New regionalism(s) in the global political economy. Conceptual understanding in historical perspective

Shaun Breslina and Richard Higgottb

This paper places the contemporary study of regionalism in historical context. It argues that the study of regionalism has occurred in two waves. The first gathered pace as a sub-field of International Relations from the late 1950s and the second emerged in the context of the globalisation of the late 1980s and the 1990s.
Paper available to the subscribers of Asia Europe Journal

Witness for Peace: Alternatives for the Americas

Ministro de Estado para la Integración y Comercio Exterior
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FORWARD WITH THE STRUGGLE TO STOP THE EPAs

We, pharmacy discount African civil society organisations gathered at the 9th Annual Review and Strategy Meeting of the Africa Trade Network in Accra, salve from the 11-14 of December, 2006, having reviewed the on-going negotiations on the so-called Economic Partnership Agreements as well as developments in the World Trade Organisation negotiations, declare as follows.

We affirm as primary the right of our countries to pursue autonomously determined policies which promote the development of our economies, and fulfil the social and human rights and livelihood needs of our people. We also assert the integration of African countries both regionally and continentally, on the basis of our own imperatives, as a key condition for the development of our countries and for the benefit of our people.

Over the past two decades, this right of African countries to pursue their own individual and collective developmental agenda have been attacked and subverted by the countries of the north that dominate the world economic system, as part of their never-ending attempts to further open up the economies of African and other developing countries for the benefit of their transnational corporations.  

Economic Partnership Agreements
The so-called Economic Partnership Agreements being negotiated by African countries (and the Caribbean and Pacific) with the European Union, are, like other bi-lateral and multilateral free trade agreements, simply the latest instruments deployed in the attack on our countries. These agreements are set to be even more restrictive of the policy choices and opportunities available to our governments, and even more severe in their impacts than the World Bank/IMF structural adjustment policies as well as the WTO agreements.  

It has been three years since members of the Africa Trade Network launched their opposition to the Economic Partnership Agreements. Since then, several hundred civil society organisations, social movements, and mass-membership organisations across Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific and Europe have been pursuing a campaign to STOP the EPAs as currently being negotiated between the European Union and ACP groupings of countries.

While there is wide-spread recognition among governments, inter-governmental institutions, parliamentarians, civil society actors and a diverse range of social constituencies across the ACP, Europe and the rest of the world of the dangers posed by the EPAs to the economies and peoples of the ACP countries, this has not yet led to fundamental changes in the design of the EPAs and the process of negotiations.  

Expressions of concern among some European Union member-states and institutions about the EU proposals for the agreements have not yet translated into changes in directives for the European Commission. Instead, the EC has simply adopted new rhetoric to continue to impose its parameters, agenda and momentum on African (and other ACP) groups. Furthermore, while the EC negotiators have sought to strike a public profile of reasonableness, they have continued with characteristic arrogance in the negotiations.

On their part, Africa’s EPA negotiating regions still seem unable to give expression to the fundamental logic of their stated developmental concerns in the overall architecture of the EPA and its different themes. Rather, they have tended to get bogged down in disputes with the EC over narrow (even if legitimate) questions of support for adjustment costs, transition costs and supply-side constraints.

Furthermore, many countries in the African regions have still not fully carried out their own independent assessments and studies of the overall as well as sectoral implications of the EPAs. They continue to rely on support from the EC, while the latter continues to reject those studies whose outcomes it does not like. In some instances, the secretariats of the regional groupings whose role it is to represent the interests of the regions in the negotiations have been overwhelmed by the EC.  

Above all, in spite of the fact that they are patently not in a position to do so, many of the African negotiating regions are rushing to engage in the more advanced and complex stages of the negotiations.  

The region of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has declared itself ready to move into text-based negotiations, in spite of continued deadlock (indeed as a way of breaking out of the deadlock) over fundamental issues of principle such as the development content of the EPAs. Furthermore, in spite of their own stated opposition to the Singapore Issues in the EPA, ECOWAS has agreed under pressure from the EC to adopt its own regional policy frameworks of investment and competition in a manner that is set to prejudice its ability to continue to resist the inclusion of these issues in the EPA.  

On its part, the Eastern and Southern African (ESA) region has tabled its own draft EPA agreement ahead of any meaningful progress on such fundamental principles as development in the EPAs, and in the absence of clarity on how to deal with some subjects such as services in the EPAs, or even on such practical matters as approaches to dealing with sensitive products that should not be subject to tariff liberalisation. The draft agreeement’s provisions on tariff liberalisation give up the right of ESA countries to use tariff to develop the capital and raw material goods sector, thereby undermining their long-term industrialisation. 

Similar contradictions and tendencies have been displayed in other EPA negotiating regions in Africa and beyond.

The above narrow and superficial approach has been adopted in relation to the mid-term review into the EPA negotiations as mandated in the Cotonou Agreement. The declared principle that the review be comprehensive, transparent and inclusive of all stakeholders, has so far not been observed. In addition, none of the regions seems to have taken seriously the stated objective of the review to explore alternatives, and indeed some have stated that there is no alternative to the current approach.

As they are proceeding therefore, the EPA negotiations reinforce our declared concern that they aim to establish nothing other than free trade agreements between Europe and the regions of Africa (and the Caribbean and the Pacific), where reciprocal trade liberalisation is coupled with deregulation of investment in favour of European investors.

We therefore re-iterate our rejection of the Economic Partnership Agreements, and re-affirm our campaign objective to Stop the EPAs.  

We re-state our position that as free-trade agreements between two unequal parties, the EPAs are fundamentally anti-developmental. This is especially so in the particular context of Africa’s weak, fragmented economies, which have been ravaged and distorted by years of European and (other) external domination. This anti-developmental essence can not be reversed by means of the on-going attempts to inject some so-called development dimensions into these FTAs. We also assert that any alternative to the EPAs can only be defined as the right of, and support for, African and other countries of the ACP to determine their own polices and agenda for development.  

We therefore re-affirm the demand of the stop EPA Campaign for an overhaul and review of the EU’s neo-liberal external trade policy, particularly with respect to developing countries, and demand that EU-ACP trade cooperation should be founded on an approach that:
•    is based on a principle of non-reciprocity, as instituted in the Generalised System of Preferences and special and differential treatment in the WTO;
•    protects ACP producers, domestic and regional markets; 
•    excludes the pressure for trade and investment liberalisation; and 
•    is founded on the respect for and supports the space of ACP countries to formulate and pursue their own development strategies. 

In furtherance of the above, we demand that:
•    the Singapore Issues of Investment, Competition Policy and Government Procurement should be unconditionally excluded from trade agreements with the European Union;  
•    rules and disciplines on services liberalisation and intellectual property must not form part of such agreements, since the related disciplines in the WTO are sufficient for any interaction with the European Union; the imbalances of those disciplines in the WTO will not be removed but rather worsened in the EPAs.
•    there should be no reciprocal removal of tariff, in whatever form, whether asymmetrical or otherwise, with the European Union; any market access relationship should be based on the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

WTO
We reiterate our views that the negotiations under the Doha Work programme have continued to marginalise the developmental concerns of African and other developing countries, in favour of the developed countries. This is affirmed by the very circumstances of the suspension of the negotiations in July 2006, which was occasioned by deadlock among an exclusive group of countries, consultations among whom had taken centre stage of the negotiations, at the expense of the democratic participation of other member countries.

We reject any resumption of the Doha talks that is based on the exclusion of the concerns and interests of African countries.  

We reject the continued drive by the developed countries to further open our markets to their agricultural and industrial products, and to their services suppliers. Instead, we insist on the right of our countries for a continued use of tariff instruments to protect our agricultural producers and industry, to support our industrialisation; and maintain our flexibility to determine whether and how to further open our economies to foreign entities.

Responsibility of African governments
We call on all African governments to rise up to their primary responsibility to the African peoples and states in the context of all the trade negotiations.  

In relation to the EPA negotiations, we urge our governments to resist attempts to rail-road them to stick to tight and unrealistic negotiating time-lines. They must use the space that is gained for a more meaningful engagement with their stakeholders around our own autonomous regional integration agenda as basis for a beneficial relationship with the European Union. We further call on our governments to rise beyond narrow regional fragments in dealing with the European Union that has been imposed by the region-based negotiations of the EPAs, to assert the collective vision for Africa which the people yearn for and which the imperatives of our economies demand. They must also work more closely with the Caribbean and Pacific regions.

Civil society
As civil society organisations, we commit ourselves to strengthen our continent-wide solidarity and action, and to further strengthen our interactions with our allies from the African, Pacific, the Caribbean and Europe and all over the world to take forward the struggle to Stop the EPAs.

FORWARD WITH THE STRUGGLE TO STOP THE EPAs

We, decease African civil society organisations gathered at the 9th Annual Review and Strategy Meeting of the Africa Trade Network in Accra, from the 11-14 of December, 2006, having reviewed the on-going negotiations on the so-called Economic Partnership Agreements as well as developments in the World Trade Organisation negotiations, declare as follows.

We affirm as primary the right of our countries to pursue autonomously determined policies which promote the development of our economies, and fulfil the social and human rights and livelihood needs of our people. We also assert the integration of African countries both regionally and continentally, on the basis of our own imperatives, as a key condition for the development of our countries and for the benefit of our people.

Over the past two decades, this right of African countries to pursue their own individual and collective developmental agenda have been attacked and subverted by the countries of the north that dominate the world economic system, as part of their never-ending attempts to further open up the economies of African and other developing countries for the benefit of their transnational corporations.  

Economic Partnership Agreements
The so-called Economic Partnership Agreements being negotiated by African countries (and the Caribbean and Pacific) with the European Union, are, like other bi-lateral and multilateral free trade agreements, simply the latest instruments deployed in the attack on our countries. These agreements are set to be even more restrictive of the policy choices and opportunities available to our governments, and even more severe in their impacts than the World Bank/IMF structural adjustment policies as well as the WTO agreements.  

It has been three years since members of the Africa Trade Network launched their opposition to the Economic Partnership Agreements. Since then, several hundred civil society organisations, social movements, and mass-membership organisations across Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific and Europe have been pursuing a campaign to STOP the EPAs as currently being negotiated between the European Union and ACP groupings of countries.

While there is wide-spread recognition among governments, inter-governmental institutions, parliamentarians, civil society actors and a diverse range of social constituencies across the ACP, Europe and the rest of the world of the dangers posed by the EPAs to the economies and peoples of the ACP countries, this has not yet led to fundamental changes in the design of the EPAs and the process of negotiations.  

