From Volume 38, Issue 7 of EIR Online, Published Feb. 18, 2011

Ibero-American News Digest

Brazil's Central Bank Warns of a Run on the Banks

Feb. 11 (EIRNS)—If Brazil's private banking sector doesn't bail out failing Banco Panamericano, and the Central Bank is forced to step in instead, "it would raise suspicions about the financial health of other banks, which could generate a wave of withdrawals." That stark warning of a run on the country's banks is what Central Bank President Alexandre Tombini told top bankers in an emergency, closed-door meeting on Sunday, Jan. 30, the Brazilian daily Folha de São Paulo revealed today.

Tombini had flown back to São Paulo from Switzerland on an emergency basis, the daily reported, to meet secretly with bankers from Bradesco, the Inter-Alpha Group's Banco Santander, and a few others. He told them that a direct Central Bank takeover of the bankrupt Banco Panamericano, beyond the 3 billion reais the government had put up in November of 2010, risked sinking the entire Brazilian banking system.

With that reality on the table, the private banks scrambled and arranged the early February takeover of Panamericano by BTG Pactual—Brazil's leading investment bank, with deep ties to the Rothschild Group and to UBS bank of Switzerland.

Brazil's Accelerating Breakdown Crisis

Feb. 10 (EIRNS)—A source in Brazil recently responded to an e-mail he received from this press service on the Angelides Report and LaRouche's Glass-Steagall policy, with the following:

"The breakdown crisis has already started here in Brazil. Inflation rose to 10%, the government cut $30 billion from the annual budget, canceled the hiring for public affairs, etc. To make matters worse, they increased the rate of interest, which will reach 13% by the end this year. People can no longer pay their loans or taxes on vehicles and homes. Crime is exploding. God save our souls!"

Food Riots Wrack Bolivia; Mexico and Central America Not Far Behind

Feb. 14 (EIRNS)—On Feb. 10, Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced to abandon a celebration of 230 years of independence in the mining city of Oruro, when a march organized by the provincial COD labor federation to protest rising food and transportation prices, erupted in violence. As soon as protesters began to explode sticks of dynamite, Morales's security detail whisked him out of the city, back to La Paz.

It was a humiliating exit for Morales, who has been under growing, nationwide attack by angry citizens for failing to guarantee adequate food supplies at reasonable prices. For four days before the Oruro protest, grocers in Cochabamba shut down their businesses and blockaded city streets to protest the role of the state-run marketing entity, Emapa, in monopolizing sales of sugar, flour, and rice at vastly inflated prices. Nine other provincial trade union groups organized protests at the same time. Morales hasn't helped himself by echoing Cuban Fidel Castro's argument that food scarcity is due to "global warming."

The situation in Mexico is becoming so precarious that the National Peasant Federation (CNC) is asking why President Felipe Calderón hasn't taken steps to prevent "food riots." In statements published Feb. 8 in La Jornada, CNC leader Gerardo Sánchez García reported that, over the past ten years, the price of the monthly market basket has risen by 70%, while wages have plummeted by 26%. Along with 2.5 million job losses since the beginning of Calderón's term in office (an underestimate), this represents a dangerous threat to Mexico's social stability, Sánchez warned.

In January, the prices of food, drinks, and tobacco increased at an annualized rate of 4.51%, while fruit and vegetable prices increased by 7.5%. The price of lime, a staple in the Mexican diet, shot up by a whopping 218.2%! The real impact of these policies is seen in the spread of malnutrition, which, according to consultant Luis Alberto Cruz García, is no longer limited to poorer states such as Chiapas or Oaxaca, but now exists in "rich" states like Sonora and Sinaloa. Mexico's Social Development Ministry warns that at least 53.7% of Mexico's population can't satisfy its basic needs.

In Central America, the situation is more dramatic, with malnutrition and poverty rates soaring as food prices go through the ceiling. In Honduras, where 70% of the population is categorized as poor, food prices are higher than they were in 2008, when riots occurred. In Guatemala and Nicaragua, 40% of the rural population is poor; 45% of Guatemala's population suffers from chronic malnutrition. In Honduras, the price of red beans, a staple in the diet, tripled in the second half of 2010. Although Congress froze the prices of 33 products last November, the measure is scheduled to be lifted this week.

Brazil and Argentina To Build Nuclear Plants Together

Feb. 14 (EIRNS)—During her state visit to Argentina Jan. 30-31, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her Argentine counterpart Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed an agreement by which the two governments will cooperate in the building of new multi-purpose research reactors—one for each country.

Cooperation in building these reactors is "an non-renounceable common patrimony of the Brazilian-Argentine strategic association," the two Presidents stated, explaining that the expertise that each nation has developed over the years will be brought to bear in this project, working through the Bilateral Nuclear Energy Commission (COBEN). Argentina's Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) and Brazil's National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN) will work closely in producing the research reactors.

The agreement emphasizes that cooperation in this field will have "a great impact on the development of their respective nuclear sectors." COBEN will also be instructed to continue advancing in the area of education and training of human resources, while the Permanent Argentine-Brazilian Committee on Nuclear Policy (CPPN) is instructed to deepen the dialogue, with bilateral and political cooperation in those areas encompassed by the bilateral nuclear agenda.

The two leaders signed a number of other agreements, outlining cooperation in many fields, including defense, aerospace, and trade in addition to nuclear.

Inside Argentina, opponents of President Fernández de Kirchner used the occasion of Rousseff's visit to demand that the President adopt policies "more like Brazil," so as to supposedly make the country more "predictable" and "responsible" in the eyes of the international financial community. These are the voices that clearly line up with the decaying Brazilian oligarchy and London's Inter-Alpha Group, which is pushing that country toward total economic disintegration.

Brazil's nuclear sector and scientific capabilities represent its better side, one with which Argentina is right to ally. In any other area, it has no need to become "like Brazil" and its London allies.

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