There I was at my first NN09 conference trying to digest the experience, but one thing came to my thoughts: Bill Clinton’s trip to Peru.
Photo by Andres Duque of Blabbeando
The scene at the Reynolds Convention Center was too predictable, not much excitment. Judging by the faces I saw around the crowd, it was obviously Clinton territory. The former president mentioned all the good things he has done at the White House, and what he is doing now with his “charity” foundations -a booklet of the Clinton Foundation was available to all attendants-and what he thinks of current U.S. politics and in the world. The night became more interesting when a brave gay activist interrupted him for good reasons.
The Clinton legacy
We all know that the world’s economy and politics are seeing new trends that allow multinational deals to occur, more commonly today than ever before in human history. The race for power and world domination is not limited to borders and nationalities anymore, but to international corporations, government alliances, trade pacts. This is exactly what the creators of free trade policies intended, by benefiting private corporations instead of the populations of the involved countries in this new world order.
Former U.S. president Bill Clinton is one of the leading figures of such a trend. During his government he was a fierce promoter of free trade policies and created NAFTA with the support of the Republican leadership. After 8-yer term and through his Foundation, Clinton is coining a new style to promote special interests for multinationals by using well his influences, connections and reputation. These deals are made in a form of international charity –telling us how much good can be done in public, as long as business pacts are made behind doors.
Peru's President Alan Garcia (R) and former U.S. President Bill Clinton drink Pisco Sour after a meeting at the government palace in Lima March 27, 2009. Photo Reuters
Last March Clinton traveled to Peru in a private jet, in order to launch a ‘charity’ project through his corporate-funded Foundation. While in Lima he met with president Alan Garcia and with leaders of the conservative business elite. This is what his website says:
In Peru, President Clinton observed the launch of a project of CGSGI, the Ministry of Health, and the Carlos Slim Foundation that will deliver 50,000 additional cataract surgeries in Peru over the next four years, including the poorest regions of the country. Cataracts are a treatable yet are the leading cause of blindness in the developing world, and many thousands of people in Peru lack access to the affordable surgeries. By restoring the vision of 50,000 Peruvians over four years, this project will help increase the productivity of thousands of people and their families.Bill Clinton seems to care about poor Peruvians lacking access to proper medical care, but let’s remember he also cares about other things related to Peru. During his presidency, Clinton cooperated closely with the dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori to implement free trade policies and a neoliberal economy model that delivered Peru’s mining, oil and gas reserves to U.S. and Canada corporations.
Apparently in return –nothing is free for free traders- the Clinton administration might have helped Fujimori with funds and logistics to defeat of the Shining Path and MRTA guerrilla groups, and to succeed during the military conflict with Ecuador in 1995.
About Clinton's trip to Peru, Nachrichten Haute puts it on the table:
Bill and Frank in PeruBill Clinton knows how to make good friends -and how to use them- no matter who they are. Ask his donors Frank Giustra and Carlos Slim for instance.
Of late Bill Clinton visited Peru, together with Giustra, flying there with Giustra’s luxurious MD 87 plane.
One of Endeavour’s clients operating in Peru is the mining company IMA. So Peru was a suitable target for CGSGI.
Giustra and Clinton donated 10 Million US Dollars for eye operations (cataract).
A long article in the British TIMES recognized the good work and brought it to the attention of a broader audience.
Not mentioned, however, was “Operation Milagro”, eye-operations carried out in Latin America by Cuban doctors with no mining rights involved.
Only a week after the U.S. Senate approved the controversial Peru FTA on December 4, 2007, Giustra was already in Lima meeting with president Alan Garcia to talk about mining investments, in representation of Clinton. El Comercio posted “Bill Clinton Foundation searching investments on mining”. My translation:
“… but president [Garcia] surprised everyone when he left alone the IDB president Luis Moreno standing with the press at the Dorado salon. Minutes earlier, Garcia had met with [Moreno] and with Frank Giustra, representing the Clinton Foundation which was created by the former U.S. president.This was before the 2008 U.S. financial crisis forced mining prices to sink; causing thousands of jobs loses in the highly polluting Peru’s mining sector, which is the cause of the poisoning of millions of Indigenous peoples and the destruction of big chunks of the Andes mountains and the Amazon forests of Peru.
