The Ascent of Regional Integration

Andres Musacchio
Las teorías económicas tradicionales proponen un modelo de interpretación de los procesos de integración que permite analizarlos con un conjunto de herramientas standard, mediante las cuales se los reduce a un conjunto de elementos comunes a todos ellos. De allí que las diferencias entre las diversas experiencias quedan reducidas a una cuestión de grado, que alude a la profundidad que cada una de ellas ha alcanzado. Sin embargo, este tipo de análisis oculta las profundas diferencias en las estructuras económicas y sociales que los motivan.
A partir de una comparación sintética de los principales rasgos de los procesos de integración de América Latina y Europa, nuestro trabajo intenta perfilar algunos elementos básicos para el análisis de la problemática, que recuperen las nociones de tiempo y espacio y la analicen a la luz las estructuras económicas y sociales concretas. Se intenta mostrar que los aludidos procesos tienen una raíz diferente, no por tener un grado de profundidad distinto, sino por una inserción diferenciada en el recorte espacial de los procesos de acumulación, de los modos de regulación y de los vínculos trabados con las regiones que no forman parte directa del proceso.

Luk Van Langenhove – Isabella Torta – Ana-Cristina Costea

Globalization is one of the major phenomena challenging the existing world order based upon sovereign states. Societies are more and more confronted with global issues linked to international trade and development, ask environment and security concerns. One of the main questions is at which level of governance these issues should be tackled. On the one hand, discount states are still the main actors in the international arena but they are limited in the ways they can act to solve problems of trans-national nature. International treaties and
regulations both limit the sovereignty of states and regulate cross-border and inter-state processes. However, this only happens after states having accepted such regulations by ratifying treaties. So, the paradox is that the ultimate policy authority of tackling global issues and problems still belongs to States, while the origin of the problems and solutions is located at trans-national level. On the other hand, international organizations with global vocation, such as the United Nations and the Bretton Woods Institutions, are faced today with structural problems and reforming attempts, which sometimes weaken their prompt reaction.
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Published by the United Nations university

Declaración Final de la Cumbre Social del MERCOSUR

Brasilia – Brasil
1. Los representantes de los movimientos sociales y populares, seek ONG, nurse
y gobiernos de los cinco países miembros del MERCOSUR, sales integrantes del programa Somos MERCOSUR, nos reunimos en Brasilia los días 13 y 14 de diciembre de 2006, durante la I Cumbre Social del MERCOSUR, actividad convocada en conjunto por el Foro Consultivo Económico y Social, la Comisión Parlamentaria Conjunta y la Comisión de Representantes Permanentes del MERCOSUR. Ratificamos en esa oportunidad la Agenda Social surgida del I Encuentro por un MERCOSUR Productivo y Social, evento realizado en julio de 2006, en Córdoba, Argentina, durante la XXX Reunión de Jefes de Estado del MERCOSUR.
2. Nuestras conclusiones expresan el consenso logrado por las delegaciones presentes y apuntan al fortalecimiento de la agenda social y de la participación ciudadana en el MERCOSUR. Los movimientos sociales y populares deben participar e incidir efectivamente en el proceso decisorio del MERCOSUR. Por lo tanto, proponemos la continuidad de esta experiencia, de modo que las Cumbres Sociales sean, de ahora en adelante, apoyadas por las Presidencias Pro Tempore como actividades permanentes del movimiento social, siempre realizadas en el marco de las Reuniones Presidenciales del MERCOSUR. Asimismo, proponemos que los gobiernos apoyen y estimulen la participación de las organizaciones de la sociedad civil en todos los Sub-grupos de Trabajo y en las Reuniones Especializadas del MERCOSUR, y que sean creados mecanismos para incorporarlas como observadoras en el Grupo Mercado Común (GMC) y en el Consejo Mercado Común (CMC).
3. Coincidimos en que para avanzar hacia un MERCOSUR más efectivo y democrático es fundamental dar énfasis a las dimensiones política, social, laboral, ambiental y cultural da integración regional, complementando las dimensiones comercial y económica, superando el neoliberalismo. Convocamos los gobiernos a que implementen las directrices de la estrategia de desarrollo social integral y productivo surgidas de la XXX Reunión Presidencial del MERCOSUR.
4. Ratificamos, en el marco de la soberanía nacional, del multilateralismo y de la defensa de la paz, la importancia de fortalecer y ampliar el MERCOSUR, en articulación con los diversos procesos de integración que se están desarrollando en la región, particularmente en América del Sur. Destacamos la importancia de la Cumbre Social de los Pueblos, llevada a cabo recientemente en Cochabamba, Bolivia, durante la Cumbre de la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones. Destacamos los hechos positivos del MERCOSUR, y apelamos a la intensificación del diálogo y a la profundización de la dimensión política como camino mas adecuado para contribuir a la integración regional.
5. Saludamos la creación del Parlamento del MERCOSUR y asumimos el compromiso de colaborar con esa institución política con los indispensables aportes de los movimientos sociales, en la perspectiva de construcción de un MERCOSUR democrático y participativo. Destacamos la necesidad de que en el Parlamento del MERCOSUR haya una participación igualitaria de hombres y mujeres, y de que su agenda incluya, con el énfasis necesario, los temas de la igualdad de género, la igualdad étnico-racial y los derechos humanos.
6. Hacemos énfasis en que la ampliación de los horizontes de la participación ciudadana en la toma de decisiones sobre el destino del MERCOSUR debe guiar la reforma institucional y apuntar al fortalecimiento de las políticas públicas regionales de carácter social, imprescindibles para garantizar la sustentabilidad del desarrollo del bloque y asegurar que los beneficios provenientes de la integración sean distribuidos de forma ecuánime, traduciéndose en mejora de la calidad de vida de nuestras poblaciones.
7. En ese marco, destacamos la importancia del fortalecimiento de las políticas regionales de educación que respeten y valoren la diversidad cultural, racial, étnica y de género y que incorporen como fundamento a los derechos humanos como elemento indisociable de la creación de una ciudadanía regional. Defendemos, especialmente la adopción de políticas de educación para la integración, de inclusión educacional de segmentos vulnerables, de las políticas de financiamiento para la educación y de la valorización, en todos los niveles, de los profesionales de la educación. Saludamos la realización del III Foro Educacional del MERCOSUR, realizado en Belo Horizonte en noviembre de 2006, y apoyamos sus conclusiones. Convocamos los gobiernos para que creen las condiciones para el desarrollo de la enseñanza de las lenguas portuguesa e española, idiomas oficiales del bloque, en todos los países del MERCOSUR. Es igualmente imprescindible garantizar la utilización, preservación y trasmisión de las lenguas maternas de las poblaciones originales de la región, especialmente en las áreas fronterizas.
8. Entendemos que el desarrollo social y económico del MERCOSUR pasa por la elaboración, implementación, monitoreo y evaluación de políticas públicas de juventud que se articulen transversalmente con las políticas de educación, trabajo decente, cultura, salud, seguridad pública, intercambio de jóvenes, turismo, medio ambiente, deporte y ocio. Las políticas públicas de juventud deben ser tenidas como prioridad por todas las generaciones y deben, necesariamente, contemplar el estímulo a la participación de los jóvenes en las esferas de decisión del bloque.
9. Para construir un MERCOSUR verdaderamente democrático y participativo, consideramos fundamental formular una estrategia de cooperación específica para los ámbitos de la información, comunicación, cultura y conocimiento, contemplando acuerdos para potencializar las redes regionales de información y comunicación pública y ciudadanas, con un sentido de equidad y respeto a la libertad de prensa, con la finalidad de aportar a la formación de una ciudadanía y una identidad común sudamericana.
10. Resaltamos la centralidad de la agenda del empleo y del trabajo digno para la estrategia de desarrollo y crecimiento del MERCOSUR. De este modo, abogamos por el cumplimiento de la Declaración Sociolaboral del MERCOSUR y por garantías efectivas de funcionamiento del Observatorio del Mercado de Trabajo, de modo que sean ejecutadas las directrices de la Estrategia MERCOSUR de Crecimiento del Empleo. La articulación de las cadenas productivas, con el objetivo de generar condiciones para la creación de empresas y empleos dignos, y el respeto y cumplimiento de los derechos fundamentales de los trabajadores y trabajadoras, constituyen los parámetros esenciales de esa estrategia. Exhortamos a que los gobiernos agilicen y simplifiquen la reglamentación de la circulación de trabajadores y trabajadoras en el MERCOSUR; creen mecanismos de armonización entre los países que puedan garantizar los derechos de seguridad social de los trabajadores y trabajadoras; implementen el Plan Regional de Inspección del Trabajo; aceleren la armonización de las Normas sobre Higiene y Seguridad en el Trabajo y el Plan Regional para la Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil y la plena incorporación de personas discapacitadas. Defendemos el derecho a la organización sindical de acuerdo con las normas internacionales del trabajo.
11. Entendemos que la salud es un derecho universal, integral, que promueve igualdad e implica participación, para que se logre el desarrollo con justicia social. Políticas conjuntas de salud constituyen una excepcional herramienta para promover la calidad de vida de nuestros pueblos, pues aseguran su bienestar. Los progresos obtenidos tienen fundamental importancia para complementar políticas de salud. Sin embargo, es necesaria una mayor articulación entre los países involucrados en el proceso, a fin de optimizar resultados, revisar y actualizar temas prioritarios y de interés común. Debemos atendera las alteraciones y a los avances en los aspectos asistenciales, sanitarios, tecnológicos, ambientales y de recursos humanos en los países del MERCOSUR y estimular, junto a la sociedad civil, la gestión participativa y el control social. Consideramos también la importancia de la creación del Observatorio de la Participación Social y Gestión Participativa en el MERCOSUR, integrado a las demás redes de observatorios existentes, promoviendo la articulación con la Comisión Intergubernamental de Sistemas de Información y Comunicación en Salud. (CISICS).
12. La reforma agraria, el combate a la violencia en el campo, el fortalecimiento de la agricultura familiar, de la economía solidaria, de la seguridad alimentaria y del cooperativismo, son acciones indispensables para alcanzar un modelo de desarrollo sustentable. Estas acciones deben convertirse en prioridades de las políticas públicas de los países del bloque. Exhortamos a los Presidentes a que implementen las recomendaciones presentadas por la Reunión Especializada sobre Agricultura Familiar (REAF) y por la Reunión Especializada sobre Cooperativismo (RECM). Defendemos todavía, la implementación en el MERCOSUR de las recomendaciones de la Declaración Final de la Conferencia Internacional de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Alimentación y la Agricultura (FAO) sobre Reforma Agraria y Desarrollo Rural, aprobada en Porto Alegre, en Marzo de 2006.
13. Nos comprometemos con la promoción y la protección de los derechos humanos en el Mercosur y Estados asociados, saludando la creación del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Educación y Cultura en Derechos Humanos y enfatizando la importancia de garantizar el derecho a la verdad y a la memoria, reconocer las vulnerabilidades de los inmigrantes y refugiados en los países del bloque, establecer estrategias de cooperación contra la violencia y discriminación sexual, racial y étnica, la prostitución infantil y el tráfico de seres humanos y de elaborar una declaración de compromiso común para la promoción y la protección de los derechos del niño y del adolescente. Se debe dar especial atención a los derechos de los pueblos originarios, particularmente en las regiones de frontera.
14. Damos prioridad a la formulación de un marco jurídico de defensa de los derechos de los inmigrantes en los países del MERCOSUR y Estados Asociados, reconociendo el derecho humano a migrar como derecho a la libre circulación y fijación de residencia garantizado en convenciones, pactos y declaraciones internacionales, enfatizando la necesidad de garantizar la seguridad humana de todos los inmigrantes independientemente de su status migratorio, denunciando y cohibiendo las violaciones de derechos humanos en las fronteras y de la conducción inhumana de las deportaciones y expulsiones colectivas de extranjeros.
15. Destacamos la necesidad de una estrategia de desarrollo regional urbano, integrado y sustentable para el conjunto de ciudades. Para ello proponemos el reconocimiento, por parte de los gobiernos de los países del MERCOSUR, del derecho a la ciudad como un derecho humano fundamental. Los gobiernos deben garantizar las inversiones necesarias para el desarrollo de políticas urbanas que asuman el problema de la vivienda adecuada, del saneamiento ambiental y del acceso al transporte público de calidad, suministrando, al mismo tiempo, las condiciones para la creación de espacios de participación en la gestión de las ciudades. En esta misma línea, reafirmamos la necesidad de fortalecer los mecanismos de participación de los gobiernos locales y regionales en el MERCOSUR y reclamamos la instalación inmediata del Foro Consultivo de Municipios, Estados Federados, Provincias y Departamentos.
16. Convocamos nuestros gobiernos a que ratifiquen la Convención de las Naciones Unidas para la Protección de los Derechos de los Trabajadores Migratorios y de sus Familias y que promuevan la respectiva normativa del Mercosul con miras a la convergencia de los marcos jurídicos de esos derechos en nuestros países, respetando los derechos humanos de los inmigrantes independientemente de su status migratorio y multiplicando esfuerzos para combatir el tráfico de personas y la explotación sexual. Destacamos que las mujeres y los niños son más vulnerables y están más expuestos a las violaciones de esos derechos.
17. Convocamos a los gobiernos de los países del bloque a que destinen los recursos políticos y económicos necesarios para la eliminación de todas las formas de violencia contra la mujer. Se debe priorizar asimismo la adopción de políticas públicas de atención a la salud reproductiva y sexual. Subrayamos la necesidad de que los gobiernos, en articulación con movimientos y organizaciones sociales, lleven a cabo los compromisos asumidos en la IV Conferencia Mundial sobre la Mujer, en la Convención sobre la Eliminación de Todas las Formas de Discriminación contra la Mujer (Convención CEDAW) y en la Convención Interamericana para Prevenir, Punir y Erradicar la Violencia contra la Mujer (Convención de Belém do Pará) así como las recomendaciones de la Reunión Especializada de la Mujer (REM).
18. Destacamos que el MERCOSUR debe contemplar el fortalecimiento y la ampliación de las dimensiones productiva y social de la integración. El cooperativismo y la economía solidaria deben ser apoyados por políticas regionales como instrumentos eficaces para la construcción de una sociedad más justa, para la generación de trabajo digno e ingresos, y para la inclusión de las poblaciones excluidas. Apoyamos la elaboración de políticas regionales de promoción a la pequeña y mediana empresa, el incentivo tecnológico y la producción de energías renovables con criterios de sustentabilidad socioambiental. También resaltamos la necesidad de que se establezcan acciones y una legislación común de estímulo al cooperativismo, a la capacitación, a la formación y al intercambio entre esos sectores, estimulando la estructuración de las cadenas productivas.
19. Propugnamos la promoción de inversiones para combatir las asimetrías entre los países y a la interna de los países del MERCOSUR, permitiendo una perspectiva conjunta de desarrollo socioeconómico, cohesión social, complementariedad, sinergias, convergencia estructural y fortalecimiento del proceso de integración. En este sentido destacamos la importancia de consolidar el Fondo para la Convergencia Estructural del MERCOSUR como un instrumento de apoyo a las economías menores y destino de recursos para superar las asimetrías regionales. Entendemos que los recursos destinados al FOCEM deben ser ampliados y su accionar monitoreado por la sociedad civil. Además, es fundamental articular los mecanismos de financiamiento existentes a través de la construcción de un organismo regional de financiamiento al desarrollo en el MERCOSUR. Destacamos la importancia de armar una infraestructura correspondiente a los objetivos definidos.
20. Observamos que los elementos que definen un proyecto de desarrollo sustentable para la región deben regular la política comercial del MERCOSUR con terceros países, incentivando las cadenas productivas como propulsoras del desarrollo regional y aprovechando al máximo las complementariedades existentes entre las diversas economías nacionales. El desarrollo regional se debe articular en torno a un poderoso mercado regional de consumo responsable, primando sobre otras propuestas de integración comercial que apuntan primordialmente a la exportación a terceros. La garantía de los derechos humanos, económicos, sociales, culturales y ambientales debe prevalecer sobre eventuales tratados de comercio que puedan llegar a ser firmados por el bloque. Las negociaciones para estos tratados con países y regiones extrabloque deben ser subordinadas a los objetivos regionales de desarrollo.
21. Damos énfasis a la necesidad de articulación entre movimientos y organizaciones sociales y populares y gobiernos para garantizar la continuidad, en el MERCOSUR y Estados asociados, de las recomendaciones de la Conferencia Regional de las Americas sobre los avances y desafíos en el Plan de Acción contra el Racismo, Discriminación Racial, Xenofobia y Formas Conexas de Intolerancia. Se debe estimular el intercambio de experiencias y mejores prácticas para la promoción de la igualdad racial en el bloque. Convocamos a los gobiernos a que implementen el Plan de Acción de Durban y establezcan nuevos mecanismos de evaluación de progresos y desafíos, en el combate al racismo y todas las formas de discriminación en los países del MERCOSUR.
22. Consideramos prioritarias las acciones de integración cultural, con vistas a la construcción de una identidad regional que tenga en cuenta la diversidad de la región y el papel central de la cultura para su desarrollo. Exhortamos a que nuestros gobiernos y parlamentos ratifiquen la Convención de la UNESCO sobre la Protección y Promoción de la Diversidad de las Expresiones Culturales, destacando el acceso a la cultura como camino hacia la inclusión social y la construcción de la ciudadanía. Defendemos la ampliación de recursos para la cultura y la intensificación del intercambio artístico de los distintos lenguajes: teatro, música, danza, artes circenses, artes visuales, audiovisual, literatura, entre otras, así como la articulación de puntos de cultura y casas de cultura y de las políticas de patrimonio, cultura digital y libro y lectura. Destacamos la necesidad de integrar políticas de cultura, educación, juventud y comunicación, en una plataforma de desarrollo sociocultural del MERCOSUR.
23. Defendemos los recursos naturales y el acceso al agua en toda la región. El agua no es mercancía, y rechazamos cualquier intento de privatización de ese derecho esencial a todas las formas de vida. Con respecto al Acuífero Guaraní, proponemos una regulación regional, no subordinada a las instituciones financieras internacionales, del uso de ese recurso regional, su protección, y garantía de existencia para las generaciones futuras. Existe necesidad de implementar y fortalecer la participación social en la gestión integrada de las cuencas hidrográficas y transfronterizas. Proponemos que se realice una conferencia sobre medio ambiente y recursos naturales en el MERCOSUR. El desarrollo sustentable, la defensa de la biodiversidad, la ratificación de los tratados internacionales son fundamentos para la construcción de un MERCOSUR socioambiental.

ASEAN for the People: Statement of the 2nd ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC II)

10-12 December 2006 – Cebu City, Philippines

Summary

We are more than 300 participants from countries in the ASEAN region, search together with guests and partners from all over the world, who gathered for the 2nd ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC II) organized by the Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy (SAPA) Working Group on ASEAN and its partners, in Cebu City, Philippines on 10-12 December 2006. We come from various community-based organizations, civil society groups, NGOs, social movements, people’s organizations and trade unions that work on critical social, political and economic issues in the ASEAN region. Together, we deliberated on the theme “Creating a Caring and Sharing Community – Enhancing People’s Participation in Governance and Development”.

The ACSC II consolidates our inputs and proposals to the ASEAN processes including the ASEAN Charter process. Equally important, the ACSC II is an expression of our collective aspirations and commitment for the ASEAN region.

REGIONAL TRENDS AND CHALLENGES

Our work and experience in the region that was consolidated during the ACSC II identifies the following key issues that require the immediate attention of ASEAN Members individually as well as ASEAN regionally:

– Contraction of Democracies and a Volatile Peace. We call on ASEAN to actively enrich and deepen democracy by critically examining its cultural base by extending citizenship within the region and guaranteeing free and honest elections, participatory governance, basic liberties, and a free and plural media. We also challenge the ASEAN principle of non-intervention to address the human rights concerns and conflict prevention mechanisms that prioritize dialogue and cooperation especially in the case of Burma.

– Human Rights: Violation and Impunity without Redress. We call on ASEAN to put an immediate remedy to the grave human rights situation in the region by creating a regional human rights body, and by promoting communication rights of peoples and communities through ensuring citizens’ access to information and upholding freedom of expression.

– Economic Integration: Negative Impacts of Integration and Neo-liberal Globalization. The ASEAN Members should protect essential public services, and create mechanisms towards cooperation in regional public goods and services. We call on ASEAN to explicitly ratify, fulfill and promote the ILO conventions on core labor standards. ASEAN should adopt a Social Charter enshrining workers’ rights, and institutionalizing participation of workers in mandatory social dialogue and consultation.

– Population Movements: Displacement, Forcible Migration and Migration Insecurity. We call on ASEAN to uphold the principle of equal treatment, and to create an instrument for the protection and promotion of the rights of all migrant workers. We emphasize the need to establish a regional mechanism to protect the healthcare of migrants, and to move away from mandatory towards voluntary health testing. We advocate for the mutual recognition of skills of workers within the ASEAN region.

– Sustainable Development Concerns and Increasing Health and Environmental Volatility. The diverse natural and ecological resources of the ASEAN region are being threatened that results in environmental insecurity, displacement from places of livelihood and health concerns. We challenge ASEAN to clarify environmental bottom-lines, and identify and protect no-go zones/options in highly sensitive sustainable development areas in the region. ASEAN should do this in consultation with all sectors but with clear preference for the interests of the poor.

– Prevailing Asian Patriarchies: Gender Inequalities. It is imperative that the level of awareness and understanding of women’s issues through consciousness raising and capacity building is increased within ASEAN. We challenge ASEAN to achieve and surpass the universally agreed minimum targets on women’s participation in decision making and leadership. The planned Commission on Women and Children should be used as a platform for discussing socio-cultural issues as well as for expressing women’s rights and views.

– Exclusion and Insecurity of Children and Youth. A growing number of children and youth face precarious conditions in ASEAN. We call on ASEAN member states to recognize the youth as a specific majority group that needs special and urgent attention. The ASEAN should invest in youth education and resources, job opportunities and capacity building, and should respect the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and ratify the optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflicts.

– ASEAN Economic Community: Limited Vision of Regionalism. The transformation of the region into a single community should go beyond economic integration and must be people-centered, humane and rights-based at all times, and must reinforce environmental sustainability. We call for an alternative regionalism that is anchored on people’s participation at all times and that truly represents a community of people of diversity, with different political and economic systems and historical backgrounds. This should be bound by an undivided commitment to the universal principles of human rights, justice, peace, democracy, tolerance, and solidarity.

CIVIL SOCIETY COMMITMENT AND CALL TO ACTION

We, participants of the ACSC II, commit to work together to build a people-centered and people-driven community in the ASEAN region based on the principles of human rights and dignity, human security, a just and lasting peace, participation and social dialogue, social and economic justice, cultural and ecological diversity, environmentally sustainable development, and gender equity.

We resolve to continue to engage with and challenge the ASEAN at all levels, making use of all available spaces and opportunities to defend and advance the rights and interests of the marginalized and excluded people in the region. We further resolve to strengthen our ranks and expand our initiative in solidarity and movement building, challenge ourselves to be more inclusive and participatory, and respond to issues of urgent concern in a timely manner. We commit to build an ASEAN People’s Charter that reflects the rights, interests and aspirations of all peoples in the ASEAN region.

We demand that the ASEAN create effective mechanisms for transparency, accountability and people’s participation. In particular, we demand for automatic civil society seats in all decision making processes of the ASEAN.

We demand that ASEAN includes automatic review clauses in all its initiatives and agreements internally and with partners outside of the region.

We demand that the ASEAN guarantee the full participation of civil society in the ASEAN Charter drafting process, and that the final draft be subject to national referendum.

We resolve to meet again at the ACSC III in Singapore in 2007 in conjunction with the 13th ASEAN Summit, armed with new challenge, renewed energy and greater determination to advance the kind of regionalism we aspire for.

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Revisiting Southeast Asian Regionalism

Focus on the Global South Dossier (December 2006)


Contents

Building Community: The Search for Alternative Regionalism in Southeast Asia 1
Jenina Joy Chavez
Neo-liberalism and the Working People of Southeast Asia
Rene Ofreneo
China and Southeast Asia: Emerging Problems in an Economic Relation
Walden Bello
Welcome China!: China’s Rise and its Increasing Role in ASEAN
Dorothy Guerrero
Development and Plunder in the Mekong Region
Shalmali Guttal
Raising a Different Flag: Struggles for Self-Determination in Southeast Asia
Herbert Docena
Democracy and Human Rights in ASEAN
Rashid Kang
The Role of Non-State Actors in ASEAN
Alexander Chandra
Engaging the ASEAN Charter Process: Submissions to the Eminent Persons Group on the ASEAN Charter
Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy
Submission on the Security Pillar
Submission on the Economic Pillar
Submission on the Socio-Cultural Pillar
ANNEXES: Understanding ASEAN
Julie de los Reyes and Mary Ann Manahan


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Trends of Regionalism in Asia and Their Implications on China and the United States

Prof. Jiemian Yang, malady Vice President of Shanghai Institute for International Studies

Generally speaking, regionalism plays a supplemental and positive role to the on-going globalization. Regionalism in Asia has some special features compared with other regions such as Europe, Latin America and Africa. In the coming decades, regionalism in Asia tends to grow in Asia, which has caught attentions of the outside world, the United States in particular. Regionalism provides a new platform for the interaction between China and the United States. The two countries are feeling their ways in the course of developments, which could be constructive by optimistic scenarios and destructive by pessimistic scenarios. What China and the United States need is to make their interaction another positive dimension in the Sino-U.S. relations.
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Integración y energía

Pedro da Motta Veiga, visit Sandra P. Ríos
América do Sul é palco, nos últimos anos, de um processo de revisão crítica das políticas econômicas adotadas na região na década de 90. Isso tem implicações para as iniciativas de integração econômica que proliferaram, naquele período, no marco do que se denominou o “regionalismo aberto”.
Emerge hoje, através de projetos bastante heterogêneos como a
CSAN e a ALBA, um regionalismo pós-liberal na região. Característica essencial dessa modalidade de regionalismo é o fato de estar vinculado a uma crítica ampla ao paradigma liberal que inspirava as iniciativas de integração intra-regionais durante os anos 90, mas também grande parte da agenda doméstica de política econômica nos países da região.
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Ricardo Ángel Cardona

EL DIARIO, Bolivia – El Tratado de Comercio de los Pueblos firmado recientemente entre Bolivia, Venezuela y Cuba ayudará a Bolivia a desarrollarse más que cualquier otro instrumento de integración que podría complementar esta iniciativa, como la firma de otros TCP con todos y cada uno de los países de América Latina y del Caribe.

