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Honduran Mayors Explain Success in Appeal to El Salvador for Vaccines

Honduran Mayors Explain Their Successful Appeal to Neighboring El Salvador for Vaccines

Honduran Mayors Explain Their Successful Appeal to Neighboring El Salvador for Vaccines

May 27, 2021 (EIRNS) – A group of seven Honduran mayors from the poorest municipalities of that most impoverished of nations, recently requested of the President of neighboring El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, that he help them with anti-COVID vaccines. Bukele has made a point of obtaining at least some vaccines internationally, including from China, with whose government El Salvador signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the Belt and Road Initiative in 2018. Honduras, on the other hand, remains one of the few nations in the world that has diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and not with China, and has predictably not gotten any vaccines from the United States either.

President Bukele responded favorably to the request, met with the Honduran mayors, and donated 34,000 vaccines to their municipalities in mid-May. This was especially significant because El Salvador and Honduras have a long history of hostility, with territorial disputes, and even fought a short but bloody war in 1969, today known as the “Soccer War.” Bukele’s gesture in fact falls in the domain of the kind of solutions to problems proposed by the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites. The Schiller Institute’s José Vega interviewed two of the seven mayors about the situation in Honduras and their successful appeal to Salvadoran President Bukele. We present here excerpts from a May 16 conversation with Amable de Jesús Hernández, Mayor of San José Colinas, and a May 24 discussion with David Castro, mayor of Cedros. (A video of the interview with Mayor de Jesús can be found here.)

Mayor Amable de Jesús Hernández:

“I think that only with solidarity, with humanitarian actions, with exchanges and mutual cooperation among countries, peoples, neighbors, families, institutions, among all of us, will we be able to defeat this pandemic. There’s no other way to be able to do it. This has overwhelmed human capabilities, it has exceeded the capabilities of even the most formidable health systems of the world, and it has collapsed them.

“The only way to deal with this is with solidarity. And I think that’s what Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele has done with us, from the poor, C-category municipalities of Honduras. Because it was an act of humanity, of solidarity, of brotherhood, of altruism and comradery, which doubtless strengthens the relationship of our peoples, and it promotes solidarity. There’s no question that this has to be an example for other countries to do the same, to share vaccines, which is what is needed right away to be able to vaccinate the population and defeat this pandemic. It’s the only way…

“Because governments should have an agenda which allows for the development of the people. And as you said, all of the policies of the International Monetary Fund are out to make sure there are no investments in health: the more collapsed the health system in the country is, the better.

“And that’s exactly what the pandemic has laid bare: the humanitarian catastrophe that is reflected in the hundreds of children, men, women, elderly and adults who leave, every single day, on route to the American dream. This is caused precisely by this same model that has been imposed on us.

“So many conditionalities have been imposed on our states, that they’ve pretty much wanted to direct the entire policy of these governments from Washington, or from the offices of the IMF. And logically that has led to the entire institutional collapse that has now sunk those countries in the worst misery…

“We have to globalize solidarity; we have to globalize humanism; we have to globalize brotherhood. This gesture with us by President Bukele created what has to be seen as a gesture to be imitated by many governments in the world, so that we can come out on top of the pandemic.”

Mayor David Castro:

“The vaccine situation has infuriated all of the municipal governments… We’re watching how people have been dying in our municipalities, and we couldn’t bear to sit by and do nothing. We saw the reports that El Salvador is leading the vaccination drive in Latin America. One day I was in my office, and I told my secretary, let’s write an official letter to send it to El Salvador to request a meeting with President Bukele. The government of El Salvador answered us: `We’re going to help you.’

Mayor Castro recounted that the seven mayors were received by President Bukele. “He began by saying the following: Dear mayors, make yourselves at home. I’m not speaking with you as President, but as a mayor, since I was a mayor as well. I’d like to talk as friends… I don’t know why borders exist; borders should be imaginary, but they should never exist in our hearts.”

Mayor Castro told President Bukele that what he was doing was helping to save Honduras, to which Bukele responded: “Look, David, sometimes we plant trees and we don’t know who is going to enjoy their shade. Today we are planting a tree, which is the tree of brotherhood in Central America and hopefully tomorrow that tree will provide shade to all five countries of Central America.”

Asked by the interviewer if his constituents backed his efforts, Castro stated: “Not only my constituents. The entire nation turned out to support us. The whole country. Not just the seven municipalities, but all 290 municipalities… they backed us 100%.”

“The population of Cedros is 28,500; they gave us 4,760 doses. My dream is to vaccinate 50% of the population; that’s about another 14,000 doses. That would be a lesson for all the municipalities, that it can be done…

“Regarding the youth: like El Salvador, we have the problem of the Maras gang, which is a well-known scourge… There are also a lot of migrants who go from our country to the U.S. If we were to help those people directly in their communities, they wouldn’t have to emigrate.”


