From Volume 7, Issue 38 of EIR Online, Published Sept. 9, 2008

Ibero-American News Digest

South America, Minus Chávez, Moves To Prevent Civil War in Bolivia

Sept. 12 (EIRNS)—South American Presidents, at least most of them, are mobilizing to head off imminent civil war in Bolivia, which they well know would rapidly engulf the entire region.

Bolivia stands on the brink of disintegration, along precisely the lines outlined by London's U.S. neoconservative outlet, the American Enterprise Institute, in June 2004. AEI promoted a plan for Bolivia to break up into two "nations," one, primarily in the Andes, based on a coca economy; the other, led by the province of Santa Cruz in the East, based on oil and gas, with one or more neighboring states backing one or another of the separate parts. Thus far, however, only Hugo Chávez of Venezuela is playing into London's game.

The conflicts, which have worsened, since both President Evo Morales and his opponents, the governors of the eastern provinces, won strong majorities in the Aug. 7 recall referendum, reached a breaking point this week, when peasants marching to confront provincial leaders in outright insurrection against the central government were massacred, and Bolivian gas pipelines to Brazil were sabotaged, in the midst of threats by leaders of the eastern, separatist states to blow up oil installations.

Morales expelled the U.S. Ambassador, charging he was supporting a separatist move in the East.

Chávez, whose overt intervention into Bolivian affairs was already a point of conflict, provocatively announced that he stood ready to militarily back any movement to restore Morales to power, should he be overthrown. "If we have to create one, two, or three Vietnams, we're willing," he raved. He then expelled the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, "in solidarity" with Bolivia, while shouting against "shithead Yanquis."

The other Presidents of the region, crossing the ideological, right/left divide otherwise polarizing South America, began mobilizing to use their concerted power to restore rationality. The Presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, or their spokesmen, issued warnings that violation of the institutional order in Bolivia, acts of sabotage and violence will not be tolerated.

After multiple phone calls among the Presidents, an emergency summit of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) has been called for Sept. 15, in Chile.

Bolivian Military Rejects Chávez Troop 'Offer'

Sept. 12 (EIRNS)—Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's provocateur "offer," to come to the military support of Bolivian President Evo Morales and his government, was sharply rejected by the Bolivian military high command today.

The General Commander of the Armed Forces, Gen. Luís Trigo, flanked by the heads of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, called a televised press conference, to read a statement directed to "Mr. President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez, and the international community. We tell them that the Armed Forces emphatically reject foreign interventions of any type, no matter where they come from, and will not permit any foreign soldier or force to set foot on our national territory, and reject firmly and decisively any type of foreign intervention in affairs which are exclusively of national competence."

The Armed Forces added that they will defend democracy in Bolivia, and the "action of radical violent groups" will no longer be tolerated by the military.

Argentina and Brazil Form High-Tech Alliance

Sept. 8 (EIRNS)—At a time of great optimism in Brazil, over the development implications of the recent discovery of vast "pre-salt" offshore oil deposits, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner made her first official state visit to the country Sept. 6-8, for discussions with Brazil's President Lula da Silva on strengthening bilateral ties and regional integration. Most notable about their discussions, was the emphasis on strategic cooperation in high-technology, capital-intensive industrial development.

The two neighbors are working on 30 joint projects in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including the creation of a joint uranium-enrichment facility. In aerospace, they are collaborating on the technical design of the Sabia-Mar Earth observation satellite, and establishing a production partnership between the Brazilian aircraft producer Embraer and Argentina's Cordoba Military Co.

Cooperation between their shipbuilding industries, both state and private, is on the table. Argentina's Association of Metallurgical Industries and Brazil's Machinery and Equipment Producers' Association are to cooperate to establish common goals for both nations' capital goods industries.

Lula announced also that the policy of carrying out bilateral trade in local currencies—either the peso or the real—is now effectively a reality, replacing the dollar.

Argentina Flanks Creditors, Again

Sept. 6 (EIRNS)—British financier interests are hysterical that Argentina has opted to make a lump sum, cash payment of $6.7 billion it owes to the Paris Club of creditors, instead of taking up their "offer" to negotiate a deal—provided the government allow the IMF to audit the economy.

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner chose to make the payment this way, rather than submit to an IMF audit. In announcing her decision Sept. 2, she explained that the payment is another step in the state's policy of reducing the country's debt burden—just as it did when it paid off the balance it owed to the IMF—in order to facilitate access to loans and proceed with the process of industrialization and improving living standards.

Three days later, Finance Minister Carlos Fernández announced that the government's representative to the IMF, Hector Torres, is being replaced. Torres was said to be close to Central Bank president Martin Redrado, who opposed using Central Bank reserves to pay the Paris Club, and was pushing instead for a renegotiation.

Immediately after the announcement, investors started dumping Argentine bonds, making dire predictions about a new default, while continuing to attack Fernández de Kirchner's "credibility." J.P. Morgan issued a confidential report threatening that if Argentina wants to "have access to the market, it will have to adopt an explicit 'adjustment,' both fiscal and monetary."

Hurricanes Wipe Haiti Off the Map

Sept. 11 (EIRNS)—"We're basically just waiting for death ... if they don't rebuild this country, we're all going to die here. What happens when the rains come again?"

This is the sentiment of the majority of Haiti's desperately poor population, which has been slammed by four tropical storms or hurricanes over the past month. Thanks to the lack of infrastructure—courtesy of decades of IMF austerity policy—people and their few belongings and makeshift houses, are being swept away.

The worst devastation is seen in the northwestern port city of Gonaives, with 100,000 people who are starving because all but a little infrastructure into the city has collapsed, preventing humanitarian aid from arriving. The hospital has been destroyed by floods. Bloated and decomposing bodies line the streets. "You can see it's not a town anymore: it's a river," said one observer. People try to filter water through a cloth to drink it, but it's completely contaminated by "corpses of animals, engine oil, and excrement."

All rights reserved © 2008 EIRNS