Globalization: Dollar Militarism, ALBA Humanism
Globalization and terror : Dollar militarism, ALBA humanism
by Toni Solo
Many themes of global importance inter-relate when discussing events in Central America. An apparently simple discussion of local developments in the Nicaraguan economy ends up covering global issues. One has to look at the role of the dollar, the price of oil, the garbage-in-garbage-out twin moral failure of the US and European corporate media and financial systems, or the symmetry between increasing imperialist militarism and domestic economic decline.
Much comment on global issues fails to reflect current local realities. Similarly, a great deal of regional analysis understates the impact of broader global trends. Coverage - and the lack of it - of the latest ALBA country summit involving countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela) (1) with a combined population of over 75 million - reflects this very well.
Before pursuing that point, it is worth noting a poignant contrast. Much has been made of the abolition, by President Clinton in 1999, of the Glass-Steagall Act, that separated investment banking from commercial banking after the 1929 Wall Street crash. But few have stepped back to note the even more profound policy implications of the 2000 expiry of the Humphrey-Hawkins Act. Economics writer Henry C.K.Liu has noted that the Humphrey-Hawkins legislation in theory behoved the US government and Federal Reserve to sustain full employment.(2)
Among other things it “explicitly states that the federal government will rely primarily on private enterprise to achieve the four goals of full employment, growth, price stability, and balance of trade and budget.” Liu's persuasive gloss on that is, “Implicitly, private enterprise must be regulated so that corporate profit is structurally aligned with the achievement of the four policy goals. The private sector cannot be allowed to prosper with counterproductive activities that negate the four policy goals and treat social costs as externalities to business. In welfare economics, an externality is a socio-economic cost created by one actor, the payment for which is imposed on others.”
The expiry of the Humphrey-Hawkins Act was, in effect, the last goodbye to a United States governed in any sense for the benefit of the majority. It was President Clinton and the Democrat wing of the US oligarchy who finally and categorically handed over the United States economy to the country's corporate plutocracy. A similar betrayal has been under way for a long time in the European Union. That is why, now, the US government and its European allies have acted so vigorously to save major banks from bankruptcy while abandoning tens of millions of people to unemployment and indigence.
Contrast that fact with the fundamental policy statement of one of the ALBA country finance Ministers, Alberto Guevara of Nicaragua. Guevara explains that the economic vision of the FSLN government in Nicaragua is “not to act in political economy as if we were crunching numbers but rather to turn political economy into a social policy with economic implications, in such a way that when we take decisions of political economy we do so....on the basis of the millions of Nicaraguans behind the statistics, waiting at long last for the dream of the revolution to crystallize, for the dream of every woman and man in this country to crystallize, focused on making progress, on forging a better destiny for their children, for their people, for their barrio, their community, their municipality, for the whole country. So then, we are working on a revolutionary project that has the human person at the centre of the system, at the centre of the model.”
In Latin America, the ALBA countries are building an unprecedented economic system with the human person at its centre, based on solidarity, cooperation, redistribution and complementarity. By contrast, the United States government and legislature have abandoned all but the most vestigial remains of any humanist, humanitarian vision of political economy. It is worth exploring this contrast more deeply, because it also explains why US imperialist military aggression is likely to plunge the region into war.
The financial crisis
Interest rates in the US were kept deliberately below the inflation rate through 2002 and 2003. "The real funds rate, which is the nominal rate adjusted for inflation, was negative for three years, from October 2002 to October 2005".(3) That signalled a vast extended credit boom. As the shadow banking system created by deregulation in the United States and Europe grew, it assimilated informal versions of the traditional money creation and control functions of Central Banks. The same speculative financial entities – most obviously, mega-banks and hedge funds - built on exploiting volatility and manipulating marginal differences between global markets, taking on the role of large-scale, informal money creators, perhaps most damagingly in the housing sector.
They created enormous volumes of out-of-control debt in the shape of convoluted notional securitized assets and swap quasi-insurance-bets beyond the reach of Central Banks and other regulators. Governments and Central Banks blatantly and grotesquely abrogated their regulatory functions in the name of "free markets”, despite the accumulated wisdom of decades indicating that poorly regulated markets are bound to fail. Asset price inflation and ballooning debt were treated with unbelievable crassness by incestuous economic and political authorities as if they equalled growth.