Expressions of concern among some European Union member-states and institutions about the EU proposals for the agreements have not yet translated into changes in directives for the European Commission. Instead, the EC has simply adopted new rhetoric to continue to impose its parameters, agenda and momentum on African (and other ACP) groups. Furthermore, while the EC negotiators have sought to strike a public profile of reasonableness, they have continued with characteristic arrogance in the negotiations.

On their part, Africa’s EPA negotiating regions still seem unable to give expression to the fundamental logic of their stated developmental concerns in the overall architecture of the EPA and its different themes. Rather, they have tended to get bogged down in disputes with the EC over narrow (even if legitimate) questions of support for adjustment costs, transition costs and supply-side constraints.

Furthermore, many countries in the African regions have still not fully carried out their own independent assessments and studies of the overall as well as sectoral implications of the EPAs. They continue to rely on support from the EC, while the latter continues to reject those studies whose outcomes it does not like. In some instances, the secretariats of the regional groupings whose role it is to represent the interests of the regions in the negotiations have been overwhelmed by the EC.  

Above all, in spite of the fact that they are patently not in a position to do so, many of the African negotiating regions are rushing to engage in the more advanced and complex stages of the negotiations.  

The region of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has declared itself ready to move into text-based negotiations, in spite of continued deadlock (indeed as a way of breaking out of the deadlock) over fundamental issues of principle such as the development content of the EPAs. Furthermore, in spite of their own stated opposition to the Singapore Issues in the EPA, ECOWAS has agreed under pressure from the EC to adopt its own regional policy frameworks of investment and competition in a manner that is set to prejudice its ability to continue to resist the inclusion of these issues in the EPA.  

On its part, the Eastern and Southern African (ESA) region has tabled its own draft EPA agreement ahead of any meaningful progress on such fundamental principles as development in the EPAs, and in the absence of clarity on how to deal with some subjects such as services in the EPAs, or even on such practical matters as approaches to dealing with sensitive products that should not be subject to tariff liberalisation. The draft agreeement’s provisions on tariff liberalisation give up the right of ESA countries to use tariff to develop the capital and raw material goods sector, thereby undermining their long-term industrialisation. 

Similar contradictions and tendencies have been displayed in other EPA negotiating regions in Africa and beyond.

The above narrow and superficial approach has been adopted in relation to the mid-term review into the EPA negotiations as mandated in the Cotonou Agreement. The declared principle that the review be comprehensive, transparent and inclusive of all stakeholders, has so far not been observed. In addition, none of the regions seems to have taken seriously the stated objective of the review to explore alternatives, and indeed some have stated that there is no alternative to the current approach.

As they are proceeding therefore, the EPA negotiations reinforce our declared concern that they aim to establish nothing other than free trade agreements between Europe and the regions of Africa (and the Caribbean and the Pacific), where reciprocal trade liberalisation is coupled with deregulation of investment in favour of European investors.

We therefore re-iterate our rejection of the Economic Partnership Agreements, and re-affirm our campaign objective to Stop the EPAs.  

We re-state our position that as free-trade agreements between two unequal parties, the EPAs are fundamentally anti-developmental. This is especially so in the particular context of Africa’s weak, fragmented economies, which have been ravaged and distorted by years of European and (other) external domination. This anti-developmental essence can not be reversed by means of the on-going attempts to inject some so-called development dimensions into these FTAs. We also assert that any alternative to the EPAs can only be defined as the right of, and support for, African and other countries of the ACP to determine their own polices and agenda for development.  

We therefore re-affirm the demand of the stop EPA Campaign for an overhaul and review of the EU’s neo-liberal external trade policy, particularly with respect to developing countries, and demand that EU-ACP trade cooperation should be founded on an approach that:
•    is based on a principle of non-reciprocity, as instituted in the Generalised System of Preferences and special and differential treatment in the WTO;
•    protects ACP producers, domestic and regional markets; 
•    excludes the pressure for trade and investment liberalisation; and 
•    is founded on the respect for and supports the space of ACP countries to formulate and pursue their own development strategies. 

In furtherance of the above, we demand that:
•    the Singapore Issues of Investment, Competition Policy and Government Procurement should be unconditionally excluded from trade agreements with the European Union;  
•    rules and disciplines on services liberalisation and intellectual property must not form part of such agreements, since the related disciplines in the WTO are sufficient for any interaction with the European Union; the imbalances of those disciplines in the WTO will not be removed but rather worsened in the EPAs.
•    there should be no reciprocal removal of tariff, in whatever form, whether asymmetrical or otherwise, with the European Union; any market access relationship should be based on the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

WTO
We reiterate our views that the negotiations under the Doha Work programme have continued to marginalise the developmental concerns of African and other developing countries, in favour of the developed countries. This is affirmed by the very circumstances of the suspension of the negotiations in July 2006, which was occasioned by deadlock among an exclusive group of countries, consultations among whom had taken centre stage of the negotiations, at the expense of the democratic participation of other member countries.

We reject any resumption of the Doha talks that is based on the exclusion of the concerns and interests of African countries.  

We reject the continued drive by the developed countries to further open our markets to their agricultural and industrial products, and to their services suppliers. Instead, we insist on the right of our countries for a continued use of tariff instruments to protect our agricultural producers and industry, to support our industrialisation; and maintain our flexibility to determine whether and how to further open our economies to foreign entities.

Responsibility of African governments
We call on all African governments to rise up to their primary responsibility to the African peoples and states in the context of all the trade negotiations.  

In relation to the EPA negotiations, we urge our governments to resist attempts to rail-road them to stick to tight and unrealistic negotiating time-lines. They must use the space that is gained for a more meaningful engagement with their stakeholders around our own autonomous regional integration agenda as basis for a beneficial relationship with the European Union. We further call on our governments to rise beyond narrow regional fragments in dealing with the European Union that has been imposed by the region-based negotiations of the EPAs, to assert the collective vision for Africa which the people yearn for and which the imperatives of our economies demand. They must also work more closely with the Caribbean and Pacific regions.

Civil society
As civil society organisations, we commit ourselves to strengthen our continent-wide solidarity and action, and to further strengthen our interactions with our allies from the African, Pacific, the Caribbean and Europe and all over the world to take forward the struggle to Stop the EPAs.

Report says Africa should deepen regional integration to build stronger and more resilient economies


Regional infrastructure, policy harmonization and increasing cross-border investment and labour mobility will help Africa benefit fully from economic opportunities provided by regional integration


The global economic crisis, which has reached the African continent, requires the re-examination of existing approaches to international development. One important response for Africa is deeper regional integration, which would address the long-standing structural weaknesses of African economies. The UNCTAD report Economic Development in Africa 2009 argues that regional integration is essential for sustained development on the continent, especially within the context of the current crisis.

Better links between countries, ranging from paved roads to banking cooperation, are needed to spur mutual economic growth. Indeed, weak physical and institutional infrastructure is the key obstacle to increasing intra-African trade and investment. This is why, at 9 per cent of recorded flows of total external trade and 13 per cent of recorded flows of total inward foreign direct investment (FDI), Africa currently has the world´s lowest shares of regional trade and investment, explains Economic Development in Africa 2009.

Subtitled “Strengthening Regional Economic Integration for Africa´s Development”, the 2009 edition of the UNCTAD annual report on Africa recognizes that over the last two decades Africa has made progress in creating subregional institutions dedicated to economic integration. However, the establishment of subregional economic communities has not substantially increased intra-African trade, investment and mobility of people as expected. Hence, relative to other regions, Africa has by far the most fragmented market, the report finds.

As part of a broader, well-designed development strategy, regional integration could enhance productive capacity, intensify economic diversification and improve competitiveness. Pooled resources and economies of scale would allow African countries to participate more effectively in the global economy.

To boost regional integration, countries need to strengthen their regional physical infrastructure such as roads, railways, telecommunications and regional airlines. Considering the high cost of infrastructure projects and in view of the limited financial capacities of individual African countries, planning at the supranational level and pooling resources to fund priority regional projects is the most realistic strategy for advancing regional integration.

Physical infrastructure will need to be complemented by improvements in soft infrastructure, including policy harmonization at the regional level, trade facilitation, efficiency in border procedures and the adoption of national policies that help rather than hamper the process of integration, the report says.

Intra-African trade in goods is very low, but its potential for growth is high

The creation of several institutions for economic integration in Africa in the last two decades was expected to boost intra-African trade in goods. Such trade increased from 2 per cent in the early 1980s to 9 per cent of total African exports in 2007, but these statistics underestimate the actual flows as they do not include unrecorded trade, which is thought to be very important. Even with this caveat, intra-African trade flows are low in comparison to those in other regions and relative to Africa´s trade potential. Developing America, the region with the second lowest figure of intraregional trade, exports 18.5 per cent of its total exports to countries in the region. Developed Europe, in contrast, exports 71.4 per cent of its total exports to the European market. According to the report, Africa´s poor performance hides the fact that the region could increase its intra-African trade substantially if some key constraints, particularly infrastructure, were addressed. An investment of $32 billion to improve the main intra-African road network could generate around $250 billion in trade over a period of 15 years. Regional trade within the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) would increase threefold if all intrastate roads linking WAEMU countries were paved. The report also notes that paving the road linking Mali to Senegal would increase bilateral trade flows fourfold, while paving the road linking Côte d´Ivoire and Senegal would double bilateral trade flows.

Analysis of trade destinations reveals that despite the low aggregate level of intra-African trade, such trade is very important for many African countries. At least 25 per cent of exports from 20 countries are absorbed by the regional market. The importance of trading blocs is further highlighted by the fact that over three quarters of intra-African trade takes place within these regional groups. In every region, trade centres around a few influential countries, such as South Africa in the southern part of Africa, suggesting the existence of “trade poles” that could become development poles. Analysing trade composition, the report shows different patterns of trade within Africa and between Africa and the rest of the world. Whereas manufactured products dominate intra-African exports, the rest of the world imports mainly primary commodities from Africa. Also, intra-African trade is much more diversified than Africa´s exports to the rest of the world. In the light of these facts, the report suggests that increasing intra-African trade can be a major method of promoting diversification and developing Africa´s manufacturing base.

Intra-African investment is modest but increasing

Africa has a long tradition of cross-border investments but the lack of reliable data has constrained detailed analysis. The scanty data available indicates that intra-African investment represents 13 per cent of total inward foreign direct investment (FDI). This level is less than half the figure for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, where intraregional FDI is estimated at 30 per cent of total FDI. The low level of intraregional FDI in Africa can be attributed to several factors, including low income, which limits domestic as well as outward foreign investment, the lack of adequate transport and communication infrastructure, limited skilled labour and weak economic links and contacts among investors within the region. The report notes that financial liberalization partly explains a recent surge in cross-border investments, particularly in the form of mergers and acquisitions in the banking and telecommunications sectors. These new investments have been led by the need to avoid overdependence on home markets; the rising costs of production in some home economies; pressure from domestic and global competition; and opportunities in host countries, such as privatization of state-owned enterprises.

