Regional Integration After the Collapse of FTAA

Raul Zibechi, Upside Down World

Although every Latin American government pays lip service to integration, taking the concrete steps needed to attain it is much more difficult than simply issuing declarations. In the wake of the collapse of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), Latin America faces the dilemma of remaining divided and at the mercy of the interests of the great powers, or setting out on the road to continental unity. Even if the forces in favor of integration prevail, the type of integration to be constructed remains to be defined.

Two centuries after gaining independence, Latin America’s republics have been unable to overcome their Balkanization, one of the worst legacies of colonialism. In progressive circles and among social activists, the obstacles to Latin American unity are usually deemed to be the division sown by different forms of imperialism throughout history. But a closer look at what has happened over the past two centuries—from Simón Bolívar’s failed attempt to unify the northern part of South America to José Artigas in the Río de la Plata—leads to the conclusion that the difficulties also stem from the conflicting interests of the many players squaring off on the regional chessboard.

The year 2005 concludes with the collapse of the FTAA as envisioned by the United States and with it the fall of Washington’s principle strategy for the region. The idea of creating a single market with the 34 countries of the Americas was predicated on consolidating the hegemony of U.S. multinationals and structural adjustment policies—that is, neoliberalism—until they became practically irreversible. This in turn would be a major step toward establishing U.S. hegemony over the international system. 1 At the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, many noted that January 1, 2005 should be a day of celebration for social movements, since that was the day of an important defeat of U.S. diplomacy in its attempt to impose the FTAA. Despite that victory and several countries’ efforts to turn the expanded Mercosur into an alternative, the road to regional integration continues to be paved with good intentions but has produced little more than lofty speeches with proposals that fail to materialize.
The Summit of the Americas that took place in Mar del Plata, Argentina in November didn’t change regional relations, although it demonstrated the progress made by Washington in achieving that 29 of the 34 countries in the hemisphere approved the revisitation of the FTAA. The key continues to be Brazil, the largest economy in the region that continues to opt for its own path, rejecting agricultural subsidies, although not out and out rejecting the FTAA.

The FTAA’s Failure and Washington’s Limits

In recent years, the White House has found it difficult to bring its policies to fruition. The most important obstacles have been the region’s social movements coordinated through the Continental Social Alliance. The Alliance staged numerous protests and campaigns against the FTAA, and starting in 2002, succeeded in taking the debate from institutional and specialized forums to the street and to common citizens. At the government level, the most tenacious opposition came from Brazil’s current administration, led by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Lula). Brazil has fashioned a new foreign policy, clearly distancing itself from U.S. proposals and becoming a point of reference not only for the countries of the region but for a large number of southern countries throughout the globe. Itamaraty, as Brazil’s ministry of foreign affairs is known, has long been known for his independent stance. The current minister of foreign affairs, Celso Amorim, has taken decisive steps to establish a new kind of South-South ties. Brazil played a decisive role in the formation of the Group of 20 (G-20), an alliance of countries opposed to Northern agricultural subsidies that contributed to derailing the September 2003 WTO summit in Cancún. 2

Brazilian diplomatic efforts have led to substantive agreements with emerging countries such as China, India, and South Africa, aimed at breaking trade dependence on the European Union and the United States. In that vein, it has played a dual role in postponing the creation of the FTAA and vying to expand Mercosur until it encompasses nearly all the countries of the region. It has convincingly fulfilled the first objective, although—as we will see below—it is running into problems with the second, linked to asymmetries and opposing interests, principally with Argentina. In other words, Brazil has proven more adept at putting the brakes on the FTAA than at developing alternative integration.

Indeed, for the first time in many years, Washington’s ability to impose its policies on the region is restricted largely due to the new continental climate that has led to an erosion of the neoliberal model. The recent history of the FTAA bears witness to this. The FTAA project stumbled at the WTO Summit in Cancún, where deep differences were revealed between the U.S. model and developing countries. Robert Zoellick, then the U.S. Trade Representative, attempted to tone down the initial proposal at the Eighth Summit of the Americas Meeting held on November 20, 2003, in Miami. It was a key event. By the time of the meeting, Washington had opted for flexibility—accepting different levels of commitment among the members, or what was called an “FTAA Light”—but the result of the meeting was a setback for U.S. policy. In Lula’s words, Brazil got “what we had been dreaming of: making an FTAA only where possible, and leaving the rest to fight over at the World Trade Organization.” 3

Lastly, the collapse of the FTAA was due to the tenacious resistance of the movements of the region, but also to U.S. inflexibility on issues of agricultural subsidies and antidumping practices. For their part, Latin American countries were reluctant to open up government procurement to the powerful companies of the North. In 2004, after the Miami summit, the negotiations remained stymied, and some scheduled meetings were even called off. At this point, the contending parties began to move their pieces on the regional chessboard: Mercosur, led by Brazil, has sought to encompass all the countries of the continent, including the Andean Community of Nations (CAN). 4 At the same time, it has tried to reach agreements with other countries such as India, South Africa, and even the European Union. The United States, for its part, hastily tried to reach bilateral free trade accords similar to one that it had signed with Chile and with the CAN countries, especially Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru. Far from changing course, Washington has sought to advance its strategy through other paths. In the United States’ struggle to win allies and isolate adversaries, the fate of regional integration is being played out.

Mercosur at an Impasse

However, there is nothing to indicate that Mercosur is going to break is its current impasse in the short term. Even though, as a report from the Laboratorio de Políticas Públicas points out, Mercosur “is successfully circumventing the United States’ attempt to isolate it from the rest of the countries of the continent as punishment for its position on the FTAA,” what is certain is that the regional alliance “is far from consolidating its basic core agreements on how to move the integration process forward.” 5 The Minister of Economy of Uruguay’s left-leaning government, Danilo Astori, recognizing the weaknesses of the regional alliance, described its future as “uncertain.” “I cannot support the idea of a regional parliament when we don’t even have a functioning free market in the region,” said Astori. He believes that it would be impossible to begin a process such as the South American community of nations (entailing the integration of ten countries) when Mercosur, after more than a decade, has extremely weak institutions and has been unable to facilitate the exchange of goods among member countries and trade confrontations between Argentina and Brazil continue unabated. 6

At the 26th Mercosur Heads of State Summit, held on July 8, 2004, in Puerto Iguazú, Argentina, the alignment of alliances was drawn up. The four charter members were joined by six other countries: three that already had the status of “associated states” (Chile, Bolivia, and Peru) as well as Venezuela and Colombia, as a result of the free trade agreement (FTA) signed with the CAN. A fierce struggle is being waged, since some of these countries are negotiating or have already signed FTAs with the United States. In some cases, the difficulties stem from old disputes (such as the one between Chile and Bolivia over Bolivia’s demand for a sea route); in others, there are problems stemming from neoliberal policies (such as the gas conflict between Chile and Argentina, because of the lack of investment by privatized Argentine companies, putting gas exports at risk). But, above all, there are confrontations stemming from the subordination of nearly every government to the large companies—domestic or multinational—that are attempting to impose their particular agendas.

To summarize, although Mercosur has grown in size, it has not succeeded in strengthening the ties among its members. In a report submitted in July of last year, the Mercosur Secretariat admitted that “the institutional model in effect today does not necessarily reflect a collective project, or common vision on regional integration.” 7 The Mercosur Summit, held in Ouro Preto, Brazil in December 2004, failed to clear the air and was marred by the debate on unilateral protectionist measures taken by Argentina to protect its incipient industrial recovery, in violation of the bloc’s internal rules. After Argentina’s Minister of Economy complained that industrial imports from Brazil were thwarting the consolidation of Argentine industry, Brazil’s minister of Development, Industry, and Trade, Luiz Fernando Furlan, noted, “Brazil did not stop investing in all these recent years. Even in times of crisis, the business sector continued investing. Argentina needs to invest and to remodel and redesign its production. This is a challenge much more for Argentines than for us.” 8

Mercosur is not even progressing on non-economic topics, such as the creation of a parliament, the installation of which is supposed to take place by the end of 2006, because no agreement has been reached on the number of representatives from each country.