The overseers of the Western Bloc financial system ignored the very fiscal and monetary rectitude global enforcers like the IMF and the World Bank impose so sanctimoniously on impoverished developing countries. Now, a structural adjustment is being imposed by their governments on the peoples of Western Bloc financial delinquents like the United States, Britain, Spain and Ireland, to name the obvious cases. At the same time, trillions of dollars - over US$13 trillion in the US alone - have magically appeared with which to bail out Western Bloc financial institutions.
Relatively trifling sums available for social spending, for reducing poverty at home and for development cooperation overseas, are cut. Conversely, the US military budget increases each year by hundreds of billions of dollars. Other NATO countries, Canada and the Europeans, continue to fund billion-dollar interventions in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Apparently, no other outcome is possible in the weird cynical fantasy world of Western Bloc country governments, still imaginatively and culturally hostage to the hypocrisy and sadism of their colonial past, now being progressively and zealously applied to their own peoples.
The dollar and accountancy rules
Forget the fairy tale of the “free market”. No such thing has ever existed, nor ever will. Central banks and governments work intimately with giant corporate finance entities to nudge markets along desired lines - that is why, for example, major US financial entities like Goldman Sachs, J.P.Morgan, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and insurance giant AIG have been underwritten through the financial crisis, one way or another, by the US government. Note that Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, J.P.Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America are all Primary Government Securities Dealers - vital Federal Reserve partners in managing global markets.(4) Right now the dollar is being allowed to slide just as it was from 2007 into 2008. Once again commodity prices are rising sharply. Oil has risen abruptly to over US$80. Gold is well over US$1000.
This is not just because a weaker dollar helps close the US current account deficit. That kind of old-economy-thinking expired along with the Humphrey-Hawkins Act. Volatile dips, swings and lurches in commodity and currency markets allow major rich-country corporate financial entities to make billions of dollars in profits via bets using hapless tax-payers' bail-out money. On top of that the low Federal Reserve funds rate means banksters are able to borrow at almost zero interest. No serious attempt has been made to reverse the abolition of Glass-Steagall and fence off investment bank speculation on international markets from domestic commercial bank lending. While the US and British economies stagnate for lack of genuinely productive stimulus, in the US the real-economy-free financial sector rushes to remake itself, in part to head off the effects of stringent postponed accounting rules that come into play from November onwards.
Who cares about accounting rules? Well, you would, if it meant you could value your assets on what your paid advisers reckoned them to be rather than what you could currently get for them in the market. All those corporate "free market" enthusiasts leapt at the chance of abandoning so-called "mark-to-market" rules early in 2009 because it allowed them to apply more generous valuations to much-depreciated assets. Thus they can borrow more than they would otherwise be able to by re-leveraging their assets using those more generous values. Then they take that money – effectively free, at less than 1% - and game it in the stock market, in commodities markets, in currency markets.
They do all kinds of things with their profits except invest them so as to generate employment and productive activity in the real economy. They pay their already overpaid staff billions of dollars in bonuses, they help the Federal Reserve monetize government debt by buying government bonds paying 3% or 4% interest, they work with the Federal Reserve to try out new exit strategies, experimenting in controlling inflation through mechanisms like paying interest to them on balances they hold with the Reserve, via intricate, strategically managed reverse-repurchase transactions, via the purchase of Federal Reserve long-term securities.(5) Or they just hoard the money ready to face the effects of Financial Accounting Standards Board changes to Rule 140 which obliges them to bring unloved off-balance sheet Special Purpose Entities onto their balance sheets from November 15th onwards.
Special Purpose Entities have long been used by corrupt corporate financial entities – Enron is the most notorious example - to keep worthless assets off their balance sheet. Doing so inflates the value of the corporate entity. To get an idea of the sums involved, in 2008 Citigroup held over US$800bn in Qualifying Special Purpose Entities, JPMorgan Chase over $600 billion, Bank of America over $80 billion and Wells Fargo almost US$40bn. Despite the farcical government-supervised “stress tests”, no one really knows for sure the amounts by which such corporate financial entities will have to write down their balance sheets once the rule change takes effect. It will certainly affect their market valuations, perhaps dramatically, and is another factor explaining why banks are not lending enough into the productive economy.
