SAPA letter to the EPG on the ASEAN Charter reiterating the key points of its submissions

The Eminent Persons Group on the ASEAN Charter
Through Mr. Fidel V. Ramos
Philippine EPG Member
Re: Reiterating the Main Elements of the Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy (SAPA) Submissions to the Eminent Persons Group on the ASEAN Charter
Excellencies, generic
The Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacies (SAPA) Working Group on ASEAN would like to thank the Eminent Persons Group on the ASEAN Charter for the opportunity given us to make submissions on the following themes: Security Pillar (April 17, Ubud, Bali); Economic Pillar (June 28, Singapore); and Socio-Cultural Pillar and Institutional Mechanisms (November 10, Manila, Philippines). The three documents we submitted outline our broad and specific aspirations as citizens of ASEAN member countries.
As a final submission, we enumerate below the key points we would like to see enshrined in the ASEAN Charter:
1. Regional Recognition of Human Rights and Human Dignity as Foundation of Community
The ASEAN Charter should explicitly recognize all core human rights including recently signed international agreements that expand on human rights norms and standards.
The principles should not be compromised by economic and trade, as well as security commitments.
2. Introducing Human Security
The ASEAN Charter should broadly define human security, allocate a specific chapter addressing the issue, and contain provisions that will lead to the implementation of its values.
Human Security is a framework based on the protection and empowerment of the people. It encompasses not only freedom from violence but also freedom from threats to people’s lives, including hunger, poverty, disease, marginalization and exclusion; and hinges upon environmental integrity and ecological security that safeguard against degradation and destruction that cause disease, harsh living conditions, and loss of lives and livelihoods.
3. Regional Harmonization and Complementation in Industry, Agriculture and Services
The ASEAN Charter should enshrine principles that:
* Recognize a policy mix that is informed by heterodox economic thinking and policy
analyses;
* Integrate a strong social protection element in economic development that is founded on redistributive justice, poverty eradication and growth with equity and non-discrimination.
* Enshrine the values of agrarian reform, justice, and food sovereignty. It should have provisions for institutions to safeguard capacity for social reforms like land reform, urban reform, etc. and mechanisms to level the playing field.
* Move away from economic activities based largely on natural resource extraction;
* Promote economic growth anchored in and driven by rural industrialization;
* Promote appropriate sustainable industrial development based on harmonization and
complementation of industries;
* Promote public investment through regional support mechanisms, example of which is the promotion of science and technology for the regional collective good.
4. Sustainable Production and Consumption, Energy and Development
The ASEAN Charter should:
* Enshrine the principle of sustainable development espoused by the Rio Summit of 1992 and reaffirmed by the World Summit of Sustainable Development in 2002;
* Adopt the principle of sustainable food, water and agricultural system at the local and national levels;
* Envision an industrial production system that is clean, resource- and energy- efficient and sustainable;
* Establish mechanisms for the promotion of renewable energy sources; and,
* Promote sustainable consumption.
5. Environmental Sustainability
The ASEAN Charter should promote the concept of development that is sustainable and therefore within the carrying capacity of ASEAN ecosystems and must not destroy cultures and the rights of communities to their resources. It should commit to the highest environmental standards enshrined in various multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). It should promote the principle of common but differentiated responsibility in addressing past damage and present and future efforts in rehabilitation of the environment, and commit to reverse the decline of biodiversity and to restore the rich biological diversity of the region.
6. Institutional Mechanisms for Responsive Regionalism
ASEAN should be an institution that recognizes universally-accepted rights and standards, including core labor standards, and provides mechanisms for monitoring and securing compliance at the national and regional levels.
In the area of human rights, the ASEAN Charter should mandate the immediate creation of a regional human rights body responsible for, among others: monitoring and reporting human rights conditions within the region; investigating human rights violations; developing awareness on human rights among people in the region; and, providing effective compliance and redress mechanisms.
The ASEAN Charter should incorporate mandatory social dialogue and consultation with civil society, workers organizations and social movements, to ensure their access to decision making processes at all levels, and guarantee their full participation in economic, social, cultural and political life. This will help ensure responsive decisions, effective and equitable benefits sharing, and to strengthen regional cohesion and integration. Specifically, the ASEAN Charter should institutionalize the ASEAN Civil Society Conference that provides an open and accountable space for civil society to dialogue with ASEAN, even as civil society continues to pursue various tracks of engagement and employs a range of actions. It should also provide for automatic civil society observer seats in key regional decision making bodies involving economy and trade, environment, security and socio-cultural concerns.
Regional agreements should be affirmed by National Parliaments. ASEAN should establish mechanisms for the dissemination of and consultation on regional agreements and institute regular review clauses therein.
7. Securing a Process for the ASEAN Charter
On the issue of drafting the ASEAN Charter, we reiterate our call for broad-based consultations at the regional and national level, after the EPG process would have been completed.
We strongly recommend that the EPG put forward a proposed process for the ASEAN Charter through referendum in all Member States. This is to ensure that the ASEAN Charter is made known to all ASEAN citizens, and that they are given the direct hand in determining the future of ASEAN.
The SAPA Working Group on ASEAN entered the ASEAN Charter process with the view of pushing for the kind of regionalism that we want, with good faith and seeking meaningful engagement. We understand that the finalization of an ASEAN Charter may take a long time. However, while awaiting the finalization of the ASEAN Charter, SAPA WG on ASEAN maintains that the principles, perspectives and proposals advanced in this and prior submissions should already be given expression and implemented in ASEAN via the Vientiane Action Plan and subsequent ASEAN work programmes, and other ASEAN regional initiatives.
We note that this final submission has the endorsement of many other groups from the Southeast Asia region outside of the immediate membership of the SAPA WG on the ASEAN. Specifically, it is endorsed by organizations that participated in the national consultative processes in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Thai-Burma border on ASEAN and the ASEAN Charter that happened in October and November 2006.
We trust that the EPG on the ASEAN Charter would give serious consideration to the weight of hope and expectation, and the desire for genuine cooperation and solidarity, underlying this submission.
Very truly yours,
The Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacies (SAPA) Working Group on the ASEAN
Contact Persons:
Corinna Lopa, SEACA ( clopa@seaca.netThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it )
Rashid Kang, Forum-Asia ( rashid@forum-asia.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it )

Las Organizaciones de la Sociedad Civil hacia la construcción de la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones

Judith Valencia (ALAI)

Desde el 8 hasta al 9 de diciembre próximos se reunirán en Cochabamba, Bolivia, ampoule la II Cumbre de la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones y unos días antes la Cumbre Social por la Integración de los Pueblos (6 al 9). La profesora universitaria venezolana Judith Valencia reflexiona sobre los problemas del proceso de integración sudamericano).

Es cierto, que las decisiones que toman los presidentes en cada Cumbre, dependen [están amarradas] de un gran numero de reuniones [e intervenciones] previas y de toda una agenda de actividades.

Pero también, es cierto, que los cambios políticos por protagonismo social que se vienen dando desde el 2002, no dan razón para respetar compromisos ajenos. Ser fieles a la autodeterminación de los pueblos, respetar la pluralidad enunciando las disidencias, debe marcar la ruta a seguir.

La Unión del Sur, no puede partir anclada en las intenciones de los gobiernos que prevalecían en el 2000. Los pueblos habitantes de la América Latina, de Suramérica y el Caribe, resistieron desde siempre y vienen surgiendo, desde el grito de Chiapas en enero de 1994, sin pausa. Cada día ganan terreno en la lucha, afirmando la vigencia de la biodiversidad: cultura, fauna y flora. Confirmando el sentido de una manera de vivir que produce y reproduce con intención las relaciones humanas, como esencia sustantiva de la naturaleza y sentido de la sociedad. Los principios ancestrales, retornan cultivados en la voluntad política de cerrarle el paso a la ofensiva contrarrevolucionaria, que persiste en negociar entre gobiernos los territorios y la vida de sus pobladores.

Desde 1994 venimos acumulando fuerzas expresadas en revueltas, pero también en resultados electorales, que potencian las posibilidades de negar compromisos acordados por gobernantes anteriores. Con este espíritu, veíamos bien, que los Altos representantes de la Comisión Estratégica de Reflexión del Proceso de integración Suramericano (1) hubiesen acordado en su primera reunión en Montevideo y reafirmado en Buenos Aires (2):

“el documento final, a pesar del alto nivel de convergencia (…) no buscará llegar necesariamente a un texto consensuado. Podrá así, ofrecer a los Presidentes soluciones alternativas sobre una o más cuestiones relativas al futuro de la Comunidad Suramericana de Naciones”. (3)

De entrada, es para todos conocido, que los consensos posibles entre los 12 dejaría por fuera temas sustantivos. La Comisión Estratégica de Reflexión fue una salida a las divergencias expresadas -sobre todo por Venezuela- en la I Reunión de Presidentes en Brasilia/30 septiembre 2005. Hace más de un año. Demasiado pronto, para que sea tiempo suficiente, para olvidar y aparentar consensos. No seria para nada conveniente.

Ya en la Primera Cumbre de Legisladores y Líderes indígenas de Suramérica en el marco de la iniciativa de la Comunidad Suramericana de Naciones, reunida en Quito/11 al 13 de octubre 2005 , resolvieron:

“Rechazar el origen neoliberal de la Comunidad Suramericana de Naciones a través de la cual se pretende una integración en términos del libre mercado (…) Alertar … que el diseño de esta comunidad sudamericana tal como esta planteada, pone en grave riesgo lo derechos colectivos de los pueblos y nacionalidades indígenas como son, la autonomía, el territorio, la biodiversidad y los recursos naturales (…) Instar… que se constituya una instancia participativa, que responda a la solución de las verdaderas necesidades de nuestros pueblos (…) Exhortar a los gobiernos de Sudamérica que se tome en consideración las preocupaciones de los Presidentes de Venezuela y Uruguay expresadas en relación a la conformación de la Comunidad Sudamericana”

Era octubre 2005, 15 días después de Brasilia. Dos meses después, Bolivia eligió a Evo Morales Presidente. Las elecciones de Chile y Perú dieron resultados diferentes, a los procesos electorales anteriores, dando cuenta de nuevas fuerzas. Brasil y Venezuela confirman los liderazgos de Lula y Chávez.

Durante todo el 2006, se perfilaron dos lógicas/ dos posiciones: Alvaro Uribe por Colombia y Evo Morales/Hugo Chávez por Bolivia y Venezuela. Todos dos, junto a otros, con matices.

Así la situación, no podemos aceptar “medias tintas” y dejar que declaren solo sobre los consensos. Debemos exigirles delimitación de posiciones y coincidencias ciertas, sin retóricas.

Así las cosas, quiero referirme a algunos aspectos heredados -y arrastrados como políticas de hechos cumplidos-, desde la Reunión de Presidentes de América del Sur, Brasilia 1 septiembre de 2000, convocada por F.H. Cardoso. Es de destacar aspectos del texto de la Declaración Final:

“satisfacción de la V Reunión del ALCA/Toronto/noviembre 1999… zona de libre comercio entre el MERCOSUR y la CAN… impulso de la integración trasfronteriza… integración y desarrollo de la integración física…el papel motriz de la energía… telecomunicaciones…”

A buen entendedor pocas palabras. Malsana herencia.

No es cierto, que la Declaración Presidencial de Cusco del 8 de diciembre 2004, sea el punto de partida. La intención que trasluce el seguimiento de La Comunidad Suramericana de Naciones, presenta la herencia de resoluciones de tres encuentros anteriores y Brasil/Itamaraty, cumpliendo con la Secretaria Pro-Tempore, no deja pasar oportunidad sin recordarlo.

A mi entender, los pueblos insurgentes deben mostrarse intransigentes ante tres de los aspectos heredados. No podemos/ ni debemos dejar pasar:

– La convergencia CAN/MERCOSUR.
– Las áreas de acción prioritarias [Agenda Prioritaria].
– La Iniciativa para la Integración de la Infraestructura Regional Sudamericana (IIRSA) ( www.iirsa.org)

La Comunidad Suramericana como espacio para la integración de los Pueblos no puede partir de la convergencia CAN/MERCOSUR. Todas dos, son experiencias teñidas, por signos de acoplamiento al proyecto imperial ALCA. Queda en evidencia, solo leyendo, los Acuerdos de Complementación Económica y sabiendo de las intenciones de filtrar las negociaciones de los TLC’S de los andinos con Estados Unidos a través de la normativa andina, y de plantearse converger hacia el MERCOSUR, nos conducen a sostener que:

“la Comunidad Suramericana de Naciones debe trascender MERCOSUR, debe trascender la CAN, y estas dos instituciones deben desaparecer progresivamente en un Plan Estratégico”. (4)

La Agenda Prioritaria, no es tan prioritaria para lo social al colocar en 7º lugar, en lenguaje convencional:

“la promoción de la cohesión social, de la inclusión social y de la justicia social”.

Ya el lenguaje es una burla. La correlación de fuerzas políticas de la región debe exigirles ya a los gobernantes un Plan de Emergencia Social que de una vez por todas permita un cauce para el vivir-bien de los pueblos de estos territorios. Propuestas una y mil veces sostenidas como banderas de lucha.

A estas alturas del proceso de transformación social que vivimos día a día, vergüenza les debe dar a los gobernantes y funcionarios hablar del IIRSA/2000. Leerlo eriza la piel. Negocios que nada tienen que ver con el bien vivir de los pobladores. Basándose en una verdad, la necesidad de comunicarnos, proponen una solución absurda que lejos esta de tener que ver con la unión de los pueblos suramericanos. (5)

Concluyo con palabras claras que delatan y nos alertan sobre la intención IIRSA

“los dos ejes [caso Paraguay]… garantizan un transito expedito para mercancías, personas y por supuesto también tropas. En realidad… se observa claramente una subregionalización de América del Sur que establece nuevas fronteras… este proyecto… propiciaría agrupamientos regionales o espacios de cohesión muy distintos a los de los actuales Estados Latinoamericanos y llamaría al establecimiento de legislaciones supranacionales sobre bases diferentes a las de la defensa de las soberanías nacionales…” (6)

La Unión de los Pueblos del Sur no debe fundarse en una herencia de gobernantes. Es hora de exigir borrón y cuentas nuevas.

Debemos impedir cualquier ruta ‘hacia el ALCA’. El proyecto de Declaración Presidencial ya viene circulando y ojalá algunos gobiernos detengan la intención que recorre casi todo el proyecto. ¿Cuál es? Dejar pasar un año y al final imitar cambiar para que nada cambie. Rebautizar con el nombre Comunidad Suramericana, lo mismo: Convergencia CAN/MERCOSUR, en aspectos medulares:

“Reafirmar la estructura organizativa definida en la Declaración de Brasilia (párrafos 8 a 15)…” [Inaudito]

Dos detalles:

“Las reuniones Ministeriales Sectoriales… examinaran y promoverán proyectos y políticas especificas… salud, educación, cultura, ciencia y tecnología, seguridad, infraestructura de energía… En este sentido estas reuniones se realizaran valiéndose de los mecanismos existentes en el MERCOSUR y en la CAN (prr 11) y “… en el área de infraestructura promoverán… la agenda conversada…” (IIRSA) (prr 12)

Y como si fuera poco proponen que los Presidentes decidan:

“… establecer una Comisión de Convergencia Institucional y Coordinación, a nivel de altos funcionarios y con la participación de los secretariados de la CAN y del MERCOSUR, para asegurar [¿cinismo?] en el plano ejecutivo la implementación de las decisiones…”

Benditos secretariados. Es costumbre otorgarles representación política a los Secretarios Generales quienes terminan gobernando. Debemos tener siempre presente que la CAN y su Sistema Andino de Integración (SAI) acoplaron el Acuerdo de Cartagena a las pautas de reestructuración del Sistema Interamericano (7). Acoplamiento implementado por la acción de los protocolos de Trujillo y Sucre, 1996 y 1997, respectivamente. Y pretenden decidir la participación de las organizaciones sociales/populares, que los pueblos organizados participen, con las “formulas” instituidas por la CAN/MERCOSUR, a saber:

“seminarios y mesas redondas con la participación de segmentos representativos de la sociedad civil…” (prr 8)

Y concluyen diciendo:

“En la interacción con la sociedad civil, será tomada especialmente en consideración la experiencia adquirida con la Cumbre Social de Cochabamba”

Están tan distantes de lo que acontece en la calle, del deseo y sentir de los pueblos y pretenden, con descaro, tentar egos.

Notas:

1) Comisión Estratégica de Reflexión del Proceso de Integración Suramericano. Creada en Montevideo, 9 diciembre 2005.

2) I Reunión de la Comisión Estratégica de Reflexión del Proceso de Integración Suramericano. Montevideo, 16 junio 2006 – II Reunión de la Comisión Estratégica de Reflexión del Proceso de Integración Suramericano. Buenos Aires, 24 julio 2006.

3) Es de hacer notar que en el documento síntesis que trabajan para el 17 de noviembre este párrafo no está.

4) Hugo Chávez. Discursos Brasilia 30/9/2005. Es de hacer notar que todavía para esa fecha Venezuela era país/CAN. Denuncia 22/4/2006.

5) Principios Orientadores del IIRSA
• Regionalismo Abierto. El espacio suramericano es organizado en torno a franjas multinacionales que concentran franjas de comercio actuales y potenciales. Las Franjas o Ejes de Integración y Desarrollo buscan promover el desarrollo de negocios y cadenas productivas con grandes economías de escala.
• Este ordenamiento facilitará el acceso a zonas de alto potencial productivo. Reorientados para conformar cadenas productivas en sectores de alta competitividad global.
• La tecnología de la información acerca las economías suramericanas a los grandes motores [¿Cómo combustible?] de la economía mundial. Apoya una transformación de la organización y el funcionamiento de la sociedad incluyendo los temas educativos, servicios públicos y gobierno.
• Busca generar “la mayor cantidad posible de impactos locales de desarrollo, evitando que sean solo corredores entre los mercados principales”.

6) “Ana Esther Ceceña-Carlos Ernesto Motto. Paraguay: Eje de la Dominación del Cono Sur. Observatorio Latinoamericano de Geopolítica. 2005

7) En la I Cumbre de las Américas, Dic/Miami 1994, los gobernantes decidieron la Reestructuración del Sistema Interamericano. El ALCA es uno de los proyectos de reestructuración.

Este artículo forma parte de la edición especial de la revista América Latina en Movimiento Latina en Movimiento (Nº 414 – 415) que circulará próximamente referida al tema de la integración

Source: www.argenpress.info

Judith Valencia (ALAI)
Desde el 8 hasta al 9 de diciembre próximos se reunirán en Cochabamba, buy pilule Bolivia, cure la II Cumbre de la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones y unos días antes la Cumbre Social por la Integración de los Pueblos (6 al 9). La profesora universitaria venezolana Judith Valencia reflexiona sobre los problemas del proceso de integración sudamericano).
Es cierto, que las decisiones que toman los presidentes en cada Cumbre, dependen [están amarradas] de un gran numero de reuniones [e intervenciones] previas y de toda una agenda de actividades.
Pero también, es cierto, que los cambios políticos por protagonismo social que se vienen dando desde el 2002, no dan razón para respetar compromisos ajenos. Ser fieles a la autodeterminación de los pueblos, respetar la pluralidad enunciando las disidencias, debe marcar la ruta a seguir.
La Unión del Sur, no puede partir anclada en las intenciones de los gobiernos que prevalecían en el 2000. Los pueblos habitantes de la América Latina, de Suramérica y el Caribe, resistieron desde siempre y vienen surgiendo, desde el grito de Chiapas en enero de 1994, sin pausa. Cada día ganan terreno en la lucha, afirmando la vigencia de la biodiversidad: cultura, fauna y flora. Confirmando el sentido de una manera de vivir que produce y reproduce con intención las relaciones humanas, como esencia sustantiva de la naturaleza y sentido de la sociedad. Los principios ancestrales, retornan cultivados en la voluntad política de cerrarle el paso a la ofensiva contrarrevolucionaria, que persiste en negociar entre gobiernos los territorios y la vida de sus pobladores.
Desde 1994 venimos acumulando fuerzas expresadas en revueltas, pero también en resultados electorales, que potencian las posibilidades de negar compromisos acordados por gobernantes anteriores. Con este espíritu, veíamos bien, que los Altos representantes de la Comisión Estratégica de Reflexión del Proceso de integración Suramericano (1) hubiesen acordado en su primera reunión en Montevideo y reafirmado en Buenos Aires (2):
“el documento final, a pesar del alto nivel de convergencia (…) no buscará llegar necesariamente a un texto consensuado. Podrá así, ofrecer a los Presidentes soluciones alternativas sobre una o más cuestiones relativas al futuro de la Comunidad Suramericana de Naciones”. (3)
De entrada, es para todos conocido, que los consensos posibles entre los 12 dejaría por fuera temas sustantivos. La Comisión Estratégica de Reflexión fue una salida a las divergencias expresadas -sobre todo por Venezuela- en la I Reunión de Presidentes en Brasilia/30 septiembre 2005. Hace más de un año. Demasiado pronto, para que sea tiempo suficiente, para olvidar y aparentar consensos. No seria para nada conveniente.
Ya en la Primera Cumbre de Legisladores y Líderes indígenas de Suramérica en el marco de la iniciativa de la Comunidad Suramericana de Naciones, reunida en Quito/11 al 13 de octubre 2005 , resolvieron:
“Rechazar el origen neoliberal de la Comunidad Suramericana de Naciones a través de la cual se pretende una integración en términos del libre mercado (…) Alertar … que el diseño de esta comunidad sudamericana tal como esta planteada, pone en grave riesgo lo derechos colectivos de los pueblos y nacionalidades indígenas como son, la autonomía, el territorio, la biodiversidad y los recursos naturales (…) Instar… que se constituya una instancia participativa, que responda a la solución de las verdaderas necesidades de nuestros pueblos (…) Exhortar a los gobiernos de Sudamérica que se tome en consideración las preocupaciones de los Presidentes de Venezuela y Uruguay expresadas en relación a la conformación de la Comunidad Sudamericana”
Era octubre 2005, 15 días después de Brasilia. Dos meses después, Bolivia eligió a Evo Morales Presidente. Las elecciones de Chile y Perú dieron resultados diferentes, a los procesos electorales anteriores, dando cuenta de nuevas fuerzas. Brasil y Venezuela confirman los liderazgos de Lula y Chávez.
Durante todo el 2006, se perfilaron dos lógicas/ dos posiciones: Alvaro Uribe por Colombia y Evo Morales/Hugo Chávez por Bolivia y Venezuela. Todos dos, junto a otros, con matices.
Así la situación, no podemos aceptar “medias tintas” y dejar que declaren solo sobre los consensos. Debemos exigirles delimitación de posiciones y coincidencias ciertas, sin retóricas.
Así las cosas, quiero referirme a algunos aspectos heredados -y arrastrados como políticas de hechos cumplidos-, desde la Reunión de Presidentes de América del Sur, Brasilia 1 septiembre de 2000, convocada por F.H. Cardoso. Es de destacar aspectos del texto de la Declaración Final:
“satisfacción de la V Reunión del ALCA/Toronto/noviembre 1999… zona de libre comercio entre el MERCOSUR y la CAN… impulso de la integración trasfronteriza… integración y desarrollo de la integración física…el papel motriz de la energía… telecomunicaciones…”
A buen entendedor pocas palabras. Malsana herencia.
No es cierto, que la Declaración Presidencial de Cusco del 8 de diciembre 2004, sea el punto de partida. La intención que trasluce el seguimiento de La Comunidad Suramericana de Naciones, presenta la herencia de resoluciones de tres encuentros anteriores y Brasil/Itamaraty, cumpliendo con la Secretaria Pro-Tempore, no deja pasar oportunidad sin recordarlo.
A mi entender, los pueblos insurgentes deben mostrarse intransigentes ante tres de los aspectos heredados. No podemos/ ni debemos dejar pasar:
– La convergencia CAN/MERCOSUR.
– Las áreas de acción prioritarias [Agenda Prioritaria].
– La Iniciativa para la Integración de la Infraestructura Regional Sudamericana (IIRSA) ( www.iirsa.org)
La Comunidad Suramericana como espacio para la integración de los Pueblos no puede partir de la convergencia CAN/MERCOSUR. Todas dos, son experiencias teñidas, por signos de acoplamiento al proyecto imperial ALCA. Queda en evidencia, solo leyendo, los Acuerdos de Complementación Económica y sabiendo de las intenciones de filtrar las negociaciones de los TLC’S de los andinos con Estados Unidos a través de la normativa andina, y de plantearse converger hacia el MERCOSUR, nos conducen a sostener que:
“la Comunidad Suramericana de Naciones debe trascender MERCOSUR, debe trascender la CAN, y estas dos instituciones deben desaparecer progresivamente en un Plan Estratégico”. (4)
La Agenda Prioritaria, no es tan prioritaria para lo social al colocar en 7º lugar, en lenguaje convencional:
“la promoción de la cohesión social, de la inclusión social y de la justicia social”.
Ya el lenguaje es una burla. La correlación de fuerzas políticas de la región debe exigirles ya a los gobernantes un Plan de Emergencia Social que de una vez por todas permita un cauce para el vivir-bien de los pueblos de estos territorios. Propuestas una y mil veces sostenidas como banderas de lucha.
A estas alturas del proceso de transformación social que vivimos día a día, vergüenza les debe dar a los gobernantes y funcionarios hablar del IIRSA/2000. Leerlo eriza la piel. Negocios que nada tienen que ver con el bien vivir de los pobladores. Basándose en una verdad, la necesidad de comunicarnos, proponen una solución absurda que lejos esta de tener que ver con la unión de los pueblos suramericanos. (5)
Concluyo con palabras claras que delatan y nos alertan sobre la intención IIRSA
“los dos ejes [caso Paraguay]… garantizan un transito expedito para mercancías, personas y por supuesto también tropas. En realidad… se observa claramente una subregionalización de América del Sur que establece nuevas fronteras… este proyecto… propiciaría agrupamientos regionales o espacios de cohesión muy distintos a los de los actuales Estados Latinoamericanos y llamaría al establecimiento de legislaciones supranacionales sobre bases diferentes a las de la defensa de las soberanías nacionales…” (6)
La Unión de los Pueblos del Sur no debe fundarse en una herencia de gobernantes. Es hora de exigir borrón y cuentas nuevas.
Debemos impedir cualquier ruta ‘hacia el ALCA’. El proyecto de Declaración Presidencial ya viene circulando y ojalá algunos gobiernos detengan la intención que recorre casi todo el proyecto. ¿Cuál es? Dejar pasar un año y al final imitar cambiar para que nada cambie. Rebautizar con el nombre Comunidad Suramericana, lo mismo: Convergencia CAN/MERCOSUR, en aspectos medulares:
“Reafirmar la estructura organizativa definida en la Declaración de Brasilia (párrafos 8 a 15)…” [Inaudito]
Dos detalles:
“Las reuniones Ministeriales Sectoriales… examinaran y promoverán proyectos y políticas especificas… salud, educación, cultura, ciencia y tecnología, seguridad, infraestructura de energía… En este sentido estas reuniones se realizaran valiéndose de los mecanismos existentes en el MERCOSUR y en la CAN (prr 11) y “… en el área de infraestructura promoverán… la agenda conversada…” (IIRSA) (prr 12)
Y como si fuera poco proponen que los Presidentes decidan:
“… establecer una Comisión de Convergencia Institucional y Coordinación, a nivel de altos funcionarios y con la participación de los secretariados de la CAN y del MERCOSUR, para asegurar [¿cinismo?] en el plano ejecutivo la implementación de las decisiones…”
Benditos secretariados. Es costumbre otorgarles representación política a los Secretarios Generales quienes terminan gobernando. Debemos tener siempre presente que la CAN y su Sistema Andino de Integración (SAI) acoplaron el Acuerdo de Cartagena a las pautas de reestructuración del Sistema Interamericano (7). Acoplamiento implementado por la acción de los protocolos de Trujillo y Sucre, 1996 y 1997, respectivamente. Y pretenden decidir la participación de las organizaciones sociales/populares, que los pueblos organizados participen, con las “formulas” instituidas por la CAN/MERCOSUR, a saber:
“seminarios y mesas redondas con la participación de segmentos representativos de la sociedad civil…” (prr 8)
Y concluyen diciendo:
“En la interacción con la sociedad civil, será tomada especialmente en consideración la experiencia adquirida con la Cumbre Social de Cochabamba”
Están tan distantes de lo que acontece en la calle, del deseo y sentir de los pueblos y pretenden, con descaro, tentar egos.

Notas:

1) Comisión Estratégica de Reflexión del Proceso de Integración Suramericano. Creada en Montevideo, 9 diciembre 2005.
2) I Reunión de la Comisión Estratégica de Reflexión del Proceso de Integración Suramericano. Montevideo, 16 junio 2006 – II Reunión de la Comisión Estratégica de Reflexión del Proceso de Integración Suramericano. Buenos Aires, 24 julio 2006.
3) Es de hacer notar que en el documento síntesis que trabajan para el 17 de noviembre este párrafo no está.
4) Hugo Chávez. Discursos Brasilia 30/9/2005. Es de hacer notar que todavía para esa fecha Venezuela era país/CAN. Denuncia 22/4/2006.
5) Principios Orientadores del IIRSA
• Regionalismo Abierto. El espacio suramericano es organizado en torno a franjas multinacionales que concentran franjas de comercio actuales y potenciales. Las Franjas o Ejes de Integración y Desarrollo buscan promover el desarrollo de negocios y cadenas productivas con grandes economías de escala.
• Este ordenamiento facilitará el acceso a zonas de alto potencial productivo. Reorientados para conformar cadenas productivas en sectores de alta competitividad global.
• La tecnología de la información acerca las economías suramericanas a los grandes motores [¿Cómo combustible?] de la economía mundial. Apoya una transformación de la organización y el funcionamiento de la sociedad incluyendo los temas educativos, servicios públicos y gobierno.
• Busca generar “la mayor cantidad posible de impactos locales de desarrollo, evitando que sean solo corredores entre los mercados principales”.
6) “Ana Esther Ceceña-Carlos Ernesto Motto. Paraguay: Eje de la Dominación del Cono Sur. Observatorio Latinoamericano de Geopolítica. 2005
7) En la I Cumbre de las Américas, Dic/Miami 1994, los gobernantes decidieron la Reestructuración del Sistema Interamericano. El ALCA es uno de los proyectos de reestructuración.
Este artículo forma parte de la edición especial de la revista América Latina en Movimiento Latina en Movimiento (Nº 414 – 415) que circulará próximamente referida al tema de la integración
Source: http://www.argenpress.info/nota.asp?num=037046

Alianza Social Continental

Presentado a Ministros y Viceministros de la CSN en Santiago de Chile, no rx 22 y 23 de noviembre de 2006

1. Creemos que el futuro de la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones adquiere una nueva perspectiva a raíz del fracaso del proyecto del ALCA y de la generalizada convicción en el continente sobre otra integración posible. Un bloque sudamericano puede ser un paso importante y favorable si permite hablar a nuestros pueblos con voz propia, seek independientes de las imposiciones y condicionamientos de los Estados Unidos, diagnosis Europa y los organismos multilaterales como el FMI, el Banco Mundial, la Organización Mundial del Comercio o el BID. Reafirmar y ejercer la soberanía de la región es el primer paso para cualquier proyecto de verdadera integración.

2. A diferencia del ALCA, los TLCs y los tratados de inversión cuya orientación es favorecer a las empresas transnacionales y a mercantilizar todos los aspectos de la vida, la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones debe basarse en la redistribución de la riqueza que hoy está concentrada en pocas manos, donde los estados cumplan con sus obligaciones en materia de derechos sociales, culturales, económicos de los pueblos, superando las discriminaciones de género, raza y generacionales y respetando la identidad y los derechos de los pueblos indígenas. La vida, los derechos humanos y ambientales, el bienestar y la solidaridad entre los pueblos deben ser el centro del proceso de integración.

3. Entendemos que la educación es un derecho fundamental de los pueblos, por eso debe ser uno de los pilares de cualquier proyecto de integración para la región. Es imprescindible que se establezca el compromiso de la erradicación del analfabetismo -así como de la miseria y el hambre. Para ello debemos desarrollar mecanismos que permitan la cooperación técnica y científica entre los países con el fin de superar las desigualdades existentes. Asimismo, todos los países de la Comunidad deberían asumir compromisos en la perspectiva de una reforma educacional que garantice la educación pública universal, gratuita y de calidad para toda la población con el objetivo de promover la interculturalidad y el reconocimiento de la diversidad cultural, se debe incorporar con seriedad los idiomas nativos en el sistema.

En la lucha por la erradicación de la pobreza es necesario también establecer un Plan Sudamericano para garantizar la universalidad de la Salud Pública.

4. La integración física de América del Sur es fundamental para ampliar las posibilidades de contactos entre nuestros pueblos y países. Por eso, la infraestructura no puede ser diseñada como parte de la geoestrategia mundial de lucha por el control, dominio, posesión y usufructo de recursos naturales estratégicos, ni implementada a través de la destrucción de las zonas más ricas en recursos naturales y la explotación de mano de obra barata. Así, proyectos como el IIRSA (Integración de la Infraestructura Regional Suramericana), concebidos por las IFIs y el gran capital como complementos del ALCA, deben ser rechazados para adoptar propuestas de Integración Infraestructural que surjan de las necesidades de los pueblos y prioricen nuestra articulación en el marco de polos de desarrollo integral, a lo largo de su trazado, en armonía con el medio ambiente y las normativas y principios que se han logrado para su protección y cuidado, el respeto a nuestras comunidades y derechos humanos y que no generen un endeudamiento ilegítimo u odioso. Para lograrlo, los proyectos deben ser sometidos al debate y deliberación democrática con las comunidades que serán afectadas por su implementación y su sostén financiero.

5. La integración financiera de la cual se habla en la Comunidad Sudamericana debe partir del reconocimiento de que somos los acreedores de una inmensa deuda histórica, social, cultural, ecológica y financiera cuya restauración junto con parar y revertir los mecanismos actuales de fuga de capitales, capacidad humana y bienes naturales, establecería una potencialidad de financiamiento genuino y soberano más que suficiente para nuestras necesidades. Es obligación de los estados de la región poner fin a los mecanismos de endeudamiento y condicionamiento externo que han servido para imponernos el Consenso de Washington, violando sistemáticamente los derechos humanos y ambientales.

En ese sentido, los estados deben revisar y revertir los tratados de protección y promoción de las inversiones, las prórrogas de jurisdicción y la aceptación de instancias extra-judiciales como el CIADI, los sistemas tributarias regresivos, y otros mecanismos de desfinanciamiento estatal, incluyendo la privatización de importantes bienes y servicios públicos cuya explotación privada es luego subvencionada por el estado, estableciendo controles de cambio y de transacciones financieras para fortalecer la base de financiamiento autónomo e eliminar la falsa necesidad de capitales externos.