“China Speed” in the Vaccination Effort

“China Speed” in the Vaccination Effort

May 27, 2021 (EIRNS) – China has administered over 500 million doses of COVID vaccines as of May 23, according to a report in the May 26 Xinhua headlined “`China speed’ of vaccination highlights determination to beat COVID-19.” The first 100 million doses were administered as of March 27. Xinhua commented:

“Such stepped-up moves have once again demonstrated China’s strong mobilization ability, which has been proven by the country’s response to the virus since the outbreak of the epidemic… China’s vaccination speed has potential to further accelerate.” The article went on to restate the official policy:

“No one is safe until everyone is safe. Human society must ensure that the speed of COVID-19 vaccination is faster than the pace of mutation. The challenge of realizing herd immunity for the world’s most populous country is obvious, but the `China speed’ of vaccination has lit the light at the end of the tunnel. Until a final victory over the virus is secured, China will not stop its efforts to make contributions to the battle against COVID-19.”


Forget Geopolitics: Save Lives With Vaccines, Ibero-American Experts Tell Atlantic Council

Forget Geopolitics, Save Lives With Vaccines, Ibero-American Experts Tell Atlantic Council

May 26 (EIRNS)—On May 24, the Atlantic Council sponsored a webinar “The Race to Vaccinate: Chinese Vaccines in Latin America and the Caribbean,” including Guyana’s Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony as its special guest, and a panel of three commentators including Chile’s former ambassador to China, Jorge Heine, epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Bouey of the RAND Corporation, and Ernesto Londoño, the New York Times correspondent in Brazil. Although the Atlantic Council has eagerly participated in the recent media and think tank rug-chewing about China’s vaccines being just a “cynical” political maneuver to increase its influence In Latin America and the Caribbean, moderator Pepe Zhang had to handle the discussion in an even-handed way—unable to directly challenge the reality that China’s vaccines are savings lives in the region, while the U.S. is absent.

That point was driven home in spades in response to one of Zhang’s carefully-constructed questions, about whether China’s “vaccine diplomacy” represents “a new avenue for engagement” in the region. Ambassador Heine quickly dispensed with the narrative coming from Western media and Washington think tanks that China is using its vaccines for political leverage and “domination,” stating that the issue here is timing. Chinese vaccines come “now” to Latin America whereas the U.S. and European countries are hoarding and talking about 2022 or 2023. That’s no good, he said, describing as absurd the discussion in the Western media comparing the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine to China’s Sinopharm, whose efficacy is reportedly 70%. “This is rich country club talk,” he pronounced. The perception of Chinese vaccines in the region is very high, Heine added. Latin America is “ground zero” for COVID cases and deaths, and how the crisis is handled “will be remembered for a very long time,” he warned. So, the U.S. should get going, and start providing vaccines fast.

While initially offering a factual report on the situation in Guyana and the surrounding region, Dr. Anthony made the same point. China had donated large quantities of PPE and lab equipment as well as 20,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine. (Anglo-American media lie that China never donates anything. India donated 800,000 doses. USAID offered a grant, “but no vaccines.” The situation in the region is now critical, he warned, with a surge in cases and deaths in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago. Guyana and the region have also been driven into deep economic crises. The bottom line, he said, is that there aren’t enough vaccines. That is the case across the Caribbean, he underscored, where vaccination rates are extremely low. He pointed out that it’s easier to store Sinopharm vaccines because they don’t require the same cold-chain capacity as Pfizer. President Biden has donated 4,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to Mexico and Canada and is offering Southeast Asia more, but, Dr. Anthony added, “we’re in the U.S.’s backyard, and with more vaccines, we can change the situation.”

Even the New York Times correspondent, Ernesto Londoño, noted that while the U.S. warns that dealing with China “comes at a price,” the reality is that China responded to many countries in their “hour of need…they showed up first and scaled a victory,” while the U.S. was hoarding vaccines. And when asked whether there were “geopolitical competition” between China and the U.S. in the region, the RAND Corporation’s Dr. Jennifer Bouey, a Chinese-American epidemiologist who has extensive experience working in China, responded that the current situation could offer an opportunity for the U.S. and China to work together, as they had done in the past, collaborating on SARS, Avian flu, and Ebola to “build a public good.” So, she said, the precedent is there. In concluding, Zhang asked each participant to express a final message, to which Heine said: Get U.S. vaccines to Latin America ASAP; Londoño, in the face of enormous loss, help must come soon; Anthony: get the vaccines in ASAP. Dr. Bouey: U.S., Chinese and Latin American scientists can work together in resolving the crisis.


Cuba Vaccinated One Million People With COVID Vaccine; Plans to Immunize Entire Adult Population This Year

Cuba Has Vaccinated One Million People With Its COVID Vaccine; Plans to Immunize Entire Adult Population This Year

May 26 (EIRNS)–Cuba has now vaccinated one million people with its Soberana 2 and Abdala COVID vaccines, both of which are in late-stages of Phase 3 trials, and are two of five vaccines being developed. A sixth vaccine, known as Pan-Corona, is being developed with the Chinese, described as a next-generation vaccine which is more effective against various SARS-CoV-2 strains, Telam news agency reported May 22. Both vaccines require 3 doses. Soberana 2 was developed by Cuba’s prestigious Finley Vaccine Institute which in 1989 developed a vaccine for Meningitis-B. BioCubaPharma, Cuba’s state-run biomedical company, developed Abdala, and its president Eduardo Martinez Diaz estimates that all of Cuba’s adult population will have been vaccinated by the end of this year.