Se trata de un tratado que ya funciona entre Venezuela y Cuba con intercambios mayores de ida y vuelta mayores a los 4 mil millones de dólares, pero eso solamente es el inicio de un comercio que se muestra ascendente y lleno de posibilidades adicionales. Nos referimos al campo de la energía, telecomunicaciones, biotecnología, ingeniería genética, biodiversidad, construcciones civiles, construcciones de barcos, seguridad alimentaria, construcción de maquinarias, metalurgia, siderurgia, petroquímica, textiles, producción de quinua, créditos preferenciales para las PYMES, etc.

El Gobierno actual por lo tanto ha abierto a los bolivianos las puertas para la integración, la investigación científica y tecnológica, la colaboración entre pueblos y potencialmente entre científicos también, pero especialmente ha devuelto la dignidad nacional y social y las esperanzas a los bolivianos.

Ni siquiera la integración andina que viene desde 1969 había logrado darle tanta perspectiva a Bolivia, dignidad frente a los dictados del imperio y una agenda abierta a sugerencias provenientes de universidades, tecnológicos, academia de ciencias, fuerzas armadas, sindicatos, constituyentes, juntas vecinales, ONGs y también de las iglesias de origen europeo o nativas.

Venezuela tiene en curso una revolución bolivariana y socialista que puede aportar a Bolivia los créditos e inversiones necesarios para su despegue. Se habla de la compra masiva de quinua, amaranto, maíz, soya, muebles, metales y minerales, textiles, carne vacuna y de llama, lanas, manufacturas y artesanías. Por su parte Cuba pondrá su potencial científico y tecnológico para nivelar a Bolivia y sus institutos de investigación, formación de recursos humanos y en la incubación de empresas pequeñas y medianas.

La lista continua con el funcionamiento de PETROSUR y la construcción del Gasoducto del Sur con los países del MERCOSUR, hecho que elevará el precio de venta del gas boliviano a los países vecinos a un precio mínimo de 8 dólares el MPC, frente a los 3,40 que se paga a Bolivia actualmente.

La razón de esta elevación es el ascenso del precio del petróleo, el uso masivo del gas en América Latina y la necesidad de pagar la inversión de dicho gasoducto desde Venezuela hasta la Argentina que ronda los 25 mil millones de dólares.

Este gasoducto sudamericano no se puede construir si el gas no se vende al menos a 8 dólares el MPC, dado que a nivel internacional está en 12 dólares el MPC. Brasil deberá pagar precios internacionales, pero además tendrá en compensación la ventaja de una provisión segura los próximos 100 años. Brasil y Argentina obligados por las circunstancias deberán comprar también a Bolivia valor agregado como electricidad, diésel, DME, olefinas, metanol, fertilizantes, sal mineralizada y aceros especiales de alto costo y calidad.

Las condiciones que el Gobierno nacional ha puesto para que Bolivia sea parte del gasoducto al Sur son de que sea un acuerdo entre Estados y empresas estatales, de que se industrialice Bolivia con financiamiento de Venezuela y países del MERCOSUR y de que se eleve el precio de compra tanto del gas natural como de sus derivados manufacturados. Esa es la base para que Bolivia se convierta en un país altamente industrializado como ya lo son los países del MERCOSUR, Venezuela y Cuba. El objetivo final es que América Latina supere ampliamente en industrialización, ciencia y tecnología a Europa, EEUU, Canadá y Japón.
Seguramente Bolivia deberá negociar otros TCP con la hermana Perú después del alejamiento del presidente neoliberal Alejandro Toledo, y participar con lo que queda de la CAN para negociar un TLC con la Comunidad Europea, China y la India.

A esta altura la CE se da cuenta que Bolivia ya no es un país para dar limosnas sino para realizar empresas mixtas de base tecnológica y competitiva. Ya no es más Bolivia la vaca lechera de los europeos, acostumbrados a esa forma de actuar con los más de 40 trillones de euros que se llevaron en tres siglos de explotación comercial y humana del Cerro Rico de Potosí.

Bolivia debería exigir la devolución a la CE de al menos un 10% de esa fortuna que sirvió en su momento para capitalizar Europa y en especial a España e Inglaterra vía la piratería.
Inglaterra usó mucho más inteligentemente la plata de Potosí e hizo la primera revolución industrial del mundo occidental en 1745. Por algo Inglaterra tenía una academia de ciencias conducida por Isaac Newton y España no. El Sur de Europa y Roma especialmente condenaban a Copérnico, Giordano Bruno y Galileo. Inglaterra robaba para la ciencia en alguna medida y España para el comercio y el bienestar de la casa real solamente. El pueblo español siempre fue pobre y el libro Novelas Ejemplares de Miguel Cervantes y Saavedra así lo muestra y atestigua.

Finalmente creemos que el Gobierno nacional debe difundir las perspectivas y logros del TCP en sindicatos, comunidades campesinas y juntas vecinales. También entre los empresarios nacionales que pese a todo no conciben un nuevo mundo y una nueva civilización sin los norteamericanos. Es hora de que comprendamos todos los bolivianos y latinoamericanos que ese mundo es necesario y posible.

Los hambrientos y miserables, nuestros hermanos indígenas y no indígenas, obreros y campesinos, estarán agradecidos a esta forma inteligente y digna de encarar el futuro de Bolivia.

rancardonay@yahoo.es

Fuente: El Diario, Bolivia

Ricardo Ángel Cardona
EL DIARIO, sickness Bolivia – El Tratado de Comercio de los Pueblos firmado recientemente entre Bolivia, capsule Venezuela y Cuba ayudará a Bolivia a desarrollarse más que cualquier otro instrumento de integración que podría complementar esta iniciativa, como la firma de otros TCP con todos y cada uno de los países de América Latina y del Caribe.
Se trata de un tratado que ya funciona entre Venezuela y Cuba con intercambios mayores de ida y vuelta mayores a los 4 mil millones de dólares, pero eso solamente es el inicio de un comercio que se muestra ascendente y lleno de posibilidades adicionales. Nos referimos al campo de la energía, telecomunicaciones, biotecnología, ingeniería genética, biodiversidad, construcciones civiles, construcciones de barcos, seguridad alimentaria, construcción de maquinarias, metalurgia, siderurgia, petroquímica, textiles, producción de quinua, créditos preferenciales para las PYMES, etc.
El Gobierno actual por lo tanto ha abierto a los bolivianos las puertas para la integración, la investigación científica y tecnológica, la colaboración entre pueblos y potencialmente entre científicos también, pero especialmente ha devuelto la dignidad nacional y social y las esperanzas a los bolivianos.
Ni siquiera la integración andina que viene desde 1969 había logrado darle tanta perspectiva a Bolivia, dignidad frente a los dictados del imperio y una agenda abierta a sugerencias provenientes de universidades, tecnológicos, academia de ciencias, fuerzas armadas, sindicatos, constituyentes, juntas vecinales, ONGs y también de las iglesias de origen europeo o nativas.
Venezuela tiene en curso una revolución bolivariana y socialista que puede aportar a Bolivia los créditos e inversiones necesarios para su despegue. Se habla de la compra masiva de quinua, amaranto, maíz, soya, muebles, metales y minerales, textiles, carne vacuna y de llama, lanas, manufacturas y artesanías. Por su parte Cuba pondrá su potencial científico y tecnológico para nivelar a Bolivia y sus institutos de investigación, formación de recursos humanos y en la incubación de empresas pequeñas y medianas.
La lista continua con el funcionamiento de PETROSUR y la construcción del Gasoducto del Sur con los países del MERCOSUR, hecho que elevará el precio de venta del gas boliviano a los países vecinos a un precio mínimo de 8 dólares el MPC, frente a los 3,40 que se paga a Bolivia actualmente.
La razón de esta elevación es el ascenso del precio del petróleo, el uso masivo del gas en América Latina y la necesidad de pagar la inversión de dicho gasoducto desde Venezuela hasta la Argentina que ronda los 25 mil millones de dólares.
Este gasoducto sudamericano no se puede construir si el gas no se vende al menos a 8 dólares el MPC, dado que a nivel internacional está en 12 dólares el MPC. Brasil deberá pagar precios internacionales, pero además tendrá en compensación la ventaja de una provisión segura los próximos 100 años. Brasil y Argentina obligados por las circunstancias deberán comprar también a Bolivia valor agregado como electricidad, diésel, DME, olefinas, metanol, fertilizantes, sal mineralizada y aceros especiales de alto costo y calidad.
Las condiciones que el Gobierno nacional ha puesto para que Bolivia sea parte del gasoducto al Sur son de que sea un acuerdo entre Estados y empresas estatales, de que se industrialice Bolivia con financiamiento de Venezuela y países del MERCOSUR y de que se eleve el precio de compra tanto del gas natural como de sus derivados manufacturados. Esa es la base para que Bolivia se convierta en un país altamente industrializado como ya lo son los países del MERCOSUR, Venezuela y Cuba. El objetivo final es que América Latina supere ampliamente en industrialización, ciencia y tecnología a Europa, EEUU, Canadá y Japón.
Seguramente Bolivia deberá negociar otros TCP con la hermana Perú después del alejamiento del presidente neoliberal Alejandro Toledo, y participar con lo que queda de la CAN para negociar un TLC con la Comunidad Europea, China y la India.
A esta altura la CE se da cuenta que Bolivia ya no es un país para dar limosnas sino para realizar empresas mixtas de base tecnológica y competitiva. Ya no es más Bolivia la vaca lechera de los europeos, acostumbrados a esa forma de actuar con los más de 40 trillones de euros que se llevaron en tres siglos de explotación comercial y humana del Cerro Rico de Potosí.
Bolivia debería exigir la devolución a la CE de al menos un 10% de esa fortuna que sirvió en su momento para capitalizar Europa y en especial a España e Inglaterra vía la piratería.
Inglaterra usó mucho más inteligentemente la plata de Potosí e hizo la primera revolución industrial del mundo occidental en 1745. Por algo Inglaterra tenía una academia de ciencias conducida por Isaac Newton y España no. El Sur de Europa y Roma especialmente condenaban a Copérnico, Giordano Bruno y Galileo. Inglaterra robaba para la ciencia en alguna medida y España para el comercio y el bienestar de la casa real solamente. El pueblo español siempre fue pobre y el libro Novelas Ejemplares de Miguel Cervantes y Saavedra así lo muestra y atestigua.
Finalmente creemos que el Gobierno nacional debe difundir las perspectivas y logros del TCP en sindicatos, comunidades campesinas y juntas vecinales. También entre los empresarios nacionales que pese a todo no conciben un nuevo mundo y una nueva civilización sin los norteamericanos. Es hora de que comprendamos todos los bolivianos y latinoamericanos que ese mundo es necesario y posible.
Los hambrientos y miserables, nuestros hermanos indígenas y no indígenas, obreros y campesinos, estarán agradecidos a esta forma inteligente y digna de encarar el futuro de Bolivia.
rancardonay@yahoo.es
Fuente: El Diario, Bolivia

Pablo Bertinat

La discusión de la integración en el sector energético nos brinda elementos concretos para poder ejemplificar la brecha entre el modelo imperante de integración y la construcción de un modelo alternativo. El sector energético constituye un aspecto sensible de los proyectos de desarrollo, especialmente en lo que respecta al rol de la energía como dinamizador de los proyectos productivos en la región; por esta causa, health las iniciativas oficiales de integración siempre han estado vinculadas a proyectos energéticos. Los aspectos críticos de estos procesos y las propuestas alternativas desde las organizaciones y movimientos sociales, se presentan a continuación.
integracionyenergia

The Role of Non-State Actors in ASEAN

Since its establishment in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has shown little interest in facilitating the participation of non-state actors in its decision-making processes.

Madeleine Andebeng L. Alingué*

 

SEATTLE, buy PORTO ALEGRE, search DURBAN and more recently Bombay are massive and conclusive expressions of the fight for a better future. From Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, to Europe and the United States, the planning and ordering of the global economic system gradually and dramatically imperils the life of millions of families. This phenomenon of increasing exclusion is mainly conditioned by a transnational economic logic, which establishes an eminently predatory consumption pattern that undermines the ecological, material and social basis of human life and dignity.

From a historical distance, the analysis of social movements makes it possible to prove that processes of change are constituted by “ruptures” expressed mainly by “resistance”. Reciprocally, in order to generate ruptures, resistance must be massive, organized and sustainable. Therefore, the recent appropriation of the field of resistance by anti-globalization activists of industrialized countries has granted a new input to worldwide mobilizations: a mediatic input necessary for current protests.

Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have for centuries posed and designed “other” ways of resistance that, though less visible, have modified and altered international, regional and national balances. At present, the multiplication and diversification of worldwide resistance formats (political and economic) involves an increasing amount of affected people and implies recognizing the “fairness” of our fight. In addition, the possibility of counting on an observation and interpretation that includes contextual and temporal social movements makes it possible to understand their dimensions, potentialities and scope.

Africa, and especially the African transatlantic resistance, offers an experience that refers to the contemporary resistance’s two mainstays: the first one, economic, on the formats and purposes of the production system; the second one, political, on racial discrimination and its social effects.

It is worth clarifying that even though there is a bibliographic gap about African experiences, based on specialized analyses, experts regret the “invisibility” of African contributions to the construction and evolution of modern resistance. This invisibility is understood as a “non existence”, or as the “incapacity to become visible” in the framework of modern development. Afro-descendants in the Americas and the Caribbean are more than 150 million. In view of this evidence, I allow myself instead to question the systems and scientific approaches to the measurement of reality that cloud our social nuances.

 

African modern resistance’s genealogy (XV-XX)

African transatlantic resistance arises and shares its origin with the development of triangular trade initiated in the XVI century among Africa, America and Europe. With a tri-continental geographic scenario connected by the Atlantic Ocean, triangular trade consisted of an exchange of products and services that set up the principles, structure and dynamics of Atlantic modern economic globalization.

For Latin America, the colonization and exploitation of raw materials required the importing of an African labor force. For Europe, the consolidation of nations-states, technological development, the food revolution and the pursuit of wealth consolidated American colonization and the opening of African commercial routes towards the Atlantic.

From the African continent, the implementation of territorial domains in the Americas and the resistance of Indian people offered options of diversification of commercial routes with the aim to expand their growth and development strategies. That is why, in the first stage of the triangular trade, one can observe an organized and planned participation, from the XV century until the mid XVII. The experience of African labor force exports is not new in African economic history. Starting in the VI century, marine and land trade with Asia included an extensive range of products such as the African slave labor force. It is important to recall that trade in human beings was not an African exception but a reality in numerous regions of the world (Europe, Asia and America), based on a principle of economic exploitation.

From the XVII century onwards, the enlargement of colonial objectives in the Americas and the Caribbean generated the competitiveness of colonial and marine markets, and piracy and illegality gave shape to the industrialization of triangular trade. In this second stage, African participation and answers to the rising demand would show to be disordered and unplanned, leading to a new category of merchant: the “slave trader”. This period will be denounced as that of the slave trade or transatlantic trade.

Additionally, since the XVI century, a model of social organization based on a cultural classification system and ranking according to racial castes1 is established as from the American colonies. Colonial hegemony allowed the use of “terror” as a mediator of almost all the links between the white minority and the so-called “irrational”, be them aboriginal population or black (Taussig, 1991: 5). The African “savage” represented the spiritual and rational level of Europeans when providence or reason freed them. Implicitly and explicitly, this interpretation permitted Europeans, in the name of Christ –through the system of the Inquisition–, or in the name of reason, to colonize, administer and, whenever possible, to enslave the savage.

For the people enslaved, the loss of freedom, labor exploitation and physical extermination hatched African transatlantic resistance and mobilizations. Between the XVI and the XIX century, the sabotage of agricultural and cattle production (Arocha, 1998: 343), open revolt and flight were common formats of resistance.

In the face of this double discrimination –class and race– Africans of the continent as well as of the Americas and the Caribbean designed strategies in order to restore the balances of survival and sustainability.

 

Economic strategies

Globalization is presented as a “free market”, the result of a natural process of commercial expansion and a development generator. However, this presentation happens to be counteracted by a “reality” that questions its modalities and objectives.

This reality translates into the fact that 20% of the world’s population holds 83% of the world GDP, controls 82% of international trade, uses up the 95% of the total of commercial loans granted in the planet, and generates 95% of all the research and development of the world. The last UNDP Human Development Report (PNUD, 2003)2 pinpoints that 3,000 million people in the world survive on less than 2 dollars a day, while 1,200 million people survive on less than 1 dollar per day and lack drinking water. Finally, 2,400 million are in need of basic sanitation.

Systems, their modalities, and the tools (legal, scientific and technological) for the operation and development of the global market, are monopolized by the “West”, marginalizing “peripheral societies” from the free market’s benefits. This exclusion translates into the undervaluing of their products and into commercial logic.

In view of globalization’s aim of being the engine of development, experts try to convince us that the display of negative results (high levels of poverty and effects on the environment, among others) is a consequence of local or national inability to take up a position within the global system. The subsequent imposition or importation of development models in the countries of the so-called Third World showed the limits of its applicability, causing effects contradictory to the ideal of development and precluding “exchange” in every way.

Due to the fact that it is in the African experience in the Americas and the Caribbean that this ambivalence is most crudely revealed, African transatlantic resistance movements have worked out interpretations and strategies in order to keep up and improve their population’s quality of life. According to African transatlantic movements, the establishment of an organizational system based on racial stratification placed Afro-descendants at the bottom of the social scale. African populations in the Americas are affected by unemployment, a lack of basic services such as health, education and housing, and an absence of communication networks that violate their private and civil rights.

From local initiatives for self-sufficiency (setting up cooperatives or creation of non-governmental organizations) to international negotiation processes, African transatlantic resistance strategies have made it possible to modify economic structures.

In 1975, Africa and the G77 with the proposal of a “New World Economic Order”, which according to professor Samir Amin is a “project of rejuvenation of the controlled internationalization that would have allowed the continuation of general growth” (Amin, 1989), mobilized and combined several political, economic and social fronts to provide a way out for to the Third World’s problems, and in particular for Afro-American transatlantic ones. More recently, from the African continent and its diasporas, the New Partnership for African Development –NEPAD– with South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria was designed, which aims to grant new competitive spaces to all Africans within and outside the continent.

The South-South Summit on debt, “Towards a new millennium free of debt”, carried out in November 1999 in Johannesburg, and the International Meeting Dakar 2000 “From the Resistance to Alternatives”, in December 2000, had as their aim to pressure for the annulment of the debt and the abandonment of the adjustment programs in the Third World. Among the most specific initiatives there exists, for instance, the African Business Roundtable, which gathers African and Afro-American businessmen who work for the strengthening of African transatlantic companies.

From the field of economy, a “labour of memory” is materialized, aimed at re-establishing, through compensation or reparation, ethic and economic balances for the reintegration and return to action of Africans as regards the productive processes. Therefore, for many spokespeople of this way of resistance, the “position consists in declaring that it is the duty of the states that have enriched themselves thanks to slavery, to grant a compensation to those that have been impoverished due to the latter […] and that to the recognition of the crime should be added the debt cancellation of African, Latin American and Caribbean countries. In like manner, the restoration of the compensation must include the redistribution of the means of production and of exchange […] We consider urgent also to suppress the social barriers that exist due to the persistence of the caste spirit”3.

Even though these strategies have allowed an improvement in the conditions of economic negotiation, the results obtained continue to be negative for African communities. The low literacy rate and the lack of access to basic services reveal the inefficacy of an “equitable economic thought” vis-à-vis a perception of “irreversibility” of the conditions and processes of development in the framework of the national and global economic structure.

We know that globalization is an ideological “discourse” aimed at legitimizing capital’s strategies (Amin, 1997). We know that this discourse is created by a mechanism that constructs it. There is therefore an urgent need to modify the perception and the instruments of participation of African transatlantic peoples in the world economy.

 

Political victories

From their beginnings, African transatlantic struggles and arguments rapidly produced positive results. Already in 1804, Haitian capabilities allowed total independence and the implementation of the first model of an African state in the Caribbean.

With regard to the American continent, the conditions of domination allowed the obtention of political and legal victories such as the abolition of slavery in 18504. At present, they are expressed through policies of “affirmative action” or of “positive discrimination”. In relation to these two mobilization settings, America’s and the Caribbean’s Afro-Americans expressed themselves mainly in two different formats.

First, governability. The experience of political independence (Haiti), with administrative management capacity, economic control and cultural development, showed its limits in the practice of autonomy (e.g., the recent expulsion of elected president Aristide). With a revolutionary Constitution, the management of society was organized on stiff, authoritarian and centralized practices. Additionally, the Island’s geo-strategical position (the Greater Caribbean) sometimes had a dramatic influence on its development.

The second scheme: multiculturalism. From the Americas, the freedom (from slavery) attained did not involve Afro-Americans’ active participation in the decision-making process. Until the new constitutions implemented in the 80s, Afro-Americans were recognized as “citizens with no rights” through a “modern apartheid” model. The American system identifies and legitimizes “Afros” or “negritude”, but makes them invisible in their domestic and international agendas. This format of inclusion is generated through the logic of the “ethnic minority”, in which perception and treatment cause a process of systematic marginalization, displayed in a behavior of “conscious” discrimination.

In view of this political and social invisibility, in both scenarios, numerous Afro-American and Caribbean intellectuals have drawn up interpretations in order to organize the transatlantic resistance. The actors of the construction of the African memory and struggle are located, in the main, within the pan-African movement.

This movement is a sphere of theoretical interpretations, political initiatives and economic strategies formulated by and for Africans. Its struggle is concentrated on the recognition and promotion of Africans. Its field of action includes the Americas, Caribbean, Africa and the new African Diasporas (Europe, Central Europe, Canada and Asia, among others). Structured at the end of the 19th century and beginnings of the 20th, the pan-African movement was organized and consolidated through the following international meetings: London in 1900, Paris in 1919, Paris in 1921, London in 1923, New York in 1927 and Manchester in 1945.

From Africa and from the Americas and the Caribbean, pan-Africanist leaders such as Edward W. Blyden (1832-1929).), W.E.B. Dubois (1868-1963), George Padmore (1902-1959), Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), Leopold Sedar Senghor (1903-2001), Aimé Césaire (1913), Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), Julius Nyerere (1922-1999), Jomo Kenyatta (1891-1978), Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961), Emperador Hailé Selassié I (1892-1975), Martín Luther King (1928-1968), Malcolm X (1925-1965), C.L.R. James (1901-1989), Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) and Archie Mafeje (1937), just to name a few, identified theoretical and methodological options for the promotion of the African peoples. For each one of them, the extent of their mobilizations was carried out in different times and conditions. At present, all the pan-Africanist interpretative proposals have again acquired vigor and feed the formulation and design of coordinated and sustainable manners of existence.

Recently, academic settings have also appropriated the issue, granting continuity, shape and depth to African social movements. In the Caribbean, the annual “All African Students’ Conference” held at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica, focuses, for instance, on themes such as “Pan-Africanism at the Beginning of the 21st Century: New Century, Same Challenges” and reporting on the theoretical advances of African legitimacy. With regard to the African continent, the conference “Intellectuals, Nationalism and the Pan-African Ideal” organized by the Council for Development and Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and held in Dakar, Senegal, in December 2003, is another evidence of the need to articulate and coordinate theoretical as well as practical efforts within contemporary African resistance.

In parallel with this process of internal formulation and definition, there also exist external mobilization strategies. The World Conference against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Similar Forms of Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, is an important opportunity for African social movements to debate and face the complex outlines of the “race” discourse that has excluded the “Afro”5 from local, national and international public settings. International mobilizations have made it possible to establish alliances that create feedback, and enlarge and increase the options of legitimacy. Therefore, African transatlantic mobilizations organize on different levels.