… the foundation is interested on executing projects of development in [mining], with a previous study where it’s willing to invest $200 million dollars. “The projects will have to go along what the Peru government is doing” said Moreno and Giustra added that Peru has now the opportunity of becoming a model of development for the region, “especially taking mining and its development as a sustainable and a long term issue.”
March 26, 2009 and while in Peru, Clinton gave a speech at a private college where he praised the unfair neoliberal model implemented in Peru since the 1990 decade -which has increased the gap between the rich and the poor among Peruvians:
Lima, Mar. 27 (ANDINA).- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton emphasized this afternoon that Peru is the only country in Latin America experiencing economic growth despite the global financial crisis. He considered that Peru's economy, compared to other nations in the world, is still in great conditions.The Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative
Let’s see what the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI) is all about, according to their own website:
The Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative is an innovative partnership between the William J. Clinton Foundation, the private sector, governments, local communities, and other NGOs to increase the scope, scale, impact, and sustainability of economic and social development efforts in areas where poverty is widespread.All of that sounds very inspiring, but we must take a look to who are the CGSGI Partners: U.S. and Canada mining corporations and investors, along with Carlos Slim, a Mexican Lebanese billionaire known as the richest man on earth:
Established in June 2007 by President Bill Clinton and Frank Giustra, CGSGI focuses on alleviating poverty in the developing world through market-driven development that creates jobs and increases incomes, and by strengthening factors that enable economic growth such as health and education. CGSGI is an effort to transform the way businesses do business in the developing world, by creating opportunities and models for all industries seeking to work responsibly in those regions.
Frank Giustra Stephen Dattels Michael Wekerle Robert Cross Harald Ludwig Inter-American Development Bank Newmont Mining Corporation Teck Cominco Ltd. Deloitte & Touche LLP Endeavour Financial Ltd. GMP Securities L.P. Uranium One Inc. Coalcorp Mining Inc. Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Rusoro Mining Inc. Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp. Fundación Carlos Slim New Gold Inc Canaccord Adams Ltd. Barrick Gold CorporationAlmost all of these ‘partners’ have already invested or are interested in mining projects in Peru, especially in gold, silver, zinc, oil and gas extracting ventures. They are also big beneficiaries of both free trade pacts between Peru and the U.S. and Canada, and responsible for the pollution of several regions of the planet.
These partners have donated money to the Clinton Foundation in exchange of Clinton’s intervention as their personal lobbyist in closing ties with third-world countries governments. The result is that those companies can gain access to vast natural resources extraction contracts. But that is not what they say to the public.
This is what the CGSGI says it wants to do in Peru:
Peru’s economy is among the most dynamic in South America, but economic success is concentrated along the wealthier coastal regions and the income of the wealthiest 10 percent of Peruvians is 40 times greater than that of the poorest 10 percent. More than 13 million Peruvians live in poverty and Peru has one of the highest rates of malnutrition in Latin America. In rural areas, nearly 40 percent of children under the age of 5 are malnourished. To address these challenges, initial projects in Peru will focus on child nutrition and enterprise development. Specifically:Yeah, ok. Now let's examine the awful record of most of the Clinton ‘partners’... I will now mention only the two bigger fishes: Carlos Slim and Frank Giustra. They are Bill’s favorites and together the three have donated “$200 Million for Poverty Alleviation in Emerging Economies."
* CGSGI is committing to a three-year program to reduce chronic child malnutrition in the Ancash and Cajamarca regions.
