June 14 Webcast: Questions and Hemispheric Dialogue
This is the dialogue among labor, LaRouche Youth Movement, and other groups in Mexico, Argentina, and Chile following the opening remarks by Lyndon LaRouche and Agustín Rodríguez. The transcription is directly from the English translators.
Moncayo: Okay, thank you very much, Engineer Rodríguez. After the presentations by Lyndon LaRouche and yourself, it's clear enough that the world needs a new world economic and financial order, with the programmatic content along the lines of what Mr. LaRouche has proposed this morning.
What I would like to do now is to open the floor for a period of questions and answers, both from our international audience, and also from here in the auditorium in Mexico City. We see that more and more people, labor representatives and others are arriving. Along with Eng. Agustín Rodríguez, we see another important leader of the STUNAM, biologist Agustínn Castillo, and also Erik de León, a representative of the LaRouche Youth Movement in Mexico City and in Mexico as a whole.
The Bank of the South
I have here the first question which comes to us from Bolivia:
"As all of you know, the Bank of the South is in the process of being created in South America. What are the main obstacles that have to be overcome as South American nations, to bring this about?
So, I would like to ask Mr. LaRouche to answer this question about the Bank of the South, and then we will ask Mr. Rodríguez to speak.
LaRouche: The Bank of the South is a real victory, but a limited victory. It's an essential step, because it changes the character of the relations among the nations of South America. It's not perfect yet. But it is a first step, a very important step in that direction.
Let me go back on this thing: Back in 1982, when I was standing with a great friend of mine, the President of Mexico, López Portillo, and we had at that point assurances from the governments of Brazil and Argentina, to support López Portillo in these efforts. And they, under great pressure, capitulated, and Mexico went into the soup as a result of that, in the Fall of that year. But the precedent was great. López Portillo is a hero. That has been lost somewhere in the shuffle, but he stood up with courage, and one should look at his address to the United Nations in October of that year, which is still available. And you see a statement of a patriot of his country, defending his country against the rapacity, which at this point was coming from the United Kingdom and the United States, in particular.
So, what this represents is a line of resistance, against the debt-prison condition of the nations of South and Central America. The very fact that this institution has been initiated, actually with an action started from Argentina with the support of other countries—Brazil and Venezuela, and so forth—and other developments, are good developments. They do not answer the question, they pose it. And they bring together a group of nations, which are now in a process of discussion to try to understand the Westphalian principle: Can we in other parts of South America, understand the problems of Bolivia? Can we understand the problems from other parts of South America, in Peru? Can we understand the crisis which faces Ecuador, because of the recent history? Can we understand these things? Can we make the concern about the other, our primary concern? Knowing that if we all agree on that, we can establish a system.
So, you need a banking institution, a central credit institution, backed by the constitutional arrangements provided by each nation, to create a common institution, whose slogan should very well be the famous Westphalian slogan: "The Advantage of the Other," that each of us cooperate to the advantage of the other.
Now, this requires an international arrangement, as Agustín has said. We in the United States have a special understanding—or some of us do, at least—of the problems of Mexico. I'm sort of close to Mexico in many ways. But, what we're doing to the Mexican population—we drive it into desperation, we drive it across our border; we use it as cheap labor; we destroy Mexico in the process of doing that. Then, we blame Mexico for attacking the United States, by sending its cheap labor over to work for our companies here. It's wrong!
The security of the United States, in past times, often depended upon the security of Mexico. Take the case of the Civil War: The British, supported by the French at that time, Bonaparte, overthrew the government of Mexico. This was an attack upon the United States! When the United States won the Civil War against the British puppet called the Confederacy, we acted. And Mexico regained its sovereignty.
We have always understood, since Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, before he was President, we've always understood, that the defense of the sovereignty of our neighbors, is an essential part of our security. And this is the same thing for the hemisphere: The conditions of life in Mexico imposed today, are a threat to the United States. They're a threat to Mexico. You have similar kinds of attempts, which are being resisted, in South America! So, resisting these kinds of repressive, really, colonialist methods, is an essential part of the defense of each country on behalf of the other.