Se precisa además crear mecanismos propios que permitan incentivar la solidaridad entre pueblos hermanos y superar la vulnerabilidad y la dependencia de América del Sur en relación a los mecanismos financieros tradicionales de la globalización (FMI, Banco Mundial, BID), a través de la autonomización de la región con la constitución de mecanismos como un Fondo de Reserva y un Banco Solidario del Sur y con la substitución del uso del dólar en las transacciones intra-regionales. Debe ser también revisado el rol de otras instituciones de financiamiento como la CAF, el FONPLATA, los bancos nacionales de desarrollo y otros mecanismos para ajustarlos a las exigencias de un financiamiento para los derechos y la integración de los pueblos y no de los grandes capitales.

Un nuevo sistema financiero requiere de nuevos mecanismos de control y fiscalización que empiecen por enjuiciar a quienes endeudaron inescrupulosamente a nuestras naciones y asegurar la participación social en la determinación de las prioridades presupuestarias. Alertamos especialmente ante el peligro de que nuevos mecanismos de financiamiento solidario entre los países de la Comunidad, sean aprovechados para mantener viejas relaciones de dominación y control como, por ejemplo, la creación y venta de bonos y otros mecanismos de nueva deuda, entre países de la región, para sostener el cumplimiento de viejos reclamos de deuda claramente reconocidos como ilegítimos e ilegales. En ese mismo sentido no debe admitirse reestructuraciones ni canjes de deuda que solo sirven para blanquear deudas cuestionables e imponer intereses ajenos.

Para impedir que nuestros pueblos continúen víctimas de deudas ilegítimas y odiosas que siguen siendo fuentes de desfinanciamiento permanentes, exigimos la realización de una auditoría sudamericana de los reclamos de deuda contra el patrimonio público en la región y el impulso desde la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones de la realización de auditorias externas a las Instituciones Financieras Internacionales, sus políticas y prácticas crediticias.

6. La integración energética sudamericana debe ser desarrollada a partir del fortalecimiento de nuestras empresas estatales de hidrocarburos, de la nacionalización de estos recursos estratégicos y revirtiendo la renta así conseguida para un desarrollo sustentable, con políticas de redistribución del ingreso y utilizando los excedentes para financiar nuevas matrices de energía renovable. Es necesario compartir nuestros recursos para beneficio de los pueblos respetando los derechos económicos, sociales culturales y ambientales para nuestro bienestar y el de las generaciones futuras y no en beneficio de las transnacionales o las oligarquías locales.

El desarrollo energético sustentable supone el respeto al derecho de las comunidades, el ahorro energético y el combate al consumo excesivo de energía. Las fuentes de energía deben ser renovables, limpias y de bajo impacto, garantizando su acceso equitativo y democrático. Los países de la CSN deben garantizar el acceso pleno de todos los habitantes del continente a los bienes energéticos, buscando superar la realidad actual en la que países con altos potenciales energéticos aún no han logrado un abastecimiento digno de sus habitantes.

Hay que cambiar el modelo energético actual que implica una alta dependencia de los combustibles fósiles y genera fuertes impactos sobre las poblaciones locales y pueblos originarios. Las empresas multinacionales, pero también las estatales provocan daños irreparables en el medio ambiente y en las comunidades, propios de ese tipo de explotación.

Los proyectos de energía deben ser viables en términos de costos no sólo económicos sino también sociales y ambientales. Solicitamos información sobre los impactos sociales, ecológicos y socioeconómicos, para evaluar si los megaproyectos de energía justifican la inversión de tanto capital, cuando existen otras alternativas descentralizadas para las inversiones, incluso para la generación de energía renovable. Rechazamos la idea de financiar éste tipo de obras con prestamos del Banco Mundial o del BID, porque esto llevaría otra vez a hipotecar el futuro de Sudamérica a los acreedores extranjeros.

7. No habrá verdadera integración si no se resuelven las asimetrías entre los distintos países. Por años este tema no ha pasado de ser un discurso en la CAN y el MERCOSUR. Defendemos la creación de un fondo de compensación para los países de menor desarrollo cuyos recursos sean destinados al desarrollo de los sectores de la economía popular y solidaria y a proyectos acordes con las decisiones de los pueblos de esos países – y no los definidos bajo presión del gran capital nacional o transnacional. Esos fondos podrían ser constituidos a partir de imponer un impuesto a las transacciones financieras de las transnacionales que operan en Sudamérica y utilizando parte de los recursos de las reservas monetarias internacionales de nuestros países hoy depositados en los Estados Unidos. En ese mismo espíritu, debería revisarse y corregir los mecanismos que perpetúan las relaciones de asimetría, estableciendo como ejemplo la necesidad de que Brasil y Argentina anulen las deudas binacionales reclamadas a Paraguay como saldo injusto de la construcción de las represas Yacyretá e Itaipú.

8. Tenemos que cambiar el modelo de desarrollo de Sudamérica que ha sido diseñado en función de las exportaciones antes que en el desarrollo interno para beneficio de la gente. Sudamérica no puede seguir siendo una región principalmente exportadora de materias primas (hidrocarburos y minerales) y de algunos productos del agronegocio. La integración sudamericana debe promover la complementación de nuestras economías para generar empleos y promover un desarrollo productivo integral, fortaleciendo el comercio interregional y sustituyendo las importaciones de bienes que se producen en la región.

9. La Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones está amenazada por los TLCs que han suscrito Chile, Colombia y Perú. Es fundamental revertir esos acuerdos y promover en su reemplazo acuerdos comerciales que no comprometan la soberanía, los medicamentos, la salud, el agua, la educación, la cultura, la biodiversidad, la soberanía alimentaria, las compras estatales, los recursos naturales y la posibilidad de implementar políticas industriales activas. La experiencia de los últimos 20 años muestra que es necesario pensar otra estructura para el comercio en la región, que parta del reconocimiento de que éste pude ser una herramienta importante para el desarrollo sólo si se lo regula, para evitar que perpetúe las asimetrías entre empresas y entre países, profundizando la dependencia y la subordinación de países y pueblos a las grandes potencias.

El comercio no es un fin en sí mismo, debe ser pensado como una forma de crear los vínculos de las importantes cadenas productivas en la región, para impulsar el desarrollo, aprovechando al máximo las complementariedades existentes entre las diversas economías nacionales, e integrando un poderoso mercado regional de consumo que debe ser prioritario ante otras propuestas que aspiran primordialmente a exportar hacia otros mercados.

Al interior de la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones deben primar los acuerdos de Comercio justo y cooperación, y no reproducir experiencias que sólo han reafirmado un enfoque neoliberal de la integración. Advertimos aquí que lejos de significar una avance, la llamada “convergencia” CAN-Mercosur tal como está propuesta, puede significar el reforzamiento y no la eliminación del enfoque neoliberal de la integración.

10. Pero además la integración sudamericana debe trascender lo comercial y avanzar en la resolución de otras problemáticas que hacen a nuestros pueblos y realidad sudamericana. Una de ellas es el tema del armamentismo y militarización de que son objeto nuestros territorios, con la instalación de bases militares, planes de control militarizado como el Plan Colombia, realización de maniobras militares conjuntas bajo la dirección del Comando Sur del Pentágono, a partir de unas hipótesis de conflicto y una doctrina militar que no se corresponden con los intereses de nuestros pueblos. Consideramos que en este proceso de integración los países sudamericanos deben elaborar una doctrina propia de seguridad y defensa nacional en correspondencia con las aspiraciones de paz, soberanía y autodeterminación de todos y cada uno de nuestros pueblos.

Vemos con profunda inquietud la presencia de tropas de nuestros países en Haití y entendemos que debe iniciarse con urgencia el retiro de esos efectivos militares. También nos alerta el ingreso de tropas estadounidenses al Paraguay. La CSN debe encarar esta discusión y plantearse consecuentemente la erradicación de todos aquellos actos que vulneran la soberanía, generan conflictos y afectan los derechos civiles y la democracia.

Al mismo tiempo, las naciones sudamericanas deberían plantearse un trabajo conjunto de lucha contra la impunidad y la violencia estatal, fortaleciendo la democracia y sentando precedentes importantes para saldar la deuda histórica con los pueblos que luchan por la dignidad y la justicia.

11. El proceso de la CSN debe considerar que es imposible concebir la integración regional sin el protagonismo, los derechos y en suma la existencia de las nacionalidades y pueblos indígenas que trascienden las fronteras republicanas. Los pueblos y comunidades indígenas, son los directos y principales afectados por la acción de las transnacionales, cuya explotación indiscriminada de los recursos naturales generan pobreza, migración, contaminación y marginalidad. Los pueblos indígenas deben ser reconocidos como protagonistas de los procesos de integración y fundamentalmente de las políticas de la CSN para preservar los territorios, los recursos ambientales y la vida.

12. La despenalización de la hoja de coca en Sudamérica y el impulso a su industrialización con fines benéficos es un paso fundamental para lograr que en el 2.008 las Naciones Unidas retiren a la hoja de coca de las sustancias penalizadas.

13. Vemos imperativo el reconocimiento de la comunicación como un factor articulador clave para el reencuentro y fraternidad de las nacionalidades involucradas y para apoyar las urgentes tareas que demanda generar el bienestar de nuestros pueblos. Así pues, uno de sus fundamentos constitutivos debe ser el Derecho a la Comunicación democrática, estableciendo a la par el compromiso de las partes para adoptar políticas públicas en la materia. En esta línea, urge acordar una estrategia de cooperación específica para los ámbitos de la información, comunicación, cultura y conocimiento; definir acuerdos para potenciar las redes regionales de comunicación pública, con un sentido de equidad respecto a los medios de comunicación; priorizar la interconexión intrarregional de las redes de telecomunicaciones (disminuyendo la dependencia externa), junto con políticas de capacitación y para aumentar la accesibilidad en cada país.

14. Hacemos una llamada a los estados de la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones a constituir un proceso hacia una Convención del Agua que esté orientada a garantizar el agua como un derecho humano, a cuidar nuestras fuentes y recursos de agua y que éstas sean protegidas de la privatización y la mercantilización por un acuerdo internacional que se apoye en los avances logrados hasta ahora en el marco del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales.

Y también llamamos a los Estados a construir el Foro mundial del Agua sobre los principios de plena participación e inclusión y en el reconocimiento del agua como derecho humano.

La CSN debe ser un instrumento que comprometa a los países a:
Revertir los procesos de desmantelamiento de los servicios estatales y fortalecer los sistemas públicos de agua y saneamiento básico para desarrollar gestiones eficientes, con transparencia y control social, asegurando mecanismos de cooperación e intercambio con este fin.
Promover la efectiva participación de las comunidades en la toma de decisiones sobre los proyectos de desarrollo que involucren el agua en cada territorio, recuperando sus visiones, usos y costumbres en la planificación y gestión sustentable de los recursos naturales.

15. La CSN, y en particular los países afectados, deben salir del modelo actual de investigación, gestión y elaboración de políticas oficiales con respecto al Acuífero Guaraní, tuteladas en su mayoría por el Banco Mundial a través del GEF, que atentan contra la soberanía de los pueblos y no satisfacen los principios de participación y transparencia informativa que promovemos las organizaciones constituyentes del movimiento social del agua. Proponemos la creación de espacios institucionales nacionales de información y discusión respecto a los usos de los territorios y el subsuelo que conforman el Sistema Acuífero Guaraní (SAG), con participación de los movimientos y organizaciones sociales de los países que comparten el SAG, que se vinculará a las instancias públicas con la tarea principal de vigilancia del agua, su defensa como bien público compartido y la denuncia de todo procedimiento de investigación y gestión del conocimiento que no sean transparentes.

Antes de la finalización del Proyecto SAG del BM/GEF/OEA en 2008 es necesario producir un pre-proyecto alternativo de investigación y marco de gestión con objetivos de defensa de la soberanía y con vocación integradora para buscar financiamiento genuino, que no genere condicionantes a los gobiernos y organizaciones sociales que terminan atentando contra los intereses fundantes; que de continuidad a lo que se pueda salvar y modificar la asimetría a favor de los países y no del organismo multilateral. Demandamos la entrega de los documentos del referido proyecto a los movimientos, parlamentos y gobiernos de los países de SAG.

16. Es urgente adoptar políticas de desarrollo sustentable que pongan en el centro al empleo de calidad con justicia social y construir mecanismos de intervención que permitan incluir a todos los habitantes. Aspiramos a una integración regional basada en otro modelo socio-económico que en lo laboral se oriente a: aumentar la formalidad laboral, asegurar la aplicación de los derechos laborales; universalizar la seguridad social pública; a fortalecer el derecho a la sindicalización y la negociación colectiva; que adopte medidas contra las discriminaciones en el mercado de trabajo y que busque superar la actual división sexual del trabajo que penaliza a las mujeres y poner en marcha programas de Empleo Juvenil, que detenga los mecanismos que empujan a nuestras poblaciones a la emigración, al mismo tiempo que reconozca para los trabajadores y trabajadoras emigrantes el piso de derechos que garantizan las convenciones internacionales.

17. Debemos encarar como países integrados una reforma agraria que garantice a todos el derecho de trabajar en la tierra y democratice su propiedad, priorizando las formas familiares, sociales y cooperativas. La CSN debe ser el espacio natural para consolidar la soberanía alimentaria, es decir, el derecho que tienen todos los pueblos de producir sus propios alimentos de forma independiente, saludable y con calidad para abastecer a toda la sociedad. Las semillas son un patrimonio de la humanidad y no pueden estar sujetas a la privatización y a patentes de las multinacionales.

18. Como consecuencia de las políticas neoliberales y de ajuste aplicadas en la región, millones de personas se ven a diario obligadas a emigrar en la búsqueda de alternativas para sus vidas.

Consideramos que la primera obligación de los gobiernos es desarrollar las políticas necesarias para garantizar efectivamente la libertad de no emigrar de nuestros trabajadores y trabajadoras. Frente a la situación de los trabajadores que han migrado y sus familiares, cualquiera sea su situación migratoria. Al contrario de una visión reduccionista de las y los emigrantes como simple fuerza de trabajo, afirmamos que son personas y no mercancías y, por tanto, deben tener garantía de todos los derechos que les permitan desarrollarse y ejercer plenamente su ciudadanía en el goce de derechos laborales, sociales, culturales, económicos, civiles y políticos.

No se puede continuar con políticas orientadas a criminalizar al inmigrante y tratar a la migración como un asunto de seguridad. La CSN debe desarrollar políticas que garanticen ciudadanía a los emigrantes y acciones compartidas para luchar contra la pobreza y la marginalidad asegurando a los habitantes de cada país las condiciones para desarrollarse plenamente y con bienestar.

19. Exigimos la urgente creación de mecanismos de Participación Social en la construcción de la Comunidad a niveles locales, regionales, sub-regionales y nacionales. Los Estados deben asegurar la transparencia del proceso de negociación de la iniciativa de la CSN, reconociendo que los mecanismos oficiales preparatorios de esta Cumbre, como las anteriores, no han facilitado el acceso a la información ni la publicidad de los avances ni los contenidos que se discuten. La alegada “informalidad” del Grupo de Reflexión no debe ser un amparo formal para impedir la divulgación de las conversaciones de los 12 países. Los presidentes reunidos en Cochabamba deben crear un mecanismo formal de participación y consulta a los pueblos.
20. Nosotros, los movimientos sociales que desde la resistencia reivindicamos la búsqueda de Alternativas que hagan realidad que “otro mundo es posible”, “otra América posible”, venimos a reafirmar nuestro compromiso con la construcción de una Comunidad Sudamericana basada en el ejercicio universal de los Derechos Humanos, en la Soberanía popular y la Democracia participativa. Por esto, asumimos la realización de la Cumbre Social por la Integración de los Pueblos en Cochabamba como un espacio donde se exprese el acumulado histórico de nuestras luchas y la profundización democrática en la construcción de Alternativas políticas, sociales y económicas, entendiendo que la integración desde los pueblos fortalece nuestra Identidad: la diversidad cultural. Es desde allí que asumimos el desafío de compartir la construcción de la integración de los pueblos sudamericanos desde sus cimientos constituyendo los Foros Sociales en todo el continente donde se expresen, sin exclusiones ni discriminaciones, todos los sujetos.
La Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones debe ser la “otra integración posible”

fuente: Movimientos.org

Carta: Las Organizaciones de la Sociedad Civil hacia la construcción de la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones

1. Creemos que el futuro de la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones adquiere una nueva perspectiva a raíz del fracaso del proyecto del ALCA y de la generalizada convicción en el continente sobre otra integración posible. Un bloque sudamericano puede ser un paso importante y favorable si permite hablar a nuestros pueblos con voz propia, decease independientes de las imposiciones y condicionamientos de los Estados Unidos, sale Europa y los organismos multilaterales como el FMI, el Banco Mundial, la Organización Mundial del Comercio o el BID. Reafirmar y ejercer la soberanía de la región es el primer paso para cualquier proyecto de verdadera integración.
2. A diferencia del ALCA, los TLCs y los tratados de inversión cuya orientación es favorecer a las empresas transnacionales y a mercantilizar todos los aspectos de la vida, la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones debe basarse en la redistribución de la riqueza que hoy está concentrada en pocas manos, donde los estados cumplan con sus obligaciones en materia de derechos sociales, culturales, económicos de los pueblos, superando las discriminaciones de género, raza y generacionales y respetando la identidad y los derechos de los pueblos indígenas. La vida, los derechos humanos y ambientales, el bienestar y la solidaridad entre los pueblos deben ser el centro del proceso de integración.
3. Entendemos que la educación es un derecho fundamental de los pueblos, por eso debe ser uno de los pilares de cualquier proyecto de integración para la región. Es imprescindible que se establezca el compromiso de la erradicación del analfabetismo –así como de la miseria y el hambre. Para ello debemos desarrollar mecanismos que permitan la cooperación técnica y científica entre los países con el fin de superar las desigualdades existentes. Asimismo, todos los países de la Comunidad deberían asumir compromisos en la perspectiva de una reforma educacional que garantice la educación pública universal, gratuita y de calidad para toda la población con el objetivo de promover la interculturalidad y el reconocimiento de la diversidad cultural, se debe incorporar con seriedad los idiomas nativos en el sistema.
En la lucha por la erradicación de la pobreza es necesario también establecer un Plan Sudamericano para garantizar la universalidad de la Salud Pública.
4. La integración física de América del Sur es fundamental para ampliar las posibilidades de contactos entre nuestros pueblos y países. Por eso, la infraestructura no puede ser diseñada como parte de la geoestrategia mundial de lucha por el control, dominio, posesión y usufructo de recursos naturales estratégicos, ni implementada a través de la destrucción de las zonas más ricas en recursos naturales y la explotación de mano de obra barata. Así, proyectos como el IIRSA (Integración de la Infraestructura Regional Suramericana), concebidos por las IFIs y el gran capital como complementos del ALCA, deben ser rechazados para adoptar propuestas de Integración Infraestructural que surjan de las necesidades de los pueblos y prioricen nuestra articulación en el marco de polos de desarrollo integral, a lo largo de su trazado, en armonía con el medio ambiente y las normativas y principios que se han logrado para su protección y cuidado, el respeto a nuestras comunidades y derechos humanos y que no generen un endeudamiento ilegítimo u odioso. Para lograrlo, los proyectos deben ser sometidos al debate y deliberación democrática con las comunidades que serán afectadas por su implementación y su sostén financiero.
5. La integración financiera de la cual se habla en la Comunidad Sudamericana debe partir del reconocimiento de que somos los acreedores de una inmensa deuda histórica, social, cultural, ecológica y financiera cuya restauración junto con parar y revertir los mecanismos actuales de fuga de capitales, capacidad humana y bienes naturales, establecería una potencialidad de financiamiento genuino y soberano más que suficiente para nuestras necesidades. Es obligación de los estados de la región poner fin a los mecanismos de endeudamiento y condicionamiento externo que han servido para imponernos el Consenso de Washington, violando sistemáticamente los derechos humanos y ambientales.
En ese sentido, los estados deben revisar y revertir los tratados de protección y promoción de las inversiones, las prórrogas de jurisdicción y la aceptación de instancias extra-judiciales como el CIADI, los sistemas tributarias regresivos, y otros mecanismos de desfinanciamiento estatal, incluyendo la privatización de importantes bienes y servicios públicos cuya explotación privada es luego subvencionada por el estado, estableciendo controles de cambio y de transacciones financieras para fortalecer la base de financiamiento autónomo e eliminar la falsa necesidad de capitales externos.
Se precisa además crear mecanismos propios que permitan incentivar la solidaridad entre pueblos hermanos y superar la vulnerabilidad y la dependencia de América del Sur en relación a los mecanismos financieros tradicionales de la globalización (FMI, Banco Mundial, BID), a través de la autonomización de la región con la constitución de mecanismos como un Fondo de Reserva y un Banco Solidario del Sur y con la substitución del uso del dólar en las transacciones intra-regionales. Debe ser también revisado el rol de otras instituciones de financiamiento como la CAF, el FONPLATA, los bancos nacionales de desarrollo y otros mecanismos para ajustarlos a las exigencias de un financiamiento para los derechos y la integración de los pueblos y no de los grandes capitales.
Un nuevo sistema financiero requiere de nuevos mecanismos de control y fiscalización que empiecen por enjuiciar a quienes endeudaron inescrupulosamente a nuestras naciones y asegurar la participación social en la determinación de las prioridades presupuestarias. Alertamos especialmente ante el peligro de que nuevos mecanismos de financiamiento solidario entre los países de la Comunidad, sean aprovechados para mantener viejas relaciones de dominación y control como, por ejemplo, la creación y venta de bonos y otros mecanismos de nueva deuda, entre países de la región, para sostener el cumplimiento de viejos reclamos de deuda claramente reconocidos como ilegítimos e ilegales. En ese mismo sentido no debe admitirse reestructuraciones ni canjes de deuda que solo sirven para blanquear deudas cuestionables e imponer intereses ajenos.
Para impedir que nuestros pueblos continúen víctimas de deudas ilegítimas y odiosas que siguen siendo fuentes de desfinanciamiento permanentes, exigimos la realización de una auditoría sudamericana de los reclamos de deuda contra el patrimonio público en la región y el impulso desde la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones de la realización de auditorias externas a las Instituciones Financieras Internacionales, sus políticas y prácticas crediticias.
6. La integración energética sudamericana debe ser desarrollada a partir del fortalecimiento de nuestras empresas estatales de hidrocarburos, de la nacionalización de estos recursos estratégicos y revirtiendo la renta así conseguida para un desarrollo sustentable, con políticas de redistribución del ingreso y utilizando los excedentes para financiar nuevas matrices de energía renovable. Es necesario compartir nuestros recursos para beneficio de los pueblos respetando los derechos económicos, sociales culturales y ambientales para nuestro bienestar y el de las generaciones futuras y no en beneficio de las transnacionales o las oligarquías locales.
El desarrollo energético sustentable supone el respeto al derecho de las comunidades, el ahorro energético y el combate al consumo excesivo de energía. Las fuentes de energía deben ser renovables, limpias y de bajo impacto, garantizando su acceso equitativo y democrático. Los países de la CSN deben garantizar el acceso pleno de todos los habitantes del continente a los bienes energéticos, buscando superar la realidad actual en la que países con altos potenciales energéticos aún no han logrado un abastecimiento digno de sus habitantes.
Hay que cambiar el modelo energético actual que implica una alta dependencia de los combustibles fósiles y genera fuertes impactos sobre las poblaciones locales y pueblos originarios. Las empresas multinacionales, pero también las estatales provocan daños irreparables en el medio ambiente y en las comunidades, propios de ese tipo de explotación.
Los proyectos de energía deben ser viables en términos de costos no sólo económicos sino también sociales y ambientales. Solicitamos información sobre los impactos sociales, ecológicos y socioeconómicos, para evaluar si los megaproyectos de energía justifican la inversión de tanto capital, cuando existen otras alternativas descentralizadas para las inversiones, incluso para la generación de energía renovable. Rechazamos la idea de financiar éste tipo de obras con prestamos del Banco Mundial o del BID, porque esto llevaría otra vez a hipotecar el futuro de Sudamérica a los acreedores extranjeros.
7. No habrá verdadera integración si no se resuelven las asimetrías entre los distintos países. Por años este tema no ha pasado de ser un discurso en la CAN y el MERCOSUR. Defendemos la creación de un fondo de compensación para los países de menor desarrollo cuyos recursos sean destinados al desarrollo de los sectores de la economía popular y solidaria y a proyectos acordes con las decisiones de los pueblos de esos países – y no los definidos bajo presión del gran capital nacional o transnacional. Esos fondos podrían ser constituidos a partir de imponer un impuesto a las transacciones financieras de las transnacionales que operan en Sudamérica y utilizando parte de los recursos de las reservas monetarias internacionales de nuestros países hoy depositados en los Estados Unidos. En ese mismo espíritu, debería revisarse y corregir los mecanismos que perpetúan las relaciones de asimetría, estableciendo como ejemplo la necesidad de que Brasil y Argentina anulen las deudas binacionales reclamadas a Paraguay como saldo injusto de la construcción de las represas Yacyretá e Itaipú.
8. Tenemos que cambiar el modelo de desarrollo de Sudamérica que ha sido diseñado en función de las exportaciones antes que en el desarrollo interno para beneficio de la gente. Sudamérica no puede seguir siendo una región principalmente exportadora de materias primas (hidrocarburos y minerales) y de algunos productos del agronegocio. La integración sudamericana debe promover la complementación de nuestras economías para generar empleos y promover un desarrollo productivo integral, fortaleciendo el comercio interregional y sustituyendo las importaciones de bienes que se producen en la región.
9. La Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones está amenazada por los TLCs que han suscrito Chile, Colombia y Perú. Es fundamental revertir esos acuerdos y promover en su reemplazo acuerdos comerciales que no comprometan la soberanía, los medicamentos, la salud, el agua, la educación, la cultura, la biodiversidad, la soberanía alimentaria, las compras estatales, los recursos naturales y la posibilidad de implementar políticas industriales activas. La experiencia de los últimos 20 años muestra que es necesario pensar otra estructura para el comercio en la región, que parta del reconocimiento de que éste pude ser una herramienta importante para el desarrollo sólo si se lo regula, para evitar que perpetúe las asimetrías entre empresas y entre países, profundizando la dependencia y la subordinación de países y pueblos a las grandes potencias.
El comercio no es un fin en sí mismo, debe ser pensado como una forma de crear los vínculos de las importantes cadenas productivas en la región, para impulsar el desarrollo, aprovechando al máximo las complementariedades existentes entre las diversas economías nacionales, e integrando un poderoso mercado regional de consumo que debe ser prioritario ante otras propuestas que aspiran primordialmente a exportar hacia otros mercados.
Al interior de la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones deben primar los acuerdos de Comercio justo y cooperación, y no reproducir experiencias que sólo han reafirmado un enfoque neoliberal de la integración. Advertimos aquí que lejos de significar una avance, la llamada “convergencia” CAN-Mercosur tal como está propuesta, puede significar el reforzamiento y no la eliminación del enfoque neoliberal de la integración.
10. Pero además la integración sudamericana debe trascender lo comercial y avanzar en la resolución de otras problemáticas que hacen a nuestros pueblos y realidad sudamericana. Una de ellas es el tema del armamentismo y militarización de que son objeto nuestros territorios, con la instalación de bases militares, planes de control militarizado como el Plan Colombia, realización de maniobras militares conjuntas bajo la dirección del Comando Sur del Pentágono, a partir de unas hipótesis de conflicto y una doctrina militar que no se corresponden con los intereses de nuestros pueblos. Consideramos que en este proceso de integración los países sudamericanos deben elaborar una doctrina propia de seguridad y defensa nacional en correspondencia con las aspiraciones de paz, soberanía y autodeterminación de todos y cada uno de nuestros pueblos.
Vemos con profunda inquietud la presencia de tropas de nuestros países en Haití y entendemos que debe iniciarse con urgencia el retiro de esos efectivos militares. También nos alerta el ingreso de tropas estadounidenses al Paraguay. La CSN debe encarar esta discusión y plantearse consecuentemente la erradicación de todos aquellos actos que vulneran la soberanía, generan conflictos y afectan los derechos civiles y la democracia.
Al mismo tiempo, las naciones sudamericanas deberían plantearse un trabajo conjunto de lucha contra la impunidad y la violencia estatal, fortaleciendo la democracia y sentando precedentes importantes para saldar la deuda histórica con los pueblos que luchan por la dignidad y la justicia.
11. El proceso de la CSN debe considerar que es imposible concebir la integración regional sin el protagonismo, los derechos y en suma la existencia de las nacionalidades y pueblos indígenas que trascienden las fronteras republicanas. Los pueblos y comunidades indígenas, son los directos y principales afectados por la acción de las transnacionales, cuya explotación indiscriminada de los recursos naturales generan pobreza, migración, contaminación y marginalidad. Los pueblos indígenas deben ser reconocidos como protagonistas de los procesos de integración y fundamentalmente de las políticas de la CSN para preservar los territorios, los recursos ambientales y la vida.
12. La despenalización de la hoja de coca en Sudamérica y el impulso a su industrialización con fines benéficos es un paso fundamental para lograr que en el 2.008 las Naciones Unidas retiren a la hoja de coca de las sustancias penalizadas.
13. Vemos imperativo el reconocimiento de la comunicación como un factor articulador clave para el reencuentro y fraternidad de las nacionalidades involucradas y para apoyar las urgentes tareas que demanda generar el bienestar de nuestros pueblos. Así pues, uno de sus fundamentos constitutivos debe ser el Derecho a la Comunicación democrática, estableciendo a la par el compromiso de las partes para adoptar políticas públicas en la materia. En esta línea, urge acordar una estrategia de cooperación específica para los ámbitos de la información, comunicación, cultura y conocimiento; definir acuerdos para potenciar las redes regionales de comunicación pública, con un sentido de equidad respecto a los medios de comunicación; priorizar la interconexión intrarregional de las redes de telecomunicaciones (disminuyendo la dependencia externa), junto con políticas de capacitación y para aumentar la accesibilidad en cada país.
14. Hacemos una llamada a los estados de la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones a constituir un proceso hacia una Convención del Agua que esté orientada a garantizar el agua como un derecho humano, a cuidar nuestras fuentes y recursos de agua y que éstas sean protegidas de la privatización y la mercantilización por un acuerdo internacional que se apoye en los avances logrados hasta ahora en el marco del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales.
Y también llamamos a los Estados a construir el Foro mundial del Agua sobre los principios de plena participación e inclusión y en el reconocimiento del agua como derecho humano.
La CSN debe ser un instrumento que comprometa a los países a:
– Revertir los procesos de desmantelamiento de los servicios estatales y fortalecer los sistemas públicos de agua y saneamiento básico para desarrollar gestiones eficientes, con transparencia y control social, asegurando mecanismos de cooperación e intercambio con este fin.
– Promover la efectiva participación de las comunidades en la toma de decisiones sobre los proyectos de desarrollo que involucren el agua en cada territorio, recuperando sus visiones, usos y costumbres en la planificación y gestión sustentable de los recursos naturales.
15. La CSN, y en particular los países afectados, deben salir del modelo actual de investigación, gestión y elaboración de políticas oficiales con respecto al Acuífero Guaraní, tuteladas en su mayoría por el Banco Mundial a través del GEF, que atentan contra la soberanía de los pueblos y no satisfacen los principios de participación y transparencia informativa que promovemos las organizaciones constituyentes del movimiento social del agua. Proponemos la creación de espacios institucionales nacionales de información y discusión respecto a los usos de los territorios y el subsuelo que conforman el Sistema Acuífero Guaraní (SAG), con participación de los movimientos y organizaciones sociales de los países que comparten el SAG, que se vinculará a las instancias públicas con la tarea principal de vigilancia del agua, su defensa como bien público compartido y la denuncia de todo procedimiento de investigación y gestión del conocimiento que no sean transparentes.
Antes de la finalización del Proyecto SAG del BM/GEF/OEA en 2008 es necesario producir un pre-proyecto alternativo de investigación y marco de gestión con objetivos de defensa de la soberanía y con vocación integradora para buscar financiamiento genuino, que no genere condicionantes a los gobiernos y organizaciones sociales que terminan atentando contra los intereses fundantes; que de continuidad a lo que se pueda salvar y modificar la asimetría a favor de los países y no del organismo multilateral. Demandamos la entrega de los documentos del referido proyecto a los movimientos, parlamentos y gobiernos de los países de SAG.
16. Es urgente adoptar políticas de desarrollo sustentable que pongan en el centro al empleo de calidad con justicia social y construir mecanismos de intervención que permitan incluir a todos los habitantes. Aspiramos a una integración regional basada en otro modelo socio-económico que en lo laboral se oriente a: aumentar la formalidad laboral, asegurar la aplicación de los derechos laborales; universalizar la seguridad social pública; a fortalecer el derecho a la sindicalización y la negociación colectiva; que adopte medidas contra las discriminaciones en el mercado de trabajo y que busque superar la actual división sexual del trabajo que penaliza a las mujeres y poner en marcha programas de Empleo Juvenil, que detenga los mecanismos que empujan a nuestras poblaciones a la emigración, al mismo tiempo que reconozca para los trabajadores y trabajadoras emigrantes el piso de derechos que garantizan las convenciones internacionales.
17. Debemos encarar como países integrados una reforma agraria que garantice a todos el derecho de trabajar en la tierra y democratice su propiedad, priorizando las formas familiares, sociales y cooperativas. La CSN debe ser el espacio natural para consolidar la soberanía alimentaria, es decir, el derecho que tienen todos los pueblos de producir sus propios alimentos de forma independiente, saludable y con calidad para abastecer a toda la sociedad. Las semillas son un patrimonio de la humanidad y no pueden estar sujetas a la privatización y a patentes de las multinacionales.
18. Como consecuencia de las políticas neoliberales y de ajuste aplicadas en la región, millones de personas se ven a diario obligadas a emigrar en la búsqueda de alternativas para sus vidas.
Consideramos que la primera obligación de los gobiernos es desarrollar las políticas necesarias para garantizar efectivamente la libertad de no emigrar de nuestros trabajadores y trabajadoras. Frente a la situación de los trabajadores que han migrado y sus familiares, cualquiera sea su situación migratoria. Al contrario de una visión reduccionista de las y los emigrantes como simple fuerza de trabajo, afirmamos que son personas y no mercancías y, por tanto, deben tener garantía de todos los derechos que les permitan desarrollarse y ejercer plenamente su ciudadanía en el goce de derechos laborales, sociales, culturales, económicos, civiles y políticos.
No se puede continuar con políticas orientadas a criminalizar al inmigrante y tratar a la migración como un asunto de seguridad. La CSN debe desarrollar políticas que garanticen ciudadanía a los emigrantes y acciones compartidas para luchar contra la pobreza y la marginalidad asegurando a los habitantes de cada país las condiciones para desarrollarse plenamente y con bienestar.
19. Exigimos la urgente creación de mecanismos de Participación Social en la construcción de la Comunidad a niveles locales, regionales, sub-regionales y nacionales. Los Estados deben asegurar la transparencia del proceso de negociación de la iniciativa de la CSN, reconociendo que los mecanismos oficiales preparatorios de esta Cumbre, como las anteriores, no han facilitado el acceso a la información ni la publicidad de los avances ni los contenidos que se discuten. La alegada “informalidad” del Grupo de Reflexión no debe ser un amparo formal para impedir la divulgación de las conversaciones de los 12 países. Los presidentes reunidos en Cochabamba deben crear un mecanismo formal de participación y consulta a los pueblos.
20. Nosotros, los movimientos sociales que desde la resistencia reivindicamos la búsqueda de Alternativas que hagan realidad que “otro mundo es posible”, “otra América posible”, venimos a reafirmar nuestro compromiso con la construcción de una Comunidad Sudamericana basada en el ejercicio universal de los Derechos Humanos, en la Soberanía popular y la Democracia participativa. Por esto, asumimos la realización de la Cumbre Social por la Integración de los Pueblos en Cochabamba como un espacio donde se exprese el acumulado histórico de nuestras luchas y la profundización democrática en la construcción de Alternativas políticas, sociales y económicas, entendiendo que la integración desde los pueblos fortalece nuestra Identidad: la diversidad cultural. Es desde allí que asumimos el desafío de compartir la construcción de la integración de los pueblos sudamericanos desde sus cimientos constituyendo los Foros Sociales en todo el continente donde se expresen, sin exclusiones ni discriminaciones, todos los sujetos.
Alianza Social Continental
Movimiento Boliviano por la Soberanía y la Integración Solidaria de los Pueblos – Contra el TLC y el ALCA

Civil Society Organizations on the Road to the Construction of the South American Community of Nations

Hemispheric Social Alliance

Presented to the Ministers and Vice-ministers of the SACN
in Santiago, information pills Chile, November 22nd & 23rd, 2006

 

  1. We believe that the future of the South American Community of Nations brings new perspective to the root weakness of the FTAA project, and is an expression of the general conviction in the continent that “another integration” is possible.   A South American bloc will be an important and positive step if it permits our peoples to speak with their own voice, independent of the impositions and conditions set by the United States, Europe and multilateral institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, and the BID.   Reaffirming and exercising the sovereignty of the region is the first step towards any project of a true integration.

