From Volume 7, Issue 13 of EIR Online, Published Mar. 25, 2008

Ibero-American News Digest

Brazil Stalls British War Plans in South America

March 18 (EIR)—Under the leadership of Brazil, British efforts to codify the imperial doctrine of preventive war as the law of the Americas, were delivered a sharp setback at the March 17-18 Consultation of the Organization of American States (OAS) Foreign Ministers, which took up the conflict between Colombia and Ecuador.

Ibero-American Presidents, meeting in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on March 7, had cooled out the hysteria and plunge towards war which followed Colombia's March 1 military raid against an encampment of the narcoterrorist FARC inside Ecuador. The extraordinary March 17 OAS meeting was to discuss how the region could address the broader issues underlying the immediate crisis, so as to not repeat it.

British toadies in the Bush government, however, attempted to use the meeting to codify the British empire's doctrine of limited sovereignty as OAS policy. According to Brazilian media leaks, not denied, when U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Brazilian President Lula da Silva on March 13, she sounded him out on the idea that borders should be "flexibilized"—that is, that another nation's territorial sovereignty should not be respected—in the war against the FARC.

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte's insistence that a variation on this argument be adopted as policy at the March 17 meeting, turned what was to have been a eight-hour meeting into a marathon into the early hours of the next morning.

It was Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim's intervention which prevented the meeting from ending in an impasse. "There is nothing complicated here. The inviolability of borders is a basic principle of the United Nations. It is a basic right, and one of the duties of a State," he stated. As for fighting terrorism, "we all have to cooperate to combat terrorism—and not just terrorism, but all illicit actions." But, we can't turn the fight against terrorism "into a holy war that justifies liquidating all principles of international law."

This is not a big deal, the Brazilian leader said. The OAS doesn't have to come up with some innovation here; the basic principles already exist. It just has to "adopt practical measures that help to build confidence to prevent these incidents from happening again. The details aren't that interesting. What's important is that these things don't happen again."

The final resolution, was adopted by all member-states without reservations, including both Colombia and Ecuador, except the United States, which supported it only "with reservations." The resolution expresses members' "rejection" of Colombia's military incursion into Ecuador, as a violation of Ecuador's territorial sovereignty, and calls on the secretary general of the OAS to establish necessary mechanisms to ensure implementation of the resolution and that steps be taken to build confidence between the two nations. It also reiterates members' commitment to fighting "security threats from actions of irregular groups and criminal organizations, particularly those linked to drug-trafficking activities."

López Obrador Praises FDR and His Good Neighbor Policy

March 19 (EIR)—Mexican opposition leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador has again paid due respect to the central role played by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in protecting Mexico's sovereignty, when it nationalized its oil industry 70 years ago, on March 18, 1938. López Obrador was speaking to thousands gathered in Mexico City's central plaza to celebrate that anniversary, by mobilizing to prevent the Calderón government's intended privatization of the oil industry.

López Obrador recognized FDR's role front and center in his speech. Mexico was finally able to make effective the 1917 Constitution's assertion of state control over natural resources, because of three ideal conditions, he said: 1) We had a patriotic and popular President, Gen. Lazaro Cárdenas; 2) Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "one of the greatest politicians in the world, in the 20th Century," was President of the United States; and 3) just a few days before the nationalization, on March 12, 1938, Hitler invaded Austria, and the U.S. government recognized that it was preferable to have an anti-fascist government on its southern border, rather using force against our country.

Under his Good Neighbor policy, FDR recognized the sovereignty of Cuba and Panama, and ordered U.S. troops out of Nicaragua and Haiti. "The best example of the authenticity of his good neighbor policy was the respect for the sovereignty of our country," López Obrador elaborated.

This was General Cárdenas's view, López Obrador said, as seen in a letter he wrote in the days after the nationalization:

"My government believes that the attitude assumed by the United States of America, in the case of the expropriation of the oil companies, reaffirms once again, the sovereignty of the peoples of this continent, which has been upheld with such tenacity by the statesman of the most powerful country of the Americas, the most excellent President Roosevelt."

That lesson in history is key, but López Obrador made no mention whatsoever of the great world crisis currently determining Mexico's situation today. And while he called upon Mexicans to mobilize to defend their nation's obligation to use the oil to develop the country, he reduced the great question of "What is to be done?" to ending corruption.

Argentina: Biggest Farm Protests in 30 Years

March 21 (EIR)—In response to the biggest agricultural protest in 30 years, a lockout of the markets launched a week ago by the nation's major agricultural producers, to protest increased taxes on exports of soybeans and sunflower seeds, Argentine Finance Minister Martin Lousteau asserted the nation's duty to the "general welfare." Shortages of beef and milk loom, as producers are refusing to market their cattle or produce, while blocking many of the nation's highways with protest actions.

According to sources in Buenos Aires, it is the landed oligarchy, represented by the Rural Society and local affiliates of Cargill, Dreyfuss, Monsanto, et al., that are behind the strike, although they have pulled some smaller farmer groups into it. The oligarchs are denouncing state intervention into their affairs, which not only limits their profits, but threatens the unrelenting expansion of soy monoculture.

The broader political aim of the strike action is the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, attempting to portray her as a weak leader whose policies are in disarray. The country's largest labor federation, the CGT, characterized the strike as a "golpista" (coup) move by the landed oligarchy, which sits pretty, while small farmers suffer.

The export taxes were raised from 35% to 45% two weeks ago, as a means of preventing high international commodity prices from being passed on to the domestic market, and will operate on a sliding scale. Appearing March 19 on the "Dos Voces" (Two Voices) TV program, Lousteau accused the producers of having contempt for the rest of the population, particularly the urban poor, "engaging in a form of "bosses' protest, which will jeopardize food supplies" during Holy Week.

Without export taxes, Lousteau argued, local inflation would be far higher. But if it were up to the soybean producers, "there would be no taxes at all, and if the soy price were to go to $10,000 a ton, they'd keep the profits and only produce soybeans." The Argentine government doesn't share this selfish view, he said; like it or not, "the State's duty is to be the arbiter of the general welfare."

Food Price Inflation and Scarcity Plague Ibero-America

March 15 (EIRNS)—From Mexico to Argentina, food price inflation, combined with the effects of natural disasters, are placing food staples out of reach of large sectors of the population.

The severe drought afflicting Chile is wreaking havoc with agricultural production, forcing prices higher and creating scarcity. Luis Schmidt, head of the National Agricultural Society (SNA), reports that southern Chile "is entirely dry," and that beef, potato, and vegetable production has declined significantly as a result. Coastal wheat production has been "disastrous," he adds. Beef and milk are expected to be scarce in the winter months of June, July, and August. Chilean exporters are also frantic over the collapse of the dollar internationally, which has negatively affected the exchange rate, and thus their ability to export.

The situation in Bolivia borders on catastrophe. Devastating floods have wiped out crops, driving prices up and causing scarcity in several cities. Responding to growing popular unrest, President Evo Morales announced measures on Feb. 27 to punish speculators and contain prices in order to ensure adequate food supplies. He has also placed the Armed Forces in charge of combatting the smuggling of food contraband across borders, as well as lifted tariffs on imports of such staples as corn, rice, wheat, sugar, and vegetable oil. Despite these measures, food prices continue to rise. In four major cities, the consumer price index for February was 2.62% higher than January's, due largely to increased prices of tomatoes, poultry, beef, cheese, and some vegetables. The capital of La Paz saw a 4.6% increase in the prices of food and beverages in February.

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