Alberto Vizcarra: Address to Ottawa Conference

In recent days, Chinese media published widely, and in different languages, statements of U.S. statesman Lyndon H. LaRouche, reiterating that the international financial system is disintegrating, and calling upon the governments of Russia, China and India to press the United States to reach an agreement on the bases for a new international financial system which can pull the world out of the profound economic collapse in which it finds itself, and save it from the looming threat of a third world war.

The Chinese media coverage is a signal which we must know how to interpret. Headlining the ideas of the American political figure who in the modern day represents the best of the hemisphere’s republican tradition, is a good indicator of what the Eurasian countries are looking for from the Americas. The marked turn of those nations towards economic cooperation around great infrastructure projects, has led them to conclude that there is no way they can sustain a solution to their common problems, if we continue under the tutelage of a financial system which persists in the irrationality of saving income and speculative debts, at the cost of destroying the economy’s physical potential and the population’s well being.

We are meeting today in Ottawa, determined to provide an appropriate response to what the world expects from the Americas. The best way to do this, is to document the great development potential which our nations have, if we agree upon a solid basis for cooperating on infrastructure projects which increase the availability of our water, energy and food. If we hear Eurasia knocking at our door at the Bering Strait, we in Canada, the United States and Mexico can decide upon a new agreement among ourselves, based on fair trade, and not on the disastrous, predatory axioms of free trade.

The results of the North American Free Trade Agreement exemplify the kind of relations which our countries cannot and must not continue. The physical decline of infrastructure; the growth of speculative assets which have become unpayable debts; unemployment; emigration transformed into exodus; and the hunger of tens of millions, are the dramatic expression of the failure of these policies.

The principal infrastructure projects conceived as a platform for just relations between our countries, were born in the heat of the great forward motion which the United States enjoyed under the influence of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s economic policies, which made public investment in infrastructure the key principal factor in pulling that nation out of the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

Thus, in different regions of the United States important dams, reservoirs, hydroelectric power plants, agricultural projects, waterways, highways, and railroads were built, feeding an overall economic development unmatched in modern history, such that 20 great infrastructure projects were built simultaneously! Institutions such as the Tennessee Valley Authority and similar agencies for the Colorado and Columbia rivers, as well as others, were established, transforming areas threatened by uncontrolled rivers, wildernesses and unproductive territories, and water-scarce cities into well-planned urban, industrial and agricultural This is where NAWAPA and the PLHINO meet. developments.

In the 1960s, in this same spirit, a plan was drawn up, with a framework of joint public and private collaboration, to transfer extraordinary amounts of water from the rivers of Alaska and northern Canada, to the vast areas which form the Great American Desert, which extends across the southwestern U.S. down into north central Mexico. This project is known as NAWAPA, the North American Water and Power Alliance.

The economic success of these policies sparked a drive for similiar policies in Mexico, creating the climate in which a generation of engineers flourished who began to consider the idea of great infrastructure projects for transferring water. This was how projects such as the Northwest Hydraulic Plan, for the Pacific coast, and the Northern Gulf Hydraulic Plan, for the Gulf Coast of Mexico, were conceived.

In the following map, we can see the integrated idea of these water projects, which we have dubbed “NAWAPA Plus,” and which can be built in stages over a 30 year period.

NAWAPA is an integrated water, power, and agricultural project which proposes to take about 17% of the annual runoff of the rivers of Alaska and northern Canada (some 1,000 cubic kilometers of water), most of which now flows unused into the Arctic Ocean, and channel it southward to Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

According to the original design by Parsons Engineering Company, the water would first be channelled into the Rocky Mountain Trench, a natural reservoir some 800 kilometers in length which runs from the center of Canada down into the northern United States, and which is about 15 kilometers wide and some 100 meters deep, on average. It would store some 400-500 cubic kilometers of water, at a height of about 900 meters above sea level.

Cutting across the extreme northern tip of the Trench, a navigable waterway would be built in Canada, from Vancouver in the West to Lake Superior and the St. Lawrence Seaway in the East–that is, a great waterway that would connect the Pacific with the Atlantic.

The eastern branch of NAWAPA would run south from this Canadian canal, through the center of the United States, where it would help to recharge the gigantic Ogallala Aquifer, which today is overexploited. From there, another canal would connect it to the Gulf of Mexico.

At the extreme southern tip of the Rocky Mountain Trench, the Montana Pump Lift would be built, a pumping station that would lift the water from 900 meters above sea level to some 1,500 meters above sea level, on both sides of the Continental Divide in the Rockies. This would require some 80 gigawatts of energy, certainly a large amount of power, but the total plan proposes to build numerous hydroelectric dams along NAWAPA’s entire route, which would produce some 180 gigawatts of energy. In other words, there would be a net surplus of some 100 gigawatts.