The end result of all the trillions of dollars created to bail out the rich country financial sector is that neither governments, nor the central banks nor the financial corporations have changed. The United Kingdom remains in recession. The shock has at long last led even one of those responsible for the capitalism's latest debacle, Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, to remark, “It is important that banks in receipt of public support are not encouraged to try to earn their way out of that support by resuming the very activities that got them into trouble in the first place....The sheer creative imagination of the financial sector to think up new ways of taking risk will in the end, I believe, force us to confront the 'too important to fail' question."(6)
King's ill-received statement of the obvious comes two whole years after the failure of a couple Bear Stearns controlled hedge funds in July 2007 that finally triggered the onset of a systemic collapse long-foretold. His remarks are a frank recognition of abysmal failure. But they are unlikely to have much impact in a system where King's Deputy Governor, Charles Bean can be reported as feeling optimistic about so called “quantitative easing” - flooding banks with massive liquidity. The same day King's remarks were reported, Bloomberg also reported Bean as having said, on October 13th, that “rising asset prices suggest” quantitive easing has had a “'significant' impact and signaled optimism the economy had troughed.”(7)
The stunning foolishness of this is not just that two weeks later British government figures announced the country was still in recession. The frightening point of Bean's quoted remarks is that the economic authorities of Europe and the United States very clearly still believe rising asset values are equivalent to productive economic growth, even while they glibly dismiss rising unemployment as “a lagging indicator”. In Europe, as in the US, political and economic authorities imitate Dr. Frankenstein, trying to put back together, as it was, the self-same rotten system that has just fallen so spectacularly apart.
The meaning of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas - ALBA
It is in that context that the Seventh ALBA Summit took place in Cochabamba, Bolivia.(8) Report and comment in both corporate media and in the neocolonial progressive media consistently ignore or downplay the significance of ALBA. Or when they acknowledge its importance, they tend to disparage its achievements, relevance and viability. While ALBA itself is comprised of countries with a population of just over 75 million, the countries in its sister regional agreement, Petrocaribe, have a total population of over 90 million. If one adds up the total population of countries participating in both Petrocaribe and ALBA, the total is over 114 million.(9)
The fundamental reason for ALBA's successful development so far is that relatively small countries can only defend their interests if they unite. That is true in every sense. It may well be the case that the power and influence of Europe and the United States is in irreversible decline. But new quasi-imperialist menaces loom, from China and more immediately, from Brazil.
Countries like Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador look at the experience of Mercosur and see that its development has been hampered by the domination of Brazilian big business. They have their own experiences of ruthless Brazilian corporate and government policies. They can also see that China is vacuuming up natural resources as voraciously as ever the old imperialist powers ever did. Only united will the ALBA countries be able to defend effectively their natural resources and their peoples.
One important aspect of the Cochabamba summit is that it may finally dampen futile attempts by smaller countries to prioritize working together with Brazil on continental integration. Very clearly the ALBA countries will prioritize their own institutions in preference to seeking links with a sclerotic Mercosur and a nascent Bank of the South, both dominated by the neo-liberal sympathies of Brazil's ruling elite. Former Bolivian hydrocarbons minister, Andres Solis Rada has noted, “Brazil, by becoming an IMF creditor and increasing its voting share in the World Bank has become an associate of the oppressive nations strangling the nations they oppress.”(10)
ALBA's integration strategy works on two tracks – the extraordinary wide-ranging policy commitments of ALBA itself and the less comprehensive energy and food security focus of Petrocaribe. The principal benefits of Petrocaribe for its member countries are improved cash-flow though access to oil supplies on preferential terms (half paid within 90 days and the balance at nominal interest over 20 years), increased investment in energy infrastructure - including renewable energy - and food security support.
Member countries of ALBA have access to a very much wider range of economic, social and cultural policy options. Alberto Guevara believes, “ALBA is the alternative model we are developing in Latin America and the Caribbean so that we integrate the family of peoples in Latin America and the Caribbean on the basis of different associative principles. I am talking about principles that have nothing to do with current principles in the context of the international financial community, that work unfairly in many cases - donations and so on.
In ALBA conditionalities affecting countries' sovereignty do not exist. There are none. In ALBA the principle of self-determination is paramount. But we also have in ALBA principles like that of solidarity, real solidarity which is a disinterested solidarity aimed as helping those who have the least, so that they can reach a level of development as a country, as a nation as a people.
