting all three countries. On the agenda was how to address Bolivia's inability to meet its commitment to ship 7.7 million cubic meters of natural gas daily to Argentina (it currently ships 3-4 million cubic meters/day), which has created acute shortages in the latter country.

Bolivia has said it must first meet its domestic demand before shipping abroad. Argentina had asked Brazil to divert 1 million cubic meters daily of the supply it receives from Bolivia, but Brazil has refused, due to its own needs. So, foreign media gleefully trumpeted that the mini-summit of the three Presidents "failed." The truth is more interesting.

The Presidents set up an emergency coordinating committee made up of their energy ministers, which will meet regularly and monitor the situation in the three nations, starting immediately. Leaving Argentina, President Lula told reporters that the issue isn't really gas supply. "We're talking about a policy of solidarity that the Mercosur [Common Market of the South] countries must have to help each other. All of our economies are growing, and we all need energy.... We are going to look at which sources of energy production we need."

The decision by Argentina and Brazil to embark on joint nuclear energy development (see EIW #9, Feb. 26), with the idea of supplying the entire region, is key here, although it requires a crash program of the kind that Lyndon LaRouche has advocated to begin to address the regional energy deficit. In the meantime, the Presidents underscored the importance of investments already underway in Bolivia, from both Brazil and Argentina, to help it increase production and develop its own infrastructure. Brazil's Energy Minister Edison Lobao said that while Brazil can't offer natural gas to Argentina, it could supply Argentina with 200 MW/hr of electricity during the Winter months (June, July, August). Whenever Argentina is able, he added, it could repay Brazil in energy.

Will a Sane U.S.-Cuba Relationship Emerge?

Feb. 26 (EIRNS)—On Feb. 24, as expected, Cuba's Parliament named Raúl Castro, the 76-year-old brother of Fidel, as the island's President, making official what has effectively been the case since July of 2006, when the ailing Fidel "temporarily" handed power to his younger brother. During that time, Raul made three public overtures to the United States, expressing his willingness to engage in serious negotiations with whatever government succeeds the Bush-Cheney regime.

According to a leak published by Brazil's Folha de São Paulo Feb. 21, when President Lula da Silva visited Cuba in mid-January, he was asked by Raúl Castro to use his "good offices" to serve as a mediator with the United States, especially since a new President will be entering the White House in 2009, who, it assumed, will be a Democrat.

According to Folha's government sources, the Cuban leader indicated that because Brazil enjoys a good relationship with the U.S., it "would be a more convenient partner than Venezuela"—with which Cuba maintains close relations—in speaking to Washington and urging it to end its decades-long economic blockade of Cuba. Folha hinted that Raúl Castro sees in Lula a means of distancing himself somewhat from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who has been personally close to Fidel.

In the same vein, Spanish daily Hechos de Hoy claimed on Feb. 25 that observers were very surprised that Vice President Carlos Lage, who is close to Chávez, had not been promoted to the No. 2 spot behind Raúl Castro. Instead, that post went to the 77-year-old member of the "old guard," José Ramón Machado. The daily suggested that with these appointments, Raúl Castro may be attempting to put Cuba's relationship with Venezuela on a much more institutional basis, as opposed to having it defined, as has been the case to date, by Chávez's personal relationship to Fidel. It was Carlos Lage who teamed up with Chávez at a late-January conference in Caracas to hail the advent of the "post-dollar era" and cheer on the "demise" of the dollar.

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