If we understand this, and if we understand that, as nations, this is the case, we can solve the problem. The other thing is a question of national sovereignty. If you do not have national sovereignty, you don't have citizenship. You are simply a peasant, with no protection from the landlord. Because each of us—sometimes we have the same language, with slightly different dialect, but we have a different history, and among our ordinary people, there's a different history. Therefore, in order to govern, sovereignly, we must be able, in each case, to bring our people together in some kind of functioning relationship, where they can act with a united, sovereign will. We have to then, bring nations, which each have their sovereign will, as defined in part by their cultural history, and their specific history, together, to understand what their common interest is, as a group of nations.
And to me, we are approaching an understanding of that type. It may not be settled, but we're approaching it in a discussion around the Bank of the South, which I think is extremely important.
And this ties in: If we understand that the success of the Bank of the South, in terms of its intention, in South America, is essential for Central America, for Mexico, and for the United States, and if we realize that we can only realize that by setting up a new international monetary system, which includes the Bank of the South as one of its key institutions, then we are on the road to victory.
So, I think the Bank of the South should not be exaggerated, in the sense, don't put too much blame on it for what must be done. But it is an indispensable institution, at this time, and it must be defended, and promoted, as an indispensable institution, with the intention that it should become an integral part of a new world monetary system as a whole, in which it represents its part of the world, and is part of the general concern for the welfare of the other.
Moncayo: Thank you very much, Mr. LaRouche.
Here in Mexico, from 1994 on, under the regime of Salinas that began at the beginning of that year, the Bank of Mexico was granted a supposed autonomy. It was no longer answerable to the Executive branch of government, and with that, the collapse of the internal market was aggravated by the lack of internal credit for production. The Bank of the South is, as Mr. LaRouche has explained to us, a fundamental pillar in the step towards creating credit for production.
I would like to ask Eng. Agustín Rodríguez if he would like to make any comments with regard to this question, which was asked from Bolivia by Mr. Ibáñez from La Paz.
Rodríguez: Well, I think it is important for there to be an alternative institution, to what we know is the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, which is what has created an lot of impoverishment, because the credits which are issued, then create circumstances where it's very difficult to repay these loans. And those loans, these credits—I don't know of any country in Latin America which is not indebted. So, I think that it is important to build an alternative banking arrangement, with resources that could be used or where contributions could be made to it by all countries which want to have a different form of development. However, that's only one part of the problem, the capital side of the equation, because the other part is to encourage and to create a formula or way of carrying out joint work, where Latin American countries, especially those which produce oil, where others produce agricultural products—that is to say, we could set up a Common Market which could lower the cost of living in the countries of Latin America.
That's something which has been discussed. It was discussed and presented at one point by Fidel Castro. It was also discussed by Hugo Chávez, and now also by the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, and that's where we have to work. I think the idea of discussing a broad united front of trade exchange is necessary, because it's not just a question of banking. It's the other side, which allows us to create a front, which would allow us to renegotiate that enormous debt which all countries in Latin America have, and to encourage a different kind of economic development, completely different from the current form of development, which has only produced conditions, where the interests of capital have greater benefits than society in its totality.
Moncayo: Okay, thank you very much, Agustín.
We would also like to announce that we have here in the auditorium, the General Secretary of the trade union of the passenger transportation sector of Mexico, Clemente Estrada, and he's here to participate in this dialogue with us. I would like to announce that in a few moments, we will have greetings from the Secretary General of the General Trade Union Confederation of Argentina, the CGT. As you know, this is the most important trade union confederation in Argentina. And so we want to now turn to Argentina, which, after having won an important and unprecedented victory in social security, we need to emphasize the great progress being brought about towards the general welfare of the society, which is being pursued by the government of Néstor Kirchner, and also coming from this important trade union base, which is the CGT.
Now, let's turn to some questions from the auditorium here in Mexico City.
