From Volume 7, Issue 16 of EIR Online, Published Apr. 15, 2008

Ibero-American News Digest

FAO Warns: Millions of Central Americans Starve

April 9 (EIRNS)—Faced with soaring international prices of grains and other commodities, Central American agriculture ministers met today in San José, Costa Rica, to devise an emergency plan to increase domestic production of basic grains. According to the regional head of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), José Graziano, millions of Central Americans are starving because of food scarcity and uncontrolled prices.

And things will only get worse, he warned. Hunger will increase dramatically in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador, because these nations cannot produce sufficient food to feed their populations, and cannot pay the prices that rise every few days because of "imported inflation." Guatemala's deputy agriculture minister pointed to the current insanity of producing crops that are used for biofuels instead of for human consumption, while other ministers angrily explained that their governments had stupidly followed the advice of multilateral lending agencies, which recommended that they decrease the area of land under cultivation for food crops.

An economist at Guatemala's Research and Social Studies Association (ASIES) declared, "We are defenseless" in the face of rising food prices which have seen Guatemala's monthly basic market basket—the estimated minimum quantity of food on which a family of five can subsist—increase in price by 22 quetzales since January. The World Food Program representative in El Salvador, Carlos Scaramella, warned that the population is quickly losing its ability to "access food."

Agriculture and foreign ministers will meet again in emergency session on April 19 to evaluate the situation.

The Dominican Republic exploded in a general strike today, called to protest high food and fuel prices, and demand higher wages. It turned violent in some locations. The prices of staples such as milk, beef, chicken, vegetables, and cooking oil are steadily rising from week to week.

The Brazilian government announced today that it would be shipping 14 tons of food to impoverished Haiti, which has been convulsed by food riots.

Starving Central America Targeted for Biofuels Genocide

April 12 (EIRNS)—While the populations of Central America and the Caribbean starve, the newly launched "Bioenergy Alliance," whose members reportedly include "the leading ethanol producers of the Americas," is preparing a biofuels offensive in this same region, ensuring economic and humanitarian disasters.

There is big Brazilian input into this Bioenergy Alliance, through such entities as former Florida governor Jeb Bush's Inter-American Ethanol Commission, on which former Brazilian agriculture minister Roberto Rodrigues sits; and the Adecoagro firm, which is partially owned by speculator George Soros, and which is heavily involved in Brazil. They are all financial predators, with big hedge fund and private equity involvement.

These killers plan to use the impoverished Central America/Caribbean region as the base from which to significantly increase production of, and then export, biofuels to the United States, to get around the U.S. 54-cents-a-gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol. If exported to the U.S. from a nation such as Guatemala, ethanol can enter the U.S. tariff-free, because of Guatemala's participation in the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI).

During an April 6-11 Bioenergy "road-show" through the United States, Mexico, and Guatemala, executives of various Brazilian sugar mills and affiliated investors were ecstatic at the prospects for vastly expanding their ethanol operations in Guatemala, a big sugar producer, and other nations of the region. Why, 30% to 40% of Brazil's ethanol exports go through the Caribbean, one private equity fund executive gushed. Rodrigo Muñoz, director of the Bunge cartel group, chortled that "Brazil must continue with this road-show because the prospects are so very good." Bunge is a huge investor in Brazil's ethanol market.

FDR Helped Haiti Become Self-Sufficient in Food Production

April 12 (EIRNS)—Haiti has been convulsed by riots this past week, as its starving people demanded food. Contrast this with the fact that in 1941, thanks to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Good Neighbor Policy, Haiti was nearly self-sufficient in food production. FDR took a personal interest in this island nation, twice meeting with its President Stenio Vincent, and ordering the establishment of ten Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps to assist in Haiti's economic development.

Haiti's land was largely owned by small farmers, who didn't produce cash crops for export, but for national consumption. In 1941, the FDR Administration set up SHADA (Haitian-American Society for Agricultural Development), a development corporation which would serve as a model for similar entities established in other Ibero-American countries, as part of the Good Neighbor Policy. With a $5 million credit line from the U.S. government, and active involvement by the Eximbank, SHADA pursued "the development and exploitation of all agricultural and other resources of, and within, the Republic of Haiti.... Rubber, oil, seeds, spices, drug plants, fiber plants, woods, and other resources indigenous to Haiti are to be grown and developed." Moreover, "experimentation is to be undertaken to improve existing crops and to cultivate new ones."

It was determined that while Haiti might not become industrialized, its ability to produce food, and expand into related areas, must be guaranteed. Compare this to the genocidal policy of free trade which, by demanding that Haiti open itself up to cheap food imports, destroyed what food-producing capability it still had left in the 1980s and 1990s.

British Free Trade in Colombia: All Dope and No Food

April 9 (EIRNS)—The dope in the White House, George Bush, sent a proposed Free Trade Accord (FTA) with Colombia to the U.S. Congress on April 7, for "fast track" approval within 90 days, in the name of defending U.S. "national security."

Only a dope could call expanding the drug trade a defense of U.S. national security. Eliminating protective tariffs will wipe out Colombia's remaining farmers, turning them over to the drug mafia—which already calls the shots, by and large, in Colombia's economy.

Colombia is potentially an agro giant, but for 40 years, land under cultivation has never exceeded 4 million of its 20 million hectares of cultivatable land, not counting land which irrigation projects could open up for cultivation. Under the 1990-94 drug-mob controlled government of César Gaviria, a million hectares was taken out of agricultural production, as Gaviria's takedown of protective tariffs made growing coca and poppies the only profitable "farming" possible. Land used for food fell to 3 million hectares, from which it never recovered.

Now, with even that remaining land being converted into plantations like those that once existed in the U.S. South—slaves and all—of African palm and sugar cane to produce for biofuels, Colombia has less than 3 million hectares of land being used to cultivate food.

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