Cuba is experiencing a surge in cases, as are many Caribbean and Central American nations. Health Minister Jose Angel Portal estimates that by the end of June, 22.6% of the population will have been vaccinated; 33.5% by the end of July, and 70% by the end of August. Cuba’s regulatory agency is expected to approve emergency use authorization, at least for Soberana 2, in June, at which point the government can begin its mass vaccination program. Those currently being vaccinated are volunteers from high-risk groups, healthcare workers or residents of those regions most severely affected by COVID. This achievement has provoked the ire of the {New York Times} which published a teeth-gnashing article May 12 complaining that the island government is administering “home grown vaccines that have not been shown to work.”

Other developing nations have no such qualms about obtaining Cuban vaccines, which are the product of its state-of-the-art biomedical/biotechnology industry which has been developed over decades. Iran, Argentina, Mexico, Jamaica and Vietnam, among others, are interested in obtaining the vaccine. Today, Argentina’s Health Minister Carla Vizzotti and presidential adviser Cecilia Nicolini arrived in Havana, to meet with officials to discuss how the Soberana 2 and Abdala vaccines were developed and whether they can be mass-produced, the daily {Infobae} reported today. The Argentine government is already in negotiations with Cuban officials on purchasing the vaccines, once Phase 3 trials are completed, and is interested in determining whether Argentina can eventually participate in producing them. Because the Soberana 2 vaccine doesn’t require refrigeration, it is especially attractive to developing countries.


Italian Endorsements of Schiller Institute’s Operation Ibn Sina

MILAN, Nov. 23, 2021 (EIRNS)—Alessia Ruggeri, chairwoman of UPI Italia, an association of small and medium-sized enterprises, and a renowned trade unionist in Sicily, today endorsed Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s proposed “Operation Ibn Sina” for Afghanistan with a press release which was published today in Il Corriere di Sicilia, a daily read in all of Sicily and is expected to be published in the next days in other Southern Italian papers. {Read the article here.} The press release is entitled “Helga Zepp-LaRouche launches Operation Ibn Sina to save the Afghan people” and reads:

“The Committee for the Republic, through its spokeswoman Alessia Ruggeri, endorsed the Ibn Sina initiative of the Schiller Institute. ’I believe that the world is experiencing a quite sad political, economic and social moment, with the complicity of mainstream media. We have to regain the lucidity and ability to intervene in support of a right cause. The Afghan people are paying the price of international geopolitical strategies which deny their inalienable rights guaranteed by the UN Charter.

“ ‘I therefore accept with great honor the invitation of the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites to be a part of it and give a significant European contribution,’ Alessia Ruggeri concludes, thanking Liliana Gorini, chairwoman of Movisol, an Italian political party inspired by Lyndon LaRouche.

“Also the lawyer Roberto Zappia endorses the appeal in support of the Afghan people, first exploited for the affirmation of the territorial and political hegemony of the world powers and subsequently abandoned to the voracity of the finance and to its cynical ruthless logics.”

The press release goes on to quote Helga Zepp-LaRouche on Operation Ibn Sina from the recent Schiller Institute conference and Dr. Joycelyn Elders on the recent activities of the Committee Coincidence of Opposites, particularly in Africa. {See Dr. Elders’ call, Open Letter to Virologists and Medical Experts.}


Project Ibn Sina: Restore Afghanistan’s Ancient Greatness

 Nov. 21 (EIRNS)–This is the edited transcript of the speech delivered by Mrs. LaRouche, the founder of the international Schiller Institutes, on November 17 to the online conference, “Humanitarian Roundtable for Afghanistan,” sponsored by the Council on Global Relations (CGR) located in Metro Washington D.C. The conference was convened by the CGR to address “the need for urgent assistance and a shift in narrative,” and to “make a difference in the lives of 39 million Afghan people facing a collapsed economy in the heart of a brutal winter coming out of 40 years of war.”

Hello to all of you.
I just want to state emphatically that the money that is being withheld by the U.S. Treasury—but also Commerzbank, Bundesbank, and the Bank for International Settlements—this money belongs to the Afghan people. I think that this is what we have to face, given the situation that was pointed out by both Dr. Beasley [of the UN World Food Program] and Dr. Tedros from the World Health Organization, that 97% of the people are in danger of being food insecure. And food insecure is just another word for starving to death.