* CGSGI also is investing over three years to expand market-driven economic development in the Ancash, Cajamarca, and La Libertad regions, with an emphasis on diversifying and enhancing sustainable economic activities relating to agriculture, agribusiness, and tourism.
Frank Giustra and Carlos Slim Helu… has partnered with the William J. Clinton Foundation in a new sustainable development initiative focused on the developing world, starting in Latin America.I just love the way they put things: by emerging economies you can read “countries rich in natural resources where most people don’t have access to that richness because colonial powers take that away”.
Carlos Slim Helu
According to some sources he is the richest man on earth, a Lebanese Mexican businessman who made his fortune with investments in telecommunications and other industries:
... five insurance companies (valued at $1.5 billion), a Mexican retail chain (pretax annual profit, $500 million), a mining company, an auto parts manufacturing company, a bank, a tobacco company, oh, and another mining company. All told, Slim's companies account for almost one-half of the value of the Mexican stock exchange.Slim and Clinton met on August 4 2008 and signed an agreement for economic support to Colombia, Mexico and Peru in Mexico City. Once again, this “economic support” should be read as an investment to open doors for business ventures. Slim assured Clinton his support with $20 million dollars for CGSGI projects in Colombia and $10 million dollars for Peru. Colombians were told the project will create jobs in small and medium size business, while Peruvians hear about a medical programs coming from a man who couldn’t even guarantee a health care reform for American citizens.
Slim owns 8% of the Mexico’s GDP, he is the son of a Lebanese rich immigrant, and his mother and also his wife were Mexicans of Lebanese heritage. Slim is so rich, that in 2006 his wealth increased at a rate of $2.2 million dollars per hour, according to the Belfast Telegraph newspaper.
Let’s stop here and think. Why the richest man in the planet would care about poor people’s medical needs? What makes Slim be concerned about the vulnerable populations of the world? A good heart is usually not the best tool to get rich. Read this:
Slim built his fortune via Telmex, the telecommunications company that controls over 90 percent of the phone lines in México. Once owned by the Mexican government, Telmex was sold to Slim by now-disgraced ex-president Carlos Salinas de Gortari in 1990.Clinton is a good learner: Slim has taught him the skills of doing business through charity: in 2006 Slim donated through his foundations, over $1.8 billion to charitable causes including 95,000 bicycles to poor children, 70,000 pairs of eyeglasses, and scholarships to 150,000 university students. These are separate from the $250,000 to $500,000 donations Slim has given to the Clinton Foundation.
At the time, critics charged that Salinas was selling Telmex to his friend Slim for less than the company was worth. Some assert that Telmex is still a "virtual monopoly" that can charge high rates without competition.
The fortune of Slim is not a sign of Mexico progress, by no means. Mexico “has more billionaires than Switzerland, but almost half its population of 108 million people lives in poverty” says Time magazine. Mexicans say that Slim and 100 Mexican families own the country and run the government in their benefit.
Same as in Peru, the majority of Mexican workers are employed not by big corporations like Slim businesses, but by small- and medium-sized enterprises, which are usually informal companies that hardly ever meet international labor standards. Slim big emporium was born from his monopoly practices, the abuses he subject customers and the corruption of Mexican government, says Time:
Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD), Mexico's telecom customers pay some of the highest rates in the world. "If not for those rates," Garcia insists, "Mexican businesses would have generated better profits and could have paid their workers better. Mexico would have been a more efficient economy."Slim knows where to put his money and when to give donations too:
[…]But while U.S. authorities have thwarted Gates' subjugation of the PC software business in recent years, Mexico has done precious little to rein in ubiquitous business empires like Slim's — which today accounts for almost half the Mexican stock exchange's $370 billion value and controls a horde of industries ranging from telecom to tobacco.