A good example of the difficulties is the Third South American Summit, held from December 7 to 9 in Cuzco, and convened with the intention of creating a South American Community of Nations (SACN). The SACN is composed of the four Mercosur countries, the five CAN countries, and Chile. Guyana and Surinam will also be invited to join. This is the most ambitious integration project ever undertaken, and it has the enthusiastic support of both Lula and the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez. The SACN could become the largest bloc in the world: 17 million square km, nearly 400 million inhabitants, and a gross product of US$800 billion; it would be the world’s leading producer of food and the planet’s largest biodiversity reserve ; moreover, it has a third of the Earth’s fresh water as well as petroleum and gas resources for more than a century. 9

However, the Cuzco meeting was a relative failure. No substantive agreements were reached, since the presidents of three Mercosur countries failed to show up, the absence of Néstor Kirchner, of Argentina—reportedly for health reasons—being the most important. What was behind the Argentine ploy that left Lula and Brazilian diplomacy out on a limb? Basically, two problems: one, of substance, linked to the deep asymmetries between the two countries. Brazil’s industry is buoyant, and Argentina is beginning to recover, despite great difficulties, from the destruction of its industry in the 1990s by the savage neoliberal model implemented by Carlos Menem. Moreover, Brazil and Argentina are competitors in nearly every area: they export the same products to the same countries—basically commodities to China and the Northern countries—and they compete for investment. Secondly, there is Argentina’s resentment over Brazil’s failure to support it in its bitter struggle with the International Monetary Fund to get out of default. Kirchner is known to have demanded support from Lula in his confrontations with the international financial agencies, but that support never arrived.

In addition to Kirchner and the presidents of Uruguay and Paraguay (Jorge Batlle and Nicanor Duarte), the heads of state of Ecuador (Lucio Gutiérrez) and Mexico (Vicente Fox) also failed to attend the Cuzco Summit. The problem is that the regional integration being spearheaded today by Brazil does not appear capable of advancing without the cooperation and support of Brazil’s most important trade partner, Argentina, a nation whose economic and political influence continues to be decisive.

Nonetheless, the twelve countries present signed the Declaration of Cuzco, the document formally establishing the SACN, which it defines as a “South American space integrated in political, social, economic, environmental, and infrastructure terms that will strengthen South America’s own identity.” The mechanisms for attaining those objectives include the strengthening of ties between Mercosur and the Andean Community of Nations, integration in energy and communications matters, and political and diplomatic coordination, although the SACN will lack institutions until the next meeting, to be held this year in Brazil.

In its declarations, the SACN clearly sets itself apart from preceding experiences such as Mercosur and the CAN. Priority is given not to free trade but to democracy, solidarity, human rights, freedom, social justice, respect for territorial integrity, diversity, non-discrimination, and the assertion of autonomy, equality among sovereign states, and peaceful conflict resolution.” 10 If reality conforms to what the SACN’s charter proclaims, we are witnessing an authentic “project to integrate peoples.” 11 But in light of recent events, this could be nothing more than a statement of good intentions, although a “politically correct” one.

The regional puzzle is very complex and the different stakeholders contribute little to solving it. There are now three relatively complementary integration initiatives in the region: Mercosur, CAN, and SACN. In addition, it is worth noting a fourth one, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), launched in 2001 by Hugo Chávez.

ALBA was never more than a statement of intentions, with more acceptance among social movements than among the other governments of South America. However, in late December president Chávez and his Cuban counterpart, Fidel Castro, signed a draft agreement for ALBA in Havana, although no other government has approved the initiative. According to the economist Manual Hidalgo, of the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens (ATTAC), there is the possibility of a convergence between “the two trends that have been confronting imperial policy in the region: on the one hand, the Bolivarian trend, led by Venezuela and supported by numerous social and political movements in the region, and on the other, the ‘neo-developmentalist’ trend, represented by the governments of Brazil and Argentina.” 12 Although this convergence—which could have materialized in the meeting in Cuzco that created the SACN—has not yet become a reality, in recent months some steps have been taken that might help bring it about.

Parallel Paths: the Bilateral Initiatives

Faced with enormous obstacles to regional integration, the countries most interested in it are taking specific steps to promote bilateral accords. The principal actors for now are Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina. Venezuela’s trump card is petroleum wealth, which it habitually plays both domestically and internationally, by offering cheap petroleum on good terms—a strong temptation for poor countries. Argentina and Brazil are each playing their own hand, seeking to solve domestic problems or needs: the former hopes to solve its energy deficits caused by a lack of investment, and the latter wants to expand markets for its buoyant industrial entrepreneurs and agribusiness.

Chávez’s fifth visit to Argentina, at the beginning of 2005, led to the signing of strategic agreements between Caracas and Buenos Aires; these agreements assume, among other things, that Venezuela will begin to replace American suppliers with Argentine ones. 13 The agreements encompass energy, trade, communications, and agriculture matters. The state-owned oil companies of the two nations—Argentina’s Enarsa and Venezuela’s PDVSA—reached an understanding to carry out exploration, drilling, refining, marketing, and transportation projects. There is even talk of bringing in Brazil’s Petrobras to make up a regional oil giant that would go by the name of Petrosur. Argentina will build four oil tankers for Venezuela, at a total cost of US$240 million, and Venezuela will supply liquid hydrocarbons for the generation of thermal energy, the supply of which has been insufficient during the harsh Argentine winter.

Moreover, Venezuela is studying the purchase of Royal Dutch/Shell’s assets in Argentina, in conjunction with Enarsa and Petrobras. This would be a huge step on the path to regional energy integration. Because Shell is divesting from Latin America and PDVSA is in an expansion phase, PDVSA could purchase Shell’s refinery, gas stations, and distribution channels in Argentina. Argentine exporters in the automobile, paper and cardboard, plastics, and manufactured goods sectors stand to benefit in the medium and long term, and its cereal exports could also increase markedly. Venezuela wants to import pedigree cattle to boost its meager output of meat and milk. Trade between the two countries is still low (in 2004, Argentina exported US$430 million to Venezuela, and imported only US$52 million), although it has risen constantly in recent years.

On February 14, Brazil and Venezuela signed a “strategic agreement” in Caracas. The 20 bilateral accords on hydrocarbons, infrastructure, and military cooperation, including the sale of fighter planes made by Brazil’s Embraer, is a significant step forward for ties between the two countries. Bilateral trade has risen from US$880 million in 2003 to US$1.6 billion in 2004, and this year is expected to climb to US$3 billion. But the most important area of cooperation is petroleum products, where Venezuela’s PDVSA and Brazil’s Petrobras are expected to join forces with large private Brazilian companies for gas and oil development in the main gas development regions—the Gulf of Venezuela and the Orinoco Oil Belt. In addition, an oil refinery will be constructed in Brazil to process crude oil from both countries, and the two countries are also expected to jointly build oil tankers and platforms. 14

Lula disclosed that he is prepared to sign “strategic agreements” with other countries in the region, underscoring Brazil’s clear intention to draw other countries into its orbit. However, these kinds of pacts seem aimed at benefiting Brazilian businesses, which have a very strong trade balance with Venezuela and need to continue to expand their markets. For some analysts, the “strategic agreement” between Brazil and Venezuela entails an “unexpected and surprising” change of course by Lula, which might be tied to Washington’s troubles in achieving the Andean Free Trade Agreement with Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. 15

Lately, despite efforts at cooperation, disputes over regional hegemony have arisen. As recent trade negotiations with China show, each country is implementing policies to promote its own interests, although these policies inevitably clash with the interests of their neighbors. Chinese president Hu Jintao’s visit to the region laid bare the differences between Brasilia and Buenos Aires, with Lula’s government offering to recognize China as “a market economy” (a requirement for becoming a full member of the WTO), leaving Kirchner’s government no choice but to follow suit. 16 Industrialists and social movements in both countries strongly criticized the agreements signed with China based on fears in the first group that Chinese competition will ruin local industry, while the latter group (in particular the landless movement) distrust an economic policy geared to exporting commodities and strengthening the neoliberal model.