In the first place, political and legal initiatives such as the Meeting of Afro-descendant Parliamentarians of the Americas and the Caribbean I and II, held in Brazil in October 2003 and in Colombia in May 2004 respectively. The conferences identified a great number of Afro-descendant parliamentarians and focused on the dissemination of local problems. Lastly, they reasserted the need to create strategic alliances for the promotion of policies on behalf of Afro-American and Caribbean populations and communities. In the second place, African mass participation (labor unions, intellectuals, academics, student and peasant movements) in the “Battle of Seattle” (1999) and the I World Social Forum of Porto Alegre (Brazil) to raise and discuss land rights, citizenship, liberty, equality and peace by means of the discourse regarding the redemption of the historic and social debt. Thirdly, one may identify mobilizations such as the “Million Man March” (1995) in Washington DC, or the March against Racism, in favor of Equality and Life (2000) in Brazil, in which the dynamics consist in generating greater self-consciousness: “The only way we are going to stand up and be seen is if we do it together”.

 

Social strategies

Due to the fact that the social is the sole area in which all the actors negotiate their identity, it is within this field that African pressures have individual or collectively attained startling results. African transatlantic social strategies carry out and combine different fields of negotiation, with the aim of generating the changes necessary for their existence. As a main result of this process, in the Americas and the Caribbean more than 150 million Afro-Americans are to be found.

Even though census systems continue to be unreliable due to the fact they are “inflexible”, the Afro-descended population reaches 95% in Haiti, 90.4% in Jamaica, more than 90% in Trinidad and Tobago, 62% in Cuba, 47% in Brazil, 26% in Colombia, 18% in the United States, 10% in Ecuador, 4% in Uruguay, 3% in Peru and 2% in Chile. This is without cataloguing regions such as Central America (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, Honduras, and Guatemala) and Caribbean territories such as the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Guyana, and the French Antilles due to their condition of colonies6. Their quantitative spread and territorial distribution prove their development and capacity of transformation. These capabilities develop through several social strategies.

First, crossbreeding. The establishment of racial stratification as an economic, cultural and social development model posed for the majority of Afro-descendants the need for “whitening” as a logic of integration. The half-caste is an option to break down the limits of labor and cultural discrimination. This conscious movement of acculturation designed new ways of African identity and made more flexible and ample the formats of African identity. Secondly, for many Afro-descendants the maintenance of an African identity has to do with autonomy and self-determination. Historically, freedom was associated with independence.

Therefore, the appropriation of land, as in the constitution of the Republic of Palmares in Brazil, or the Palenque of San Basilio in Colombia, are symbols of African mobilization. Additionally, as from the XVII century, the number of slaves who bought from their bosses letters of freedom and migrated from the mines of the gold-bearing areas to havens free of slavers increased (Arocha, 1998: 341-348; Friedmann and Arocha, 1995: 58-62). Nowadays, these efforts of libertarian separatism are displayed in legal mobilizations that have managed to speed up processes of collective titling of land. According to Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle (1988a), this need “integrates and incorporates them into the constitutional state […] and transforms them […] into citizens with a heritage to defend and into active participants in socioeconomic development”.

Thirdly, struggles aimed at the strengthening and preservation of African culture hatched other juridical processes that established policies of ethno education in the Americas. To this end, the promotion of intercultural education that will contribute to the recognition, knowledge and appraisal of cultural and ethnic differences is sought; to promote processes of education of African communities in the Americas; and, lastly, to contribute to the improvement in quality and expansion of Afro-descendants’ pre-school, basic, primary and advanced education.

In the fourth place, affirmative action policies concerning economic development called ethno-development. Within national development plans, ethnic development proposals that recovered traditional abilities and customs are incorporated. In Colombia, Brazil and Belize, projects tending towards the rescue, preservation and strengthening of cultural values are carried out, together with the training of members in small self-management enterprises, with the aim to fight unemployment, the worsening of the standard of living, mass emigration and the abandonment of the community heritage.

Fifth, in view of the labor market’s limits, Afro-descendants have delved since the eighties into new forms of economic organization, such as the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). These are considered new modalities of economic production that not only foster the creation of companies but also constitute an independent political position which, in the case of Afro-descendants, refer to “Afro” identity.

Sixth and last, the creation of networks. Local efforts have had to confront to such amount of necessities that mobilizations required alliances. In Colombia, for instance, the Process of Black Communities has established contacts and agreements with other regional agents, such as the Andean network of black communities that includes Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru.

Thus, African responses reply to the challenges of legitimacy and sustainability. Afro-Americans have turned the New World into a democratic social and organizational model. For those who criticize Afro-descendants due to the way they build their identity in the process of construction of the nation, it is important to stress out that in every process of negotiation Africans have understood that coexistence depends –to a large extent– on the flexibility and adaptability of the actors.

 

The Colombian case

Unlike the majority of the countries that make up the Andean region, Colombia, due to its access to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, has been, through its port of Cartagena, one the main entry territories of enslaved Africans. Afro-Colombians (included the localized population of San Andres and Providencia) constitute 26.83%, that is to say, 11,745,403 people. The vast majority of Afro-Colombians live on the Pacific Coast, in the departments of Choco, Valle, Cauca and Nariño, but also in the big cities on the Atlantic Coast such as Barranquilla and Cartagena, and in the capital city, Bogota, where they are estimated in more than a million7.

Since its constitution as a Republic, Colombia has undergone political and military violence, revealed in the systematic violation of the population’s fundamental rights. This has worsened the situation of precariousness and economic and social penury, as well as of racial and ethnic discrimination in its population. The mass presence of Afro-Colombian populations in the regions of main economic and strategic significance is associated, likewise, with the zones of conflict, a fact that makes them doubly vulnerable8.

It is within this context of extreme tension that Afro-Colombian social movements’ constant demands have been satisfied by the dispositions of the Constitution of 1991. The Colombian nation’s ratification of multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity establishes principles and rights concerning autonomy, ethnic-cultural diversity and their own language, bilingual instruction, territoriality and own education for black communities.

Among Afro-Colombian victories, the Law 70 of 1993 and the General Education Law 115 of 1994 recognize the right to receive education for Indian, black and localized communities. Officially identified as ethno-education, it recognizes Colombia’s black communities as an ethnic group and recognizes collective rights in the matter of territory, the use of natural resources, participation and socioeconomic development, in tune with their particular conditions. For the development of the Law, decree 1745 of 1945 was issued, regulating the procedure for collective title deeds. Nowadays, Afro-Colombian communities own 4.6 million hectares on the Colombian Pacific. Likewise, they have priority for the exploitation of existing natural resources there, and must be consulted in the processes aimed at granting permissions or authorizations for their exploitation.

This set of recognitions has allowed the African identity to be visible in Colombia. Since 1991, more than 1,080 Afro-Colombian organizations have been distributed all across the territory together with others related to particular sectors: homes for orphaned children, associations of female household heads, organizations for the displaced (AFRODES), cultural organizations (Black Colombia Foundation), political and educational associations, leadership schools (Maroon movements), musical groupings and associations for Afro youth. All of them act as pressure and mobilization groups for the promotion of Afro-American communities in Colombia.

 

Not to conclude

The African social movements’ trajectory, pioneering in anti-capitalist mobilization, has demonstrated that within unequal structures, rebalancing formats are possible. In view of the double discrimination of class and race, the resistance has drawn up strategies that have managed in the Americas and the Caribbean to create more ample coexistence systems and, hence, more sustainable ones. The African transatlantic movement has provided a distinct analysis that turns Africans into active participants in their history and fully shares the theoretical, economic, political and social basis of the new forms of mobilization.

The African experience –the most extensive, diverse and sustainable one– provides mechanisms that are rationally inserted within the new dynamics of world social movements. On the one hand, from a universal standpoint, African theoretical interpretations, by re-appropriating their Humanity, offer a progressive and equitable view and comprehension of the global system. On the other hand, strategies are worked on from the multisectorial angle, by recognizing and allowing each actor’s objectives, modalities and aims that have been articulated and mobilized in order to create fairer organization and coexistence systems.

Even though these combined efforts have produced fundamental results in the evolution of worldwide human relations, it is important to recognize the limits of their scopes. African transatlantic movements have to face new technological, health, education and socioeconomic leveling challenges, among many other modern ones.

At present time, in view of the acceleration of the processes of marginalization, resistance movements are at a crucial stage of their credibility and sustainability. Therefore, it is necessary to deepen and extend the forms of mobilization, applying the feedback of particular experiences. To account for the meaning of these manifestations today, to integrate the diversity of contexts, actors and social demands as they are defined today, gives feasibility to the worldwide social movements.

 

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Notes

 

* Coordinator of the African Studies Group, Professor and Researcher at the Faculty of Finance, Government and International Relations at the Universidad Externado de Colombia, in Bogota, Colombia.

1 Black codes used to regroup legislation on permitted behaviors for each class.

2 Available in <http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2003/espanol/>.

3 Kuya, Dorothy 2000 “L’action du mouvement africain pour les réparations au Royaume-Uni” en Chalons, Serge et al. (dirs.) De l’esclavage aux réparations (Paris: Karthala) p. 182.

4 It is worthy of mention that, even though the African communities of the Americas participated massively in American independence, they would have to wait 40 years in order to ratify the abolition of slavery.

5 “Afro” refers to continental Africans and to the African Diaspora.

6 See Infoplease: <http://Infoplease.com/ipa/AO855617.html>.

7 United Nations’ preliminary report, evaluating the situation of Afrodescendents in Colombia, 2001.

8 In 2003, among the 890,000 and 3 million excluded people in Colombia, 17% were Afro-Colombians.

 


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Madeleine Andebeng L. Alingué*

SEATTLE, PORTO ALEGRE, DURBAN and more recently Bombay are massive and conclusive expressions of the fight for a better future. From Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, to Europe and the United States, the planning and ordering of the global economic system gradually and dramatically imperils the life of millions of families. This phenomenon of increasing exclusion is mainly conditioned by a transnational economic logic, which establishes an eminently predatory consumption pattern that undermines the ecological, material and social basis of human life and dignity.

From a historical distance, the analysis of social movements makes it possible to prove that processes of change are constituted by “ruptures” expressed mainly by “resistance”. Reciprocally, in order to generate ruptures, resistance must be massive, organized and sustainable. Therefore, the recent appropriation of the field of resistance by anti-globalization activists of industrialized countries has granted a new input to worldwide mobilizations: a mediatic input necessary for current protests.

Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have for centuries posed and designed “other” ways of resistance that, though less visible, have modified and altered international, regional and national balances. At present, the multiplication and diversification of worldwide resistance formats (political and economic) involves an increasing amount of affected people and implies recognizing the “fairness” of our fight. In addition, the possibility of counting on an observation and interpretation that includes contextual and temporal social movements makes it possible to understand their dimensions, potentialities and scope.

Africa, and especially the African transatlantic resistance, offers an experience that refers to the contemporary resistance’s two mainstays: the first one, economic, on the formats and purposes of the production system; the second one, political, on racial discrimination and its social effects.

It is worth clarifying that even though there is a bibliographic gap about African experiences, based on specialized analyses, experts regret the “invisibility” of African contributions to the construction and evolution of modern resistance. This invisibility is understood as a “non existence”, or as the “incapacity to become visible” in the framework of modern development. Afro-descendants in the Americas and the Caribbean are more than 150 million. In view of this evidence, I allow myself instead to question the systems and scientific approaches to the measurement of reality that cloud our social nuances.


African modern resistance’s genealogy (XV-XX)

African transatlantic resistance arises and shares its origin with the development of triangular trade initiated in the XVI century among Africa, America and Europe. With a tri-continental geographic scenario connected by the Atlantic Ocean, triangular trade consisted of an exchange of products and services that set up the principles, structure and dynamics of Atlantic modern economic globalization.

For Latin America, the colonization and exploitation of raw materials required the importing of an African labor force. For Europe, the consolidation of nations-states, technological development, the food revolution and the pursuit of wealth consolidated American colonization and the opening of African commercial routes towards the Atlantic.

From the African continent, the implementation of territorial domains in the Americas and the resistance of Indian people offered options of diversification of commercial routes with the aim to expand their growth and development strategies. That is why, in the first stage of the triangular trade, one can observe an organized and planned participation, from the XV century until the mid XVII. The experience of African labor force exports is not new in African economic history. Starting in the VI century, marine and land trade with Asia included an extensive range of products such as the African slave labor force. It is important to recall that trade in human beings was not an African exception but a reality in numerous regions of the world (Europe, Asia and America), based on a principle of economic exploitation.

From the XVII century onwards, the enlargement of colonial objectives in the Americas and the Caribbean generated the competitiveness of colonial and marine markets, and piracy and illegality gave shape to the industrialization of triangular trade. In this second stage, African participation and answers to the rising demand would show to be disordered and unplanned, leading to a new category of merchant: the “slave trader”. This period will be denounced as that of the slave trade or transatlantic trade.

Additionally, since the XVI century, a model of social organization based on a cultural classification system and ranking according to racial castes1 is established as from the American colonies. Colonial hegemony allowed the use of “terror” as a mediator of almost all the links between the white minority and the so-called “irrational”, be them aboriginal population or black (Taussig, 1991: 5). The African “savage” represented the spiritual and rational level of Europeans when providence or reason freed them. Implicitly and explicitly, this interpretation permitted Europeans, in the name of Christ –through the system of the Inquisition–, or in the name of reason, to colonize, administer and, whenever possible, to enslave the savage.

For the people enslaved, the loss of freedom, labor exploitation and physical extermination hatched African transatlantic resistance and mobilizations. Between the XVI and the XIX century, the sabotage of agricultural and cattle production (Arocha, 1998: 343), open revolt and flight were common formats of resistance.

In the face of this double discrimination –class and race– Africans of the continent as well as of the Americas and the Caribbean designed strategies in order to restore the balances of survival and sustainability.


Economic strategies

Globalization is presented as a “free market”, the result of a natural process of commercial expansion and a development generator. However, this presentation happens to be counteracted by a “reality” that questions its modalities and objectives.

This reality translates into the fact that 20% of the world’s population holds 83% of the world GDP, controls 82% of international trade, uses up the 95% of the total of commercial loans granted in the planet, and generates 95% of all the research and development of the world. The last UNDP Human Development Report (PNUD, 2003)2 pinpoints that 3,000 million people in the world survive on less than 2 dollars a day, while 1,200 million people survive on less than 1 dollar per day and lack drinking water. Finally, 2,400 million are in need of basic sanitation.

Systems, their modalities, and the tools (legal, scientific and technological) for the operation and development of the global market, are monopolized by the “West”, marginalizing “peripheral societies” from the free market’s benefits. This exclusion translates into the undervaluing of their products and into commercial logic.

In view of globalization’s aim of being the engine of development, experts try to convince us that the display of negative results (high levels of poverty and effects on the environment, among others) is a consequence of local or national inability to take up a position within the global system. The subsequent imposition or importation of development models in the countries of the so-called Third World showed the limits of its applicability, causing effects contradictory to the ideal of development and precluding “exchange” in every way.

Due to the fact that it is in the African experience in the Americas and the Caribbean that this ambivalence is most crudely revealed, African transatlantic resistance movements have worked out interpretations and strategies in order to keep up and improve their population’s quality of life. According to African transatlantic movements, the establishment of an organizational system based on racial stratification placed Afro-descendants at the bottom of the social scale. African populations in the Americas are affected by unemployment, a lack of basic services such as health, education and housing, and an absence of communication networks that violate their private and civil rights.

From local initiatives for self-sufficiency (setting up cooperatives or creation of non-governmental organizations) to international negotiation processes, African transatlantic resistance strategies have made it possible to modify economic structures.

In 1975, Africa and the G77 with the proposal of a “New World Economic Order”, which according to professor Samir Amin is a “project of rejuvenation of the controlled internationalization that would have allowed the continuation of general growth” (Amin, 1989), mobilized and combined several political, economic and social fronts to provide a way out for to the Third World’s problems, and in particular for Afro-American transatlantic ones. More recently, from the African continent and its diasporas, the New Partnership for African Development –NEPAD– with South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria was designed, which aims to grant new competitive spaces to all Africans within and outside the continent.

The South-South Summit on debt, “Towards a new millennium free of debt”, carried out in November 1999 in Johannesburg, and the International Meeting Dakar 2000 “From the Resistance to Alternatives”, in December 2000, had as their aim to pressure for the annulment of the debt and the abandonment of the adjustment programs in the Third World. Among the most specific initiatives there exists, for instance, the African Business Roundtable, which gathers African and Afro-American businessmen who work for the strengthening of African transatlantic companies.

From the field of economy, a “labour of memory” is materialized, aimed at re-establishing, through compensation or reparation, ethic and economic balances for the reintegration and return to action of Africans as regards the productive processes. Therefore, for many spokespeople of this way of resistance, the “position consists in declaring that it is the duty of the states that have enriched themselves thanks to slavery, to grant a compensation to those that have been impoverished due to the latter […] and that to the recognition of the crime should be added the debt cancellation of African, Latin American and Caribbean countries. In like manner, the restoration of the compensation must include the redistribution of the means of production and of exchange […] We consider urgent also to suppress the social barriers that exist due to the persistence of the caste spirit”3.

Even though these strategies have allowed an improvement in the conditions of economic negotiation, the results obtained continue to be negative for African communities. The low literacy rate and the lack of access to basic services reveal the inefficacy of an “equitable economic thought” vis-à-vis a perception of “irreversibility” of the conditions and processes of development in the framework of the national and global economic structure.

We know that globalization is an ideological “discourse” aimed at legitimizing capital’s strategies (Amin, 1997). We know that this discourse is created by a mechanism that constructs it. There is therefore an urgent need to modify the perception and the instruments of participation of African transatlantic peoples in the world economy.


Political victories

From their beginnings, African transatlantic struggles and arguments rapidly produced positive results. Already in 1804, Haitian capabilities allowed total independence and the implementation of the first model of an African state in the Caribbean.

With regard to the American continent, the conditions of domination allowed the obtention of political and legal victories such as the abolition of slavery in 18504. At present, they are expressed through policies of “affirmative action” or of “positive discrimination”. In relation to these two mobilization settings, America’s and the Caribbean’s Afro-Americans expressed themselves mainly in two different formats.

First, governability. The experience of political independence (Haiti), with administrative management capacity, economic control and cultural development, showed its limits in the practice of autonomy (e.g., the recent expulsion of elected president Aristide). With a revolutionary Constitution, the management of society was organized on stiff, authoritarian and centralized practices. Additionally, the Island’s geo-strategical position (the Greater Caribbean) sometimes had a dramatic influence on its development.

The second scheme: multiculturalism. From the Americas, the freedom (from slavery) attained did not involve Afro-Americans’ active participation in the decision-making process. Until the new constitutions implemented in the 80s, Afro-Americans were recognized as “citizens with no rights” through a “modern apartheid” model. The American system identifies and legitimizes “Afros” or “negritude”, but makes them invisible in their domestic and international agendas. This format of inclusion is generated through the logic of the “ethnic minority”, in which perception and treatment cause a process of systematic marginalization, displayed in a behavior of “conscious” discrimination.

In view of this political and social invisibility, in both scenarios, numerous Afro-American and Caribbean intellectuals have drawn up interpretations in order to organize the transatlantic resistance. The actors of the construction of the African memory and struggle are located, in the main, within the pan-African movement.

This movement is a sphere of theoretical interpretations, political initiatives and economic strategies formulated by and for Africans. Its struggle is concentrated on the recognition and promotion of Africans. Its field of action includes the Americas, Caribbean, Africa and the new African Diasporas (Europe, Central Europe, Canada and Asia, among others). Structured at the end of the 19th century and beginnings of the 20th, the pan-African movement was organized and consolidated through the following international meetings: London in 1900, Paris in 1919, Paris in 1921, London in 1923, New York in 1927 and Manchester in 1945.

From Africa and from the Americas and the Caribbean, pan-Africanist leaders such as Edward W. Blyden (1832-1929).), W.E.B. Dubois (1868-1963), George Padmore (1902-1959), Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), Leopold Sedar Senghor (1903-2001), Aimé Césaire (1913), Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), Julius Nyerere (1922-1999), Jomo Kenyatta (1891-1978), Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961), Emperador Hailé Selassié I (1892-1975), Martín Luther King (1928-1968), Malcolm X (1925-1965), C.L.R. James (1901-1989), Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) and Archie Mafeje (1937), just to name a few, identified theoretical and methodological options for the promotion of the African peoples. For each one of them, the extent of their mobilizations was carried out in different times and conditions. At present, all the pan-Africanist interpretative proposals have again acquired vigor and feed the formulation and design of coordinated and sustainable manners of existence.

Recently, academic settings have also appropriated the issue, granting continuity, shape and depth to African social movements. In the Caribbean, the annual “All African Students’ Conference” held at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica, focuses, for instance, on themes such as “Pan-Africanism at the Beginning of the 21st Century: New Century, Same Challenges” and reporting on the theoretical advances of African legitimacy. With regard to the African continent, the conference “Intellectuals, Nationalism and the Pan-African Ideal” organized by the Council for Development and Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and held in Dakar, Senegal, in December 2003, is another evidence of the need to articulate and coordinate theoretical as well as practical efforts within contemporary African resistance.

In parallel with this process of internal formulation and definition, there also exist external mobilization strategies. The World Conference against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Similar Forms of Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, is an important opportunity for African social movements to debate and face the complex outlines of the “race” discourse that has excluded the “Afro”5 from local, national and international public settings. International mobilizations have made it possible to establish alliances that create feedback, and enlarge and increase the options of legitimacy. Therefore, African transatlantic mobilizations organize on different levels.

In the first place, political and legal initiatives such as the Meeting of Afro-descendant Parliamentarians of the Americas and the Caribbean I and II, held in Brazil in October 2003 and in Colombia in May 2004 respectively. The conferences identified a great number of Afro-descendant parliamentarians and focused on the dissemination of local problems. Lastly, they reasserted the need to create strategic alliances for the promotion of policies on behalf of Afro-American and Caribbean populations and communities. In the second place, African mass participation (labor unions, intellectuals, academics, student and peasant movements) in the “Battle of Seattle” (1999) and the I World Social Forum of Porto Alegre (Brazil) to raise and discuss land rights, citizenship, liberty, equality and peace by means of the discourse regarding the redemption of the historic and social debt. Thirdly, one may identify mobilizations such as the “Million Man March” (1995) in Washington DC, or the March against Racism, in favor of Equality and Life (2000) in Brazil, in which the dynamics consist in generating greater self-consciousness: “The only way we are going to stand up and be seen is if we do it together”.


Social strategies

Due to the fact that the social is the sole area in which all the actors negotiate their identity, it is within this field that African pressures have individual or collectively attained startling results. African transatlantic social strategies carry out and combine different fields of negotiation, with the aim of generating the changes necessary for their existence. As a main result of this process, in the Americas and the Caribbean more than 150 million Afro-Americans are to be found.

Even though census systems continue to be unreliable due to the fact they are “inflexible”, the Afro-descended population reaches 95% in Haiti, 90.4% in Jamaica, more than 90% in Trinidad and Tobago, 62% in Cuba, 47% in Brazil, 26% in Colombia, 18% in the United States, 10% in Ecuador, 4% in Uruguay, 3% in Peru and 2% in Chile. This is without cataloguing regions such as Central America (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, Honduras, and Guatemala) and Caribbean territories such as the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Guyana, and the French Antilles due to their condition of colonies6. Their quantitative spread and territorial distribution prove their development and capacity of transformation. These capabilities develop through several social strategies.

First, crossbreeding. The establishment of racial stratification as an economic, cultural and social development model posed for the majority of Afro-descendants the need for “whitening” as a logic of integration. The half-caste is an option to break down the limits of labor and cultural discrimination. This conscious movement of acculturation designed new ways of African identity and made more flexible and ample the formats of African identity. Secondly, for many Afro-descendants the maintenance of an African identity has to do with autonomy and self-determination. Historically, freedom was associated with independence.

Therefore, the appropriation of land, as in the constitution of the Republic of Palmares in Brazil, or the Palenque of San Basilio in Colombia, are symbols of African mobilization. Additionally, as from the XVII century, the number of slaves who bought from their bosses letters of freedom and migrated from the mines of the gold-bearing areas to havens free of slavers increased (Arocha, 1998: 341-348; Friedmann and Arocha, 1995: 58-62). Nowadays, these efforts of libertarian separatism are displayed in legal mobilizations that have managed to speed up processes of collective titling of land. According to Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle (1988a), this need “integrates and incorporates them into the constitutional state […] and transforms them […] into citizens with a heritage to defend and into active participants in socioeconomic development”.

Thirdly, struggles aimed at the strengthening and preservation of African culture hatched other juridical processes that established policies of ethno education in the Americas. To this end, the promotion of intercultural education that will contribute to the recognition, knowledge and appraisal of cultural and ethnic differences is sought; to promote processes of education of African communities in the Americas; and, lastly, to contribute to the improvement in quality and expansion of Afro-descendants’ pre-school, basic, primary and advanced education.

In the fourth place, affirmative action policies concerning economic development called ethno-development. Within national development plans, ethnic development proposals that recovered traditional abilities and customs are incorporated. In Colombia, Brazil and Belize, projects tending towards the rescue, preservation and strengthening of cultural values are carried out, together with the training of members in small self-management enterprises, with the aim to fight unemployment, the worsening of the standard of living, mass emigration and the abandonment of the community heritage.