In ALBA you find the principle of complementarity. A principle that exists nowhere else in the world outside ALBA. It is a principle which in the first place recognizes the different relative development the peoples of our America have lived, in part thanks to those who colonized these peoples, who destroyed and stole our raw materials and murdered our indigenous peoples so as to build up the original capital accumulation that later formed world capitalism. That principle of complementarity is a new principle. It is a principle of justice. It is a principle of brotherhood.” (11)
Guevara's lyrical account of ALBA is borne out by Nicaragua's practical experience of ALBA's benefits which are profuse. In terms of trade, Nicaragua's exports to Venezuela increased from around US$8 million in 2007, the year Nicaragua joined ALBA, to over US$90 million currently in 2009. The increase is almost entirely in agricultural produce like beans, beef and dairy products. Nicaragua's agricultural economy has turned around dramatically as a result of government led investment, largely funded by ALBA. The principle of complementarity means that Venezuela will accept payment in kind – in agricultural produce – equivalent to the cash price of its oil.
The investment necessary to develop Nicaragua's agriculture in that way came both from the funds released by the concessionary terms of Petrocaribe oil purchases and from low-interest loans provided by Venezuela's development bank. That transformation led to record exports in 2008, with a fall in 2009 projected at less than 5%. It has also meant that record production in the first semester has helped the government and producers cope much better than they might otherwise have done with the dramatic adverse effects of this year's drought provoked by the climatic phenomenon, El Niño.
In terms of energy, the Nicaraguan-Venezuelan joint venture company Albanisa will be importing and storing all of Nicaragua's oil requirement by the end of 2010. So Nicaragua will be independent of the giant transnational oil major Exxon which has always managed Nicaragua's oil imports until now. In just two years, ALBA has provided an additional 290 megawatts to Nicaragua's electrical generating capacity, liberating Nicaragua's consumers from the spectre of the regular extended power cuts, month after month in 2006, resulting from the energy policies of 16 years of Washington Consensus imposed privatization and deregulation. Nicaragua's daily electricity consumption is a little over 500 megawatts.
The concessionary terms of Nicaragua's oil purchases from Venezuela have made possible subsidies to Nicaragua's transport system that has protected public transport consumers and operators from the disruptive inflationary effects of oil price volatility. In Managua, Nicaragua's capital, public transport users pay half what they might otherwise pay. Interurban bus prices have also been stable ever since the oil price shock of 2008. A key feature of ALBA's program is the establishment of joint venture companies involving partnerships between the bloc's member states. This is ALBA's response to the depredations of rich country multinational corporations.
Infrastructure investment derived from ALBA includes a refinery and petrochemical complex scheduled for construction on Nicaragua's Pacific Coast on which preparatory work has already begun. On the northern Atlantic Coast, reconstruction following Hurricane Felix continues, including improvements to the port at Bilwi (Puerto Cabezas) and work advancing on the long-neglected main road linking Puerto Cabezas to the country's Pacific Coast via Matagalpa. Five agro-industrial projects are planned for 2010 onwards. ALBA also funds nationwide housing and street-paving programmes.
The other main programmes made possible by ALBA in Nicaragua include medical facilities like the eye hospital in Ciudad Sandino which has attended tens of thousands of low income patients since it opened in 2007. ALBA funds Cuban medical brigades that cover the areas of the country least well served by Nicaragua's medical system, especially the Atlantic Coast. Cultural and sports programmes have created opportunities for thousands of young Nicaraguans to pursue otherwise inaccessible courses of training and study. ALBA's greatest achievement in the field of education has been the elimination of illiteracy in Nicaragua and Bolivia.
ALBA does all this just in Nicaragua. It has similar programmes and projects in train or planned in all its nine member countries, apart from the less diverse investments under the Petrocaribe framework in almost 20 countries. All of this is intended not to replace but rather to complement existing aid and cooperation programmes from Western Bloc countries. What it also does, though, is permit countries like Nicaragua to resist blatant aid and trade blackmail, as was clearly the case when the United States government cancelled Millenium Challenge Account funding earlier this year, under the false pretext of allegations of electoral fraud. The bulk of the amount concerned was replaced with funding from ALBA.