Q: My name is Alfonso Flores. I'm a representative of the workers and my question is: What is the point of view of the new ISSSTE reform laws, in terms of handicapped people? What will happen to the handicapped? I would like to ask Agustín Rodríguez to please answer this question.
Moncayo: One minute, please. First, I'd like to ask if there are any additional questions from the auditorium here in Mexico City. If anyone would like to ask a question with regard to these two presentations which we've heard so far, please come forward. We have a member of the LaRouche Youth movement, who wants to ask a question.
Mexico's Role in Global Development
Q: My name is Carlos Jonas of the LaRouche Youth Movement.... I would like to ask Mr. LaRouche to present a perspective of how Mexico can participate in a more direct way in the reconstruction of the world through these great infrastructure development projects which have been proposed, including this idea of the tunnel going through the Bering Strait, since sometimes, it's hard for us to make the population understand how Mexico can participate in this worldwide economic reconstruction. Of course, without leaving aside dealing with all of the neo-liberal economic measures being proposed, but also in a parallel fashion, how can Mexico participate in the creation of these projects which, as far as I'm concerned, would resolve a large part of the poverty which the population of the world is facing today?
LaRouche: Well, the answer, of course, essentially, as I know it with respect to Mexico, is that what happened, beginning the Summer of 1982, was a process of willful massive destruction of Mexico and its people. This was accelerated. It was already begun then. It was begun under heavy pressure from the United States and from the United Kingdom. I fought against it. López Portillo and I got into great trouble for fighting against these forces. But the destruction, the systematic destruction of not only the welfare, in terms of incomes, of the people of Mexico, but the destruction of their capability, their productivity, their opportunities to produce, is such that you have permanent damage, which you would compare, for example, in U.S. history, with this situation in the United States after only four years or so under those before Franklin Roosevelt.
We had a problem in the 1930s of a population which had suffered great loss in productivity, in skills, in opportunities, in industries and so forth. We had to rebuild. Franklin Roosevelt rebuilt. In fact, we had a drop of the U.S. economy by about 30% from the time of the 1929 crash until the time that Roosevelt was inaugurated. These policies were not just caused then. They were caused by a longer period of measures over the whole period of the 1920s on. There were certain wars in Mexico and so forth, which had an effect on this, and also on the United States itself.
Therefore, we in the United States, under Roosevelt's policies, which are the traditional American Constitutional policies, we rebuilt the United States. We created the greatest economic machine the world had ever known, from the depths of poverty, over the period into 1945 and the end of Roosevelt's death. And Roosevelt had intended, had he lived, to develop the entire world on that basis, by converting the war machine we had built up to defeat Hitler, to use that to develop developing countries, and to give nations which had been colonial nations or semi-colonial nations, their freedom to develop their future, to create a community of sovereign nation-states on this planet.
Now, we face a situation in the Mexican population which has two components, two principal components, inside Mexico and inside the United States. This population is in grave danger, so therefore, what we would have to do is take a project like the anticipation of the completion of the Bering Strait Tunnel. We wouldn't simply wait until that tunnel is completed to start the operation. You would already build the adjuncts which are going to fit into it, to build up the entire network of operations from Alaska through Canada, into the United States and southward all the way to Tierra del Fuego. We have to now. So knowing that we're building an international system would be reason enough to build each component, not wait till one's completed before starting the next one.
What we would face, as a problem in Mexico—presuming that Mexico gets back its sovereignty, the sovereignty that existed on paper, at least existed in principle, at the time the attack on the López Portillo government occurred in 1982—we would have to rebuild, largely starting with infrastructure projects, long-term major infrastructure. This would mean high-speed transportation. This would mean water systems. This would mean power systems. These would have to be largely public institutions, because you don't have the private institutions which could do this on that scale. You would then use, as we did in the United States in the 1930s, for example, you would then take the poor population of Mexico, the agricultural, the rural population. You would have to have a protectionist policy, to protect the Mexican jobs, and protect the living standards by protectionist measures, which would prevent companies from dumping cheap products on Mexico to shut down their industries. You would have to have the institutions to rebuild the well-being of the Mexican people, especially the Mexican poor. You would have to have reforms in education. These kinds of things were tried in the United States during that period, and we continued some of these things after the War had concluded. We did create an increase in productivity per capita, we did increase the standard of living inside the United States, by these internal development measures, not by foreign measures. And therefore, the same thing would apply here.