  1. The difference between the FTAA, FTAs and investment agreements – which are oriented to favour transnational corporations and the commodification of all aspects of life – and the South American Community of Nations should be based on the redistribution of the wealth that is today concentrated in very few hands, on the commitment of the states to their obligations in regards to the social, cultural, economic rights of the peoples, on the overcoming of discriminations based on gender, race and generation, and on respect for the identity and the rights of indigenous peoples.   Life, human and environmental rights, well being and solidarity amongst the peoples should be central to the process of integration.

  1. We understand education to be a fundamental right of the peoples.   For this reason, it should be one of the central pillars of any project of integration for the region.   It is essential that a commitment to the eradication of illiteracy be established – as well as to the elimination of misery and of hunger.   For this reason, we must develop mechanisms that permit technical and scientific cooperation between countries towards the end of overcoming existing inequalities.   All the countries of the Community should likewise assume a commitment towards educational reform that guarantees universal, free public education of quality for the entire population.   To meet the objective of promoting “inter-culturalism” between peoples and in recognition of cultural diversity, native languages should be incorporated into the system in a determined manner.

In the fight for the eradication of poverty, it is necessary also to establish a South American Plan to guarantee the universality of access to Public Health.

  1. The physical integration of South America is fundamental in meeting the goal of broadening the possibility of contacts between our peoples and countries.   For this reason, the infrastructure cannot be designed as part of a global geo-strategy for the control, dominion, possession and usufruct of strategic natural resources and the exploitation of cheap labour.   In this sense, projects such as IIRSA (South American Regional Integration of Infrastructure), conceived by the IFIs and international capital as complements to the FTAA, should be rejected in favour of proposals for Infrastructural Integration that emerge from the necessities of the peoples and that prioritizes our joint participation in a framework for comprehensive development in harmony with the environment and the norms and principles that make its care and protection possible, with respect to our communities and human rights, and that no longer generate illegitimate and hated indebtedness.   To achieve this, projects should be submitted to democratic debate and consideration with the communities that will be affected by their implementation and financial provisions.

  1. Financial integration referred to by the South American Community should begin from the point of recognizing that we are creditors of an immense historical, social, cultural, ecological, and financial debt whose recovery – together with the halt and reversal of the current mechanisms that facilitate the flight of capital, human capacity, and natural goods – should establish genuine and sovereign financial potential, but in a manner that is able to meet our needs.   Such commitment by the states of the regions will put an end to the mechanisms of indebtedness and external conditioning that have served to impose the Washington Consensus, and to systematically violate human and environmental rights.

    In this sense, the states should review and reverse agreements of investment protection and promotion, extensions of jurisdiction, and the acceptance of extra-judicial authorities like the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, regressive payment systems, and other mechanisms for the under-resourcing of the state (including the privatization of important public goods and services whose private exploitation is currently subsidized by the state), and instead establish controls on exchanges and financial transactions in order to strengthen an autonomous financial base and to eliminate the false necessity of external capital.

    The new financial system requires new mechanisms of control and monitoring that begin by instituting proceedings against those who have unscrupulously trapped our nations in debt, and that ensure social participation in the determination of budget priorities [there will be a need to remain on guard because of the danger that new supportive finance mechanisms between countries of the Community may be appropriated to maintain old relations of domination and control such as, for example, the creation and sale of bonds and other mechanisms that create new debt, between countries of the region, in order to continue payments against the old debt that is clearly illegitimate and illegal].   In this same sense, we should not admit the restructuring or conversion of debt, a practice that only serves to whitewash questionable debts and to fall prey to external interests.

    In order to prevent our people from continuing as victims of illegitimate and hated debts that are continually recreated from sources of permanent de-financing, we demand that a South American audit be carried out on the debt payment demands levied against the peoples in the region, and that there be external audits of the International Financial Institutions, their policies and credit practices, and that all of this to be promoted by the South American Community of Nations.


  1. South American energy integration should be fostered, beginning with the strengthening of state enterprises in hydrocarbons, the nationalization of strategic resources, and the channelling of profits obtained in this manner towards sustainable development, with policies of income redistribution, and using any surplus to finance renewable energy options.   It is necessary to share our resources for the benefit of our peoples, respecting economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, and that our well-being and that of future generations prioritized – these resources should not be for the benefit of transnational corporations and local oligarchies.

    Sustainable energy development means respect for the rights of communities, energy conservation and the combating of excessive energy consumption.   Energy sources should be renewable, clean and low impact, and equitable and democratic access should be guaranteed.   The countries of the SACN should guarantee full access to energy resources to all inhabitants of the continent, in the bid to overcome the current reality where countries with high energy potential have not yet achieved a dignified level of supply to their inhabitants.

    It would be necessary to change the current energy model that implies a high level of dependency on combustible fossil fuels and that has serious impacts on local populations and original peoples. Multinational and even state enterprises themselves cause irreparable damage to the environment and communities through this type of exploitation.

    Energy projects should be viable in terms not only of economic costs, but also social and environmental ones.   We request that information on the social, ecological and socioeconomic impacts of such projects be made publicly available, in order to evaluate if energy megaprojects justify the investment of such capital when decentralized alternatives to such investments exist, including the generation of renewable energy.   We reject the idea of financing this type of work with loans from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, because this will jeopardize the future of South America by placing it yet again in the hands of foreign creditors.

  1. There will be no true integration if the asymmetries between the different countries are not resolved.    For years, this theme has never moved beyond being a mere discourse in the ACN and in MERCOSUR.   We defend the creation of a compensation fund for the most underdeveloped countries, whose resources may then be destined to develop sectors of the popular economy, cooperatives, and to projects in agreement with the decisions of the peoples of these countries – and not those defined under pressure of national and transnational big capital.   These funds could initially be constituted through a tax levied on the financial transactions of transnational corporations that operate in South America, and by utilizing part of the resources of international monetary reserves in our countries which are today deposited in the United States.   In this same spirit, mechanisms that perpetuate asymmetrical relations should be reviewed and corrected; establishing, for example, the necessity that Brazil and Argentina annul the bilateral debts claimed from Paraguay as the unjust results of the construction of the Yacyretá and Itaipú dams.

  1. We must change the South American model of development that is export-oriented in order to favour one based on internal development for the benefit of the people.   South America can not keep being a region principally geared towards the export of raw materials (hydrocarbons and minerals) and certain agribusiness products.   South American integration should promote the complementarity of our economies in order to generate jobs and promote a comprehensive mode of production and development, strengthening interregional trade and the substitution for imported goods of products that can be produced in the region.

  1. The South American Community of Nations is being threatened by FTAs being signed by Chile, Colombia and Peru.   It is fundamental to reverse these agreements and to promote in their place trade agreements that do not compromise sovereignty, medicines, health, water, education, culture, biodiversity, food sovereignty, government purchases, and natural resources, and to implement active industrial policies.   The experience of the last 20 years has shown that it is necessary to conceptualize a new structure for trade in the region that begins from the recognition that it can be an important tool for development only if it is regulated, in order to avoid the mode of trade which perpetuates asymmetries between businesses and between countries, deepening the dependency on and subordination of countries and peoples to the great powers.

    Trade is not an end in and of itself; rather, it should be thought of as a form of creating linkages between the important production chains in the region in order to stimulate development, taking maximum advantage of the complementarities that exist between diverse national economies, and prioritizing the creation of an integrated, powerful regional market of consumption over other proposals that aspire fundamentally to increase exports to external markets.

    Within the South American Community of Nations, just and cooperative trade accords should take priority, rather than those that only serve to reproduce experiences of the neo-liberal approach to integration.   We wish to note here that far from suggesting an advance, the so-called “convergence” between the ACN and MERCOSUR as proposed may signify the reinforcement rather than elimination of the neo-liberal model of integration.

  1. However South American integration should also transcend trade, and advance in the resolution of other dilemmas facing our peoples and reality in the region.   One of these arms stockpiles and militarization in our region, often associated with the installation of military bases, military command and control structures such as Plan Colombia, the build-up of military manpower in conjunction with the pentagon’s Southern Command – all emerging from a theory of conflict and military doctrine that does not correspond with the interests of our peoples.   We consider that, in this process of integration, the South American countries should elaborate their own doctrine of security and national defence which speaks to the aspirations for peace, sovereignty and self-determination of each and every one of our peoples.

    We come with deep concern over the presence of our troops in Haiti and we believe that the withdrawal of these military forces should begin immediately.   We are also concerned that United States troops have been allowed into Paraguay.   The SACN should have this discussion and consider how to reverse all those actions which weaken our sovereignty, generate conflicts and adversely affect civil rights and democracy.

    At the same time, the nations of South America should consider a joint effort of struggle against impunity and state violence , strengthening democracy and setting important precedents to settle the historic debt with peoples who fight for dignity and justice.

  1. In the process of the SACN, we consider that it is impossible to conceive of a regional integration without an active citizenry, rights and in general, the existence of nationalities and indigenous peoples that transcend republican frontiers.   Indigenous peoples and communities are those most directly and principally affected by the actions of transnational corporations, whose indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources generate poverty, migration, pollution, and marginality.   The indigenous peoples should be recognized as protagonists in processes of integration, and the policies of the SACN should aim to preserve territories, environmental resources and life itself.

  1. The decriminalization of the coca leaf in South America and support for its industrialization is a fundamental step to achieving the removal by 2008 of the coca leaf from the United Nations list of prohibited substances.

  1. We see the recognition of communication as being a key means of unification as central to the reunion and fraternity of the nations involved, and to the support of urgent tasks towards the creation of well-being amongst our peoples. Democratic Communication should be seen as a fundamental right, and there should be a commitment among the parties to adopt public policies to this end.   Therefore we urge agreement on a strategy of cooperation in the spheres of information, communication, culture and knowledge; the definition of agreements to promote regional networks of public communication with a sense of equity with respect to the means of communication; the prioritizing of intraregional connection of telecommunication networks (reducing external dependency); together with training policies and the enhancement of accessibility in each country.

  1. We call on the states of the South American Community of Nations to constitute a process towards a Convention on Water that is oriented towards guaranteeing water as a human right , to care for our primary water sources and resources and to protect them against privatization and commodification through an international agreement that builds on the advances made to date, in the framework of the International Pact on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

    We also call on the States to construct a Global Forum on Water based on the principles of full participation and inclusion and in recognition of water as a human right.

    The SACN should be an instrument that commits countries to:

    • Reverse the processes of dismantling states services, and to instead strengthen public systems of water and basic sanitation to develop efficient management, with transparency and social control, ensuring mechanisms of cooperation and exchange with this end in mind.

    • Promote the effective participation of communities in decision making on projects of development that involve water in each territory, retaining their visions, patterns of usage and customs in the sustainable planning and management of natural resources.

  1. The SACN and in particular the affected countries should abandon the current model of research, management and elaboration of official policies with respect to the Guaraní Aquifer, most of which has been created under the tutelage of the World Bank through the Global Environmental Facility, which are contrary to popular sovereignty and which do not satisfy the principles of informative participation and transparency that we promote as constituent organizations of the social movement in defence of water.   We propose the creation of national institutional spaces of information and discussion with respect to the uses of the territories and subsoil that constitute the Guaraní Aquifer System (GAS), with participation of the social movements and organizations of those countries which share the GAS , which will be linked to public authorities whose principle tasks are to monitor the water table and usage, its defence as a shared public good, and the denunciation of all proceedings of research and management of knowledge that are not transparent.

    Before the completion of the GAS Project of the WB/GEF/OAS in 2008, it is necessary to produce a pre-project, alternative research and management framework with the objective of defending sovereignty and with an integrative approach through searching for genuine financing that does not impose conditions on governments and social organizations contrary to their fundamental interests; a framework that gives continuity to that which preserves, and to modifying asymmetries in favour of countries and not multilateral institutions.   We demand the release of documents on the referred-to project to the movements, parliaments and governments of the countries of the GAS.

  1. It is urgent to adopt policies of sustainable development that assume social justice as a central measure of quality and to construct mechanisms of intervention that permit the inclusion of all inhabitants.   We aspire to a regional integration based on a different socio-economic model that is oriented towards: increasing decent and permanent jobs; ensuring the application of labour rights; universalizing public social security; strengthening the right to unionize and to collective bargaining; adopting measures against discrimination in the labour market and that searches to overcome the current sexual division of labour that penalizes women; that puts in place programmes of Youth Employment; that puts a stop to the mechanisms that drive our populations to migrate, but at the same time, that recognizes the basic level of rights of migrant workers guaranteed by international conventions.

  1. As united countries, we should confront the job of creating an agrarian reform that guarantees to all the right to work the land, and that democratizes property in a manner that gives priority to family, social and cooperative forms.   The SACN should be a natural space to consolidate food sovereignty ; in other words, the right that all people have to produce their own food (which is of healthy and high quality) in an independent manner, in order to supply all of society.   Seed as the legacy of humanity and cannot be subjected to the privatization and patenting of multinationals.

  1. As a consequence of neo-liberalism and structural adjustment policies applied in the region, every day millions of people are obliged to emigrate in search of alternative livelihoods.

    We consider the primary obligation of the governments to develop the necessary policies to effectively guarantee workers freedom from having to emigrate.   These must be made in light of the situation facing migrant workers and their families, in whatever stage of migration they may find themselves.   In contrast to the reductionist vision that sees migrants simply as a labour force, we affirm that they are persons and not commodities, and moreover, that all those rights that will permit them to develop themselves and fully exercise their citizenship through the enjoyment of labour, social, cultural, economic, civil and political rights, should be guaranteed.

    We cannot continue with policies aimed at criminalizing the immigrant and at treating migration as a matter of security.   The SACN should develop policies that guarantee citizenship to migrants and that promotes shared actions to fight against poverty and marginality, and to foster conditions that allow the inhabitants in each country to develop themselves fully and to guarantee their continued well-being.


  1. We demand the urgent creation of mechanisms of Social Participation in the construction of the Community at local, regional, sub-regional and national levels.   The States should ensure the transparency of the negotiation process of the SACN initiative, recognizing that the official mechanisms of this Summit, as with previous ones, have not facilitated access to information, nor the dissemination of progress made, nor the contents of what is being discussed.   The alleged “informality” of the Reflection Group should not operate as a formal shield to impede the publication of the discussions of the 12 countries.   The presidents united in Cochabamba should create a formal mechanism of popular participation and consultation.

  1. We, the social movements who – resisting while searching for Alternatives to create the conditions for “another world is possible”, “another Americas is possible” – are reaffirming our commitment to the construction of a South American Community based on the universal exercise of Human Rights, in the context of popular Sovereignty and participatory Democracy.   For this reason, we have taken on the organizing of the Social Summit for the Integration of the Peoples to be held in Cochabamba. It is to be a space where the historical accumulation of our struggles and the democratic construction of political, social and economic Alternatives come together; understanding that integration that emerges from the peoples also strengthens our Identity, our cultural diversity.   It is out of this experience that all the peoples assume the challenge of sharing in the construction of the integration of the South American peoples drawing from the diversity of expression fundamental to Social Forums throughout the continent, free from exclusion or discrimination.

The South American Community of Nations should demonstrate that “Another Integration is Possible.”

Integración en America Latina: apuntes para debatir integración de los pueblos

Esta cartilla es una contribución de la Alianza Social Continental (ASC), shop de la Campaña Brasileña contra el ALCA/OMC y de la Red Brasileña por la
Integración de los Pueblos (REBRIP), para apoyar el debate sobre el tema integración regional y ampliar la discusión entre las organizaciones y movimientos sociales de Brasil y de Latinoamérica.
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Propuesta: BANCO DEL SUR

Éric Toussaint

(cadtm.org).- Dos grandes tendencias opuestas están en acción a escala internacional. La tendencia actualmente dominante, que opera desde hace 25-30 años, es la continuación de la ofensiva capitalista neoliberal e imperialista. En los últimos años, esta tendencia se manifiesta en el recurso cada vez más frecuente a la guerra imperialista, el aumento del armamento de las grandes potencias, el refuerzo continuado de la apertura comercial de los países dominados, la generalización de las privatizaciones, el ataque sistemático al salario y a los mecanismos de solidaridad colectiva conquistados por los trabajadores. Todo ello es parte del Consenso de Washington.

 

Una tendencia opuesta se viene desarrollando desde fines de los años 90, manifestándose su forma más avanzada (casi) únicamente en Latinoamérica: la elección de presidentes que propugnan la ruptura con el neoliberalismo -ciclo que comenzó con la elección de Hugo Chávez en 1998- o al menos la contención de éste: suspensión del pago de la deuda pública externa a los acreedores privados por Argentina, de diciembre de 2001 a marzo de 2005; comienzo de la recuperación del control estatal de las grandes empresas públicas (PDVSA) y de los recursos naturales (gas natural en Bolivia); fracaso del ALCA; reducción del aislamiento de Cuba… Esta contratendencia sería impensable sin las poderosas movilizaciones populares contra la ofensiva neoliberal, desarrolladas desde los años 80 (febrero de 1989 en Caracas) en diferentes rincones del planeta y que vienen estallando periódicamente. La resistencia que el imperialismo ha encontrado en Iraq, en Palestina, en Afganistán desempeña así mismo un papel fundamental.

Marco económico internacional en el período 2003-2006

La crisis que azotó a Estados Unidos en los años 2000-2001 se superó con una política anticíclica voluntarista de la Reserva Federal que redujo drásticamente el tipo director llevando la tasa de interés casi al nivel cero. El objetivo buscado: evitar que la quiebra de Enron y de Worldcom se extendiera a otras grandes empresas privadas muy endeudadas. La brusca reducción del tipo de interés permitió a las empresas refinanciar su deuda a un coste menor. También a los hogares estadounidenses, cuyo endeudamiento había alcanzado un nivel histórico (130 % de la renta anual). En conjunto, las deudas pública y privada de Estados Unidos supera los 37.000 millardos de dólares. Estados Unidos pudo superar la crisis y recuperó un nivel de crecimiento apoyado en el consumo interno, alimentado y financiado por el exterior. Su recuperación económica tenía lugar mientras el crecimiento de Europa y Japón era muy débil, y desempeñó entonces el papel de locomotora económica mundial en los años 2002-2003. El consumo interno implicaba un fuerte recurso a las importaciones, en particular de productos chinos. China, arrastrada por la locomotora estadounidense en su estela, pudo mantener así una tasa de crecimiento cercana al 10 %. Las necesidades chinas de combustible y materias primas han estimulado el precio de estos productos en el mercado mundial. Según el Banco de Pagos Internacionales (BIS [1]), en el año 2005 «China representó más del 57 % de la demanda suplementaria de aluminio, 60 % de la de cobre y más del 30 % de la de petróleo» [2]. A partir del año 2003, asistimos a un fuerte aumento del precio real del petróleo, de otras materias primas y de ciertos productos agrícolas. Al mismo tiempo, el precio de los productos manufacturados experimentó un alza modesta. Es por esto por lo que vivimos una coyuntura internacional caracterizada por una mejora de los términos de intercambio a favor de los países en desarrollo exportadores de materias primas, de combustibles y de ciertos productos del agro. Esto puso fin a más de veinte años de degradación de los términos de intercambio [3] en detrimento de los PED. En el caso de Latinoamérica, a partir del año 2003 Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Perú y Venezuela se benefician de un fuerte alza de los precios de sus exportaciones [4].

Esta mejora de los términos de intercambio ha provocado un aumento enorme de las reservas de divisas de los PED. Más de 130 de ellos (sobre 165) han aumentado sus reservas. Entre el año 2000 y abril del 2006, las reservas del conjunto de los PED (incluidos los países del ex bloque soviético) se multiplicaron casi por 3, pasando de 973 a 2.679 millardos de dólares [5]. Las reservas de los PED exportadores de petróleo se multiplicaron por 4, pasando de 110 a 443 millardos de dólares. Las de China se multiplicaron por más de 5, pasando de 166 a 875 millardos. Latinoamérica, más modestamente, aumentó sus reservas un 40 % en el mismo período.

El total mundial de las reservas de cambio llegaba en diciembre de 2005, según el BIS, al equivalente de 4.174 millardos de dólares (dos tercios en dólares USA, y el otro tercio en euros, yenes, libras esterlinas y francos suizos), de los cuales, sólo 1.292 millardos estaban en poder de los países más industrializados. Japón atesora 829 millardos [6]. Los PED jamás se han visto en tal situación: disponen de una suma equivalente a más del doble de las reservas de cambio de los países más industrializados (60 % en dólares USA, 29 % en euros y el resto en yenes, libras esterlinas y francos suizos).

El FMI, oficialmente encargado desde su fundación, en 1944, de acudir en ayuda de los países con problemas de balanza de pagos, no dispone más que del equivalente de unos 9 millardos de dólares directamente movilizables. El total de las cuotas representa unos 300 millardos de dólares, pero los 184 miembros aún tienen que poner a disposición del FMI esta suma. Su cartera de préstamos sólo llega a 35 millardos. Es como un enano frente a una veintena de PED. Por otra parte, su situación se agrava debido a que su cartera de préstamos ha disminuido (y en consecuencia, sus ingresos) tras el reembolso anticipado de la deuda de varios países asiáticos, de Brasil y de Argentina, a los que se sumarán pronto México y Uruguay.

Tanto en sentido literal como en sentido figurado, los PED son prestamistas netos con respecto a los países más industrializados. Tanto es así que prestan dinero al Tesoro de Estados Unidos y a los países de Europa occidental comprando sus bonos del Tesoro. Los PED tienen en sus cajas bonos del Tesoro estadounidense por valor de varios centenares de millardos de dólares.

Nota: El Banco Mundial también reconoce que los PED son prestamistas netos con respecto a los países más industrializados. En el informe anual del año 2003 del Banco, titulado Global Development Finance, podemos leer: «Los países en desarrollo, tomados en conjunto, son prestamistas netos respecto de los países desarrollados.» [7] En la edición 2005 del Global Development Finance, página 56, el Banco dice: «Los países en desarrollo son ahora exportadores netos de capitales hacia el resto del mundo.» En la edición de 2006, vuelve sobre el tema: «Los países en desarrollo exportan capitales al resto del mundo, en particular a Estados Unidos.» [8].

Nada demuestra mejor la futilidad de la teoría dominante en el tema del desarrollo que este reconocimiento. En efecto, según esta teoría, uno de los principales obstáculos al desarrollo en el Sur [9] es la insuficiencia de capitales. Y para poder desarrollarse, los PED deben buscar en otra parte los capitales suplementarios que necesitan. Tienen que endeudarse para atraer capitales extranjeros.

La política actual en materia de reservas de cambio es, en muchos aspectos, absurda, debido a que se adapta a la ortodoxia de las instituciones financieras internacionales. En lugar de utilizar una parte importante de sus reservas de divisas en gastos de inversión y en gastos corrientes (en los ámbitos de la educación y la salud, por ejemplo), los gobiernos de los PED las emplean para reembolsar su deuda o las prestan al Tesoro estadounidense o a los de los países de Europa occidental. Pero esto no es todo, los gobiernos de los PED usan las reservas de divisas como garantía de pago futuro y contraen nuevas deudas con bancos privados extranjeros o en los mercados financieros. Es absurdo desde el punto de vista del interés general. Otra política igualmente absurda desde el punto de vista de la nación: para prevenir un efecto inflacionista relacionado con el alto nivel de reservas de divisas, el Tesoro público de los PED se endeuda con bancos locales a fin de retirar de circulación el exceso de moneda.

Volvamos a la diferentes acciones antes mencionadas.

2.a. Pago anticipado al FMI A finales del año 2005-principios del 2006, Argentina saldó de forma anticipada su deuda con el FMI, utilizando una parte de sus reservas de cambio. Perfectamente, ajustada a derecho, podría haber cuestionado las sumas adeudadas al FMI, pues éste es responsable de una serie de acciones que perjudicaron a los ciudadanos argentinos y a la economía del país. El FMI apoyó activamente la dictadura argentina de 1976 a 1983, que cometió de forma sistemática crímenes contra la humanidad y que endeudó profundamente al país aplicando un modelo económico contrario a los intereses de la nación. Después, el FMI exigió al régimen constitucional que sucedió a la dictadura militar el pago de la deuda odiosa contraída por la junta militar. A continuación, le dictó al país unas políticas económicas que causaron nuevos perjuicios a la nación, que aún perduran. Argentina tenía todo el derecho de rechazar la continuidad de los pagos de la deuda al FMI. Lo mismo se podría decir del pago anticipado de la deuda al FMI efectuado por Brasil. Utilizando una parte de sus reservas para reembolsar al FMI, Argentina y Brasil han malgastado una parte de sus recursos, que se podrían haber empleado con fines más útiles y más honorables. Una de las razones expuestas por estos gobiernos para el pago anticipado al FMI fue la voluntad de recuperar su libertad de acción. Pero hay que destacar que después del reembolso mantienen una orientación económica que es apoyada por el FMI. Por ejemplo, no restablecieron el control sobre los movimientos de capitales ni el control de cambios.

2.b. Préstamos al gobierno de Estados Unidos vía la compra de bonos del Tesoro La mayor parte de los PED compra bonos del Tesoro estadounidense. No conocemos las suma exactas, pero éstas representan varios centenares de millardos de dólares prestados al gobierno de Estados Unidos. El argumento más común es que estos bonos tienen mucha liquidez, es decir, que se los puede vender fácil y rápidamente. Se agrega, por lo general, que no tienen riesgo, pues es inimaginable que el Tesoro estadounidense caiga en default a corto o a largo término. Lo cierto es que los PED contribuyen así a sostener la potencia del imperio americano. Los PED ponen en manos del amo el garrote que emplea para apalearlos y expoliarlos. En efecto, Estados Unidos tiene una necesidad vital de financiación externa para cubrir sus enormes déficit y mantener su poderío militar, comercial y financiero. Si se vieran privados de una parte significativa de los préstamos de los PED, su predominio se debilitaría. Digamos también que los que apoyan la compra de bonos del Tesoro USA omiten casi siempre reconocer que la cotización del dólar evoluciona a la baja. Los bonos son remunerados con dólares devaluados. Anotemos así mismo que la compra de bonos del Tesoro de los países europeos, si bien constituyen un mal menor, no representa de ninguna manera una alternativa. Es mucho mejor gastar productivamente los excedentes de reserva o bien depositarlos en común en un banco del Sur.

2.c. La continuidad del endeudamiento público El depósito de las reservas como bonos del Tesoro estadounidense (o de cualquier otro Tesoro) generalmente tiene como contrapartida nuevos préstamos. Esto puede parecer paradójico, pero en realidad las cosas son así. Por una parte, las reservas de divisas se colocan en parte como bonos del Tesoro; por otra, los poderes públicos toman préstamos en el mercado interno o en el mercado internacional a fin de reembolsar la deuda pública. En todos los casos, la remuneración de las reservas colocadas en bonos del Tesoro extranjeros es inferior al interés pagado por estos préstamos. O sea, una pérdida para el Tesoro del país en cuestión. ¡Un monto importante de reservas en las cajas del Banco Central a menudo lleva a éste a endeudarse! Explicación: Los capitales extranjeros que ingresan masivamente en forma de divisas se encuentran a menudo en manos de agentes residentes, que los cambiarán en sus bancos por moneda nacional (MN), lo que se traduce así en un aumento acrecentado de la cantidad de MN en circulación, lo cual es una fuente potencial de inflación. Para evitar esto, las autoridades monetarias (el Banco Central, BC) realizan operaciones de esterilización de estas reservas a fin de evitar que el flujo de divisas se convierta en MN. En grandes líneas, hay dos posibilidades: 1. El BC decide aumentar la tasa de reservas obligatoria (reserve assets) del sistema bancario, lo que ocasiona un coste suplementario a los bancos, que por supuesto repercutirán sobre las tasa de interés de sus créditos. Esto encarece el crédito y debería reducir el ritmo de creación de moneda (pues cada vez que hay un crédito, hay creación de moneda, lo mismo que cada vez que hay un reembolso de crédito, hay «destrucción» de moneda). 2. El BC realiza operaciones de open-market, es decir, emite títulos cuya venta deberá permitirle recuperar MN, que de este modo sale de circulación y con ello se limita el riesgo de inflación. El problema de esta esterilización es que el BC tiene por un lado reservas de cambio que coloca en el mercado nacional de capitales (que le reportan un interés t1) y por otro lado paga por los título que emite una remuneración t2, que es mayor que t1, pues la prima de riesgo es mayor en el mercado interno de un PED que en el mercado internacional. Por eso, para controlar la inflación, así como su tipo de cambio (que depende también del régimen de cambio, tipo fijo, currency board o flexible), el BC, y por ende el Estado, se ve obligado a endeudarse para financiar esta diferencia de tasas. Es el resultado combinado de una política monetaria cuyo objetivo principal es la lucha contra la inflación (según una perspectiva liberal bien conocida) y de una política económica general, que limita la intervención del Estado en la actividad productiva y que considera que los gastos sociales son improductivos (y generadores de inflación). Una aplastante mayoría de gobiernos da prioridad a esta política, y se asiste a un aumento de las deudas públicas internas como contrapeso de un nivel alto de las reservas de cambio. [10] Esto es así para China y también para los países de Latinoamérica.

En vez de acumular montañas de reservas de cambio, especialmente para protegerse de los ataques especulativos, los gobiernos de los PED deberían: 1 tomar medidas de control de los movimientos de capitales y de divisas (mucho más eficaces como protección contra un ataque especulativo y para combatir la fuga de capitales); 2 dedicar una parte importante de las reservas a las inversiones productivas en la industria, la agricultura (reforma agraria y desarrollo de la soberanía alimentaria), en las infraestructuras, en la protección ambiental, en la renovación urbana (reforma urbana, construcción/renovación de viviendas), en servicios de salud, y de educación, en cultura, en la seguridad social…; 3 poner en común una parte de las reservas para constituir uno o más organismos financieros internacionales (Banco del Sur, Fondo Monetario del Sur) ; 4 constituir un frente de los países endeudados en favor del no pago; 5 constituir o reforzar carteles de países productores de bienes básicos; 6 desarrollar los acuerdos de intercambio compensado puestos en práctica entre Venezuela, Cuba y Bolivia.

Es lo que vamos a desarrollar en las dos partes siguientes.

Alternativas potenciales

Volvamos a la coyuntura favorable a los PED en el año 2006. Como ya hemos visto, la situación es favorable por varias razones:
– Un número significativo de estos países dispone de un nivel de reservas internacionales nunca alcanzado hasta hoy, mientras Estados Unidos y Europa occidental se encuentran en un nivel históricamente bajo de reservas;
– los términos de intercambio les son favorables;
– la mayor parte de los PED tienen un saldo positivo de cuenta corriente;
– el FMI se encuentra momentáneamente debilitado. Podemos agregar que la tasa de crecimiento medio de los PED ha sido el doble de la tasa de crecimiento medio de los países más industrializados. En cuanto a las primas de riesgo país pagadas por los PED, éstas han alcanzado un nivel históricamente bajo.

En el plano político, en muchos países la izquierda ha progresado: victoria de Evo Morales en las presidenciales del año 2005 en Bolivia, avance importante de la izquierda en las elecciones de la India y de México. En el plano militar, Washington y sus aliados están empantanados en Iraq y en Afganistán, lo que les dificulta una intervención terrestre directa contra otro país. En el plano de los acuerdos multilaterales favorables a las grandes potencias, el ALCA ha sido abandonado en el año 2005 y las negociaciones en el seno de OMC sobre la agenda de Doha están bloqueadas (al menos por el momento).

En tal panorama, potencialmente es posible poner en práctica una estrategia alternativa: Si los gobiernos de los PED quisieran cuestionar el pago de la deuda pública, estarían en la mejor posición para hacerlo, porque tienen con qué afrontar las amenazas de represalias de los acreedores multilaterales, bilaterales o privados. El nivel de sus reservas les asegura un enorme margen de maniobra. Si Argentina pudo hacer frente, ella sola, a los acreedores privados (que reclamaban la continuación del pago de una deuda de unos 100 millardos de euros) entre finales del año 2001 y principios del 2005 y obtener unas concesiones significativas, podemos imaginar fácilmente la fuerza que tendría un frente de varios países. Es el momento de poner en marcha auditorías de la deuda. Un frente de países que digan no al pago de la deuda también podría llevar adelante la exigencia del pago de la deuda histórica y de la deuda ecológica contraídas por los países más industrializados. La opinión pública mundial y los movimientos sociales estarían en gran medida de acuerdo con la adopción de una actitud legítima y digna por los gobiernos del Sur. Así mismo, los gobiernos del Sur podrían tomar la iniciativa de crear un Banco del Sur y un Fondo Monetario del Sur (ver más adelante). Podrían retirarse del Banco Mundial y del Fondo Monetario Internacional, organismos totalmente dominados por unas pocas grandes potencias muy industrializadas. Podrían poner en marcha una estrategia de estabilización de los precios de las materias primas y de los productos agrícolas básicos fundando carteles de países productores y reforzando la OPEP. Podrían crear o reforzar grupos regionales del Sur y, por qué no, dotarse de una moneda común. Podrían reintroducir un control de los movimientos de capitales y del cambio. Podrían retomar el control de los recursos naturales de cada país. Podrían desarrollar, en el plano de la educación, de la cultura, de la investigación (en especial en materia de salud) unas políticas públicas audaces con medios financieros suficientes. Inspirándose en los acuerdos de intercambio de Venezuela, Cuba y Bolivia, podrían generalizar las nuevas formas de «intercambio compensado» (petróleo a cambio de servicios de salud y de educación, por ejemplo), Una estrategia como ésta implicaría dar la prioridad a una redistribución radical de la riqueza, tanto en el seno de los PED como entre el Norte y el Sur del planeta. El contenido social de una estrategia alternativa es fundamental. Es necesario darle un contenido socialista so pena de caer en una caricatura de alternativa. El contenido socialista no tiene nada que ver con una mera política de reducción de la pobreza, el desarrollo de medidas de asistencia pública y una vaga humanización del capitalismo. El contenido socialista implica reformas estructurales profundas, comenzando por un replanteo de la propiedad privada de los grandes medios de producción, de los recursos naturales y de todos los bienes comunes. Parafraseando al Che [11]: Alternativa socialista o caricatura de alternativa. La alternativa debe tener también una dimensión esencial de emancipación de la mujer por la realización de una verdadera igualdad entre los sexos.