In September 2008 he purchased a 6.4 percent common-stock stake in The New York Times Company, making him the largest shareholder not related to the company's owners, the Sulzberger family.The relationship between Bill Clinton, Carlos Slim and Mexico can be summarized by the effect seeing 15 years after NAFTA which in some way might have helped create the Slim fortune. I translated this note from Movimiento al Socialismo:
He leads Impulsora del Desarrollo y el Empleo en America Latina SAB de CV (IDEAL), a Mexico-based company primarily engaged in infrastructure development. IDEAL is active in transportation, crude oil and gas, power, water, real estate and technology.
He heads the Latin America Development Fund project, which has a budget of over $10 billion to fund cultural projects throughout Latin America. Slim, through the "Alfredo Harp Helu Foundation", gave a US$5.5 million gift to the endowment of the National Polytechnic Institute, the second largest Mexican university by enrollment and one of the most important research universities in Latin America
Slim accumulates over $60 billion dollars while in Mexico there are over 50 million Mexicans living in poverty. While Slim’s fortune grew 3,000% in 16 years, the country’s growth was only 2%. While he gets millions of pesos daily, millions of Mexicans live with less than $2 dollars per day. This is possible only for the exploitation of his workers and the government corruption, not only in Mexico but in Latin America, which has allowed [Slim] to create monopolies, especially in telephone business, where he can increase prices at his will, without anyone to control him.Bandidos.
Carlos Slim is also accused of helping former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari with money laundering, and they both bought Telmex, the Mexican state telecommunications company, for a price of $400 million dollars when its true value was estimated at $12 billion dollars.
Former President Bill Clinton (left) announcing in 2007 the creation of the Sustainable Growth Initiative in Latin America with supporters Frank Giustra of Canada (center) and Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico (right). Photo by ©Neville Elder/Corbis via Carnegie.org
Clinton, Slim and Peru
Carlos Slim has invested in Telecommunications also in Peru. A Peruvian blogger mentioned last year Slim’s connections with Rómulo León Romero, the son of a Peruvian corrupted politician and former Minister who is being prosecuted for selling oil exploration deals under the table, with the complicity of president Alan Garcia.
Connections with Carlos Slim: known until now is Clatel, owned by Yngrid Yrivarren, Rómulo León Romero and the telephone company [Telmex] of the Mexican magnate, to distribute cellular phones.So here is where Clinton gets into the picture: while in Lima, Peruvian newspapers announced the amazing good will of the Clinton Foundation which will help with funding some 50 thousand eye surgeries for poor Peruvians, within a four-year period.
Guess who is funding this touching initiative? The Clinton Foundation along with the Carlos Slim Foundation are giving away $10 million dollars to prevent blindness among the poorest Peruvians, and they hope to succeed “by working closely with the Ministry of Health with a very low cost of $200 dollars per surgery” said Clinton at Lima’s Palace of Government. “I hope this help with be the beginning of a long and beneficial relationship” said Clinton.
Of course it will Bill, you know it. While speaking to the press, Clinton reminded Peruvians that this won’t be the only time he visits Peru and that he helped Fujimori during the war with Ecuador. “So you better remember” seems like he was saying.
Why would Carlos Slim donate millions of dollars to Peruvians? After all, this social program will be used by Alan Garcia as a political campaign, a favor that can be returned perhaps with some business deal: Slim’s Telmex owns America Movil which has recently bought Tim Peru, a cellular company competing with Hispanic telecommunication empire Telefonica. Currently Telmex operates cell phones in México, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru and the United States, and is the biggest telecommunication company in Latin America.
Frank Giustra, is a Canadian business executive, successful in the mining and filmmaking industries, and he is a philanthropist who uses his donations to promote deals for his businesses. Giustra son of Italian immigrants, his father was a miner and currently he is the Chair of Endeavour Financial, a merchant banking firm which finances Canadian mining companies.
Giustra started his investment bank career at Merrill Lynch and then Yorkton Securities, where he became its president of Yorkton, offering capital to mining projects in the developing world, especially projects in Latin America, “according to industry press, Yorkton managed to raise US$3 billion in the 10 years that Giustra was in charge.”