A Fifty-Year Perspective
We have to see the coming 50 years of the world, as a 50-year additional development program. We have to envisage along all the rights of ways of the great transportation systems, ground-based transportation systems, which are needed for this. We have to see all along these routes, we are developing the routes of development—protectionist routes of development, protection of national sovereignty, economic protection of national economic sovereignty—and thus build up the Mexican population, both that which is now working as virtual, almost slave labor, in the United States, and as slaves looking for employment as slaves on the south of the Mexican border with the United States. We have to change that. We have to move that in Mexico as well, but we have to be patient. We have to realize that we have desperately poor people throughout the hemisphere. We must understand the problem of developing a nation over several successive generations, to take the immediate situation, find remedies, improve things now, move upward, upward, upward, over three generations.
You know, when people came into the United States in the late 19th Century, early 20th Century, they came in from Europe. They came in in three generations—those who came in as cheap labor from Europe became the scientists, the physicians and so forth of our economy, not all of them, but many. We integrated the population of the United States. So then, under Roosevelt, we saw ourselves as one people, no matter what time, we came into the United States, we saw the United States as a place where there were no oligarchies. Or we had a few from England, but not real oligarchies as in Europe. And people were glad to be in the United States, to be free of the burden of a European-style oligarchy, of the type that still dominates the continent of Europe and the United Kingdom today.
And we have to have that attitude, of building the strong citizen, with a sense of citizenship, with a sense of a future over a three-generation or four-generation span. We have to have people who are struggling today, knowing that their grandchildren will prosper, and seeing their future in what they're contributing to their grandchildren, as we did then in the United States back in the 1920s and 1930s. And with that attitude, we are going to take the view of developing the entire hemisphere as a part of a global system.
Moncayo: Thank you very much, Mr. LaRouche. Before going on, I would like to ask Mr. Rodríguez if he has any comments on these ideas posed by previous speakers.
Rodríguez: Only on this question of the workers who are handicapped, the new law doesn't deal with this at all. Here, there's no delimitation, no reduction of benefits under the previous law. So, that's what I would say at the moment. I wouldn't want to say anything further, because I understand there are other presentations that need to be made.
Moncayo: Thank you, very much.
Now we are going to hear from Yasmir Fariña Morales. She is currently the Vice President of the FENAFUCH, the National Federation of University of Chile Employees. She has a very long history of fighting for social causes and for the defense of the interests of university workers, and workers in general in Chile. As you know, Chile was the first country where the policies of social security privatization were implemented. This was done by force, by violence under the Pinochet regime, and from that time to the present, we see some of the results. Please go right ahead.
Yasmir Fariña: Chile's Fight Against Social Security Privatization
I am speaking from Chile, and I want to speak about the damage caused by the privatization laws. I want to thank the Lyndon LaRouche organization and also congratulate Agustín Rodríguez for having undertaken this tremendous battle. We have been fighting for about ten years now in this university to expose the privatized social security pension system in Chile.
The pension system was changed during a dark period of our history, which began on Sept. 11, 1973 with a military coup. What was imposed in Chile at that time was an economic system, and political and social system of globalization and neoliberalism. Chile became the first country, the first laboratory for the neoliberal system, to an extreme. And today, we see how the concentration of economic power through the AFP system [Pension Fund Administrators, or the private pension funds—ed.], has made employment more precarious—that is, through "flexibile" jobs. Young people don't have any future in the labor force. They are hired on a daily basis, for specific projects, and paid a daily stipend. People who reach a certain age are considered to be "too expensive," not efficient enough, and their years of work are not recognized.