El Banco del Sur y el Fondo Monetario del Sur

Se ha de adoptar una primera opción: crear una institución o dos. Si se crean dos, se tendrá una banco, cuya función será financiar el desarrollo, y un fondo monetario cuya finalidad será esencialmente proteger a los países contra los ataques especulativos y ayudarlos cuando tengan problemas de liquidez para realizar sus intercambios. También se puede poner en manos de una única institución estas grandes funciones.

El Banco del Sur tendrá como objetivos, en particular, romper la dependencia de los países periféricos del mercado financiero internacional, canalizar la capacidad propia de ahorro, detener la fuga de capitales, canalizar los recursos centrales a las prioridades de un desarrollo económico y social independiente, cambiar las prioridades de inversión, etc.

Se trata de un banco público alternativo al BID y al Banco Mundial.

El Banco del Sur podrá otorgar créditos con o sin interés, así como proporcionar ayuda no reintegrable a través de donaciones. Estará financiado principalmente por los aportes de sus países miembros en forma de cuotas y de donaciones. También se puede imaginar ingresos fiscales mediante impuestos regionales/internacionales.

Los destinatarios prioritarios de los créditos y donaciones deben ser entes públicos (Estado, provincia, municipio, empresas públicas de producción o de servicios). Hay que definir con claridad los agentes privados que pueden recibir créditos y donaciones del Banco, a fin de excluir aquellos cuya actividad sirva para reforzar al gran capital. La historia de los últimos dos siglos está llena de bancos públicos y populares que en esencia han servido para apoyar la acumulación capitalista, sin ningún beneficio real para el pueblo.

El Banco del Sur no puede estar disociado del problema de la deuda. Hay que evitar que su actividad sirva para mantener la gestión de la deuda pública en beneficio del capital financiero.

Otro aspecto importante es la necesidad de un control popular y democrático, en línea también con lo reclamado para las auditorías de la deuda. La participación activa de los parlamentos en el control de la actividad del Banco debe ser estimulada.

Las líneas precedentes no constituyen más que algunas pistas, que requieren una elaboración colectiva y rigurosa.

Perspectivas futuras de la economía

Mejorar los términos de intercambio para los países exportadores de productos básicos no es del agrado de los países más industrializados, por razones tanto económicas como políticas, porque esta situación estimula las iniciativas de los países del Sur. Por las mismas razones, el nivel de reservas acumuladas por los países del Sur produce inquietud en las capitales de los países más industrializados, así como en los consejos de administración de las grandes transnacionales. La decisiones tomadas por los gobiernos de los países más industrializados se dirigen a la modificación de la situación a su favor. Por otra parte, el ciclo económico sigue su propia lógica (ver más adelante). La falta de voluntad de los gobiernos de la Periferia hace correr el riesgo de hacerles perder una oportunidad histórica.

Los Bancos Centrales de los tres grandes polos de la economía de los países más industrializados aumentan su tipo director en términos de tasas de interés. Es el caso de la Reserva Federal estadounidense y del Banco Central Europeo desde el año 2004. Es también el caso de Japón desde principios del año 2006. Una parte importante de los capitales flotantes que habían migrado hacia los países del Sur entre los años 2002 y 2006, en búsqueda de rendimientos superiores a los que ofrecían los países del Norte, toma el camino de regreso. La caída de las Bolsas de los países emergentes en mayo del 2006 es posiblemente un signo premonitorio. Para la Reserva Federal es vital atraer más capitales hacia Estados Unidos para intentar cubrir su enorme déficit comercial. Un flujo continuo de capitales es una necesidad de primer orden, por lo cual aumenta el tipo de interés, a fin de ofrecer a los inversores extranjeros un rendimiento satisfactorio. Esto es tanto más necesario cuando la cotización del dólar baja, sobre todo frente al euro y el yen, y los tipos de interés suben en la zona euro, en Ingletera y en Japón. Es posible que el aumento en curso de los tipos de interés alcance un techo y se mantenga en ese valor. En efecto, las autoridades estadounidenses saben muy bien que si aumentan demasiado el tipo de interés corren el riesgo de provocar el estallido de la burbuja de la especulación inmobiliaria y una drástica caída del consumo de las familias, dado que éstas están muy endeudadas. Un aumento excesivo del coste del dinero también tiene el peligro de poner en serias dificultades a las grandes empresas estadounidenses, comenzando por las automotrices y la aviación. De todos modos, aun si los tipos de interés en el Norte no aumentan con tanta fuerza en el último trimestre del año 2006, ya han alcanzado un nivel suficientemente alto para atraer una parte de los capitales que habían emigrado al Sur en el curso de los últimos años.

En cuanto a la evolución de los productos básicos, ésta depende, evidentemente, del nivel de la actividad económica. Hay que ser prudente con las previsiones de crecimiento para los años 2007-2008. No hay que excluir una reducción del crecimiento en Estados Unidos. Si esto ocurre, habrá que prever cómo se comportará el crecimiento en Europa occidental y en Japón. Si también se reduce en estas dos regiones, hay que prever una disminución de las ventas de materias primas y de sus precios, a menos que la actividad de China se mantenga durante un período prolongado, lo que sería asombroso.

Manifiestamente, China pasa por un período de sobreinversión. La tasa de rentabilidad es por lo general bastante baja. Su actividad depende en gran medida de sus exportaciones. El consumo de las familias chinas aumenta, pero sobre todo es una pequeña minoría la que se beneficia. En resumen, el mercado interno difícilmente puede reemplazar al mercado exterior como salida de la producción del país, a menos que las autoridades chinas den un giro radical en cuanto al modelo de desarrollo (aumento de salarios, refuerzo substancial del mercado interno, búsqueda de una verdadera cooperación constructiva con otros países del Sur). Todo esto parece poco probable. Lamentablemente. Las luchas emprendidas por los trabajadores chinos, que quieren mejoras de los salarios, de las condiciones de trabajo y el derecho a la organización colectiva, objetivamente van en la dirección de un cambio radical del modelo de desarrollo, pero no se ve cómo podrían lograrlo a corto plazo.

También existe el riesgo de que la evolución vaya en sentido contrario. Me explico: si la actividad económica disminuye en Estados Unidos, sin ser compensada por un crecimiento suficientemente fuerte de Europa y Japón, la actividad de China con seguridad decaerá. Dado que la tasa de rentabilidad es baja y que el nivel de endeudamiento de las empresas es bastante elevado, es probable que una caída de la actividad provoque reducciones importantes de personal así como la quiebra de empresas. Semejante situación no será por cierto favorable al desarrollo de las luchas de los trabajadores chinos.

Lo que acabo de describir es en gran medida hipotético, y no he precisado el factor tiempo: la evolución se puede extender durante varios años. Las variables que entran en juego son numerosas.

Citemos, por ejemplo: ¿Qué pasará con los precios del gas y del petróleo? ¿Qué hará la OPEP? Mi impresión es que el precio seguirá siendo alto, lo cual está bien.

¿Qué pasará con los otros productos básicos? El precio de algunos de ellos es tal que asistimos a un fenómeno clásico en el plano de la evolución de la economía capitalista: unas minas que ya no eran rentables vuelven a ser explotadas. Algunas al precio de unas inversiones bastante altas. Hay sobreinversión. Esto acarreará un aumento importante de la oferta, que superará la demanda, lo que causará una caída de los precios y quiebras empresariales. ¿Qué es lo que puede impedirlo? 1. Bien la aceleración del crecimiento económico, 2. o bien la organización de un cartel de países productores, que planifique la producción y limite su aumento, de tal manera que se estabilicen los precios en un nivel adecuado. Esto nos lleva a la urgencia de una alternativa. Si los gobiernos de los países del Sur no se ponen en conjunto a la altura del desafío, la situación evolucionará desfavorablemente. Es de temer que esto se produzca.

Esto que acabamos de ver puede ocurrir igualmente con el precio del petróleo y del gas. Si alguna vez se produce una caída, sería un desastre para muchos países del Sur.

Volvamos a la variable «reembolso de la deuda». Desde 2003-2004, la mayor parte de los PED de ingresos medios ya no tienen dificultades para pagar la deuda. Es la consecuencia de diversos factores coyunturales: Aumento de la entrada de divisas gracias al alto precio de los productos básicos que exportan y al ingreso de capitales flotantes en búsqueda de rentabilidad a corto término, especialmente en las Bolsas de los países emergentes; tasas de interés relativamente bajas; primas de riesgo país extremadamente bajas en los años 2004, 2005, 2006. Todo esto puede cambiar en un año o en unos pocos años. Los ingresos de divisas pueden diminuir y el nivel de las reservas puede bajar, los tipos de interés al alza en el Norte pueden aumentar el servicio de la deuda de préstamos contratados a interés variable, el coste de los nuevos préstamos para refinanciar deudas anteriores aumentará pues se aplicará un tipo de interés más alto, las primas de riesgo país pueden volver a subir. Un número significativo de PED corre el riesgo de encontrarse en la situación de la cigarra de la fábula de Lafontaine. Al final del verano, cuando el ambiente económico se deteriore, podrían encontrarse en dificultades de pago y sus reservas de cambio podrían fundirse como la nieve bajo el sol. Es un argumento suplementario para poner en marcha una política alternativa, formando un frente de países endeudados para no pagar la deuda (ver puntos 3 y 4). Antes de llegar a las conclusiones, quiero presentar aún algunas impresiones e informaciones adicionales:

5.1. Desde hace una veintena de años, Estados Unidos ha logrado superar cada vez su crisis aplicando una política muy intervencionista y haciendo pagar a las otras economías una parte del precio de la salida de la crisis. No olvidemos que la clase obrera estadounidense también ha pagado los gastos (por ejemplo, con despidos masivos en los años 2001-2002, con una fuerte precarización laboral y el crecimiento del número de working poors, con la reducción del salario real y de su parte en la renta nacional). De todos modos, la economía de Estados Unidos no está saneada, desde el punto de vista capitalista (tasa de crecimiento relativamente débil, tasa de beneficios relativamente baja…): tendrá que aplicarse una purga más profunda, lo que significará una desvalorización/destrucción del capital (un número importante de quiebras) ¿Cuándo le tocará la purga? Nadie puede predecir razonablemente una fecha, pero será muy difícil evitarla, desde el punto de vista de la propia lógica capitalista. Aclaro que una purga no es sinónimo de derrumbe. Al contrario, es quizás el mejor mecanismo que el capitalismo tiene a su disposición para recuperar una tasa duradera de beneficios elevados y un fuerte crecimiento.

5.2. La deuda pública interna de los PED experimentó un gran aumentó en estos últimos tres años, en cifras absolutas. Este aumento es particularmente fuerte e inquietante en un gran número de países de renta media. Según el Banco Mundial, la deuda pública interna de los PED pasó de 1.300 millardos de dólares en 1997 a 3.500 millardos de dólares en septiembre de 2005. [12]

5.3. Los bancos privados del Norte, después de haber cortado los préstamos a los PED en los años 2001-2002, los reanudaron progresivamente a partir del 2003. En el 2005, los préstamos aumentaron un 74 % con respecto al 2004. Así, se firmaron 1.261 contratos de préstamos, principalmente en el sector del petróleo y el gas.

5.4. En el año 2005, unos cuarenta PED emitieron nuevos títulos de la deuda pública en los mercados financieros internacionales. Los títulos emitidos por diez de ellos (Brasil, China, Hungría, India, Indonesia, México, Polonia, Rusia, Turquía y Venezuela) representan el 69 % del total emitido por los cuarenta. Dicho sea de paso, la emisión de títulos extendidos en euros ha tenido un fuerte aumento en el nivel mundial en estos últimos años. En el año 2000, los títulos emitidos en euros representaban el 29,8 % del stock de títulos, mientras que en el 2005 representaban el 45,4 %. Los títulos en dólares, que en el 2000 representaban el 51,9 %, en el 2005 sólo llegaban al 38,9 %. [13]

5.5. Una gran parte de la inversión directa en el extranjero, en el año 2005 estuvo relacionada con privatizaciones/adquisiciones/fusiones, que no crearon ningún empleo suplementario. Y en ciertos casos hubo destrucción de valor y de empleo.

5.6. En los últimos años, se lanzó al mercado un nuevo tipo de productos derivados. Se trata de los Credit Default Swaps. El comprador de bonos emitidos por empresas o por Estados paga un seguro contra el riesgo de no pago. Este mercado, que literalmente ha eclosionado en estos años a escala mundial, representa un valor nocional o virtual de 7.300 millardos de dólares, de los cuales menos del 5 % concierne a los PED. Según el Banco Mundial y la prensa financiera especializada, es difícil medir la solidez de este tipo de producto derivado. En caso de generalización de las dificultades de pago de la deuda, les resultará difícil a los aseguradores mantener su compromiso sin peligro de quiebra. [14]

5.7. Los inversores institucionales, en particular los fondos de pensiones de los países más industrializados, realizan inversiones financieras por una suma de 46.000 millardos de dólares (o sea, una cantidad muy superior a la suma de todo el producto anual bruto del planeta), de los cuales, 20.700 millardos son controlados por sociedades de Estados Unidos. [15] Basta con que dediquen una fracción ínfima de estas inversiones a la compra de acciones en las Bolsa de los países emergentes o de divisas para hacer aumentar su valor (es lo que pasó en el año 2005). Basta que esta misma fracción ínfima sea retirada para provocar una caída de la Bolsa, en São Paulo o en Mumbai (es lo que pasó en mayo del 2005) o de la moneda de Tailandia o Argentina. Si los gobiernos no toman medidas para controlar las entradas y salidas de capitales, así como los cambios de moneda, se encuentra a merced de ataques especulativos de una amplitud similar a los de la segunda mitad de los años 90.

5.8. Los capitalistas del Sur aumentaron la salida de capitales en el año 2005. Mientras que las salidas representaban 172 millardos de dólares en el año 2004, han trepado a 318 millardos en el 2005. [16]

5.9. En el curso de los últimos años, los flujos Sur-Sur los desarrollaron principalmente firmas capitalistas del Sur. Por ejemplo, los flujos de inversiones extranjeras entre países del Sur pasaron de 14 millardos de dólares en 1995 a 47 millardos en el 2003. En ese año, los flujos de inversiones Sur-Sur representaron el 36,6 % del flujo total de inversiones extranjeras que tomaron rumbo al Sur. Los préstamos de los bancos privados del Sur a otros países y empresas del Sur pasaron de 0,7 millardos de dólares en 1985 a 6,2 millardos en el 2005. Por primera vez en su historia, el Banco Mundial dedicó en 2006 un capítulo entero del informe anual Global Development Finance a los flujos de capitales Sur-Sur. [17] Este punto merecería una contribución específica. Los flujos Sur-Sur (con algunas excepciones relacionadas con iniciativas tomadas por Venezuela) siguen al pie de la letra la lógica de la mundialización capitalista. Unas firmas chinas hacen grandes inversiones en África y en Latinoamérica para asegurarse el control de las fuentes de materia prima. Es también lo que hace Petrobras en Bolivia, en Nigeria y en Angola. Otro tanto las firmas rusas. El Banco Mundial propone a los gobiernos del Sur que reciclen una parte de sus enormes reservas de cambio prestando a inversores privados locales. O sea, el propio Banco Mundial está a la ofensiva en el tema del Banco del Sur dándole un contenido conforme al refuerzo del capitalismo a escala planetaria. En vez de proponer a los poderes públicos del Sur que se doten de instrumentos públicos Sur-Sur para financiar sus necesidades (y las de su pueblo, prioritarias), el Banco Mundial les propone que confíen sus reservas al gran capital privado del Sur. Esto no necesita comentario, pero nos lleva al contenido del proyecto de Banco del Sur tal como se ha desarrollado en la parte 4 de este texto.

Conclusiones

Una nueva ocasión histórica se presenta a los pueblos y a los gobiernos de los llamados países en desarrollo de tomar una iniciativa emancipadora de alcance internacional. La coyuntura económica favorable a unos cambios profundos no se prolongará. La inacción o los errores de estrategia conducirán a una situación desfavorable. Si no se aprovecha la ocasión (y es muy probable que no se haga), la historia proseguirá su curso y los pueblos lucharán en condiciones aún más difíciles que las actuales. El combate continuará y frente a la política cínica de sus gobiernos, tendrán que radicalizarse y ponerse a la cabeza de la emancipación, sin Dios ni Supremo Salvador. Esto se llama revolución.

Notas:

[1] Bank for Internacional Settlements, http://www.bis.org/

[2] BIS, Informe anual 2006, p. 45

[3] Hubo degradación de los términos de intercambio de los países en desarrollo en el curso de los años 50 y 60. Siguió una mejora en los años 70. A partir del contrachoque petrolero de 1981 hasta el 2003, se ha asistido a una nueva degradación de los términos de intercambio.

[4] BIS, 2006, p. 44

[5] 1 millardo = 1.000.000.000

[6] BIS, 2006, p. 88

[7] «Developping countries, in aggregate, were net lenders to developed countries», World Bank, Global Development Finance 2003, p. 13.

[8] World Bank, GDF 2006, p. 139

[9] Para una crítica, ver Eric Toussaint, «Las ideas del Banco en materia de desarrollo», Banco Mundial, el golpe de Estado permanente, cap. 10.

[10] World Bank, Global Development Finance 2006, p. 154

[11] Revolución socialista o caricatura de revolución.

[12] World Bank, Global Development Finance 2006, p. 44.

[13] World Bank, Ibid, p. 59.

[14] World Bank, Ibid, p. 62.

[15] World Bank, Ibid, p. 53.

[16] World Bank, Ibid, p. 151.

[17] World Bank, Ibid, cap. 4, pp. 107-136

Documento preliminar preparado para el seminario de l’Observatorio Internacional de la Deuda, Caracas, 22-24 de septiembre de 2006.


por Paulino Núñez

Comentarios sobre la base de las recomendaciones del Comunicado Final del reciente Primer Simposio Internacional sobre deuda, ahorro y mecanismos financieros alternativos para América Latina, organizado por el CIM, el CADTM, el OID y Jubileo SUR (Caracas, 22-24 septiembre 2006).


Algunas premisas (Aportadas por el Simposio)

- El mundo desarrollado -eminentemente capitalista e imperialista – requiere de nuestras materias primas y energía para su supervivencia; no queremos negárselas, sino usarlas prioritariamente para nuestro propio desarrollo, y transarlas con terceros bajo nuestros propios términos;

- Nuestras deudas con los países centrales fueron generadas mediante manipulación, corrupción y extorsión; en general, son deudas “odiosas”. No somos deudores, sino acreedores. Este problema deberá de ser atacado a nivel regional, o mediante de un grupo de supuestos deudores suficientemente fuerte para poder asustar e imponerles condiciones a los actuales – falsos – acreedores;

- Como lo muestra fehaciente e incontrovertiblemente el caso Venezuela, lo importante en términos financieros y monetarios, es la defensa de nuestro ahorro, no los préstamos foráneos ni la inversión extranjera, generalmente especulativa y de oportunidad egoísta;

  • Ninguna economía modesta puede defender su ahorro bajo las reglas del juego imperantes de libre cambio generalizado, plena flexibilidad desregulada del mercado financiero y normas de comportamiento voluntario dictadas y reguladas por los mismos transgresores. Para poder defender su ahorro, las economías pequeñas y modestas tienen que ejercer su soberanía financiera imponiendo controles a los movimientos de capitales. Tal proceder también nos protege contra ataques especulativos contra nuestras monedas. (Esto incluye a economías medianas y grandes; aun, a economías regionales penetradas por la banca extranjera). En un acuerdo de integración regional en desarrollo, del que el banco propuesto es el embrión, la libre convertibilidad de las distintas monedas nacionales, deberá restringirse a los límites de la Región, al menos durante sus primeros años de existencia – caso europeo -, de este modo, la creación del Fondo (del SUR) no será necesaria mientras no haya libre convertibilidad generalizada con terceros países;

- La Deuda Interna ha dejado de cumplir su función económica clásica, debido a su “externalización” mediante emisiones con doble denominación, más la presencia en nuestros mercados de grandes bancos transnacionales con enorme participación relativa en ellos;

- Para la exportación subrepticia de nuestro ahorro, los bancos y el sector financiero en general, se valen de “puertas traseras”, típicamente empresas nacionales cotizadas en bolsas del exterior, y exportaciones inadecuadamente controladas en el ingreso de las divisas correspondientes.

- El “Intercambio Compensado” – modelo Venezuela-Cuba-Bolivia, tiene serias limitaciones cuando aplicado a la Región, por cuanto en la mayoría de los países, la producción es controlada por el sector privado (podría servir relativamente en el sector energético). Tal “Intercambio Compensado” podría limitarse a las transacciones de Gobierno-a-Gobierno. Para las transacciones generales de la economía, éstas podrían llevarse a cabo – temporalmente – en base a pagos en las distintas monedas nacionales de los compradores, actuando BANSUR como Administrador de Flujos y Saldos (“Compensación Monetaria”), cobrando y pagando intereses modestos sobre los respectivos saldos, o cancelándolos periódicamente a los países del caso en sus propias monedas, o en los equivalentes respectivos de sus monedas regionales disponibles. Eventualmente, llegaremos a la creación de la moneda única regional, el “BS” (Bolívar Sur)… (En cierto momento de desarrollo y maduración de nuestra integración).

- En razón de la actual diversidad política de los gobiernos de la Región, se propone que, sobre tales bases, BANSUR sea fundado por el pequeño grupo de países actualmente persuadidos por la idea (Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela – más los países con gobiernos socialistas del Caribe y las Guayanas – Cuestión de honor y conciencia…: Haití) sin mayor demora, inicialmente con un capital mixto expresado en las monedas correspondientes a los aportes de los países fundadores (o, para simplificación, en su equivalente en una de las monedas de los socios fundadores). Luego, gradualmente, se irían integrando los países hermanos que así lo decidieran (Tal como se planteó en el establecimiento de TELESUR, una realidad en evolución). Este planteamiento – realista y de desarrollo gradual hacia el gran proyecto ideal -, nos desliga naturalmente de las actuales instituciones multilaterales – BM, FMI y OMC – en todo lo atinente a nuestras relaciones económicas, monetarias y financieras con nuestros socios en BANSUR, pero no toca – por ahora – nuestras relaciones con ellas en lo relativo a nuestros negocios con el resto del mundo, lo que cambiará cuando nuestra Región esté mayoritariamente en BANSUR y llegue el momento de constituir del fondo… “FONSUR”(¿?).

Satisfecho el capítulo de “premisas”, pasamos entonces a responder el cuestionario del Centro internacional Miranda:

¿Cuáles son las características diferenciadores que debe tener el Banco del Sur en relación a otros organismos de crédito multilaterales?

- Ser prioritariamente NuestrAmericano, pero abierto a la participación asociativa en él de otros PED con similar problemática socio-económica – y, deseablemente, similares percepciones de desarrollo político -, de desarrollo gradual hacia el Banco Central del Sur; hasta tanto, totalmente desligado de las actuales instituciones multilaterales existentes, salvo las jurisdiccionalmente pertenecientes a la ONU (vg. CEPAL).
- Estimular y facilitar el intercambio entre sus países socios, inicialmente, en base a “pagos compensados” en sus propios monedas respectivas.
- Estimular valores superiores (humanistas, patrióticos – de la patria Grande – y socialistas) en el intercambio entre sus países socios y sus respectivos agentes de intercambio, promoviendo la preeminencia del “valor de uso” en sus transacciones.
- Promover tales valores entre los PED como condiciones deseables para su asociación en BANSUR.
- Actuar como agencia de administración y compensación del intercambio entre sus socios.
- Promover la integración gradual de nuestra Región mediante la inclusión, en condición de socios, de todos los países, pueblos, naciones y gobiernos de Abya Yala.

¿Cuales debe ser su relación con otras entidades financieras regionales?

- Limitar su relación y cooperación constructiva a aquellas que NO estén jurisdiccionalmente adscritas al BM, FMI y OCDE;

- Cooperar constructivamente con las estrictamente regionales sin vínculos obligantes con las multilaterales, tratando en lo posible de atraerlas – en influenciar a sus países socios – hacia los planteamientos de desarrollo de BANSUR.

- Establecer mecanismo de cooperación con ellas – sólo las selectivamente indicadas – para el financiamiento de proyectos regionales de beneficio contemporáneo a varios de nuestros países y, sinérgicamente, a toda nuestra Región.

- Intercambiar con ellas – sólo las afines -, técnicas, tecnologías y mecanismos de financiamiento de grandes proyectos socio-económicos.

¿Que alternativas de capitalización/captación de recursos debería contar?

- Capitalización: Inicialmente, como ya indicado, sólo los recursos aportados por sus países socios fundadores e sus propias monedas respectivas.

- Financiación: En primer término, sus propios mercados – públicos y privados -(emisiones populares de deuda dirigidas a cajas de ahorros de empresas, sindicatos, etc.); en segundo término, los Bancos Centrales y Fondos de Desarrollo (tipo FONDEM) de sus propios socios; en tercer lugar, los mercados financieros – NO bancos extranjeros establecidos en ellos – de la Región y en última instancia, los mercados financieros internacionales, procurando buscar negociación directa con Programas de Asistencia exterior; Fondos de Pensiones de Sindicatos afines, etc. Como última instancia, los mercados financieros abiertos, evitando la banca y los “shark-funds”.

¿Con que moneda debería contar el Banco de Sur?

- Inicialmente, con las monedas de sus socios (más un pequeño fondo en divisas para el pago de servicios internacionales contratados); a su madurez, con la moneda regional que sea creada. (El ¿BS?)

¿Cuales tendrían que ser sus políticas, condiciones y prioridades para el otorgamiento de créditos/garantías?

- Cuando se trate del Sector Privado: como políticas y prioridades: Inicialmente, proyectos públicos de infraestructura e inversión social, para irse ampliando gradualmente a proyectos de producción en la Economía Social Solidaria (EPS, Cooperativas, Autogestión, Cogestión) en sectores prioritarios, inicialmente de consumo y luego de bienes de capital y tecnologías medias.

- En lo atinente a “condiciones”, deben privar los criterios de honorabilidad, profesionalidad y organización socio-económica de los demandantes.

- Cuando se trate del Sector Público: Necesidad y rendimiento social de acuerdo a las mediciones profesionales modernas sensibles a la problemática social (PNUD, etc.) – Estudios de Impacto Social, de Impacto Ambiental, etc.

¿Como se puede garantizar la gestión democrática efectiva y eficiente de la nueva entidad?

- Las decisiones deben ser unánimes y equilibradas.

- Disponer inmediatamente de los recursos que pueda aportar cada País.

- Promover paralelamente la Universidad del SUR, como centro de Educación integral (incluida la inducción ideológica) de los cuadros y trabajador@s de la institución, donde la Economía Social, la Sociología, la Historia de América y la Antropología Cultural, tengan lugar destacado en el pensum, junto con la Energía y nuestros restantes principales recursos estratégicos para nuestro desarrollo soberano.

- Enseñar “Servicio Social” responsable y probo.

- Atacar frontalmente la pobreza… material y espiritual.

  • (Por “efectiva” entendemos: que haga; por “eficiente” preferimos entender: que produzca eficientemente “valores de uso” a costos socialmente aceptables).
  • No se puede “garantizar”…, pero necesario es arar… si queremos frutos…

“(…) Nunca es vano el arar…

Ni en la mar…

(Eso dejó escrito Don Miguel Otero Silva).

La Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones: Algunas ideas para el debate- RECALCA

Pablo Bertinat

El proceso de la Comunidad Suramericana ha despertado algunas expectativas entre las organizaciones que habrán de concurrir a la Cumbre de los pueblos pero no se puede negar que enfrenta aún importantes obstáculos. Es posible que, remedy en la reunión de Cochabamba, aunque seguramente se emitirá una declaración y se suscribirán algunos acuerdos concretos puntuales, especialmente en cuanto creación de grupos de trabajo, algunas obras de infraestructura diseñadas dentro de la IIRSA y acuerdos energéticos, queden todavía por definir asuntos sustanciales sobre los cuales hay enfoques bastante diferentes entre los países y entre ellos y las organizaciones populares.

Los obstáculos más importantes, que a su vez implican significativas diferencias, son los siguientes:

1. Fractura política: hay importantes contradicciones entre dos sectores, el de los gobiernos que se distancian de Washington y el de los que se alinean incondicionalmente con esa potencia. Del primer lado están Brasil, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, Bolivia y del otro están Colombia, Perú, Chile y posiblemente Ecuador si gana Noboa. Aunque hay muy diferentes posiciones al interior de los bloques y no se pueden colocar todos los países en la misma situación, de todas maneras hay dos vertientes: Mientras que unos aceptan los TLC con Estados Unidos y el enfoque del libre comercio, los otros, en medio de la diversidad ensayan políticas que implican conceder importancia al sector público en la promoción del desarrollo y mantener una política internacional más cerca de los países del tercer mundo.
Estas diferencias pueden ilustrarse muy bien al examinar la contraposición entre las propuestas del presidente Evo Morales de Bolivia y las políticas adelantadas por Uribe Vélez en Colombia. En efecto, en la propuesta presentada el 2 de octubre por Morales se insiste en la importancia de adelantar el proceso con participación de las organizaciones sociales, en una integración “de y para los pueblos”, con objetivo central de luchar contra la pobreza y la destrucción de la naturaleza y “no reducir la Comunidad Suramericana a una asociación para hacer proyectos de autopistas o créditos que acaban favoreciendo esencialmente a los sectores vinculados al mercado mundial”. Morales plantea el fortalecimiento del sector público para garantizar los derechos fundamentales. Habla de que “la flexibilización laboral y el achicamiento del Estado no han traído más empleo” y postula la implementación de mecanismos de tipo redistributivo y un sistema de lucha contra el narcotráfico que “supere los exámenes y recomendaciones de quienes han fracasado hasta ahora en la lucha contra las drogas”. Al mismo tiempo, abandonar el camino de las privatizaciones, “apoyarnos y complementarnos para desarrollar y potenciar nuestras empresas estatales” y promover el comercio justo que supere los principios del liberalismo comercial. La creación de un Banco del Sur que permita “superar los problemas de otros bancos de fomento que cobran tasas de interés comerciales, que financian proyectos esencialmente rentables, que condicionan el acceso a créditos a una serie de indicadores macroeconómicos o a la contratación de determinadas empresas proveedoras y ejecutoras”. También propone una “integración física para nuestros pueblos y no solo para exportar” y “fortalecer la integración y complementariedad de nuestras empresas de gas e hidrocarburos”. La “creación de una instancia supranacional que tenga capacidad de dictar y hacer cumplir la normativa ambiental”, la adopción de una Convención Sudamericana del Agua y no permitir el patentamiento de seres vivos.

Mientras tanto Uribe Vélez desde Colombia predica y práctica políticas diametralmente opuestas. Ha sido opuesto a la participación de las organizaciones sociales en los procesos de negociaciones internacionales y se caracteriza por la verticalidad y autoritarismo que suplanta e invade incluso las otras ramas del poder político. Da gran importancia a las obras de infraestructura dirigidas a fortalecer las exportaciones y considera el mercado interno colombiano agotado. Promueve toda clase de privatizaciones, el achicamiento del Estado, la flexibilización laboral y se adhiere a toda la estrategia norteamericana en materia de narcotráfico. Con la bandera del libre comercio promueve el debilitamiento de las empresas estatales y quiere privatizar la empresa Colombiana de Petróleos. En el TLC con Estados Unidos se comprometió a hacer esfuerzos para hacer aprobar el patentamiento de plantas y promueve proyectos que buscan que los bosques, los paramos, los parques naturales entren a los circuitos comerciales. Hace crecer el endeudamiento externo y la dependencia de las entidades multilaterales de crédito y practica una política exterior rígidamente apegada a las directrices de Washington.

En fin, la posición de Uribe Vélez de Colombia quien se hace portavoz en Sudamérica de las posiciones de Washington, impide una integración no solamente alternativa sino una que , al menos promueva cierta autonomía con respecto a las orientaciones de Estados Unidos, promueva la capacidad del sector público de promover el desarrollo y no se adscriba ciegamente a los dogmas del libre comercio. Esto ha llevado al gobierno Colombiano a adoptar posiciones como el apoyo a la invasión a Irak, el apoyo a las posiciones norteamericanas en la OMC, ONU y demás foros internacionales.

2. Los Tratados de Libre Comercio: La adopción de políticas comunes en aspectos sustanciales, comenzando por los puramente comerciales se dificulta por la existencia de los tratados de Colombia, Perú y Chile con Estados Unidos. Estos tratados otorgan a Estados Unidos en múltiples aspectos la cláusula de nación más favorecida con la cual cualquier concesión que los países suramericanos hagan a otros países, deben ser extendidas a Estados Unidos. También los TLC establecen bajos aranceles y un proceso rápido de desgravación de bienes agrarios e industriales que impiden políticas de protección. También fomentan la privatización y amarran las manos de los Estados para la promoción de políticas publicas, el fomento de la industrialización y establecen para el funcionamiento de las economías criterios puramente comerciales. La existencia de múltiples Tratados de Libre Comercio de algunos países sudamericanos entre si o con otros países de fuera del continente establecen rígidos parámetros económicos ante los cuales la armonización de políticas macroeconómicas monetarias o cambiarias resulta imposible a menos que los países que no son partidarios o no tienen TLC adopten esos estándares. No hay que olvidar que los países del MERCOSUR, incluyendo a Venezuela se opusieron vehemente a la suscripción del ALCA y la definición de políticas comunes en materia de compras estatales, inversión y propiedad intelectual en la Comunidad Sudamericana sería imposible a menos que todos los países adoptaran las definiciones contempladas en esos tratados las cuales superan ampliamente los definidos en la OMC. No incluir en las negociaciones conducentes a la creación de la Comunidad Sudamericana la discusión sobre los TLC, implicaría sustraer los principales asuntos económicos de las definiciones de la Comunidad y con ello la harían inviable o inoperante.