Within the region, national interests and even personal leadership styles seem pitted against one another, leading, for example, to alliances between Kirchner and Chávez that exclude Brazil. Brazil has countered by establishing agreements such as those recently signed by Lula and Chávez. These rivalries can be attributed to national interests, but what exactly is “national interest?” Behind the conflicts among countries, and at times also behind some positions in favor of integration, are the interests of big business.

Free Trade and Inequalities

One of the problems faced by regional integration is that nearly all governments are subordinated to and taken hostage by large companies, whether domestic or multinational. In turn, these governments do little to free themselves of the influence of business. The question should be: can regional integration be built on the basis of free trade?

A recent example illustrates these problems.

Days before the Mercosur summit in Puerto Iguazú, a serious conflict between Brazil and Argentina put a damper on an important meeting for defining the future of the regional alliance. Argentina decided to limit imports of Brazilian appliances that were invading its market and displacing domestic manufacturers. The Argentine multinational Techint had lobbied for such restrictions, alleging that Brazilian industry was subsidized. It is true that the Brazilian government gives preferential loans to exporters, and, in addition, that products made with components brought in through the Manaos foreign trade zone are considered of “Mercosur origin,” which gives Brazilian manufacturers substantial advantages. Nevertheless, there are other asymmetries, linked to the low investment made by Argentine industrialists in the last five years of stagnation and crisis, to the different sizes of the domestic markets (180 million Brazilians versus 38 million Argentines), to the more solid foundations on which Brazil’s banking system is built, and to its low rate of deposits in foreign currency versus the massive dollarization suffered by Argentina in the 90s.

In light of these asymmetries, Techint—once an enthusiastic defender of Carlos Menem’s government—made a proposal before the Argentine Industrial Union in late 2003 in favor of rethinking Mercosur and transforming it from a customs union into a free trade area, for the country to recover ground lost during the previous decade. 17 The ongoing disputes between Argentina and Brazil, in which Uruguay often sides with Argentina, are paving the road to integration. In the dispute over appliance imports, Lula and Kirchner decided to tone down the confrontation and negotiate. But this conciliatory attitude earned Brazil’s government a stinging editorial from the influential O Estado de São Paulo , which accused it of an assuming an attitude of “complacency vis-à-vis Argentina’s aggressions against free trade.” 18 It is clear that Brasilia’s and Buenos Aires’ foreign policy stances were shaped by the interests of large companies.

Finding a way out of this labyrinth will not be easy. It is essential to clarify what is at stake. There is no reason integration will necessarily favor the people of the continent. As was noted by Venezuelan sociologist Edgardo Lander, an integration project oriented to further opening up economies and “envisioned as a free trade area, conceived principally as the construction of an economic space for the free circulation of goods and capital” is destined to accentuate existing inequalities and to guarantee the success of the strongest based on the exploitation and exclusion of the weakest 19
Free trade is, intrinsically, a generator of social and spatial differences and inequalities within each country and region and all over the planet, since it is guided by the profit motive and is conducted by large companies. Not only does it polarize social sectors, increasing the gap between rich and poor; it also generates poles of development and pockets of marginalization and poverty, and brings prosperity to some areas and countries while maintaining others separated or causing their deindustrialization. The price of Brazil’s growth in the 1990s was, to a certain extent, the decline of Argentine industry.
Lastly, a shift that appears to be spreading throughout the continent could prove troublesome, to the extent that the promoters and beneficiaries of “development” will change once again but the deep-seated pattern will remain unchanged. The conditions are ripe for a partial but certain withdrawal from South America by large European and American multinational firms. They might be replaced by a more or less egalitarian and equitable integration in favor of people, through what Lander calls “a defensive integration aimed at conquering spaces of autonomy and sovereignty to define public policy and local economic options.” Or, on the other hand, regional relations could be redefined in favor of a new master. The candidate, in this case, is the Brazilian business class.

Brazil is the only country to possess an important industrial production structure, whereas the remaining countries have been dragged along the path of deindustrialization. It has a heavy industry with highly advanced technology, one of whose flagship companies is the aeronautical firm Embraer, capable of winning bids in first-world countries. Although the presence of multinational companies is important and large Brazilian companies are allied with international capital, most industrial enterprises are Brazilian-owned, and Brazil is “the only country where [locally owned] financial capital has a dominant position.” 20 It has the only authentic Latin American bourgeoisie; according to Quijano “the only one that appears to have the attributes of a national bourgeoisie, because its interests are rooted in and have branched out through the country’s economy.” But why does Quijano qualify his statement with “appears to?” Perhaps because Brazil is the world champion in inequality, the most socially polarized country in the world, where the wealthiest 10% controls 70 times more national income than do the poorest 10%. And it is, for this same reason, the least democratic country of the region, “the only Latin American country where the ancien régime has succeeded not only in remaining [but also in] modernizing itself in terms of technology and its consumption habits.” 21 In short, Brazil’s business class owes its position to its undemocratic control of an undemocratic state, and to the brutal exploitation of Brazil’s poor.

It is this business class that is behind Brazil’s rejection of the FTAA, since it needs to protect itself from a project that would ruin it. But this business class also appears to be leading the “really already existing” integration. In Caracas, at the signing of the strategic agreement between Brazil and Venezuela, the Binational Entrepreneurial Business Forum was inaugurated. Lula told business people (in reality, Brazilian business people, since Venezuelan business people are trying to oust Chávez) in attendance: “Form partnerships, do business, generate income and jobs. The individual successes of each of you will also be the successes of us all.” 22

End Notes

1. Atilio Borón, “El ALCA y la culminación de un proyecto imperial,” OSAL No. 11, Buenos Aires, May-Aug 2003.
2. Walden, “The Meaning of Cancun,” Yes Magazine http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=670 2003
3. “Análisis de coyuntura sobre ALCA y Mercosur,” Rafael Gentili, www.outrobrasil.net
4. Mercosur, created in 1991, is composed of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The Andean Community of Nations (CAN) is made up of Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.
5. “Informe sobre el Mercosur,” Rafael Gentili, Nov. 2004, Politicainternacional.net.
6. La República , Montevideo, Jan. 4, 2005.
7. “Informe sobre el Mercosur,” Rafael Gentili, Nov. 2004, Politicainternacional.net.
8. Folha de São Paulo , Dec. 15, 2004.
9. “Informe sobre el Mercosur,” Dec. 2004, Politicainternacional.net.
10. Declaración de Cuzco, www.comunidadandina.org.
11. Edgardo Lander, “¿Modelos alternativos de integración? Proyectos neoliberales y resistencias populares,” OSAL No. 15, Buenos Aires, Sept.-Dec 2004.
12. Gustavo González, “América del ALCA al ALBA,” www.ipsenespanol.net.
13. APM (Agencia Periodística del Mercosur), “Acuerdos Argentina-Venezuela: un ejemplo a seguir,” www.alainet.org.
14. Agencia Latinoamericana de Información y Análisis-Dos, “Hagamos que esta sea la gran hora de Venezuela y Brasil,” www.alia2.net.
15. Aram Aharonian, “Acuerdo estratégico Brasil-Venezuela,” www.brecha.com.uy.
16. “Informe sobre el Mercosur”, Nov. 2004.
17. Raúl Zibechi, “El Mercosur y la integración regional: Una interminable carrera de obstáculos,” Masiosare , July 18, 2004, www.jornada.unam.mx.
18. O Estado de São Paulo , July 9, 2004.
19. Edgardo Lander, “¿Modelos alternativos de integración? Proyectos neoliberales y resistencias populares.”
20. Aníbal Quijano, “El laberinto de América Latina, ¿hay otras salidas?,” Revista Venezolana de Economía y Ciencias Sociales , Vol. 10, No. 1, Caracas, Jan.-April 2004, www.revele.com.ve.
21. Ibid.
22. www.alia2.net.
Raúl Zibechi, a member of the editorial board of the weekly Brecha de Montevideo, is a teacher and a researcher on social movements at the Multiversidad Franciscana de América Latina as well as an advisor to several social groups. He is also a monthly contributor to the IRC Americas Program (www.americaspolicy.org), where this article first appeared. Translated from Spanish by Alan Hynds. Photo from igtn.org

