From Volume 38, Issue 33 of EIR Online, Published August 26, 2011

Ibero-American News Digest

Blame Obama: Desperate Haiti on the Verge of Famine

Aug. 17 (EIRNS)—Haiti will cease to exist unless NerObama is removed from office.

According to the Haiti-based National Food Security Coordinator (CNSA), this devastated country, still suffering from the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake and subsequent cholera epidemic, is now "one step away" from "extreme famine." Blame Nero's criminal negligence for this.

According to CNSA spokesperson Gary Mathien, last March's drought—rains came only later, in April—damaged the agricultural production expected for August and September, which will result in a reduced food supply. Normally, production from the Spring harvest provides 60% of annual agricultural production, but this will now be below average, the Famine Early Warning System warns.

It will take very little to push Haiti over the edge into outright famine. CNSA adds that any one of a number of "political, social and natural factors," could, in just the space of a few months, lead to even worse food shortages. Add to this the fact that the inflation rate that has climbed continuously since October of 2010 has caused a 9.5% increase in food prices with the exception of rice. This has forced hungry families to reduce the number of daily meals, as well as portion sizes and dietary diversity.

The English-language Dominican Today, based in the neighboring Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola, published an alarmed report on this famine threat on Aug. 16, expressing fear that a famine next door would drive larger numbers of Haitians across the border and spread the cholera epidemic which hit that country last November.

Chileans Target Free-Market Model

Aug. 22 (EIRNS)—The student movement that has shaken up Chile in mass protest over the past three months, and unnerved right-wing President Sebastián Pin@aaera, will join forces with the CUT trade-union federation this week in a two-day general strike on Aug. 24 and 25. As a prelude to that, over a million parents, students, and teachers marched peacefully in Santiago on Aug. 21 in a "Family Sunday for Education."

The CUT has always backed protesting high-school and university students in their demand for a return to the free, state-run educational system that was largely dismantled by the 1973-90 Pinochet dictatorship, and replaced with a privatized "market-friendly" system. But the public alliance of students and workers in this week's strike provides a sharper focus, zeroing in on the utter failure of the neoliberal "Chicago Boys" model, imposed by Pinochet, to meet the most basic needs of the majority of Chile's population.

In an Aug. 20 public declaration, the Chilean Student Federation (Confech) rejected proposals from Education Minister Felipe Bulnes, charging that they still fail to address the demand for a complete overhaul of the educational system. The bottom line, said Confech spokeswoman Camila Vallejo, is that Bulnes is simply "reaffirming the neoliberal, free-market model, and therefore [his proposals] don't represent a solution to this problem." Confech called on all of Chile's workers and students to mobilize "with greater force and commitment" Aug. 24 and 25, given that the government has shown "no real willingness" to bring the two sides together and resolve the conflict.

CUT secretary general Arturo Martínez stated Aug. 20 that the strike reflects "those discontented with the existing [economic] model." Aside from students, the municipal health-care workers' confederation, National Teachers' Association, National Taxi drivers Confederation, public sector workers, transportation and subway workers, copper miners and port workers, and members of opposition political parties will all be joining the strike.

The CUT is calling for quality public education, a state-run social security system—Pinochet privatized the social security system in 1981—a new labor and tax code, and an entirely new Constitution. Pinochet's 1980 Constitution, whose architect was Jaime Guzmán, follower of Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt, still remains in force today.

Argentina Clamps Down on Rating Agencies

Aug. 14 (EIRNS)—Argentina's National Securities Commission (CNV) is ordering foreign rating agencies to make public the methodology they use to evaluate a country's negotiable securities, and post to their internet sites the manuals explaining that methodology. This, said CNV head Alejandro Vanoli, will allow for greater transparency and avoid "speculation by the big financial actors."

Vanoli charged Aug. 10 that Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch constitute a "notable oligopoly" in Argentina. He said that as of Sept. 1, the CNV will demand that the rating agencies methodology must be registered at, and authorized by, the CNV and be accessible to the public. He noted the unfairness of the B+ rating given to Argentina, which has substantially reduced its debt and maintained stable economic growth, as opposed to the much higher rating given to developed countries that have a debt equal to 100% of GDP, or more. There appears to be no objective criteria in the rating agencies' methodology, he argued.

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