Intra-African services trade, labour mobility and migration are emerging issues that need attention

Developing services trade is a key component of successful regional integration in Africa, says the report. Services represent, or have the potential to become, significant sources of export earnings for a large number of African economies. Tourism, construction, ports and logistics services relating to road and rail transport offer important export potential for many countries. Also, considering that professional and transport services, telecommunications, banking and insurance – the so called “producer” services – are inputs into other economic activities, they either facilitate or hinder trade and production in other economic sectors, depending on the efficiency with which they are made available to users. That is why the efficient production of services and their trade should be considered as important as the production and trade of goods. Currently, most African countries are unable to provide domestically the quantity or quality of producer services demanded by local producers and exporters, thus undermining competitiveness. The report says more attention should be given to creating an efficient services sector in Africa.

Most regional integration agreements in Africa include provisions on the free movement of persons and the right of residence. Although these are among the most poorly implemented provisions, they have led to the easing or abolition of visa requirements for travelers within the integration groups concerned, particularly in Western, Eastern and Southern Africa. Restrictions remain on employment and the right of residence given the political sensitivity of these matters. Many in Africa argue that the restricted movement of labour across national boundaries is a major constraint to regional integration. For significant progress to be made, a more positive approach to intra-African migration is needed, the report says. There is a need for stronger political will to overcome national lobbies opposed to this form of integration. Forging ahead with this agenda may also imply amending and harmonizing national laws and investment codes, particularly their provisions barring “foreigners” from participating in certain categories of economic activity.


Download Full UNCTAD  Report

Jenina Joy Chavez

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is one of the most estab-lished regional groupings in the world. Turning 40 years old this year, ASEANhas been hailed for various successes, remedy not least for its ability to avoid intra-regional conflicts despite the tenuous peace and security situation in the regionat the time of its founding and up to this day. ASEAN’s adherence to non-interference and decision-making by consensus has worked to build confidenceamong its political leadership. However, medicine ASEAN has yet to develop a broadconstituency and has been slow in socializing itself to the region’s populacebeyond the technocratic and diplomatic elites.


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Alternatives for the Americas is a document of guidelines (summarized here) for making the process of hemispheric economic integration more inclusive, for sale democratic, environmentally and culturally sustainable, and equitable. The document proposes development based on democratic citizen participation, local control over resources, and the reduction of economic and social inequalities.”

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Multilateralism, Regionalism, Bilateral and Crossregional Free Trade Arrangements: All Paved with Good Intentions for ASEAN?

Linda Low

Current initiatives in Asia and Asia Pacific regionalism are responses to regionalism happening elsewhere in the context of globalization, diagnosis information communication technology and knowledge-based economy. The conclusion is that many economies are ‘having it both ways’ in multilateralism under World Trade Organization (WTO) and new regionalism. The argument is that the ‘first best’ theory of free trade under multilateralism and WTO have fallen short. A ‘second best’ theory of new regionalism has been acknowledged by the Doha ministerial declaration to complement and supplement WTO. Both Asia challenged Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are challenged by ASEAN Plus Three (APT), which originated from the Asian crisis in the failed Asian Monetary Fund (AMF).
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Attempting developmental regionalism through AFTA: the domestic sources of regional governance

Helen E. S. Nesadurai

The ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) has conventionally been explained
as a project of open regionalism adopted by the ASEAN member governments to attract foreign direct investment to the region through the ‘carrot’ of the single regional market. Yet, shop when the same governments incorporated an investment liberalisation component programme within the AFTA project in 1998, they opted to accord full national treatment and market access privileges to foreign (non-ASEAN ) investors at least 10 years later than to domestic or ASEAN national investors. Although member governments removed this particular discriminatory clause in September 2001, the fact that a distinction between foreign and domestic investors was adopted and maintained for a three-year period is puzzling given AFTA’s acknowledged role as a magnet for foreign investment. Although AFTA is clearly a response to the pressures of globalisation, the available theoretical models of the relationship between globalisation and regionalism are unable to account for this empirical anomaly because they do not make a distinction between foreign-owned and domestic-owned capital. This paper advances the notion of ‘developmental regionalism’ as a way to incorporate domestic-owned capital in analysing the globalisation–regionalism relationship, which allows for a more robust explanation of the empirical puzzle outlined above.
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The rise and fall of open regionalism? Comparative reflections on regional governance in the Southern Cone of Latin America