For More Information

Regional alliances:

CAN: Andean Community of Nations, composed of Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela: www.comunidadandina.org
SACN: South American Community of Nations, composed of twelve countries of South America (every country on the continent except Suriname and Guyana).
Mercosur: Southern Common Market, made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay: www.mercosur.org.uy

Other resources:

Agencia Latinoamericana de Información y Análisis-Dos: www.alia2.net
Agencia Periodística del Mercosur (APM): www.prensamercosur.com.ar
Bello, Walden, “The Meaning of Cancun,” Yes Magazine http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=670
Borón, Atilio, “El ALCA y la culminación de un proyecto imperial”, OSAL No. 11, Buenos Aires, May-Aug. 2003.
Statement of Cuzco of the SACN: www.comunidadandina.org
Instituto de Estudios y Formación de la CTA, “Diferencias entre Brasil y Argentina,” Buenos Aires, April 2003, www.cta.org.ar
Laboratorio de Políticas Públicas: www.Politicainternacional.net
Lander, Edgardo “¿Modelos alternativos de integración? Proyectos neoliberales y resistencias populares,” OSAL No. 15, Buenos Aires, Sept.-Dec. 2004.
Observatorio Social de América Latina (OSAL): http://osal.clacso.org
Quijano, Aníbal, “El laberinto de América Latina, ¿hay otras salidas?,” Revista Venezolana de Economía y Ciencias Sociales , Vol. 10, No. 1, Caracas, January-April 2004, www.revele.com.ve

Declaración Final de la III Cumbre de los Pueblos de América

The FTAA should be buried forever!
No to “free trade” militarization and debt!
To truly end poverty unemployment and social exclusion

AN INTEGRATION FOR AND FROM THE PEOPLE IS NECESSARY AND POSSIBLE


Delegates of social organizations from all regions of the continent – from Canada to Patagonia; workers, prescription farmers, indigenous, young and old, of all races, women and men with dignity, have come together in Mar del Plata, Argentina, to demand that the powerful, who normally ignore us, listen to the voice of all of the peoples of our America. As we have done previously, in Santiago de Chile and in Quebec, we have come together at this Summit of the Americas, which brings together the presidents of the entire continent with the exception of Cuba, because despite the official discourse which continues to be full of words about democracy and the fight against poverty, the people continue to be excluded from the decisions that are made about our futures. We are also here in the III People’s Summit, to deepen our resistance to the neoliberal calamities orchestrated by the imperial power from the north and to continue in the construction of alternatives. We are demonstrating that it is possible to change the course of history and we commit ourselves to continue on this path.

In the year 2001, at the official Summit in Quebec when the vast majority of the governments were blindly inclined towards neo-liberal orthodoxy and the dictates of Washington, with the honorable exception of Venezuela, the US managed to establish January of 2005 as the fatal date on which their new project of domination called the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) would enter into effect. The Fourth Summit of the Americas, to be held in Argentina, was programmed to be the event at which the negotiations for this perverse project would be signed. However, on the first of January, 2005 we woke up without the FTAA and this official Summit has occurred with negotiations irreversibly stalled. We are here today to celebrate this!

The US has not changed

However, the US has not changed its strategy of consolidating hegemony in the continent through bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements such as CAFTA, which was ratified by a very close margin, and AFTA which they now seek to force on the Andean countries. In addition Washington is advancing with an “Agreement for Security and Prosperity in North America” (ASPNA). Despite irrefutable evidence of the disastrous consequences of more than 10 years of NAFTA, now the FTA-plus has the objective of imposing US ‘security’ policy on the entire region.

The US is not content to simply advance with the placement of pieces in their puzzle of domination in the continent. They insist on placing the pieces into a hegemonic framework without renouncing the FTAA. Now, together with their ally governments they come to Mar del Plata with the pretension of breathing new life into the cadaver of the FTAA, when the people have clearly expressed their rejection to an integration subordinated to the US.

The US strategy to favor North American corporations has been accompanied by an increase in US military bases and militarization of the continent. Now, to finish off the genocide, George W. Bush has come to the Summit in Mar del Plata with the intention of elevating his ‘security’ policy in the continent under the pretext of combating terrorism, when the best way of achieving that goal is to end his policies of colonial intervention.

Empty words and demogogic proposals

In the final declaration which is being discussed by our governments, a real threat exists that, although nuanced, the worst intentions of the US could come to pass. The declaration is full of empty words and demagogic proposals to combat poverty and generate decent employment. The reality is that these offers only serve to perpetuate a model which as deepened the misery and injustice of our continent which possesses the worst distribution of wealth in the world.

This is a model that favors a select few, deteriorates labor conditions, accelerates migration, the destruction of indigenous communities, the deterioration of the environment, the privatization of social security and education, the implementation of laws which protect corporations rather than citizens, as in the case of intellectual property.

In addition to the FTAA, they insist on moving forward with the Doha Agenda in order to assign more power to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to impose unequal economic rules on the least developed countries and further promote the corporate agenda. Our natural resources and energy reserves continue to be exposed to plunder. The distribution and commercialization of potable water is privatized. The appropriation and privatization of our aquifers and hydro reserves is promoted, converting access to water as a human right into merchandise for transnational corporations.

No concrete solutions

In order to impose these policies, the empire and its accomplices rely on external debt as blackmail, impeding the development of our people in violation of all of our human rights. The declaration of the Presidents offers no concrete solutions such as; the cancellation of payments on this illegitimate debt, restitution of the excess which has been charged and repayment of the historical social and ecological debts to the peoples of our America.

The delegates of the different peoples of America are here not only to Denounce. We are here because we have been resisting the policies of the empire and its allies. At the same time, we are constructing popular alternatives through the solidarity and unity of our people, constructing a social fabric from below, from the autonomy and diversity of our movements with the intention of attaining a society which is inclusive, just and has dignity.