Fifth, in view of the labor market’s limits, Afro-descendants have delved since the eighties into new forms of economic organization, such as the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). These are considered new modalities of economic production that not only foster the creation of companies but also constitute an independent political position which, in the case of Afro-descendants, refer to “Afro” identity.

Sixth and last, the creation of networks. Local efforts have had to confront to such amount of necessities that mobilizations required alliances. In Colombia, for instance, the Process of Black Communities has established contacts and agreements with other regional agents, such as the Andean network of black communities that includes Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru.

Thus, African responses reply to the challenges of legitimacy and sustainability. Afro-Americans have turned the New World into a democratic social and organizational model. For those who criticize Afro-descendants due to the way they build their identity in the process of construction of the nation, it is important to stress out that in every process of negotiation Africans have understood that coexistence depends –to a large extent– on the flexibility and adaptability of the actors.


The Colombian case

Unlike the majority of the countries that make up the Andean region, Colombia, due to its access to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, has been, through its port of Cartagena, one the main entry territories of enslaved Africans. Afro-Colombians (included the localized population of San Andres and Providencia) constitute 26.83%, that is to say, 11,745,403 people. The vast majority of Afro-Colombians live on the Pacific Coast, in the departments of Choco, Valle, Cauca and Nariño, but also in the big cities on the Atlantic Coast such as Barranquilla and Cartagena, and in the capital city, Bogota, where they are estimated in more than a million7.

Since its constitution as a Republic, Colombia has undergone political and military violence, revealed in the systematic violation of the population’s fundamental rights. This has worsened the situation of precariousness and economic and social penury, as well as of racial and ethnic discrimination in its population. The mass presence of Afro-Colombian populations in the regions of main economic and strategic significance is associated, likewise, with the zones of conflict, a fact that makes them doubly vulnerable8.

It is within this context of extreme tension that Afro-Colombian social movements’ constant demands have been satisfied by the dispositions of the Constitution of 1991. The Colombian nation’s ratification of multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity establishes principles and rights concerning autonomy, ethnic-cultural diversity and their own language, bilingual instruction, territoriality and own education for black communities.

Among Afro-Colombian victories, the Law 70 of 1993 and the General Education Law 115 of 1994 recognize the right to receive education for Indian, black and localized communities. Officially identified as ethno-education, it recognizes Colombia’s black communities as an ethnic group and recognizes collective rights in the matter of territory, the use of natural resources, participation and socioeconomic development, in tune with their particular conditions. For the development of the Law, decree 1745 of 1945 was issued, regulating the procedure for collective title deeds. Nowadays, Afro-Colombian communities own 4.6 million hectares on the Colombian Pacific. Likewise, they have priority for the exploitation of existing natural resources there, and must be consulted in the processes aimed at granting permissions or authorizations for their exploitation.

This set of recognitions has allowed the African identity to be visible in Colombia. Since 1991, more than 1,080 Afro-Colombian organizations have been distributed all across the territory together with others related to particular sectors: homes for orphaned children, associations of female household heads, organizations for the displaced (AFRODES), cultural organizations (Black Colombia Foundation), political and educational associations, leadership schools (Maroon movements), musical groupings and associations for Afro youth. All of them act as pressure and mobilization groups for the promotion of Afro-American communities in Colombia.


Not to conclude

The African social movements’ trajectory, pioneering in anti-capitalist mobilization, has demonstrated that within unequal structures, rebalancing formats are possible. In view of the double discrimination of class and race, the resistance has drawn up strategies that have managed in the Americas and the Caribbean to create more ample coexistence systems and, hence, more sustainable ones. The African transatlantic movement has provided a distinct analysis that turns Africans into active participants in their history and fully shares the theoretical, economic, political and social basis of the new forms of mobilization.

The African experience –the most extensive, diverse and sustainable one– provides mechanisms that are rationally inserted within the new dynamics of world social movements. On the one hand, from a universal standpoint, African theoretical interpretations, by re-appropriating their Humanity, offer a progressive and equitable view and comprehension of the global system. On the other hand, strategies are worked on from the multisectorial angle, by recognizing and allowing each actor’s objectives, modalities and aims that have been articulated and mobilized in order to create fairer organization and coexistence systems.

Even though these combined efforts have produced fundamental results in the evolution of worldwide human relations, it is important to recognize the limits of their scopes. African transatlantic movements have to face new technological, health, education and socioeconomic leveling challenges, among many other modern ones.

At present time, in view of the acceleration of the processes of marginalization, resistance movements are at a crucial stage of their credibility and sustainability. Therefore, it is necessary to deepen and extend the forms of mobilization, applying the feedback of particular experiences. To account for the meaning of these manifestations today, to integrate the diversity of contexts, actors and social demands as they are defined today, gives feasibility to the worldwide social movements.


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Notes


* Coordinator of the African Studies Group, Professor and Researcher at the Faculty of Finance, Government and International Relations at the Universidad Externado de Colombia, in Bogota, Colombia.

1 Black codes used to regroup legislation on permitted behaviors for each class.

2 Available in <http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2003/espanol/>.

3 Kuya, Dorothy 2000 “L’action du mouvement africain pour les réparations au Royaume-Uni” en Chalons, Serge et al. (dirs.) De l’esclavage aux réparations (Paris: Karthala) p. 182.

4 It is worthy of mention that, even though the African communities of the Americas participated massively in American independence, they would have to wait 40 years in order to ratify the abolition of slavery.

5 “Afro” refers to continental Africans and to the African Diaspora.

6 See Infoplease: <http://Infoplease.com/ipa/AO855617.html>.

7 United Nations’ preliminary report, evaluating the situation of Afrodescendents in Colombia, 2001.

8 In 2003, among the 890,000 and 3 million excluded people in Colombia, 17% were Afro-Colombians.



Madeleine Andebeng L. Alingué*

 

SEATTLE, seek PORTO ALEGRE, DURBAN and more recently Bombay are massive and conclusive expressions of the fight for a better future. From Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, to Europe and the United States, the planning and ordering of the global economic system gradually and dramatically imperils the life of millions of families. This phenomenon of increasing exclusion is mainly conditioned by a transnational economic logic, which establishes an eminently predatory consumption pattern that undermines the ecological, material and social basis of human life and dignity.

From a historical distance, the analysis of social movements makes it possible to prove that processes of change are constituted by “ruptures” expressed mainly by “resistance”. Reciprocally, in order to generate ruptures, resistance must be massive, organized and sustainable. Therefore, the recent appropriation of the field of resistance by anti-globalization activists of industrialized countries has granted a new input to worldwide mobilizations: a mediatic input necessary for current protests.

Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have for centuries posed and designed “other” ways of resistance that, though less visible, have modified and altered international, regional and national balances. At present, the multiplication and diversification of worldwide resistance formats (political and economic) involves an increasing amount of affected people and implies recognizing the “fairness” of our fight. In addition, the possibility of counting on an observation and interpretation that includes contextual and temporal social movements makes it possible to understand their dimensions, potentialities and scope.

Africa, and especially the African transatlantic resistance, offers an experience that refers to the contemporary resistance’s two mainstays: the first one, economic, on the formats and purposes of the production system; the second one, political, on racial discrimination and its social effects.

It is worth clarifying that even though there is a bibliographic gap about African experiences, based on specialized analyses, experts regret the “invisibility” of African contributions to the construction and evolution of modern resistance. This invisibility is understood as a “non existence”, or as the “incapacity to become visible” in the framework of modern development. Afro-descendants in the Americas and the Caribbean are more than 150 million. In view of this evidence, I allow myself instead to question the systems and scientific approaches to the measurement of reality that cloud our social nuances.

 

African modern resistance’s genealogy (XV-XX)

African transatlantic resistance arises and shares its origin with the development of triangular trade initiated in the XVI century among Africa, America and Europe. With a tri-continental geographic scenario connected by the Atlantic Ocean, triangular trade consisted of an exchange of products and services that set up the principles, structure and dynamics of Atlantic modern economic globalization.

For Latin America, the colonization and exploitation of raw materials required the importing of an African labor force. For Europe, the consolidation of nations-states, technological development, the food revolution and the pursuit of wealth consolidated American colonization and the opening of African commercial routes towards the Atlantic.

From the African continent, the implementation of territorial domains in the Americas and the resistance of Indian people offered options of diversification of commercial routes with the aim to expand their growth and development strategies. That is why, in the first stage of the triangular trade, one can observe an organized and planned participation, from the XV century until the mid XVII. The experience of African labor force exports is not new in African economic history. Starting in the VI century, marine and land trade with Asia included an extensive range of products such as the African slave labor force. It is important to recall that trade in human beings was not an African exception but a reality in numerous regions of the world (Europe, Asia and America), based on a principle of economic exploitation.

From the XVII century onwards, the enlargement of colonial objectives in the Americas and the Caribbean generated the competitiveness of colonial and marine markets, and piracy and illegality gave shape to the industrialization of triangular trade. In this second stage, African participation and answers to the rising demand would show to be disordered and unplanned, leading to a new category of merchant: the “slave trader”. This period will be denounced as that of the slave trade or transatlantic trade.

Additionally, since the XVI century, a model of social organization based on a cultural classification system and ranking according to racial castes1 is established as from the American colonies. Colonial hegemony allowed the use of “terror” as a mediator of almost all the links between the white minority and the so-called “irrational”, be them aboriginal population or black (Taussig, 1991: 5). The African “savage” represented the spiritual and rational level of Europeans when providence or reason freed them. Implicitly and explicitly, this interpretation permitted Europeans, in the name of Christ –through the system of the Inquisition–, or in the name of reason, to colonize, administer and, whenever possible, to enslave the savage.

For the people enslaved, the loss of freedom, labor exploitation and physical extermination hatched African transatlantic resistance and mobilizations. Between the XVI and the XIX century, the sabotage of agricultural and cattle production (Arocha, 1998: 343), open revolt and flight were common formats of resistance.

In the face of this double discrimination –class and race– Africans of the continent as well as of the Americas and the Caribbean designed strategies in order to restore the balances of survival and sustainability.

 

Economic strategies

Globalization is presented as a “free market”, the result of a natural process of commercial expansion and a development generator. However, this presentation happens to be counteracted by a “reality” that questions its modalities and objectives.

This reality translates into the fact that 20% of the world’s population holds 83% of the world GDP, controls 82% of international trade, uses up the 95% of the total of commercial loans granted in the planet, and generates 95% of all the research and development of the world. The last UNDP Human Development Report (PNUD, 2003)2 pinpoints that 3,000 million people in the world survive on less than 2 dollars a day, while 1,200 million people survive on less than 1 dollar per day and lack drinking water. Finally, 2,400 million are in need of basic sanitation.

Systems, their modalities, and the tools (legal, scientific and technological) for the operation and development of the global market, are monopolized by the “West”, marginalizing “peripheral societies” from the free market’s benefits. This exclusion translates into the undervaluing of their products and into commercial logic.

In view of globalization’s aim of being the engine of development, experts try to convince us that the display of negative results (high levels of poverty and effects on the environment, among others) is a consequence of local or national inability to take up a position within the global system. The subsequent imposition or importation of development models in the countries of the so-called Third World showed the limits of its applicability, causing effects contradictory to the ideal of development and precluding “exchange” in every way.

Due to the fact that it is in the African experience in the Americas and the Caribbean that this ambivalence is most crudely revealed, African transatlantic resistance movements have worked out interpretations and strategies in order to keep up and improve their population’s quality of life. According to African transatlantic movements, the establishment of an organizational system based on racial stratification placed Afro-descendants at the bottom of the social scale. African populations in the Americas are affected by unemployment, a lack of basic services such as health, education and housing, and an absence of communication networks that violate their private and civil rights.

From local initiatives for self-sufficiency (setting up cooperatives or creation of non-governmental organizations) to international negotiation processes, African transatlantic resistance strategies have made it possible to modify economic structures.

In 1975, Africa and the G77 with the proposal of a “New World Economic Order”, which according to professor Samir Amin is a “project of rejuvenation of the controlled internationalization that would have allowed the continuation of general growth” (Amin, 1989), mobilized and combined several political, economic and social fronts to provide a way out for to the Third World’s problems, and in particular for Afro-American transatlantic ones. More recently, from the African continent and its diasporas, the New Partnership for African Development –NEPAD– with South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria was designed, which aims to grant new competitive spaces to all Africans within and outside the continent.

The South-South Summit on debt, “Towards a new millennium free of debt”, carried out in November 1999 in Johannesburg, and the International Meeting Dakar 2000 “From the Resistance to Alternatives”, in December 2000, had as their aim to pressure for the annulment of the debt and the abandonment of the adjustment programs in the Third World. Among the most specific initiatives there exists, for instance, the African Business Roundtable, which gathers African and Afro-American businessmen who work for the strengthening of African transatlantic companies.

From the field of economy, a “labour of memory” is materialized, aimed at re-establishing, through compensation or reparation, ethic and economic balances for the reintegration and return to action of Africans as regards the productive processes. Therefore, for many spokespeople of this way of resistance, the “position consists in declaring that it is the duty of the states that have enriched themselves thanks to slavery, to grant a compensation to those that have been impoverished due to the latter […] and that to the recognition of the crime should be added the debt cancellation of African, Latin American and Caribbean countries. In like manner, the restoration of the compensation must include the redistribution of the means of production and of exchange […] We consider urgent also to suppress the social barriers that exist due to the persistence of the caste spirit”3.

Even though these strategies have allowed an improvement in the conditions of economic negotiation, the results obtained continue to be negative for African communities. The low literacy rate and the lack of access to basic services reveal the inefficacy of an “equitable economic thought” vis-à-vis a perception of “irreversibility” of the conditions and processes of development in the framework of the national and global economic structure.

We know that globalization is an ideological “discourse” aimed at legitimizing capital’s strategies (Amin, 1997). We know that this discourse is created by a mechanism that constructs it. There is therefore an urgent need to modify the perception and the instruments of participation of African transatlantic peoples in the world economy.

 

Political victories

From their beginnings, African transatlantic struggles and arguments rapidly produced positive results. Already in 1804, Haitian capabilities allowed total independence and the implementation of the first model of an African state in the Caribbean.

With regard to the American continent, the conditions of domination allowed the obtention of political and legal victories such as the abolition of slavery in 18504. At present, they are expressed through policies of “affirmative action” or of “positive discrimination”. In relation to these two mobilization settings, America’s and the Caribbean’s Afro-Americans expressed themselves mainly in two different formats.

First, governability. The experience of political independence (Haiti), with administrative management capacity, economic control and cultural development, showed its limits in the practice of autonomy (e.g., the recent expulsion of elected president Aristide). With a revolutionary Constitution, the management of society was organized on stiff, authoritarian and centralized practices. Additionally, the Island’s geo-strategical position (the Greater Caribbean) sometimes had a dramatic influence on its development.

The second scheme: multiculturalism. From the Americas, the freedom (from slavery) attained did not involve Afro-Americans’ active participation in the decision-making process. Until the new constitutions implemented in the 80s, Afro-Americans were recognized as “citizens with no rights” through a “modern apartheid” model. The American system identifies and legitimizes “Afros” or “negritude”, but makes them invisible in their domestic and international agendas. This format of inclusion is generated through the logic of the “ethnic minority”, in which perception and treatment cause a process of systematic marginalization, displayed in a behavior of “conscious” discrimination.

In view of this political and social invisibility, in both scenarios, numerous Afro-American and Caribbean intellectuals have drawn up interpretations in order to organize the transatlantic resistance. The actors of the construction of the African memory and struggle are located, in the main, within the pan-African movement.

This movement is a sphere of theoretical interpretations, political initiatives and economic strategies formulated by and for Africans. Its struggle is concentrated on the recognition and promotion of Africans. Its field of action includes the Americas, Caribbean, Africa and the new African Diasporas (Europe, Central Europe, Canada and Asia, among others). Structured at the end of the 19th century and beginnings of the 20th, the pan-African movement was organized and consolidated through the following international meetings: London in 1900, Paris in 1919, Paris in 1921, London in 1923, New York in 1927 and Manchester in 1945.

From Africa and from the Americas and the Caribbean, pan-Africanist leaders such as Edward W. Blyden (1832-1929).), W.E.B. Dubois (1868-1963), George Padmore (1902-1959), Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), Leopold Sedar Senghor (1903-2001), Aimé Césaire (1913), Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), Julius Nyerere (1922-1999), Jomo Kenyatta (1891-1978), Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961), Emperador Hailé Selassié I (1892-1975), Martín Luther King (1928-1968), Malcolm X (1925-1965), C.L.R. James (1901-1989), Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) and Archie Mafeje (1937), just to name a few, identified theoretical and methodological options for the promotion of the African peoples. For each one of them, the extent of their mobilizations was carried out in different times and conditions. At present, all the pan-Africanist interpretative proposals have again acquired vigor and feed the formulation and design of coordinated and sustainable manners of existence.

Recently, academic settings have also appropriated the issue, granting continuity, shape and depth to African social movements. In the Caribbean, the annual “All African Students’ Conference” held at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica, focuses, for instance, on themes such as “Pan-Africanism at the Beginning of the 21st Century: New Century, Same Challenges” and reporting on the theoretical advances of African legitimacy. With regard to the African continent, the conference “Intellectuals, Nationalism and the Pan-African Ideal” organized by the Council for Development and Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and held in Dakar, Senegal, in December 2003, is another evidence of the need to articulate and coordinate theoretical as well as practical efforts within contemporary African resistance.

In parallel with this process of internal formulation and definition, there also exist external mobilization strategies. The World Conference against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Similar Forms of Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, is an important opportunity for African social movements to debate and face the complex outlines of the “race” discourse that has excluded the “Afro”5 from local, national and international public settings. International mobilizations have made it possible to establish alliances that create feedback, and enlarge and increase the options of legitimacy. Therefore, African transatlantic mobilizations organize on different levels.

In the first place, political and legal initiatives such as the Meeting of Afro-descendant Parliamentarians of the Americas and the Caribbean I and II, held in Brazil in October 2003 and in Colombia in May 2004 respectively. The conferences identified a great number of Afro-descendant parliamentarians and focused on the dissemination of local problems. Lastly, they reasserted the need to create strategic alliances for the promotion of policies on behalf of Afro-American and Caribbean populations and communities. In the second place, African mass participation (labor unions, intellectuals, academics, student and peasant movements) in the “Battle of Seattle” (1999) and the I World Social Forum of Porto Alegre (Brazil) to raise and discuss land rights, citizenship, liberty, equality and peace by means of the discourse regarding the redemption of the historic and social debt. Thirdly, one may identify mobilizations such as the “Million Man March” (1995) in Washington DC, or the March against Racism, in favor of Equality and Life (2000) in Brazil, in which the dynamics consist in generating greater self-consciousness: “The only way we are going to stand up and be seen is if we do it together”.

 

Social strategies

Due to the fact that the social is the sole area in which all the actors negotiate their identity, it is within this field that African pressures have individual or collectively attained startling results. African transatlantic social strategies carry out and combine different fields of negotiation, with the aim of generating the changes necessary for their existence. As a main result of this process, in the Americas and the Caribbean more than 150 million Afro-Americans are to be found.

Even though census systems continue to be unreliable due to the fact they are “inflexible”, the Afro-descended population reaches 95% in Haiti, 90.4% in Jamaica, more than 90% in Trinidad and Tobago, 62% in Cuba, 47% in Brazil, 26% in Colombia, 18% in the United States, 10% in Ecuador, 4% in Uruguay, 3% in Peru and 2% in Chile. This is without cataloguing regions such as Central America (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, Honduras, and Guatemala) and Caribbean territories such as the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Guyana, and the French Antilles due to their condition of colonies6. Their quantitative spread and territorial distribution prove their development and capacity of transformation. These capabilities develop through several social strategies.

First, crossbreeding. The establishment of racial stratification as an economic, cultural and social development model posed for the majority of Afro-descendants the need for “whitening” as a logic of integration. The half-caste is an option to break down the limits of labor and cultural discrimination. This conscious movement of acculturation designed new ways of African identity and made more flexible and ample the formats of African identity. Secondly, for many Afro-descendants the maintenance of an African identity has to do with autonomy and self-determination. Historically, freedom was associated with independence.

Therefore, the appropriation of land, as in the constitution of the Republic of Palmares in Brazil, or the Palenque of San Basilio in Colombia, are symbols of African mobilization. Additionally, as from the XVII century, the number of slaves who bought from their bosses letters of freedom and migrated from the mines of the gold-bearing areas to havens free of slavers increased (Arocha, 1998: 341-348; Friedmann and Arocha, 1995: 58-62). Nowadays, these efforts of libertarian separatism are displayed in legal mobilizations that have managed to speed up processes of collective titling of land. According to Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle (1988a), this need “integrates and incorporates them into the constitutional state […] and transforms them […] into citizens with a heritage to defend and into active participants in socioeconomic development”.

Thirdly, struggles aimed at the strengthening and preservation of African culture hatched other juridical processes that established policies of ethno education in the Americas. To this end, the promotion of intercultural education that will contribute to the recognition, knowledge and appraisal of cultural and ethnic differences is sought; to promote processes of education of African communities in the Americas; and, lastly, to contribute to the improvement in quality and expansion of Afro-descendants’ pre-school, basic, primary and advanced education.

In the fourth place, affirmative action policies concerning economic development called ethno-development. Within national development plans, ethnic development proposals that recovered traditional abilities and customs are incorporated. In Colombia, Brazil and Belize, projects tending towards the rescue, preservation and strengthening of cultural values are carried out, together with the training of members in small self-management enterprises, with the aim to fight unemployment, the worsening of the standard of living, mass emigration and the abandonment of the community heritage.

Fifth, in view of the labor market’s limits, Afro-descendants have delved since the eighties into new forms of economic organization, such as the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). These are considered new modalities of economic production that not only foster the creation of companies but also constitute an independent political position which, in the case of Afro-descendants, refer to “Afro” identity.

Sixth and last, the creation of networks. Local efforts have had to confront to such amount of necessities that mobilizations required alliances. In Colombia, for instance, the Process of Black Communities has established contacts and agreements with other regional agents, such as the Andean network of black communities that includes Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru.

Thus, African responses reply to the challenges of legitimacy and sustainability. Afro-Americans have turned the New World into a democratic social and organizational model. For those who criticize Afro-descendants due to the way they build their identity in the process of construction of the nation, it is important to stress out that in every process of negotiation Africans have understood that coexistence depends –to a large extent– on the flexibility and adaptability of the actors.

 

The Colombian case

Unlike the majority of the countries that make up the Andean region, Colombia, due to its access to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, has been, through its port of Cartagena, one the main entry territories of enslaved Africans. Afro-Colombians (included the localized population of San Andres and Providencia) constitute 26.83%, that is to say, 11,745,403 people. The vast majority of Afro-Colombians live on the Pacific Coast, in the departments of Choco, Valle, Cauca and Nariño, but also in the big cities on the Atlantic Coast such as Barranquilla and Cartagena, and in the capital city, Bogota, where they are estimated in more than a million7.

Since its constitution as a Republic, Colombia has undergone political and military violence, revealed in the systematic violation of the population’s fundamental rights. This has worsened the situation of precariousness and economic and social penury, as well as of racial and ethnic discrimination in its population. The mass presence of Afro-Colombian populations in the regions of main economic and strategic significance is associated, likewise, with the zones of conflict, a fact that makes them doubly vulnerable8.

It is within this context of extreme tension that Afro-Colombian social movements’ constant demands have been satisfied by the dispositions of the Constitution of 1991. The Colombian nation’s ratification of multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity establishes principles and rights concerning autonomy, ethnic-cultural diversity and their own language, bilingual instruction, territoriality and own education for black communities.

Among Afro-Colombian victories, the Law 70 of 1993 and the General Education Law 115 of 1994 recognize the right to receive education for Indian, black and localized communities. Officially identified as ethno-education, it recognizes Colombia’s black communities as an ethnic group and recognizes collective rights in the matter of territory, the use of natural resources, participation and socioeconomic development, in tune with their particular conditions. For the development of the Law, decree 1745 of 1945 was issued, regulating the procedure for collective title deeds. Nowadays, Afro-Colombian communities own 4.6 million hectares on the Colombian Pacific. Likewise, they have priority for the exploitation of existing natural resources there, and must be consulted in the processes aimed at granting permissions or authorizations for their exploitation.

This set of recognitions has allowed the African identity to be visible in Colombia. Since 1991, more than 1,080 Afro-Colombian organizations have been distributed all across the territory together with others related to particular sectors: homes for orphaned children, associations of female household heads, organizations for the displaced (AFRODES), cultural organizations (Black Colombia Foundation), political and educational associations, leadership schools (Maroon movements), musical groupings and associations for Afro youth. All of them act as pressure and mobilization groups for the promotion of Afro-American communities in Colombia.

 

Not to conclude

The African social movements’ trajectory, pioneering in anti-capitalist mobilization, has demonstrated that within unequal structures, rebalancing formats are possible. In view of the double discrimination of class and race, the resistance has drawn up strategies that have managed in the Americas and the Caribbean to create more ample coexistence systems and, hence, more sustainable ones. The African transatlantic movement has provided a distinct analysis that turns Africans into active participants in their history and fully shares the theoretical, economic, political and social basis of the new forms of mobilization.