ALBA and Petrocaribe provide unprecedented stability to their member countries. But the United States, Canada and Europe persistently accuse Venezuela of destabilizing the region. Self-evidently, what they mean is that Venezuela destabilizes Western Bloc domination of the region, traditionally sustained by the neo-colonial mechanisms of aid, debt and unfair trade. An example of the challenge to traditional neo-colonial relationships is that the ALBA countries already have their own ALBA Bank.
At the Cochabamba summit this month, they took a crucial step towards greater coherency as an integrated regional economic community. That step was to set up a common unit of account for intra-regional trade – the Single System of Regional Compensation Payments (SUCRE). The SUCRE, which comes into effect in January 2010 is the first step towards a common currency. It means ALBA's member countries – with a total population of over 75 million - will not need to purchase dollars in order to pay for imports - for example Venezuelan oil - from fellow member countries. This is another small but damaging blow to the US dollar's status as the global reserve currency.
Henry C.K.Liu again, “post-Cold War global trade morphed into a new form of economic imperialism through which the strong advanced economies exploit the weak underdeveloped economies. This is accomplished by denying sovereign governments their right to deploy sovereign credit for national development and forced them to depend on foreign capital denominated in the fiat currency of the monetary hegemon.”
On October 17th 2009, in Cochabamba, the ALBA countries served notice that they intend to reclaim their sovereign right to deploy their own sovereign credit for national and regional development. But that is just one more reason for Western Bloc governments and corporate media to deploy a daily campaign of diplomatic and propaganda aggression against the ALBA countries, as they have done for years now. Three other fundamental reasons underlie the thoroughgoing cynicism and deceit of the United States government and its allies.
The first of those reasons can be seen even from the extremely bald account given here of ALBA's impact on national and regional development. In that sphere, ALBA makes Western Bloc aid, trade and debt skulduggery look like what it is – a machinery of control and domination shamelessly designed to hold back the genuine sovereign development of peoples. ALBA offers an unanswerable challenge to the Western Bloc aid-debt-and-unfair-trade development model.
The issue of literacy is a damning instance of that challenge. ALBA programmes eliminated illiteracy in Nicaragua and Bolivia in just three years. Western Bloc development cooperation programmes have failed to match that achievement in countries like Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador in decades. If one asks why that should be, the answer, clearly, is that they and their local allies, have no interest in doing so. The contrast reveals the United States and its allied countries' statements about their commitment to reducing poverty as vapid rhetoric.
The second of the three reasons for Western Bloc aggression against the ALBA countries is that the ALBA countries punch well above their weight in foreign affairs. ALBA has stepped up promoting South-South cooperation in their relations not just with China and India but with countries like, for example, Algeria, Vietnam, Libya and Iran. Ecuador and Venezuela are both members of OPEC. ALBA's example is likely to be an important theme at the important South-South Cooperation Conference scheduled for early December this year in Kenya.
The other ALBA countries are likely to follow Nicaragua's lead and support Russia by recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two states that achieved independence from Georgia in 2008. Russia participates in ALBA meetings with observer status. On issues from Sri Lanka to Western Sahara to Palestine, ALBA countries follow their own non-aligned anti-imperialist agenda – an example Western Bloc countries are anxious to squash.
A third reason Western Bloc countries loath ALBA's regional initiative is that the ALBA countries are genuinely committed to diminishing the effects of narcotics trafficking on their countries and have been very effective in doing so. This is unsettling for the United States government, in particular, whose international corporate finance sector partners – all those Primary Government Securities Dealers - depend heavily for their liquidity on the many trillions of dollars flushed year-round through secretive off-shore financial centres. Via these centres, hundreds of billions of dollars derived from the international narcotics business and other organized crime are laundered into the international finance system.
After over US$6bn of US taxpayers' money has been invested in the bogus “war on drugs” in Colombia, cocaine exports from Colombia are as healthy as ever. Despite both the “war on drugs” and the “war on terror”, heroin exports from Afghanistan are at record levels. Now, with Plan Merida, the United States is boosting its military and security industries with supplies to Mexico – just as it has done in Colombia, Afghanistan and Iraq – by means of yet another fake “war on drugs” initiative. Obviously, narcotics is one of the United States' most important industries, satisfying insatiable consumer demand as well as providing vital economic benefits to both the United States financial services industry and its military and security based industries.
