From Volume 38, Issue 25 of EIR Online, Published June 24, 2011

Ibero-American News Digest

100,000 Chileans March Against Market-Based Education

June 20 (EIRNS)—On June 16, one hundred thousand Chilean citizens marched in downtown Santiago, to demand an end to the for-profit educational system—privatization—imposed under the post-1973 "Chicago Boy" reign of fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet. Demonstrations also took place simultaneously in at least eight other cities, shaking up the whole country.

Chile's politicized and well-organized high school students have carried out several protests in recent years around these issues, the most prominent of which was "the Penguin Revolt" of 2006 (named for the black and white uniforms students wear). But in today's climate of global financial breakdown, their protests are proving to be a catalyst for much broader ferment.

University students and professors joined the high school students' national strike on June 13. Student leaders announced then that they would march two days later with contract workers from the giant El Teniente copper mine, 10,000 of whom walked off the job on May 25 to demand better working conditions.

By the June 16 protest organized by the Federation of Chilean Students (CONFECH) and the College of Educators, all sectors of society were participating. College and high school students, professors, officials from the national College of Educators, health-care workers, miners, member of Congress, parents, trade union representatives, and public-sector workers, marched together to demand that right-wing President Sebastián Piñera act on their demands.

It hasn't escaped the government's attention, either, that some student leaders say they are inspired by Spain's Indignados. A group from the Metropolitan Technological University (UTEM) actually attempted to camp out in Santiago's Plaza de Armas overnight a few weeks ago, saying they were going to set up something similar to Madrid's Puerta del Sol encampment, but they were brutally dislodged by the police. During the June 16 march, masked provocateurs also tried to incite violence, but such measures have clearly failed to stop the mass-strike ferment developing in Chile. The head of the Chilean Student Federation (FECH) Camila Vallejo announced June 20 that students and their supporters would hold another national strike on June 30.

Cholera in Hispaniola: 'The Worst Is Yet To Come'

June 20 (EIRNS)—In a June 15 report entitled "The Worst of Cholera Is Yet To Come," the Academy of Sciences of the Dominican Republic warns that cholera will soon affect most households in the country, transmitted through the public water system. They add that this Caribbean nation is seeing an epidemic, not an outbreak, as cholera has now appeared in every one of its provinces.

After appearing in the Dominican Republic last November, following Haiti's outbreak a month earlier, cholera has to date killed 46 people and infected 1,161. But the Academy of Sciences predicts a quintupling of these numbers over the next five months, unless steps are taken immediately to correct the well-known deficiencies in the public water system.

The Academy's Medical Commission asserts that, due to contamination of rivers and streams from which the public potable water system gets its supply, the Vibrio cholerae bacterium could be present in both water and tubing, and spread throughout the system.

The cholera upsurge in neighboring Haiti continues apace. While medical NGO personnel on the ground stress that there has been better preparation for this upsurge, the conditions that led to the appearance and rapid transmission of the epidemic in the first placekick of water and sanitation infrastructure and vulnerability of the impoverished population—have not changed.

Nor is there any way of determining how many hundreds, or even thousands of cases, may be occurring in remote rural areas, where the nearest health-care clinic is hours away on foot. Medical sources note that compared to the period immediately following the January 2010 earthquake and subsequent October cholera outbreak, in this current upsurge, there is reduced international funding and NGO involvement.

Britain a 'Crass Colonial Power in Decay'

June 20 (EIRNS)—In yet another imperial provocation against Argentina, British Prime Minister David Cameron baldly asserted this past week that the sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands is "non-negotiable," and there is nothing more to discuss about the matter. This, despite numerous United Nations resolutions calling on the United Kingdom to engage Argentina in serious negotiations on the status of the contested South Atlantic islands, which the British call the Falklands.

"A gesture of mediocrity and almost stupidity," is how Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner characterized Cameron's words, in a June 16 address in the province of Misiones. In fact, she added, "only mediocrity and arrogance believe it possible to put an end to this matter."

Britain is a "crass colonial power in decay," the President said, yet still clings to its imperial delusions. Be forewarned, she said. Argentina will never renounce its claim to sovereignty over the islands, but will "continue ceaselessly to claim sovereignty and [demand] dialogue and negotiation in the framework of UN resolutions ... and we shall continue to say that in the 21st century ... colonialism is outmoded as well as unjust. We shall say this untiringly, and those who come after me, and the sons of our sons will continue to say this...."

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