The African experience –the most extensive, diverse and sustainable one– provides mechanisms that are rationally inserted within the new dynamics of world social movements. On the one hand, from a universal standpoint, African theoretical interpretations, by re-appropriating their Humanity, offer a progressive and equitable view and comprehension of the global system. On the other hand, strategies are worked on from the multisectorial angle, by recognizing and allowing each actor’s objectives, modalities and aims that have been articulated and mobilized in order to create fairer organization and coexistence systems.

Even though these combined efforts have produced fundamental results in the evolution of worldwide human relations, it is important to recognize the limits of their scopes. African transatlantic movements have to face new technological, health, education and socioeconomic leveling challenges, among many other modern ones.

At present time, in view of the acceleration of the processes of marginalization, resistance movements are at a crucial stage of their credibility and sustainability. Therefore, it is necessary to deepen and extend the forms of mobilization, applying the feedback of particular experiences. To account for the meaning of these manifestations today, to integrate the diversity of contexts, actors and social demands as they are defined today, gives feasibility to the worldwide social movements.

 

 

Notes

 

* Coordinator of the African Studies Group, Professor and Researcher at the Faculty of Finance, Government and International Relations at the Universidad Externado de Colombia, in Bogota, Colombia.

1 Black codes used to regroup legislation on permitted behaviors for each class.

2 Available in <http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2003/espanol/>.

3 Kuya, Dorothy 2000 “L’action du mouvement africain pour les réparations au Royaume-Uni” en Chalons, Serge et al. (dirs.) De l’esclavage aux réparations (Paris: Karthala) p. 182.

4 It is worthy of mention that, even though the African communities of the Americas participated massively in American independence, they would have to wait 40 years in order to ratify the abolition of slavery.

5 “Afro” refers to continental Africans and to the African Diaspora.

6 See Infoplease: <http://Infoplease.com/ipa/AO855617.html>.

7 United Nations’ preliminary report, evaluating the situation of Afrodescendents in Colombia, 2001.

8 In 2003, among the 890,000 and 3 million excluded people in Colombia, 17% were Afro-Colombians.

 


Madeleine Andebeng L. Alingué*

 

SEATTLE, PORTO ALEGRE, DURBAN and more recently Bombay are massive and conclusive expressions of the fight for a better future. From Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, to Europe and the United States, the planning and ordering of the global economic system gradually and dramatically imperils the life of millions of families. This phenomenon of increasing exclusion is mainly conditioned by a transnational economic logic, which establishes an eminently predatory consumption pattern that undermines the ecological, material and social basis of human life and dignity.

From a historical distance, the analysis of social movements makes it possible to prove that processes of change are constituted by “ruptures” expressed mainly by “resistance”. Reciprocally, in order to generate ruptures, resistance must be massive, organized and sustainable. Therefore, the recent appropriation of the field of resistance by anti-globalization activists of industrialized countries has granted a new input to worldwide mobilizations: a mediatic input necessary for current protests.

Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have for centuries posed and designed “other” ways of resistance that, though less visible, have modified and altered international, regional and national balances. At present, the multiplication and diversification of worldwide resistance formats (political and economic) involves an increasing amount of affected people and implies recognizing the “fairness” of our fight. In addition, the possibility of counting on an observation and interpretation that includes contextual and temporal social movements makes it possible to understand their dimensions, potentialities and scope.

Africa, and especially the African transatlantic resistance, offers an experience that refers to the contemporary resistance’s two mainstays: the first one, economic, on the formats and purposes of the production system; the second one, political, on racial discrimination and its social effects.

It is worth clarifying that even though there is a bibliographic gap about African experiences, based on specialized analyses, experts regret the “invisibility” of African contributions to the construction and evolution of modern resistance. This invisibility is understood as a “non existence”, or as the “incapacity to become visible” in the framework of modern development. Afro-descendants in the Americas and the Caribbean are more than 150 million. In view of this evidence, I allow myself instead to question the systems and scientific approaches to the measurement of reality that cloud our social nuances.

 

African modern resistance’s genealogy (XV-XX)

African transatlantic resistance arises and shares its origin with the development of triangular trade initiated in the XVI century among Africa, America and Europe. With a tri-continental geographic scenario connected by the Atlantic Ocean, triangular trade consisted of an exchange of products and services that set up the principles, structure and dynamics of Atlantic modern economic globalization.

For Latin America, the colonization and exploitation of raw materials required the importing of an African labor force. For Europe, the consolidation of nations-states, technological development, the food revolution and the pursuit of wealth consolidated American colonization and the opening of African commercial routes towards the Atlantic.

From the African continent, the implementation of territorial domains in the Americas and the resistance of Indian people offered options of diversification of commercial routes with the aim to expand their growth and development strategies. That is why, in the first stage of the triangular trade, one can observe an organized and planned participation, from the XV century until the mid XVII. The experience of African labor force exports is not new in African economic history. Starting in the VI century, marine and land trade with Asia included an extensive range of products such as the African slave labor force. It is important to recall that trade in human beings was not an African exception but a reality in numerous regions of the world (Europe, Asia and America), based on a principle of economic exploitation.

From the XVII century onwards, the enlargement of colonial objectives in the Americas and the Caribbean generated the competitiveness of colonial and marine markets, and piracy and illegality gave shape to the industrialization of triangular trade. In this second stage, African participation and answers to the rising demand would show to be disordered and unplanned, leading to a new category of merchant: the “slave trader”. This period will be denounced as that of the slave trade or transatlantic trade.

Additionally, since the XVI century, a model of social organization based on a cultural classification system and ranking according to racial castes1 is established as from the American colonies. Colonial hegemony allowed the use of “terror” as a mediator of almost all the links between the white minority and the so-called “irrational”, be them aboriginal population or black (Taussig, 1991: 5). The African “savage” represented the spiritual and rational level of Europeans when providence or reason freed them. Implicitly and explicitly, this interpretation permitted Europeans, in the name of Christ –through the system of the Inquisition–, or in the name of reason, to colonize, administer and, whenever possible, to enslave the savage.

For the people enslaved, the loss of freedom, labor exploitation and physical extermination hatched African transatlantic resistance and mobilizations. Between the XVI and the XIX century, the sabotage of agricultural and cattle production (Arocha, 1998: 343), open revolt and flight were common formats of resistance.

In the face of this double discrimination –class and race– Africans of the continent as well as of the Americas and the Caribbean designed strategies in order to restore the balances of survival and sustainability.

 

Economic strategies

Globalization is presented as a “free market”, the result of a natural process of commercial expansion and a development generator. However, this presentation happens to be counteracted by a “reality” that questions its modalities and objectives.

This reality translates into the fact that 20% of the world’s population holds 83% of the world GDP, controls 82% of international trade, uses up the 95% of the total of commercial loans granted in the planet, and generates 95% of all the research and development of the world. The last UNDP Human Development Report (PNUD, 2003)2 pinpoints that 3,000 million people in the world survive on less than 2 dollars a day, while 1,200 million people survive on less than 1 dollar per day and lack drinking water. Finally, 2,400 million are in need of basic sanitation.

Systems, their modalities, and the tools (legal, scientific and technological) for the operation and development of the global market, are monopolized by the “West”, marginalizing “peripheral societies” from the free market’s benefits. This exclusion translates into the undervaluing of their products and into commercial logic.

In view of globalization’s aim of being the engine of development, experts try to convince us that the display of negative results (high levels of poverty and effects on the environment, among others) is a consequence of local or national inability to take up a position within the global system. The subsequent imposition or importation of development models in the countries of the so-called Third World showed the limits of its applicability, causing effects contradictory to the ideal of development and precluding “exchange” in every way.

Due to the fact that it is in the African experience in the Americas and the Caribbean that this ambivalence is most crudely revealed, African transatlantic resistance movements have worked out interpretations and strategies in order to keep up and improve their population’s quality of life. According to African transatlantic movements, the establishment of an organizational system based on racial stratification placed Afro-descendants at the bottom of the social scale. African populations in the Americas are affected by unemployment, a lack of basic services such as health, education and housing, and an absence of communication networks that violate their private and civil rights.

From local initiatives for self-sufficiency (setting up cooperatives or creation of non-governmental organizations) to international negotiation processes, African transatlantic resistance strategies have made it possible to modify economic structures.

In 1975, Africa and the G77 with the proposal of a “New World Economic Order”, which according to professor Samir Amin is a “project of rejuvenation of the controlled internationalization that would have allowed the continuation of general growth” (Amin, 1989), mobilized and combined several political, economic and social fronts to provide a way out for to the Third World’s problems, and in particular for Afro-American transatlantic ones. More recently, from the African continent and its diasporas, the New Partnership for African Development –NEPAD– with South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria was designed, which aims to grant new competitive spaces to all Africans within and outside the continent.

The South-South Summit on debt, “Towards a new millennium free of debt”, carried out in November 1999 in Johannesburg, and the International Meeting Dakar 2000 “From the Resistance to Alternatives”, in December 2000, had as their aim to pressure for the annulment of the debt and the abandonment of the adjustment programs in the Third World. Among the most specific initiatives there exists, for instance, the African Business Roundtable, which gathers African and Afro-American businessmen who work for the strengthening of African transatlantic companies.

From the field of economy, a “labour of memory” is materialized, aimed at re-establishing, through compensation or reparation, ethic and economic balances for the reintegration and return to action of Africans as regards the productive processes. Therefore, for many spokespeople of this way of resistance, the “position consists in declaring that it is the duty of the states that have enriched themselves thanks to slavery, to grant a compensation to those that have been impoverished due to the latter […] and that to the recognition of the crime should be added the debt cancellation of African, Latin American and Caribbean countries. In like manner, the restoration of the compensation must include the redistribution of the means of production and of exchange […] We consider urgent also to suppress the social barriers that exist due to the persistence of the caste spirit”3.

Even though these strategies have allowed an improvement in the conditions of economic negotiation, the results obtained continue to be negative for African communities. The low literacy rate and the lack of access to basic services reveal the inefficacy of an “equitable economic thought” vis-à-vis a perception of “irreversibility” of the conditions and processes of development in the framework of the national and global economic structure.

We know that globalization is an ideological “discourse” aimed at legitimizing capital’s strategies (Amin, 1997). We know that this discourse is created by a mechanism that constructs it. There is therefore an urgent need to modify the perception and the instruments of participation of African transatlantic peoples in the world economy.

 

Political victories

From their beginnings, African transatlantic struggles and arguments rapidly produced positive results. Already in 1804, Haitian capabilities allowed total independence and the implementation of the first model of an African state in the Caribbean.

With regard to the American continent, the conditions of domination allowed the obtention of political and legal victories such as the abolition of slavery in 18504. At present, they are expressed through policies of “affirmative action” or of “positive discrimination”. In relation to these two mobilization settings, America’s and the Caribbean’s Afro-Americans expressed themselves mainly in two different formats.

First, governability. The experience of political independence (Haiti), with administrative management capacity, economic control and cultural development, showed its limits in the practice of autonomy (e.g., the recent expulsion of elected president Aristide). With a revolutionary Constitution, the management of society was organized on stiff, authoritarian and centralized practices. Additionally, the Island’s geo-strategical position (the Greater Caribbean) sometimes had a dramatic influence on its development.

The second scheme: multiculturalism. From the Americas, the freedom (from slavery) attained did not involve Afro-Americans’ active participation in the decision-making process. Until the new constitutions implemented in the 80s, Afro-Americans were recognized as “citizens with no rights” through a “modern apartheid” model. The American system identifies and legitimizes “Afros” or “negritude”, but makes them invisible in their domestic and international agendas. This format of inclusion is generated through the logic of the “ethnic minority”, in which perception and treatment cause a process of systematic marginalization, displayed in a behavior of “conscious” discrimination.

In view of this political and social invisibility, in both scenarios, numerous Afro-American and Caribbean intellectuals have drawn up interpretations in order to organize the transatlantic resistance. The actors of the construction of the African memory and struggle are located, in the main, within the pan-African movement.

This movement is a sphere of theoretical interpretations, political initiatives and economic strategies formulated by and for Africans. Its struggle is concentrated on the recognition and promotion of Africans. Its field of action includes the Americas, Caribbean, Africa and the new African Diasporas (Europe, Central Europe, Canada and Asia, among others). Structured at the end of the 19th century and beginnings of the 20th, the pan-African movement was organized and consolidated through the following international meetings: London in 1900, Paris in 1919, Paris in 1921, London in 1923, New York in 1927 and Manchester in 1945.

From Africa and from the Americas and the Caribbean, pan-Africanist leaders such as Edward W. Blyden (1832-1929).), W.E.B. Dubois (1868-1963), George Padmore (1902-1959), Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), Leopold Sedar Senghor (1903-2001), Aimé Césaire (1913), Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), Julius Nyerere (1922-1999), Jomo Kenyatta (1891-1978), Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961), Emperador Hailé Selassié I (1892-1975), Martín Luther King (1928-1968), Malcolm X (1925-1965), C.L.R. James (1901-1989), Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) and Archie Mafeje (1937), just to name a few, identified theoretical and methodological options for the promotion of the African peoples. For each one of them, the extent of their mobilizations was carried out in different times and conditions. At present, all the pan-Africanist interpretative proposals have again acquired vigor and feed the formulation and design of coordinated and sustainable manners of existence.

Recently, academic settings have also appropriated the issue, granting continuity, shape and depth to African social movements. In the Caribbean, the annual “All African Students’ Conference” held at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica, focuses, for instance, on themes such as “Pan-Africanism at the Beginning of the 21st Century: New Century, Same Challenges” and reporting on the theoretical advances of African legitimacy. With regard to the African continent, the conference “Intellectuals, Nationalism and the Pan-African Ideal” organized by the Council for Development and Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and held in Dakar, Senegal, in December 2003, is another evidence of the need to articulate and coordinate theoretical as well as practical efforts within contemporary African resistance.

In parallel with this process of internal formulation and definition, there also exist external mobilization strategies. The World Conference against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Similar Forms of Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, is an important opportunity for African social movements to debate and face the complex outlines of the “race” discourse that has excluded the “Afro”5 from local, national and international public settings. International mobilizations have made it possible to establish alliances that create feedback, and enlarge and increase the options of legitimacy. Therefore, African transatlantic mobilizations organize on different levels.

In the first place, political and legal initiatives such as the Meeting of Afro-descendant Parliamentarians of the Americas and the Caribbean I and II, held in Brazil in October 2003 and in Colombia in May 2004 respectively. The conferences identified a great number of Afro-descendant parliamentarians and focused on the dissemination of local problems. Lastly, they reasserted the need to create strategic alliances for the promotion of policies on behalf of Afro-American and Caribbean populations and communities. In the second place, African mass participation (labor unions, intellectuals, academics, student and peasant movements) in the “Battle of Seattle” (1999) and the I World Social Forum of Porto Alegre (Brazil) to raise and discuss land rights, citizenship, liberty, equality and peace by means of the discourse regarding the redemption of the historic and social debt. Thirdly, one may identify mobilizations such as the “Million Man March” (1995) in Washington DC, or the March against Racism, in favor of Equality and Life (2000) in Brazil, in which the dynamics consist in generating greater self-consciousness: “The only way we are going to stand up and be seen is if we do it together”.

 

Social strategies

Due to the fact that the social is the sole area in which all the actors negotiate their identity, it is within this field that African pressures have individual or collectively attained startling results. African transatlantic social strategies carry out and combine different fields of negotiation, with the aim of generating the changes necessary for their existence. As a main result of this process, in the Americas and the Caribbean more than 150 million Afro-Americans are to be found.

Even though census systems continue to be unreliable due to the fact they are “inflexible”, the Afro-descended population reaches 95% in Haiti, 90.4% in Jamaica, more than 90% in Trinidad and Tobago, 62% in Cuba, 47% in Brazil, 26% in Colombia, 18% in the United States, 10% in Ecuador, 4% in Uruguay, 3% in Peru and 2% in Chile. This is without cataloguing regions such as Central America (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, Honduras, and Guatemala) and Caribbean territories such as the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Guyana, and the French Antilles due to their condition of colonies6. Their quantitative spread and territorial distribution prove their development and capacity of transformation. These capabilities develop through several social strategies.

First, crossbreeding. The establishment of racial stratification as an economic, cultural and social development model posed for the majority of Afro-descendants the need for “whitening” as a logic of integration. The half-caste is an option to break down the limits of labor and cultural discrimination. This conscious movement of acculturation designed new ways of African identity and made more flexible and ample the formats of African identity. Secondly, for many Afro-descendants the maintenance of an African identity has to do with autonomy and self-determination. Historically, freedom was associated with independence.

Therefore, the appropriation of land, as in the constitution of the Republic of Palmares in Brazil, or the Palenque of San Basilio in Colombia, are symbols of African mobilization. Additionally, as from the XVII century, the number of slaves who bought from their bosses letters of freedom and migrated from the mines of the gold-bearing areas to havens free of slavers increased (Arocha, 1998: 341-348; Friedmann and Arocha, 1995: 58-62). Nowadays, these efforts of libertarian separatism are displayed in legal mobilizations that have managed to speed up processes of collective titling of land. According to Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle (1988a), this need “integrates and incorporates them into the constitutional state […] and transforms them […] into citizens with a heritage to defend and into active participants in socioeconomic development”.

Thirdly, struggles aimed at the strengthening and preservation of African culture hatched other juridical processes that established policies of ethno education in the Americas. To this end, the promotion of intercultural education that will contribute to the recognition, knowledge and appraisal of cultural and ethnic differences is sought; to promote processes of education of African communities in the Americas; and, lastly, to contribute to the improvement in quality and expansion of Afro-descendants’ pre-school, basic, primary and advanced education.

In the fourth place, affirmative action policies concerning economic development called ethno-development. Within national development plans, ethnic development proposals that recovered traditional abilities and customs are incorporated. In Colombia, Brazil and Belize, projects tending towards the rescue, preservation and strengthening of cultural values are carried out, together with the training of members in small self-management enterprises, with the aim to fight unemployment, the worsening of the standard of living, mass emigration and the abandonment of the community heritage.

Fifth, in view of the labor market’s limits, Afro-descendants have delved since the eighties into new forms of economic organization, such as the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). These are considered new modalities of economic production that not only foster the creation of companies but also constitute an independent political position which, in the case of Afro-descendants, refer to “Afro” identity.

Sixth and last, the creation of networks. Local efforts have had to confront to such amount of necessities that mobilizations required alliances. In Colombia, for instance, the Process of Black Communities has established contacts and agreements with other regional agents, such as the Andean network of black communities that includes Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru.

Thus, African responses reply to the challenges of legitimacy and sustainability. Afro-Americans have turned the New World into a democratic social and organizational model. For those who criticize Afro-descendants due to the way they build their identity in the process of construction of the nation, it is important to stress out that in every process of negotiation Africans have understood that coexistence depends –to a large extent– on the flexibility and adaptability of the actors.

 

The Colombian case

Unlike the majority of the countries that make up the Andean region, Colombia, due to its access to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, has been, through its port of Cartagena, one the main entry territories of enslaved Africans. Afro-Colombians (included the localized population of San Andres and Providencia) constitute 26.83%, that is to say, 11,745,403 people. The vast majority of Afro-Colombians live on the Pacific Coast, in the departments of Choco, Valle, Cauca and Nariño, but also in the big cities on the Atlantic Coast such as Barranquilla and Cartagena, and in the capital city, Bogota, where they are estimated in more than a million7.

Since its constitution as a Republic, Colombia has undergone political and military violence, revealed in the systematic violation of the population’s fundamental rights. This has worsened the situation of precariousness and economic and social penury, as well as of racial and ethnic discrimination in its population. The mass presence of Afro-Colombian populations in the regions of main economic and strategic significance is associated, likewise, with the zones of conflict, a fact that makes them doubly vulnerable8.

It is within this context of extreme tension that Afro-Colombian social movements’ constant demands have been satisfied by the dispositions of the Constitution of 1991. The Colombian nation’s ratification of multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity establishes principles and rights concerning autonomy, ethnic-cultural diversity and their own language, bilingual instruction, territoriality and own education for black communities.

Among Afro-Colombian victories, the Law 70 of 1993 and the General Education Law 115 of 1994 recognize the right to receive education for Indian, black and localized communities. Officially identified as ethno-education, it recognizes Colombia’s black communities as an ethnic group and recognizes collective rights in the matter of territory, the use of natural resources, participation and socioeconomic development, in tune with their particular conditions. For the development of the Law, decree 1745 of 1945 was issued, regulating the procedure for collective title deeds. Nowadays, Afro-Colombian communities own 4.6 million hectares on the Colombian Pacific. Likewise, they have priority for the exploitation of existing natural resources there, and must be consulted in the processes aimed at granting permissions or authorizations for their exploitation.

This set of recognitions has allowed the African identity to be visible in Colombia. Since 1991, more than 1,080 Afro-Colombian organizations have been distributed all across the territory together with others related to particular sectors: homes for orphaned children, associations of female household heads, organizations for the displaced (AFRODES), cultural organizations (Black Colombia Foundation), political and educational associations, leadership schools (Maroon movements), musical groupings and associations for Afro youth. All of them act as pressure and mobilization groups for the promotion of Afro-American communities in Colombia.

 

Not to conclude

The African social movements’ trajectory, pioneering in anti-capitalist mobilization, has demonstrated that within unequal structures, rebalancing formats are possible. In view of the double discrimination of class and race, the resistance has drawn up strategies that have managed in the Americas and the Caribbean to create more ample coexistence systems and, hence, more sustainable ones. The African transatlantic movement has provided a distinct analysis that turns Africans into active participants in their history and fully shares the theoretical, economic, political and social basis of the new forms of mobilization.

The African experience –the most extensive, diverse and sustainable one– provides mechanisms that are rationally inserted within the new dynamics of world social movements. On the one hand, from a universal standpoint, African theoretical interpretations, by re-appropriating their Humanity, offer a progressive and equitable view and comprehension of the global system. On the other hand, strategies are worked on from the multisectorial angle, by recognizing and allowing each actor’s objectives, modalities and aims that have been articulated and mobilized in order to create fairer organization and coexistence systems.

Even though these combined efforts have produced fundamental results in the evolution of worldwide human relations, it is important to recognize the limits of their scopes. African transatlantic movements have to face new technological, health, education and socioeconomic leveling challenges, among many other modern ones.

At present time, in view of the acceleration of the processes of marginalization, resistance movements are at a crucial stage of their credibility and sustainability. Therefore, it is necessary to deepen and extend the forms of mobilization, applying the feedback of particular experiences. To account for the meaning of these manifestations today, to integrate the diversity of contexts, actors and social demands as they are defined today, gives feasibility to the worldwide social movements.

 

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Notes

 

* Coordinator of the African Studies Group, Professor and Researcher at the Faculty of Finance, Government and International Relations at the Universidad Externado de Colombia, in Bogota, Colombia.

1 Black codes used to regroup legislation on permitted behaviors for each class.

2 Available in <http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2003/espanol/>.

3 Kuya, Dorothy 2000 “L’action du mouvement africain pour les réparations au Royaume-Uni” en Chalons, Serge et al. (dirs.) De l’esclavage aux réparations (Paris: Karthala) p. 182.

4 It is worthy of mention that, even though the African communities of the Americas participated massively in American independence, they would have to wait 40 years in order to ratify the abolition of slavery.

5 “Afro” refers to continental Africans and to the African Diaspora.

6 See Infoplease: <http://Infoplease.com/ipa/AO855617.html>.

7 United Nations’ preliminary report, evaluating the situation of Afrodescendents in Colombia, 2001.

8 In 2003, among the 890,000 and 3 million excluded people in Colombia, 17% were Afro-Colombians.

 


Madeleine Andebeng L. Alingué*


SEATTLE, prescription PORTO ALEGRE, DURBAN and more recently Bombay are massive and conclusive expressions of the fight for a better future. From Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, to Europe and the United States, the planning and ordering of the global economic system gradually and dramatically imperils the life of millions of families. This phenomenon of increasing exclusion is mainly conditioned by a transnational economic logic, which establishes an eminently predatory consumption pattern that undermines the ecological, material and social basis of human life and dignity.

From a historical distance, the analysis of social movements makes it possible to prove that processes of change are constituted by “ruptures” expressed mainly by “resistance”. Reciprocally, in order to generate ruptures, resistance must be massive, organized and sustainable. Therefore, the recent appropriation of the field of resistance by anti-globalization activists of industrialized countries has granted a new input to worldwide mobilizations: a mediatic input necessary for current protests.

Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have for centuries posed and designed “other” ways of resistance that, though less visible, have modified and altered international, regional and national balances. At present, the multiplication and diversification of worldwide resistance formats (political and economic) involves an increasing amount of affected people and implies recognizing the “fairness” of our fight. In addition, the possibility of counting on an observation and interpretation that includes contextual and temporal social movements makes it possible to understand their dimensions, potentialities and scope.

Africa, and especially the African transatlantic resistance, offers an experience that refers to the contemporary resistance’s two mainstays: the first one, economic, on the formats and purposes of the production system; the second one, political, on racial discrimination and its social effects.

It is worth clarifying that even though there is a bibliographic gap about African experiences, based on specialized analyses, experts regret the “invisibility” of African contributions to the construction and evolution of modern resistance. This invisibility is understood as a “non existence”, or as the “incapacity to become visible” in the framework of modern development. Afro-descendants in the Americas and the Caribbean are more than 150 million. In view of this evidence, I allow myself instead to question the systems and scientific approaches to the measurement of reality that cloud our social nuances.