From there, the central branch of NAWAPA would run along the eastern side of the Rockies, cutting across the Great American Desert through Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Here it would connect with the tributaries of the Rio Grande –what we call the Rio Bravo– which forms the border between the United States and Mexico at that point. This would enable the transfer of large quantities of fresh water–some 6.8 cubic kilometers–to the arid Center-North of Mexico.

The western branch of the project would cross through the states of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. From Arizona, a canal would be built to carry water across the border to Mexico, to the Yaqui River in Sonora, which would receive nearly 12 cubic kilometers of water a year. The western stretch of the project would also supply water to the north and center of California, and to the Colorado River, which in turn, would carry more than 5 cubic kilometers of water a year to northern Baja California.

NAWAPA is, without a doubt, a great infrastructure project–a project that would change the very face of the Earth in the region of the Great American Desert, producing geological and climatic changes that will raise the biosphere’s potential. 10,000 kilometers of canals and 2,900 kilometers of tunnels would be built. It is estimated that it would cost some $800 billion. That may sound like a lot of money, but it is about the same amount of money as what the international drug trade generates each year, or nearly half of the trillion and a half dollars in speculative financial flows that are carried out worldwide every day.

Linking NAWAPA with Mexico’s water projects, the PLHINO and the PLHIGON, would allow the country to resolve the hydrological paradox, of having great volumes of water in the south and southeast, which don’t have much land apt for agriculture, and scant availability of water in the north, where there are great extensions of land and soil of great agricultural potential. In the following map, prepared by Mexico’s National Water Commission, you can clearly observe the elevated water stress which the country suffers in the northern states. Water stress percentages are calculated, as per the United Nations, by comparing water withdrawals for use in the economy, to total water availability.

Average water stress in the north of the country is 67%, reaching an alarming 86% in the state of Baja California. But, look at the southeastern region, where the water stress barely reaches 4%. Look at the shocking 120% water stress in Mexico City, the capital of the Mexican Republic, which points to the demographic aberration caused by the lack of infrastructure which would allow an increase in the growth potential of cities located on the coasts of our country.

The NAWAPA-PLHINO-PLHIGON system would provide from the north, via NAWAPA, some 24 cubic kilometers of water to us, and from the south to the north, via the coasts of Mexico, 44 cubic kilometers, for a total availability of 68 cubic kilometers of new fresh water, which would allow Mexico to significantly expand its agricultural frontier, to sustain its urban and industrial development, generate electricity, develop fish-farming and tourism, produce food, and create the hundreds of thousands of jobs which the nation urgently needs.

The idea of transferring water must be combined with a nuclear power program: we must not only transfer water; we must also manufacture fresh water, as a by-product of the generation of electricity by nuclear power, bringing with it the desired non-linear effects which come from introducing the most advanced fields of science and technology into economic development.

We have no other way to reverse the disastrous consequences of NAFTA upon our three cuontries. In a scenario based on the pernicious idea of “comparative advantage,” the most fragile nations end up suffering the worst consequences. This is the case in Mexico, which, as a result of such policies, faces a great vulnerability in confronting the disintegration of the international financial system.

Since NAFTA was signed in 1994, Mexico has become the leading exporter of cheap labor to the United States. Mexicans, because of the economic damage done to the country, have fled in search of an economic refuge which the nation has been unable to offer. * From 1994 to today, close to 14 million Mexicans have migrated, while domestically, 50% of our people live in poverty, at the same time that nearly one million unemployed are generated yearly.

The inexorable disintegration of international financial system, with its epicenter in the real estate market in the United States, hits Mexico when it is most vulnerable. Its principal vulnerability is its enormous dependency on imported food, a result of the free trade model which promoted the absurdity that it was cheaper to import basic grains than to produce them nationally. Today, we are among the top importers of grains and powdered milk in the world.

This is happening at the same time that food prices are being slammed by hyperinflation generated by the speculative practices of the financial system, and when world grain stocks are falling, and the United States is reducing its exports of products such as corn, in favor of biofuel production.

To this, we must add the fact that the mortgage crisis in the United States is generating unemployment in the construction sector –where 20% of the Mexicans who emigrated since 1994 are employed. This is the reason that it is being said that by the end of the year, a million undocumented Mexicans may have been deported, at the same time that there is a 3% reduction in the dollar remittances sent back by Mexican workers living in the United States.

This set of factors constitute what could be called “the perfect storm” against Mexico. However, it is not only Mexico’s problem, but it is a result of what free trade economic policies have done to our three nations, and to the world. It is, thus, a common problem, which requires a common solution. Only a New Agreement among our three countries, an agreement which breaks with the failed axioms of NAFTA, and takes up great trinational infrastructure projects such as the NAWAPA-PLHINO-PLHIGON, can bring us out of the Hell in which we find ourselves.

This new agreement will also be the way in which we open our doors to the countries of Eurasia and Western Europe, through the Bering Strait, so that the Americas receive with open arms the nations which share the idea, and recognize the need, of creating a new international financial system such as that proposed by the American statesman Lyndon H. LaRouche.