From this III People’s Summit of the America’s we declare:

  1. Negotiations for the creation of a Free Trade Agreement of the
    Americas (FTAA) should be SUSPENDED IMMEDIATELY AND DEFINITELY, as well as all bilateral and regional FTAs. We join in the resistance of the
    peoples of the Andean Region and of Costa Rica against the FTAs and with the peoples of the Caribbean so that the EPAS will not come to signify a new era of disguised colonialism and with the struggles of the people of North America, Chile and Central America to repeal the treaties which weigh so heavy on them.
  2. All agreements between countries should be based on principals of respect for human rights, the social dimension, respect for sovereignty, complementarity, cooperation, solidarity, and the consideration of economic asymmetries so that the least developed countries are favored. We therefore reject/oppose the Bilateral Investment Protection Treaty that has been signed between the US and Uruguay.
  3. We pledge to support and promote alternative projects for regional integration such as the Boliviarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).
  4. We affirm the conclusions and actions which have emerged from the forums, workshops and encounters of this Summit and we commit to deepen our process of constructing alternatives.
  5. All of the illegitimate, un-payable and unjust external debt of the South should be cancelled immediately and without conditions. We assume our position as creditors to collect the social, ecological and historical debt with our peoples.
  6. We support the struggle of our peoples for an equitable distribution
    of wealth, dignified work and social justice in order to eradicate poverty, unemployment and social exclusion.
  7. We agree to promote the diversification of production, the protection of native seeds which are the patrimony of the people at the service of humanity, food sovereignty of the peoples, sustainable agriculture and an integral agrarian reform.
  8. We vigorously reject the militarization of the continent which is being promoted by the empire from the North. We denounce the so-called doctrine of ‘cooperation for hemispheric security’ as a mechanism for the repression of popular struggles. We reject the presence of US troops on our continent; we do not want military bases or conclaves. We condemn the state terrorism of the Bush Administration which has as its objective to bloody the legitimate rebellions of our people. We commit to the defense of our sovereignty in the Triple Border, heart of the Guarani fresh water reserve. We demand US troops out of Paraguay. We demand an end to the foreign military intervention in Haiti.
  9. We condemn the immorality of the government of the United States, that talks about a struggle against terrorism while it protects the
    terrorist Posada Carriles and continues to detain five Cuban patriots in jail. We demand their immediate release!
  10. We repudiate the presence of George W. Bush in our dignified lands of Latin America – he is the principal promoter of war in the world and heads the neoliberal creed which even impacts the interests of his own people. We send a message of solidarity to the dignified women and men
    of the United States, who are ashamed at having a government which has
    been condemned by the humanity of the world, and who resist with all their strength.

Bury the FTAA forever

After Quebec, we constructed a huge campaign and held continent wide popular consultations against the FTAA.   We managed to stop it.   Today, in response to attempts to revive the negotiations and to attach the US military objectives – in this III People’s Summit, we commitment to doubling our resistance, strengthen our unity in diversity and to convene a new and even larger continental mobilization to bury the FTAA forever and at the same time to build a new alternative America that is just, free and rooted in solidarity.

Mar del Plata, Argentina, November 4, 2005


www.cumbredelospueblos.org

www.asc-hsa.org

www.noalalca.org

¡El ALCA debe ser enterrada para siempre! ¡NO al “libre comercio”, advice la militarización y la deuda!

 

Para acabar verdaderamente con la pobreza, el desempleo y la exclusión social es necesario y posible una integración desde y para los pueblos

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delegados y delegadas de organizaciones sociales de todas las regiones del continente, desde Canadá hasta la Patagonia; trabajadores, campesinos, indígenas, jóvenes y viejos, de todas las razas, mujeres y hombres dignos nos hemos encontrado aquí en Mar del Plata, Argentina, para hacer oír la voz, excluida por los poderosos, de todos los pueblos de nuestra América.

 

Como antes en Santiago de Chile y en Québec, nos hemos encontrado nuevamente frente a la Cumbre de las Américas que reúne a los presidentes de todo el continente, con la exclusión de Cuba, porque aunque los discursos oficiales siguen llenándose de palabras sobre la democracia y la lucha contra la pobreza, los pueblos seguimos sin ser tomados en cuenta a la hora de decidir sobre nuestros destinos. También nos encontramos aquí, en esta III Cumbre de los Pueblos, para profundizar nuestra resistencia a las calamidades neoliberales orquestadas por el imperio del norte y seguir construyendo alternativas. Venimos demostrando que es posible cambiar el curso de la historia y nos comprometemos a continuar avanzando por ese camino.

 

En el año de 2001, en la cumbre oficial de Québec, cuando todavía la absoluta mayoría de los gobiernos se inclinaban ciegamente a la ortodoxia neoliberal y a los dictados de Washington, con la honrosa excepción de Venezuela, Estados Unidos logró que se fijara el primero de enero del 2005 como la fecha fatal para que entrara en vigor su nuevo proyecto de dominación llamado Área de Libre Comercio de las Américas (ALCA) y que la Cuarta Cumbre de las Américas a realizarse previamente en Argentina fuera la culminación de las negociaciones de este proyecto perverso. Pero el primero de Enero del 2005 amanecimos sin ALCA y la cumbre oficial de Argentina ha llegado finalmente con las negociaciones del ALCA estancadas. ¡Hoy estamos también aquí para celebrarlo!

 

Sin embargo, Estados Unidos no ceja en su estrategia de afirmar su hegemonía en el continente por medio de tratados de libre comercio bilaterales o regionales, como es el que por un margen estrecho se ha aprobado para Centroamérica y el que buscan imponer ahora a los países andinos. Además, ahora Washington esta lanzando el Acuerdo para la Seguridad y la Prosperidad de América del Norte (ASPAN). No obstante las evidencias incontestables de las desastrosas consecuencias de más de diez años de Tratado de Libre Comercio, ahora este TLC plus pretende incluso imponer la política de “seguridad” de los Estados Unidos a toda la región.

 

Pero el gobierno de Estados Unidos no se conforma con avanzar las piezas del rompecabezas de su dominación en el continente. Insiste en acomodarlas en un marco hegemónico único y no ha renunciado al proyecto del ALCA. Ahora, junto con sus gobiernos incondicionales, viene a Mar del Plata con la pretensión de revivir el cadáver del ALCA, cuando los pueblos han expresado claramente su rechazo a una integración subordinada a Estados Unidos.

 

Y si su estrategia a favor de las corporaciones norteamericanas ha venido siendo acompañada de una creciente militarización del continente y de bases militares estadounidenses, ahora para rematar el genocida George W. Bush ha venido a la cumbre de Mar del Plata para intentar elevar su política de seguridad a compromiso continental con el pretexto del combate al terrorismo, cuando la mejor forma de acabar con él sería el revertir su política intervencionista y colonialista.

 

En la declaración oficial que está siendo discutida por los gobiernos existe la amenaza real de que puedan pasar, aún matizadas, las peores intenciones de los Estados Unidos. La misma está llena de palabras vacías y propuestas demagógicas para combatir la pobreza y generar empleo decente; lo concreto es que sus ofrecimientos perpetúan un modelo que ha hecho cada vez más miserable e injusto a nuestro continente que posee la peor distribución de la riqueza en el mundo. Modelo que favorece a unos pocos, que deteriora las condiciones laborales, profundiza la migración, la destrucción de las comunidades indígenas, el deterioro del medio ambiente, la privatización de la seguridad social y la educación, la implementación de normas que protegen los derechos de las corporaciones y no de los ciudadanos, como es el caso de la propiedad intelectual.

Además del ALCA, se insiste en avanzar en la Ronda de Doha, que busca otorgar más poderes a la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC) para imponer reglas económicas inequitativas a los países menos desarrollados y hacer prevalecer la agenda corporativa. Se sigue exponiendo al saqueo nuestros bienes naturales, nuestros yacimientos energéticos; se privatiza la distribución y comercialización del agua potable; se estimula la apropiación y privatización de nuestras reservas acuíferas e hidrográficas, convirtiendo un derecho humano como es el acceso al agua en una mercancía de interés de las transnacionales.

Para imponer estas políticas, el imperio y sus cómplices cuentan con el chantaje de la deuda externa, impidiendo el desarrollo de los pueblos en violación de todos nuestros derechos humanos. La declaración de los presidentes no ofrece ninguna salida concreta, como sería la anulación y no pago de la deuda ilegítima, la restitución de lo que se ha cobrado de más y el resarcimiento de las deudas históricas, sociales y ecológicas adeudadas a los pueblos de nuestra América.