Asked in the interview quoted earlier if he thought US military expansionism was the inevitable corollary of domestic economic decline, Nicaragua Treasury Minister Alberto Guevara remarked, “History has shown us that always when there is a domestic crisis, the way out of it has been to reactivate the military-industrial complex. In all recent history, the war in Korea, the war in Iraq, in Afghanistan, all of them. Furthermore, the natural concept of war is that the final result has always been a sharing out of the world, so, in that sense, war may be the expression of economics at its maximum intensity.”
The US government has tacitly supported the military coup in Honduras in part because ousted President Manuel Zelaya passionately supported ALBA. The US State Department used Costa Rican President Oscar Arias as a proxy to facilitate a framework agreement permitting occasional bouts of spurious “dialogue” until the elections scheduled in Honduras for the end of November. Even so, violent conflict there seems inevitable. In Mexico, increased United States military support for the “war on drugs” charade theatens to deepen the already critical social and economic crisis under usurper President Felipe Calderon.
In Colombia, Nobel Peace Prize winner President Barack Obama is destabilizing the region by agreeing to establish five new US military bases in the country. Even Brazil, whose troops lead the military occupation of Haiti under UN auspices, has expressed disquiet. President Obama's government has also agreed to install two new US military bases in Panama. His administration has also reactivated an important regional US radar and telecommunications listening facility in Costa Rica.
The US economy is a wreck, with unemployment unlikely to return even to pre-crisis levels for another seven or eight years. By way of response, President Obama, his corporate plutocrat backers and their Western Bloc allies, are clearly engaged in a double-or-quits policy of imperialist military expansionism. They are determined to use full-spectrum aggression against the ALBA countries. They deem militarist terror as the Western Bloc's best chance of, as Liu puts it, forcing the region “to depend on foreign capital denominated in the fiat currency of the monetary hegemon.”
1. The nine ALBA country's met in Cochabamba Bolivia on October 16th and 17th. The summit declaration is here : http://tortillaconsal.com/tortilla/node/4108
2. “Money Markets and Commodity Markets. Part I: Money Markets - Integrity Deficit Has Its Price”, Henry C.K. Liu, http://www.henryckliu.com/page198.html
3. "Greenspan Forgets Where He Put His Asset Bubble:", Caroline Baum, Bloomberg March 12th 2009
4. The full list of Primary Dealers as of July 27th 2009 was :
BNP Paribas Securities Corp ; Bank of America Securities LLC ; Barclays Capital Inc.; Cantor Fitzgerald & Co.; Citigroup Global Markets Inc.; Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC; Daiwa Securities America Inc.; Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.; Goldman, Sachs & Co.; HSBC Securities (USA) Inc.; Jefferies & Company, Inc.; J. P. Morgan Securities Inc.; Mizuho Securities USA Inc.; Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated; Nomura Securities International, Inc.; RBC Capital Markets Corporation; RBS Securities Inc.; UBS Securities LLC.
5. "Federal Reserve Power Unsupported by Credibility", Henry C.K.Liu - http://www.henryckliu.com/page199.html
6. “Mervyn King launches blistering attack on £1tn banks bailout”, Ashley Seager and Jill Treanor, Guardian, October 21st 2009
7. “BOE More Likely to Expand Bond Purchases on GDP Slump (Update1)”, By Brian Swint and Jennifer Ryan, Bloomberg October 23rd 2009
8. Declaración de la VII Cumbre del ALBA–TCP, Cochabamba, Bolivia – 17 de octubre de 2009 - http://tortillaconsal.com/tortilla/node/4108
9. For comparison, Brazil's population is around 190 million people, Russia has about 140 million, Japan 127 million, Britain 62 million, Germany 82 million.
10. “Brasil, el FMI y el Banco Mundial” Andrés Soliz Rada, Rebelión, 25-10-2009 - http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=93932
11. Entrevista con el Cro. Alberto Guevara, Ministro de Hacienda y Crédito Público de Nicaragua, 8 de octubre 2009 - http://www.tortillaconsal.com/alberto_guevara_8-10-09.html
toni solo is based in Central America - see toni.tortillaconsal.com