Stephen Lendman
Venezuela today, medical under its democratically elected President, Hugo Chavez Frias, is imbued with the spirit of Bolivarianism and his Bolivarian Revolution. It’s based on the vision of Simon Bolivar, the Caracas born 17th and 18th century general who defeated the Spanish, liberated half of South America and believed in the redistributive policies that characterize the Chavez government. It also hopes to overcome what Bolivar perceptively characterized as the imperial curse “to plague Latin America with misery in the name of liberty.”
Chavez and his Movement for the Fifth Republic Party (MVR) have created the beginnings of a mass social and political revolution based on participatory democracy and social justice. In a nation in which 80% of the people are poor by any measure, Chavez is a populist hero with mass public support outside the minority middle and upper classes and business interests. He openly proclaims his desire and intent to transform Venezuela into a nation based on democratic socialism as an alternative to its capitalist past. In fact, however, his policies are more gradualist and closer to the European style social democracy than a textbook type socialist state. And since he took office, the private sector is a larger percent of the total economy than before his election, although Venezuela’s oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) and backbone of the economy, is state owned. Nonetheless, instead of previous governments’ policy of recycling the nation’s petrodollars to the U.S., Chavez is using them to grow the Venezuelan economy and fund his social programs. It’s little wonder he engenders the great displeasure of the Bush administration intent on stopping him. It’s already tried to do it 3 times and failed.
Chavez was first elected in December, 1998 with 56% of the vote and began his presidency in February, 1999. >From the start, he began working to implement his vision by fulfilling one of his campaign promises to hold a nationwide referendum. This was done to let the people decide whether to convene a new National Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution that reflected Chavez’s political ideology. It passed overwhelmingly and was followed 3 months later by elections to the Assembly to which members of Chavez’s MVR and selected allied parties formed the Polo Patriotico or Patriotic Axis. It won 95% of the seats enabling Chavez and his allies to draft the new 1999 constitution that changed the country’s official name from Venezuela to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and set the nation on its new and revolutionary course.
The new constitution was put to a nationwide vote in December, 1999 and overwhelmingly approved. It took effect one year later and established the foundation and legal basis for President Chavez to move ahead with his desired structural changes for political, economic and social justice. A key provision of the new constitution (in Articles 83 – 85) mandated quality health care as a “fundamental social right and…responsibility of the state…to guarantee it…to improve the quality of life and common welfare.” It proposed doing it by establishing and administering a national public health system proscribed from being privitized. The constitution also banned discrimination, established the principle of participatory democracy for all Venezuelans, guaranteed free speech and the rights of the indigenous population, and mandated that the government make quality education available to all as well as housing and an improved social security pension system for seniors.
Chavez gained traction to begin implementing his policies in the elections held in July, 2000 for the new constitutionally mandated and less powerful unicameral National Assembly in which the Chavez coalition won a two-thirds majority. Chavez himself ran for a new 6 year term (instead of the 4 year one under the former constitution) and was reelected with 60% of the vote. This victory gave Chavez and his government a mandate to move ahead with his plan to transform the nation in the ways explained below.
THE BOLIVARIAN CIRCLES – THE HEART OF PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY
Democracy literally means government by the people. It’s the rule by and for common, ordinary people to insure the rights of the majority. In Venezuela, Bolivarian Circles reflect that spirit through direct volunteer public participation in the democratic process. Articles 166 and 192 of the new constitution establish citizen assemblies as a constitutional right to let people to fight for their rights. They allow ordinary people the right to participate in governing along with their elected officials. Founded as a result of a presidential call for them, these Circles in 2003 had over 2 million members. Many Circle activities are currently taken up by the various Misiones (Missions) that now comprise the heart of the government’s social programs. The Circles though play an important part in administering Mision programs in the communities and neighborhoods. They’re autonomous and function independently of political parties with government support but no direct government funding. Their purpose is to defend the Bolivarian Revolution and its constitution primarily on a local level. They also encourage and support people with common interests to organize through cooperatives, associations, committees, neighborhood groups and other formations to be partners with their elected officials in the political process and help form the policies that directly affect their lives and well-being.
Bolivarian Circles have included community and labor leaders working cooperatively with the usual disenfranchised people on local issues of providing health care, education, feeding the hungry, helping small business and much more. In addition, President Chavez implemented Plan Bolivar 2000 to allow the President authority to mobilize the Venezuelan Armed Forces to be used in poor areas of the country to provide health care, food, construction equipment, school tutoring and other services to those most in need.
The Chavez government is also promoting the spirit of cooperation further by encouraging privately owned companies to allow employees more direct say in and control over company operations in return for the government providing added working capital. Under the Chavez plan, companies agreeing would include workers on their boards and share profits with employee cooperatives. So far, almost 200 mostly small companies in need of financial help have voluntarily agreed to adopt this co-management plan, and the government hopes to attract many more.
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT MISSIONS UNDER CHAVEZ
The Bolivarian Revolution has significantly improved the lives and welfare of the Venezuelan poor, the great majority of the population and Chavez’s base of support. They include a broad array of vital and innovative social programs called Misiones (or Missions) that include health care, education, food, housing, land reform, job training, micro-credit and more. The Chavez government has used its considerable oil profits and increased tax revenue to fund these programs. In 2004 state oil profits were $25 billion because of high oil prices and are likely much higher in 2005 as prices continued to rise and are still high. Many oil analysts, in fact, see continued high demand for a shrinking supply of world oil likely to keep prices for this commodity high and eventually go much higher. If so, Chavez will get the revenue he needs to continue and expand what he calls a “new socialist revolution.” Some of its elements – the important missions – include the following:
–Mision Bario Adentro (Mission Inside the Neighborhood)
This is a series of initiatives deployed in 3 distinct stages to provide free, comprehensive and high-quality community health and dental care in hospitals and clinics (aided by 20,000 Cuban doctors). More than 500 centers providing medical care have been built, all of them well equipped for the job. This mission also provides preventative medical help and advice to the millions of poor people in the shantytowns and barrios. It also links health to the economy, good nutrition, food security, culture, sports, education, and the environment and stresses the importance of the participation of local organizations and doctors living and working in the same communities.
–Mision Mercal
This program provides access to high quality produce, grains, dairy products and meat at affordable prices. It also provides the poor with better access to nutritious, safe, organic locally and nationally grown foods as well as attempting to increase Venezuela’s food sovereignty.
–Mision Robinson I
This mission uses volunteers to teach the poor to read and write. In 2004 it had raised the literacy rate to an impressive 99% of the population having so far enrolled nearly 1.4 million people, nearly 1.3 of whom have successfully completed the program. In the Americas, only Venezuela and Cuba have virtually eliminated illiteracy. In the U.S., the Department of Education estimates that over 20% of the population is functionally illiterate.
–Mision Robinson II
This mission was a continuation of Mision Robinson I and seeks to consolidate the literacy rates achieved as well as provide primary education in other areas. It has enrolled 1.2 million people and graduated a large majority of them with an elementary school education.
–Mision Ribas
This program at nearly 29 thousand education centers around the country provides a high school education to Venezuelans of all ages enabling them to receive a high school equivalency degree. Enrollment has reached nearly 1.5 million.
–Mision Sucre
This mission provides access to higher education to all Venezuelans with a high school or equivalency degree. It has enrolled nearly 275,000 people in various university level programs, and since 1999 has established 5 new universities. Unlike in the pre-Chavez era, education now is completely free through the university level and has been a boon to school enrollment.
–Misiones Guaicaipuro and Habitat
The purpose of Mision Guaicaipuro is to restore communal land titles and human rights to the country’s poor and indigenous peoples as well as defend their rights against resource and financial speculation by dominant business interests. It’s run by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and has become the nation’s largest organized social movement. This program has led to the establishment of over 5,000 land committees representing 5 millions Venezuelans (20% of the population).
Urban Land Committees (CTUs) and the law allowing their creation stipulate that Venezuelans who live in homes they built on occupied land (the case for nearly all the poor) may petition the government for title to the land. This policy affects up to 60% of the population, and, for the first time ever, has given the poor in the barrios the legal right of ownership of the land they live on. Through mid-2005, 84,000 titles have been issued to 126,000 families benefitting about 630,000 people. However, this is just a modest beginning affecting about 6% of the barrio population.
Through this program, the Chavez government believes it’s repaying a social debt to the poor barrio inhabitants, who in the past 50 years have built more homes (on occupied land) than the government. Granting them titles to this land is the government’s way of recognizing and legalizing their contribution to Venezuelan society. This right is written into the new constitution (Article 82), and the program relieves the government of much of its responsibility to build public housing for the poor to help relieve a severe housing crisis.
Along with granting land title to the poor who have built their own homes, Mision Habitat is the government’s other initiative to help provide public housing for the poor without homes. Its goal is to build thousands of new and free housing units and develop integrated housing zones that provide access to all social services including health care and education.
–Mision Vuelvan Caras (Turn Around)
This is a cooperative program between the people and the government and is intended to transform the country socially and economically. It’s involved in training workers to give them needed skills for future employment. Its main objective is a nation more focused on social needs and achieving a higher standard of living for all Venezuelans.
THE VENEZUELAN ECONOMY UNDER CHAVEZ
It’s not hard to understand why Hugo Chavez currently has the highest approval rating of any president in the Americas – 77% based on the latest polling numbers. His government’s social programs explained above are providing vital services for the millions of poor that they never had before. And to make those programs possible the economy is performing very well.
In the 28 years before Chavez was elected, Venezuelan per capita income fell 35%, the worst decline in the region and one of the worst in the world. Since the Chavez government took office in 1999, the decline has been halted and per capita income has been flat through early 2004. It likely has risen since then as a result of the significant economic growth since late 2003. Venezuela’s National Institute of Statistics (INE) reported that in 2004 the economy grew by 17%. It then expanded by 7.5% and 11.1% respectively in the first two quarters of 2005 and about 10% in the third quarter. This was a major turnaround from the period preceding it that included the crippling oil strike of 2002-03 and the destabilizing effects of the short-lived coup deposing President Chavez for 2 days in April, 2002. During this period of growth, unemployment dropped from 14.5% in September 2004 to 11.1% one year later. Poverty levels also fell, and these data don’t include the enormous benefits to the poor from Chavez’s social policies that have significantly improved their lives and welfare.
Chavez’s ability to fund his Missions has been greatly aided by the sharp rise in oil prices since 2002. Venezuela is one of the world’s leading oil producers and exporters and has the largest hydrocarbon (oil and gas) reserves in the Western Hemisphere and the largest known reserves in the world outside of the Middle East. Since conditions stabilized following the aborted coup, the economy grew by 17% in 2004 and over 9% (quarter over quarter) in the first 9 months of 2005. This was the fastest growth in the hemisphere.
The government has also managed to increase the taxes it collects, even during the difficult oil strike causing a deep recession in 2003. It’s done it by requiring both foreign and domestically owned companies to pay the taxes they owe. Venezuela’s Oil Ministry is currently seeking additional tax payments it believes the nation is entitled to receive and will ask the National Assembly later this year to raise the income tax rate from 30% to 50% on 4 foreign owned heavy oil projects in the Orinoco river basin. These projects account for a fifth of Venezuela’s total oil production. In 2004, the government renegotiated service agreements 3 of the 4 foreign owned oil companies had with state owned PDVSA. Only ExxonMobil so far has declined to go along. Under new joint venture terms, foreign oil companies are limited to a minority 49% stake, reserving majority ownership for PDVSA. These new agreements became effective on January 1.
In another move just announced that won’t please the U.S., the Venezuelan Central bank approved using the euro to diversify away from the U.S. dollar. This move will allow the monetary authorities to make payments and purchases in euros as freely as with dollars and help the country reduce its dependence on the U.S., one of President Chavez’s goals.
The revenues from high oil prices and taxes collected have helped the government run a budget surplus while maintaining a high level of social spending. Currency controls imposed in 2003 have also stemmed capital flight, and now by approving the use of the euro, Chavez is taking one more step toward asserting the independence and sovereignty Venezuela seeks and deserves. As a result of these efforts, the nation’s public and foreign debt are moderate, and over $30 billion of reserves have been accumulated, and are likely rising, that can be used as a buffer if oil prices fall.
ALBA – THE CHAVEZ ALTERNATIVE TO THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION (WTO) AND U.S. CRAFTED TRADE AGREEMENTS
Hugo Chavez is pursuing his own alternative plan to U.S. led neoliberalism that promotes economic policies benefiting corporate interests but at the expense of ordinary people, especially in developing nations. He calls it ALBA – the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas. It’s aim is bold and innovative and in direct contradiction to the so-called “free market, free trade” agenda followed by the dominant developed nations (the Global North) especially the Triad nations – the U.S., European Union and Japan.
ALBA’s goal is to achieve a process of comprehensive integration among Latin American nations with the aim of developing “the social state” to benefit ordinary people, not the privileged elite. At its heart, it’s based on the principles of complementarity (not competition), solidarity (not domination), cooperation (not exploitation) and respect for each nation’s sovereignty free from the control of other nations and large corporations. Venezuela has recently joined with Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay in the Mercosur trading alliance that should strengthen ALBA further and increase the overall benefits of regional trade for the 5 participating nations and others being encouraged to join with them like Bolivia.
The trade agreements already adopted, like NAFTA, and those proposed like the FTAA and the Triad nation proposals and framework agreement at the just concluded so-called “Doha round” sixth WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong only do the opposite. They serve the interests of giant transnational corporations in the Global North. The Hong Kong “agreement” left most major issues unresolved, and no important concessions were made to the developing nations. This is just the latest betrayal of promises made to the Global South and will be devastating to those nations bullied to accept it. Negotiations will now be continued at WTO Headquarters in Geneva in secret, but little further progress is expected. Twelve years of NAFTA have left carnage in Mexico, and WTO mandated current trade practices (especially in agriculture and services covered under GATS) and IMF and World Bank instituted structural adjustment have caused growing poverty and human misery throughout the developing, overexploited world. To help eliminate or at least reduce this extreme inequity and improve the lives of ordinary people throughout Latin America, President Chavez has proposed his revolutionary ALBA alternative.