Giustra met Bill Clinton during a fundraising event for the tsunami relief in 2004, since then he has become his close friend and a member of the board of trustees of the Clinton Foundation. They use each other: while Clinton uses Giustra funds and corporate jet to travel around the world, Giustra uses Clinton’s influences to collect mining projects in countries like Colombia, and soon Peru.
Simple: Giustra puts the money, Clinton puts the connections.
A member of the board of trustees of the Clinton Foundation, Giustra has provided with many “favors” to the former president, including the use of his corporate jet for Clinton's fundraising campaign in Africa and lavishing gifts including “In September 2006, Mr. Giustra co-produced a gala 60th birthday for Mr. Clinton that featured stars like Jon Bon Jovi and raised about $21 million for the Clinton Foundation.” More:
On June 21, 2005, Bill Clinton flew to Mexico City aboard a private jet that belonged to a Canadian investment banker he was meeting for the first time. The introduction paid off for both men. Clinton was borrowing the jetliner to begin a four-day speaking tour of Latin America that would pay him $800,000. Frank Giustra of Vancouver was forming a friendship that would make him part of the former president's inner circle and gain him introductions to presidents of Kazakhstan and Colombia, where he bought mineral rights. Giustra, 50, has since put his plane at Clinton's disposal at least a dozen times to raise money for charity, his wife's presidential campaign or himself, according to U.S. flight records and spokesmen for Clinton and GiustraThe way these two make business is really concerning. Last year The NY Times posted this revealing article titled “After Mining Deal, Financier Donated to Clinton”:
Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalized, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra that had remained a secret until he acknowledged it last month. The gift, combined with Mr. Giustra’s more recent and public pledge to give the William J. Clinton Foundation an additional $100 million, secured Mr. Giustra a place in Mr. Clinton’s inner circle, an exclusive club of wealthy entrepreneurs in which friendship with the former president has its privileges.Keep reading, fascinating article.
Kazakhstan, which has about one-fifth of the world’s uranium reserves, was the place to be. But with plenty of suitors, Kazatomprom could be picky about its partners.
Upon landing on the first stop of a three-country philanthropic tour, the two men were whisked off to share a sumptuous midnight banquet with Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, whose 19-year stranglehold on the country has all but quashed political dissent.
Mr. Nazarbayev walked away from the table with a propaganda coup, after Mr. Clinton expressed enthusiastic support for the Kazakh leader’s bid to head an international organization that monitors elections and supports democracy. Mr. Clinton’s public declaration undercut both American foreign policy and sharp criticism of Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record by, among others, Mr. Clinton’s wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
Within two days, corporate records show that Mr. Giustra also came up a winner when his company signed preliminary agreements giving it the right to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium agency, Kazatomprom.
Records show that Mr. Giustra donated the $31.3 million to the Clinton Foundation in the months that followed in 2006, but neither he nor a spokesman for Mr. Clinton would say exactly when.
What exactly is Giustra trying to do in Peru along with Clinton? Read also this complete report on the many connections of Frank Giustra, but before why don’t we see the case of Colombia, where Clinton traveled after Peru:
The Colombian connection
A Colombian journalist wrote this after the recent Clinton’s visit to Bogota. My translation:
Is it true what the El Espectador [newspaper] is saying that Canadian billionaire Frank Giustra is behind Clinton, financing his philanthropies in exchange for him to open the doors of millionaire mining contracts in Colombia? Ay, Bill. What a disappointment.Here is an example with the donations to controversial singer Shakira. I translated this:
During his recent South America trip, Bill Clinton was accompanied by Frank Giustra. They visited a school created by Lebanese Colombian singer and pop star Shakira, donating $2 million dollars to the school Pies Descalzos.No wonder why Shakira has remained silent about the violent killings and displacement of millions of Colombians ordered by the Alvaro Uribe presidency and his allies, including illegal paramilitary groups.