3. Dificultades para la adopción de políticas comunes en el escenario internacional. Dados los puntos anteriores, en los principales escenarios mundiales los países de Sudamérica adoptan y han adoptado posiciones diferentes y contradictorias. La firma de los TLC anula la posibilidad de los países que los suscribieron de hacer causa común con los países en desarrollo en el seno de la OMC. Las divisiones acerca de la elección del Secretario General de la OEA o del puesto de América Latina en el Concejo de seguridad de la ONU son prueba de estas diferencias y la salida de Perú y Colombia del G-20 durante las reuniones de Cancún también. Es evidente que mientras Venezuela y Brasil promueven políticas de acercamiento a los países en desarrollo, Uribe Vélez y Alana García han cifrado todas sus esperanzas en identificarse con la política exterior de Estados Unidos. Argentina ha entrado en conflicto con las entidades multilaterales de crédito, mientras que Colombia y otros países siguen cuidadosamente sus recomendaciones. Sin la adopción de políticas comunes en el escenario internacional el bloque sudamericano no puede ser identificado como tal en la comunidad internacional.

4. IIRSA Un campo en el cual se pueden adoptar acuerdos de tipo práctico en el proceso de creación de la Comunidad Sudamericana es la Iniciativa para la Integración de la Infraestructura Suramericana, IIRSA. Sin embargo este plan tiene un énfasis exportador y hacia los mercados externos a la región y sus diversos aspectos no han recibido el suficiente debate por parte de la sociedad civil y de las comunidades que serán afectadas. En la construcción de infraestructura hay que privilegiar el mercado suramericano, el bienestar de la población y el desarrollo de los países. Existen serios reparos de tipo ambiental y social a muchos de sus proyectos y no es desdeñable el temor de muchos sectores de que los efectos ambientales y sociales sean devastadores y de que su concepción mantenga un modelo de desarrollo agro o minero exportador y descarte la verdadera integración regional. Estos criterios y los principales reparos no son compartidos por la mayoría de los gobiernos. Una vez más habría que destacar la posición crítica, y por ahora solitaria, asumida recientemente por Evo Morales.

5. Compromisos efectivos Como la creación de la Comunidad es un proceso que enfrenta este tipo de dificultades, es necesario que los pueblos del continente, más que confiar en declaraciones retóricas sobre miles de temas sobre los cuales no se adoptan compromisos efectivos, exijan resultados concretos en algunos puntos que darían la señal a la población de que efectivamente se está buscando otro tipo de integración. Para ello destacamos dos aspectos en los cuales debemos exigir respuestas concretas:

a. Los derechos humanos: Para las organizaciones populares y el vasto movimiento por los derechos humanos, es claro que cualquier forma de integración que se adopte debe asegurar el respeto a los derechos políticos y civiles y garantizar la realización de los derechos económicos, sociales y culturales. Dado el desarrollo de la discusión continental sobre la necesidad de una Carta Social que establezca compromisos de los Estados y de cualquier organización multilateral en estas materias, y que hay propuestas concretas al respecto, debemos exigir que se defina una posición clara y que se desarrollen los instrumentos correspondientes para demostrar que la voluntad integracionista tiene como base el respeto y la exigibilidad de tales derechos.

b. Los migrantes: Es posible adoptar en el proceso, definiciones sobre los derechos de los migrantes, garantías a la libre circulación de las personas, garantías en materia de seguridad social, homologación de títulos y demás aspectos referidos al nivel de vida y situación ciudadana, social y laboral de los habitantes del subcontinente

c. Debate sobre la IIRSA. Dado el cuestionamiento de este plan es necesario integrar a las comunidades originarias, los grupos ecologistas y a toda la sociedad civil sobre los detalles de cada uno de los proyectos antes de su implementación. Esto junto a la creación de verdaderos mecanismos de participación y veeduría de las organizaciones sociales es una condición para que el proceso tenga legitimidad y lleve a un buen final.

Red Colombiana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio y el ALCA, Recalca Página web: www.recalca.org.co
Correo electrónico: recalca@etb.net.co
Bogotá, noviembre 16 de 2006

Is another Europe possible?


Eurotopia

Four years on from the first European Social Forum, decease it is a useful moment collectively to reflect. Over 30 activists from across Europe have responded to a survey aimed to stimulate such shared thinking on common questions concerning building an “us”: key moments, nurse networkings, main impacts, failures, innovations, recurrent problems and challenges for the ESF. A firts draft of this article is being published at the Eurotopia magazine and spread at the ESF Athens (http://www.eurotopiamag.org). But this article was just a rough beginning, it remains open for you to develop further here!!! It is also a pilot experience applying the ESF open space philosophy to the collective construction of an E-yearbook on social movement at Europe” (http://www.euromovements.info/yearbook).

To establish a common frame of reference we asked people if they thought there actually was a “we” on the European scale? “ The `we’ should not be taken for granted warned an activist researcher from Athens. But there was significant agreement about a `we’, understood as diverse movements struggles, networks and political tendencies building common campaigns and opening new public space for discussion across Europe, as part of a struggle for another world. A conflictual `we’ and a multiple `we.’ Many responses stressed this diversity of the “we”. Some described the diversity of political tendencies. Others demonstrated a diversity of strategic vision. A particular divergence of emphasis was over the relationship between `the European’ and other local, national, regional and global dimensions. Some stressed the need to create a European common ground to fight the Commission together and denounced too much focus on national and local level while others argued for the need to create concrete connections with daily struggles at the local level. Further responses viewed a European `we’ as a transit for a global “we”- reminding us from Barcelona that the ESF was a response to a global call at the World Social Forum.

We then asked people to list what for them were the key moments contributing towards a “we”. One response offered a useful criteria for a key moment: “as one which succeeded in putting a changing movement into a relationship with movements elsewhere and starting a chain reaction”. The lists that people presented fitted this view. Although everyone emphasised some moments more than others – with a lot of agreement over Genoa 2001; Florence 2002 – a pattern emerges from these lists. First, there is the period between the end of 1980 and November 1999 which, looking back, is a period of build-up, when campaigns exposing the anti-democratic role of multilateral organizations from the World Bank through to the World Trade Organisation, and including the European Union, begin to appear. Counter summits in Berlin in 1988 and in Amsterdam in April 1997 were mentioned. The latter stimulated the first networking processes at the European level: most notably the European marches against unemployment and precarity.International networking with global objectives grew rapidly and ambitiously in the 1990’s with the emergence of organisations such as ATTAC, People Global Action and Via Campesina. It was with the mobilization against the WTO in Seattle in November 1999 that this emerging global movement finally broke the headlines and became public. In Europe as elsewhere, there was an extraordinary burst of transnational acitivism and enthusiasm in the following three years. Symbolic and catalytic of this was the speed with which Indymedias and other transnational networks took shape. 2002 saw the opening of a new phase with the first European Social Forum in Florence 2002 followed by Paris 2003 and London 2004. These, whatever their problems (see below) both facilitated a process of European mobilization and also moved the emphasis on to developing positive proposals and alternatives. Florence, it seems has a special place in the collective memory because of the numbers of people, the call for the international mobilisation against the war on February 15th and also because of the way it thwarted Berlusconi’s attempt to whip up fear and hostility. Florence also saw the launch of Babels the network of voluntary translators so vital to the sustainablity and depth of a truly transnational acitivism. The defeat of the Aznar government in 2004 marked the first sign of national repercussions of internationally inspired mobilisations – the fall of Berlusconi being the latest. “ We are now in a new phase when movements based in particuar territories see global transformation as starting from transformation of where they are”… Similar thinking is shared two activists in the more militant setions of the Italian trade union movements who see the campaign against Berlusconi’s `gran opera’ like the high speed train in the Sussa Valley (see page x) and the campaign of French students and other young people against precarious contracts as signs in the words of one of them “that the no global movement is putting down roots.” An regular ESF participant from Moscow referred to what he hoped would mark a key moment in the future, opening a new phase to the East: “ the most important test of the `we’ is G8 meeting in St. Petersburg in July 2006 when Second Russian Social Forum will coincide with the Counter-Summit.

What pan-European networks and groupings have been built? Whatever else it has or hasn’t achieved the ESF has been, as one response put it: “a space for the interaction of networks in a process of continuous redefinition.” And it is networks that people have created; there has been little, if any building of more permanent structures on the model of Friends of the Earth-Europe or ATTAC-Europe. Autonomy and collaboration are the keywords of these fluid “structures.” One result is that, as a respondent from Paris observed: it is common for “individuals to participate in several groups and the same is true now for organizations that belong to different and several networks at the same time”. Responses highlighted the following networks: but there are hundreds more: The ‘No US Bases’ network which started in Paris in 2003 and now involves antiwar activists all over the globe; the Education Network co-ordinates activist in teaching unions across Europebut as yet no consistent student presence ; the Health Network whose union participation is not so strong but has greater participation of citizens associations and local communities; the Euromayday coordination of marches against precarity meets at the ESF through the autonomous spaces that have grown up with “one foot in and one foot out” of the Forums; the Charter of Principles for Another Europe (see pge.x); the European Local Social Forums network, European coordination for Palestine, the Pan-European network on housing rights, and the Red Frassanito against Borders in Europe; a network has emerged out of working groups connections of the European Preparatory Assembly: the Memory project and the Euromovements network around the systematisation of the knowledge produced in and around the Forum is one example. The relation of feminist organisations to the Forum is important and uneasy. One of the organisers of the Women’s Assembly in Athens reports that “the women’s networking has been strengthened to a great extend by the social forum, on the other hand many women are wary of the social forum because of a certain male domination. The World March of Women, a very broader network, carries out activities inside and outside the Forum. Its priorities are violence against women; unemployment, precarity at work and poverty”. The list keeps growing – and changing.

What impact have we had? People are cautious of claiming impacts too soon and the general feeling that is that, anyway, it is not enough! An optimistic conclusion and prediction comes from one of the organisers of the ESF’s information system: “the fact is that just as free-software is more creative and more reactive than Microsoft yet with far fewer resources, so we are more creative and reactive than the neoliberal elites”. The most visible impact, most people would agree, has been to undermine the legitimacy of the institutions of the much vaunted New World Order, to open up a public debate and force world leaders to hide behind high walls or in inaccessible places. “Before the birth of this movement, neoliberalism was opposed only to nationalism and protectionism, now the debate is on which kind of globalization we want (neoliberal vs. social and democratic globalization).” “Capitalism has lost its inevitability”. New ideas for alternatives are on the agenda too; the cross fertilisation of experiences and ideas has led to “the widening of the range democratic tools for managing common good and public decisions.” There have also been important impacts as far as defeating or weakening neo-liberal measures within the institutions. The success of the `European no’ in France is the most notable. It was a collaboration between the international, the national and the local. The weakening of the Bolkenstein Directive was another example, even though the objective was its abolition. Less known but strategically important, it is preventing the European Commission from introducing patents and regulating software. On Iraq we did not stop the war but “ we have punched big holes in the US’s ability to find allies” declared one response from Dublin, “and we have probably made the announced goal of an indefinitely long `war on terror’ going after one `rogue state’ after another, untenable” Other national repercussions of the new “organic internationalism” have already been mentioned: the defeat of Aznar and Berlusconi, the NO-TAV movement in Italy and the recent rejection of the precarious contracts in France. . Finally, several responses stressed the importance of the impact of the movements and networks on everyday life, producing a pervasive challenge to the model of constant consumption and sustaining ways of life to some extent independent and subversive of this model. One aspect of this, is cultural “home production” enabling people to produce and distribute music autonomously from the logic of private profit.

Where/how have we failed? Some people found the word failure inappropriate, either because: “ movements aim to move, and as we are still in movement, these are goals we are aiming for, not goals we have failed to reach” or because the achievement of very specific goals is too narrow a basis for assessing success or failure. Others had no hesitation in using the F word: a response from Moscow is stark: “We have failed. We fail to change the mainstream politics. We are still outsiders. This has some advantages (less corruption and integration into the system). But unless you brake into the system of mainstream politics or/and destroy it altogether strategic change is not possible.” Others referred to failings which have become clearer as we look back: “We failed in understanding the meaning of “war for civilisation” from inside, that is: we were fighting against Bush’s administration and the war – which is right – but we weren’t able to fight with the Iraqi people or really act with the Palestinian civil society (I know we did, but not enough).” Some identified fundamental challenges that we fell short of: “We did not succeed in creating a new visible cleavage within our national political systems – yet. But this is a long process which will depend on our future activities.” A response from Florence made a general point about the conditions for failure: “we pick up strength when we put forward proposals as well as protest. We have failed every time we don’t manage to put forward a positive proposal to match the ones we oppose.”

What continuing problems do we face? In the survey, we listed several that had been raised in discussions amongst partners of Eurotopia: `internal communication, mobility, accessibility – reaching beyond a movement/activist ghetto, language, democracy, inequlities within the movement’ Some response just said “all of these!”, “plus”, added a Russian response,“ the lack of resources (not just financial ones) in the East and the lack of understanding in the West.” Others spelt out the problems. There was considerable agreement about the problem of reaching out, connecting with `grassroots popular discontent’,going beyond `our people’. A response from Ireland argued activists out there who do not see themselves as involved in or allied with our movements – even when we share many of the same goals. A French respondent: ‘we failed to understand what was happening in the suburbs’. Some of these Another response was philosophical: “We are living through a change of paradigm at a big scale. We are in between. Much depends on our ability to project ourselves and ideas with the next generation where the change will be effective and will be done and recognized as such.” Another problem that recurred in many of the responses is, as a Greek put it: “ fighting among the political organisations and the way they pursue their own interest. Yet without their presence,” she argued, “the forum could hardly exist”. A problem raised by one of Eurotopia partners, Carta, is “news circulation [especially to and from some countries, like Greece or Portugal or Poland] and the lack of common political culture. Here we lag behind the EU: they have a common project for the continent, we don’t, yet. Others concurred with this in different ways: ` we have not achieved a genuine `europeanness’ there is some difference, perhaps disagreement about how people see `europeanness’. A Greek is emphatic: “my organization does not claim a another Europe is possible. Another world yes but we don’t want to work with a concept that adds more problems than it solves. We try not recognize ourselves as Europeans but as a hybrid. The old that comes from our nation struggles and the new that does not use national identities”…. While there is a tension about how we see our transnational identity, there are also problems in the relations between the international and local. An Italian working in the UK put it like this, echoing an earlier response about the importance of positive proposals: “there’s a very strange contradiction between our resistance to the international neoliberism project and failure to build the alternatives at local level connected to wider goals”. Several responses mentioned the problem of reproducing inequalities in terms of difficulties in access to our networks for the migrants, the homeless, the unemployed, for example. A problem raised by a trade union organiser very active in the ESF was that of “actively involving trade unionists in other social movements, profoundly changing trade union culture and opening identities but at the same time maintaining the elements of a trade union identity that are needed for a strong mobilisation or negotiation”

Where have we innovated to overcome these problems? Many shared the view that: “we had invented different ways to stay and act together, to establish relations, to find solutions by consensus, but still, we don’t have yet a real new language to communicate in a broader way. It is a work in progress but we have to go faster!” A response from an Argentinian activist and researcher summarised these ways of working together: “the `global culture’ of networking: the new ways to have meetings, to talk, to hear others, to translate, to organise horizontally. He pointed to the “technie activism, the incredible velocity and dynamism when the wave `is in our side who else also emphasises the new ways of combining research and activism,the new techno-political tools for communication, organisation and the systematisation of knowledge, at the same time reconceptualising the place of “intellectuals”. This question also drew out responses which offered an answer to the feeling that we had failed because we had not had an impact on mainstream politics and media. Several responses highlighted the development of alternative systems of information to the mainstream media.

How have we, ourselves – our ways of organising, our culture, our awareness, our experience and our horizons – changed? Not everyone felt we had changed: “There are still the same power struggles between different groups” was one response. Others were more optimistic: “we are more open, more tolerant and we are much more able to work together than before.” This sentiment is echoed many times. Some related it directly to new ways of organising: “through networks we’ve learnt to be together with people who are different. We’ve learnt to contaminate ourselves, learning from the cultures and practice and vision of the world of our travelling companions around the world” was one, almost lyrical response. This did n’t mean clear agreement on a single way forward. “we do not have a clear horizon any longer, but there is a lot of agreement that this horizon is to be built on the process of mobilization”. One response from an local activist Florentine who also helped to organise a European Social Forum talked of how “ for many people, everything has changed; we are now involved in local struggles with a constant awareness of global and local connections. After the defeats of 20th century we’ve come back to a radical perspective critical of capitalism. We’ve passed from the defensive on to the offensive.” On this optimistic note we come to the final question.

What challenges are posed for the future of the ESF or/and the confluence of social movements at Europe process? “Our basic problem is expanding,” declares a response from Greece, “expanding to the east of Europe, expanding in terms of social depth so that we are in contact with the most excluded, the most flexible precarious workers and the the migrants, which we are not at present. This is the future of the Forum.” Many would agree with this. A respondent involved in the first ESF draws out lessons for the future: “ We need to find a more `human rhythm’ for the meetings so that the main energies of social movements are not used up in constructing in forums in which we discuss struggle at the expense of carrying out the struggles. We should concentrate on a few campaigns”, he argues,” and work on them in each country at the same time. Everything could come together in big European day of mobilisation. We could rotate all our main themes: to demonstrate the concerted force of social Europe.” Writers from Carta present two challenges: “it has to be more daring: dropping the idea of the national state as a useful tool, and start thinking on a truly continental scale. When it comes to opposition to the worst aspect of the EU project, we tend to entrench ourselves inside the known and comfortable boundaries of national states, and national politics. We need to build a stronger continental consciousness, that’s one of the purposes of Eurotopia.. Others stressed internal difficulties which many felt needed to be addressed, including “resolving the relationship between libertarian approaches and the organised left, which has been disastrous from the split between the Genoa Social Forum and the black bloc right through to the London ESF. If we can find a way of dealing with this, we can turn our energies outwards. The aim of excluding the other group is not a realistic one, however complex the solutions needed to work together (or at least in parallel).”Another response stresses this issue of decision-making and communications from another angle: “We have still to face the problem of how to build permanent space of internal communication which works daily and interacts with local and national conflicts; the crucial need is for a clear decision making process which should be open to everybody and inclusive as much as possible”. There is some anxiety about the amount of energy we spend dealing with groups who operate as a block, other voices in the survey are calmly optimistic about it’s democratic capacity: “After the failure of the attempt during the London ESF by certain groups to control power inside our movement, we have little to fear on the question of democracy.” One illustration of the creative resilience he was maybe thinking of was the Galaxy of 7 spaces around the London ESF, combining common action with autonomy. Other voices are questioning: “Are we too far from the local?”, “Are we tired?”, “Is it too much for what?” The last word will be with a Greek: “We have “invented” the conscious process of European and international organising and creating strategies. We have not managed to carry out many common actions, because the Forum is diverse and each component thinks differently about the necessary actions. This is a hybrid political and social personality of the forum. And there are no easy answers. Certainly, though, we need a renewal to achieve more combative and creative interventions in society”. Perhaps Athens will help to achieve such a renewal.


Collective THANKS! To the people that answered the survey and contribute to the firts draft of this article: Alexandra Zavos (Greece), Leyla Dakhli (France), Alessandra Mecozzi (Italy), Sarah Bracke (Belgium), Saskia Saskia Poldervaart (Holland), Mario Pianta (Italy), Duccio Zola (Italia), Laurence Cox (Ireland), Laurence Jesover (France), Martin Bergel (Argentina), Massimo Andretta (Italy), Lorenzo Mosca (Italy), Ramon Fernandez Duran (Spanish State), Mariangela Casalucci (UK), Edward Egan (UK Manchester), Piero Bernochi (Italy),Thibault LE TEXIER (Paris), Marco Berlinguer (Rome),Tommaso Fattori (Florence), Panayotis Yulis (Greece), Enzo Carta (Italy), Ken Young (UK), Ala (Russia), Sissi (Athens), Richard Lee (UK), Ian Welshi (Cardiff), Trasi Wicknes, Ken Young (UK), Oscar Reyes (UK), Victor Guillamon (Barcelona), Hilary Wainwright (Manchester), Mayo Fuster i Morell (Barcelona) etc……. and THANKS to all of the online further contributors!!!

Four years on from the first European Social Forum, it is a useful moment collectively to reflect. Over 30 activists from across Europe have responded to a survey aimed to stimulate such shared thinking on common questions concerning building an “us”: key moments, help networkings, main impacts, failures, innovations, recurrent problems and challenges for the ESF. A firts draft of this article is being published at the Eurotopia magazine and spread at the ESF Athens (http://www.eurotopiamag.org). But this article was just a rough beginning, it remains open for you to develop further here!!! It is also a pilot experience applying the ESF open space philosophy to the collective construction of an E-yearbook on social movement at Europe” (http://www.euromovements.info/yearbook).
To establish a common frame of reference we asked people if they thought there actually was a “we” on the European scale? “ The `we’ should not be taken for granted warned an activist researcher from Athens. But there was significant agreement about a `we’, understood as diverse movements struggles, networks and political tendencies building common campaigns and opening new public space for discussion across Europe, as part of a struggle for another world. A conflictual `we’ and a multiple `we.’ Many responses stressed this diversity of the “we”. Some described the diversity of political tendencies. Others demonstrated a diversity of strategic vision. A particular divergence of emphasis was over the relationship between `the European’ and other local, national, regional and global dimensions. Some stressed the need to create a European common ground to fight the Commission together and denounced too much focus on national and local level while others argued for the need to create concrete connections with daily struggles at the local level. Further responses viewed a European `we’ as a transit for a global “we”- reminding us from Barcelona that the ESF was a response to a global call at the World Social Forum.
We then asked people to list what for them were the key moments contributing towards a “we”. One response offered a useful criteria for a key moment: “as one which succeeded in putting a changing movement into a relationship with movements elsewhere and starting a chain reaction”. The lists that people presented fitted this view. Although everyone emphasised some moments more than others – with a lot of agreement over Genoa 2001; Florence 2002 – a pattern emerges from these lists. First, there is the period between the end of 1980 and November 1999 which, looking back, is a period of build-up, when campaigns exposing the anti-democratic role of multilateral organizations from the World Bank through to the World Trade Organisation, and including the European Union, begin to appear. Counter summits in Berlin in 1988 and in Amsterdam in April 1997 were mentioned. The latter stimulated the first networking processes at the European level: most notably the European marches against unemployment and precarity.International networking with global objectives grew rapidly and ambitiously in the 1990’s with the emergence of organisations such as ATTAC, People Global Action and Via Campesina. It was with the mobilization against the WTO in Seattle in November 1999 that this emerging global movement finally broke the headlines and became public. In Europe as elsewhere, there was an extraordinary burst of transnational acitivism and enthusiasm in the following three years. Symbolic and catalytic of this was the speed with which Indymedias and other transnational networks took shape. 2002 saw the opening of a new phase with the first European Social Forum in Florence 2002 followed by Paris 2003 and London 2004. These, whatever their problems (see below) both facilitated a process of European mobilization and also moved the emphasis on to developing positive proposals and alternatives. Florence, it seems has a special place in the collective memory because of the numbers of people, the call for the international mobilisation against the war on February 15th and also because of the way it thwarted Berlusconi’s attempt to whip up fear and hostility. Florence also saw the launch of Babels the network of voluntary translators so vital to the sustainablity and depth of a truly transnational acitivism. The defeat of the Aznar government in 2004 marked the first sign of national repercussions of internationally inspired mobilisations – the fall of Berlusconi being the latest. “ We are now in a new phase when movements based in particuar territories see global transformation as starting from transformation of where they are”… Similar thinking is shared two activists in the more militant setions of the Italian trade union movements who see the campaign against Berlusconi’s `gran opera’ like the high speed train in the Sussa Valley (see page x) and the campaign of French students and other young people against precarious contracts as signs in the words of one of them “that the no global movement is putting down roots.” An regular ESF participant from Moscow referred to what he hoped would mark a key moment in the future, opening a new phase to the East: “ the most important test of the `we’ is G8 meeting in St. Petersburg in July 2006 when Second Russian Social Forum will coincide with the Counter-Summit.
What pan-European networks and groupings have been built?
Whatever else it has or hasn’t achieved the ESF has been, as one response put it: “a space for the interaction of networks in a process of continuous redefinition.” And it is networks that people have created; there has been little, if any building of more permanent structures on the model of Friends of the Earth-Europe or ATTAC-Europe. Autonomy and collaboration are the keywords of these fluid “structures.” One result is that, as a respondent from Paris observed: it is common for “individuals to participate in several groups and the same is true now for organizations that belong to different and several networks at the same time”. Responses highlighted the following networks: but there are hundreds more: The ‘No US Bases’ network which started in Paris in 2003 and now involves antiwar activists all over the globe; the Education Network co-ordinates activist in teaching unions across Europebut as yet no consistent student presence ; the Health Network whose union participation is not so strong but has greater participation of citizens associations and local communities; the Euromayday coordination of marches against precarity meets at the ESF through the autonomous spaces that have grown up with “one foot in and one foot out” of the Forums; the Charter of Principles for Another Europe (see pge.x); the European Local Social Forums network, European coordination for Palestine, the Pan-European network on housing rights, and the Red Frassanito against Borders in Europe; a network has emerged out of working groups connections of the European Preparatory Assembly: the Memory project and the Euromovements network around the systematisation of the knowledge produced in and around the Forum is one example. The relation of feminist organisations to the Forum is important and uneasy. One of the organisers of the Women’s Assembly in Athens reports that “the women’s networking has been strengthened to a great extend by the social forum, on the other hand many women are wary of the social forum because of a certain male domination. The World March of Women, a very broader network, carries out activities inside and outside the Forum. Its priorities are violence against women; unemployment, precarity at work and poverty”. The list keeps growing – and changing.
What impact have we had? People are cautious of claiming impacts too soon and the general feeling that is that, anyway, it is not enough! An optimistic conclusion and prediction comes from one of the organisers of the ESF’s information system: “the fact is that just as free-software is more creative and more reactive than Microsoft yet with far fewer resources, so we are more creative and reactive than the neoliberal elites”. The most visible impact, most people would agree, has been to undermine the legitimacy of the institutions of the much vaunted New World Order, to open up a public debate and force world leaders to hide behind high walls or in inaccessible places. “Before the birth of this movement, neoliberalism was opposed only to nationalism and protectionism, now the debate is on which kind of globalization we want (neoliberal vs. social and democratic globalization).” “Capitalism has lost its inevitability”. New ideas for alternatives are on the agenda too; the cross fertilisation of experiences and ideas has led to “the widening of the range democratic tools for managing common good and public decisions.” There have also been important impacts as far as defeating or weakening neo-liberal measures within the institutions. The success of the `European no’ in France is the most notable. It was a collaboration between the international, the national and the local. The weakening of the Bolkenstein Directive was another example, even though the objective was its abolition. Less known but strategically important, it is preventing the European Commission from introducing patents and regulating software. On Iraq we did not stop the war but “ we have punched big holes in the US’s ability to find allies” declared one response from Dublin, “and we have probably made the announced goal of an indefinitely long `war on terror’ going after one `rogue state’ after another, untenable” Other national repercussions of the new “organic internationalism” have already been mentioned: the defeat of Aznar and Berlusconi, the NO-TAV movement in Italy and the recent rejection of the precarious contracts in France. . Finally, several responses stressed the importance of the impact of the movements and networks on everyday life, producing a pervasive challenge to the model of constant consumption and sustaining ways of life to some extent independent and subversive of this model. One aspect of this, is cultural “home production” enabling people to produce and distribute music autonomously from the logic of private profit.
Where/how have we failed? Some people found the word failure inappropriate, either because: “ movements aim to move, and as we are still in movement, these are goals we are aiming for, not goals we have failed to reach” or because the achievement of very specific goals is too narrow a basis for assessing success or failure. Others had no hesitation in using the F word: a response from Moscow is stark: “We have failed. We fail to change the mainstream politics. We are still outsiders. This has some advantages (less corruption and integration into the system). But unless you brake into the system of mainstream politics or/and destroy it altogether strategic change is not possible.” Others referred to failings which have become clearer as we look back: “We failed in understanding the meaning of “war for civilisation” from inside, that is: we were fighting against Bush’s administration and the war – which is right – but we weren’t able to fight with the Iraqi people or really act with the Palestinian civil society (I know we did, but not enough).” Some identified fundamental challenges that we fell short of: “We did not succeed in creating a new visible cleavage within our national political systems – yet. But this is a long process which will depend on our future activities.” A response from Florence made a general point about the conditions for failure: “we pick up strength when we put forward proposals as well as protest. We have failed every time we don’t manage to put forward a positive proposal to match the ones we oppose.”
What continuing problems do we face? In the survey, we listed several that had been raised in discussions amongst partners of Eurotopia: `internal communication, mobility, accessibility – reaching beyond a movement/activist ghetto, language, democracy, inequlities within the movement’ Some response just said “all of these!”, “plus”, added a Russian response,“ the lack of resources (not just financial ones) in the East and the lack of understanding in the West.” Others spelt out the problems. There was considerable agreement about the problem of reaching out, connecting with `grassroots popular discontent’,going beyond `our people’. A response from Ireland argued activists out there who do not see themselves as involved in or allied with our movements – even when we share many of the same goals. A French respondent: ‘we failed to understand what was happening in the suburbs’. Some of these Another response was philosophical: “We are living through a change of paradigm at a big scale. We are in between. Much depends on our ability to project ourselves and ideas with the next generation where the change will be effective and will be done and recognized as such.” Another problem that recurred in many of the responses is, as a Greek put it: “ fighting among the political organisations and the way they pursue their own interest. Yet without their presence,” she argued, “the forum could hardly exist”. A problem raised by one of Eurotopia partners, Carta, is “news circulation [especially to and from some countries, like Greece or Portugal or Poland] and the lack of common political culture. Here we lag behind the EU: they have a common project for the continent, we don’t, yet. Others concurred with this in different ways: ` we have not achieved a genuine `europeanness’ there is some difference, perhaps disagreement about how people see `europeanness’. A Greek is emphatic: “my organization does not claim a another Europe is possible. Another world yes but we don’t want to work with a concept that adds more problems than it solves. We try not recognize ourselves as Europeans but as a hybrid. The old that comes from our nation struggles and the new that does not use national identities”…. While there is a tension about how we see our transnational identity, there are also problems in the relations between the international and local. An Italian working in the UK put it like this, echoing an earlier response about the importance of positive proposals: “there’s a very strange contradiction between our resistance to the international neoliberism project and failure to build the alternatives at local level connected to wider goals”. Several responses mentioned the problem of reproducing inequalities in terms of difficulties in access to our networks for the migrants, the homeless, the unemployed, for example. A problem raised by a trade union organiser very active in the ESF was that of “actively involving trade unionists in other social movements, profoundly changing trade union culture and opening identities but at the same time maintaining the elements of a trade union identity that are needed for a strong mobilisation or negotiation”
Where have we innovated to overcome these problems? Many shared the view that: “we had invented different ways to stay and act together, to establish relations, to find solutions by consensus, but still, we don’t have yet a real new language to communicate in a broader way. It is a work in progress but we have to go faster!” A response from an Argentinian activist and researcher summarised these ways of working together: “the `global culture’ of networking: the new ways to have meetings, to talk, to hear others, to translate, to organise horizontally. He pointed to the “technie activism, the incredible velocity and dynamism when the wave `is in our side who else also emphasises the new ways of combining research and activism,the new techno-political tools for communication, organisation and the systematisation of knowledge, at the same time reconceptualising the place of “intellectuals”. This question also drew out responses which offered an answer to the feeling that we had failed because we had not had an impact on mainstream politics and media. Several responses highlighted the development of alternative systems of information to the mainstream media.
How have we, ourselves – our ways of organising, our culture, our awareness, our experience and our horizons – changed? Not everyone felt we had changed: “There are still the same power struggles between different groups” was one response. Others were more optimistic: “we are more open, more tolerant and we are much more able to work together than before.” This sentiment is echoed many times. Some related it directly to new ways of organising: “through networks we’ve learnt to be together with people who are different. We’ve learnt to contaminate ourselves, learning from the cultures and practice and vision of the world of our travelling companions around the world” was one, almost lyrical response. This did n’t mean clear agreement on a single way forward. “we do not have a clear horizon any longer, but there is a lot of agreement that this horizon is to be built on the process of mobilization”. One response from an local activist Florentine who also helped to organise a European Social Forum talked of how “ for many people, everything has changed; we are now involved in local struggles with a constant awareness of global and local connections. After the defeats of 20th century we’ve come back to a radical perspective critical of capitalism. We’ve passed from the defensive on to the offensive.” On this optimistic note we come to the final question.
What challenges are posed for the future of the ESF or/and the confluence of social movements at Europe process? “Our basic problem is expanding,” declares a response from Greece, “expanding to the east of Europe, expanding in terms of social depth so that we are in contact with the most excluded, the most flexible precarious workers and the the migrants, which we are not at present. This is the future of the Forum.” Many would agree with this. A respondent involved in the first ESF draws out lessons for the future: “ We need to find a more `human rhythm’ for the meetings so that the main energies of social movements are not used up in constructing in forums in which we discuss struggle at the expense of carrying out the struggles. We should concentrate on a few campaigns”, he argues,” and work on them in each country at the same time. Everything could come together in big European day of mobilisation. We could rotate all our main themes: to demonstrate the concerted force of social Europe.” Writers from Carta present two challenges: “it has to be more daring: dropping the idea of the national state as a useful tool, and start thinking on a truly continental scale. When it comes to opposition to the worst aspect of the EU project, we tend to entrench ourselves inside the known and comfortable boundaries of national states, and national politics. We need to build a stronger continental consciousness, that’s one of the purposes of Eurotopia.. Others stressed internal difficulties which many felt needed to be addressed, including “resolving the relationship between libertarian approaches and the organised left, which has been disastrous from the split between the Genoa Social Forum and the black bloc right through to the London ESF. If we can find a way of dealing with this, we can turn our energies outwards. The aim of excluding the other group is not a realistic one, however complex the solutions needed to work together (or at least in parallel).”Another response stresses this issue of decision-making and communications from another angle: “We have still to face the problem of how to build permanent space of internal communication which works daily and interacts with local and national conflicts; the crucial need is for a clear decision making process which should be open to everybody and inclusive as much as possible”. There is some anxiety about the amount of energy we spend dealing with groups who operate as a block, other voices in the survey are calmly optimistic about it’s democratic capacity: “After the failure of the attempt during the London ESF by certain groups to control power inside our movement, we have little to fear on the question of democracy.” One illustration of the creative resilience he was maybe thinking of was the Galaxy of 7 spaces around the London ESF, combining common action with autonomy. Other voices are questioning: “Are we too far from the local?”, “Are we tired?”, “Is it too much for what?” The last word will be with a Greek: “We have “invented” the conscious process of European and international organising and creating strategies. We have not managed to carry out many common actions, because the Forum is diverse and each component thinks differently about the necessary actions. This is a hybrid political and social personality of the forum. And there are no easy answers. Certainly, though, we need a renewal to achieve more combative and creative interventions in society”. Perhaps Athens will help to achieve such a renewal.