Then you have a health crisis—95% of the people have no access to healthcare. And that is happening in a condition of famine and of the COVID crisis. So, to withhold that money for any more days means you’re risking the lives of people. So, I think the first step must be an absolute demand that the money which rightfully belongs to the Afghan people must be released without condition. I think this idea of giving it piecemeal and making conditions and so forth, that just will contribute to chaos. It will force the Taliban to resort to opium production, which they do not want to do. I think I mentioned in a previous discussion that Pino Arlacchi, the UN special representative in the fight against drugs in 2000, had an agreement with the Taliban, in which they agreed to stop all opium production.

The increase of the opium production occurred during the NATO presence—especially this year, opium production went up by nine percent in the period before the Taliban took over. Then the price shot up to the sky, because there was an expectation that Taliban would not continue the opium production. The price went up because of potential scarcity. So, the people who are withholding the money from the Taliban are pushing the opium trade! That should be stated very, very clearly.

Secondly, if you’re now not supporting a government that you may not like politically—but it’s there—and if you don’t support them being successful, you are encouraging the opposition. And what is the opposition? It has been largely terrorist groups, and you know that terrorism will spread, not only in Afghanistan but throughout the region. The big question is that maybe that is the intention, as a geopolitical force against the countries in the region, especially Russia and China.

So, the people who are withholding the money—and I want to be very, very clear, because there is no point in talking about nice things if that is not settled first—the people who are withholding the money are doing it completely illegally. And I think they should be held accountable. Any death which occurs from here on will be the guilt of the people withholding the money. And I think that has to be stated first.

I think if we can agree on that, then I’m willing to talk about a better vision. Psychologically, I can understand that it is very difficult for the NATO countries and their armies, after having lost a war having been in the country for 20 years. I talked to some people who were there, and I understand that this is a trauma. They did not expect it, and they are having a very hard time switching to another mental attitude. But that has to occur if Afghanistan is to be saved.

I have thought a lot about what can be done to give hope to a country that has gone through hell for the last 40 years. And really through hell for the last several 100 years—going back to the Great Game, to Brzezinski and his Islamic card that started this whole present disaster. People in Afghanistan have lived through trauma, and they need something to put the country back together with a beautiful vision. This region of the world was once known as the land of the 1,000 cities. Admittedly, this was on the order of 3,000 years ago, but there was once a period in which this region was one of the cradles of mankind. I think to be grounded in one’s own great tradition is a very important stepping-stone for building a positive future.

Then, naturally, there are many poets one could mention. The fact is that there is a health crisis right now of biblical dimensions, a pandemic which is unprecedented in terms of the potential of where it may go. So, my idea is: It has to start with the modern health system. Afghanistan needs modern hospitals. They can be built in two weeks. The Chinese proved in Wuhan that you can build a modern hospital of 1,000 beds in two weeks. Then you need doctors, modern, educated doctors, nurses, health workers. A lot of the diaspora Afghanis are doctors. They are in the United States, they are in Europe. They can be mobilized to come back and help to build a modern health system. And that modern health system can be the beginning of an economic transformation. If you are going to have a modern health system, you need water, you need electricity, you need other infrastructure. But that building of a modern health system can become the engine of hope and the engine of economic reconstruction. This, however, needs to have a beautiful vision, an idea of what that means.

Many years ago, I studied the works of Avicenna, or Ibn Sina as he is called in the Arab world. He was one of the great universal thinkers. He lived from 980 A.D. to 1038 A.D. He was not only an extraordinary thinker; he developed philosophical conceptions which had influence way beyond the Arab world, and to the Mediterranean, and to European thinkers. But especially it is known that he was an extraordinary physician. He wrote several medical books, and a canon on medicine which was the standard work in Europe until the 17th Century, and in some cases even the 19th Century. He developed an idea of the anatomy of the body, the nerve system, the psychology. He knew about new diseases like breast cancer. He developed the connection between muscles and nerves. He wrote a whole book about modern medicines based on herbs and other such things. But he is famously known to have been one of the great sons of Afghanistan.

He was probably born in Bactria. There are also some people who say, no, he was born in Bukhara, or maybe in Persia. It does not matter. His father was for sure born in Bactria, and he is for sure a son of the region.

He is an example of how somebody coming from Afghanistan can be a contributor to universal history, by moving mankind forward, by developing a whole new, modern medical science. So, I’m suggesting that the effort to save Afghanistan be called Operation Ibn Sina, because it somehow captures both the proud tradition and also a vision that Afghanistan again can be a pearl of the nations of the world. Afghanistan will be contributing something to other nations. You need to give people who have gone through such hell a vision of a beautiful future.

I think that would capture the imagination of a lot of the people, both inside Afghanistan and out. The danger is terrorism and drugs, and you want to have an image which presents a completely different future, one based on the intellectual tradition which made this country a great country in the past, and it means that it will again be a great country in the future.

