From Volume 7, Issue 20 of EIR Online, Published May 13, 2008

Ibero-American News Digest

British Anti-Nation Advances; Bolivia in the Crosshairs

May 6 (EIRNS)—The British drive to break up the nations of the Americas into squabbling, minuscule "republiquettes," took a big step forward on May 4, when the richest province in Bolivia held a rump referendum on establishing autonomy from the federal government. Similar referendums on autonomy are scheduled in three more Bolivian provinces by the end of June.

Bolivia, at the center of the South American continent, is the crossroads through which any transcontinental railroad must pass. Particularly vulnerable because it has been kept poor, with its people and resources never developed, the British oligarchs have targetted Bolivia for decades for disintegration. Blow up Bolivia, and South America as a whole is blown up.

Thus, the issues presented locally as regards the referendum, have little do to what is at stake, no matter how passionately they are argued.

EIR is investigating from source reports from Bolivia, that international grain cartels and other financier interests are playing a major role in organizing the autonomy drive.

Argentine Government Stands Firm Against Rural Oligarchy

May 8 (EIRNS)—Immediately after the Argentine government indicated May 7 that it would not negotiate on the issue of higher taxes on soybean exports, representatives of the country's four major agricultural organizations announced that they would resume the protest that had shut down domestic agriculture markets for 21 days in March.

The real issue is the political assault on President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner by British-backed operatives. The latter are portraying the current conflict as a rising up of "the people" against an unfair government, when the ringleaders are the same old British-controlled oligarchs who have nothing but contempt for "the people." And the smaller producers who've jumped into soybean production, out of food crops, find themselves in an unholy alliance with the oligarchs they've always hated.

These organizations locked agro products out of the domestic market during the March action to protest the higher taxes, which the government says are essential to keeping domestic food prices low and guaranteeing a more just income distribution. Since the hardships created by the food shortages and higher prices they provoked in their March lockout threatened to backfire against them politically, producers say that until May 15, they will only block vehicles carrying grains or beef to ports for export. Because grain and beef exports are also taxed, the producers expect to punish the government by putting a dent in its tax revenue. Producers are also warning that they'll stop purchasing agricultural equipment, thus harming some industrial sectors which have tended to support the government.

The lie in the producers' claim that the government is abusing them and stealing their hard-earned money, is the reality that two of the organizations—the Rural Society and Rural Confederations—represent the landed oligarchy, which has made a financial killing from the soy monoculture that has expanded in the country over the past ten years.

Brits Polarize Central American Food Summit

May 10 (EIRNS)—The emergency food summit held in Managua, Nicaragua on May 7, with the participation of 17 nations, was supposed to discuss specific proposals for quickly increasing production of basic grains in Central America and the Caribbean, as well as other measures to address the dire food crisis afflicting all participating nations.

Instead, the same British gamemasters who are polarizing other parts of Ibero-America, succeeded in doing the same at the Managua conference. The result was that little specific emerged from it, other than a declaration of a food emergency and an agreement to meet again in 30 days.

The summit was run by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, whose country is the poorest in the region after Haiti, and requires immediate aid. But as a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Ortega, along with leaders from Chávez's ALBA group (Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America), focussed the debate on a radical attack on the U.S. "empire," as the chief culprit behind the free trade that has destroyed the region's agriculture.

Unfortunately, they named the wrong empire.

While many of those present had nothing good to say about free trade, they were less comfortable with the ALBA crowd's radical rhetoric—such as Bolivian President Evo Morales's lie that "unlimited industrialization is the drug of planet Earth." El Salvador and Costa Rica, die-hard defenders of free trade, refused to sign the final declaration at all. Costa Rican President Oscar Arias charged that "there are value judgments, with which I disagree," in the statement, and so he didn't "want Costa Rica's name to appear." He complained that Chávez and the ALBA group "don't believe in free trade."

There was no time to even discuss the proposal hammered out by the same governments at meetings just ten days earlier, for a $600 million emergency program to finance increased grain production this year, in order to make the region self-sufficient in food.

Brazilian President Crusades for British Biofoolery

May 7 (EIRNS)—Brazilian President Inacio Lula da Silva is staking his reputation on proving that the British Empire's murderous biofuels strategy is right for the world—especially for the developing world. With attacks mounting against biofuels, as sane people worldwide focus on the issue of food security, Lula has responded by making this issue his personal crusade.

In a May 6 speech in the northeast city of Manaus, he argued that those who blame biofuels for the rise in food prices are jealous of Brazil. Such accusations come from fear-mongers, "a nest of rogues ... those who aren't competent to compete with Brazil," whose ethanol costs far less to produce than in the U.S. or Germany. He insisted that food scarcity is a "good problem" to have, because it means that people in China, India, Africa, and Ibero-America are eating more and better quality food—and that's why there is scarcity! The demand is too great.

Lula announced the day before that he would host an international conference on biofuels in São Paulo next November, and bragged that he is telling industrialized nations that they don't have to divert their food crops into biofuels, because they can make deals to do their planting for ethanol in Africa. "Don't they buy their oil from Saudi Arabia? Why not buy ethanol from Ghana?"

A year ago, Lula signed an agreement with the government of Ghana for joint biofuels development. But, when he visited Africa recently for the UNCTAD summit, many of the African delegates made clear that food production—not biofuels—was their top priority.

Argentine Congressman Calls for Doubling Food Production

May 6 (EIRNS)—The president of the Agricultural Committee of Argentina's Chamber of Deputies, Alberto Cantero Gutiérrez, has issued a call for Argentina to celebrate its bicentennial in 2010 by returning to its rightful role as one of the world's food powerhouses: "We want to double [food] production and generate more wealth," he said. "Argentina should once again be the great provider of food to the world, beginning with the guarantee of food security for 40 million Argentines."

Cantero's call comes in the middle of a national economic and political debate over food policy, and the way the British-dominated grain cartels have destroyed Argentina's historic food production. Cantero has presented a bill calling for the creation of a National Agricultural Trade Control and Promotion Agency, which would empower the state to buy directly from the producer, avoiding the middle-man who often sells food for double the price he paid the producer. "The idea is not to create a state monopoly or oligopoly, but to give the state the tools to purchase food, [to ensure] no one goes hungry, to have transparency and avoid cartelization."

Similarly, Felipe Sola, the former governor of Buenos Aires province, who is also an agronomist, is proposing the creation of a National Food Security System, which, in some ways, he said, would resemble the "very respected and beloved National Wheat Board," which was dissolved in 1991 by the free-trade Carlos Menem government. Under his proposal, the state would purchase in quantity between 15 and 30 basic foods, and sell them at reasonable prices to supermarkets and other merchants around the country. The purpose would be to ensure that people have access to nutritious food, that people can purchase it at fair prices, and encourage increased food production. "This is something the state has to do, and Argentina won't be the only country in the world to do this."

In an interview published in Pagina 12 May 4, Sola recalled that in April 1949, then-President Juan D. Perón convened a conference on national food policy, whose main organizer was Dr. Ramón Carrillo, the founder of Argentina's excellent public health service. The conference discussed such issues as the composition of a monthly market basket of food, a diet "that was among the most desirable in the world," and the insistence that every citizen "had a right—I repeat, a right—to that food basket." It consisted of meat, vegetables, rice, fruit, and dairy products.

Dr. Carrillo understood that a nutritious diet was a vital part of the national public health-care system he had created, which was admired throughout Ibero-America.

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