ALBA is based on participating nations uniting in solidarity for the benefit of empowering their people, providing essential goods and services, achieving real economic growth at the grassroots and thus improving the lives of ordinary people and hopefully eliminating poverty. A key feature of the plan is the exchange of goods and services outside the usual international banking and corporate trading system. One example of this has been the exchange of Venezuelan oil and building materials to Cuba paid for in kind by Cuba sending 20,000 doctors to work in medical clinics and hospitals in the barrios as well as staffing literacy programs to teach Venezuelans to read and write. Venezuela is also currently negotiating an ALBA-type agreement with Argentina to trade its oil for Argentine cattle and dairy products. In both examples, no hard cash or currency changes hands. Participating nations can either trade with each other in these barter-like transactions or purchase with currency at reduced and affordable prices. Both parties in the transaction gain and their people reap the benefits.
Hugo Chavez has been at the epicenter of this innovative change and is enlisting support of other leaders in the region to join with him. Discussions have been held about establishing a Bank of the South to finance real development without the burden of debt. Also, innovative programs are being created in agriculture, health, education, energy security and more to overcome the problems created by decades of structural adjustment and corruption and centuries of colonization. At the recent Summit of the Americas, Chavez proposed an Alliance Against Hunger and Poverty plan and offered $10 billion dollars over the next decade to finance it.
For ALBA to succeed it will have to overcome major obstacles. The Bush administration will not sit idly by and just watch a continental restructuring take place that will harm U.S. corporate interests. For the U.S. and its corporate allies, Hugo Chavez poses a significant threat to their welfare. They will certainly try to overcome it by any means necessary as they have done many times in the past successfully, but so far, 3 unsuccessful attempts to unseat Chavez.
Despite clear U.S. intent and a Venezuela – U.S. power mismatch, don’t write a Chavez obituary just yet. His Bolivarian spirit is spreading and may become too much to counter even for the colossus from el norte. One view of things comes from Yale Senior Research Scholar Immanuel Wallerstein in his February, 2004 Nation Magazine article. In it Wallerstein expressed his belief that “neoliberal globalization has had its day; it is now dead.” Despite the inconclusive results from Hong Kong that hadn’t yet taken place, Wallerstein believes the old system of all “take” and no “give” by the Global North is over. “It was more or less buried at Cancun in September, 2003”, he wrote. For the South to open its markets to the North, it will now demand the North reciprocate. A key goal of Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution is to assure that happens.
It should be noted that Venezuela was chosen as the site for the sixth World Social Forum as well as the second Social Forum of the Americas to be held in Caracas the week of January 24 – 29, 2006. These 2 events, which organizers hope to repeat annually, draw many thousands of attendees and many noted progressives and activists. As they grow in popularity, as the World Social Forum has been doing, they may also serve to help the Chavez government consolidate and expand his Bolivarian Revolution and encourage other developing nations in Latin America and elsewhere to begin their own.
LIKELY U.S. PLANS FOR REGIME CHANGE IN VENEZUELA
Destabilizing and overthrowing foreign leaders and governments it opposes is nothing new for the U.S. Ever since the National Security Act of 1947 established the Central Intelligence Agency (and National Security Council – NSC) replacing the disbanded wartime OSS intelligence agency, the CIA has engaged in activities far beyond information collection and analysis. It’s been involved many times in covert efforts supportive of U.S. foreign policy to include regime change in nations whose leaders were not subservient to U.S. interests. Beginning in 1953, CIA operative Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of Theodore Roosevelt and cousin of Franklin, successfully engineered a coup against Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq of Iran after he nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company following a dispute about revenue sharing. The CIA then helped carry out another successful coup ousting President Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954 because of his modest land reform program the giant United Fruit Company in the country opposed. Since then to the present, this agency has had a long and tainted record of helping to destabilize and topple those governments the U.S. wishes to replace. Much of that has occurred in Latin America, most often by coup or assassination often disguised as an “accident” (like an “unfortunate” plane crash).
Investigative journalist and author Eva Golinger has uncovered top secret CIA documents, obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, of U.S. involvement in the April, 2002 two day aborted coup temporarily ousting President Chavez. It involved CIA complicity and an intricate financing scheme beginning in 2001 involving the quasi-governmental agency National Endowment for Democracy (NED), funded entirely by the Congress, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). These agencies, in turn, provided funding to Chavez opposition groups (USAID through its Office of Transition Initiatives – OTI) which, in turn, were involved in staging the mass and violent street protests leading up to and on the day of the coup. NED and USAID also funded other destabilizing activities such as the crippling oil strike in late 2002 and 2003 and the August, 2004 recall referendum that failed to unseat the President. The documents Golinger obtained clearly showed the U.S. State Department, National Security Agency and White House had full knowledge of these activities and must have approved of them.
As it did in Haiti in February, 2004 after the U.S. led coup ousted President Aristide, the U.S. falsely claimed in April, 2002 that Chavez had resigned when, in fact, he’d been arrested by complicit high level officers in the Venezuelan military. After his arrest and removal from the Palacio De Miraflores (the Presidential Palace) Pedro Carmona, head of Venezuela’s confederation of business and industry (Fedecamaras) declared himself President, immediately dismissed the National Assembly and other democratic institutions and began to annul the Chavez Bolivarian reforms. All of this enraged Chavez supporters who rallied en masse, got the support of others in the Venezuelan military and forced the reinstatement of President Chavez two days later.
Since his return to office, President Chavez has clearly been on the U.S. target list as evidenced by U.S. involvement in the 2002-03 oil strike and failed 2004 recall referendum. Although unsuccessful in three attempts, U.S. intervention in the past has shown itself to be innovative and able to adopt new tactics after failed destabilization attempts. Because controlling Venezuela with its vast hydrocarbon reserves is so important to the U.S., it seems only a matter of time before the next attempt is made to depose Hugo Chavez. A fourth intervention most likely would occur either when Chavez runs for reelection in 2006 or possibly before he completes his current term.
Hugo Chavez himself believes there’s a U.S. plot to assassinate him. He may be right. There’s also some credible evidence of a 2004 coup attempt by neighboring Columbian forces who were arrested in May of that year at a ranch in Buruta just outside of Caracas. Those arrested said they were sent there to prepare an attack against a Venezuelan National Guard base to steal weapons and fully arm a 3,000 force militia.
Latin America expert James Petras, professor emeritus at Binghampton University, New York, has written that the U.S. has a strategy to overthrow Hugo Chavez by military force and at the same time destroy the Cuban revolution in a “two step” approach – “first overthrow the Chavez government in Venezuela, cut off the energy supply and trade links (to Cuba) and then proceed toward economic strangulation and military attack.” He also believes the U.S. will employ a “triangular strategy” to overthrow Chavez – “a military invasion from Columbia, U.S intervention (by air and sea attacks plus special forces to assassinate key officials) and an internal uprising by infiltrated terrorists and military traitors, supported by key media, financial and petrol elites.” In advance of this, the U.S. has provided $3 billion to Columbia in military aid (supposedly for the “drug war”) so it could triple the size of its military to over 275,000, add new helicopters and bombers and receive “advanced military technology.”
Prior to both the April, 2002 coup attempt and failed recall referendum and during the oil strike, the U.S. intensified its anti-Chavez rhetoric to condition the U.S. public to accept his forced removal as a positive change had it happened. That same demonizing rhetoric can be expected again in advance of the next U.S. attempt to oust Chavez and, in fact, it’s already begun. In early 2005, CIA chief Porter Goss testified before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on “Global Intelligence Challenges in 2005: Meeting Long-Term Challenges with a Long-Term Strategy.” In his testimony he referred to Venezuela as a “potential area for instability” and a “flashpoint.” He also claimed Hugo Chavez was “consolidating his power by using technically legal tactics to target his opponents and was meddling in the region.” Other administration officials claimed Chavez is “a negative force to the region” and a “new breed of authoritarianism.” And without a touch of irony, they have also called the Venezuelan government an “authoritarian democracy”, a “threat to democracy” and an “elected dictatorship” (clear oxymorons – Orwell would be pleased). And there’s more from Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick stating about Chavez: “You win the election, but you do away with the rule of law, you pack the courts and (Chavez) is carrying out anti-democratic activities” like a dictator. The complicit U.S. corporate media, always in lockstep as a willing and shameless co-conspirator, has echoed these anti-Chavez sentiments portraying Chavez as a regional menace and threat to U.S. interests and security. If this type rhetoric continues and intensifies in the new year, it may be a clear sign something is brewing.
The U.S. also has established military bases in Peru, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and has 500 troops with planes, weapons and equipment in Paraguay in advance of a new base planned for that country capable of handling large aircraft and accommodating 16,000 troops. It also has forces and radar stations in other Latin American countries including 800 troops in Columbia with the Bush administration’s stated intent in 2004 to raise the number to 1400. And, of course, there’s the controversial base at Guantamamo, Cuba used, in part, as a convenient offshore prison for “enemy combatants.”
This enhanced military strength in South America may indeed be in advance of a planned assault to remove Hugo Chavez. It may also be aimed at newly elected Bolivian President Evo Morales (an Aymara Indian and first ever indigenous president in Bolivia) and his Movement Toward Socialism party (MAS) who has expressed his intent to nationalize (but not confiscate) his country’s large gas reserves and other resources (especially water) to keep more of the country’s revenues at home to develop the economy and provide more services for its people. Morales won impressively with 54% of the vote (nearly double the 28.5% of his leading right wing opponent) and with a voter turnout of 84.5%. It’s likely that Morales actually received far more than a 54% majority because of a long history of voter manipulation and fraud in Bolivia and elsewhere in the region. The fact that he won so impressively only showed his support among the people was so strong, not even stealing some of it could stop him. And his popularity affected the legislative outcome as well as Morales’ MAS won a majority 64 seats in the 130 seat Chamber of Deputies. Morales will be inaugurated on January 22 and begin serving a 5 year term.
An early ominous sign against him is reflected in a Wall Street Journal editorial claiming Morales’ election “is more bad news for liberty in Latin America.” It went on to say the cocaleros (Quechua indigenous campesino coca farmers) he headed was a “radicalized political force….against all things American” and “the Morales economic platform doesn’t promise a future to Bolivians, only revenge.” In his first post-election diplomatic trip abroad, Morales chose to visit Fidel Castro to discuss relations between Bolivia and Cuba. Morales also plans to meet with Hugo Chavez and leaders of 7 other countries that invited him to visit at their expense (including China and France) as he begins a world tour in early January. The Bush administration will surely use at least the Castro and Chavez meetings in any future hostile Morales rhetoric to help justify any action against him they may have in mind.
Morales has only just been elected, so how he will, in fact, govern is uncertain. However, in early interviews he said his first move as President will be to overturn Supreme Decree 21060, the 1985 measure making Bolivia the first Latin American country to adopt “free market” and privatization policies by decree. Morales said he will work with the new Chamber to pass a new law governing economic policy. He also plans to impose new taxes on the rich. Should his plan as it’s implemented attempt to model his government after Venezuela’s and succeed in doing it, he no doubt would then become another U.S. target for removal.
Whether the U.S. will proceed with the plans Professor Petras says it’s made is unknown, but it may become clearer in the new year. Under the best of circumstances, however, achieving them won’t be easy despite the overwhelming U.S. military advantage. The mass public support Hugo Chavez enjoys would create chaos and probably rebellion in the country should a new U.S. approved leader take office and try to reverse his policies. Furthermore, the Bush administration may be restrained from acting against Chavez for at least the reasons below:
–the U.S. is already bogged down in Iraq in endless conflict.
–It’s ratcheting up the rhetoric against Iran and Syria possibly in advance of an assault against either or both countries.
–The great cost of the Iraq war, along with large growing and unsustainable budget and current account deficits, may preclude congressional and public support for added adventures.
–Bush’s approval ratings have plummeted, and he’s losing support from his base and own party, and the military high command wants “out” of Iraq.
–The newly revealed illegal warrantless domestic spying as well as illegal break-ins and surveillance of mosques and Muslim businesses and homes supposedly searching for nuclear materials (both clear violations of the Fourth Amendment) authorized secretly by Bush has finally aroused the ire of Democrats and some Republicans. They also violate the 2001 U.S. v. Kyllo Supreme Court decision that ruled the use of thermal imaging to detect heat lamps in a residence is a “search” as defined under the Fourth Amendment and requires a warrant. The decision was written by Justice Antonin Scalia.
–The ongoing Special Counsel investigation may lead to further indictments beyond Lewis Libby possibly up to the highest levels of the administration before its completed.
–The Jack Abramoff financial and political scandal involving Tom Delay and potentially many others in government may be one of biggest ever in Washington.
–The systemic use of torture authorized at the highest level and “rendition” flights to torture centers in countries permitting it have outraged the world. In addition, the weak McCain amendment will do little to stop it, and the newly enacted Graham Amendment that annuls detainees’ sacred constitutionally guaranteed habeas rights will prevent torture victims from seeking redress in U.S. courts. These new laws only add to the outrage.
–And, some in Congress are beginning to mention impeachment. Already, lawyer John Bonifaz has authored a new book making the case for impeachment entitled – “Warrior-King: The Case for Impeaching George W. Bush.” And University of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle, a scholar and recognized expert in international law and human rights, agrees, and in January, 2003 prepared a “Draft Impeachment Resolution Against President George W. Bush” in proper form to be presented in the House of Representatives. In addition, and surprisingly, even Barron’s Magazine, published by Dow Jones & Co. that also publishes the Wall Street Journal, raised the possibility in December of impeachment on its editorial page. It expressed its concern with a president acting on his own in violation of the Constitution and said…”putting the president above the Congress is an invitation to tyranny. The president has no powers except those specified in the Constitution and those enacted by law.” It’s also worth noting that John Dean, a Republican and former Nixon White House counsel, expressed deep concern that George Bush was the “first U.S. president (ever) to admit to an impeachable offense.”
In light of all this and the clear sound of an administration unraveling, even George Bush and those closest to him may think long and hard before undertaking new ventures, the outcomes of which are most uncertain. Stay tuned.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net