 

Las y los delegados de los distintos pueblos de América estamos aquí no sólo para denunciar, estamos acá porque venimos resistiendo las políticas del imperio y sus aliados. Pero también venimos construyendo alternativas populares, a partir de la solidaridad y la unidad de nuestros pueblos, construyendo tejido social desde abajo, desde la autonomía y diversidad de nuestros movimientos con el propósito de alcanzar una sociedad inclusiva, justa y digna.

 

Desde esta III Cumbre de los Pueblos de América declaramos:

 

1) Las negociaciones para crear un Área de Libre Comercio de las Américas (ALCA) deben ser SUSPENDIDAS INMEDIATA Y DEFINITIVAMENTE, lo mismo que todo tratado de libre comercio bilateral o regional. Asumimos la resistencia de los pueblos andinos y de Costa Rica contra el Tratado de Libre Comercio, la de los pueblos del Caribe porque los EPAs no signifiquen una nueva era de colonialismo disfrazado y la lucha de los pueblos de América del Norte, Chile y Centroamérica por echar atrás los tratados de esta naturaleza que ya pesan sobre ellos.

 

2) Todo acuerdo entre las naciones debe partir de principios basados en el respeto de los derechos humanos, la dimensión social, el respeto a la soberanía, la complementariedad, la cooperación, la solidaridad, la consideración de las asimetrías económicas favoreciendo a los países menos desarrollados. Por eso rechazamos el Tratado de Protección de Inversiones que Uruguay firmó con los Estados Unidos.

 

3) Nos empeñamos en favorecer e impulsar procesos alternativos de integración regional, como la Alternativa Bolivariana de las Américas (ALBA).

 

4) Asumimos las conclusiones y las acciones nacidas en los foros, talleres, encuentros de esta Cumbre y nos comprometemos a seguir profundizando nuestro proceso de construcción de alternativas.

5) Hay que anular toda la deuda externa ilegítima, injusta e impagable del Sur, de manera inmediata y sin condiciones. Nos asumimos como acreedores para cobrar la deuda social, ecológica e histórica con nuestros pueblos.

 

6) Asumimos la lucha de nuestros pueblos por la distribución equitativa de la riqueza, con trabajo digno y justicia social, para erradicar la pobreza, el desempleo y la exclusión social.

7) Acordamos promover la diversificación de la producción, la protección de las semillas criollas patrimonio de los pueblos al servicio de la humanidad, la soberanía alimentaría de los pueblos, la agricultura sostenible y una reforma agraria integral.

 

8 ) Rechazamos enérgicamente la militarización del continente promovida por el imperio del norte. Denunciamos la doctrina de la llamada cooperación para la seguridad hemisférica como un mecanismo para la represión de las luchas populares. Rechazamos la presencia de tropas de Estados Unidos en nuestro continente, no queremos bases ni enclaves militares. Condenamos el terrorismo de estado mundial de la Administración Bush, que pretende regar de sangre las legítimas rebeldías de nuestros pueblos. Nos comprometemos en la defensa de nuestra soberanía en la Triple Frontera, corazón del Acuífero Guaraní. Por esto, exigimos el retiro de las tropas estadounidenses de la República del Paraguay. Exigimos poner fin a la intervención militar extranjera en Haití.

 

9) Condenamos la inmoralidad del gobierno de Estados Unidos, que mientras habla de luchar contra el terrorismo protege al terrorista Posada Carriles y mantiene en la cárcel a cinco luchadores patriotas cubanos. Exigimos su inmediata libertad!

 

10) Repudiamos la presencia en estas dignas tierras latinoamericanas de George W. Bush, principal promotor de la guerra en el mundo y cabecilla del credo neoliberal que afecta incluso los intereses de su propio pueblo. Desde aquí mandamos un mensaje de solidaridad a los dignos hombres y mujeres estadounidenses que sienten vergüenza por tener un gobierno condenado por la humanidad y lo resisten contra viento y marea.

 

Después de Québec construimos una gran campaña y consulta popular continentales contra el ALCA y logramos frenarla. Hoy, ante la pretensión de revivir las negociaciones del ALCA y sumarle los objetivos militaristas de Estados Unidos, en esta III Cumbre de los Pueblos de América asumimos el compromiso de redoblar nuestra resistencia, fortalecer nuestra unidad en la diversidad y convocar a una nueva y más grande movilización continental para enterrar el ALCA para siempre y construir al mismo tiempo bajo su impulso, nuestra alternativa de una América justa, libre y solidaria.


Declaration of the III People of the Americas Summit in Mar del Plata

The FTAA should be buried forever! No to “free trade” militarization and debt!
To truly end poverty unemployment and social exclusion


AN INTEGRATION FOR AND FROM THE PEOPLE IS NECESSARY AND POSSIBLE


Delegates of social organizations from all regions of the continent – from Canada to Patagonia; workers, farmers, indigenous, young and old, of all races, women and men with dignity, have come together in Mar del Plata, Argentina, to demand that the powerful, who normally ignore us, listen to the voice of all of the peoples of our America. As we have done previously, in Santiago de Chile and in Quebec, we have come together at this Summit of the Americas, which brings together the presidents of the entire continent with the exception of Cuba, because despite the official discourse which continues to be full of words about democracy and the fight against poverty, the people continue to be excluded from the decisions that are made about our futures. We are also here in the III People’s Summit, to deepen our resistance to the neoliberal calamities orchestrated by the imperial power from the north and to continue in the construction of alternatives. We are demonstrating that it is possible to change the course of history and we commit ourselves to continue on this path.

In the year 2001, at the official Summit in Quebec when the vast majority of the governments were blindly inclined towards neo-liberal orthodoxy and the dictates of Washington, with the honorable exception of Venezuela, the US managed to establish January of 2005 as the fatal date on which their new project of domination called the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) would enter into effect. The Fourth Summit of the Americas, to be held in Argentina, was programmed to be the event at which the negotiations for this perverse project would be signed. However, on the first of January, 2005 we woke up without the FTAA and this official Summit has occurred with negotiations irreversibly stalled. We are here today to celebrate this!

The US has not changed

However, the US has not changed its strategy of consolidating hegemony in the continent through bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements such as CAFTA, which was ratified by a very close margin, and AFTA which they now seek to force on the Andean countries. In addition Washington is advancing with an “Agreement for Security and Prosperity in North America” (ASPNA). Despite irrefutable evidence of the disastrous consequences of more than 10 years of NAFTA, now the FTA-plus has the objective of imposing US ‘security’ policy on the entire region.

The US is not content to simply advance with the placement of pieces in their puzzle of domination in the continent. They insist on placing the pieces into a hegemonic framework without renouncing the FTAA. Now, together with their ally governments they come to Mar del Plata with the pretension of breathing new life into the cadaver of the FTAA, when the people have clearly expressed their rejection to an integration subordinated to the US.

The US strategy to favor North American corporations has been accompanied by an increase in US military bases and militarization of the continent. Now, to finish off the genocide, George W. Bush has come to the Summit in Mar del Plata with the intention of elevating his ‘security’ policy in the continent under the pretext of combating terrorism, when the best way of achieving that goal is to end his policies of colonial intervention.

Empty words and demogogic proposals

In the final declaration which is being discussed by our governments, a real threat exists that, although nuanced, the worst intentions of the US could come to pass. The declaration is full of empty words and demagogic proposals to combat poverty and generate decent employment. The reality is that these offers only serve to perpetuate a model which as deepened the misery and injustice of our continent which possesses the worst distribution of wealth in the world.