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Putin Tells Ambassadors, the Pathway to Peace Lies Through ‘Love for Humanity’

May 19 (EIRNS)—Welcoming new ambassadors from 23 countries yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the unstable international situation, which as he observed, “is even becoming more complicated.” He named the crises facing the world’s nations: the coronavirus pandemic, the deterioration of the system of strategic stability and arms control, terrorism “rearing its ugly head once again,” growing problems in the sphere of international information security, the risks of drug trafficking and organized crime, decades-old regional conflicts in Afghanistan and Libya becoming aggravated, and now the dramatic escalation in the Middle East.

Putin then, in his own way, invoked the principle of agapē without which Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche has recently insisted humanity may not survive as a species, as the way out for all nations. Putin told the Ambassadors:

“The epidemic has proved a real test for such universal human values as solidarity, mutual assistance, and love for humanity….

“I repeat once again: It is possible to ensure peace, stability and sustainable global development only through the efforts of the entire international community. We are calling for well-coordinated work by states, permanent members of the UN Security Council and all concerned countries. As you know, Russia has recently celebrated the anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War that started 80 years ago, on June 22, 1941, when the Nazis treacherously attacked our Motherland….

“We are convinced that everything must be done to prevent the tragedy of World War II from repeating itself, so that its lessons will not be forgotten. All of us must cherish the priceless experience and spirit of allied relations during the struggle against common challenges and threats. We must remember the consequences of policies pandering to nationalism and xenophobia, and we must jointly elaborate a positive and unifying agenda to forge a more equitable and democratic multipolar world order. We must ensure the well-being and prosperity of all human beings.”


The Great Task of Real Infrastructure: Modern Healthcare Systems in Every Nation

The Great Task of Real Infrastructure: Modern Healthcare Systems in Every Nation

May 17 (EIRNS)—The great building task for the industrialized and industrializing nations is clear. Building modern hospital and well-staffed healthcare systems in every nation on Earth will meet such an urgent need to preserve human life—one that cannot be met by any other attack on the pandemic—that it alone deserves the name of an infrastructure platform for the further progress of the human race. And it is an agreement among the most technologically advanced and economically developed nations which can launch such a global mission, and which is no less ambitious than a Moon-Mars mission, necessarily involving the same beneficial effects of technological breakthroughs.

If this task is taken up, as proposed by the Schiller Institute and Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites, 10 MW of new power will be needed to supply every set of hospitals with 1,000 beds, provide a lot of fresh water to them, heat and light the housing for their staff—hundreds of gigawatts of new power, and widely distributed throughout the developing nations in particular. World food production will effectively have to double since “food is health,” to quote Committee leader Dr. Joycelyn Elders. Approximations of Tennessee Valley Authority-scale development projects will evolve from the projects undertaken for the best of disease monitoring, testing and above all modern treatment capacities.

A new nuclear technology platform is waiting to be put in factory production to supply this huge project: small modular nuclear reactors. NuScale, the only company with a prototype approved by regulators thus far, is being offered the cooperation in production it needs by the Canadian firm Prodigy Clean Energy, while other Canadian companies and provinces develop their own small modular reactor (SMR) projects. Prodigy intends to build SMR marine power stations in shipyards. The Danish company Seaborg Technologies plans to fit ships with small nuclear reactors, to send power to countries across the developing sector, and believes it can start providing that power by 2025, according to Neutron Bytes blog May 14. This is a 100 MW molten salt-cooled reactor. NuScale’s target for 60 MW operating reactor modules is 2026. Russia is already capable of producing small floating nuclear reactors.

All the other target dates can be brought forward as soon as the technologically leading nations—China, the United States, Russia in particular—agree to jointly generate credit for the modern health systems to care for pandemic victims.

Standing against this mission for humanity, is the new Malthusianism which wants to sacrifice human life to “the planet” and a myth that human science and technology are impotent and destructive. As made clear already in 2019 in an article in the medical journal The Lancet by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 5 billion people who don’t have modern healthcare can’t have it because “if we do it in a model that has been developed in rich countries, it will break the climate—and we can’t afford that.”

Nor are we, say the Green New Dealers, permitted to double world food production to cope with widespread food insecurity and famine—and food is health. According to the investors’ group FAIRR, “The oil in the ground was being mispriced. It doesn’t have value. It’s obsolete, and therefore it’s stranded. The same is going to happen for agriculture and animal agriculture.”

The same Green New Dealers nonetheless think we should scour the Earth for vast, now unknown supplies of rare and strategic minerals and metals, in order to build billions of completely unneeded electric vehicles over the next three years—and they call their charging stations “infrastructure”!

Scrapping the Green New Deal, we can build a real new infrastructure platform for the world’s people and the economies of nations, as the Schiller Institute proposes to the Global Health Conference in Rome this week.