At the moment, the countries of South America formally have sovereignty, but little real autonomy: they depend on international markets to sell their basic products, lending institutions define their economic policies and foreign stockmarkets fix the prices of primary commodities. To gain real autonomy against the empire and to be viable, the countries of Latin America have no choice but to coordinate between themselves, develop supranational laws, increase economic production, and establish a common political authority which deals with and resolves controversies.

To reaffirm and exercise South American sovereignty is the first step for any real project of integration. In the 20th Century, options for sovereignty are limited for small countries, who are left with two choices: to construct with their equals larger spaces then their size can hope to exercise sovereignty or to remain as obedients vassals to the United States.

The recovery of sovereignty depends on the integration of countries in a Community of South American Nations with social participation and independent of organisations such as the IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organisation and the Inter-American Development Bank.
Some investigators such as Eduardo Gudynas, from the Latin American Centre for Social Ecology  (CLAES) in Uruguay believe that the recuperation of autonomy of nations undermined by neoliberalism is a necessary step for effective regional coordination(politics, production and macroeconomy) which strengthens the negotiating capacity at international level.

But if Latin America wants to articulate itself economically within the region, it needs to consider other types of productive relations which addresses Latin America´s dependence on exports of primary materials. It is obvious that these type of integration will not be possible if big countries impose their conditions on small ones, if the logic of relations does not go beyond the commercial, if trade and production is not reorientated to regional needs looking for complementarity and chains of production, and if it does not define common policies, at least in agriculture and energy.

It involves changing the idea of the Nation State. In a new ideal scheme of integration, from a judicial point of view, the State continues to be a sovereign entity, but transfers certain attributes to institutions of integration. This partial denial of sovereign policy would surely provoke a fierce political fight at a moment where nationalisms are tending to grow.

The governments of the region can see that the differences in different trade regimes such as Mercosur, CAN and CARICOM are preventing in the short term and perhaps even in the medium term, the possiblity of creating an homogenous trade zone, based on the same principles and rules that took place in Europe.

But this does not stop the countries of the continent looking to make a broader articulation, economically and in terms of production and to consolidate forms of cooperation. In a period of “reaffirming the Nation State after many years of threats to national sovereignty, it is crucial to think of integration as a strategic project” emphasises the Official Summit.

Social and Labour Rights.

The aims of an alternative integration must be to guarantee life, the well-being of the population, social, cultural and economic rights, the redistribution of wealth and solidarity between peoples, as opposed to an FTAA which tries to merchandise all aspects of life for the benefit of multinational companies.

Regional integration must be based on a different socio-economic model whcih is aimed at 1. increasing the formal labour market and creating a regional convergence upwards for minimum wages and labour rights; 2. Making public social security universal; 3. Strengthening the right to trade unions and collective negotiation; 4. Adopting measures against discrimination in the labour market and 5. Overcoming the existing sexual division of labour which penalises women.  With this model, the emigration of our peoples can be stopped and help establish a foundation of rights for emigrant workers which matches international conventions.

It is necessary to create formal mechanisms of participation and consultation with society at all regional, sub-regional, and national levels in order to make government actions transparent, especially those that involve policies of political and economic integration in the Continent.

Communication is a key factor in articulating the reengagement and fraternity of the involved nations. One of the fundamental bases of the CSN must be the right to democratic communication, which implies agreeing a specific strategy of cooperation in areas of information, communication, culture and knowledge as well as strengthening regional networks of public communication and prioritising the interconnection of telecommunication networks.

Educational Coordination

Education is a pillar for any regional integration project. All the countries of the Community of South American Nations must commit to reforming educational systems with a  view to guaranteeing universal, public, free and high quality education, to cooperate at scientific and technical levels and to erradicate illiteracy. To promote an interculturality and to recognise cultural diversity implies full incorporation of native languages in the education of indigenous peoples.

Physical Integration

It is crucial that South America is integrated physically with roads, energy and communication networks in order to facilitate contact between peoples and countries, and not in order to increase the looting of natural resources. But this means demanding that governments redesign projects like IIRSA (Integration of South American Regional Infrastructure) formulated to complement FTAA. Physical integration must create internal poles of integral development, in harmony with the environment, respectful of the rights of communities and without generating unsustainable indebtedness.

Financial Integration

Financial integration of South America must allow the region to overcome its vulnerability and dependence, related to the IMF, World Bank, IADB and other lending institutions. The countries involved can create a Reserve Fund, a South Solidarity Bank, substituting the use of the dollar in intra-regional transactions and building a new financial system. This will require a revision of the functioning of CAF, FONPLATA and other regional financial mechanisms.
To stop being victims of illegitimate debt contracted in the past, the countries of America must submit the International Financial Institutions, their lending policies and the debts themselves to external audits, and put on trial those who unscrupulously indebted the nations of the South

Social movements in the region don´t want new mechanisms of solidarity financing in the Community to be used to maintain old relationships of domination and control between countries of the region, by for example creating and selling bonds and other types of new debt whose aim is to sustain the payment of illegitimate and illegal debts.

Energy Integration

Energy integration depends on the strengthening of state hydrocarbons companies, the nationalisation of these strategic resources and the redistribution of the rent and profits in order to finance new networks of renewable energy. We propose sharing regional energy resources in order to guarantee the wellbeing of people and future generations, and to stop the enriching of multinationals and local oligarchs.

We reject inviable megaprojects from a financial and environmental point of view funded by the World Bank and IADB, because this will again mortgage the future of South America to foreign creditors. We need to know the social, ecological and socio-economic impacts in order to evaluate whether these projects justify the investment of so-much capital when there are other decentralised alternatives for generating renewable energy.

Sustainable energy development aims to change the existing model based on the use of fossil fuels for other sources which use renewable, clean and low-impact energy sources; which respect the rights of communities, which combats excessive consumption, and promotes equitable and full access to energy for all inhabitants of the continent.

Trade

The trade treaties such as the FTAs signed with por Chile, Colombia and Perú must be overturned and replaced with just trade and aid treaties which do not compromise sovereignty or the possibility of implementing policies on industrialisation, biodiversity, state purchases, natural resources, drinking water, education, medicine and health.

Two decades of free trade show that it is necessary to construct another structure for trade in the region. Trade can be an important tool for development only if it is regulated, the contrary perpetuates and widens assymetries between companies and countries, strengthens the strongest at the cost of the weakest, limits sovereignty and deepens dependence and subordination of countries and peoples.

Trade is not an end in itself, but rather a form of linking important productive chains in the region, maximising the existing complementarities between diverse national economies, and integrating a powerful regional market of consumption, as a priority above other proposals that try above all to export.

Assymetries

Social differences and asymetries could be reduced between nations by creating a compensation fund which finances projects in the popular, solidarity-based economy in less developed countries not defined by large national or transnational capital. This fund could add to a tax on financial transactions of multinational companies that operate in South America and with part of the international monetary reserves deposited in the US.

Agriculture.

An integral agrarian reform in the region would democratise land ownership, prioritising family, social and cooperative ownership, and guaranteeing the right to work land. The CSN must be a natural space for consolidating food sovereignty, that is, the right that all peoples have to independently produce their own healthy and high quality food. Seeds are the patrimony of humanity and must not be subject to patents by multinationals.

Water

The states of the South American Nations must advance towards the creation of a Convention on Water with the aim of protecting the resource from privatisation and mercantilization and supporting the International Agreement on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights. The Community must recognise water resources as a human right.
CSN must commit countries to: 1 Reversing the dismantling of state services and strengthening efficient public water and sanitation systems which are transparent and controlled by society. 2 Promoting the effective participation of communities in taking decisions over development projects which involve water in each territory, recovering their visions, uses and traditions in the planning and sustainable management of natural resources.

CSN, and especially countries of MERCOSUR, must free themselves from the interference of the World Bank in designing policies for the Guarani Aguifer, because it is against the sovereignty of peoples and is not transparent.

We propose creating spaces of information and discussion related to the use of territories and subterranean lands that make up the Guarani Aguifer System, with the participation of social organisations which share the GAS, which is binding on public authorities. The principal task is to monitor and defend the resource as a shared common good.

Indigenous Peoples

It is impossible to conceive of regional integration without the protagonism of the indigenous nations and peoples who transcend republican borders. The indigenous peoples and communities are those who are directly and principally affected by the actions of multinationals, whose indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources creates poverty, migration, contamination and marginalisation.

Militarisation

CSN must face up to the debate on the arming and militarisation for which our territories are a focus, with the installation of military bases and plans for control such as Plan Colombia. If States don´t cooperate, the social movements must exercise its sovereignty and struggle against impunity and state violence in order to strengthen democracy.

Coca.

The de-penalisation of the coca leaf in South America and its industrialisation with beneficial ends is a crucial step to achieving the withdrawal of the coca leaf from the list of penalised substances by the United Nations in 2008.

Another model for development

We must change the model of development for South American which is designed for exports and not internal development for the benefit of people. Enough of exporting mainly primary commodities (hydrocarbons and minerals) and some agro-industrial products!

South American integration means complementarity in production in order to create jobs, an integrated productive development, strengthening interregional trade and substituting imports of goods produced in the region.

Migration

Every day in South America, millions of people feel forced to emigrate as a consequence of neoliberal policies.  Emigrants are not just a workforce, they are people and not commodities, who have labour, social, cultural, economic, civil and political rights which allows them to develop themselves and to fully exercise their citizenship. We reject policies which criminalise immigrants and treat migration as a security issue.