This is a model that favors a select few, deteriorates labor conditions, accelerates migration, the destruction of indigenous communities, the deterioration of the environment, the privatization of social security and education, the implementation of laws which protect corporations rather than citizens, as in the case of intellectual property.

In addition to the FTAA, they insist on moving forward with the Doha Agenda in order to assign more power to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to impose unequal economic rules on the least developed countries and further promote the corporate agenda. Our natural resources and energy reserves continue to be exposed to plunder. The distribution and commercialization of potable water is privatized. The appropriation and privatization of our aquifers and hydro reserves is promoted, converting access to water as a human right into merchandise for transnational corporations.

No concrete solutions

In order to impose these policies, the empire and its accomplices rely on external debt as blackmail, impeding the development of our people in violation of all of our human rights. The declaration of the Presidents offers no concrete solutions such as; the cancellation of payments on this illegitimate debt, restitution of the excess which has been charged and repayment of the historical social and ecological debts to the peoples of our America.

The delegates of the different peoples of America are here not only to Denounce. We are here because we have been resisting the policies of the empire and its allies. At the same time, we are constructing popular alternatives through the solidarity and unity of our people, constructing a social fabric from below, from the autonomy and diversity of our movements with the intention of attaining a society which is inclusive, just and has dignity.

From this III People’s Summit of the America’s we declare:

  1. Negotiations for the creation of a Free Trade Agreement of the
    Americas (FTAA) should be SUSPENDED IMMEDIATELY AND DEFINITELY, as well as all bilateral and regional FTAs. We join in the resistance of the
    peoples of the Andean Region and of Costa Rica against the FTAs and with the peoples of the Caribbean so that the EPAS will not come to signify a new era of disguised colonialism and with the struggles of the people of North America, Chile and Central America to repeal the treaties which weigh so heavy on them.
  2. All agreements between countries should be based on principals of respect for human rights, the social dimension, respect for sovereignty, complementarity, cooperation, solidarity, and the consideration of economic asymmetries so that the least developed countries are favored. We therefore reject/oppose the Bilateral Investment Protection Treaty that has been signed between the US and Uruguay.
  3. We pledge to support and promote alternative projects for regional integration such as the Boliviarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).
  4. We affirm the conclusions and actions which have emerged from the forums, workshops and encounters of this Summit and we commit to deepen our process of constructing alternatives.
  5. All of the illegitimate, un-payable and unjust external debt of the South should be cancelled immediately and without conditions. We assume our position as creditors to collect the social, ecological and historical debt with our peoples.
  6. We support the struggle of our peoples for an equitable distribution
    of wealth, dignified work and social justice in order to eradicate poverty, unemployment and social exclusion.
  7. We agree to promote the diversification of production, the protection of native seeds which are the patrimony of the people at the service of humanity, food sovereignty of the peoples, sustainable agriculture and an integral agrarian reform.
  8. We vigorously reject the militarization of the continent which is being promoted by the empire from the North. We denounce the so-called doctrine of ‘cooperation for hemispheric security’ as a mechanism for the repression of popular struggles. We reject the presence of US troops on our continent; we do not want military bases or conclaves. We condemn the state terrorism of the Bush Administration which has as its objective to bloody the legitimate rebellions of our people. We commit to the defense of our sovereignty in the Triple Border, heart of the Guarani fresh water reserve. We demand US troops out of Paraguay. We demand an end to the foreign military intervention in Haiti.
  9. We condemn the immorality of the government of the United States, that talks about a struggle against terrorism while it protects the
    terrorist Posada Carriles and continues to detain five Cuban patriots in jail. We demand their immediate release!
  10. We repudiate the presence of George W. Bush in our dignified lands of Latin America – he is the principal promoter of war in the world and heads the neoliberal creed which even impacts the interests of his own people. We send a message of solidarity to the dignified women and men
    of the United States, who are ashamed at having a government which has
    been condemned by the humanity of the world, and who resist with all their strength.

Bury the FTAA forever

After Quebec, we constructed a huge campaign and held continent wide popular consultations against the FTAA.   We managed to stop it.   Today, in response to attempts to revive the negotiations and to attach the US military objectives – in this III People’s Summit, we commitment to doubling our resistance, strengthen our unity in diversity and to convene a new and even larger continental mobilization to bury the FTAA forever and at the same time to build a new alternative America that is just, free and rooted in solidarity.

Mar del Plata, Argentina, November 4, 2005


www.cumbredelospueblos.org

www.asc-hsa.org

www.noalalca.org

Which European Social Model?

Proposals to guide the debate within Attac by Pierre Khalfa and Julien Lusson, rx members of Attac’s Europe Commission

The European Union (EU) is the world’s wealthy area. But despite its wealth these past two decades, the social situation has deteriorated considerably, particularly with respect to unemployment, poverty and social marginalization. Today in 15-member Europe alone, some 60 million people live below the poverty line [1]. At a 14,6 % unemployment rate in July 2003, the ten new member states find themselves in an even worse situation. Unemployment affects young people, women, people over 55 and people of immigrant descent most of all. In 15-member Europe, close to 3 million people are homeless and 15 million live in precarious conditions.

The creation of the EU, carrying the stamp of neoliberalism, is not without responsibility for this situation. The neoliberal model that emerged in the 80s sought efforts to integrate Europe by implementing a single market and the Monetary Union, and the highly diverse social and fiscal systems of the different countries of the Union were brought into direct competition with each other. The European Community had been characterized from the beginning by a fundamental asymmetry between policies of competitiveness, upheld by the Union, and social policies meant to correct harmful effects, which fell to the member states. Despite vague intentions to develop a social Europe – establishment of social dialogue, adoption of a qualified majority in health and workers’ security, the declared objectives of social cohesion -, the push for integration accentuated this asymmetry. Successive expansion has exacerbated the problem.

Since 1997, the EU has been the setting of a coordinated employment strategy based on an “open method of coordination,” that establishes guidelines to be implemented in the national action plans. With the “Lisbon Strategy” and the social agenda of 2000, this method included a “modernization of social protection systems,” but economic criteria and the Broad Guidelines for Economic Policies (BGEP) were given priority. The European Council’s decision in March 2005 to merge the BGEP-making process with that of the Guidelines for Employment Policies (GEP) and create a single process called Integrated Guidelines (IG) maintains the imperative of competitiveness with respect to social policies. The contents of the IGs will continue to guide national policy-making as part of National Reform Programmes (NRPs). Recent developments in retirement plans, health insurance and unemployment insurances in France are also observed in the rest of 25-member Europe. Meanwhile, public services have largely been liberalized or even privatized, and employment policies have not curbed unemployment.

Following the NO vote in France and the Netherlands, the European Council on June 16 and 17 was compelled to recognize the importance of the “social question,” and affirm a will to reform the “European social model” in the framework of the new social agenda 2005-2010. However, the broad lines of these reforms remain imbued with neoliberal ideology, and the British Prime Minister in charge of the presidency of the European Council for the second semester 2005 proposed the organization this October of a “European Summit on the European Social Model,” which we fear will be a pretext for promoting neoliberal solutions.

Nevertheless, this situation presents an opportunity for a democratic debate on the desired nature of the European project. The present document is intended to stimulate the debate within Attac about the “European social model,” on the basis of the ABC plan and in the triple perspective of the European Summit on the European Social Model, the European Council at the end of the year with, in parallel, the European Attac Convention, and the Consultations of United Working Groups to be held during the European Social Forum in Athens in April 2006. At this stage it is a draft project and may still be enhanced by comments from all participants wishing to join in the debate between now and September.

The Debate on a “Social Europe”

Those who reject the neoliberal logic have long considered the debate to be over who is responsible for elaborating social policies: the nation-state or the community? For historical as well as pragmatic reasons, this debate was gradually left behind.