In this model, which has been imposed on us and which, unfortunately, in the four years of the Concertación (Coalition) government, we've been unable to change, 50% of the labor force does not pay into the system. This is a very significant number of people who, because of their low wages, will not be able to obtain any kind of a dignified pension when they retire. We find that this model doesn't permit people to move freely to the "pay as you go" system. So we have become slaves to a system with no possibility of improving it, since the [government's] current proposed reform confers legitimacy on what was imposed on us under the dictatorship. So this is the brutality of neoliberalism imposed on us here in Chile.
We've reached the extreme of privatizing everything basic—electricity, communications, potable water, education. The state is less and less involved in financing public universities. Today, at our university, only 17% of our budget comes from the government, and the rest has to come from "self-financing"; that is, from outside sources. There are a whole number of private universities that have been created, where education has been commercialized, and the gap between the poor and the rich is more brutal day by day. As for public education today, students don't have access to it, and can't get into the public universities because the system is very bad.
Our public health system was also privatized. Today we have tremendous technologies available in terms of communications and health, but it gets to only a very small minority of the population who have the economic resources to pay. The public health system is poor, indeed. It lacks the most basic things you can think of, and even health-care workers are being privatized as well. Things like nutrition and nursing are being outsourced to private companies. Auxiliary workers and guards are now employed by private companies as well.
Another aspect of this AFP system is that it opened up a market for a group of economists, who were progressive at the time, and who have sold all of these companies to the multinationals. Now the Chilean AFPs no longer belong to Chileans! They are owned by multinational companies, oligopolies, and the resources are being invested abroad with great risk to us, especially based on what Mr. LaRouche has just told us. We're running a great risk with the investment of our pension funds outside the country. And even more serious is the draft legislation that our President, Michelle Bachelet, has sent to the Congress, increasing to 43% the percentage that pension funds are allowed to invest abroad. All of the losses are absorbed by the workers under this private pension system, but these companies have had the most incredibly high profits.
So, today, there is no real concern about protecting social security in Chile.
Public sector workers are among the first victims. Public workers under the old system who moved into this new privatized system, because they were forced to switch over—they were forced because the system's leaders were named by the military, and they were forced by propaganda, told otherwise they would lose their job—these people are finding that their pensions today are not even 30% of the wage they were earning. So, what they're going to get is less than 30%. We have the specific case of architects, for example, who earn 1,600,000 pesos. Their pensions are less than 400,000. This is the situation for the middle class, or for the middle and lower-income levels of public employees, as is the case with auxiliary administrative workers, who earn 500,000, and whose pensions under the privatized system don't exceed 92,000 pesos. It is shameful that we are exporting to the world a system which is impoverishing workers, and yet economic power is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.
Looting by Foreign Companies
Another thing which is of great concern to us is how Chile has been opening its market, importing foreign products. And this has forced numbers of large companies into bankruptcy. We had companies that employed thousands of people and yet today are bankrupt, and no longer exist. Our entire textile industry has disappeared. And in this process of exportation, we're being robbed of all our natural resources. Our forests are being stripped; our seas, our agriculture are exporting raw materials, and what comes into Chile are finished products which are purchased by Chileans. Look at how they're stealing our natural resources!
So this neoliberal economic system is not helping the Chilean population. The image presented of us abroad, is not what we are experiencing here in Chile. It is not what we have seen or know, when we try to get health care, when we talk to the trade union leaders and see the terribly impoverished conditions under which technicians, professionals, nurses and doctors, are trying to function; when at the state-run universities, professors get pensions that are 30% of what they were earning, and become poor, and current employees end up living in poverty, because a pension of 90,000 today in Chile is really miserable. And when we see how our national industries have been shutting down, we think the time has come when we have to denounce this internationally.
We have had a large number of seminars, and in this regard, I really want to thank the LaRouche organization for allowing us to present to the world the reality of Chile, which is otherwise hidden, and which the politicians themselves hide and cover up, and the government of the Concertación has not been able to improve this situation, to humanize it.
