From Volume 8, Issue 23 of EIR Online, Published June 9, 2009

Ibero-American News Digest

Brazil Plans Ibero-America's Largest Research Reactor

June 2 (EIRNS)—The shutdown of Canada's Chalk River research reactor, one of only five reactors in the world which produce the radioisotope Mo-99 on a commercial scale, demonstrates the urgency of Brazil moving ahead on construction of its planned Multipurpose Reactor (RMB), said José Augusto Perrotta, coordinator of the RMB program at the state-run Nuclear and Energy Research Institute, in an interview with Folha de São Paulo published on May 30.

With the RMB, Brazil could become self-sufficient in medical radioisotopes, double the cases using nuclear medicine, and establish a Brazilian Radiopharmaceutical Company, its supporters argue. Brazil has four research reactors, but the RMB would be larger than any now existing anywhere in Ibero-America.

Perrotta is pressing for construction to begin in 2010. Science Minister Sergio Rezende supports the project, but it will be a fight to line up the financing needed.

Mexican Central Banker Demands Blood

June 2 (EIRNS)—As soon as midterm elections are held in Mexico on July 5, "good" Mexican politicians must rip up labor laws, jack up taxes, eliminate excessive regulations, and implement other "reforms" which have been dragging around for years, pronounced Mexico's central bank chief, Guillermo Ortíz, today.

High on the list of reforms is privatization of Mexico's state oil company, PEMEX.

Why? To satisfy the imperial rating agencies (Moodys, Standard and Poors, etc.) which are threatening to lower Mexico's sovereign debt rating. "We have to avoid that at all cost," Ortíz insisted.

George Soros and his drug-runners will be the greatest beneficiaries of any such policy.

Ortíz's proclamation coincides with news that remittances sent home by Mexicans in the United States plunged in April by 19%, year on year, an unprecedented drop. For the first four months of this year, they were down by 9%. Remittances are the nation's second-largest source of foreign exchange, after oil exports. GDP in the first quarter of 2009 plunged by 8.2%. And that was before the flu epidemic hit.

Mexican Candidate—'the Obama of Sonora'—Is Sure To Lose

June 1 (EIRNS)—Alfonso Elís Serrano, the PRI party's candidate for governor of Sonora, Mexico, has won enthusiastic support in the state for backing the proposed Northwest Hydraulic Plan (PLHINO), the tri-state water project which would transform the region's economy by expanding agricultural projection and creating productive jobs, among other things. Elís's optimism and commitment to improving living conditions have inspired thousands of Sonorans.

Some people, though, just don't get it. According to Kiosco Mayor, the PRD candidate for governor, Petra Santos Ortíz, on May 30-31, launched an attack on the PLHINO as an "antiquated" proposal from a half a century ago, which costs too much, won't get financed, and will make Sonora dependent on other states for water!

Ortíz instead advocates Barack Obama-style green solutions for Sonora—programs incapable of sustaining the state's economy or population, such as a solar-powered desalination plant, solar-powered homes, water-saving toilets, and thermal materials which maintain adequate internal temperatures in the desert.

Hepatitis-B Reaching Pandemic Proportions

June 2 (EIRNS)—The May 19 conference in Buenos Aires of the Latin-American Group of Hepatitis-B Experts (GLEHB) issued a document warning of the grave public-health risk posed by the Hepatitis-B (HBV) virus, which medical experts described as "100 times more infectious than HIV-AIDS and 10 times more than Hepatitis-C."

At least 5% of the world's population is infected with chronic HBV, with especially high incidence in Asia and Africa. Transmission occurs through contact with blood and other bodily fluids. As consumption of illegal narcotics increases throughout Ibero-America, IV drug use and sharing of needles have become common modes of transmission. Some experts attending the conference described HBV as "the real pandemic."

The conference document urged governments to take bold action against HBV, offering universal vaccination, as well as preventive measures. Failure to take action could give the virus time to mutate, become resistant to medication, and more difficult to treat, the experts warned. Vaccination can prevent infection, the physicians said, but the infection rate is increasing dramatically, both in Ibero-America and worldwide. There is urgent need for epidemiological studies that can provide a "map" of the virus's prevalence. "Right now, all we have to go on are estimates," said Dr. Jorge Daruich of Buenos Aires's Hospital de Clinicas.

Dr. Hugo Cheinquer of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre underscored the importance of testing the population to detect the disease in its early stages, when medical intervention can mean the difference between living and dying.

South American Group Plans Infrastructure Projects

June 4 (EIRNS)—State officials and business leaders from five Ibero-American countries, met in Antofagasta, Chile on June 3-4, to discuss the status of several projects that span the Central-Western South American Integration Zone (Zicosur).

Zicosur meets on a regular basis, and attendees generally represent their state or provincial governments or business organizations of central Paraguay, northern Argentina, eastern Bolivia, northern Chile, and southern Brazil.

One of the presentations at this conference was made by the head of the Santa Catarina (Brazil) Transport and Cargo Federation, who spoke on the "Bioceanic Santa Catarina-Northern Chile Bioceanic Rail Inter-Connection: a Multimodal Corridor for Zicosur." This is a priority project for Brazil, which wants to help finance the construction of a rail/highway project connecting the Argentine provinces of Corrientes and Chaco, which would complete a crucial link in the bioceanic corridor.

Despite the fact that discussion of regional infrastructure isn't in the news much these days, regional groups such as Zicosur continue to promote these projects, seeing them as crucial to the region's economy and job creation.

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