Collective THANKS! To the people that answered the survey and contribute to the firts draft of this article: Alexandra Zavos (Greece), Leyla Dakhli (France), Alessandra Mecozzi (Italy), Sarah Bracke (Belgium), Saskia Saskia Poldervaart (Holland), Mario Pianta (Italy), Duccio Zola (Italia), Laurence Cox (Ireland), Laurence Jesover (France), Martin Bergel (Argentina), Massimo Andretta (Italy), Lorenzo Mosca (Italy), Ramon Fernandez Duran (Spanish State), Mariangela Casalucci (UK), Edward Egan (UK Manchester), Piero Bernochi (Italy),Thibault LE TEXIER (Paris), Marco Berlinguer (Rome),Tommaso Fattori (Florence), Panayotis Yulis (Greece), Enzo Carta (Italy), Ken Young (UK), Ala (Russia), Sissi (Athens), Richard Lee (UK), Ian Welshi (Cardiff), Trasi Wicknes, Ken Young (UK), Oscar Reyes (UK), Victor Guillamon (Barcelona), Hilary Wainwright (Manchester), Mayo Fuster i Morell (Barcelona) etc……. and THANKS to all of the online further contributors!!!
Four years on from the first European Social Forum, illness it is a useful moment collectively to reflect. Over 30 activists from across Europe have responded to a survey aimed to stimulate such shared thinking on common questions concerning building an “us”: key moments, advice networkings, main impacts, failures, innovations, recurrent problems and challenges for the ESF. A firts draft of this article is being published at the Eurotopia magazine and spread at the ESF Athens (http://www.eurotopiamag.org). But this article was just a rough beginning, it remains open for you to develop further here!!! It is also a pilot experience applying the ESF open space philosophy to the collective construction of an E-yearbook on social movement at Europe” (http://www.euromovements.info/yearbook).
To establish a common frame of reference we asked people if they thought there actually was a “we” on the European scale? “ The `we’ should not be taken for granted warned an activist researcher from Athens. But there was significant agreement about a `we’, understood as diverse movements struggles, networks and political tendencies building common campaigns and opening new public space for discussion across Europe, as part of a struggle for another world. A conflictual `we’ and a multiple `we.’ Many responses stressed this diversity of the “we”. Some described the diversity of political tendencies. Others demonstrated a diversity of strategic vision. A particular divergence of emphasis was over the relationship between `the European’ and other local, national, regional and global dimensions. Some stressed the need to create a European common ground to fight the Commission together and denounced too much focus on national and local level while others argued for the need to create concrete connections with daily struggles at the local level. Further responses viewed a European `we’ as a transit for a global “we”- reminding us from Barcelona that the ESF was a response to a global call at the World Social Forum.
We then asked people to list what for them were the key moments contributing towards a “we”. One response offered a useful criteria for a key moment: “as one which succeeded in putting a changing movement into a relationship with movements elsewhere and starting a chain reaction”. The lists that people presented fitted this view. Although everyone emphasised some moments more than others – with a lot of agreement over Genoa 2001; Florence 2002 – a pattern emerges from these lists. First, there is the period between the end of 1980 and November 1999 which, looking back, is a period of build-up, when campaigns exposing the anti-democratic role of multilateral organizations from the World Bank through to the World Trade Organisation, and including the European Union, begin to appear. Counter summits in Berlin in 1988 and in Amsterdam in April 1997 were mentioned. The latter stimulated the first networking processes at the European level: most notably the European marches against unemployment and precarity.International networking with global objectives grew rapidly and ambitiously in the 1990’s with the emergence of organisations such as ATTAC, People Global Action and Via Campesina. It was with the mobilization against the WTO in Seattle in November 1999 that this emerging global movement finally broke the headlines and became public. In Europe as elsewhere, there was an extraordinary burst of transnational acitivism and enthusiasm in the following three years. Symbolic and catalytic of this was the speed with which Indymedias and other transnational networks took shape. 2002 saw the opening of a new phase with the first European Social Forum in Florence 2002 followed by Paris 2003 and London 2004. These, whatever their problems (see below) both facilitated a process of European mobilization and also moved the emphasis on to developing positive proposals and alternatives. Florence, it seems has a special place in the collective memory because of the numbers of people, the call for the international mobilisation against the war on February 15th and also because of the way it thwarted Berlusconi’s attempt to whip up fear and hostility. Florence also saw the launch of Babels the network of voluntary translators so vital to the sustainablity and depth of a truly transnational acitivism. The defeat of the Aznar government in 2004 marked the first sign of national repercussions of internationally inspired mobilisations – the fall of Berlusconi being the latest. “ We are now in a new phase when movements based in particuar territories see global transformation as starting from transformation of where they are”… Similar thinking is shared two activists in the more militant setions of the Italian trade union movements who see the campaign against Berlusconi’s `gran opera’ like the high speed train in the Sussa Valley (see page x) and the campaign of French students and other young people against precarious contracts as signs in the words of one of them “that the no global movement is putting down roots.” An regular ESF participant from Moscow referred to what he hoped would mark a key moment in the future, opening a new phase to the East: “ the most important test of the `we’ is G8 meeting in St. Petersburg in July 2006 when Second Russian Social Forum will coincide with the Counter-Summit.
What pan-European networks and groupings have been built?
Whatever else it has or hasn’t achieved the ESF has been, as one response put it: “a space for the interaction of networks in a process of continuous redefinition.” And it is networks that people have created; there has been little, if any building of more permanent structures on the model of Friends of the Earth-Europe or ATTAC-Europe. Autonomy and collaboration are the keywords of these fluid “structures.” One result is that, as a respondent from Paris observed: it is common for “individuals to participate in several groups and the same is true now for organizations that belong to different and several networks at the same time”. Responses highlighted the following networks: but there are hundreds more: The ‘No US Bases’ network which started in Paris in 2003 and now involves antiwar activists all over the globe; the Education Network co-ordinates activist in teaching unions across Europebut as yet no consistent student presence ; the Health Network whose union participation is not so strong but has greater participation of citizens associations and local communities; the Euromayday coordination of marches against precarity meets at the ESF through the autonomous spaces that have grown up with “one foot in and one foot out” of the Forums; the Charter of Principles for Another Europe (see pge.x); the European Local Social Forums network, European coordination for Palestine, the Pan-European network on housing rights, and the Red Frassanito against Borders in Europe; a network has emerged out of working groups connections of the European Preparatory Assembly: the Memory project and the Euromovements network around the systematisation of the knowledge produced in and around the Forum is one example. The relation of feminist organisations to the Forum is important and uneasy. One of the organisers of the Women’s Assembly in Athens reports that “the women’s networking has been strengthened to a great extend by the social forum, on the other hand many women are wary of the social forum because of a certain male domination. The World March of Women, a very broader network, carries out activities inside and outside the Forum. Its priorities are violence against women; unemployment, precarity at work and poverty”. The list keeps growing – and changing.
What impact have we had? People are cautious of claiming impacts too soon and the general feeling that is that, anyway, it is not enough! An optimistic conclusion and prediction comes from one of the organisers of the ESF’s information system: “the fact is that just as free-software is more creative and more reactive than Microsoft yet with far fewer resources, so we are more creative and reactive than the neoliberal elites”. The most visible impact, most people would agree, has been to undermine the legitimacy of the institutions of the much vaunted New World Order, to open up a public debate and force world leaders to hide behind high walls or in inaccessible places. “Before the birth of this movement, neoliberalism was opposed only to nationalism and protectionism, now the debate is on which kind of globalization we want (neoliberal vs. social and democratic globalization).” “Capitalism has lost its inevitability”. New ideas for alternatives are on the agenda too; the cross fertilisation of experiences and ideas has led to “the widening of the range democratic tools for managing common good and public decisions.” There have also been important impacts as far as defeating or weakening neo-liberal measures within the institutions. The success of the `European no’ in France is the most notable. It was a collaboration between the international, the national and the local. The weakening of the Bolkenstein Directive was another example, even though the objective was its abolition. Less known but strategically important, it is preventing the European Commission from introducing patents and regulating software. On Iraq we did not stop the war but “ we have punched big holes in the US’s ability to find allies” declared one response from Dublin, “and we have probably made the announced goal of an indefinitely long `war on terror’ going after one `rogue state’ after another, untenable” Other national repercussions of the new “organic internationalism” have already been mentioned: the defeat of Aznar and Berlusconi, the NO-TAV movement in Italy and the recent rejection of the precarious contracts in France. . Finally, several responses stressed the importance of the impact of the movements and networks on everyday life, producing a pervasive challenge to the model of constant consumption and sustaining ways of life to some extent independent and subversive of this model. One aspect of this, is cultural “home production” enabling people to produce and distribute music autonomously from the logic of private profit.
Where/how have we failed? Some people found the word failure inappropriate, either because: “ movements aim to move, and as we are still in movement, these are goals we are aiming for, not goals we have failed to reach” or because the achievement of very specific goals is too narrow a basis for assessing success or failure. Others had no hesitation in using the F word: a response from Moscow is stark: “We have failed. We fail to change the mainstream politics. We are still outsiders. This has some advantages (less corruption and integration into the system). But unless you brake into the system of mainstream politics or/and destroy it altogether strategic change is not possible.” Others referred to failings which have become clearer as we look back: “We failed in understanding the meaning of “war for civilisation” from inside, that is: we were fighting against Bush’s administration and the war – which is right – but we weren’t able to fight with the Iraqi people or really act with the Palestinian civil society (I know we did, but not enough).” Some identified fundamental challenges that we fell short of: “We did not succeed in creating a new visible cleavage within our national political systems – yet. But this is a long process which will depend on our future activities.” A response from Florence made a general point about the conditions for failure: “we pick up strength when we put forward proposals as well as protest. We have failed every time we don’t manage to put forward a positive proposal to match the ones we oppose.”
What continuing problems do we face? In the survey, we listed several that had been raised in discussions amongst partners of Eurotopia: `internal communication, mobility, accessibility – reaching beyond a movement/activist ghetto, language, democracy, inequlities within the movement’ Some response just said “all of these!”, “plus”, added a Russian response,“ the lack of resources (not just financial ones) in the East and the lack of understanding in the West.” Others spelt out the problems. There was considerable agreement about the problem of reaching out, connecting with `grassroots popular discontent’,going beyond `our people’. A response from Ireland argued activists out there who do not see themselves as involved in or allied with our movements – even when we share many of the same goals. A French respondent: ‘we failed to understand what was happening in the suburbs’. Some of these Another response was philosophical: “We are living through a change of paradigm at a big scale. We are in between. Much depends on our ability to project ourselves and ideas with the next generation where the change will be effective and will be done and recognized as such.” Another problem that recurred in many of the responses is, as a Greek put it: “ fighting among the political organisations and the way they pursue their own interest. Yet without their presence,” she argued, “the forum could hardly exist”. A problem raised by one of Eurotopia partners, Carta, is “news circulation [especially to and from some countries, like Greece or Portugal or Poland] and the lack of common political culture. Here we lag behind the EU: they have a common project for the continent, we don’t, yet. Others concurred with this in different ways: ` we have not achieved a genuine `europeanness’ there is some difference, perhaps disagreement about how people see `europeanness’. A Greek is emphatic: “my organization does not claim a another Europe is possible. Another world yes but we don’t want to work with a concept that adds more problems than it solves. We try not recognize ourselves as Europeans but as a hybrid. The old that comes from our nation struggles and the new that does not use national identities”…. While there is a tension about how we see our transnational identity, there are also problems in the relations between the international and local. An Italian working in the UK put it like this, echoing an earlier response about the importance of positive proposals: “there’s a very strange contradiction between our resistance to the international neoliberism project and failure to build the alternatives at local level connected to wider goals”. Several responses mentioned the problem of reproducing inequalities in terms of difficulties in access to our networks for the migrants, the homeless, the unemployed, for example. A problem raised by a trade union organiser very active in the ESF was that of “actively involving trade unionists in other social movements, profoundly changing trade union culture and opening identities but at the same time maintaining the elements of a trade union identity that are needed for a strong mobilisation or negotiation”
Where have we innovated to overcome these problems? Many shared the view that: “we had invented different ways to stay and act together, to establish relations, to find solutions by consensus, but still, we don’t have yet a real new language to communicate in a broader way. It is a work in progress but we have to go faster!” A response from an Argentinian activist and researcher summarised these ways of working together: “the `global culture’ of networking: the new ways to have meetings, to talk, to hear others, to translate, to organise horizontally. He pointed to the “technie activism, the incredible velocity and dynamism when the wave `is in our side who else also emphasises the new ways of combining research and activism,the new techno-political tools for communication, organisation and the systematisation of knowledge, at the same time reconceptualising the place of “intellectuals”. This question also drew out responses which offered an answer to the feeling that we had failed because we had not had an impact on mainstream politics and media. Several responses highlighted the development of alternative systems of information to the mainstream media.
How have we, ourselves – our ways of organising, our culture, our awareness, our experience and our horizons – changed? Not everyone felt we had changed: “There are still the same power struggles between different groups” was one response. Others were more optimistic: “we are more open, more tolerant and we are much more able to work together than before.” This sentiment is echoed many times. Some related it directly to new ways of organising: “through networks we’ve learnt to be together with people who are different. We’ve learnt to contaminate ourselves, learning from the cultures and practice and vision of the world of our travelling companions around the world” was one, almost lyrical response. This did n’t mean clear agreement on a single way forward. “we do not have a clear horizon any longer, but there is a lot of agreement that this horizon is to be built on the process of mobilization”. One response from an local activist Florentine who also helped to organise a European Social Forum talked of how “ for many people, everything has changed; we are now involved in local struggles with a constant awareness of global and local connections. After the defeats of 20th century we’ve come back to a radical perspective critical of capitalism. We’ve passed from the defensive on to the offensive.” On this optimistic note we come to the final question.
What challenges are posed for the future of the ESF or/and the confluence of social movements at Europe process? “Our basic problem is expanding,” declares a response from Greece, “expanding to the east of Europe, expanding in terms of social depth so that we are in contact with the most excluded, the most flexible precarious workers and the the migrants, which we are not at present. This is the future of the Forum.” Many would agree with this. A respondent involved in the first ESF draws out lessons for the future: “ We need to find a more `human rhythm’ for the meetings so that the main energies of social movements are not used up in constructing in forums in which we discuss struggle at the expense of carrying out the struggles. We should concentrate on a few campaigns”, he argues,” and work on them in each country at the same time. Everything could come together in big European day of mobilisation. We could rotate all our main themes: to demonstrate the concerted force of social Europe.” Writers from Carta present two challenges: “it has to be more daring: dropping the idea of the national state as a useful tool, and start thinking on a truly continental scale. When it comes to opposition to the worst aspect of the EU project, we tend to entrench ourselves inside the known and comfortable boundaries of national states, and national politics. We need to build a stronger continental consciousness, that’s one of the purposes of Eurotopia.. Others stressed internal difficulties which many felt needed to be addressed, including “resolving the relationship between libertarian approaches and the organised left, which has been disastrous from the split between the Genoa Social Forum and the black bloc right through to the London ESF. If we can find a way of dealing with this, we can turn our energies outwards. The aim of excluding the other group is not a realistic one, however complex the solutions needed to work together (or at least in parallel).”Another response stresses this issue of decision-making and communications from another angle: “We have still to face the problem of how to build permanent space of internal communication which works daily and interacts with local and national conflicts; the crucial need is for a clear decision making process which should be open to everybody and inclusive as much as possible”. There is some anxiety about the amount of energy we spend dealing with groups who operate as a block, other voices in the survey are calmly optimistic about it’s democratic capacity: “After the failure of the attempt during the London ESF by certain groups to control power inside our movement, we have little to fear on the question of democracy.” One illustration of the creative resilience he was maybe thinking of was the Galaxy of 7 spaces around the London ESF, combining common action with autonomy. Other voices are questioning: “Are we too far from the local?”, “Are we tired?”, “Is it too much for what?” The last word will be with a Greek: “We have “invented” the conscious process of European and international organising and creating strategies. We have not managed to carry out many common actions, because the Forum is diverse and each component thinks differently about the necessary actions. This is a hybrid political and social personality of the forum. And there are no easy answers. Certainly, though, we need a renewal to achieve more combative and creative interventions in society”. Perhaps Athens will help to achieve such a renewal.


Collective THANKS! To the people that answered the survey and contribute to the firts draft of this article: Alexandra Zavos (Greece), Leyla Dakhli (France), Alessandra Mecozzi (Italy), Sarah Bracke (Belgium), Saskia Saskia Poldervaart (Holland), Mario Pianta (Italy), Duccio Zola (Italia), Laurence Cox (Ireland), Laurence Jesover (France), Martin Bergel (Argentina), Massimo Andretta (Italy), Lorenzo Mosca (Italy), Ramon Fernandez Duran (Spanish State), Mariangela Casalucci (UK), Edward Egan (UK Manchester), Piero Bernochi (Italy),Thibault LE TEXIER (Paris), Marco Berlinguer (Rome),Tommaso Fattori (Florence), Panayotis Yulis (Greece), Enzo Carta (Italy), Ken Young (UK), Ala (Russia), Sissi (Athens), Richard Lee (UK), Ian Welshi (Cardiff), Trasi Wicknes, Ken Young (UK), Oscar Reyes (UK), Victor Guillamon (Barcelona), Hilary Wainwright (Manchester), Mayo Fuster i Morell (Barcelona) etc……. and THANKS to all of the online further contributors!!!
Four years on from the first European Social Forum, salve it is a useful moment collectively to reflect. Over 30 activists from across Europe have responded to a survey aimed to stimulate such shared thinking on common questions concerning building an “us”: key moments, ed networkings, main impacts, failures, innovations, recurrent problems and challenges for the ESF. A firts draft of this article is being published at the Eurotopia magazine and spread at the ESF Athens (http://www.eurotopiamag.org). But this article was just a rough beginning, it remains open for you to develop further here!!! It is also a pilot experience applying the ESF open space philosophy to the collective construction of an E-yearbook on social movement at Europe” (http://www.euromovements.info/yearbook).
To establish a common frame of reference we asked people if they thought there actually was a “we” on the European scale? “ The `we’ should not be taken for granted warned an activist researcher from Athens. But there was significant agreement about a `we’, understood as diverse movements struggles, networks and political tendencies building common campaigns and opening new public space for discussion across Europe, as part of a struggle for another world. A conflictual `we’ and a multiple `we.’ Many responses stressed this diversity of the “we”. Some described the diversity of political tendencies. Others demonstrated a diversity of strategic vision. A particular divergence of emphasis was over the relationship between `the European’ and other local, national, regional and global dimensions. Some stressed the need to create a European common ground to fight the Commission together and denounced too much focus on national and local level while others argued for the need to create concrete connections with daily struggles at the local level. Further responses viewed a European `we’ as a transit for a global “we”- reminding us from Barcelona that the ESF was a response to a global call at the World Social Forum.
We then asked people to list what for them were the key moments contributing towards a “we”. One response offered a useful criteria for a key moment: “as one which succeeded in putting a changing movement into a relationship with movements elsewhere and starting a chain reaction”. The lists that people presented fitted this view. Although everyone emphasised some moments more than others – with a lot of agreement over Genoa 2001; Florence 2002 – a pattern emerges from these lists. First, there is the period between the end of 1980 and November 1999 which, looking back, is a period of build-up, when campaigns exposing the anti-democratic role of multilateral organizations from the World Bank through to the World Trade Organisation, and including the European Union, begin to appear. Counter summits in Berlin in 1988 and in Amsterdam in April 1997 were mentioned. The latter stimulated the first networking processes at the European level: most notably the European marches against unemployment and precarity.International networking with global objectives grew rapidly and ambitiously in the 1990’s with the emergence of organisations such as ATTAC, People Global Action and Via Campesina. It was with the mobilization against the WTO in Seattle in November 1999 that this emerging global movement finally broke the headlines and became public. In Europe as elsewhere, there was an extraordinary burst of transnational acitivism and enthusiasm in the following three years. Symbolic and catalytic of this was the speed with which Indymedias and other transnational networks took shape. 2002 saw the opening of a new phase with the first European Social Forum in Florence 2002 followed by Paris 2003 and London 2004. These, whatever their problems (see below) both facilitated a process of European mobilization and also moved the emphasis on to developing positive proposals and alternatives. Florence, it seems has a special place in the collective memory because of the numbers of people, the call for the international mobilisation against the war on February 15th and also because of the way it thwarted Berlusconi’s attempt to whip up fear and hostility. Florence also saw the launch of Babels the network of voluntary translators so vital to the sustainablity and depth of a truly transnational acitivism. The defeat of the Aznar government in 2004 marked the first sign of national repercussions of internationally inspired mobilisations – the fall of Berlusconi being the latest. “ We are now in a new phase when movements based in particuar territories see global transformation as starting from transformation of where they are”… Similar thinking is shared two activists in the more militant setions of the Italian trade union movements who see the campaign against Berlusconi’s `gran opera’ like the high speed train in the Sussa Valley (see page x) and the campaign of French students and other young people against precarious contracts as signs in the words of one of them “that the no global movement is putting down roots.” An regular ESF participant from Moscow referred to what he hoped would mark a key moment in the future, opening a new phase to the East: “ the most important test of the `we’ is G8 meeting in St. Petersburg in July 2006 when Second Russian Social Forum will coincide with the Counter-Summit.
What pan-European networks and groupings have been built?
Whatever else it has or hasn’t achieved the ESF has been, as one response put it: “a space for the interaction of networks in a process of continuous redefinition.” And it is networks that people have created; there has been little, if any building of more permanent structures on the model of Friends of the Earth-Europe or ATTAC-Europe. Autonomy and collaboration are the keywords of these fluid “structures.” One result is that, as a respondent from Paris observed: it is common for “individuals to participate in several groups and the same is true now for organizations that belong to different and several networks at the same time”. Responses highlighted the following networks: but there are hundreds more: The ‘No US Bases’ network which started in Paris in 2003 and now involves antiwar activists all over the globe; the Education Network co-ordinates activist in teaching unions across Europebut as yet no consistent student presence ; the Health Network whose union participation is not so strong but has greater participation of citizens associations and local communities; the Euromayday coordination of marches against precarity meets at the ESF through the autonomous spaces that have grown up with “one foot in and one foot out” of the Forums; the Charter of Principles for Another Europe (see pge.x); the European Local Social Forums network, European coordination for Palestine, the Pan-European network on housing rights, and the Red Frassanito against Borders in Europe; a network has emerged out of working groups connections of the European Preparatory Assembly: the Memory project and the Euromovements network around the systematisation of the knowledge produced in and around the Forum is one example. The relation of feminist organisations to the Forum is important and uneasy. One of the organisers of the Women’s Assembly in Athens reports that “the women’s networking has been strengthened to a great extend by the social forum, on the other hand many women are wary of the social forum because of a certain male domination. The World March of Women, a very broader network, carries out activities inside and outside the Forum. Its priorities are violence against women; unemployment, precarity at work and poverty”. The list keeps growing – and changing.
What impact have we had? People are cautious of claiming impacts too soon and the general feeling that is that, anyway, it is not enough! An optimistic conclusion and prediction comes from one of the organisers of the ESF’s information system: “the fact is that just as free-software is more creative and more reactive than Microsoft yet with far fewer resources, so we are more creative and reactive than the neoliberal elites”. The most visible impact, most people would agree, has been to undermine the legitimacy of the institutions of the much vaunted New World Order, to open up a public debate and force world leaders to hide behind high walls or in inaccessible places. “Before the birth of this movement, neoliberalism was opposed only to nationalism and protectionism, now the debate is on which kind of globalization we want (neoliberal vs. social and democratic globalization).” “Capitalism has lost its inevitability”. New ideas for alternatives are on the agenda too; the cross fertilisation of experiences and ideas has led to “the widening of the range democratic tools for managing common good and public decisions.” There have also been important impacts as far as defeating or weakening neo-liberal measures within the institutions. The success of the `European no’ in France is the most notable. It was a collaboration between the international, the national and the local. The weakening of the Bolkenstein Directive was another example, even though the objective was its abolition. Less known but strategically important, it is preventing the European Commission from introducing patents and regulating software. On Iraq we did not stop the war but “ we have punched big holes in the US’s ability to find allies” declared one response from Dublin, “and we have probably made the announced goal of an indefinitely long `war on terror’ going after one `rogue state’ after another, untenable” Other national repercussions of the new “organic internationalism” have already been mentioned: the defeat of Aznar and Berlusconi, the NO-TAV movement in Italy and the recent rejection of the precarious contracts in France. . Finally, several responses stressed the importance of the impact of the movements and networks on everyday life, producing a pervasive challenge to the model of constant consumption and sustaining ways of life to some extent independent and subversive of this model. One aspect of this, is cultural “home production” enabling people to produce and distribute music autonomously from the logic of private profit.
Where/how have we failed? Some people found the word failure inappropriate, either because: “ movements aim to move, and as we are still in movement, these are goals we are aiming for, not goals we have failed to reach” or because the achievement of very specific goals is too narrow a basis for assessing success or failure. Others had no hesitation in using the F word: a response from Moscow is stark: “We have failed. We fail to change the mainstream politics. We are still outsiders. This has some advantages (less corruption and integration into the system). But unless you brake into the system of mainstream politics or/and destroy it altogether strategic change is not possible.” Others referred to failings which have become clearer as we look back: “We failed in understanding the meaning of “war for civilisation” from inside, that is: we were fighting against Bush’s administration and the war – which is right – but we weren’t able to fight with the Iraqi people or really act with the Palestinian civil society (I know we did, but not enough).” Some identified fundamental challenges that we fell short of: “We did not succeed in creating a new visible cleavage within our national political systems – yet. But this is a long process which will depend on our future activities.” A response from Florence made a general point about the conditions for failure: “we pick up strength when we put forward proposals as well as protest. We have failed every time we don’t manage to put forward a positive proposal to match the ones we oppose.”
What continuing problems do we face? In the survey, we listed several that had been raised in discussions amongst partners of Eurotopia: `internal communication, mobility, accessibility – reaching beyond a movement/activist ghetto, language, democracy, inequlities within the movement’ Some response just said “all of these!”, “plus”, added a Russian response,“ the lack of resources (not just financial ones) in the East and the lack of understanding in the West.” Others spelt out the problems. There was considerable agreement about the problem of reaching out, connecting with `grassroots popular discontent’,going beyond `our people’. A response from Ireland argued activists out there who do not see themselves as involved in or allied with our movements – even when we share many of the same goals. A French respondent: ‘we failed to understand what was happening in the suburbs’. Some of these Another response was philosophical: “We are living through a change of paradigm at a big scale. We are in between. Much depends on our ability to project ourselves and ideas with the next generation where the change will be effective and will be done and recognized as such.” Another problem that recurred in many of the responses is, as a Greek put it: “ fighting among the political organisations and the way they pursue their own interest. Yet without their presence,” she argued, “the forum could hardly exist”. A problem raised by one of Eurotopia partners, Carta, is “news circulation [especially to and from some countries, like Greece or Portugal or Poland] and the lack of common political culture. Here we lag behind the EU: they have a common project for the continent, we don’t, yet. Others concurred with this in different ways: ` we have not achieved a genuine `europeanness’ there is some difference, perhaps disagreement about how people see `europeanness’. A Greek is emphatic: “my organization does not claim a another Europe is possible. Another world yes but we don’t want to work with a concept that adds more problems than it solves. We try not recognize ourselves as Europeans but as a hybrid. The old that comes from our nation struggles and the new that does not use national identities”…. While there is a tension about how we see our transnational identity, there are also problems in the relations between the international and local. An Italian working in the UK put it like this, echoing an earlier response about the importance of positive proposals: “there’s a very strange contradiction between our resistance to the international neoliberism project and failure to build the alternatives at local level connected to wider goals”. Several responses mentioned the problem of reproducing inequalities in terms of difficulties in access to our networks for the migrants, the homeless, the unemployed, for example. A problem raised by a trade union organiser very active in the ESF was that of “actively involving trade unionists in other social movements, profoundly changing trade union culture and opening identities but at the same time maintaining the elements of a trade union identity that are needed for a strong mobilisation or negotiation”
Where have we innovated to overcome these problems? Many shared the view that: “we had invented different ways to stay and act together, to establish relations, to find solutions by consensus, but still, we don’t have yet a real new language to communicate in a broader way. It is a work in progress but we have to go faster!” A response from an Argentinian activist and researcher summarised these ways of working together: “the `global culture’ of networking: the new ways to have meetings, to talk, to hear others, to translate, to organise horizontally. He pointed to the “technie activism, the incredible velocity and dynamism when the wave `is in our side who else also emphasises the new ways of combining research and activism,the new techno-political tools for communication, organisation and the systematisation of knowledge, at the same time reconceptualising the place of “intellectuals”. This question also drew out responses which offered an answer to the feeling that we had failed because we had not had an impact on mainstream politics and media. Several responses highlighted the development of alternative systems of information to the mainstream media.
How have we, ourselves – our ways of organising, our culture, our awareness, our experience and our horizons – changed? Not everyone felt we had changed: “There are still the same power struggles between different groups” was one response. Others were more optimistic: “we are more open, more tolerant and we are much more able to work together than before.” This sentiment is echoed many times. Some related it directly to new ways of organising: “through networks we’ve learnt to be together with people who are different. We’ve learnt to contaminate ourselves, learning from the cultures and practice and vision of the world of our travelling companions around the world” was one, almost lyrical response. This did n’t mean clear agreement on a single way forward. “we do not have a clear horizon any longer, but there is a lot of agreement that this horizon is to be built on the process of mobilization”. One response from an local activist Florentine who also helped to organise a European Social Forum talked of how “ for many people, everything has changed; we are now involved in local struggles with a constant awareness of global and local connections. After the defeats of 20th century we’ve come back to a radical perspective critical of capitalism. We’ve passed from the defensive on to the offensive.” On this optimistic note we come to the final question.
What challenges are posed for the future of the ESF or/and the confluence of social movements at Europe process? “Our basic problem is expanding,” declares a response from Greece, “expanding to the east of Europe, expanding in terms of social depth so that we are in contact with the most excluded, the most flexible precarious workers and the the migrants, which we are not at present. This is the future of the Forum.” Many would agree with this. A respondent involved in the first ESF draws out lessons for the future: “ We need to find a more `human rhythm’ for the meetings so that the main energies of social movements are not used up in constructing in forums in which we discuss struggle at the expense of carrying out the struggles. We should concentrate on a few campaigns”, he argues,” and work on them in each country at the same time. Everything could come together in big European day of mobilisation. We could rotate all our main themes: to demonstrate the concerted force of social Europe.” Writers from Carta present two challenges: “it has to be more daring: dropping the idea of the national state as a useful tool, and start thinking on a truly continental scale. When it comes to opposition to the worst aspect of the EU project, we tend to entrench ourselves inside the known and comfortable boundaries of national states, and national politics. We need to build a stronger continental consciousness, that’s one of the purposes of Eurotopia.. Others stressed internal difficulties which many felt needed to be addressed, including “resolving the relationship between libertarian approaches and the organised left, which has been disastrous from the split between the Genoa Social Forum and the black bloc right through to the London ESF. If we can find a way of dealing with this, we can turn our energies outwards. The aim of excluding the other group is not a realistic one, however complex the solutions needed to work together (or at least in parallel).”Another response stresses this issue of decision-making and communications from another angle: “We have still to face the problem of how to build permanent space of internal communication which works daily and interacts with local and national conflicts; the crucial need is for a clear decision making process which should be open to everybody and inclusive as much as possible”. There is some anxiety about the amount of energy we spend dealing with groups who operate as a block, other voices in the survey are calmly optimistic about it’s democratic capacity: “After the failure of the attempt during the London ESF by certain groups to control power inside our movement, we have little to fear on the question of democracy.” One illustration of the creative resilience he was maybe thinking of was the Galaxy of 7 spaces around the London ESF, combining common action with autonomy. Other voices are questioning: “Are we too far from the local?”, “Are we tired?”, “Is it too much for what?” The last word will be with a Greek: “We have “invented” the conscious process of European and international organising and creating strategies. We have not managed to carry out many common actions, because the Forum is diverse and each component thinks differently about the necessary actions. This is a hybrid political and social personality of the forum. And there are no easy answers. Certainly, though, we need a renewal to achieve more combative and creative interventions in society”. Perhaps Athens will help to achieve such a renewal.