Bolivian President Arce: Only a Global Solution Can Defeat COVID Pandemic

May 16 (EIRNS)–Speaking May 13 at an international forum organized by his foreign ministry, Bolivian President Luis Arce Catacora emphasized to his audience that the only way to defeat the coronavirus pandemic is through a global program, which, as his government has been emphasizing, must address the issue of vaccine inequity. For example, he said, Bolivia has purchased vaccines, but isn’t getting enough doses delivered because “production is circumscribed to specific countries,” or because some countries have restricted exports of vaccines for different reasons. “We’re not criticizing this,” he said, “but let’s be clear that we’re headed straight for disaster, because this is happening even to countries that have the ability to pay for vaccines…. Since the pandemic is a global evil, the solution must be global, and to get out of this, we all have to act; otherwise, no one will be safe….It’s as if there were an apartheid in which the weakest [countries] are being condemned and killed,” EFE news service reported him as saying May 13.

The Foreign Ministry forum, entitled “Waiving Patents and Considerations on Intellectual Property in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” was focused, as the title indicates, on calling for suspending vaccine patents and intellectual property to ensure transfer of technology so that developing nations can produce vaccines. Officials from the UN Development Program, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and diplomats from South America and India, among others, attended. This is a campaign that Bolivia began two months ago and has vowed to take to every international forum and multilateral organization for debate. It should be seen as a useful adjunct to the urgent proposal of the Schiller Institute and the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites to build a global healthcare system and new economic order to competently address the pandemic. A foreign ministry press release estimates that the majority of vaccines produced in 2021 will be insufficient to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population, due to vaccine hoarding by the industrialized nations, and thus vaccinations of poorer nations’ populations aren’t likely to be completed before 2023.

Domestically, Arce has launched a campaign to inoculate all eligible Bolivians as soon as possible and is working closely with Russia and China to obtain vaccines. By the end of next week, Bolivia will have received 500,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine and one million doses of China’s Sinopharm and is making arrangements to obtain Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines as well. On the occasion of the most recent Sputnik V arrival on May 15, in the company of Russian ambassador Mikhail Ledenev, he remarked that “we have to step on the accelerator…these vaccines are the doses of hope for many people…thanks to the diplomacy among nations, above all with Russia and China, Bolivians will continue with the vaccination campaign,” the Bolivian Information Agency (ABI) reported him saying. Pointing to the difficult situation the world is facing because of new waves of COVID, he warned, “if our nations don’t take action and ensure an equitable distribution of doses, we’ll see many more waves, placing humanity at ever greater risk.”


CGTN Interviews Helga Zepp-LaRouche on Eighth Anniversary of Belt and Road Initiative

China’s CGTN conducted two interviews with Schiller Institute chairwoman Helga Zepp-LaRouche on the celebration of eight years of the Belt and Road Initiative, one for with the “Dialogue Weekend” program and the second with “Global Business.” Here are the transcripts:

Dialogue Weekend

LI QIUYUAN: Welcome to this edition of Dialogue Weekend: I’m Li Quiyuan.

In the fall of 2013, while on visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia, Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled the plan to build the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, otherwise known as the Belt and Road Initiative. Eight years on, how is the project progressing, and how has it helped all those involved? And what obstacles have been overcome during the construction? To review the last eight years of the BRI, I’m glad to be joined by Prof. John Gong from the University of International Business and Economics; and Miss Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and president of the Schiller Institute. Great to see you both.

Why don’t I start with Professor Gong first? Explain to us some context here: Why try to propose this, building this New Silk Road in the very beginning, and also why did the President announce this while travelling abroad? And also, eight years on, eight years into this project, where are we now, as far as its construction?

PROF. JOHN GONG: Hi Qiuyuan, you’re nice to have me here. It’s a long question, but let me first start by saying what the Belt and Road Initiative is not: It is not a geopolitical play, it’s not a geostrategic play, it’s not intended to seek a spread of influence. It’s mostly an economic play. There are several reasons why China started this initiative. I think the broader context is that this is a time when Chinese companies started to expand overseas, started to build a global supply chain, and in this course, Chinese companies quickly started to discover that the markets they’re mostly activating, these are the developing countries, the third world countries, they are handicapped by basic infrastructure for things like railways, port facilities, electricity network, telecom network—all these things are lacking for the Chinese companies to operate properly in these markets. And there’s a mutual benefit in developing these countries’ basic infrastructure. And this is also the time, when there was an access capacity in the basic building materials, mostly useful infrastructure buildouts for things like cement, steel, those things. We’re talking about a time in 2013, 2012.

And I would also mention this is also a time when China’s foreign exchange reserve was at an all-time high, and we would like to see the foreign exchange reserve at close to $4 trillion at the time, mostly sitting in the United States, buying American government’s Treasury bills and bonds.

So all these reasons combined contributed to the very natural evolution to using that money, using that excess capacity, and using the capabilities of Chinese companies of building infrastructure to help those developing countries to develop those projects. And I think this is the broader context: it work for both ways, and it works in particular in a way to benefit the host countries where the Chinese companies are operating, and these infrastructure projects are taking place.

LI: Helga, let me get your take on this: How do you evaluate the progress being made in the past eight years regarding this initiative?

HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, I think it’s the most impressive infrastructure project in the history of all of mankind. And China for the first time has given the developing countries the chance to overcome poverty and underdevelopment. And if you look at the progress, there is now the China-Laos high-speed rail project, which is fantastic. It will be extended to Thailand, and beyond. And soon, the previously not so developed country, like Laos, will have a high-speed rail system, which Europe and the United States can only dream of!

Then you have the [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] CPEC treaty, the Middle Corridor, all these projects in Central Asia, all these investments in Africa. So I think it has brought in an incredible shift in the strategic situation, by overcoming underdevelopment, for the first time, for all of these countries. So I think, despite all the opposition, I think it’s a great success.

LI: But now after all of China’s investments in Africa, we once again are hearing criticism or accusations of China setting so-called “debt traps” for the countries participating in the BRI. This is the most frequent criticisms we’ve heard about this initiative. Professor Gong, talk to us about it: Beijing has made it clear that this initiative is by no means a debt trap. What has been done by China to support its claim?

GONG: We have to go back to the origin of the so-called “debt trap” theory. I think it originated in India with respect to, in particular, the port project in Sri Lanka. The idea is basically conspiracy theory….

LI: Now, we’ve seen the pandemic COVID-19 causing massive disruptions and damage to economic activities all around the world including the global supply chain, such as thousands of containers sitting on the Los Angeles docks, waiting for truckers and warehouse personnel to transport and deliver goods. It would seem that the world desperately needs an economic boost now, more than ever. But, Helga, do you see the BRI being it, providing great opportunities for corporations, for countries involved? Could they benefit from a smoother and more efficient global trade infrastructure?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Oh, yes. You have already all the countries of Asia, many in Africa, even of Europe—you have Portugal, Italy, Spain, Greece, the 16+1 East European countries that all are absolutely onboard of the BRI. But I think some of the so-called advanced countries like Germany, they would benefit the most if they would stop thinking in terms of geopolitical prejudices, because, for example, if they would join hands with China right now in the development of Afghanistan, which suffers the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet, and urgently needs to be integrated into the Belt and Road Initiative if it wants to ever have stability. So Germany, for example, is very concerned about the refugee crisis, and rather than building a wall around the EU outer borders, which is what the EU is considering right now—like the old Limes in the Roman Empire—I think the European countries, and hopefully also the United States, join hands; and they have a moral obligation because NATO countries were for 20 years in Afghanistan and they left the country in complete shambles. So, to reconstruct Afghanistan—and Haiti, and Syria, and Yemen, and all of these other countries that are in dire condition—if Germany and Europe would help and cooperate with China and the Belt and Road countries to develop Southwest Asia and Africa, there would be no refugee problem.

And I think we need a rethinking of this very, very urgently, because we have a tremendous moment in history. The Western financial system is not in good shape: You have signs of hyperinflation; the supply chain problem, you mentioned. So I think we need a rethinking. And the Schiller Institute is doing a lot of conferences and activities to convince the industrialized countries that it would be in their absolute self-interest to cooperate with the BRI and play a positive role in history.

LI: Helga, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. We appreciate your perspective.

Professor Gong, a final question on this part to you: Certainly great steps have been made on the BRI over the last eight years, but what lessons can we draw from these experiences? And what challenges has the project faced as it reaches out for wider cooperation?

GONG: Well, let me first supplement your previous question. Helga actually knows my position on this issue. I wrote a paper several years ago, talking about how America can actually benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative. The article’s title is “Make America Great Again—with Chinese Money.”

As a matter of fact, I actually as an opportunity to make a keynote speech at a conference organized by Helga, the Schiller Institute. [Create a New Epoch for Mankind • February 16, 2019, Morristown, NJ]

There could have been greater opportunities between China and the United States to address the infrastructure problems you have just mentioned. You talk about the supply chain hiccups, or these clogs at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, all of these things can be substantially addressed by combining the capabilities of infrastructure buildouts, in China, together with investments in the United States. But unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.

Now, back to your question about lessons in the past, I think this is a perfect example to show that there are opportunities if China and other countries will just come together and cooperate, and purely think of this from an economic perspective and setting aside all these, you know, these talks about geostrategic, geopolitics lens, not seeing these things through that lens, I think there could be huge opportunities. There are tons of countries out there who indeed benefit from these infrastructure investments. So, I think the biggest lesson is, this is a purely economic play, and there will be mutual benefits deriving from this. And that let’s have both sides going to this in cooperative spirits should generate benefits for both countries.

And as well as the better exchanges, through human to human, people to people exchanges, and also economic benefits as well. So I think that’s the biggest lesson. And United States could have—I emphasize again, could have—benefitted immensely, if we go into this with, as we say, with a cooperative spirit. But unfortunately, it’s not happening.

Global Business

ANCHOR: For more on the Belt and Road Initiative, I want to bring in Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and president of the Schiller Institute, who’s now in Wiesbaden. Helga, welcome to the program. You know, President Xi Jinping saying the BRI is really about finding the biggest common ground for all, and I think it’s interesting to contrast that with what we hear oftentimes, from the West in terms of only working with like-minded countries. This is about working with all countries, large and small, to find their greatest common denominator.