US Former President Bill Clinton jokes with people in the framework of the 50th Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) annual meeting on March 28, 2009 in Medellin, Colombia. Next to him standing is Frank Giustra. Photo Getty Images
Clinton support for Colombian president Alvaro Uribe is being expressed through the work of his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Colombia connections with the Clintons is very strong, and there is a lot of work being done behind doors trying to have the U.S. Congress to approve the free trade deal between the U.S. and Colombia. This was revealed when Hillary was a presidential candidate:
Sen. Hillary Clinton's chief campaign strategist, Mark Penn, resigned from his post after it was revealed he was working (on the side) for the passage of a Colombia Free Trade Agreement that his candidate opposed.
Former President Bill Clinton has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars speaking on behalf of a Colombia-based group pushing the trade pact, and representatives of that organization tell The Huffington Post that the former president shared their sentiment.
In June 2005, Clinton was paid $800,000 by the Colombia-based Gold Service International to give four speeches throughout Latin America. The organization is, ostensibly, a development group tasked with bringing investment to the country and educating world leaders about the Colombia's business opportunities.
The group's chief operating officer, Andres Franco, said in an interview that the group supports the congressional ratification of the free trade agreement and that, when Clinton was on his speaking tour, he expressed similar opinions.
They appear to be the first public indication that Clinton has, at least in the past, supported the trade deal. But evidence that the former president has been sympathetic to Colombia's position is widely known. In 2007, Clinton met personally with and accepted an award from Colombia's controversial president, Alvaro Uribe, during a time when the country was attempting to improve its image within the United States. Subsequently, Clinton urged Congress to view the country in a more favorable light.
Moreover, Clinton has helped Frank Giustra, one of the biggest donors to the Clinton Global Initiative, score meetings with high-ranking Colombian officials. Giustra has several business interests in the country, and both he and Clinton have collaborated on an effort to fight poverty in developing world by partnering up with mining companies in Colombia and elsewhere.
What significance these ties have on the current presidential campaign is debatable. The former president was also a proponent of free trade agreements like NAFTA while in the White House. However, Sen. Clinton, as her campaign has repeatedly noted, has a long-standing opposition to the Colombia deal
Update: Sen. Clinton's spokesperson, Jay Carson, notes that Bill Clinton has supported the Colombia trade deal since 2000, but that his wife has been consistent in her opposition.
"Senator Clinton is the candidate for president and she is a clear and firm opponent of the Colombian free trade agreement," he said. "Like other married couples who disagree on issues from time to time, she disagrees with her husband on this issue. President Clinton has been public about his support for Columbia's request for U.S. trade preferences since 2000."
Bill el malo
William Jefferson Blythe III (real name of Clinton) authored, promoted and signed the destructive and corrupted North American Free Trade Agreement – NAFTA, and the failed Plan Colombia that has boosted cocaine production and paramilitary violence in that country, displacing 4 million Colombians –mostly Indigenous and Afro Colombians- thus, becoming the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world after Sudan and Congo.
Just two months after Bill Clinton’s trip to Peru the Bagua massacre occurred, where hundreds of Indigenous peoples were killed, after protesting free trade policies. Of course Clinton remained silent. During his speech at the Netroots Nation 2009 Clinton said:
… the election of an African-American lifted a “burden” off the shoulders ofHow fake. This is the same Clinton who incarcerated millions of Black and Brown men, more than any other U.S. president. He is the one who remained silent during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which were motivated by the interests of extractive industries corporations mostly from the U.S. and the U.K. who are now heavily investing in the extraction of Africa’s natural resources. Those are the same resources found in Peru and Colombia, where U.S. military bases might open soon after "humanitarian" missions were deployed.
Southerners like him, and was not only an inspiration to young black children,
but to so many others in a country that was more and diverse.
How splendid to see the corporations and the military from rich countries becoming the benefactors of poorer countries. Bill Clinton must be proud.