African modern resistance’s genealogy (XV-XX)

African transatlantic resistance arises and shares its origin with the development of triangular trade initiated in the XVI century among Africa, America and Europe. With a tri-continental geographic scenario connected by the Atlantic Ocean, triangular trade consisted of an exchange of products and services that set up the principles, structure and dynamics of Atlantic modern economic globalization.

For Latin America, the colonization and exploitation of raw materials required the importing of an African labor force. For Europe, the consolidation of nations-states, technological development, the food revolution and the pursuit of wealth consolidated American colonization and the opening of African commercial routes towards the Atlantic.

From the African continent, the implementation of territorial domains in the Americas and the resistance of Indian people offered options of diversification of commercial routes with the aim to expand their growth and development strategies. That is why, in the first stage of the triangular trade, one can observe an organized and planned participation, from the XV century until the mid XVII. The experience of African labor force exports is not new in African economic history. Starting in the VI century, marine and land trade with Asia included an extensive range of products such as the African slave labor force. It is important to recall that trade in human beings was not an African exception but a reality in numerous regions of the world (Europe, Asia and America), based on a principle of economic exploitation.

From the XVII century onwards, the enlargement of colonial objectives in the Americas and the Caribbean generated the competitiveness of colonial and marine markets, and piracy and illegality gave shape to the industrialization of triangular trade. In this second stage, African participation and answers to the rising demand would show to be disordered and unplanned, leading to a new category of merchant: the “slave trader”. This period will be denounced as that of the slave trade or transatlantic trade.

Additionally, since the XVI century, a model of social organization based on a cultural classification system and ranking according to racial castes1 is established as from the American colonies. Colonial hegemony allowed the use of “terror” as a mediator of almost all the links between the white minority and the so-called “irrational”, be them aboriginal population or black (Taussig, 1991: 5). The African “savage” represented the spiritual and rational level of Europeans when providence or reason freed them. Implicitly and explicitly, this interpretation permitted Europeans, in the name of Christ –through the system of the Inquisition–, or in the name of reason, to colonize, administer and, whenever possible, to enslave the savage.

For the people enslaved, the loss of freedom, labor exploitation and physical extermination hatched African transatlantic resistance and mobilizations. Between the XVI and the XIX century, the sabotage of agricultural and cattle production (Arocha, 1998: 343), open revolt and flight were common formats of resistance.

In the face of this double discrimination –class and race– Africans of the continent as well as of the Americas and the Caribbean designed strategies in order to restore the balances of survival and sustainability.


Economic strategies

Globalization is presented as a “free market”, the result of a natural process of commercial expansion and a development generator. However, this presentation happens to be counteracted by a “reality” that questions its modalities and objectives.

This reality translates into the fact that 20% of the world’s population holds 83% of the world GDP, controls 82% of international trade, uses up the 95% of the total of commercial loans granted in the planet, and generates 95% of all the research and development of the world. The last UNDP Human Development Report (PNUD, 2003)2 pinpoints that 3,000 million people in the world survive on less than 2 dollars a day, while 1,200 million people survive on less than 1 dollar per day and lack drinking water. Finally, 2,400 million are in need of basic sanitation.

Systems, their modalities, and the tools (legal, scientific and technological) for the operation and development of the global market, are monopolized by the “West”, marginalizing “peripheral societies” from the free market’s benefits. This exclusion translates into the undervaluing of their products and into commercial logic.

In view of globalization’s aim of being the engine of development, experts try to convince us that the display of negative results (high levels of poverty and effects on the environment, among others) is a consequence of local or national inability to take up a position within the global system. The subsequent imposition or importation of development models in the countries of the so-called Third World showed the limits of its applicability, causing effects contradictory to the ideal of development and precluding “exchange” in every way.

Due to the fact that it is in the African experience in the Americas and the Caribbean that this ambivalence is most crudely revealed, African transatlantic resistance movements have worked out interpretations and strategies in order to keep up and improve their population’s quality of life. According to African transatlantic movements, the establishment of an organizational system based on racial stratification placed Afro-descendants at the bottom of the social scale. African populations in the Americas are affected by unemployment, a lack of basic services such as health, education and housing, and an absence of communication networks that violate their private and civil rights.

From local initiatives for self-sufficiency (setting up cooperatives or creation of non-governmental organizations) to international negotiation processes, African transatlantic resistance strategies have made it possible to modify economic structures.

In 1975, Africa and the G77 with the proposal of a “New World Economic Order”, which according to professor Samir Amin is a “project of rejuvenation of the controlled internationalization that would have allowed the continuation of general growth” (Amin, 1989), mobilized and combined several political, economic and social fronts to provide a way out for to the Third World’s problems, and in particular for Afro-American transatlantic ones. More recently, from the African continent and its diasporas, the New Partnership for African Development –NEPAD– with South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria was designed, which aims to grant new competitive spaces to all Africans within and outside the continent.

The South-South Summit on debt, “Towards a new millennium free of debt”, carried out in November 1999 in Johannesburg, and the International Meeting Dakar 2000 “From the Resistance to Alternatives”, in December 2000, had as their aim to pressure for the annulment of the debt and the abandonment of the adjustment programs in the Third World. Among the most specific initiatives there exists, for instance, the African Business Roundtable, which gathers African and Afro-American businessmen who work for the strengthening of African transatlantic companies.

From the field of economy, a “labour of memory” is materialized, aimed at re-establishing, through compensation or reparation, ethic and economic balances for the reintegration and return to action of Africans as regards the productive processes. Therefore, for many spokespeople of this way of resistance, the “position consists in declaring that it is the duty of the states that have enriched themselves thanks to slavery, to grant a compensation to those that have been impoverished due to the latter […] and that to the recognition of the crime should be added the debt cancellation of African, Latin American and Caribbean countries. In like manner, the restoration of the compensation must include the redistribution of the means of production and of exchange […] We consider urgent also to suppress the social barriers that exist due to the persistence of the caste spirit”3.

Even though these strategies have allowed an improvement in the conditions of economic negotiation, the results obtained continue to be negative for African communities. The low literacy rate and the lack of access to basic services reveal the inefficacy of an “equitable economic thought” vis-à-vis a perception of “irreversibility” of the conditions and processes of development in the framework of the national and global economic structure.

We know that globalization is an ideological “discourse” aimed at legitimizing capital’s strategies (Amin, 1997). We know that this discourse is created by a mechanism that constructs it. There is therefore an urgent need to modify the perception and the instruments of participation of African transatlantic peoples in the world economy.


Political victories

From their beginnings, African transatlantic struggles and arguments rapidly produced positive results. Already in 1804, Haitian capabilities allowed total independence and the implementation of the first model of an African state in the Caribbean.

With regard to the American continent, the conditions of domination allowed the obtention of political and legal victories such as the abolition of slavery in 18504. At present, they are expressed through policies of “affirmative action” or of “positive discrimination”. In relation to these two mobilization settings, America’s and the Caribbean’s Afro-Americans expressed themselves mainly in two different formats.

First, governability. The experience of political independence (Haiti), with administrative management capacity, economic control and cultural development, showed its limits in the practice of autonomy (e.g., the recent expulsion of elected president Aristide). With a revolutionary Constitution, the management of society was organized on stiff, authoritarian and centralized practices. Additionally, the Island’s geo-strategical position (the Greater Caribbean) sometimes had a dramatic influence on its development.

The second scheme: multiculturalism. From the Americas, the freedom (from slavery) attained did not involve Afro-Americans’ active participation in the decision-making process. Until the new constitutions implemented in the 80s, Afro-Americans were recognized as “citizens with no rights” through a “modern apartheid” model. The American system identifies and legitimizes “Afros” or “negritude”, but makes them invisible in their domestic and international agendas. This format of inclusion is generated through the logic of the “ethnic minority”, in which perception and treatment cause a process of systematic marginalization, displayed in a behavior of “conscious” discrimination.

In view of this political and social invisibility, in both scenarios, numerous Afro-American and Caribbean intellectuals have drawn up interpretations in order to organize the transatlantic resistance. The actors of the construction of the African memory and struggle are located, in the main, within the pan-African movement.

This movement is a sphere of theoretical interpretations, political initiatives and economic strategies formulated by and for Africans. Its struggle is concentrated on the recognition and promotion of Africans. Its field of action includes the Americas, Caribbean, Africa and the new African Diasporas (Europe, Central Europe, Canada and Asia, among others). Structured at the end of the 19th century and beginnings of the 20th, the pan-African movement was organized and consolidated through the following international meetings: London in 1900, Paris in 1919, Paris in 1921, London in 1923, New York in 1927 and Manchester in 1945.

From Africa and from the Americas and the Caribbean, pan-Africanist leaders such as Edward W. Blyden (1832-1929).), W.E.B. Dubois (1868-1963), George Padmore (1902-1959), Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), Leopold Sedar Senghor (1903-2001), Aimé Césaire (1913), Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), Julius Nyerere (1922-1999), Jomo Kenyatta (1891-1978), Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961), Emperador Hailé Selassié I (1892-1975), Martín Luther King (1928-1968), Malcolm X (1925-1965), C.L.R. James (1901-1989), Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) and Archie Mafeje (1937), just to name a few, identified theoretical and methodological options for the promotion of the African peoples. For each one of them, the extent of their mobilizations was carried out in different times and conditions. At present, all the pan-Africanist interpretative proposals have again acquired vigor and feed the formulation and design of coordinated and sustainable manners of existence.

Recently, academic settings have also appropriated the issue, granting continuity, shape and depth to African social movements. In the Caribbean, the annual “All African Students’ Conference” held at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica, focuses, for instance, on themes such as “Pan-Africanism at the Beginning of the 21st Century: New Century, Same Challenges” and reporting on the theoretical advances of African legitimacy. With regard to the African continent, the conference “Intellectuals, Nationalism and the Pan-African Ideal” organized by the Council for Development and Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and held in Dakar, Senegal, in December 2003, is another evidence of the need to articulate and coordinate theoretical as well as practical efforts within contemporary African resistance.

In parallel with this process of internal formulation and definition, there also exist external mobilization strategies. The World Conference against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Similar Forms of Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, is an important opportunity for African social movements to debate and face the complex outlines of the “race” discourse that has excluded the “Afro”5 from local, national and international public settings. International mobilizations have made it possible to establish alliances that create feedback, and enlarge and increase the options of legitimacy. Therefore, African transatlantic mobilizations organize on different levels.

In the first place, political and legal initiatives such as the Meeting of Afro-descendant Parliamentarians of the Americas and the Caribbean I and II, held in Brazil in October 2003 and in Colombia in May 2004 respectively. The conferences identified a great number of Afro-descendant parliamentarians and focused on the dissemination of local problems. Lastly, they reasserted the need to create strategic alliances for the promotion of policies on behalf of Afro-American and Caribbean populations and communities. In the second place, African mass participation (labor unions, intellectuals, academics, student and peasant movements) in the “Battle of Seattle” (1999) and the I World Social Forum of Porto Alegre (Brazil) to raise and discuss land rights, citizenship, liberty, equality and peace by means of the discourse regarding the redemption of the historic and social debt. Thirdly, one may identify mobilizations such as the “Million Man March” (1995) in Washington DC, or the March against Racism, in favor of Equality and Life (2000) in Brazil, in which the dynamics consist in generating greater self-consciousness: “The only way we are going to stand up and be seen is if we do it together”.


Social strategies

Due to the fact that the social is the sole area in which all the actors negotiate their identity, it is within this field that African pressures have individual or collectively attained startling results. African transatlantic social strategies carry out and combine different fields of negotiation, with the aim of generating the changes necessary for their existence. As a main result of this process, in the Americas and the Caribbean more than 150 million Afro-Americans are to be found.

Even though census systems continue to be unreliable due to the fact they are “inflexible”, the Afro-descended population reaches 95% in Haiti, 90.4% in Jamaica, more than 90% in Trinidad and Tobago, 62% in Cuba, 47% in Brazil, 26% in Colombia, 18% in the United States, 10% in Ecuador, 4% in Uruguay, 3% in Peru and 2% in Chile. This is without cataloguing regions such as Central America (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, Honduras, and Guatemala) and Caribbean territories such as the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Guyana, and the French Antilles due to their condition of colonies6. Their quantitative spread and territorial distribution prove their development and capacity of transformation. These capabilities develop through several social strategies.

First, crossbreeding. The establishment of racial stratification as an economic, cultural and social development model posed for the majority of Afro-descendants the need for “whitening” as a logic of integration. The half-caste is an option to break down the limits of labor and cultural discrimination. This conscious movement of acculturation designed new ways of African identity and made more flexible and ample the formats of African identity. Secondly, for many Afro-descendants the maintenance of an African identity has to do with autonomy and self-determination. Historically, freedom was associated with independence.

Therefore, the appropriation of land, as in the constitution of the Republic of Palmares in Brazil, or the Palenque of San Basilio in Colombia, are symbols of African mobilization. Additionally, as from the XVII century, the number of slaves who bought from their bosses letters of freedom and migrated from the mines of the gold-bearing areas to havens free of slavers increased (Arocha, 1998: 341-348; Friedmann and Arocha, 1995: 58-62). Nowadays, these efforts of libertarian separatism are displayed in legal mobilizations that have managed to speed up processes of collective titling of land. According to Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle (1988a), this need “integrates and incorporates them into the constitutional state […] and transforms them […] into citizens with a heritage to defend and into active participants in socioeconomic development”.

Thirdly, struggles aimed at the strengthening and preservation of African culture hatched other juridical processes that established policies of ethno education in the Americas. To this end, the promotion of intercultural education that will contribute to the recognition, knowledge and appraisal of cultural and ethnic differences is sought; to promote processes of education of African communities in the Americas; and, lastly, to contribute to the improvement in quality and expansion of Afro-descendants’ pre-school, basic, primary and advanced education.

In the fourth place, affirmative action policies concerning economic development called ethno-development. Within national development plans, ethnic development proposals that recovered traditional abilities and customs are incorporated. In Colombia, Brazil and Belize, projects tending towards the rescue, preservation and strengthening of cultural values are carried out, together with the training of members in small self-management enterprises, with the aim to fight unemployment, the worsening of the standard of living, mass emigration and the abandonment of the community heritage.

Fifth, in view of the labor market’s limits, Afro-descendants have delved since the eighties into new forms of economic organization, such as the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). These are considered new modalities of economic production that not only foster the creation of companies but also constitute an independent political position which, in the case of Afro-descendants, refer to “Afro” identity.

Sixth and last, the creation of networks. Local efforts have had to confront to such amount of necessities that mobilizations required alliances. In Colombia, for instance, the Process of Black Communities has established contacts and agreements with other regional agents, such as the Andean network of black communities that includes Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru.

Thus, African responses reply to the challenges of legitimacy and sustainability. Afro-Americans have turned the New World into a democratic social and organizational model. For those who criticize Afro-descendants due to the way they build their identity in the process of construction of the nation, it is important to stress out that in every process of negotiation Africans have understood that coexistence depends –to a large extent– on the flexibility and adaptability of the actors.


The Colombian case

Unlike the majority of the countries that make up the Andean region, Colombia, due to its access to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, has been, through its port of Cartagena, one the main entry territories of enslaved Africans. Afro-Colombians (included the localized population of San Andres and Providencia) constitute 26.83%, that is to say, 11,745,403 people. The vast majority of Afro-Colombians live on the Pacific Coast, in the departments of Choco, Valle, Cauca and Nariño, but also in the big cities on the Atlantic Coast such as Barranquilla and Cartagena, and in the capital city, Bogota, where they are estimated in more than a million7.

Since its constitution as a Republic, Colombia has undergone political and military violence, revealed in the systematic violation of the population’s fundamental rights. This has worsened the situation of precariousness and economic and social penury, as well as of racial and ethnic discrimination in its population. The mass presence of Afro-Colombian populations in the regions of main economic and strategic significance is associated, likewise, with the zones of conflict, a fact that makes them doubly vulnerable8.

It is within this context of extreme tension that Afro-Colombian social movements’ constant demands have been satisfied by the dispositions of the Constitution of 1991. The Colombian nation’s ratification of multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity establishes principles and rights concerning autonomy, ethnic-cultural diversity and their own language, bilingual instruction, territoriality and own education for black communities.

Among Afro-Colombian victories, the Law 70 of 1993 and the General Education Law 115 of 1994 recognize the right to receive education for Indian, black and localized communities. Officially identified as ethno-education, it recognizes Colombia’s black communities as an ethnic group and recognizes collective rights in the matter of territory, the use of natural resources, participation and socioeconomic development, in tune with their particular conditions. For the development of the Law, decree 1745 of 1945 was issued, regulating the procedure for collective title deeds. Nowadays, Afro-Colombian communities own 4.6 million hectares on the Colombian Pacific. Likewise, they have priority for the exploitation of existing natural resources there, and must be consulted in the processes aimed at granting permissions or authorizations for their exploitation.

This set of recognitions has allowed the African identity to be visible in Colombia. Since 1991, more than 1,080 Afro-Colombian organizations have been distributed all across the territory together with others related to particular sectors: homes for orphaned children, associations of female household heads, organizations for the displaced (AFRODES), cultural organizations (Black Colombia Foundation), political and educational associations, leadership schools (Maroon movements), musical groupings and associations for Afro youth. All of them act as pressure and mobilization groups for the promotion of Afro-American communities in Colombia.


Not to conclude

The African social movements’ trajectory, pioneering in anti-capitalist mobilization, has demonstrated that within unequal structures, rebalancing formats are possible. In view of the double discrimination of class and race, the resistance has drawn up strategies that have managed in the Americas and the Caribbean to create more ample coexistence systems and, hence, more sustainable ones. The African transatlantic movement has provided a distinct analysis that turns Africans into active participants in their history and fully shares the theoretical, economic, political and social basis of the new forms of mobilization.

The African experience –the most extensive, diverse and sustainable one– provides mechanisms that are rationally inserted within the new dynamics of world social movements. On the one hand, from a universal standpoint, African theoretical interpretations, by re-appropriating their Humanity, offer a progressive and equitable view and comprehension of the global system. On the other hand, strategies are worked on from the multisectorial angle, by recognizing and allowing each actor’s objectives, modalities and aims that have been articulated and mobilized in order to create fairer organization and coexistence systems.

Even though these combined efforts have produced fundamental results in the evolution of worldwide human relations, it is important to recognize the limits of their scopes. African transatlantic movements have to face new technological, health, education and socioeconomic leveling challenges, among many other modern ones.

At present time, in view of the acceleration of the processes of marginalization, resistance movements are at a crucial stage of their credibility and sustainability. Therefore, it is necessary to deepen and extend the forms of mobilization, applying the feedback of particular experiences. To account for the meaning of these manifestations today, to integrate the diversity of contexts, actors and social demands as they are defined today, gives feasibility to the worldwide social movements.



Notes


* Coordinator of the African Studies Group, Professor and Researcher at the Faculty of Finance, Government and International Relations at the Universidad Externado de Colombia, in Bogota, Colombia.

1 Black codes used to regroup legislation on permitted behaviors for each class.

2 Available in <http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2003/espanol/>.

3 Kuya, Dorothy 2000 “L’action du mouvement africain pour les réparations au Royaume-Uni” en Chalons, Serge et al. (dirs.) De l’esclavage aux réparations (Paris: Karthala) p. 182.

4 It is worthy of mention that, even though the African communities of the Americas participated massively in American independence, they would have to wait 40 years in order to ratify the abolition of slavery.

5 “Afro” refers to continental Africans and to the African Diaspora.

6 See Infoplease: <http://Infoplease.com/ipa/AO855617.html>.

7 United Nations’ preliminary report, evaluating the situation of Afrodescendents in Colombia, 2001.

8 In 2003, among the 890,000 and 3 million excluded people in Colombia, 17% were Afro-Colombians.



Madeleine Andebeng L. Alingué*


SEATTLE, physician PORTO ALEGRE, DURBAN and more recently Bombay are massive and conclusive expressions of the fight for a better future. From Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, to Europe and the United States, the planning and ordering of the global economic system gradually and dramatically imperils the life of millions of families. This phenomenon of increasing exclusion is mainly conditioned by a transnational economic logic, which establishes an eminently predatory consumption pattern that undermines the ecological, material and social basis of human life and dignity.

From a historical distance, the analysis of social movements makes it possible to prove that processes of change are constituted by “ruptures” expressed mainly by “resistance”. Reciprocally, in order to generate ruptures, resistance must be massive, organized and sustainable. Therefore, the recent appropriation of the field of resistance by anti-globalization activists of industrialized countries has granted a new input to worldwide mobilizations: a mediatic input necessary for current protests.

Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have for centuries posed and designed “other” ways of resistance that, though less visible, have modified and altered international, regional and national balances. At present, the multiplication and diversification of worldwide resistance formats (political and economic) involves an increasing amount of affected people and implies recognizing the “fairness” of our fight. In addition, the possibility of counting on an observation and interpretation that includes contextual and temporal social movements makes it possible to understand their dimensions, potentialities and scope.

Africa, and especially the African transatlantic resistance, offers an experience that refers to the contemporary resistance’s two mainstays: the first one, economic, on the formats and purposes of the production system; the second one, political, on racial discrimination and its social effects.

It is worth clarifying that even though there is a bibliographic gap about African experiences, based on specialized analyses, experts regret the “invisibility” of African contributions to the construction and evolution of modern resistance. This invisibility is understood as a “non existence”, or as the “incapacity to become visible” in the framework of modern development. Afro-descendants in the Americas and the Caribbean are more than 150 million. In view of this evidence, I allow myself instead to question the systems and scientific approaches to the measurement of reality that cloud our social nuances.


African modern resistance’s genealogy (XV-XX)

African transatlantic resistance arises and shares its origin with the development of triangular trade initiated in the XVI century among Africa, America and Europe. With a tri-continental geographic scenario connected by the Atlantic Ocean, triangular trade consisted of an exchange of products and services that set up the principles, structure and dynamics of Atlantic modern economic globalization.

For Latin America, the colonization and exploitation of raw materials required the importing of an African labor force. For Europe, the consolidation of nations-states, technological development, the food revolution and the pursuit of wealth consolidated American colonization and the opening of African commercial routes towards the Atlantic.

From the African continent, the implementation of territorial domains in the Americas and the resistance of Indian people offered options of diversification of commercial routes with the aim to expand their growth and development strategies. That is why, in the first stage of the triangular trade, one can observe an organized and planned participation, from the XV century until the mid XVII. The experience of African labor force exports is not new in African economic history. Starting in the VI century, marine and land trade with Asia included an extensive range of products such as the African slave labor force. It is important to recall that trade in human beings was not an African exception but a reality in numerous regions of the world (Europe, Asia and America), based on a principle of economic exploitation.

From the XVII century onwards, the enlargement of colonial objectives in the Americas and the Caribbean generated the competitiveness of colonial and marine markets, and piracy and illegality gave shape to the industrialization of triangular trade. In this second stage, African participation and answers to the rising demand would show to be disordered and unplanned, leading to a new category of merchant: the “slave trader”. This period will be denounced as that of the slave trade or transatlantic trade.

Additionally, since the XVI century, a model of social organization based on a cultural classification system and ranking according to racial castes1 is established as from the American colonies. Colonial hegemony allowed the use of “terror” as a mediator of almost all the links between the white minority and the so-called “irrational”, be them aboriginal population or black (Taussig, 1991: 5). The African “savage” represented the spiritual and rational level of Europeans when providence or reason freed them. Implicitly and explicitly, this interpretation permitted Europeans, in the name of Christ –through the system of the Inquisition–, or in the name of reason, to colonize, administer and, whenever possible, to enslave the savage.

For the people enslaved, the loss of freedom, labor exploitation and physical extermination hatched African transatlantic resistance and mobilizations. Between the XVI and the XIX century, the sabotage of agricultural and cattle production (Arocha, 1998: 343), open revolt and flight were common formats of resistance.

In the face of this double discrimination –class and race– Africans of the continent as well as of the Americas and the Caribbean designed strategies in order to restore the balances of survival and sustainability.


Economic strategies

Globalization is presented as a “free market”, the result of a natural process of commercial expansion and a development generator. However, this presentation happens to be counteracted by a “reality” that questions its modalities and objectives.

This reality translates into the fact that 20% of the world’s population holds 83% of the world GDP, controls 82% of international trade, uses up the 95% of the total of commercial loans granted in the planet, and generates 95% of all the research and development of the world. The last UNDP Human Development Report (PNUD, 2003)2 pinpoints that 3,000 million people in the world survive on less than 2 dollars a day, while 1,200 million people survive on less than 1 dollar per day and lack drinking water. Finally, 2,400 million are in need of basic sanitation.

Systems, their modalities, and the tools (legal, scientific and technological) for the operation and development of the global market, are monopolized by the “West”, marginalizing “peripheral societies” from the free market’s benefits. This exclusion translates into the undervaluing of their products and into commercial logic.

In view of globalization’s aim of being the engine of development, experts try to convince us that the display of negative results (high levels of poverty and effects on the environment, among others) is a consequence of local or national inability to take up a position within the global system. The subsequent imposition or importation of development models in the countries of the so-called Third World showed the limits of its applicability, causing effects contradictory to the ideal of development and precluding “exchange” in every way.