Drugs, Crime, Unemployment
We are today facing a reality which is really quite terrible, due to the introduction of drugs in the country. The drug problem among the poorest layers of the population in particular is striking, and there are no words to describe how a market has just sprung up in this sector of the population. People can't imagine what we are living through. And then there's the crime wave existing because of the large number of unemployed. There's a large number of people who are of working age, but who don't have jobs, and end up getting involved in criminal activity.
I would also like to say that we have been involved in these battles for a very long time, denouncing this fascist system which Pinochet left us under Decree 3,500, which is robbing our youth of their future. We despair of the fact that while there has been a proposed health-care reform, it doesn't focus on improving the quality of health care. Nor does the proposed educational reform improve the quality of public education. And today, we have a situation where students are occupying schools, and we can not allow people to be driven into poverty as far as education is concerned. Today, students from the Student Federation have occupied the main building at the University of Chile, because they have such huge debts that they can't get a decent education. The high cost of public education in Chile has created an intolerable situation. Professors have been forced to work at private universities to get a decent income.
So I think this has reached the breaking point in this country. They have privatized public transportion, and the state is refusing to take a responsible role in the area of public services, in public transportation. So, they've truly taken us to a situation which I would say is one of despair. We despair, when our colleagues have terrible pensions, when they can't get adequate health care they can afford. Today, anyone who doesn't have money doesn't have good health. Anyone who doesn't have money or doesn't go into debt, can not educate his children.
So, I think that Chile truly is not what people say about it abroad. It has grown significantly economically, but the wealth is concentrated in a political group, in an economic group, and unfortunately, they are the ones who control communications and are financing political campaigns in Chile. And I'm talking not only about the politicians of the Concertación group but also of the right wing. Today, the right wing in this country, seems more leftist than the parties of the Concertación. When some of the Concertación politicians come out and denounce these policies, and denounce how our raw materials are being stolen, without paying taxes, they are labeled as radicals who are against the Concertación even though they belong to it.
A Wake-Up Call
So, I would say this should be a wakeup call to our President, who is a Socialist and in whom we placed all our hopes as leaders who belong to the parties of the Concertación. We call on her to truly reform this neoliberal economic system, which today doesn't favor the great majority of our people, and which in the short term will lead us to the kind of social movements that we had in the past, that we do not wish to recall. We've had lots of strikes. We've had workers in the south who have gone out on strike, where people are facing a terrible crisis and have had to take to the streets. Less than a month ago, a worker from a forestry company died because the company refused to negotiate appropriately with the workers, so he was killed by law enforcement officers. This worker was in such despair that he went kind of crazy, and he was killed by the police.
Then we have the situation that our fishermen face as well. It's really dramatic how the oil companies, their ships have dumped their oil in the ocean and have contaminated the fish, the birds, the fauna and everything on which the fishermen depend to make a living. All of the fishermen are today without work. This is not known in the world. This is not known anywhere. Today, all reality, all communication of the reality of Chile has been blocked out, and you today have given us an important space and a significant opportunity to talk about this.
We asked President Bachelet, how is it possible that we have 157,000 state-sector workers who are about to go into retirement without adequate pensions? These are university professors, workers, engineers, lawyers, upper class, middle class, lower class, from all layers, who work for the public sector, and they deserve a more dignified solution, not with 30% of their income, because they have worked and contributed for 40 years to the old system, and then they were forcibly switched over under a de facto government into the privatized system which didn't recognize the real value of all of their earlier contributions, and which continued to deduct minimal contributions calculated on a base salary.
Today, [under the old system] we would have been able to hire young educated people, who are now unemployed but hoping for a job. But older people who still work in the state sector don't want to leave, and with good reason. Because they'll be 70 years old, like a good architect friend of mine, María Teresa, who I always use as an example. She worked for 11 years more than the cutoff retirement age of 60, and yet she retired with only 40% of her salary, after having contributed until she was 70 years old. So, I think we have to let our reality be known internationally, and our politicians have to put their hands on their hearts and say, "Okay, it's okay for the rich to make good money, but we also must show solidarity with our people."