The nation-state, an inevitable entity?

Partisans of the nation-state, pointing out the obvious heterogeneity that increases each time a new member is added, opposed measures that “Europeanize norms,” citing the lowering of standards in places where norms are the highest. They were accused of two things: a form of “egotism of the privileged,” and a certain denial of reality. To not care about the situation of countries with weaker norms was to accept a multi-gear Europe. Above all, single market dynamics and capital globalization affect national policies of solidarity. How is it possible to claim that levels of social protection can be permanently maintained in some countries while they coexist in the same economic and social space with countries having much lower levels of social protection? How is it possible to contend with the practice of large groups who subcontract their activities in order to subject state social and fiscal systems to competition (socio-fiscal dumping) and in doing so gut national labor rights? In short, national social policies have not been exempt from criticism.

Towards European social legislation?

In response to the foregoing position, others advocate strong policies of economic and social regulation on the community level in order to fight efficiently the effects of fiscal and social dumping. However, the goal of harmonizing social policies from above and subordinating competition and economic policies with the respect of rights and with social goals, was in reality misguided. It is correct to affirm that this position is based on the objective convergence of interests between populations of different the Union members, but the disparity between social systems (particularly the distinction between a Bismarck insurance system and a Beveridge universal system) and the heterogeneity of levels of development and of public action representation, makes it difficult to elaborate common policies. Representatives of management were able to fully profit from the fragmentation of forces and political and social cultures.

To surmount these obstacles, a pragmatic course gradually emerged: the establishment of a converging process from above based on desired results in terms of social goals, within the framework of a clear rise in power of redistributive functions of the Union budget; designating territories according to both decisional processes and policy implementation.

The debate therefore focuses, case by case, on which goals to establish and which strategies to follow in the European framework. Among the goals, some deal with the architecture of Europe – whether to modify Union competencies, voting modalities, methods and tools of harmonization -, and others deal with policy contents – current or desired directives -, and still others with economic and social priorities. In terms of strategy, it is all about alliances on the European scale and the precise goals on which to build them.

Courses of action for redefining the European social model

The following courses of action originated mostly in the “alternative world” movement, where some were more widely appropriated than others. They do not include proposals to reword the Treaty and define solidarity as a fundamental Union norm and value (please see the documents “21 Demands of Attac” and “Proposal to Revise Title 1 of the Treaty”). However, they represent proposals already expressed by Attac. This debate should help enhance them [2].

A radical change of economic policies on the European level. Since neoliberal economic policies are not compatible with a high level of social protection, a radical reform of the architecture and the economic policy of the Union is necessary. Its aim should be to steer macroeconomic policies towards practices that help meet social needs:

  • coordinating national economic policies and improving the policy-mix (the link between budgetary and monetary policies) applying them instead to the fight against unemployment by reducing work hours at the European level;
  • a reform of the status and criteria of the European Central Bank (demands n° 9, 10 and 11) ;
  • a reform of the Stability and Growth Pact, taking into account social and employment criteria ;
  • requiring the Eurogroup to use its prerogatives regarding exchange policies ;
  • using the European budget as a true instrument of economic policy, by making sure it has its own resources (a European tax on air travel and on non-renewable resource consumption) and through borrowing (demand n° 11) ;
  • imposing a unified European taxation of capital income and reforming the taxation of corporate profits in order to combat fiscal dumping (demand n° 8) ;
  • imposing a tax on exchange markets (demand n° 12) ;

Setting criteria of social convergence To move towards identical social rights in all Union countries in spite of vastly different levels of development, it is important to make an exact list of fundamental social rights (salaries, social minima, guaranteed minimum income, pensions) for which convergence norms could be established, to be defined case by case – the specifics could depend on the level of development of the country in question -, and to decide on a precise and binding calendar as in the case of the monetary criteria of Maastricht. A clause of non regression would help avoid any social reversal (demand n° 13). The same goes for a minimum salary: all countries should adopt the same minimum salary – giving the Union competency in the area of remuneration where it cannot currently intervene; the level would be based on the percentage per inhabitant of the GDP, and a schedule of payment would be set – and the non regression clause would protect the highest levels. The same system could exist for income compensations, social minima, retirements.

Defining the elements of European labor law This would strengthen the transnational rights of salary and wage earners:

  • recognizing the European right to strike and prohibiting « lock-outs », giving jurisdiction to communities ;
  • renegotiating the directive on European Work Councils (EWC) in view of granting them more power and creating the right to form « company governing bodies » with mandatory representation of salary and wage earners on company Boards of Administration;
  • applying the notion of « economic and social unity » on the European level to make contractor companies responsible for the salary and wage earners of subcontracting companies and to guarantee the same rights to all employees ;
  • renegotiating the directive 96/71/EC (labor law) and the bylaw 1408/71 on the coordination of social security schemes for contractual workers in order to reinforce the obligation to respect the host country’s employment norms and break the bonds of dependence that exist between contractual workers and their employers caused when the right of residence is subject to the job contract. ;
  • guaranteeing access to social rights and establishing legal recourse when they are violated.

Reinstating public services The introduction of a single market led to the liberalization of public industrial and commercial services, but the competitive model has also had an impact on the financing of non-commercial public services. Liberalization broke up public monopolies, and the management of public companies in charge of public service missions was brought in alignment with norms of private enterprise, generally resulting in their privatization. Public services must be recognized and reinstated (demand n° 4) and no longer subjected to laws of competition :

  • by calling a moratorium on liberalization and carrying out a public, democratic and critical evaluation ;
  • by rejecting the country of origin principle in all liberalization measures. Beyond this, is European legislation necessary? If yes, should legislation allow member states to organize their public services as they see fit, or should it stipulate the foundations of public services in Europe? In this matter, what is the appropriate level of subsidiarity and is it the same for all sectors? What should the role of public authorities be in this issue? Which mode of financing should be considered ? Who should proceed (and how) with the evaluation of service management?
  • Recognizing equal rights for all. The status of Resident Citizen of Europe (demand n° 18) should be established so that tens of thousands of people living legally on European territory are guaranteed access to rights. This status should exclude reference to nationality or naturalization. It would be a legal instrument to counter discrimination.

    Supporting the countries of the South with democratic ecodevelopment in mind. The Union has a unique status in trade policy negotiations in that it represents all member states at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has developed numerous “partner” and “cooperative” agreements with countries or groups of countries in the South, agreements that protect the interests of wealthy countries. We recommend :

    • moving away from generalized free exchange (demand n° 5) and establishing conditions of fair trade relations, particularly by reinstating preferential and non-reciprocal terms and financial and technical cooperation ;
    • that Union member countries reject the international financial institutions’ conditions which grant financial aid to countries in exchange for open markets, and that they promote the establishment of international law governing debt that recognizes the co-responsibility of creditors and the right to appeal. Aid should be conditional to policies that fulfill peoples’ fundamental needs and guarantee democratic freedoms ;
    • reforming the Common Agricultural Policy based on the multifunctionality of agriculture and halting export subsidies ;
      calling a moratorium on international policies of trade liberalization and acknowledging all countries’ right to food sovereignty in international negotiations.

    Notes

    [1] The poverty line is calculated at less than half the average income in the country in question.

    [2] The primary working tools are: European Treaties, secondary legislation (regulations, guidelines, sectorial directives), advisories by various institutions, contributions to the Convention, evaluations by specialized organizations. Among Attac’s contributions: the book « Cette « Constitution » qui piège l’Europe » ; various commentaries of the referendum debate available on the website, contributions by the Scientific Council (Autre Europe. Autre mondialisation) ; works by Attac Belgium ; works by founding members of Attac.