CSN must develop policies which guarantee citizenship to emigrants. We propose specific measures: 1 The signing and ratification of the International Convention for the Rights of Emigrant Workes and their Families, UN 1990, Convention 143 of ILO and Convention 49 against the Traffic in Humans. 2 Wide and General Amnesty for all immigrants from countries within CSN, allowing free circulation and citizenship. This will allow emigrants to have labour, retirement, social, political and economic rights existing in each country.

In the short term, countries must establish laws of immigration that are just, solidarity-based and welcoming, that are not based on an old doctrine of national security, and which cover all emigrants regardless of the legal situation they are in.

Why is it necessary to integrate Latin America?
At the moment, here the countries of South America formally have sovereignty, treatment but little real autonomy: they depend on international markets to sell their basic products, lending institutions define their economic policies and foreign stockmarkets fix the prices of primary commodities. To gain real autonomy against the empire and to be viable, the countries of Latin America have no choice but to coordinate between themselves, develop supranational laws, increase economic production, and establish a common political authority which deals with and resolves controversies.
To reaffirm and exercise South American sovereignty is the first step for any real project of integration. In the 20th Century, options for sovereignty are limited for small countries, who are left with two choices: to construct with their equals larger spaces then their size can hope to exercise sovereignty or to remain as obedients vassals to the United States.
The recovery of sovereignty depends on the integration of countries in a Community of South American Nations with social participation and independent of organisations such as the IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organisation and the Inter-American Development Bank.
Some investigators such as Eduardo Gudynas, from the Latin American Centre for Social Ecology  (CLAES) in Uruguay believe that the recuperation of autonomy of nations undermined by neoliberalism is a necessary step for effective regional coordination(politics, production and macroeconomy) which strengthens the negotiating capacity at international level.
But if Latin America wants to articulate itself economically within the region, it needs to consider other types of productive relations which addresses Latin America´s dependence on exports of primary materials. It is obvious that these type of integration will not be possible if big countries impose their conditions on small ones, if the logic of relations does not go beyond the commercial, if trade and production is not reorientated to regional needs looking for complementarity and chains of production, and if it does not define common policies, at least in agriculture and energy.
It involves changing the idea of the Nation State. In a new ideal scheme of integration, from a judicial point of view, the State continues to be a sovereign entity, but transfers certain attributes to institutions of integration. This partial denial of sovereign policy would surely provoke a fierce political fight at a moment where nationalisms are tending to grow.
The governments of the region can see that the differences in different trade regimes such as Mercosur, CAN and CARICOM are preventing in the short term and perhaps even in the medium term, the possiblity of creating an homogenous trade zone, based on the same principles and rules that took place in Europe.
But this does not stop the countries of the continent looking to make a broader articulation, economically and in terms of production and to consolidate forms of cooperation. In a period of “reaffirming the Nation State after many years of threats to national sovereignty, it is crucial to think of integration as a strategic project” emphasises the Official Summit.

Social and Labour Rights.

The aims of an alternative integration must be to guarantee life, the well-being of the population, social, cultural and economic rights, the redistribution of wealth and solidarity between peoples, as opposed to an FTAA which tries to merchandise all aspects of life for the benefit of multinational companies.
Regional integration must be based on a different socio-economic model whcih is aimed at 1. increasing the formal labour market and creating a regional convergence upwards for minimum wages and labour rights; 2. Making public social security universal; 3. Strengthening the right to trade unions and collective negotiation; 4. Adopting measures against discrimination in the labour market and 5. Overcoming the existing sexual division of labour which penalises women.  With this model, the emigration of our peoples can be stopped and help establish a foundation of rights for emigrant workers which matches international conventions.
It is necessary to create formal mechanisms of participation and consultation with society at all regional, sub-regional, and national levels in order to make government actions transparent, especially those that involve policies of political and economic integration in the Continent.
Communication is a key factor in articulating the reengagement and fraternity of the involved nations. One of the fundamental bases of the CSN must be the right to democratic communication, which implies agreeing a specific strategy of cooperation in areas of information, communication, culture and knowledge as well as strengthening regional networks of public communication and prioritising the interconnection of telecommunication networks.
Educational Coordination
Education is a pillar for any regional integration project. All the countries of the Community of South American Nations must commit to reforming educational systems with a  view to guaranteeing universal, public, free and high quality education, to cooperate at scientific and technical levels and to erradicate illiteracy. To promote an interculturality and to recognise cultural diversity implies full incorporation of native languages in the education of indigenous peoples.
Physical Integration
It is crucial that South America is integrated physically with roads, energy and communication networks in order to facilitate contact between peoples and countries, and not in order to increase the looting of natural resources. But this means demanding that governments redesign projects like IIRSA (Integration of South American Regional Infrastructure) formulated to complement FTAA. Physical integration must create internal poles of integral development, in harmony with the environment, respectful of the rights of communities and without generating unsustainable indebtedness.
Financial Integration
Financial integration of South America must allow the region to overcome its vulnerability and dependence, related to the IMF, World Bank, IADB and other lending institutions. The countries involved can create a Reserve Fund, a South Solidarity Bank, substituting the use of the dollar in intra-regional transactions and building a new financial system. This will require a revision of the functioning of CAF, FONPLATA and other regional financial mechanisms.
To stop being victims of illegitimate debt contracted in the past, the countries of America must submit the International Financial Institutions, their lending policies and the debts themselves to external audits, and put on trial those who unscrupulously indebted the nations of the South
Social movements in the region don´t want new mechanisms of solidarity financing in the Community to be used to maintain old relationships of domination and control between countries of the region, by for example creating and selling bonds and other types of new debt whose aim is to sustain the payment of illegitimate and illegal debts.
Energy Integration
Energy integration depends on the strengthening of state hydrocarbons companies, the nationalisation of these strategic resources and the redistribution of the rent and profits in order to finance new networks of renewable energy. We propose sharing regional energy resources in order to guarantee the wellbeing of people and future generations, and to stop the enriching of multinationals and local oligarchs.
We reject inviable megaprojects from a financial and environmental point of view funded by the World Bank and IADB, because this will again mortgage the future of South America to foreign creditors. We need to know the social, ecological and socio-economic impacts in order to evaluate whether these projects justify the investment of so-much capital when there are other decentralised alternatives for generating renewable energy.
Sustainable energy development aims to change the existing model based on the use of fossil fuels for other sources which use renewable, clean and low-impact energy sources; which respect the rights of communities, which combats excessive consumption, and promotes equitable and full access to energy for all inhabitants of the continent.
Trade
The trade treaties such as the FTAs signed with por Chile, Colombia and Perú must be overturned and replaced with just trade and aid treaties which do not compromise sovereignty or the possibility of implementing policies on industrialisation, biodiversity, state purchases, natural resources, drinking water, education, medicine and health.
Two decades of free trade show that it is necessary to construct another structure for trade in the region. Trade can be an important tool for development only if it is regulated, the contrary perpetuates and widens assymetries between companies and countries, strengthens the strongest at the cost of the weakest, limits sovereignty and deepens dependence and subordination of countries and peoples.
Trade is not an end in itself, but rather a form of linking important productive chains in the region, maximising the existing complementarities between diverse national economies, and integrating a powerful regional market of consumption, as a priority above other proposals that try above all to export.
Assymetries
Social differences and asymetries could be reduced between nations by creating a compensation fund which finances projects in the popular, solidarity-based economy in less developed countries not defined by large national or transnational capital. This fund could add to a tax on financial transactions of multinational companies that operate in South America and with part of the international monetary reserves deposited in the US.
Agriculture.
An integral agrarian reform in the region would democratise land ownership, prioritising family, social and cooperative ownership, and guaranteeing the right to work land. The CSN must be a natural space for consolidating food sovereignty, that is, the right that all peoples have to independently produce their own healthy and high quality food. Seeds are the patrimony of humanity and must not be subject to patents by multinationals.
Water
The states of the South American Nations must advance towards the creation of a Convention on Water with the aim of protecting the resource from privatisation and mercantilization and supporting the International Agreement on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights. The Community must recognise water resources as a human right.
CSN must commit countries to: 1 Reversing the dismantling of state services and strengthening efficient public water and sanitation systems which are transparent and controlled by society. 2 Promoting the effective participation of communities in taking decisions over development projects which involve water in each territory, recovering their visions, uses and traditions in the planning and sustainable management of natural resources.
CSN, and especially countries of MERCOSUR, must free themselves from the interference of the World Bank in designing policies for the Guarani Aguifer, because it is against the sovereignty of peoples and is not transparent.
We propose creating spaces of information and discussion related to the use of territories and subterranean lands that make up the Guarani Aguifer System, with the participation of social organisations which share the GAS, which is binding on public authorities. The principal task is to monitor and defend the resource as a shared common good.
Indigenous Peoples
It is impossible to conceive of regional integration without the protagonism of the indigenous nations and peoples who transcend republican borders. The indigenous peoples and communities are those who are directly and principally affected by the actions of multinationals, whose indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources creates poverty, migration, contamination and marginalisation.
Militarisation
CSN must face up to the debate on the arming and militarisation for which our territories are a focus, with the installation of military bases and plans for control such as Plan Colombia. If States don´t cooperate, the social movements must exercise its sovereignty and struggle against impunity and state violence in order to strengthen democracy.
Coca.
The de-penalisation of the coca leaf in South America and its industrialisation with beneficial ends is a crucial step to achieving the withdrawal of the coca leaf from the list of penalised substances by the United Nations in 2008.
Another model for development
We must change the model of development for South American which is designed for exports and not internal development for the benefit of people. Enough of exporting mainly primary commodities (hydrocarbons and minerals) and some agro-industrial products!
South American integration means complementarity in production in order to create jobs, an integrated productive development, strengthening interregional trade and substituting imports of goods produced in the region.

