Ibero-American News Digest
Just Another Day in Oligarchical Brazil
Jan. 24 (EIRNS)Windows of the Mayor's office in downtown Rio de Janeiro were shot out today, and a TV Globo news helicopter, fired on by drug traffickers, was forced to make an emergency landing, when the traffickers struck back, after 150 police moved in to search several drug-run hillside favelas (slums) in the downtown area, which is becoming a permanent war zone. Some 1.3 million people, 20% of the population of Brazil's second-largest city, live piled up in these favelas, abandoned by their government, and ruled by wild drug gangs.
The death toll from floods and mudslides which wiped out favelas perched on the hillsides of towns in Rio de Janeiro state ten days ago, hit 814 today, with over 500 people still unaccounted for. The brilliant idea announced today by the Rio state government (which the Rothschild interests love), is to set up an ecological park out of one of the hills now "cleared" of people, and run it as a public-private partnership!
And what was the federal government doing meanwhile? Selling derivativesclose to a billion dollars' worth just todayin its announced plan to out-speculate the speculators, supposedly to force down the value of Brazil's currency, the real, which is being driven into the stratosphere by the government's policy of raising the world's highest interest rates even further, opening the floodgates to the tsunami of hot money from the Inter-Alpha Group's global financial carry trade.
On Jan. 19, the Central Bank raised its benchmark Selic interest rate to 11.25% from 10.75%. As suicidal as this is, it is only the first installment on a full 2% increase that outgoing Central Bank head Henrique Meirelles had announced back in December, to try to keep the vast carry-trade charade alive. While the Bank said it was raising interest rates to "contain" inflation, which has already exceeded its annual target of 4.5%, reaching 6.04% by mid-January, the fact is that the soaring rates are one of the main causes of both inflation, and the collapse of production in BRIC-laden Brazilwhich is now imploding. The expectation is that interest rates will be raised yet again, when the Central Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (Copom) meets in early March.
Prince Charles' 'Green' Port-au-Prince: The Poor Need Not Apply
Jan. 30 (EIRNS)British imperial interests aren't finished killing off the Haitian people. Look at the news that the Prince of Wales's Foundation for the Built Environment has won the Haitian government contract to "rebuild" the destroyed capital of Port-au-Prince.
Rebuild? The Miami-based design firm that Charles' foundation has hired, Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co., envisions Port-au-Prince as a green "urban village," built for, and financially sustained by, the middle and upper classes. The poor have no place in this green fascist plan. They are to be dispersed elsewhere in the country, so as not to dirty up what architect Andres Duany calls "squares of tremendous elegance."
According to the green urban village concept, each stand-alone residential "super block" will have its own public-private infrastructurewater, electricity, and sanitation servicesand lots of parking. The residents of each block will form cooperatives that will own utilities and parking facilities. There will also be a cruise ship port, palace, and government buildings, in which tourism, including a luxury yacht basin, will be the main source of employment.
Eddie Labossiere, president of the Haitian Economists Association, has attacked the granting of the contract to the Prince's foundation, arguing that the urban village model ignores the city's historical and cultural dimensions. And, he adds, the involvement of foreign NGOs, and the creation of an "industrial park" based on textile sweatshops that produce only for export, will not help Haiti. There may be thousands of jobs offered, "but these are small jobs," Labossiere said, "that cannot guarantee the development of Haiti."
Argentina: Food Sovereignty or British Free Trade
Jan. 31 (EIRNS)For the second time in two years, Argentina's four major agricultural producer organizations, led by the oligarchical Rural Society, launched a strike against the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. An asset of British financial interests, the Rural Society represents large landowners, but has roped in smaller producer groups, convincing them that they are fighting for the same thing.
From Jan. 17-22, the four groups halted all marketing of grains for export, demanding the lifting of all export taxes and charging that the government is preventing them from exporting all they want, and is in collusion with the grain cartels to prevent them from getting a fair price.
Agriculture Minister Julián Dominguez has debunked those charges, pointing out that the farm sector has never been in as good shape as it is today. The government has helped producers, especially smaller ones, offering zero-interest-rate credit lines to finance exports or warehousing, among other benefits. On Jan. 12, following the announcement of the producers' strike, the government released another 3 million tons of grain for export.
In remarks to Tiempo Argentino published Jan. 17, Dominguez asserted however that "the sovereign state has the authority to determine the food security quota for internal consumption. This is what the Argentine state does. For wheat, we need 6.5 million tons.... I'm not a free trader: The state must take care of those things that the market can't resolve, when there are asymmetries."
The Agriculture Minister later noted that even if the state doesn't formally set up its own entity to manage all grains marketing, which some of its trading partners, such as India and Russia favor, it will be increasingly intervening in the grain trade to guarantee adequate supplies to the Argentine people at reasonable prices. "If [British] liberalism ever wins in Argentina, God help us," he told Página 12 in remarks published Jan. 23. "It will cease to protect industry and the producers."
The Rural Society is not amused. Since its founding in the 19th Century, it has always defended London's free-trade policy, with no concern as to whether people eat or not.
Cholera in Venezuela: A Tale from Boccaccio
Jan. 28 (EIRNS)At least 116 cholera cases have been reported in Venezuela over the last few days, but they didn't originate in the slums of Caracas. Rather, the patients were guests at a lavish wedding party for a very wealthy Venezuelan couple, held at the La Romana luxury resort in the Dominican Republic, attended by 450 well-to-do Venezuelans.
Uninvited, but somehow present, was Edgar Allen Poe's "Masque of the Red Death."
Guests became ill after eating the lobster served at the reception, which was brought from an area along the Dominican Republic's border with Haiti, where cholera does not need a visa or a passport to enter. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is now complaining that "some rich people" have brought cholera to Venezuela. Health Minister Eugenia Sader quickly announced that the situation was under control, but urged the rest of the wedding guests to come forward and get tested immediately, as they could be "spreading the bacteria without knowing it."
As is the case generally with cholera, people can carry, and spread the bacteria, but be asymptomatic.
Sader added, "If we can get these 450 people treated, we won't have an epidemic in Venezuela." However, she warned that there is one big concern. "Some of these peoplewithout knowing it, of coursecould travel to areas that have no sewage systems, such as places along the border and in indigenous areas, where a very serious epidemic could break out."
Colombian health authorities immediately responded to the cholera outbreak by launching an emergency deployment to areas along the border with Venezuela.
NAWAPA, PLHINO on Sonora, Mexico TV Interview with EIR's Small
Jan. 18 (EIRNS)The "Megacable Channel 8" TV station in Sonora, Mexico, ran a 20-minute interview with EIR's Dennis Small last night, on the subject of the PLHINO (Northwest Hydraulic Plan) and NAWAPA (North American Water and Power Alliance). Small invited the audience of the "Entre Todos" show, hosted by Claudia López, to listen to LaRouche's Jan. 22 webcast for a full discussion of the global financial crisis, and why programs like NAWAPA and the PLHINO are the only solution to it. He also blasted the British Empire's World Wildlife Fund and its local allies, such as billionaire business magnate Carlos Slim, and counterposed the optimism of the nation-building outlook of FDR, Martin Luther King, and the late President José López Portillo, to the pervasive cultural pessimism destroying the youth of both Mexico and the U.S. today, under the British Empire.
Pro-PLHINO networks in the region, such as the farmers association of the Irrigation District of southern Sonora, taped the broadcast and are planning a showing for their entire membership.