Due to the fact that it is in the African experience in the Americas and the Caribbean that this ambivalence is most crudely revealed, African transatlantic resistance movements have worked out interpretations and strategies in order to keep up and improve their population’s quality of life. According to African transatlantic movements, the establishment of an organizational system based on racial stratification placed Afro-descendants at the bottom of the social scale. African populations in the Americas are affected by unemployment, a lack of basic services such as health, education and housing, and an absence of communication networks that violate their private and civil rights.

From local initiatives for self-sufficiency (setting up cooperatives or creation of non-governmental organizations) to international negotiation processes, African transatlantic resistance strategies have made it possible to modify economic structures.

In 1975, Africa and the G77 with the proposal of a “New World Economic Order”, which according to professor Samir Amin is a “project of rejuvenation of the controlled internationalization that would have allowed the continuation of general growth” (Amin, 1989), mobilized and combined several political, economic and social fronts to provide a way out for to the Third World’s problems, and in particular for Afro-American transatlantic ones. More recently, from the African continent and its diasporas, the New Partnership for African Development –NEPAD– with South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria was designed, which aims to grant new competitive spaces to all Africans within and outside the continent.

The South-South Summit on debt, “Towards a new millennium free of debt”, carried out in November 1999 in Johannesburg, and the International Meeting Dakar 2000 “From the Resistance to Alternatives”, in December 2000, had as their aim to pressure for the annulment of the debt and the abandonment of the adjustment programs in the Third World. Among the most specific initiatives there exists, for instance, the African Business Roundtable, which gathers African and Afro-American businessmen who work for the strengthening of African transatlantic companies.

From the field of economy, a “labour of memory” is materialized, aimed at re-establishing, through compensation or reparation, ethic and economic balances for the reintegration and return to action of Africans as regards the productive processes. Therefore, for many spokespeople of this way of resistance, the “position consists in declaring that it is the duty of the states that have enriched themselves thanks to slavery, to grant a compensation to those that have been impoverished due to the latter […] and that to the recognition of the crime should be added the debt cancellation of African, Latin American and Caribbean countries. In like manner, the restoration of the compensation must include the redistribution of the means of production and of exchange […] We consider urgent also to suppress the social barriers that exist due to the persistence of the caste spirit”3.

Even though these strategies have allowed an improvement in the conditions of economic negotiation, the results obtained continue to be negative for African communities. The low literacy rate and the lack of access to basic services reveal the inefficacy of an “equitable economic thought” vis-à-vis a perception of “irreversibility” of the conditions and processes of development in the framework of the national and global economic structure.

We know that globalization is an ideological “discourse” aimed at legitimizing capital’s strategies (Amin, 1997). We know that this discourse is created by a mechanism that constructs it. There is therefore an urgent need to modify the perception and the instruments of participation of African transatlantic peoples in the world economy.


Political victories

From their beginnings, African transatlantic struggles and arguments rapidly produced positive results. Already in 1804, Haitian capabilities allowed total independence and the implementation of the first model of an African state in the Caribbean.

With regard to the American continent, the conditions of domination allowed the obtention of political and legal victories such as the abolition of slavery in 18504. At present, they are expressed through policies of “affirmative action” or of “positive discrimination”. In relation to these two mobilization settings, America’s and the Caribbean’s Afro-Americans expressed themselves mainly in two different formats.

First, governability. The experience of political independence (Haiti), with administrative management capacity, economic control and cultural development, showed its limits in the practice of autonomy (e.g., the recent expulsion of elected president Aristide). With a revolutionary Constitution, the management of society was organized on stiff, authoritarian and centralized practices. Additionally, the Island’s geo-strategical position (the Greater Caribbean) sometimes had a dramatic influence on its development.

The second scheme: multiculturalism. From the Americas, the freedom (from slavery) attained did not involve Afro-Americans’ active participation in the decision-making process. Until the new constitutions implemented in the 80s, Afro-Americans were recognized as “citizens with no rights” through a “modern apartheid” model. The American system identifies and legitimizes “Afros” or “negritude”, but makes them invisible in their domestic and international agendas. This format of inclusion is generated through the logic of the “ethnic minority”, in which perception and treatment cause a process of systematic marginalization, displayed in a behavior of “conscious” discrimination.

In view of this political and social invisibility, in both scenarios, numerous Afro-American and Caribbean intellectuals have drawn up interpretations in order to organize the transatlantic resistance. The actors of the construction of the African memory and struggle are located, in the main, within the pan-African movement.

This movement is a sphere of theoretical interpretations, political initiatives and economic strategies formulated by and for Africans. Its struggle is concentrated on the recognition and promotion of Africans. Its field of action includes the Americas, Caribbean, Africa and the new African Diasporas (Europe, Central Europe, Canada and Asia, among others). Structured at the end of the 19th century and beginnings of the 20th, the pan-African movement was organized and consolidated through the following international meetings: London in 1900, Paris in 1919, Paris in 1921, London in 1923, New York in 1927 and Manchester in 1945.

From Africa and from the Americas and the Caribbean, pan-Africanist leaders such as Edward W. Blyden (1832-1929).), W.E.B. Dubois (1868-1963), George Padmore (1902-1959), Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), Leopold Sedar Senghor (1903-2001), Aimé Césaire (1913), Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), Julius Nyerere (1922-1999), Jomo Kenyatta (1891-1978), Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961), Emperador Hailé Selassié I (1892-1975), Martín Luther King (1928-1968), Malcolm X (1925-1965), C.L.R. James (1901-1989), Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) and Archie Mafeje (1937), just to name a few, identified theoretical and methodological options for the promotion of the African peoples. For each one of them, the extent of their mobilizations was carried out in different times and conditions. At present, all the pan-Africanist interpretative proposals have again acquired vigor and feed the formulation and design of coordinated and sustainable manners of existence.

Recently, academic settings have also appropriated the issue, granting continuity, shape and depth to African social movements. In the Caribbean, the annual “All African Students’ Conference” held at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica, focuses, for instance, on themes such as “Pan-Africanism at the Beginning of the 21st Century: New Century, Same Challenges” and reporting on the theoretical advances of African legitimacy. With regard to the African continent, the conference “Intellectuals, Nationalism and the Pan-African Ideal” organized by the Council for Development and Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and held in Dakar, Senegal, in December 2003, is another evidence of the need to articulate and coordinate theoretical as well as practical efforts within contemporary African resistance.

In parallel with this process of internal formulation and definition, there also exist external mobilization strategies. The World Conference against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Similar Forms of Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, is an important opportunity for African social movements to debate and face the complex outlines of the “race” discourse that has excluded the “Afro”5 from local, national and international public settings. International mobilizations have made it possible to establish alliances that create feedback, and enlarge and increase the options of legitimacy. Therefore, African transatlantic mobilizations organize on different levels.

In the first place, political and legal initiatives such as the Meeting of Afro-descendant Parliamentarians of the Americas and the Caribbean I and II, held in Brazil in October 2003 and in Colombia in May 2004 respectively. The conferences identified a great number of Afro-descendant parliamentarians and focused on the dissemination of local problems. Lastly, they reasserted the need to create strategic alliances for the promotion of policies on behalf of Afro-American and Caribbean populations and communities. In the second place, African mass participation (labor unions, intellectuals, academics, student and peasant movements) in the “Battle of Seattle” (1999) and the I World Social Forum of Porto Alegre (Brazil) to raise and discuss land rights, citizenship, liberty, equality and peace by means of the discourse regarding the redemption of the historic and social debt. Thirdly, one may identify mobilizations such as the “Million Man March” (1995) in Washington DC, or the March against Racism, in favor of Equality and Life (2000) in Brazil, in which the dynamics consist in generating greater self-consciousness: “The only way we are going to stand up and be seen is if we do it together”.


Social strategies

Due to the fact that the social is the sole area in which all the actors negotiate their identity, it is within this field that African pressures have individual or collectively attained startling results. African transatlantic social strategies carry out and combine different fields of negotiation, with the aim of generating the changes necessary for their existence. As a main result of this process, in the Americas and the Caribbean more than 150 million Afro-Americans are to be found.

Even though census systems continue to be unreliable due to the fact they are “inflexible”, the Afro-descended population reaches 95% in Haiti, 90.4% in Jamaica, more than 90% in Trinidad and Tobago, 62% in Cuba, 47% in Brazil, 26% in Colombia, 18% in the United States, 10% in Ecuador, 4% in Uruguay, 3% in Peru and 2% in Chile. This is without cataloguing regions such as Central America (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, Honduras, and Guatemala) and Caribbean territories such as the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Guyana, and the French Antilles due to their condition of colonies6. Their quantitative spread and territorial distribution prove their development and capacity of transformation. These capabilities develop through several social strategies.

First, crossbreeding. The establishment of racial stratification as an economic, cultural and social development model posed for the majority of Afro-descendants the need for “whitening” as a logic of integration. The half-caste is an option to break down the limits of labor and cultural discrimination. This conscious movement of acculturation designed new ways of African identity and made more flexible and ample the formats of African identity. Secondly, for many Afro-descendants the maintenance of an African identity has to do with autonomy and self-determination. Historically, freedom was associated with independence.

Therefore, the appropriation of land, as in the constitution of the Republic of Palmares in Brazil, or the Palenque of San Basilio in Colombia, are symbols of African mobilization. Additionally, as from the XVII century, the number of slaves who bought from their bosses letters of freedom and migrated from the mines of the gold-bearing areas to havens free of slavers increased (Arocha, 1998: 341-348; Friedmann and Arocha, 1995: 58-62). Nowadays, these efforts of libertarian separatism are displayed in legal mobilizations that have managed to speed up processes of collective titling of land. According to Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle (1988a), this need “integrates and incorporates them into the constitutional state […] and transforms them […] into citizens with a heritage to defend and into active participants in socioeconomic development”.

Thirdly, struggles aimed at the strengthening and preservation of African culture hatched other juridical processes that established policies of ethno education in the Americas. To this end, the promotion of intercultural education that will contribute to the recognition, knowledge and appraisal of cultural and ethnic differences is sought; to promote processes of education of African communities in the Americas; and, lastly, to contribute to the improvement in quality and expansion of Afro-descendants’ pre-school, basic, primary and advanced education.

In the fourth place, affirmative action policies concerning economic development called ethno-development. Within national development plans, ethnic development proposals that recovered traditional abilities and customs are incorporated. In Colombia, Brazil and Belize, projects tending towards the rescue, preservation and strengthening of cultural values are carried out, together with the training of members in small self-management enterprises, with the aim to fight unemployment, the worsening of the standard of living, mass emigration and the abandonment of the community heritage.

Fifth, in view of the labor market’s limits, Afro-descendants have delved since the eighties into new forms of economic organization, such as the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). These are considered new modalities of economic production that not only foster the creation of companies but also constitute an independent political position which, in the case of Afro-descendants, refer to “Afro” identity.

Sixth and last, the creation of networks. Local efforts have had to confront to such amount of necessities that mobilizations required alliances. In Colombia, for instance, the Process of Black Communities has established contacts and agreements with other regional agents, such as the Andean network of black communities that includes Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru.

Thus, African responses reply to the challenges of legitimacy and sustainability. Afro-Americans have turned the New World into a democratic social and organizational model. For those who criticize Afro-descendants due to the way they build their identity in the process of construction of the nation, it is important to stress out that in every process of negotiation Africans have understood that coexistence depends –to a large extent– on the flexibility and adaptability of the actors.


The Colombian case

Unlike the majority of the countries that make up the Andean region, Colombia, due to its access to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, has been, through its port of Cartagena, one the main entry territories of enslaved Africans. Afro-Colombians (included the localized population of San Andres and Providencia) constitute 26.83%, that is to say, 11,745,403 people. The vast majority of Afro-Colombians live on the Pacific Coast, in the departments of Choco, Valle, Cauca and Nariño, but also in the big cities on the Atlantic Coast such as Barranquilla and Cartagena, and in the capital city, Bogota, where they are estimated in more than a million7.

Since its constitution as a Republic, Colombia has undergone political and military violence, revealed in the systematic violation of the population’s fundamental rights. This has worsened the situation of precariousness and economic and social penury, as well as of racial and ethnic discrimination in its population. The mass presence of Afro-Colombian populations in the regions of main economic and strategic significance is associated, likewise, with the zones of conflict, a fact that makes them doubly vulnerable8.

It is within this context of extreme tension that Afro-Colombian social movements’ constant demands have been satisfied by the dispositions of the Constitution of 1991. The Colombian nation’s ratification of multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity establishes principles and rights concerning autonomy, ethnic-cultural diversity and their own language, bilingual instruction, territoriality and own education for black communities.

Among Afro-Colombian victories, the Law 70 of 1993 and the General Education Law 115 of 1994 recognize the right to receive education for Indian, black and localized communities. Officially identified as ethno-education, it recognizes Colombia’s black communities as an ethnic group and recognizes collective rights in the matter of territory, the use of natural resources, participation and socioeconomic development, in tune with their particular conditions. For the development of the Law, decree 1745 of 1945 was issued, regulating the procedure for collective title deeds. Nowadays, Afro-Colombian communities own 4.6 million hectares on the Colombian Pacific. Likewise, they have priority for the exploitation of existing natural resources there, and must be consulted in the processes aimed at granting permissions or authorizations for their exploitation.

This set of recognitions has allowed the African identity to be visible in Colombia. Since 1991, more than 1,080 Afro-Colombian organizations have been distributed all across the territory together with others related to particular sectors: homes for orphaned children, associations of female household heads, organizations for the displaced (AFRODES), cultural organizations (Black Colombia Foundation), political and educational associations, leadership schools (Maroon movements), musical groupings and associations for Afro youth. All of them act as pressure and mobilization groups for the promotion of Afro-American communities in Colombia.


Not to conclude

The African social movements’ trajectory, pioneering in anti-capitalist mobilization, has demonstrated that within unequal structures, rebalancing formats are possible. In view of the double discrimination of class and race, the resistance has drawn up strategies that have managed in the Americas and the Caribbean to create more ample coexistence systems and, hence, more sustainable ones. The African transatlantic movement has provided a distinct analysis that turns Africans into active participants in their history and fully shares the theoretical, economic, political and social basis of the new forms of mobilization.

The African experience –the most extensive, diverse and sustainable one– provides mechanisms that are rationally inserted within the new dynamics of world social movements. On the one hand, from a universal standpoint, African theoretical interpretations, by re-appropriating their Humanity, offer a progressive and equitable view and comprehension of the global system. On the other hand, strategies are worked on from the multisectorial angle, by recognizing and allowing each actor’s objectives, modalities and aims that have been articulated and mobilized in order to create fairer organization and coexistence systems.

Even though these combined efforts have produced fundamental results in the evolution of worldwide human relations, it is important to recognize the limits of their scopes. African transatlantic movements have to face new technological, health, education and socioeconomic leveling challenges, among many other modern ones.

At present time, in view of the acceleration of the processes of marginalization, resistance movements are at a crucial stage of their credibility and sustainability. Therefore, it is necessary to deepen and extend the forms of mobilization, applying the feedback of particular experiences. To account for the meaning of these manifestations today, to integrate the diversity of contexts, actors and social demands as they are defined today, gives feasibility to the worldwide social movements.



Notes


* Coordinator of the African Studies Group, Professor and Researcher at the Faculty of Finance, Government and International Relations at the Universidad Externado de Colombia, in Bogota, Colombia.

1 Black codes used to regroup legislation on permitted behaviors for each class.

2 Available in <http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2003/espanol/>.

3 Kuya, Dorothy 2000 “L’action du mouvement africain pour les réparations au Royaume-Uni” en Chalons, Serge et al. (dirs.) De l’esclavage aux réparations (Paris: Karthala) p. 182.

4 It is worthy of mention that, even though the African communities of the Americas participated massively in American independence, they would have to wait 40 years in order to ratify the abolition of slavery.

5 “Afro” refers to continental Africans and to the African Diaspora.

6 See Infoplease: <http://Infoplease.com/ipa/AO855617.html>.

7 United Nations’ preliminary report, evaluating the situation of Afrodescendents in Colombia, 2001.

8 In 2003, among the 890,000 and 3 million excluded people in Colombia, 17% were Afro-Colombians.



Alexander C. Chandra


Since its establishment in 1967, find the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has shown little interest in facilitating the participation of non-state actors in its decision-making processes.  ASEAN is well-known for its elitist tendencies and for how few of its policies correspond to the needs of Southeast Asian people.  At the same time, it could also be argued that ASEAN has become this way due to the lack of pressure from non-state actors on the Association.  However, during its infancy, most ASEAN member countries were governed by authoritarian regimes which made it difficult for social pressure to emerge, both at the national and regional levels.


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Social Summit for People's Integration: Cochabamba Manifesto

We salute this important historic moment which opens with the Summit of Cochabamba, visit web which holds the challenge of deepening a process of regional integration which expresses the peoples’ interests.

The peoples of America have suffered from the application of an economic model which is based on market fundamentalism, privatisation and free trade, which has led to a growth in inequality, the deterioration of labour conditions, unemployment, the spread of informal-sector work, degradation of the environment, deepening discrimination against women, poverty, marginalisation of indigenous and rural communities and the loss of State capacity to promote development and economic policies.

With the aim of widening and deepening these policies, there were attempts to create the Free Trade Agreement of America (FTAA) and regional Free Trade Agreements, by which Governments abandoned any attempt at autonomous development based on the internal market which respect all human, social, economic, cultural and environmental rights.

The peoples of the Continent have been protagonists of a struggle against this model, contributing decisively to stopping FTAA and agreements between countries which privilege trade and the interests of multinationals.

This growing organisation of popular movements in South America includes indigenous communities, small-scale farmers, marginalised inhabitants of cities, women, young people, students, workers together with all the social organisations. They have defined this new political and social moment which is advancing in the formation of new governments sensitive to popular demands, who distance themselves from the agenda of the US Government and corporations and who seek their own path. This political time which South America is living offers an historical opportunity, which we can’t miss, to advance towards a true sovereign integration for the peoples.

The South American Community of Nations can not be an extension of the free trade model based on the exports of basic goods and natural resources, indebtedness and the unequal distribution of wealth.

The creation of a real South American Community of Nations can not be a process which excludes popular demands, therefore it needs an authentic social participation.

We consider that we need another type of integration in which cooperation prevails over competition, the rights of its peoples over commercial interests, food sovereignty over agroindustry, the actions of the State in providing wellbeing over privatisation, a sense of equity over the desire for profits, respect for the environment instead of the looting of natural resources and gender equity rather than sexual division of work. We also must prioritise the recognition, respect and promotion of indigenous communities’ contributions rather than the marginalisation, exploitation and conversion into folklore of their values and economic and traditional traditions.

The Community must be a promoter of peace and a guarantor of peoples’ human rights; and against imperial pretensions, opposed to the interference of troops, the installation of foreign military bases and the participation of occupying forces in third countries.

The efforts to construct a Community of South American Nations will only bear fruit, if we change the type of development and defend the sovereignty of nations

The peoples of the Continent will continue to promote integration, by and for the peoples, participating with our own demands and proposals.

We are willing to promote dialogue which leads to real results, maintaining our struggles of resistance which ensure the protagonism of popular movements in the process of integration, promoting true democracy and well-being for our peoples.

For the Integration of the Peoples, Another America is possible.

Construyendo la integración de los pueblos centroamericanos

albabookDurante las últimas dos décadas, drugs los procesos de liberalización e integración comercial en América Latina han perpetuado las relaciones de dependencia ecónomica de los países no industrializados respecto de los países industrializados, en base a una intensificación de la matriz exportadora basada en recursos naturales con escasa tecnologización (commodities); una apertura indiscriminada a la inversión extranjera directa y una progresiva reducción del rol regulador del Estado, configurando economías nacionales altamente desrreguladas y desprotegidas.
>descargar el libro (PDF)