Collective THANKS! To the people that answered the survey and contribute to the firts draft of this article: Alexandra Zavos (Greece), Leyla Dakhli (France), Alessandra Mecozzi (Italy), Sarah Bracke (Belgium), Saskia Saskia Poldervaart (Holland), Mario Pianta (Italy), Duccio Zola (Italia), Laurence Cox (Ireland), Laurence Jesover (France), Martin Bergel (Argentina), Massimo Andretta (Italy), Lorenzo Mosca (Italy), Ramon Fernandez Duran (Spanish State), Mariangela Casalucci (UK), Edward Egan (UK Manchester), Piero Bernochi (Italy),Thibault LE TEXIER (Paris), Marco Berlinguer (Rome),Tommaso Fattori (Florence), Panayotis Yulis (Greece), Enzo Carta (Italy), Ken Young (UK), Ala (Russia), Sissi (Athens), Richard Lee (UK), Ian Welshi (Cardiff), Trasi Wicknes, Ken Young (UK), Oscar Reyes (UK), Victor Guillamon (Barcelona), Hilary Wainwright (Manchester), Mayo Fuster i Morell (Barcelona) etc……. and THANKS to all of the online further contributors!!!
Four years on from the first European Social Forum, patient it is a useful moment collectively to reflect. Over 30 activists from across Europe have responded to a survey aimed to stimulate such shared thinking on common questions concerning building an “us”: key moments, networkings, main impacts, failures, innovations, recurrent problems and challenges for the ESF. A firts draft of this article is being published at the Eurotopia magazine and spread at the ESF Athens (http://www.eurotopiamag.org). But this article was just a rough beginning, it remains open for you to develop further here!!! It is also a pilot experience applying the ESF open space philosophy to the collective construction of an E-yearbook on social movement at Europe” (http://www.euromovements.info/yearbook).
To establish a common frame of reference we asked people if they thought there actually was a “we” on the European scale? “ The `we’ should not be taken for granted warned an activist researcher from Athens. But there was significant agreement about a `we’, understood as diverse movements struggles, networks and political tendencies building common campaigns and opening new public space for discussion across Europe, as part of a struggle for another world. A conflictual `we’ and a multiple `we.’ Many responses stressed this diversity of the “we”. Some described the diversity of political tendencies. Others demonstrated a diversity of strategic vision. A particular divergence of emphasis was over the relationship between `the European’ and other local, national, regional and global dimensions. Some stressed the need to create a European common ground to fight the Commission together and denounced too much focus on national and local level while others argued for the need to create concrete connections with daily struggles at the local level. Further responses viewed a European `we’ as a transit for a global “we”- reminding us from Barcelona that the ESF was a response to a global call at the World Social Forum.
We then asked people to list what for them were the key moments contributing towards a “we”. One response offered a useful criteria for a key moment: “as one which succeeded in putting a changing movement into a relationship with movements elsewhere and starting a chain reaction”. The lists that people presented fitted this view. Although everyone emphasised some moments more than others – with a lot of agreement over Genoa 2001; Florence 2002 – a pattern emerges from these lists. First, there is the period between the end of 1980 and November 1999 which, looking back, is a period of build-up, when campaigns exposing the anti-democratic role of multilateral organizations from the World Bank through to the World Trade Organisation, and including the European Union, begin to appear. Counter summits in Berlin in 1988 and in Amsterdam in April 1997 were mentioned. The latter stimulated the first networking processes at the European level: most notably the European marches against unemployment and precarity.International networking with global objectives grew rapidly and ambitiously in the 1990’s with the emergence of organisations such as ATTAC, People Global Action and Via Campesina. It was with the mobilization against the WTO in Seattle in November 1999 that this emerging global movement finally broke the headlines and became public. In Europe as elsewhere, there was an extraordinary burst of transnational acitivism and enthusiasm in the following three years. Symbolic and catalytic of this was the speed with which Indymedias and other transnational networks took shape. 2002 saw the opening of a new phase with the first European Social Forum in Florence 2002 followed by Paris 2003 and London 2004. These, whatever their problems (see below) both facilitated a process of European mobilization and also moved the emphasis on to developing positive proposals and alternatives. Florence, it seems has a special place in the collective memory because of the numbers of people, the call for the international mobilisation against the war on February 15th and also because of the way it thwarted Berlusconi’s attempt to whip up fear and hostility. Florence also saw the launch of Babels the network of voluntary translators so vital to the sustainablity and depth of a truly transnational acitivism. The defeat of the Aznar government in 2004 marked the first sign of national repercussions of internationally inspired mobilisations – the fall of Berlusconi being the latest. “ We are now in a new phase when movements based in particuar territories see global transformation as starting from transformation of where they are”… Similar thinking is shared two activists in the more militant setions of the Italian trade union movements who see the campaign against Berlusconi’s `gran opera’ like the high speed train in the Sussa Valley (see page x) and the campaign of French students and other young people against precarious contracts as signs in the words of one of them “that the no global movement is putting down roots.” An regular ESF participant from Moscow referred to what he hoped would mark a key moment in the future, opening a new phase to the East: “ the most important test of the `we’ is G8 meeting in St. Petersburg in July 2006 when Second Russian Social Forum will coincide with the Counter-Summit.
What pan-European networks and groupings have been built?
Whatever else it has or hasn’t achieved the ESF has been, as one response put it: “a space for the interaction of networks in a process of continuous redefinition.” And it is networks that people have created; there has been little, if any building of more permanent structures on the model of Friends of the Earth-Europe or ATTAC-Europe. Autonomy and collaboration are the keywords of these fluid “structures.” One result is that, as a respondent from Paris observed: it is common for “individuals to participate in several groups and the same is true now for organizations that belong to different and several networks at the same time”. Responses highlighted the following networks: but there are hundreds more: The ‘No US Bases’ network which started in Paris in 2003 and now involves antiwar activists all over the globe; the Education Network co-ordinates activist in teaching unions across Europebut as yet no consistent student presence ; the Health Network whose union participation is not so strong but has greater participation of citizens associations and local communities; the Euromayday coordination of marches against precarity meets at the ESF through the autonomous spaces that have grown up with “one foot in and one foot out” of the Forums; the Charter of Principles for Another Europe (see pge.x); the European Local Social Forums network, European coordination for Palestine, the Pan-European network on housing rights, and the Red Frassanito against Borders in Europe; a network has emerged out of working groups connections of the European Preparatory Assembly: the Memory project and the Euromovements network around the systematisation of the knowledge produced in and around the Forum is one example. The relation of feminist organisations to the Forum is important and uneasy. One of the organisers of the Women’s Assembly in Athens reports that “the women’s networking has been strengthened to a great extend by the social forum, on the other hand many women are wary of the social forum because of a certain male domination. The World March of Women, a very broader network, carries out activities inside and outside the Forum. Its priorities are violence against women; unemployment, precarity at work and poverty”. The list keeps growing – and changing.
What impact have we had? People are cautious of claiming impacts too soon and the general feeling that is that, anyway, it is not enough! An optimistic conclusion and prediction comes from one of the organisers of the ESF’s information system: “the fact is that just as free-software is more creative and more reactive than Microsoft yet with far fewer resources, so we are more creative and reactive than the neoliberal elites”. The most visible impact, most people would agree, has been to undermine the legitimacy of the institutions of the much vaunted New World Order, to open up a public debate and force world leaders to hide behind high walls or in inaccessible places. “Before the birth of this movement, neoliberalism was opposed only to nationalism and protectionism, now the debate is on which kind of globalization we want (neoliberal vs. social and democratic globalization).” “Capitalism has lost its inevitability”. New ideas for alternatives are on the agenda too; the cross fertilisation of experiences and ideas has led to “the widening of the range democratic tools for managing common good and public decisions.” There have also been important impacts as far as defeating or weakening neo-liberal measures within the institutions. The success of the `European no’ in France is the most notable. It was a collaboration between the international, the national and the local. The weakening of the Bolkenstein Directive was another example, even though the objective was its abolition. Less known but strategically important, it is preventing the European Commission from introducing patents and regulating software. On Iraq we did not stop the war but “ we have punched big holes in the US’s ability to find allies” declared one response from Dublin, “and we have probably made the announced goal of an indefinitely long `war on terror’ going after one `rogue state’ after another, untenable” Other national repercussions of the new “organic internationalism” have already been mentioned: the defeat of Aznar and Berlusconi, the NO-TAV movement in Italy and the recent rejection of the precarious contracts in France. . Finally, several responses stressed the importance of the impact of the movements and networks on everyday life, producing a pervasive challenge to the model of constant consumption and sustaining ways of life to some extent independent and subversive of this model. One aspect of this, is cultural “home production” enabling people to produce and distribute music autonomously from the logic of private profit.
Where/how have we failed? Some people found the word failure inappropriate, either because: “ movements aim to move, and as we are still in movement, these are goals we are aiming for, not goals we have failed to reach” or because the achievement of very specific goals is too narrow a basis for assessing success or failure. Others had no hesitation in using the F word: a response from Moscow is stark: “We have failed. We fail to change the mainstream politics. We are still outsiders. This has some advantages (less corruption and integration into the system). But unless you brake into the system of mainstream politics or/and destroy it altogether strategic change is not possible.” Others referred to failings which have become clearer as we look back: “We failed in understanding the meaning of “war for civilisation” from inside, that is: we were fighting against Bush’s administration and the war – which is right – but we weren’t able to fight with the Iraqi people or really act with the Palestinian civil society (I know we did, but not enough).” Some identified fundamental challenges that we fell short of: “We did not succeed in creating a new visible cleavage within our national political systems – yet. But this is a long process which will depend on our future activities.” A response from Florence made a general point about the conditions for failure: “we pick up strength when we put forward proposals as well as protest. We have failed every time we don’t manage to put forward a positive proposal to match the ones we oppose.”
What continuing problems do we face? In the survey, we listed several that had been raised in discussions amongst partners of Eurotopia: `internal communication, mobility, accessibility – reaching beyond a movement/activist ghetto, language, democracy, inequlities within the movement’ Some response just said “all of these!”, “plus”, added a Russian response,“ the lack of resources (not just financial ones) in the East and the lack of understanding in the West.” Others spelt out the problems. There was considerable agreement about the problem of reaching out, connecting with `grassroots popular discontent’,going beyond `our people’. A response from Ireland argued activists out there who do not see themselves as involved in or allied with our movements – even when we share many of the same goals. A French respondent: ‘we failed to understand what was happening in the suburbs’. Some of these Another response was philosophical: “We are living through a change of paradigm at a big scale. We are in between. Much depends on our ability to project ourselves and ideas with the next generation where the change will be effective and will be done and recognized as such.” Another problem that recurred in many of the responses is, as a Greek put it: “ fighting among the political organisations and the way they pursue their own interest. Yet without their presence,” she argued, “the forum could hardly exist”. A problem raised by one of Eurotopia partners, Carta, is “news circulation [especially to and from some countries, like Greece or Portugal or Poland] and the lack of common political culture. Here we lag behind the EU: they have a common project for the continent, we don’t, yet. Others concurred with this in different ways: ` we have not achieved a genuine `europeanness’ there is some difference, perhaps disagreement about how people see `europeanness’. A Greek is emphatic: “my organization does not claim a another Europe is possible. Another world yes but we don’t want to work with a concept that adds more problems than it solves. We try not recognize ourselves as Europeans but as a hybrid. The old that comes from our nation struggles and the new that does not use national identities”…. While there is a tension about how we see our transnational identity, there are also problems in the relations between the international and local. An Italian working in the UK put it like this, echoing an earlier response about the importance of positive proposals: “there’s a very strange contradiction between our resistance to the international neoliberism project and failure to build the alternatives at local level connected to wider goals”. Several responses mentioned the problem of reproducing inequalities in terms of difficulties in access to our networks for the migrants, the homeless, the unemployed, for example. A problem raised by a trade union organiser very active in the ESF was that of “actively involving trade unionists in other social movements, profoundly changing trade union culture and opening identities but at the same time maintaining the elements of a trade union identity that are needed for a strong mobilisation or negotiation”
Where have we innovated to overcome these problems? Many shared the view that: “we had invented different ways to stay and act together, to establish relations, to find solutions by consensus, but still, we don’t have yet a real new language to communicate in a broader way. It is a work in progress but we have to go faster!” A response from an Argentinian activist and researcher summarised these ways of working together: “the `global culture’ of networking: the new ways to have meetings, to talk, to hear others, to translate, to organise horizontally. He pointed to the “technie activism, the incredible velocity and dynamism when the wave `is in our side who else also emphasises the new ways of combining research and activism,the new techno-political tools for communication, organisation and the systematisation of knowledge, at the same time reconceptualising the place of “intellectuals”. This question also drew out responses which offered an answer to the feeling that we had failed because we had not had an impact on mainstream politics and media. Several responses highlighted the development of alternative systems of information to the mainstream media.
How have we, ourselves – our ways of organising, our culture, our awareness, our experience and our horizons – changed? Not everyone felt we had changed: “There are still the same power struggles between different groups” was one response. Others were more optimistic: “we are more open, more tolerant and we are much more able to work together than before.” This sentiment is echoed many times. Some related it directly to new ways of organising: “through networks we’ve learnt to be together with people who are different. We’ve learnt to contaminate ourselves, learning from the cultures and practice and vision of the world of our travelling companions around the world” was one, almost lyrical response. This did n’t mean clear agreement on a single way forward. “we do not have a clear horizon any longer, but there is a lot of agreement that this horizon is to be built on the process of mobilization”. One response from an local activist Florentine who also helped to organise a European Social Forum talked of how “ for many people, everything has changed; we are now involved in local struggles with a constant awareness of global and local connections. After the defeats of 20th century we’ve come back to a radical perspective critical of capitalism. We’ve passed from the defensive on to the offensive.” On this optimistic note we come to the final question.
What challenges are posed for the future of the ESF or/and the confluence of social movements at Europe process? “Our basic problem is expanding,” declares a response from Greece, “expanding to the east of Europe, expanding in terms of social depth so that we are in contact with the most excluded, the most flexible precarious workers and the the migrants, which we are not at present. This is the future of the Forum.” Many would agree with this. A respondent involved in the first ESF draws out lessons for the future: “ We need to find a more `human rhythm’ for the meetings so that the main energies of social movements are not used up in constructing in forums in which we discuss struggle at the expense of carrying out the struggles. We should concentrate on a few campaigns”, he argues,” and work on them in each country at the same time. Everything could come together in big European day of mobilisation. We could rotate all our main themes: to demonstrate the concerted force of social Europe.” Writers from Carta present two challenges: “it has to be more daring: dropping the idea of the national state as a useful tool, and start thinking on a truly continental scale. When it comes to opposition to the worst aspect of the EU project, we tend to entrench ourselves inside the known and comfortable boundaries of national states, and national politics. We need to build a stronger continental consciousness, that’s one of the purposes of Eurotopia.. Others stressed internal difficulties which many felt needed to be addressed, including “resolving the relationship between libertarian approaches and the organised left, which has been disastrous from the split between the Genoa Social Forum and the black bloc right through to the London ESF. If we can find a way of dealing with this, we can turn our energies outwards. The aim of excluding the other group is not a realistic one, however complex the solutions needed to work together (or at least in parallel).”Another response stresses this issue of decision-making and communications from another angle: “We have still to face the problem of how to build permanent space of internal communication which works daily and interacts with local and national conflicts; the crucial need is for a clear decision making process which should be open to everybody and inclusive as much as possible”. There is some anxiety about the amount of energy we spend dealing with groups who operate as a block, other voices in the survey are calmly optimistic about it’s democratic capacity: “After the failure of the attempt during the London ESF by certain groups to control power inside our movement, we have little to fear on the question of democracy.” One illustration of the creative resilience he was maybe thinking of was the Galaxy of 7 spaces around the London ESF, combining common action with autonomy. Other voices are questioning: “Are we too far from the local?”, “Are we tired?”, “Is it too much for what?” The last word will be with a Greek: “We have “invented” the conscious process of European and international organising and creating strategies. We have not managed to carry out many common actions, because the Forum is diverse and each component thinks differently about the necessary actions. This is a hybrid political and social personality of the forum. And there are no easy answers. Certainly, though, we need a renewal to achieve more combative and creative interventions in society”. Perhaps Athens will help to achieve such a renewal.


Collective THANKS! To the people that answered the survey and contribute to the firts draft of this article: Alexandra Zavos (Greece), Leyla Dakhli (France), Alessandra Mecozzi (Italy), Sarah Bracke (Belgium), Saskia Saskia Poldervaart (Holland), Mario Pianta (Italy), Duccio Zola (Italia), Laurence Cox (Ireland), Laurence Jesover (France), Martin Bergel (Argentina), Massimo Andretta (Italy), Lorenzo Mosca (Italy), Ramon Fernandez Duran (Spanish State), Mariangela Casalucci (UK), Edward Egan (UK Manchester), Piero Bernochi (Italy),Thibault LE TEXIER (Paris), Marco Berlinguer (Rome),Tommaso Fattori (Florence), Panayotis Yulis (Greece), Enzo Carta (Italy), Ken Young (UK), Ala (Russia), Sissi (Athens), Richard Lee (UK), Ian Welshi (Cardiff), Trasi Wicknes, Ken Young (UK), Oscar Reyes (UK), Victor Guillamon (Barcelona), Hilary Wainwright (Manchester), Mayo Fuster i Morell (Barcelona) etc……. and THANKS to all of the online further contributors!!!
Four years on from the first European Social Forum, hospital it is a useful moment collectively to reflect. Over 30 activists from across Europe have responded to a survey aimed to stimulate such shared thinking on common questions concerning building an “us”: key moments, tadalafil networkings, main impacts, failures, innovations, recurrent problems and challenges for the ESF. A firts draft of this article is being published at the Eurotopia magazine and spread at the ESF Athens (http://www.eurotopiamag.org). But this article was just a rough beginning, it remains open for you to develop further here!!! It is also a pilot experience applying the ESF open space philosophy to the collective construction of an E-yearbook on social movement at Europe” (http://www.euromovements.info/yearbook).
To establish a common frame of reference we asked people if they thought there actually was a “we” on the European scale? “ The `we’ should not be taken for granted warned an activist researcher from Athens. But there was significant agreement about a `we’, understood as diverse movements struggles, networks and political tendencies building common campaigns and opening new public space for discussion across Europe, as part of a struggle for another world. A conflictual `we’ and a multiple `we.’ Many responses stressed this diversity of the “we”. Some described the diversity of political tendencies. Others demonstrated a diversity of strategic vision. A particular divergence of emphasis was over the relationship between `the European’ and other local, national, regional and global dimensions. Some stressed the need to create a European common ground to fight the Commission together and denounced too much focus on national and local level while others argued for the need to create concrete connections with daily struggles at the local level. Further responses viewed a European `we’ as a transit for a global “we”- reminding us from Barcelona that the ESF was a response to a global call at the World Social Forum.
We then asked people to list what for them were the key moments contributing towards a “we”. One response offered a useful criteria for a key moment: “as one which succeeded in putting a changing movement into a relationship with movements elsewhere and starting a chain reaction”. The lists that people presented fitted this view. Although everyone emphasised some moments more than others – with a lot of agreement over Genoa 2001; Florence 2002 – a pattern emerges from these lists. First, there is the period between the end of 1980 and November 1999 which, looking back, is a period of build-up, when campaigns exposing the anti-democratic role of multilateral organizations from the World Bank through to the World Trade Organisation, and including the European Union, begin to appear. Counter summits in Berlin in 1988 and in Amsterdam in April 1997 were mentioned. The latter stimulated the first networking processes at the European level: most notably the European marches against unemployment and precarity.International networking with global objectives grew rapidly and ambitiously in the 1990’s with the emergence of organisations such as ATTAC, People Global Action and Via Campesina. It was with the mobilization against the WTO in Seattle in November 1999 that this emerging global movement finally broke the headlines and became public. In Europe as elsewhere, there was an extraordinary burst of transnational acitivism and enthusiasm in the following three years. Symbolic and catalytic of this was the speed with which Indymedias and other transnational networks took shape. 2002 saw the opening of a new phase with the first European Social Forum in Florence 2002 followed by Paris 2003 and London 2004. These, whatever their problems (see below) both facilitated a process of European mobilization and also moved the emphasis on to developing positive proposals and alternatives. Florence, it seems has a special place in the collective memory because of the numbers of people, the call for the international mobilisation against the war on February 15th and also because of the way it thwarted Berlusconi’s attempt to whip up fear and hostility. Florence also saw the launch of Babels the network of voluntary translators so vital to the sustainablity and depth of a truly transnational acitivism. The defeat of the Aznar government in 2004 marked the first sign of national repercussions of internationally inspired mobilisations – the fall of Berlusconi being the latest. “ We are now in a new phase when movements based in particuar territories see global transformation as starting from transformation of where they are”… Similar thinking is shared two activists in the more militant setions of the Italian trade union movements who see the campaign against Berlusconi’s `gran opera’ like the high speed train in the Sussa Valley (see page x) and the campaign of French students and other young people against precarious contracts as signs in the words of one of them “that the no global movement is putting down roots.” An regular ESF participant from Moscow referred to what he hoped would mark a key moment in the future, opening a new phase to the East: “ the most important test of the `we’ is G8 meeting in St. Petersburg in July 2006 when Second Russian Social Forum will coincide with the Counter-Summit.
What pan-European networks and groupings have been built?
Whatever else it has or hasn’t achieved the ESF has been, as one response put it: “a space for the interaction of networks in a process of continuous redefinition.” And it is networks that people have created; there has been little, if any building of more permanent structures on the model of Friends of the Earth-Europe or ATTAC-Europe. Autonomy and collaboration are the keywords of these fluid “structures.” One result is that, as a respondent from Paris observed: it is common for “individuals to participate in several groups and the same is true now for organizations that belong to different and several networks at the same time”. Responses highlighted the following networks: but there are hundreds more: The ‘No US Bases’ network which started in Paris in 2003 and now involves antiwar activists all over the globe; the Education Network co-ordinates activist in teaching unions across Europebut as yet no consistent student presence ; the Health Network whose union participation is not so strong but has greater participation of citizens associations and local communities; the Euromayday coordination of marches against precarity meets at the ESF through the autonomous spaces that have grown up with “one foot in and one foot out” of the Forums; the Charter of Principles for Another Europe (see pge.x); the European Local Social Forums network, European coordination for Palestine, the Pan-European network on housing rights, and the Red Frassanito against Borders in Europe; a network has emerged out of working groups connections of the European Preparatory Assembly: the Memory project and the Euromovements network around the systematisation of the knowledge produced in and around the Forum is one example. The relation of feminist organisations to the Forum is important and uneasy. One of the organisers of the Women’s Assembly in Athens reports that “the women’s networking has been strengthened to a great extend by the social forum, on the other hand many women are wary of the social forum because of a certain male domination. The World March of Women, a very broader network, carries out activities inside and outside the Forum. Its priorities are violence against women; unemployment, precarity at work and poverty”. The list keeps growing – and changing.
What impact have we had? People are cautious of claiming impacts too soon and the general feeling that is that, anyway, it is not enough! An optimistic conclusion and prediction comes from one of the organisers of the ESF’s information system: “the fact is that just as free-software is more creative and more reactive than Microsoft yet with far fewer resources, so we are more creative and reactive than the neoliberal elites”. The most visible impact, most people would agree, has been to undermine the legitimacy of the institutions of the much vaunted New World Order, to open up a public debate and force world leaders to hide behind high walls or in inaccessible places. “Before the birth of this movement, neoliberalism was opposed only to nationalism and protectionism, now the debate is on which kind of globalization we want (neoliberal vs. social and democratic globalization).” “Capitalism has lost its inevitability”. New ideas for alternatives are on the agenda too; the cross fertilisation of experiences and ideas has led to “the widening of the range democratic tools for managing common good and public decisions.” There have also been important impacts as far as defeating or weakening neo-liberal measures within the institutions. The success of the `European no’ in France is the most notable. It was a collaboration between the international, the national and the local. The weakening of the Bolkenstein Directive was another example, even though the objective was its abolition. Less known but strategically important, it is preventing the European Commission from introducing patents and regulating software. On Iraq we did not stop the war but “ we have punched big holes in the US’s ability to find allies” declared one response from Dublin, “and we have probably made the announced goal of an indefinitely long `war on terror’ going after one `rogue state’ after another, untenable” Other national repercussions of the new “organic internationalism” have already been mentioned: the defeat of Aznar and Berlusconi, the NO-TAV movement in Italy and the recent rejection of the precarious contracts in France. . Finally, several responses stressed the importance of the impact of the movements and networks on everyday life, producing a pervasive challenge to the model of constant consumption and sustaining ways of life to some extent independent and subversive of this model. One aspect of this, is cultural “home production” enabling people to produce and distribute music autonomously from the logic of private profit.
Where/how have we failed? Some people found the word failure inappropriate, either because: “ movements aim to move, and as we are still in movement, these are goals we are aiming for, not goals we have failed to reach” or because the achievement of very specific goals is too narrow a basis for assessing success or failure. Others had no hesitation in using the F word: a response from Moscow is stark: “We have failed. We fail to change the mainstream politics. We are still outsiders. This has some advantages (less corruption and integration into the system). But unless you brake into the system of mainstream politics or/and destroy it altogether strategic change is not possible.” Others referred to failings which have become clearer as we look back: “We failed in understanding the meaning of “war for civilisation” from inside, that is: we were fighting against Bush’s administration and the war – which is right – but we weren’t able to fight with the Iraqi people or really act with the Palestinian civil society (I know we did, but not enough).” Some identified fundamental challenges that we fell short of: “We did not succeed in creating a new visible cleavage within our national political systems – yet. But this is a long process which will depend on our future activities.” A response from Florence made a general point about the conditions for failure: “we pick up strength when we put forward proposals as well as protest. We have failed every time we don’t manage to put forward a positive proposal to match the ones we oppose.”
What continuing problems do we face? In the survey, we listed several that had been raised in discussions amongst partners of Eurotopia: `internal communication, mobility, accessibility – reaching beyond a movement/activist ghetto, language, democracy, inequlities within the movement’ Some response just said “all of these!”, “plus”, added a Russian response,“ the lack of resources (not just financial ones) in the East and the lack of understanding in the West.” Others spelt out the problems. There was considerable agreement about the problem of reaching out, connecting with `grassroots popular discontent’,going beyond `our people’. A response from Ireland argued activists out there who do not see themselves as involved in or allied with our movements – even when we share many of the same goals. A French respondent: ‘we failed to understand what was happening in the suburbs’. Some of these Another response was philosophical: “We are living through a change of paradigm at a big scale. We are in between. Much depends on our ability to project ourselves and ideas with the next generation where the change will be effective and will be done and recognized as such.” Another problem that recurred in many of the responses is, as a Greek put it: “ fighting among the political organisations and the way they pursue their own interest. Yet without their presence,” she argued, “the forum could hardly exist”. A problem raised by one of Eurotopia partners, Carta, is “news circulation [especially to and from some countries, like Greece or Portugal or Poland] and the lack of common political culture. Here we lag behind the EU: they have a common project for the continent, we don’t, yet. Others concurred with this in different ways: ` we have not achieved a genuine `europeanness’ there is some difference, perhaps disagreement about how people see `europeanness’. A Greek is emphatic: “my organization does not claim a another Europe is possible. Another world yes but we don’t want to work with a concept that adds more problems than it solves. We try not recognize ourselves as Europeans but as a hybrid. The old that comes from our nation struggles and the new that does not use national identities”…. While there is a tension about how we see our transnational identity, there are also problems in the relations between the international and local. An Italian working in the UK put it like this, echoing an earlier response about the importance of positive proposals: “there’s a very strange contradiction between our resistance to the international neoliberism project and failure to build the alternatives at local level connected to wider goals”. Several responses mentioned the problem of reproducing inequalities in terms of difficulties in access to our networks for the migrants, the homeless, the unemployed, for example. A problem raised by a trade union organiser very active in the ESF was that of “actively involving trade unionists in other social movements, profoundly changing trade union culture and opening identities but at the same time maintaining the elements of a trade union identity that are needed for a strong mobilisation or negotiation”
Where have we innovated to overcome these problems? Many shared the view that: “we had invented different ways to stay and act together, to establish relations, to find solutions by consensus, but still, we don’t have yet a real new language to communicate in a broader way. It is a work in progress but we have to go faster!” A response from an Argentinian activist and researcher summarised these ways of working together: “the `global culture’ of networking: the new ways to have meetings, to talk, to hear others, to translate, to organise horizontally. He pointed to the “technie activism, the incredible velocity and dynamism when the wave `is in our side who else also emphasises the new ways of combining research and activism,the new techno-political tools for communication, organisation and the systematisation of knowledge, at the same time reconceptualising the place of “intellectuals”. This question also drew out responses which offered an answer to the feeling that we had failed because we had not had an impact on mainstream politics and media. Several responses highlighted the development of alternative systems of information to the mainstream media.
How have we, ourselves – our ways of organising, our culture, our awareness, our experience and our horizons – changed? Not everyone felt we had changed: “There are still the same power struggles between different groups” was one response. Others were more optimistic: “we are more open, more tolerant and we are much more able to work together than before.” This sentiment is echoed many times. Some related it directly to new ways of organising: “through networks we’ve learnt to be together with people who are different. We’ve learnt to contaminate ourselves, learning from the cultures and practice and vision of the world of our travelling companions around the world” was one, almost lyrical response. This did n’t mean clear agreement on a single way forward. “we do not have a clear horizon any longer, but there is a lot of agreement that this horizon is to be built on the process of mobilization”. One response from an local activist Florentine who also helped to organise a European Social Forum talked of how “ for many people, everything has changed; we are now involved in local struggles with a constant awareness of global and local connections. After the defeats of 20th century we’ve come back to a radical perspective critical of capitalism. We’ve passed from the defensive on to the offensive.” On this optimistic note we come to the final question.
What challenges are posed for the future of the ESF or/and the confluence of social movements at Europe process? “Our basic problem is expanding,” declares a response from Greece, “expanding to the east of Europe, expanding in terms of social depth so that we are in contact with the most excluded, the most flexible precarious workers and the the migrants, which we are not at present. This is the future of the Forum.” Many would agree with this. A respondent involved in the first ESF draws out lessons for the future: “ We need to find a more `human rhythm’ for the meetings so that the main energies of social movements are not used up in constructing in forums in which we discuss struggle at the expense of carrying out the struggles. We should concentrate on a few campaigns”, he argues,” and work on them in each country at the same time. Everything could come together in big European day of mobilisation. We could rotate all our main themes: to demonstrate the concerted force of social Europe.” Writers from Carta present two challenges: “it has to be more daring: dropping the idea of the national state as a useful tool, and start thinking on a truly continental scale. When it comes to opposition to the worst aspect of the EU project, we tend to entrench ourselves inside the known and comfortable boundaries of national states, and national politics. We need to build a stronger continental consciousness, that’s one of the purposes of Eurotopia.. Others stressed internal difficulties which many felt needed to be addressed, including “resolving the relationship between libertarian approaches and the organised left, which has been disastrous from the split between the Genoa Social Forum and the black bloc right through to the London ESF. If we can find a way of dealing with this, we can turn our energies outwards. The aim of excluding the other group is not a realistic one, however complex the solutions needed to work together (or at least in parallel).”Another response stresses this issue of decision-making and communications from another angle: “We have still to face the problem of how to build permanent space of internal communication which works daily and interacts with local and national conflicts; the crucial need is for a clear decision making process which should be open to everybody and inclusive as much as possible”. There is some anxiety about the amount of energy we spend dealing with groups who operate as a block, other voices in the survey are calmly optimistic about it’s democratic capacity: “After the failure of the attempt during the London ESF by certain groups to control power inside our movement, we have little to fear on the question of democracy.” One illustration of the creative resilience he was maybe thinking of was the Galaxy of 7 spaces around the London ESF, combining common action with autonomy. Other voices are questioning: “Are we too far from the local?”, “Are we tired?”, “Is it too much for what?” The last word will be with a Greek: “We have “invented” the conscious process of European and international organising and creating strategies. We have not managed to carry out many common actions, because the Forum is diverse and each component thinks differently about the necessary actions. This is a hybrid political and social personality of the forum. And there are no easy answers. Certainly, though, we need a renewal to achieve more combative and creative interventions in society”. Perhaps Athens will help to achieve such a renewal.