We need a refounding of the social security system in Chile, which will allow our national companies to receive money from workers in order to grow, so that our natural resources are not stolen through international trade. Why should we have to buy furniture purchased abroad from Japan and Asian countries with wood coming from our forest? We can have a large national fishing industry of our own, where we can produce canned goods and export them.
We need to be able to produce our own goods internally, to provide dignified work with a decent salary for our people....
Moncayo: Excuse me, Yasmir, I would like to interrupt you briefly, and then continue with what you're saying about Chile during the discussion period.
We have on the phone line, the Secretary General of the CGT of Argentina, Mr. Hugo Moyano. The CGT is the most important labor institution in Argentina, of this ally country, and they have carried out a very important campaign and series of activities to reverse the privatization in social security and other areas. So I would like to ask Mr. Hugo Moyano to speak to us, to greet us and to also make brief remarks on what Mr. LaRouche and Mr. Agustín Rodríguez have been saying, and also Yasmir Fariña. So please proceed, Mr. Moyano.
Hugo Moyano: Labor's Success in Argentina
Thank you very much. I'm the Secretary General of the CGT of Argentina, and as you just correctly said, we had a campaign which began when social security was privatized. I've been involved in this for many years, because I'm a trucker, a teamster in Argentina, and from the beginning of the situation that was created with the privatization of social security, we rejected this. Because time showed us that workers were being harmed in a really significant way by this. And this meant not only the worker who is going to retire tomorrow, but the guy who is retired now, because the savings funds which allowed a certain level of pension to be available to retired workers, would be looted.
So, what we have achieved now, after many years of struggle, is we have gotten the government to see that this privatized system which has existed in the country for many years, was totally damaging to the workers. And this led to the modification of the law, which is what we were demanding. We didn't say that there shouldn't be private pension funds. We said that workers should actually have the option of deciding where their savings should be held: if they wanted the state to keep it, or if they wanted it to go into a private fund. That's all that we were asking for. And, fortunately, thank God, this has become a reality, and since then some 600-700,000 workers have, on a voluntary basis, moved back into the state pension system. So now there is a policy where this has been clarified for workers, so workers can see what real benefits they get, either from private pension funds or public pension funds.
So we've achieved a very important objective, and I think that we've managed to salvage the dignity of workers. I don't know whether what's happened in other parts of the world is the same as what was happening here in Argentina.
Here, in Argentina, we used to say, almost as as a joke, that people could get divorced if they wanted to, but they couldn't change from a private pension fund to another one. So we said, at least let them have a choice. Don't force them, as unfortunately occurred under this perverse system of privatized social security that existed previously. So that they have a choice, they have an option. They can go to the private sector, or the public one. They have a free choice. And that 's what we have achieved.
And, I reiterate, this has made it possible for what I think is now a million workers to return to the state-run pension system for their retirement funds....
I would like to add that, first, I agree with the remarks of the speaker who referred to Margaret Thatcher and Pinochet: I agree totally with what he said.
And I want to point out that the struggle which we waged for so long, was fundamentally against a destructive power, that of the reigning economic power, the evil economic models that were imposed on us in the decade of the '90s, whose fundamental weapon was the media.
It was hard to come out and contradict what the media was saying, through their spokesmen, who in many cases were journalists or government officials. It was very hard to think anything contrary, because you came off like an extraterrestrial being. Because it was a whole wave and destructive tendency which neoliberalism was imposing on us, as I said, fundamentally with the lethal weapon of the way the media were used. That's why we had this fight. It was very hard, in many ways it was lonely, and it was against a very powerful enemy.
That's why what we have achieved is truly a very important step. And we say that we only wanted to be given the free choice. We didn't want to be forced, or for workers to be forced, to go to privatized funds. We wanted a free choice; let the worker decide. And that, thank God, we achieved.
