From Volume 37, Issue 34 of EIR Online, Published Sept 3, 2010

Ibero-American News Digest

Upending Tony Blair's Plans for Colombia

Aug. 30 (EIRNS)—In Colombia, a national debate on infrastructure has been unleashed by the surprise Congressional testimony of Cabinet ministers of the new Santos government, in favor of building a metro for Bogotá.

President Juan Manuel Santos took office on Aug. 7, and the furor began on Aug. 24, during Senate hearings on the long-fought plans to build a metro for Colombia's capital, where more than 7 million people scramble for transportation. Several high-level officials of the Santos government testified in favor of the metro in the debate, but the shocker came when the new Finance Minister, Juan Carlos Echeverry, declared that the Santos government was willing to budget money for the project. Echeverry acknowledged that he was on record opposing the project as not financially viable, but declared that, as a Cabinet member, he supports his government's decisions. So the usually monetarist Echeverry was heard attacking opponents' arguments that Bogotá has too many poor people to afford a subway, calling that argument "peculiar."

Bogota Mayor Samuel Moreno, who has championed the metro since he took office in 2008, made the point in that debate that "the metro is a system which moves the greatest number of passengers, in the least time, generating little pollution and a lower accident rate. The metro system is not only a matter of mobility, but the pivot of the transformation of the city.... Building the metro will cost a lot, but not making the decision to do so, will be much more costly."

Support for the metro in the Congress crosses otherwise entrenched political-ideological lines. Ironically, but lawfully, opposition to the metro is now led by Colombia's Green Party.

The Santos government's adoption of the metro as one of its projects is an interesting turn in Colombian matters more broadly. The LaRouche Association of Colombia has long campaigned for the metro, as part of a national high-speed rail grid which would connect to the World Land-Bridge through the Darien Gap, and the Bering Strait Tunnel. Lyndon LaRouche's influence in Colombia is widespread, and now extends high up in the Santos government, which otherwise has strong connections to British imperial hatchetman Tony Blair.

The Colombian case typifies how the reality of the global collapse, combined with LaRouche's unique solution to the crisis, is creating an "all-bets-are-off" political situation, even in areas that the British thought they had under total control.

LaRouche welcomed this news from Colombia, pointing to the urgency of taking up the technological challenge of building a high-speed railroad through the jungle lands of the Darien Gap, which crosses the Panamanian-Colombian border, stating that "the future of Colombia depends, actually, on the role of the Darien Gap. Because that connection is crucial for all South America to North America. And if the new administration in Colombia goes along with this kind of thing, why, we're going to have a merry old time!"

NASA Is Ready To Help Trapped Miners in Chile

Aug. 26 (EIRNS)—NASA experts in human health and performance at the Johnson Space Center in Houston report they have been contacted, through the U.S. State Department, by the government of Chile, to engage their support for 33 miners trapped in the San José mine, in the Atacama desert.

Since it is expected to be months before the miners can be rescued, Chile's Ministry of Health is seeking input from nutritional and other experts at NASA, who are responsible for maintaining the health of astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The Ministry recognizes the similarity of the miners' situations to those of astronauts, and that astronauts eat food specially designed for long-term stays in space.

NASA scientists are already familiar with the Atacama desert's characteristics, as teams of astrobiologists spend time there, studying this region as an analogue to the deserts of Mars.

NASA has been asked to provide "technical advice related to life sciences," and specifically, advice regarding effective psychological support for the trapped men. Over the past 50 years of human space flight, the space agency has had to deal with a broad range of psychological problems in otherwise healthy individuals, during long-duration space flights. One of the most critical factors, they have found, is trust between the isolated individuals, and those in charge of their fate, and contact with loved ones. One of the most destructive factors is boredom, as is lack of structure.

Mining Minister Laurence Golborne has also consulted with the head of Chile's submarine fleet, who concurs that the men should be kept busy, with periods of work, rest, and recreation. The Ministry is preparing to run electric lines down to the miners, and is discussing the best nutritional approach with Johnson Space Center's space food systems laboratory.

Once communication with the surface was established, the miners have received food, medical supplies, and even a small camera. In a testament to the human spirit, in the first video they sent back from the mine on Aug. 26, the miners sang the Chilean national anthem, and provided a "tour" of how they have organized their space, 2,200 feet below the surface.

Barenboim Returns To Argentina To Celebrate Anniversary of His First Concert

Aug. 24 (EIRNS)—Israeli-Argentine pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim returned to his birthplace, Buenos Aires, last week to celebrate the 60th anniversary of his first public performance as a pianist, giving free performances of Beethoven's nine symphonies at the historic Teatro Colón with his world-famous West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, composed of Israeli, Palestinian, and Spanish musicians. According to press reports, his free concerts, which also included his playing Beethoven and Schumann piano works, have created what one newspaper called Barenboim-mania among the Argentinian public. The performances have all "sold out" (although no money changed hands), and attracted even those not accustomed to the Classical repertoire, but drawn to the concerts because of Barenboim's popularity.

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