Collective THANKS! To the people that answered the survey and contribute to the firts draft of this article: Alexandra Zavos (Greece), Leyla Dakhli (France), Alessandra Mecozzi (Italy), Sarah Bracke (Belgium), Saskia Saskia Poldervaart (Holland), Mario Pianta (Italy), Duccio Zola (Italia), Laurence Cox (Ireland), Laurence Jesover (France), Martin Bergel (Argentina), Massimo Andretta (Italy), Lorenzo Mosca (Italy), Ramon Fernandez Duran (Spanish State), Mariangela Casalucci (UK), Edward Egan (UK Manchester), Piero Bernochi (Italy),Thibault LE TEXIER (Paris), Marco Berlinguer (Rome),Tommaso Fattori (Florence), Panayotis Yulis (Greece), Enzo Carta (Italy), Ken Young (UK), Ala (Russia), Sissi (Athens), Richard Lee (UK), Ian Welshi (Cardiff), Trasi Wicknes, Ken Young (UK), Oscar Reyes (UK), Victor Guillamon (Barcelona), Hilary Wainwright (Manchester), Mayo Fuster i Morell (Barcelona) etc……. and THANKS to all of the online further contributors!!!
Four years on from the first European Social Forum, it is a useful moment collectively to reflect. Over 30 activists from across Europe have responded to a survey aimed to stimulate such shared thinking on common questions concerning building an “us”: key moments, < networkings, main impacts, failures, innovations, recurrent problems and challenges for the ESF. A firts draft of this article is being published at the Eurotopia magazine and spread at the ESF Athens (http://www.eurotopiamag.org). But this article was just a rough beginning, it remains open for you to develop further here!!! It is also a pilot experience applying the ESF open space philosophy to the collective construction of an E-yearbook on social movement at Europe” (http://www.euromovements.info/yearbook). To establish a common frame of reference we asked people if they thought there actually was a “we” on the European scale? “ The `we’ should not be taken for granted warned an activist researcher from Athens. But there was significant agreement about a `we’, understood as diverse movements struggles, networks and political tendencies building common campaigns and opening new public space for discussion across Europe, as part of a struggle for another world. A conflictual `we’ and a multiple `we.’ Many responses stressed this diversity of the “we”. Some described the diversity of political tendencies. Others demonstrated a diversity of strategic vision. A particular divergence of emphasis was over the relationship between `the European’ and other local, national, regional and global dimensions. Some stressed the need to create a European common ground to fight the Commission together and denounced too much focus on national and local level while others argued for the need to create concrete connections with daily struggles at the local level. Further responses viewed a European `we’ as a transit for a global “we”- reminding us from Barcelona that the ESF was a response to a global call at the World Social Forum. We then asked people to list what for them were the key moments contributing towards a “we”. One response offered a useful criteria for a key moment: “as one which succeeded in putting a changing movement into a relationship with movements elsewhere and starting a chain reaction”. The lists that people presented fitted this view. Although everyone emphasised some moments more than others - with a lot of agreement over Genoa 2001; Florence 2002 - a pattern emerges from these lists. First, there is the period between the end of 1980 and November 1999 which, looking back, is a period of build-up, when campaigns exposing the anti-democratic role of multilateral organizations from the World Bank through to the World Trade Organisation, and including the European Union, begin to appear. Counter summits in Berlin in 1988 and in Amsterdam in April 1997 were mentioned. The latter stimulated the first networking processes at the European level: most notably the European marches against unemployment and precarity.International networking with global objectives grew rapidly and ambitiously in the 1990’s with the emergence of organisations such as ATTAC, People Global Action and Via Campesina. It was with the mobilization against the WTO in Seattle in November 1999 that this emerging global movement finally broke the headlines and became public. In Europe as elsewhere, there was an extraordinary burst of transnational acitivism and enthusiasm in the following three years. Symbolic and catalytic of this was the speed with which Indymedias and other transnational networks took shape. 2002 saw the opening of a new phase with the first European Social Forum in Florence 2002 followed by Paris 2003 and London 2004. These, whatever their problems (see below) both facilitated a process of European mobilization and also moved the emphasis on to developing positive proposals and alternatives. Florence, it seems has a special place in the collective memory because of the numbers of people, the call for the international mobilisation against the war on February 15th and also because of the way it thwarted Berlusconi’s attempt to whip up fear and hostility. Florence also saw the launch of Babels the network of voluntary translators so vital to the sustainablity and depth of a truly transnational acitivism. The defeat of the Aznar government in 2004 marked the first sign of national repercussions of internationally inspired mobilisations – the fall of Berlusconi being the latest. “ We are now in a new phase when movements based in particuar territories see global transformation as starting from transformation of where they are”... Similar thinking is shared two activists in the more militant setions of the Italian trade union movements who see the campaign against Berlusconi’s `gran opera’ like the high speed train in the Sussa Valley (see page x) and the campaign of French students and other young people against precarious contracts as signs in the words of one of them “that the no global movement is putting down roots.” An regular ESF participant from Moscow referred to what he hoped would mark a key moment in the future, opening a new phase to the East: “ the most important test of the `we’ is G8 meeting in St. Petersburg in July 2006 when Second Russian Social Forum will coincide with the Counter-Summit. What pan-European networks and groupings have been built? Whatever else it has or hasn’t achieved the ESF has been, as one response put it: “a space for the interaction of networks in a process of continuous redefinition.” And it is networks that people have created; there has been little, if any building of more permanent structures on the model of Friends of the Earth-Europe or ATTAC-Europe. Autonomy and collaboration are the keywords of these fluid “structures.” One result is that, as a respondent from Paris observed: it is common for “individuals to participate in several groups and the same is true now for organizations that belong to different and several networks at the same time”. Responses highlighted the following networks: but there are hundreds more: The ‘No US Bases’ network which started in Paris in 2003 and now involves antiwar activists all over the globe; the Education Network co-ordinates activist in teaching unions across Europebut as yet no consistent student presence ; the Health Network whose union participation is not so strong but has greater participation of citizens associations and local communities; the Euromayday coordination of marches against precarity meets at the ESF through the autonomous spaces that have grown up with “one foot in and one foot out” of the Forums; the Charter of Principles for Another Europe (see pge.x); the European Local Social Forums network, European coordination for Palestine, the Pan-European network on housing rights, and the Red Frassanito against Borders in Europe; a network has emerged out of working groups connections of the European Preparatory Assembly: the Memory project and the Euromovements network around the systematisation of the knowledge produced in and around the Forum is one example. The relation of feminist organisations to the Forum is important and uneasy. One of the organisers of the Women’s Assembly in Athens reports that “the women’s networking has been strengthened to a great extend by the social forum, on the other hand many women are wary of the social forum because of a certain male domination. The World March of Women, a very broader network, carries out activities inside and outside the Forum. Its priorities are violence against women; unemployment, precarity at work and poverty”. The list keeps growing – and changing. What impact have we had? People are cautious of claiming impacts too soon and the general feeling that is that, anyway, it is not enough! An optimistic conclusion and prediction comes from one of the organisers of the ESF’s information system: “the fact is that just as free-software is more creative and more reactive than Microsoft yet with far fewer resources, so we are more creative and reactive than the neoliberal elites”. The most visible impact, most people would agree, has been to undermine the legitimacy of the institutions of the much vaunted New World Order, to open up a public debate and force world leaders to hide behind high walls or in inaccessible places. “Before the birth of this movement, neoliberalism was opposed only to nationalism and protectionism, now the debate is on which kind of globalization we want (neoliberal vs. social and democratic globalization).” “Capitalism has lost its inevitability”. New ideas for alternatives are on the agenda too; the cross fertilisation of experiences and ideas has led to “the widening of the range democratic tools for managing common good and public decisions.” There have also been important impacts as far as defeating or weakening neo-liberal measures within the institutions. The success of the `European no’ in France is the most notable. It was a collaboration between the international, the national and the local. The weakening of the Bolkenstein Directive was another example, even though the objective was its abolition. Less known but strategically important, it is preventing the European Commission from introducing patents and regulating software. On Iraq we did not stop the war but “ we have punched big holes in the US’s ability to find allies” declared one response from Dublin, “and we have probably made the announced goal of an indefinitely long `war on terror’ going after one `rogue state’ after another, untenable” Other national repercussions of the new “organic internationalism” have already been mentioned: the defeat of Aznar and Berlusconi, the NO-TAV movement in Italy and the recent rejection of the precarious contracts in France. . Finally, several responses stressed the importance of the impact of the movements and networks on everyday life, producing a pervasive challenge to the model of constant consumption and sustaining ways of life to some extent independent and subversive of this model. One aspect of this, is cultural “home production” enabling people to produce and distribute music autonomously from the logic of private profit.
Where/how have we failed? Some people found the word failure inappropriate, either because: “ movements aim to move, and as we are still in movement, these are goals we are aiming for, not goals we have failed to reach” or because the achievement of very specific goals is too narrow a basis for assessing success or failure. Others had no hesitation in using the F word: a response from Moscow is stark: “We have failed. We fail to change the mainstream politics. We are still outsiders. This has some advantages (less corruption and integration into the system). But unless you brake into the system of mainstream politics or/and destroy it altogether strategic change is not possible.” Others referred to failings which have become clearer as we look back: “We failed in understanding the meaning of “war for civilisation” from inside, that is: we were fighting against Bush’s administration and the war – which is right – but we weren’t able to fight with the Iraqi people or really act with the Palestinian civil society (I know we did, but not enough).” Some identified fundamental challenges that we fell short of: “We did not succeed in creating a new visible cleavage within our national political systems – yet. But this is a long process which will depend on our future activities.” A response from Florence made a general point about the conditions for failure: “we pick up strength when we put forward proposals as well as protest. We have failed every time we don’t manage to put forward a positive proposal to match the ones we oppose.”
What continuing problems do we face? In the survey, we listed several that had been raised in discussions amongst partners of Eurotopia: `internal communication, mobility, accessibility – reaching beyond a movement/activist ghetto, language, democracy, inequlities within the movement’ Some response just said “all of these!”, “plus”, added a Russian response,“ the lack of resources (not just financial ones) in the East and the lack of understanding in the West.” Others spelt out the problems. There was considerable agreement about the problem of reaching out, connecting with `grassroots popular discontent’,going beyond `our people’. A response from Ireland argued activists out there who do not see themselves as involved in or allied with our movements – even when we share many of the same goals. A French respondent: ‘we failed to understand what was happening in the suburbs’. Some of these Another response was philosophical: “We are living through a change of paradigm at a big scale. We are in between. Much depends on our ability to project ourselves and ideas with the next generation where the change will be effective and will be done and recognized as such.” Another problem that recurred in many of the responses is, as a Greek put it: “ fighting among the political organisations and the way they pursue their own interest. Yet without their presence,” she argued, “the forum could hardly exist”. A problem raised by one of Eurotopia partners, Carta, is “news circulation [especially to and from some countries, like Greece or Portugal or Poland] and the lack of common political culture. Here we lag behind the EU: they have a common project for the continent, we don’t, yet. Others concurred with this in different ways: ` we have not achieved a genuine `europeanness’ there is some difference, perhaps disagreement about how people see `europeanness’. A Greek is emphatic: “my organization does not claim a another Europe is possible. Another world yes but we don’t want to work with a concept that adds more problems than it solves. We try not recognize ourselves as Europeans but as a hybrid. The old that comes from our nation struggles and the new that does not use national identities”…. While there is a tension about how we see our transnational identity, there are also problems in the relations between the international and local. An Italian working in the UK put it like this, echoing an earlier response about the importance of positive proposals: “there’s a very strange contradiction between our resistance to the international neoliberism project and failure to build the alternatives at local level connected to wider goals”. Several responses mentioned the problem of reproducing inequalities in terms of difficulties in access to our networks for the migrants, the homeless, the unemployed, for example. A problem raised by a trade union organiser very active in the ESF was that of “actively involving trade unionists in other social movements, profoundly changing trade union culture and opening identities but at the same time maintaining the elements of a trade union identity that are needed for a strong mobilisation or negotiation”
Where have we innovated to overcome these problems? Many shared the view that: “we had invented different ways to stay and act together, to establish relations, to find solutions by consensus, but still, we don’t have yet a real new language to communicate in a broader way. It is a work in progress but we have to go faster!” A response from an Argentinian activist and researcher summarised these ways of working together: “the `global culture’ of networking: the new ways to have meetings, to talk, to hear others, to translate, to organise horizontally. He pointed to the “technie activism, the incredible velocity and dynamism when the wave `is in our side who else also emphasises the new ways of combining research and activism,the new techno-political tools for communication, organisation and the systematisation of knowledge, at the same time reconceptualising the place of “intellectuals”. This question also drew out responses which offered an answer to the feeling that we had failed because we had not had an impact on mainstream politics and media. Several responses highlighted the development of alternative systems of information to the mainstream media.
How have we, ourselves – our ways of organising, our culture, our awareness, our experience and our horizons – changed? Not everyone felt we had changed: “There are still the same power struggles between different groups” was one response. Others were more optimistic: “we are more open, more tolerant and we are much more able to work together than before.” This sentiment is echoed many times. Some related it directly to new ways of organising: “through networks we’ve learnt to be together with people who are different. We’ve learnt to contaminate ourselves, learning from the cultures and practice and vision of the world of our travelling companions around the world” was one, almost lyrical response. This did n’t mean clear agreement on a single way forward. “we do not have a clear horizon any longer, but there is a lot of agreement that this horizon is to be built on the process of mobilization”. One response from an local activist Florentine who also helped to organise a European Social Forum talked of how “ for many people, everything has changed; we are now involved in local struggles with a constant awareness of global and local connections. After the defeats of 20th century we’ve come back to a radical perspective critical of capitalism. We’ve passed from the defensive on to the offensive.” On this optimistic note we come to the final question.
What challenges are posed for the future of the ESF or/and the confluence of social movements at Europe process? “Our basic problem is expanding,” declares a response from Greece, “expanding to the east of Europe, expanding in terms of social depth so that we are in contact with the most excluded, the most flexible precarious workers and the the migrants, which we are not at present. This is the future of the Forum.” Many would agree with this. A respondent involved in the first ESF draws out lessons for the future: “ We need to find a more `human rhythm’ for the meetings so that the main energies of social movements are not used up in constructing in forums in which we discuss struggle at the expense of carrying out the struggles. We should concentrate on a few campaigns”, he argues,” and work on them in each country at the same time. Everything could come together in big European day of mobilisation. We could rotate all our main themes: to demonstrate the concerted force of social Europe.” Writers from Carta present two challenges: “it has to be more daring: dropping the idea of the national state as a useful tool, and start thinking on a truly continental scale. When it comes to opposition to the worst aspect of the EU project, we tend to entrench ourselves inside the known and comfortable boundaries of national states, and national politics. We need to build a stronger continental consciousness, that’s one of the purposes of Eurotopia.. Others stressed internal difficulties which many felt needed to be addressed, including “resolving the relationship between libertarian approaches and the organised left, which has been disastrous from the split between the Genoa Social Forum and the black bloc right through to the London ESF. If we can find a way of dealing with this, we can turn our energies outwards. The aim of excluding the other group is not a realistic one, however complex the solutions needed to work together (or at least in parallel).”Another response stresses this issue of decision-making and communications from another angle: “We have still to face the problem of how to build permanent space of internal communication which works daily and interacts with local and national conflicts; the crucial need is for a clear decision making process which should be open to everybody and inclusive as much as possible”. There is some anxiety about the amount of energy we spend dealing with groups who operate as a block, other voices in the survey are calmly optimistic about it’s democratic capacity: “After the failure of the attempt during the London ESF by certain groups to control power inside our movement, we have little to fear on the question of democracy.” One illustration of the creative resilience he was maybe thinking of was the Galaxy of 7 spaces around the London ESF, combining common action with autonomy. Other voices are questioning: “Are we too far from the local?”, “Are we tired?”, “Is it too much for what?” The last word will be with a Greek: “We have “invented” the conscious process of European and international organising and creating strategies. We have not managed to carry out many common actions, because the Forum is diverse and each component thinks differently about the necessary actions. This is a hybrid political and social personality of the forum. And there are no easy answers. Certainly, though, we need a renewal to achieve more combative and creative interventions in society”. Perhaps Athens will help to achieve such a renewal.


Collective THANKS! To the people that answered the survey and contribute to the firts draft of this article: Alexandra Zavos (Greece), Leyla Dakhli (France), Alessandra Mecozzi (Italy), Sarah Bracke (Belgium), Saskia Saskia Poldervaart (Holland), Mario Pianta (Italy), Duccio Zola (Italia), Laurence Cox (Ireland), Laurence Jesover (France), Martin Bergel (Argentina), Massimo Andretta (Italy), Lorenzo Mosca (Italy), Ramon Fernandez Duran (Spanish State), Mariangela Casalucci (UK), Edward Egan (UK Manchester), Piero Bernochi (Italy),Thibault LE TEXIER (Paris), Marco Berlinguer (Rome),Tommaso Fattori (Florence), Panayotis Yulis (Greece), Enzo Carta (Italy), Ken Young (UK), Ala (Russia), Sissi (Athens), Richard Lee (UK), Ian Welshi (Cardiff), Trasi Wicknes, Ken Young (UK), Oscar Reyes (UK), Victor Guillamon (Barcelona), Hilary Wainwright (Manchester), Mayo Fuster i Morell (Barcelona) etc……. and THANKS to all of the online further contributors!!!
Four years on from the first European Social Forum, rx it is a useful moment collectively to reflect. Over 30 activists from across Europe have responded to a survey aimed to stimulate such shared thinking on common questions concerning building an “us”: key moments, site networkings, main impacts, failures, innovations, recurrent problems and challenges for the ESF. A firts draft of this article is being published at the Eurotopia magazine and spread at the ESF Athens (http://www.eurotopiamag.org). But this article was just a rough beginning, it remains open for you to develop further here!!! It is also a pilot experience applying the ESF open space philosophy to the collective construction of an E-yearbook on social movement at Europe” (http://www.euromovements.info/yearbook).
To establish a common frame of reference we asked people if they thought there actually was a “we” on the European scale? “ The `we’ should not be taken for granted warned an activist researcher from Athens. But there was significant agreement about a `we’, understood as diverse movements struggles, networks and political tendencies building common campaigns and opening new public space for discussion across Europe, as part of a struggle for another world. A conflictual `we’ and a multiple `we.’ Many responses stressed this diversity of the “we”. Some described the diversity of political tendencies. Others demonstrated a diversity of strategic vision. A particular divergence of emphasis was over the relationship between `the European’ and other local, national, regional and global dimensions. Some stressed the need to create a European common ground to fight the Commission together and denounced too much focus on national and local level while others argued for the need to create concrete connections with daily struggles at the local level. Further responses viewed a European `we’ as a transit for a global “we”- reminding us from Barcelona that the ESF was a response to a global call at the World Social Forum.
We then asked people to list what for them were the key moments contributing towards a “we”. One response offered a useful criteria for a key moment: “as one which succeeded in putting a changing movement into a relationship with movements elsewhere and starting a chain reaction”. The lists that people presented fitted this view. Although everyone emphasised some moments more than others – with a lot of agreement over Genoa 2001; Florence 2002 – a pattern emerges from these lists. First, there is the period between the end of 1980 and November 1999 which, looking back, is a period of build-up, when campaigns exposing the anti-democratic role of multilateral organizations from the World Bank through to the World Trade Organisation, and including the European Union, begin to appear. Counter summits in Berlin in 1988 and in Amsterdam in April 1997 were mentioned. The latter stimulated the first networking processes at the European level: most notably the European marches against unemployment and precarity.International networking with global objectives grew rapidly and ambitiously in the 1990’s with the emergence of organisations such as ATTAC, People Global Action and Via Campesina. It was with the mobilization against the WTO in Seattle in November 1999 that this emerging global movement finally broke the headlines and became public. In Europe as elsewhere, there was an extraordinary burst of transnational acitivism and enthusiasm in the following three years. Symbolic and catalytic of this was the speed with which Indymedias and other transnational networks took shape. 2002 saw the opening of a new phase with the first European Social Forum in Florence 2002 followed by Paris 2003 and London 2004. These, whatever their problems (see below) both facilitated a process of European mobilization and also moved the emphasis on to developing positive proposals and alternatives. Florence, it seems has a special place in the collective memory because of the numbers of people, the call for the international mobilisation against the war on February 15th and also because of the way it thwarted Berlusconi’s attempt to whip up fear and hostility. Florence also saw the launch of Babels the network of voluntary translators so vital to the sustainablity and depth of a truly transnational acitivism. The defeat of the Aznar government in 2004 marked the first sign of national repercussions of internationally inspired mobilisations – the fall of Berlusconi being the latest. “ We are now in a new phase when movements based in particuar territories see global transformation as starting from transformation of where they are”… Similar thinking is shared two activists in the more militant setions of the Italian trade union movements who see the campaign against Berlusconi’s `gran opera’ like the high speed train in the Sussa Valley (see page x) and the campaign of French students and other young people against precarious contracts as signs in the words of one of them “that the no global movement is putting down roots.” An regular ESF participant from Moscow referred to what he hoped would mark a key moment in the future, opening a new phase to the East: “ the most important test of the `we’ is G8 meeting in St. Petersburg in July 2006 when Second Russian Social Forum will coincide with the Counter-Summit.
What pan-European networks and groupings have been built?
Whatever else it has or hasn’t achieved the ESF has been, as one response put it: “a space for the interaction of networks in a process of continuous redefinition.” And it is networks that people have created; there has been little, if any building of more permanent structures on the model of Friends of the Earth-Europe or ATTAC-Europe. Autonomy and collaboration are the keywords of these fluid “structures.” One result is that, as a respondent from Paris observed: it is common for “individuals to participate in several groups and the same is true now for organizations that belong to different and several networks at the same time”. Responses highlighted the following networks: but there are hundreds more: The ‘No US Bases’ network which started in Paris in 2003 and now involves antiwar activists all over the globe; the Education Network co-ordinates activist in teaching unions across Europebut as yet no consistent student presence ; the Health Network whose union participation is not so strong but has greater participation of citizens associations and local communities; the Euromayday coordination of marches against precarity meets at the ESF through the autonomous spaces that have grown up with “one foot in and one foot out” of the Forums; the Charter of Principles for Another Europe (see pge.x); the European Local Social Forums network, European coordination for Palestine, the Pan-European network on housing rights, and the Red Frassanito against Borders in Europe; a network has emerged out of working groups connections of the European Preparatory Assembly: the Memory project and the Euromovements network around the systematisation of the knowledge produced in and around the Forum is one example. The relation of feminist organisations to the Forum is important and uneasy. One of the organisers of the Women’s Assembly in Athens reports that “the women’s networking has been strengthened to a great extend by the social forum, on the other hand many women are wary of the social forum because of a certain male domination. The World March of Women, a very broader network, carries out activities inside and outside the Forum. Its priorities are violence against women; unemployment, precarity at work and poverty”. The list keeps growing – and changing.
What impact have we had? People are cautious of claiming impacts too soon and the general feeling that is that, anyway, it is not enough! An optimistic conclusion and prediction comes from one of the organisers of the ESF’s information system: “the fact is that just as free-software is more creative and more reactive than Microsoft yet with far fewer resources, so we are more creative and reactive than the neoliberal elites”. The most visible impact, most people would agree, has been to undermine the legitimacy of the institutions of the much vaunted New World Order, to open up a public debate and force world leaders to hide behind high walls or in inaccessible places. “Before the birth of this movement, neoliberalism was opposed only to nationalism and protectionism, now the debate is on which kind of globalization we want (neoliberal vs. social and democratic globalization).” “Capitalism has lost its inevitability”. New ideas for alternatives are on the agenda too; the cross fertilisation of experiences and ideas has led to “the widening of the range democratic tools for managing common good and public decisions.” There have also been important impacts as far as defeating or weakening neo-liberal measures within the institutions. The success of the `European no’ in France is the most notable. It was a collaboration between the international, the national and the local. The weakening of the Bolkenstein Directive was another example, even though the objective was its abolition. Less known but strategically important, it is preventing the European Commission from introducing patents and regulating software. On Iraq we did not stop the war but “ we have punched big holes in the US’s ability to find allies” declared one response from Dublin, “and we have probably made the announced goal of an indefinitely long `war on terror’ going after one `rogue state’ after another, untenable” Other national repercussions of the new “organic internationalism” have already been mentioned: the defeat of Aznar and Berlusconi, the NO-TAV movement in Italy and the recent rejection of the precarious contracts in France. . Finally, several responses stressed the importance of the impact of the movements and networks on everyday life, producing a pervasive challenge to the model of constant consumption and sustaining ways of life to some extent independent and subversive of this model. One aspect of this, is cultural “home production” enabling people to produce and distribute music autonomously from the logic of private profit.
Where/how have we failed? Some people found the word failure inappropriate, either because: “ movements aim to move, and as we are still in movement, these are goals we are aiming for, not goals we have failed to reach” or because the achievement of very specific goals is too narrow a basis for assessing success or failure. Others had no hesitation in using the F word: a response from Moscow is stark: “We have failed. We fail to change the mainstream politics. We are still outsiders. This has some advantages (less corruption and integration into the system). But unless you brake into the system of mainstream politics or/and destroy it altogether strategic change is not possible.” Others referred to failings which have become clearer as we look back: “We failed in understanding the meaning of “war for civilisation” from inside, that is: we were fighting against Bush’s administration and the war – which is right – but we weren’t able to fight with the Iraqi people or really act with the Palestinian civil society (I know we did, but not enough).” Some identified fundamental challenges that we fell short of: “We did not succeed in creating a new visible cleavage within our national political systems – yet. But this is a long process which will depend on our future activities.” A response from Florence made a general point about the conditions for failure: “we pick up strength when we put forward proposals as well as protest. We have failed every time we don’t manage to put forward a positive proposal to match the ones we oppose.”
What continuing problems do we face? In the survey, we listed several that had been raised in discussions amongst partners of Eurotopia: `internal communication, mobility, accessibility – reaching beyond a movement/activist ghetto, language, democracy, inequlities within the movement’ Some response just said “all of these!”, “plus”, added a Russian response,“ the lack of resources (not just financial ones) in the East and the lack of understanding in the West.” Others spelt out the problems. There was considerable agreement about the problem of reaching out, connecting with `grassroots popular discontent’,going beyond `our people’. A response from Ireland argued activists out there who do not see themselves as involved in or allied with our movements – even when we share many of the same goals. A French respondent: ‘we failed to understand what was happening in the suburbs’. Some of these Another response was philosophical: “We are living through a change of paradigm at a big scale. We are in between. Much depends on our ability to project ourselves and ideas with the next generation where the change will be effective and will be done and recognized as such.” Another problem that recurred in many of the responses is, as a Greek put it: “ fighting among the political organisations and the way they pursue their own interest. Yet without their presence,” she argued, “the forum could hardly exist”. A problem raised by one of Eurotopia partners, Carta, is “news circulation [especially to and from some countries, like Greece or Portugal or Poland] and the lack of common political culture. Here we lag behind the EU: they have a common project for the continent, we don’t, yet. Others concurred with this in different ways: ` we have not achieved a genuine `europeanness’ there is some difference, perhaps disagreement about how people see `europeanness’. A Greek is emphatic: “my organization does not claim a another Europe is possible. Another world yes but we don’t want to work with a concept that adds more problems than it solves. We try not recognize ourselves as Europeans but as a hybrid. The old that comes from our nation struggles and the new that does not use national identities”…. While there is a tension about how we see our transnational identity, there are also problems in the relations between the international and local. An Italian working in the UK put it like this, echoing an earlier response about the importance of positive proposals: “there’s a very strange contradiction between our resistance to the international neoliberism project and failure to build the alternatives at local level connected to wider goals”. Several responses mentioned the problem of reproducing inequalities in terms of difficulties in access to our networks for the migrants, the homeless, the unemployed, for example. A problem raised by a trade union organiser very active in the ESF was that of “actively involving trade unionists in other social movements, profoundly changing trade union culture and opening identities but at the same time maintaining the elements of a trade union identity that are needed for a strong mobilisation or negotiation”
Where have we innovated to overcome these problems? Many shared the view that: “we had invented different ways to stay and act together, to establish relations, to find solutions by consensus, but still, we don’t have yet a real new language to communicate in a broader way. It is a work in progress but we have to go faster!” A response from an Argentinian activist and researcher summarised these ways of working together: “the `global culture’ of networking: the new ways to have meetings, to talk, to hear others, to translate, to organise horizontally. He pointed to the “technie activism, the incredible velocity and dynamism when the wave `is in our side who else also emphasises the new ways of combining research and activism,the new techno-political tools for communication, organisation and the systematisation of knowledge, at the same time reconceptualising the place of “intellectuals”. This question also drew out responses which offered an answer to the feeling that we had failed because we had not had an impact on mainstream politics and media. Several responses highlighted the development of alternative systems of information to the mainstream media.
How have we, ourselves – our ways of organising, our culture, our awareness, our experience and our horizons – changed? Not everyone felt we had changed: “There are still the same power struggles between different groups” was one response. Others were more optimistic: “we are more open, more tolerant and we are much more able to work together than before.” This sentiment is echoed many times. Some related it directly to new ways of organising: “through networks we’ve learnt to be together with people who are different. We’ve learnt to contaminate ourselves, learning from the cultures and practice and vision of the world of our travelling companions around the world” was one, almost lyrical response. This did n’t mean clear agreement on a single way forward. “we do not have a clear horizon any longer, but there is a lot of agreement that this horizon is to be built on the process of mobilization”. One response from an local activist Florentine who also helped to organise a European Social Forum talked of how “ for many people, everything has changed; we are now involved in local struggles with a constant awareness of global and local connections. After the defeats of 20th century we’ve come back to a radical perspective critical of capitalism. We’ve passed from the defensive on to the offensive.” On this optimistic note we come to the final question.
What challenges are posed for the future of the ESF or/and the confluence of social movements at Europe process? “Our basic problem is expanding,” declares a response from Greece, “expanding to the east of Europe, expanding in terms of social depth so that we are in contact with the most excluded, the most flexible precarious workers and the the migrants, which we are not at present. This is the future of the Forum.” Many would agree with this. A respondent involved in the first ESF draws out lessons for the future: “ We need to find a more `human rhythm’ for the meetings so that the main energies of social movements are not used up in constructing in forums in which we discuss struggle at the expense of carrying out the struggles. We should concentrate on a few campaigns”, he argues,” and work on them in each country at the same time. Everything could come together in big European day of mobilisation. We could rotate all our main themes: to demonstrate the concerted force of social Europe.” Writers from Carta present two challenges: “it has to be more daring: dropping the idea of the national state as a useful tool, and start thinking on a truly continental scale. When it comes to opposition to the worst aspect of the EU project, we tend to entrench ourselves inside the known and comfortable boundaries of national states, and national politics. We need to build a stronger continental consciousness, that’s one of the purposes of Eurotopia.. Others stressed internal difficulties which many felt needed to be addressed, including “resolving the relationship between libertarian approaches and the organised left, which has been disastrous from the split between the Genoa Social Forum and the black bloc right through to the London ESF. If we can find a way of dealing with this, we can turn our energies outwards. The aim of excluding the other group is not a realistic one, however complex the solutions needed to work together (or at least in parallel).”Another response stresses this issue of decision-making and communications from another angle: “We have still to face the problem of how to build permanent space of internal communication which works daily and interacts with local and national conflicts; the crucial need is for a clear decision making process which should be open to everybody and inclusive as much as possible”. There is some anxiety about the amount of energy we spend dealing with groups who operate as a block, other voices in the survey are calmly optimistic about it’s democratic capacity: “After the failure of the attempt during the London ESF by certain groups to control power inside our movement, we have little to fear on the question of democracy.” One illustration of the creative resilience he was maybe thinking of was the Galaxy of 7 spaces around the London ESF, combining common action with autonomy. Other voices are questioning: “Are we too far from the local?”, “Are we tired?”, “Is it too much for what?” The last word will be with a Greek: “We have “invented” the conscious process of European and international organising and creating strategies. We have not managed to carry out many common actions, because the Forum is diverse and each component thinks differently about the necessary actions. This is a hybrid political and social personality of the forum. And there are no easy answers. Certainly, though, we need a renewal to achieve more combative and creative interventions in society”. Perhaps Athens will help to achieve such a renewal.


Collective THANKS! To the people that answered the survey and contribute to the firts draft of this article: Alexandra Zavos (Greece), Leyla Dakhli (France), Alessandra Mecozzi (Italy), Sarah Bracke (Belgium), Saskia Saskia Poldervaart (Holland), Mario Pianta (Italy), Duccio Zola (Italia), Laurence Cox (Ireland), Laurence Jesover (France), Martin Bergel (Argentina), Massimo Andretta (Italy), Lorenzo Mosca (Italy), Ramon Fernandez Duran (Spanish State), Mariangela Casalucci (UK), Edward Egan (UK Manchester), Piero Bernochi (Italy),Thibault LE TEXIER (Paris), Marco Berlinguer (Rome),Tommaso Fattori (Florence), Panayotis Yulis (Greece), Enzo Carta (Italy), Ken Young (UK), Ala (Russia), Sissi (Athens), Richard Lee (UK), Ian Welshi (Cardiff), Trasi Wicknes, Ken Young (UK), Oscar Reyes (UK), Victor Guillamon (Barcelona), Hilary Wainwright (Manchester), Mayo Fuster i Morell (Barcelona) etc……. and THANKS to all of the online further contributors!!!

Takis Fotopoulos

The slogan which dominated the proceedings of the recent annual meeting of the European Social Forum (ESF) in Athens “another, cheapest
social and peaceful, Europe is possible”, although being more concrete than the usual vague slogan of the World Social Forum (WSF)  ?“another world is possible” ? was no less utopian. The Declaration of the ESF stresses that:

We reject this neo-liberal Europe and any efforts to re-launch the rejected Constitutional Treaty; we are fighting for another Europe, a feminist, ecological, open Europe, a Europe of peace, social justice, sustainable life, food, sovereignty and solidarity, respecting minority rights and the self-determination of peoples.

However, this ‘other’ Europe is not, in fact, located beyond the present neoliberal Europe, despite the ESF’s statements to the contrary, given that nowhere in the text of its latest (or previous) Declarations is there any questioning of the European Union itself, which functions as the main instrument of capitalist neoliberal globalisation! It is merely the present neoliberal character of the EU which is criticised, presumably because it is considered to be some kind of dismissible defect and not a systemic characteristic of the internationalised market economy – of which the main expression in Europe is the European Union! No wonder that the luminaries of the reformist Left in the Forum (Tariq Ali, Alex Callinikos, Noam Chomsky and the rest) have never given an explanation as to why on earth no social democratic or centre-left government, from Mitterrand to Lafontaine, has ever succeeded in reversing the neoliberal course of privatisations, tax cuts (for the rich) and the consequent semi-privatisation and dilapidation of the welfare state, flexible labour markets and so on. Thus, neoliberalism and wars, for the ESF, are just the ‘bad policies’ of ‘sold out’ centre-left parties—despite the fact that several of those parties directly or indirectly support the Social Forum! 
The foundation stone of the ESF ideology is the myth that capitalist neoliberal globalisation is not a one-way street. Last year’s “Call to the social movements” of Porto Allegre explicitly criticised the ‘lie’ that neoliberal domination was unavoidable. But capitalist neoliberal globalization is, indeed, a one-way street in the system of open and deregulated markets for capital and commodities imposed by the dynamics of the market economy, which have led to today’s huge concentration of economic power. Correspondingly, the dynamics of representative ‘democracy’, since it was established about two centuries ago, have led to the present concentration of political power at the hands of the political elites and, mainly, at the hands of the transnational elite. Therefore, this year’s Declaration by the Athens conference of the ESF, as well as the previous Declarations of the ESF and the WSF, simply express the stand of the international reformist Left, namely of the Left which does not question the very system of the capitalist market economy and of representative ‘democracy’  ?despite the fact that it is the system itself which is the ultimate cause of neoliberalism, war and the broader multi-dimensional crisis. 
    
Furthermore, the ESF mythology is also contradictory since, on the one hand, it declares that “This year has been significant in that a number of social struggles and campaigns have been successful in stopping neoliberal projects such as the proposed European Constitution Treaty, the EU Ports Directive, and the CPE in France”, whereas, at the same time, it admits that “Although the EU is one of the richest areas of the world, tens of millions of people are living in poverty, either because of mass unemployment or the casualization of labour (as a result of) the policies of the EU based on the unending extension of competition within and outside Europe”. However, mass unemployment and casualization of labour are not God’s curse, but symptoms of capitalist neoliberal globalisation. Clearly, neoliberal globalisation did not require the ratification of a European Constitution since, as was stated elsewhere,  the EU constitution would not have affected the present character of the EU in the slightest, having been determined by the existing Treaties that established the EU in the first place (Single Act, Maastricht, Amsterdam etc). The only significance of the Constitution  ?had it not been rejected by the French people ? would have, therefore, been that it would have constitutionalised the existing neoliberal character of the EU in order to frustrate any future attempt to reverse it by “sett(ing) in stone the diktats of free trade and establish(ing) the rule of the market once and for all”, as an analyst put it.  It is, therefore, clear that the French “non” to the neoliberal constitution (of which a new version is already being discussed among the European elites!), as well as the frustrated attempt by the French elite to introduce the Anglo-American kind of legislation of ‘hire and fire at will’ for young people  ?or, ‘flexible’ labour relations, as neoliberals euphemistically call it ? (which is bound to be resurrected by the French elite some time in the future if it wants to survive international competition), do not constitute any indications that neoliberal globalisation is reversible within the present system, as the reformist Left deceitfully argues.  

Similarly, the Declaration states that “Opposition and resistance to the war and occupation of Iraq have exposed the British and US strategy as a failure. The world is facing the nightmare of a new war in Iran”. However, it is clear that the anti-war demonstrations of the supporters of the Social Forums are not, in the slightest, influencing the aggressive plans of the transnational elite and its European component against the Iranian regime. Even much bigger demonstrations by millions of people all over the world did not have any effect in stopping the barbarous invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention the attack against Yugoslavia which succeeded in dismantling the country, to the enthusiastic acclaim of several supporters of the Social Forums! Finally, as another article in this issue of the Newsletter shows, the conclusion of the ESF Declaration that “Important political changes have materialized in Latin American countries that have shaken the neo-liberal offensive, and in some of them popular mobilizations managed to reverse the privatization process”, is more a pious wish of the reformist Left than a real fact. 

It should also be mentioned that, if some older Forum demonstrations were successful in making the life of the elites more difficult at various G8 meetings etc, this was not due to the ‘happenings, cheerful festivals and peaceful marches of Forum supporters but, on the contrary, to the militant acts of the radical elements of the antiglobalisation movement (which were condemned by the supporters of the Forum!), that consequently attracted the wrath of the elites. In the Athens conference of the Forum, for instance, this led to the indictment of several activists on serious charges that may attract heavy penalties from the criminal courts.  

It is, therefore, clear that the aggregate of trends, Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) etc that forms the ESF and the WSF not only fails to constitute a ‘movement’, but it does not have any significant influence either in the struggle against capitalist neoliberal globalisation or even in the struggle to stop the criminal wars of the transnational elites. The very facts that the transnational elite not only ignored the anti-war activities of the Social Forum but is also planning a new attack against Iran, whilst the Zionist elite  ?tolerated, if not supported, by the EU ? sweeps on towards the creation of a Bantustan in Palestine, are characteristic indications. However, all this does not mean that the various libertarian anti-Forums offer a kind of way out. Although their main slogan in Athens, “No other world is possible as long as there is a state and capitalism” was, of course, correct, they do not manage to unite and agitate all those who clearly see the bankruptcy of the reformist Left. This is clearly because the demand for the replacement of the existing system is not enough by itself (particularly after the failure of ‘actually existing socialism’, which led many to believe that the existing system was non-replaceable), unless it is accompanied by a new political project and strategy that will lead to the development of a new mass anti-systemic movement for a genuine new world. Instead, the domination of postmodern trends in the libertarian movement (see, for example, the American Institute of Anarchist Studies), or of irrational or primitivist trends, makes sure that the libertarian movement also shares in the phasing out of the traditional antisystemic movements. 
 


 
The above text is based on a translation of an article which was first published in the fortnightly column of Takis Fotopoulos in the mass circulation Athens daily Eleftherotypia on13/5/2006

Civil Society and African Regional Integration

The inaugural meeting of the Nordic Africa Institute’s NGO and Civil Society research network took place at Aalborg University, website Denmark on November 6-7, there 2006. Hosted by the University’s Centre for Comparative Integration Studies & Research Centre for Development and International Relations, the conference was devoted to the analysis of civil society’s role in African integration.
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SAPA Submission 'on the Socio-Cultural Pillar and Institutional Mechanism' for ASEAN Charter (November 2006)

SAPA (Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy) Working Group on ASEAN (2006b) ‘Submission on the Socio-Cultural Pillar and Institutional Mechanism’ to the Eminent Persons Group on the ASEAN Charter, Quezon City, Philippines, 10 November

Last installment by the Working Group on ASEAN of the Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy (SAPA) to the Eminent Persons Group on the ASEAN Charter, following initial submissions on people’s security and the economic pillar during the EPG on the ASEAN Charter meetings in Ubud, Bali in April and Singapore in June.

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