News Release

Bush in Latin America: Major Issues · Biofuels · Basic Income · Military Bases · Chavez ·Trade

MARIA LUISA MENDONÇA
Maria Luisa Mendonça is in São Paulo where Bush will be arriving this afternoon; protests are expected.

She is director of the Social Network for Justice and Human Rights and can address a host of issues pertaining to Brazil and Latin America. Most recently, she co-wrote an article in the newspaper Brazil de Fato titled “The Myth of Biofuels,” which states: “The acceleration of global warming is a fact that places in risk life on the planet. It is necessary, however, to demystify the principal solution presented at the moment and … the supposed benefits of biofuels. …”

“The ‘efficiency’ of our production is due to the use of cheap labor — even slave labor. … Besides the destruction of the environment and the use of agricultural lands for the production of biomass, there are other polluting effects in the process, such as the construction of transport infrastructure, warehouses for storage, which demand a great quantity of energy, of in-puts (fertilizers and agro-toxics) and of irrigation to guarantee the increase of production. … The expansion of biofuels production puts at risk food sovereignty and can deeply aggravate the problem of world hunger. In Mexico, for example, the increase of corn exports to sustain the ethanol market in the U.S. caused an increase of 400 percent in the price of the product, which is the population’s main food source.”

Senator EDUARDO SUPLICY
Suplicy is a Brazilian Senator representing the State of São Paulo, where Bush will be arriving. He was the sponsor of the “Citizen’s Basic Income” legislation that was signed into law in 2004. The law is grounded in the concept that an unconditional and guaranteed minimum income is the simplest and most effective step toward the eradication of poverty.
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CATHERINE LUTZ
The International Conference for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases is being held in Ecuador.

Professor of anthropology at Brown University and the Watson Institute for International Studies, Lutz said today: “Officially, a quarter of a million U.S. troops are massed in 737 major bases in 130 countries in facilities worth $115 billion. …

“While the bases are literally weapons depots and staging areas for warmaking and ship repair facilities and golf courses and basketball ourts, they are also political claims, spoils of war, arms sales showrooms, toxic industrial sites, laboratories for cultural (mis)communication, and collections of customers for local bars, shops, and prostitution.” Lutz is editor of the forthcoming book, Bases, Empire and Global Response.
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JAMES PETRAS
Author of numerous books including Social Movements and State Power: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Petras said today: “Bush’s visit to Latin American is an effort to recoup declining imperial influence by consolidating ties with both the rightist client regimes (Uribe in Colombia and Calderon in Mexico) and the pseudo ‘center-left’ neo-liberal regimes of Vazquez [in Uruguay] and Lula [in Brazil]. The purpose is to integrate these client regimes into the U.S. economic and diplomatic orbit and to construct an anti-Chavez coalition. Given that Bush has no popular support in Latin America, he will only meet with client rulers behind closed doors with heavy security protecting him. Parallel to Bush’s visit, President Chavez will visit Argentina where tens of thousands of people will attend a mass public meeting to welcome him.” Petras is professor emeritus at Binghamton University.
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MARK WEISBROT
An economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Weisbrot writes frequently about economic and political developments in Latin America. His most recent article is “President Bush’s Trip to Latin America is All About Denial,” which states: “Latin America’s economic growth over the last 25 years has been a disaster — the worst long-term growth failure in more than a hundred years. From 1980-2000 GDP per person grew by only 9 percent, and another 4 percent for 2000-2005. Compare this to 82 percent for just the two decades from 1960-1980, and it is easy to see why candidates promising new economic policies have been elected (and some re-elected) in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Venezuela. They also came close to winning in Mexico, Peru, and Costa Rica.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167