But it doesn't end there, because in our country, even though there has been a very, very important change from the economic standpoint, the social standpoint, the political standpoint, there are still after-effects of neoliberalism, which in our country was really very strong. So much so that they practically sold off or handed over all of the state sector companies, which were the patrimony of the people, which the people had obtained through many generations of effort and sacrifice.
So, I would simply like to thank you for the opportunity to express these views.
Moncayo: Thank you very much for your comments. We would like very much to ask you to stay on if you could for the second part of our discussion. Mr. LaRouche is going to have to leave. He will perhaps have some closing remarks to make, and then I would ask Mr. Agustín Rodríguez to also have some closing words.
No More Concessions to Evil!
LaRouche: The evil that we've been discussing today, so far, is an evil with which I'm quite familiar from a long period of struggle, especially since the developments and changes of 1971, where the United States went in the direction of London-directed fascism. And what I've heard today, on discussions of this and that, all are reflections of things I saw coming and happening 30 and 40 years ago. And the interesting thing is, now today we've discussed them, but as those of you who have spoken really know, you've been living through this kind of process for decades! You had a case, like the case of Pinochet: The degradation that Pinochet represented is not understood! Here's a man who was practically a prostitute for London! And he's featured as some kind of a military hero! Some kind of a figure for respect! Begging for favors and petty stealing through the Riggs Bank, which is essentially a part of what we're getting now with this BAE operation. He's essentially a lickspittle of the British Empire.
And you see this all over the place.
We have to have a sense of this. It's important to have it, because people have to realize, that what they have allowed to be done, what they have praised, what they have voted for in the United States and in other countries, this was evil. We had descriptions today of suffering of people in Mexico, in Chile, in Argentina, so far. But this has been going on, it's becoming worse. It was obvious to us at the beginning of this process in 1982, when the real wave of crushing of South America began. It was all there. It was there from 1971. It was clear! But people now are looking at something which has been going on for more than a generation—for most people, it's up to almost two generations of suffering of their adult life experience, and now we're looking at it.
This is not just an issue of making some improvements. This is an issue of saying, this kind of behavior—which we have addressed in part in a few remarks here and there today—is typical of the world situation, but especially of the relations within the Americas. And we have put up with this! We have protested, but we have not treated this as what it is, as an evil! It's time for that sense of urgency, that we must make a fundamental change in the world system now. We can not make concessions to evil forever, because too many people will suffer if we don't change the system. The time has come where the system is coming down, and this is the time for us to put in our word for the changes which have been waiting too long to be brought on.
Moncayo: Thank you, Mr. LaRouche. We're really enthusiastic about the ideas you've presented, which we will carry on in the discussion which follows after you have to leave. Before asking Mr. Agustín Rodríguez to close this session, let me advise everyone that, in the coming hour, there will be presentations from various other gatherings. In Argentina, from the APOPS (Union of Social Security Workers) who are meeting in an auditorium of the CGT, and we will hear from the Assistant Secretary General, Salvador Fernández, who will join us shortly. And in Lima, we will hear from the Dean of the Association of Professors of Peru, Carlos Gallardo, who is also following this webcast closely.
I would like to ask Mr. Agustín Rodríguez for closing remarks.
Rodríguez: Thank you very much: Only to thank Mr. LaRouche, and recognize his great willingness to have this kind of exchange of views, which in the final analysis, constructs a pathway to transform this economic model, which we have been enduring and suffering for so many long years.
It's important that the subject of social security be dealt with in more detail ahead, because the discussion and the fight is not going to end soon, and that we address this in terms of the experiences which people are going through in Chile, in Argentina, and elsewhere. And to look at the positive side of how we can construct an alternative proposal.
Here in Mexico, the model which is being imposed through the new ISSSTE law, has a very peculiar characteristic: It's being imposed upon workers, they are required to accept it. The aspect which the brother from the CGT of Argentina was referring to, where it was made optional or voluntary, is not happening here. Here it's required and enforced. That's the scheme under the current law, and that's what has forced us to create a great political movement.
So, Mr. LaRouche, we want to thank you very much. We will be in communication for further exchanges ahead.