So, Helga, at a time of such uncertainty, how important do you think is the BRI in terms of growing the economic pie for all?

HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think it is, for sure, the most important strategic initiative on the planet right now. Because you say “uncertainty,” I mean, these uncertainties show for example, in the form of a hyperinflationary tendency: You see the energy prices skyrocketing, food prices, and we may actually head towards a hyperinflationary blowout of the entire system. And at such a moment, to have the Belt and Road Initiative which focusses entirely on the physical side of the economy, can actually become the absolute important savior for the world economy as a whole. So I think the existence of the Belt and Road Initiative is the most important initiative on the planet.

ANCHOR: And Helga, of course, one big topic that we are all talking about these days, from the public sector to the private sector, is how we can collectively tackle climate change. How do you see the Belt and Road Initiative really promoting sustainable and green development, especially for developing economies, who need more help in terms of making that green transition?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, you know, in the Glasgow COP26 summit, it became very clear that behind a lot of this climate policy, is also a Malthusian effort to prevent the developing countries from developing, and that has been expressed very clearly by India, Indonesia, Nigeria, which all did not go along with the program of Glasgow.

So I think China, on the other side, is offering especially cooperation in nuclear energy, which has a very high energy flux-density and therefore, is potentially the energy source for more developed economies. So I think the role of China and the BRI countries which all are going in the direction of promoting nuclear energy, also for the developing countries, are representing a very, very important alternative to the Malthusian policies coming from the financial centers in London and Wall Street.

ANCHOR: Hmm. So we have growing the economic pie for all, energy cooperation, green development, and of course, one other extension. Helga, of the BRI, is the Health Silk Road, and this is China aiding Belt and Road partner countries, by sharing medical knowledge about the coronavirus; last year providing medical aid as well, last year and this year. Help I believe will be a critical part of BRI cooperation going forward. How do you see this element of the Initiative developing, post-pandemic?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, I think it is very clear that China right now is helping many African countries to build vaccine production, so they can develop their own vaccine. I have been saying, since the outbreak of this pandemic, that it will only stop if we build a world health system: That means a modern health system in every single country. Because the idea to only take care of the rich countries with vaccines, and modern hospitals, does not work, because then the poor countries are left behind, and then the virus is mutating, and will come back and hit the entire human population.

So I think we have to have a very big emphasis on a modern health system in every single country: Which means modern hospitals—China has proven you can build a modern hospital in two weeks in Wuhan—but the developing countries need encouragement and help. They need energy, they need clean water, in order to do that. I think the most urgent ones right now are Afghanistan, Haiti, Syria and Yemen: These are the countries that need, urgently, international cooperation to build modern health systems, if they are supposed to survive. I have proposed something called “Operation Ibn Sina” which named after the great universal thinker of the Afghanistan region, from around the 10th century. And that could become the spearhead for a health system in every country in the Islamic world, but also for all the developing countries. And that’s the only way how the pandemic will stop, and future pandemics.

ANCHOR: Yes. And speaking about closing gaps all around in terms of the development gap, closing the energy and green development gap, what about the digital connectivity gap? The digital connectivity benefits provided by the BRI down the road can be absolutely huge, in terms of getting especially emerging and developing economies, really into the digital sphere. The pandemic, we’ve seen, has really accelerated digitization. How do you see the BRI boosting digital connectivity, and really helping to narrow the digital divide between developing economies and advanced economies?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think the fact that China was able to deal with the pandemic so much better than almost every other country on the planet has to do with the fact that the health sector is largely digitalized, and contact tracing, smart cities integrated—I think that’s future.

The problem is, the West is opposing that because there is a difference: In China the population for the most part trusts the government, and thinks that these measures are being applied for the common good. In Western Europe, for example, or the United States, there is a deep mistrust between the population and the government, and therefore, there is a lot of opposition. But look at Germany, right now, or many European countries: The pandemic is exploding again. And that is, for sure, they are still using photocopy machines, and very archaic means to trace the pandemic. And if Europe would have the kind of digitalization like China we would be in much better shape.

So I think that is clearly the way to go, and hopefully, people start to rethink and correct a lot of prejudices which do not come from facts, but they come—for example, the U.S. Senate just agreed upon a strategic act, which spent several hundred million dollars every year to counter the so-called “influence” of China! If that money would be spent on building hospitals and building real infrastructure for the benefit of the people, the United States image would gain much more than from these kinds of measures!

So again, I can only hope there will be a rethinking and a lot of the prejudices which have been spread should be put into the garbage pile.

ANCHOR: Yeah, instead of spending trillions of dollars on never-ending wars in foreign lands, I think definitely that money, at least for the United States, can be better put towards working with other countries in terms of boosting development around the world. And of course, that’s what the BRI is about, is really focussing and emphasizing cooperation, especially in the world that we live in today, and our future generations will need that cooperation. We must see that through the BRI. Many thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Helga. That’s Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and president of the Schiller Institute.


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