Migration

Every day in South America, millions of people feel forced to emigrate as a consequence of neoliberal policies.  Emigrants are not just a workforce, they are people and not commodities, who have labour, social, cultural, economic, civil and political rights which allows them to develop themselves and to fully exercise their citizenship. We reject policies which criminalise immigrants and treat migration as a security issue. 
CSN must develop policies which guarantee citizenship to emigrants. We propose specific measures: 1 The signing and ratification of the International Convention for the Rights of Emigrant Workes and their Families, UN 1990, Convention 143 of ILO and Convention 49 against the Traffic in Humans. 2 Wide and General Amnesty for all immigrants from countries within CSN, allowing free circulation and citizenship. This will allow emigrants to have labour, retirement, social, political and economic rights existing in each country.
In the short term, countries must establish laws of immigration that are just, solidarity-based and welcoming, that are not based on an old doctrine of national security, and which cover all emigrants regardless of the legal situation they are in.
At the moment, sale the countries of South America formally have sovereignty, but little real autonomy: they depend on international markets to sell their basic products, lending institutions define their economic policies and foreign stockmarkets fix the prices of primary commodities. To gain real autonomy against the empire and to be viable, the countries of Latin America have no choice but to coordinate between themselves, develop supranational laws, increase economic production, and establish a common political authority which deals with and resolves controversies.
To reaffirm and exercise South American sovereignty is the first step for any real project of integration. In the 20th Century, options for sovereignty are limited for small countries, who are left with two choices: to construct with their equals larger spaces then their size can hope to exercise sovereignty or to remain as obedients vassals to the United States.
The recovery of sovereignty depends on the integration of countries in a Community of South American Nations with social participation and independent of organisations such as the IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organisation and the Inter-American Development Bank.
Some investigators such as Eduardo Gudynas, from the Latin American Centre for Social Ecology  (CLAES) in Uruguay believe that the recuperation of autonomy of nations undermined by neoliberalism is a necessary step for effective regional coordination(politics, production and macroeconomy) which strengthens the negotiating capacity at international level.
But if Latin America wants to articulate itself economically within the region, it needs to consider other types of productive relations which addresses Latin America´s dependence on exports of primary materials. It is obvious that these type of integration will not be possible if big countries impose their conditions on small ones, if the logic of relations does not go beyond the commercial, if trade and production is not reorientated to regional needs looking for complementarity and chains of production, and if it does not define common policies, at least in agriculture and energy.
It involves changing the idea of the Nation State. In a new ideal scheme of integration, from a judicial point of view, the State continues to be a sovereign entity, but transfers certain attributes to institutions of integration. This partial denial of sovereign policy would surely provoke a fierce political fight at a moment where nationalisms are tending to grow.
The governments of the region can see that the differences in different trade regimes such as Mercosur, CAN and CARICOM are preventing in the short term and perhaps even in the medium term, the possiblity of creating an homogenous trade zone, based on the same principles and rules that took place in Europe.
But this does not stop the countries of the continent looking to make a broader articulation, economically and in terms of production and to consolidate forms of cooperation. In a period of “reaffirming the Nation State after many years of threats to national sovereignty, it is crucial to think of integration as a strategic project” emphasises the Official Summit.

Social and Labour Rights.

The aims of an alternative integration must be to guarantee life, the well-being of the population, social, cultural and economic rights, the redistribution of wealth and solidarity between peoples, as opposed to an FTAA which tries to merchandise all aspects of life for the benefit of multinational companies.
Regional integration must be based on a different socio-economic model whcih is aimed at 1. increasing the formal labour market and creating a regional convergence upwards for minimum wages and labour rights; 2. Making public social security universal; 3. Strengthening the right to trade unions and collective negotiation; 4. Adopting measures against discrimination in the labour market and 5. Overcoming the existing sexual division of labour which penalises women.  With this model, the emigration of our peoples can be stopped and help establish a foundation of rights for emigrant workers which matches international conventions.
It is necessary to create formal mechanisms of participation and consultation with society at all regional, sub-regional, and national levels in order to make government actions transparent, especially those that involve policies of political and economic integration in the Continent.
Communication is a key factor in articulating the reengagement and fraternity of the involved nations. One of the fundamental bases of the CSN must be the right to democratic communication, which implies agreeing a specific strategy of cooperation in areas of information, communication, culture and knowledge as well as strengthening regional networks of public communication and prioritising the interconnection of telecommunication networks.
Educational Coordination
Education is a pillar for any regional integration project. All the countries of the Community of South American Nations must commit to reforming educational systems with a  view to guaranteeing universal, public, free and high quality education, to cooperate at scientific and technical levels and to erradicate illiteracy. To promote an interculturality and to recognise cultural diversity implies full incorporation of native languages in the education of indigenous peoples.
Physical Integration
It is crucial that South America is integrated physically with roads, energy and communication networks in order to facilitate contact between peoples and countries, and not in order to increase the looting of natural resources. But this means demanding that governments redesign projects like IIRSA (Integration of South American Regional Infrastructure) formulated to complement FTAA. Physical integration must create internal poles of integral development, in harmony with the environment, respectful of the rights of communities and without generating unsustainable indebtedness.
Financial Integration
Financial integration of South America must allow the region to overcome its vulnerability and dependence, related to the IMF, World Bank, IADB and other lending institutions. The countries involved can create a Reserve Fund, a South Solidarity Bank, substituting the use of the dollar in intra-regional transactions and building a new financial system. This will require a revision of the functioning of CAF, FONPLATA and other regional financial mechanisms.
To stop being victims of illegitimate debt contracted in the past, the countries of America must submit the International Financial Institutions, their lending policies and the debts themselves to external audits, and put on trial those who unscrupulously indebted the nations of the South
Social movements in the region don´t want new mechanisms of solidarity financing in the Community to be used to maintain old relationships of domination and control between countries of the region, by for example creating and selling bonds and other types of new debt whose aim is to sustain the payment of illegitimate and illegal debts.
Energy Integration
Energy integration depends on the strengthening of state hydrocarbons companies, the nationalisation of these strategic resources and the redistribution of the rent and profits in order to finance new networks of renewable energy. We propose sharing regional energy resources in order to guarantee the wellbeing of people and future generations, and to stop the enriching of multinationals and local oligarchs.
We reject inviable megaprojects from a financial and environmental point of view funded by the World Bank and IADB, because this will again mortgage the future of South America to foreign creditors. We need to know the social, ecological and socio-economic impacts in order to evaluate whether these projects justify the investment of so-much capital when there are other decentralised alternatives for generating renewable energy.
Sustainable energy development aims to change the existing model based on the use of fossil fuels for other sources which use renewable, clean and low-impact energy sources; which respect the rights of communities, which combats excessive consumption, and promotes equitable and full access to energy for all inhabitants of the continent.
Trade
The trade treaties such as the FTAs signed with por Chile, Colombia and Perú must be overturned and replaced with just trade and aid treaties which do not compromise sovereignty or the possibility of implementing policies on industrialisation, biodiversity, state purchases, natural resources, drinking water, education, medicine and health.
Two decades of free trade show that it is necessary to construct another structure for trade in the region. Trade can be an important tool for development only if it is regulated, the contrary perpetuates and widens assymetries between companies and countries, strengthens the strongest at the cost of the weakest, limits sovereignty and deepens dependence and subordination of countries and peoples.
Trade is not an end in itself, but rather a form of linking important productive chains in the region, maximising the existing complementarities between diverse national economies, and integrating a powerful regional market of consumption, as a priority above other proposals that try above all to export.
Assymetries
Social differences and asymetries could be reduced between nations by creating a compensation fund which finances projects in the popular, solidarity-based economy in less developed countries not defined by large national or transnational capital. This fund could add to a tax on financial transactions of multinational companies that operate in South America and with part of the international monetary reserves deposited in the US.
Agriculture.
An integral agrarian reform in the region would democratise land ownership, prioritising family, social and cooperative ownership, and guaranteeing the right to work land. The CSN must be a natural space for consolidating food sovereignty, that is, the right that all peoples have to independently produce their own healthy and high quality food. Seeds are the patrimony of humanity and must not be subject to patents by multinationals.
Water
The states of the South American Nations must advance towards the creation of a Convention on Water with the aim of protecting the resource from privatisation and mercantilization and supporting the International Agreement on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights. The Community must recognise water resources as a human right.
CSN must commit countries to: 1 Reversing the dismantling of state services and strengthening efficient public water and sanitation systems which are transparent and controlled by society. 2 Promoting the effective participation of communities in taking decisions over development projects which involve water in each territory, recovering their visions, uses and traditions in the planning and sustainable management of natural resources.
CSN, and especially countries of MERCOSUR, must free themselves from the interference of the World Bank in designing policies for the Guarani Aguifer, because it is against the sovereignty of peoples and is not transparent.
We propose creating spaces of information and discussion related to the use of territories and subterranean lands that make up the Guarani Aguifer System, with the participation of social organisations which share the GAS, which is binding on public authorities. The principal task is to monitor and defend the resource as a shared common good.
Indigenous Peoples
It is impossible to conceive of regional integration without the protagonism of the indigenous nations and peoples who transcend republican borders. The indigenous peoples and communities are those who are directly and principally affected by the actions of multinationals, whose indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources creates poverty, migration, contamination and marginalisation.
Militarisation
CSN must face up to the debate on the arming and militarisation for which our territories are a focus, with the installation of military bases and plans for control such as Plan Colombia. If States don´t cooperate, the social movements must exercise its sovereignty and struggle against impunity and state violence in order to strengthen democracy.
Coca.
The de-penalisation of the coca leaf in South America and its industrialisation with beneficial ends is a crucial step to achieving the withdrawal of the coca leaf from the list of penalised substances by the United Nations in 2008.
Another model for development
We must change the model of development for South American which is designed for exports and not internal development for the benefit of people. Enough of exporting mainly primary commodities (hydrocarbons and minerals) and some agro-industrial products!
South American integration means complementarity in production in order to create jobs, an integrated productive development, strengthening interregional trade and substituting imports of goods produced in the region.

Migration

Every day in South America, millions of people feel forced to emigrate as a consequence of neoliberal policies.  Emigrants are not just a workforce, they are people and not commodities, who have labour, social, cultural, economic, civil and political rights which allows them to develop themselves and to fully exercise their citizenship. We reject policies which criminalise immigrants and treat migration as a security issue. 
CSN must develop policies which guarantee citizenship to emigrants. We propose specific measures: 1 The signing and ratification of the International Convention for the Rights of Emigrant Workes and their Families, UN 1990, Convention 143 of ILO and Convention 49 against the Traffic in Humans. 2 Wide and General Amnesty for all immigrants from countries within CSN, allowing free circulation and citizenship. This will allow emigrants to have labour, retirement, social, political and economic rights existing in each country.
In the short term, countries must establish laws of immigration that are just, solidarity-based and welcoming, that are not based on an old doctrine of national security, and which cover all emigrants regardless of the legal situation they are in.

NICOLA PHILLIPS

This article argues that the original framework of ‘open regionalism’ underpinning the Mercosur is petering out, help and consequently the regional governance project in the Southern Cone is undergoing a process of redefinition. The article seeks to understand the nature of this redefinition, and contends that this task requires a re-orientation of some of the prevalent ways in which the study of regionalism is approached. Specifically, it highlights the limitations of an understanding of regionalism merely as a reflection of domestic processes, and instead argues for a greater attention to processes of regionalisation and their complex relationship with both regionalism and domestic political economy. >Download the article (PDF)