Judith Valencia (ALAI)
Desde el 8 hasta al 9 de diciembre próximos se reunirán en Cochabamba, Bolivia, stuff 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
Uziel Nogueira
El acompañamiento y la comprensión del proceso de integración sudamericano se tornó una tarea compleja, thumb pharm particularmente a partir de este año. Para ejemplificar esta afirmación tomemos el caso de la Primera Reunión Energética de Sudamérica a nivel presidencial, Venezuela.
En este encuentro se acordó -entre otras cosas- la creación de la Unión de Naciones Sudamericanas (UNASUR) que sustituyó a la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones (CASA) que se creó en el año 2004. Es importante mencionar aquí que la mayoría de los países que participan de la UNASUR también forman parte de otros esquemas de integración subregional, regional y/o hemisférico. Veamos:  la Comunidad Andina de Naciones (CAN) y sus antecedentes históricos en ese proceso subregional están en funcionamiento desde finales de la década de 1960; el Mercado Común del Sur (MERCOSUR) fue lanzado a comienzos de la década de 1990 y a través del tiempo incorporó como miembros asociados a países que pertenecen o pertenecieron a la CAN. Juntos, ambos bloques buscan construir un espacio de integración más profundo, que empiece a transitar el camino seguido por la Unión Europea.
Por su parte, Perú y Colombia (países miembros de la CAN, pero asociados al MERCOSUR) están aguardando la aprobación por parte del Congreso de los Estados Unidos de un Acuerdo de Libre Comercio que sigue el modelo del NAFTA (Acuerdo de Libre Comercio de América del Norte). Sin embargo, en uniones aduaneras como la CAN o el MERCOSUR, las negociaciones comerciales deben ser realizadas en bloque. Por esta razón, Ecuador, Bolivia y Venezuela no participaron de las negociaciones con los Estados Unidos.
A su vez, Chile (país asociado al MERCOSUR) tiene acuerdos de libre comercio con la mayoría de las economías globales y fue recientemente invitado a reincorporarse a la CAN, un bloque que abandonó en la década de 1970.
Venezuela abandonó la CAN en 2005 por decisión de su presidente, Hugo Chávez y en 2006 ingresó al MERCOSUR. No obstante, lanzó su propia iniciativa de integración, denominada Alternativa Bolivariana para las Américas (ALBA) con la participación de Cuba, Bolivia y, más recientemente, Nicaragua y Haití.
Para completar este cuadro -y como se mencionó al inicio de este artículo- existe la iniciativa de construir la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones (CASA) impulsada desde 2004 por Brasil que, a partir de este mes, se denomina UNASUL y tiene el propósito de integrar a todos los países de esta parte del continente, incluyendo a Suriname y Guyana. Tal proliferación de bloques e iniciativas de integración despierta, al menos, dos preguntas. (i) ¿Por qué los gobiernos buscan nuevas iniciativas en vez de perfeccionar aquéllas de las que forman parte?; y (ii)  ¿Qué modelo de integración prevalecerá en el futuro inmediato? 
En relación a la primera pregunta, la respuesta probablemente esté relacionada con la insatisfacción de los gobiernos por los resultados -políticos, económicos, sociales, etc.- obtenidos por sus países, por lo que buscan mejores oportunidades a través de otras formas de integración. Esto podría explicar la decisión de Colombia y Perú de permanecer en la CAN, a la vez que negocian un acuerdo comercial con los Estados Unidos.
En relación a la segunda pregunta, visualizo cuatro posibilidades en cuanto al modelo de integración con mejores posibilidades de prevalecer: (i) mantenimiento del status quo; esto es, la coexistencia de las iniciativas de integración arriba mencionadas; (ii) creación de un área de libre comercio sudamericana, utilizando posiblemente a UNASUR como plataforma; (iii) expansión y profundización del MERCOSUR; y (iv) expansión y profundización del ALBA.
En mi opinión, el mantenimiento del status quo  prevalecerá en el futuro inmediato porque ningún país -incluido Brasil- tiene poder y peso político, económico y comercial para imponer su propia visión y/o modelo de integración. Por lo tanto, en los próximos 4 años es de esperarse un cierto equilibrio de fuerzas entre varias iniciativas de integración existentes en este momento. Esta situación podría ser modificada en el caso de algún shock externo como, por ejemplo, una desaceleración del crecimiento global y la caída en el precio de las commodities.
Finalmente, me permito una reflexión de naturaleza más bien académica. Puede decirse que están en juego en América del Sur tres proyectos de integración: (i) el modelo europeo de unión aduanera / mercado común; (ii) el modelo norteamericano de acuerdos de libre comercio; y (iii) el modelo venezolano del ALBA. Solamente el paso del tiempo podrá mostrar cuál de los tres modelos irá a prevalecer.
INTAL Carta Mensual No. 129 – Abril 2007
V Cumbre del ALBA
Tintorero – Estado Lara, see 29 de abril de 2007
En ocasión de celebrarse la V Cumbre de la Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (ALBA) y el primer aniversario del Tratado de Comercio de los Pueblos (TCP), hospital Hugo Chávez Frías, rx Presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, Evo Morales Ayma; Presidente de la República de Bolivia, Carlos Lage Dávila, Vicepresidente del Consejo de Estado de la República de Cuba; Daniel Ortega Saavedra, Presidente de la República de Nicaragua; todos representantes de los países miembros del ALBA; y contando con la presencia de René Preval, Presidente de la República de Haití; Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Canciller de la República de Ecuador; Reginald Austrie, Ministro de Energía y Obras Públicas de la Mancomunidad de Dominica; Assim Martin, Ministro de Obras Públicas, Transporte, Correos y Energía de la Federación de San Crist& oacute;bal y Nieves; Julian Francis, Ministro de la Vivienda, Asentamientos Humanos Informales, Planificación Física y Tierra de San Vicente y las Granadinas y Eduardo Bonomi, Ministro de Trabajo y Seguridad Social de la República Oriental del Uruguay, en calidad de invitados especiales y observadores de esta Cumbre, efectuada los días 28 y 29 de abril de 2007, realizaron una completa evaluación del desarrollo de los programas y proyectos aprobados en el Primer Plan Estratégico del ALBA, así como de las acciones de cooperación e integración desplegadas durante el año 2006 en la República de Bolivia y la República de Nicaragua y los hermanos países del Caribe.
En el curso del debate sostenido en un clima de fraternidad y hermandad, ratificamos la idea de que el principio rector de la Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América, es la solidaridad más amplia entre los pueblos de América Latina y el Caribe, sin nacionalismos egoístas ni políticas nacionales restrictivas que puedan negar el objetivo de construir la Patria Grande que soñaron los próceres y héroes de nuestras luchas emancipadoras.
La integración y unión de América Latina y el Caribe a partir de un modelo de desarrollo independiente que priorice la complementariedad económica regional, haga realidad la voluntad de promover el desarrollo de todos y fortalezca una cooperación genuina basada en el respeto mutuo y solidaridad, ya no es una simple quimera, sino una realidad tangible que se ha manifestado en estos años en los programas de alfabetización y salud, que han permitido a miles de latinoamericanos avanzar en el camino de la superación real de la pobreza; en la cooperación dada en materia energética y financiera a los países del Caribe, que está contribuyendo decisivamente al progreso de estos pueblos hermanos; en el incremento sostenido del comercio compensado y justo entre Cuba y Venezuela, y en el conjunto de empresas mixtas conformadas entre ambos en diversas ramas productivas; en el importante apoyo de financiamiento directo brindado a Bolivia para el cumplimiento de diversos programas sociales, en el conjunto de proyectos identificados para la constitución de empresas mixtas binacionales; en todo el proceso de impulso que estamos brindando al Gobierno Sandinista de Nicaragua que en tan solo escasos meses está produciendo efectos altamente positivos en las áreas de generación eléctrica, producción agrícola, suministros de insumos para la industrias, entre otras áreas.
La Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América que se sustenta en los principios de solidaridad, cooperación genuina y complementariedad entre nuestros países, en el aprovechamiento racional y en función del bienestar de nuestros pueblos de sus recursos naturales – incluido su potencial energético-, en la formación integral e intensiva del capital humano que requiere nuestro desarrollo y en la atención a las necesidades y aspiraciones de nuestros hombres y mujeres, ha demostrado su fuerza y viabilidad como una alternativa de justicia frente al neoliberalismo y la inequidad.
El ALBA está demostrando con estadísticas concretas que el libre comercio no es capaz de generar los cambios sociales requeridos, y que puede más la voluntad política como sustento de la definición conciente de programas de acción encaminados hacia la erradicación de los dramas sociales de millones de seres humanos en nuestro continente.
En virtud de los antes expresado los Jefes de Estado de Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia y Nicaragua, en representación de sus respectivos pueblos, reafirmaron su determinación de seguir avanzando y profundizando la construcción del ALBA, en el entendido de que esta alternativa constituye una alianza política estratégica, cuyo propósito fundamental en el mediano plazo es producir transformaciones estructurales en las formaciones económico-sociales de las naciones que la integran, para hacer posible un desarrollo compartido, capaz de garantizar la inserción exitosa y sostenible en los procesos de producción e intercambio del mundo actual, para colocar la política y la economía al servicio de los seres humanos.
En el contexto en que toma cuerpo, el ALBA constituye el primer esfuerzo histórico de construcción de un proyecto global latinoamericano desde una posición política favorable. Desde la Revolución Cubana, las fuerzas progresistas del continente, bien desde la oposición o desde el poder, lo que habían hecho era acumular fuerzas para resistir la ofensiva del imperio (Cuba es la excepción porque no solo logró sobrevivir, sino que edificó una sociedad cualitativamente superior, desplegando al mismo tiempo una trascendente labor de apoyo internacionalista a los países más pobres, en medio de un espantoso bloqueo por parte del imperialismo norteamericano); es con el nacimiento del ALBA que las fuerzas revolucionarias hemos podido pasar a una nueva situación que bien pudiéramos def inir como de acumulación de la fuerza política necesaria para la consolidación del cambio que se ha producido en la correlación de fuerzas políticas de nuestro continente.
Ante nosotros se abren nuevas perspectivas de integración y fusión que forman parte del salto cualitativo que están promoviendo los profundos vínculos de cooperación que hemos establecido en estos años. Por tal razón estamos comprometidos a llevar adelante la construcción de espacios económicos y productivos de nuevo tipo, que produzcan mayores beneficios a nuestros pueblos, mediante la utilización racional de los recursos y activos de nuestros países, para lo cual se requiere avanzar en la conformación de empresas Grannacionales, estableciendo y consolidando los acuerdos normativos e institucionales necesarios para la cooperación; instrumentando estrategias y programas Grannacionales conjuntos de todos nuestros países en materias como: educación, salud, energí ;a, comunicación, transporte, vivienda, vialidad, alimentación, entre otros; promoviendo de manera conciente y organizada la ampliación del Tratado de Comercio de los Pueblos con intercambios justos y equilibrados; llevando adelante programas para el uso racional de los recursos energéticos renovables y no renovables, construyendo una estrategia de seguridad alimentaria común a todas nuestras naciones; ampliando la cooperación en materia de formación de recursos humanos; y fundando nuevas estructuras para el fortalecimiento de nuestra capacidad de financiamiento de los grandes proyectos Grannacionales.
Reiteraron su convicción de que solo un proceso de integración entre los pueblos de Nuestra América, que tenga en cuenta el nivel de desarrollo de cada país y garantice que todas las naciones se beneficien de este proceso, permitirá superar la espiral degradante del subdesarrollo impuesto a nuestra región.
En esta V Cumbre hemos visto con mucho regocijo el contenido de la Declaración Política firmada el 17 de febrero en San Vicente y las Granadinas por los Primeros Ministros Roosevelt Skerrit, de la Mancomunidad de Dominica; Ralph Gonsálves, de San Vicente y las Granadinas, Winston Baldwin Spencer, de Antigua y Barbuda y Hugo Chávez Frías, Presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, en la cual manifiestan su voluntad de propiciar la más profunda cooperación y unidad entre la Comunidad del Caribe (CARICOM) y los Estados signatarios de la Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América y el Tratado de Comercio de los Pueblos, de manera que sus beneficios sociales y las posibilidades de un desarrollo económico sustentable con independencia y soberanía sea igual para todos, to do lo cual comienza a materializarse con la presencia en esta V Cumbre de nuestros hermanos del Caribe.
Los Jefes de Estado y de Gobierno de Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia y Nicaragua, acordaron suscribir la presente Declaración en la convicción de que la misma abre el camino hacia una nueva fase de consolidación estratégica y avance político de la Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (ALBA), en la perspectiva histórica de poder realizar los sueños de nuestros Libertadores de construcción de la Patria Grande Latinoamericana y Caribeña.
Hecho en la ciudad de Barquisimeto, República Bolivariana de Venezuela, a los 29 días del mes abril de 2007.
Por la República Bolivariana de Venezuela Hugo Chávez Frías, Presidente de la República
Por el Gobierno de la República de Bolivia, Evo Morales, Presidente de la República
Por la República de Cuba, Carlos Lage, Vicepresidente de la República
Por el Gobierno de la República de Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, Presidente de la República

Uziel Nogueira

El acompañamiento y la comprensión del proceso de integración sudamericano se tornó una tarea compleja, particularmente a partir de este año. Para ejemplificar esta afirmación tomemos el caso de la Primera Reunión Energética de Sudamérica a nivel presidencial, llevada a cabo el 17 de abril en la Isla Margarita, Venezuela.

En este encuentro se acordó -entre otras cosas- la creación de la Unión de Naciones Sudamericanas (UNASUR) que sustituyó a la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones (CASA) que se creó en el año 2004. Es importante mencionar aquí que la mayoría de los países que participan de la UNASUR también forman parte de otros esquemas de integración subregional, regional y/o hemisférico. Veamos:  la Comunidad Andina de Naciones (CAN) y sus antecedentes históricos en ese proceso subregional están en funcionamiento desde finales de la década de 1960; el Mercado Común del Sur (MERCOSUR) fue lanzado a comienzos de la década de 1990 y a través del tiempo incorporó como miembros asociados a países que pertenecen o pertenecieron a la CAN. Juntos, ambos bloques buscan construir un espacio de integración más profundo, que empiece a transitar el camino seguido por la Unión Europea.

Por su parte, Perú y Colombia (países miembros de la CAN, pero asociados al MERCOSUR) están aguardando la aprobación por parte del Congreso de los Estados Unidos de un Acuerdo de Libre Comercio que sigue el modelo del NAFTA (Acuerdo de Libre Comercio de América del Norte). Sin embargo, en uniones aduaneras como la CAN o el MERCOSUR, las negociaciones comerciales deben ser realizadas en bloque. Por esta razón, Ecuador, Bolivia y Venezuela no participaron de las negociaciones con los Estados Unidos.

A su vez, Chile (país asociado al MERCOSUR) tiene acuerdos de libre comercio con la mayoría de las economías globales y fue recientemente invitado a reincorporarse a la CAN, un bloque que abandonó en la década de 1970.

Venezuela abandonó la CAN en 2005 por decisión de su presidente, Hugo Chávez y en 2006 ingresó al MERCOSUR. No obstante, lanzó su propia iniciativa de integración, denominada Alternativa Bolivariana para las Américas (ALBA) con la participación de Cuba, Bolivia y, más recientemente, Nicaragua y Haití.

Para completar este cuadro -y como se mencionó al inicio de este artículo- existe la iniciativa de construir la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones (CASA) impulsada desde 2004 por Brasil que, a partir de este mes, se denomina UNASUL y tiene el propósito de integrar a todos los países de esta parte del continente, incluyendo a Suriname y Guyana. Tal proliferación de bloques e iniciativas de integración despierta, al menos, dos preguntas. (i) ¿Por qué los gobiernos buscan nuevas iniciativas en vez de perfeccionar aquéllas de las que forman parte?; y (ii)  ¿Qué modelo de integración prevalecerá en el futuro inmediato?

En relación a la primera pregunta, la respuesta probablemente esté relacionada con la insatisfacción de los gobiernos por los resultados -políticos, económicos, sociales, etc.- obtenidos por sus países, por lo que buscan mejores oportunidades a través de otras formas de integración. Esto podría explicar la decisión de Colombia y Perú de permanecer en la CAN, a la vez que negocian un acuerdo comercial con los Estados Unidos.

En relación a la segunda pregunta, visualizo cuatro posibilidades en cuanto al modelo de integración con mejores posibilidades de prevalecer: (i) mantenimiento del status quo; esto es, la coexistencia de las iniciativas de integración arriba mencionadas; (ii) creación de un área de libre comercio sudamericana, utilizando posiblemente a UNASUR como plataforma; (iii) expansión y profundización del MERCOSUR; y (iv) expansión y profundización del ALBA.
En mi opinión, el mantenimiento del status quo  prevalecerá en el futuro inmediato porque ningún país -incluido Brasil- tiene poder y peso político, económico y comercial para imponer su propia visión y/o modelo de integración. Por lo tanto, en los próximos 4 años es de esperarse un cierto equilibrio de fuerzas entre varias iniciativas de integración existentes en este momento. Esta situación podría ser modificada en el caso de algún shock externo como, por ejemplo, una desaceleración del crecimiento global y la caída en el precio de las commodities.

Finalmente, me permito una reflexión de naturaleza más bien académica. Puede decirse que están en juego en América del Sur tres proyectos de integración: (i) el modelo europeo de unión aduanera / mercado común; (ii) el modelo norteamericano de acuerdos de libre comercio; y (iii) el modelo venezolano del ALBA. Solamente el paso del tiempo podrá mostrar cuál de los tres modelos irá a prevalecer.

INTAL Carta Mensual No. 129 – Abril 2007

Uziel Nogueira
El acompañamiento y la comprensión del proceso de integración sudamericano se tornó una tarea compleja, particularmente a partir de este año. Para ejemplificar esta afirmación tomemos el caso de la Primera Reunión Energética de Sudamérica a nivel presidencial, llevada a cabo el 17 de abril en la Isla Margarita, pill
Venezuela.
En este encuentro se acordó -entre otras cosas- la creación de la Unión de Naciones Sudamericanas (UNASUR) que sustituyó a la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones (CASA) que se creó en el año 2004. Es importante mencionar aquí que la mayoría de los países que participan de la UNASUR también forman parte de otros esquemas de integración subregional, regional y/o hemisférico. Veamos:  la Comunidad Andina de Naciones (CAN) y sus antecedentes históricos en ese proceso subregional están en funcionamiento desde finales de la década de 1960; el Mercado Común del Sur (MERCOSUR) fue lanzado a comienzos de la década de 1990 y a través del tiempo incorporó como miembros asociados a países que pertenecen o pertenecieron a la CAN. Juntos, ambos bloques buscan construir un espacio de integración más profundo, que empiece a transitar el camino seguido por la Unión Europea.
Por su parte, Perú y Colombia (países miembros de la CAN, pero asociados al MERCOSUR) están aguardando la aprobación por parte del Congreso de los Estados Unidos de un Acuerdo de Libre Comercio que sigue el modelo del NAFTA (Acuerdo de Libre Comercio de América del Norte). Sin embargo, en uniones aduaneras como la CAN o el MERCOSUR, las negociaciones comerciales deben ser realizadas en bloque. Por esta razón, Ecuador, Bolivia y Venezuela no participaron de las negociaciones con los Estados Unidos.
A su vez, Chile (país asociado al MERCOSUR) tiene acuerdos de libre comercio con la mayoría de las economías globales y fue recientemente invitado a reincorporarse a la CAN, un bloque que abandonó en la década de 1970.
Venezuela abandonó la CAN en 2005 por decisión de su presidente, Hugo Chávez y en 2006 ingresó al MERCOSUR. No obstante, lanzó su propia iniciativa de integración, denominada Alternativa Bolivariana para las Américas (ALBA) con la participación de Cuba, Bolivia y, más recientemente, Nicaragua y Haití.
Para completar este cuadro -y como se mencionó al inicio de este artículo- existe la iniciativa de construir la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones (CASA) impulsada desde 2004 por Brasil que, a partir de este mes, se denomina UNASUL y tiene el propósito de integrar a todos los países de esta parte del continente, incluyendo a Suriname y Guyana. Tal proliferación de bloques e iniciativas de integración despierta, al menos, dos preguntas. (i) ¿Por qué los gobiernos buscan nuevas iniciativas en vez de perfeccionar aquéllas de las que forman parte?; y (ii)  ¿Qué modelo de integración prevalecerá en el futuro inmediato? 
En relación a la primera pregunta, la respuesta probablemente esté relacionada con la insatisfacción de los gobiernos por los resultados -políticos, económicos, sociales, etc.- obtenidos por sus países, por lo que buscan mejores oportunidades a través de otras formas de integración. Esto podría explicar la decisión de Colombia y Perú de permanecer en la CAN, a la vez que negocian un acuerdo comercial con los Estados Unidos.
En relación a la segunda pregunta, visualizo cuatro posibilidades en cuanto al modelo de integración con mejores posibilidades de prevalecer: (i) mantenimiento del status quo; esto es, la coexistencia de las iniciativas de integración arriba mencionadas; (ii) creación de un área de libre comercio sudamericana, utilizando posiblemente a UNASUR como plataforma; (iii) expansión y profundización del MERCOSUR; y (iv) expansión y profundización del ALBA.
En mi opinión, el mantenimiento del status quo  prevalecerá en el futuro inmediato porque ningún país -incluido Brasil- tiene poder y peso político, económico y comercial para imponer su propia visión y/o modelo de integración. Por lo tanto, en los próximos 4 años es de esperarse un cierto equilibrio de fuerzas entre varias iniciativas de integración existentes en este momento. Esta situación podría ser modificada en el caso de algún shock externo como, por ejemplo, una desaceleración del crecimiento global y la caída en el precio de las commodities.
Finalmente, me permito una reflexión de naturaleza más bien académica. Puede decirse que están en juego en América del Sur tres proyectos de integración: (i) el modelo europeo de unión aduanera / mercado común; (ii) el modelo norteamericano de acuerdos de libre comercio; y (iii) el modelo venezolano del ALBA. Solamente el paso del tiempo podrá mostrar cuál de los tres modelos irá a prevalecer.
INTAL Carta Mensual No. 129 – Abril 2007
Uziel Nogueira
El acompañamiento y la comprensión del proceso de integración sudamericano se tornó una tarea compleja, Venezuela.
En este encuentro se acordó -entre otras cosas- la creación de la Unión de Naciones Sudamericanas (UNASUR) que sustituyó a la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones (CASA) que se creó en el año 2004. Es importante mencionar aquí que la mayoría de los países que participan de la UNASUR también forman parte de otros esquemas de integración subregional, regional y/o hemisférico. Veamos:  la Comunidad Andina de Naciones (CAN) y sus antecedentes históricos en ese proceso subregional están en funcionamiento desde finales de la década de 1960; el Mercado Común del Sur (MERCOSUR) fue lanzado a comienzos de la década de 1990 y a través del tiempo incorporó como miembros asociados a países que pertenecen o pertenecieron a la CAN. Juntos, ambos bloques buscan construir un espacio de integración más profundo, que empiece a transitar el camino seguido por la Unión Europea.
Por su parte, Perú y Colombia (países miembros de la CAN, pero asociados al MERCOSUR) están aguardando la aprobación por parte del Congreso de los Estados Unidos de un Acuerdo de Libre Comercio que sigue el modelo del NAFTA (Acuerdo de Libre Comercio de América del Norte). Sin embargo, en uniones aduaneras como la CAN o el MERCOSUR, las negociaciones comerciales deben ser realizadas en bloque. Por esta razón, Ecuador, Bolivia y Venezuela no participaron de las negociaciones con los Estados Unidos.
A su vez, Chile (país asociado al MERCOSUR) tiene acuerdos de libre comercio con la mayoría de las economías globales y fue recientemente invitado a reincorporarse a la CAN, un bloque que abandonó en la década de 1970.
Venezuela abandonó la CAN en 2005 por decisión de su presidente, Hugo Chávez y en 2006 ingresó al MERCOSUR. No obstante, lanzó su propia iniciativa de integración, denominada Alternativa Bolivariana para las Américas (ALBA) con la participación de Cuba, Bolivia y, más recientemente, Nicaragua y Haití.
Para completar este cuadro -y como se mencionó al inicio de este artículo- existe la iniciativa de construir la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones (CASA) impulsada desde 2004 por Brasil que, a partir de este mes, se denomina UNASUL y tiene el propósito de integrar a todos los países de esta parte del continente, incluyendo a Suriname y Guyana. Tal proliferación de bloques e iniciativas de integración despierta, al menos, dos preguntas. (i) ¿Por qué los gobiernos buscan nuevas iniciativas en vez de perfeccionar aquéllas de las que forman parte?; y (ii)  ¿Qué modelo de integración prevalecerá en el futuro inmediato? 
En relación a la primera pregunta, la respuesta probablemente esté relacionada con la insatisfacción de los gobiernos por los resultados -políticos, económicos, sociales, etc.- obtenidos por sus países, por lo que buscan mejores oportunidades a través de otras formas de integración. Esto podría explicar la decisión de Colombia y Perú de permanecer en la CAN, a la vez que negocian un acuerdo comercial con los Estados Unidos.
En relación a la segunda pregunta, visualizo cuatro posibilidades en cuanto al modelo de integración con mejores posibilidades de prevalecer: (i) mantenimiento del status quo; esto es, la coexistencia de las iniciativas de integración arriba mencionadas; (ii) creación de un área de libre comercio sudamericana, utilizando posiblemente a UNASUR como plataforma; (iii) expansión y profundización del MERCOSUR; y (iv) expansión y profundización del ALBA.
En mi opinión, el mantenimiento del status quo  prevalecerá en el futuro inmediato porque ningún país -incluido Brasil- tiene poder y peso político, económico y comercial para imponer su propia visión y/o modelo de integración. Por lo tanto, en los próximos 4 años es de esperarse un cierto equilibrio de fuerzas entre varias iniciativas de integración existentes en este momento. Esta situación podría ser modificada en el caso de algún shock externo como, por ejemplo, una desaceleración del crecimiento global y la caída en el precio de las commodities.
Finalmente, me permito una reflexión de naturaleza más bien académica. Puede decirse que están en juego en América del Sur tres proyectos de integración: (i) el modelo europeo de unión aduanera / mercado común; (ii) el modelo norteamericano de acuerdos de libre comercio; y (iii) el modelo venezolano del ALBA. Solamente el paso del tiempo podrá mostrar cuál de los tres modelos irá a prevalecer.
INTAL Carta Mensual No. 129 – Abril 2007

Raúl Moreno

El Salvador

Las reformas neoliberales y, search más recientemente, no rx los acuerdos de comercio e inversión han subsumido a los Derechos Humanos a una lógica mercantil, consolidando un orden planetario en el que el “valor superior de las cosas” se ubica en la ganancia. En este afán los servicios públicos, la biodiversidad, los conocimientos tradicionales de los pueblos indígenas, los recursos del subsuelo y el agua misma han sido transformados en simples mercancías, objetos de comercio.

Este “orden” no sólo resulta ser insustentable sino también inadmisible, y nos insta a renunciar al hecho de que sea el mercado –a través de la oferta y la demanda– quien dirija el destino de los pueblos y de nuestras vidas. Tiene todo el sentido del mundo plantearnos otro orden de cosas y reivindicar nuestro derecho soberano a construir el sendero que como naciones decidamos enrumbar.

La lógica de “integración” de los TLC

Las reformas neoliberales promovidas por el Banco Mundial (BM) y el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID), que han sido aplicadas al pie de la letra por los gobiernos de la región centroamericana, sentaron las bases en que se fundamenta el proceso de acumulación internacional del capital. La erosión de las funciones y competencias de los Estados, la privatización de las empresas y activos públicos, y la desregulación y liberalización de la economía, favorecieron el posicionamiento del capital transnacional en la región y la consolidación de los núcleos hegemónicos empresariales nacionales.

De manera complementaria a los programas de ajuste estructural y respondiendo a la misma lógica mercantil de maximización de ganancias, desde 1994 se viene impulsando una ola de “libre comercio” a través de los acuerdos de la Organización Mundial de Comercio (OMC), el proyecto del Área de Libre Comercio de las Américas (ALCA), los Tratados Bilaterales de Inversión (TBI) y los Tratados de Libre Comercio (TLC), apoyados por un conjunto de megaproyectos recogidos en el Plan Puebla Panamá (PPP), a través de los cuales se crea la infraestructura económica necesaria para el funcionamiento del capital transnacional en la región[1].

La superioridad jurídica de los Tratados y Acuerdos Internacionales les permite subordinar la legislación secundaria de los países a sus principios y contenidos, convirtiéndolos en un instrumento idóneo y altamente eficiente que garantiza que los privilegios de las corporaciones transnacionales se transformen en derechos. Los Tratados introducen una gama de mecanismos que conjugan prohibiciones a los gobiernos –limitando su capacidad de definir sus propias políticas públicas–, con derechos para las empresas extranjeras en materia de inversiones, tratos no discriminatorios, propiedad intelectual, acceso a la provisión de servicios públicos y licitaciones gubernamentales, así como el control de los recursos naturales.

La lógica del “libre comercio” apunta hacia una integración de los capitales y la consolidación de un bloque económico regional liderado por los Estados Unidos, a partir del cual las corporaciones de ese país pueden ejercer el control hemisférico y obtener un posicionamiento favorable frente a la Unión Europea y las economías del sureste de Asia. Se trata de una integración que ofrece libre acceso al capital corporativo, sin regulaciones, con tratamiento nacional y con tribunales supranacionales corporativos para dirimir sus controversias contra los Estados. Este tipo de integración se convierte en una pieza fundamental de la estrategia de seguridad nacional de los Estados Unidos.

La “integración” de los gobiernos centroamericanos

La integración promovida por los TLC se yuxtapone al proceso integracionista impulsado por los gobiernos de los países centroamericanos, en el cual han primado los intereses de los capitales nacionales. La preeminencia del ámbito económico en la integración regional se hace evidente en los mismos límites que observa el proceso: una primera fase del Mercado Común Centroamericano (MERCOMÚN), en la que las grandes empresas nacionales lograron posicionarse en los mercados regionales, hasta finales de la década de los sesenta en que se rompe el proceso con la guerra entre El Salvador y Honduras.

Luego, el proyecto de integración centroamericana se recompone en 1991, a partir de la suscripción del Protocolo de Tegucigalpa (PT), dando origen al Sistema de Integración Centroamericana (SICA), el cual es concebido desde una lógica sistémica y holística en la que se incluyen los ámbitos político, económico, social, cultural y ambiental; no obstante, en la realidad, el proceso de integración centroamericana se ha reducido a los planos comercial y financiero, y se expresa en la búsqueda de los gobiernos -sin lograr su concreción- de una Unión Aduanera[2].

Desde una perspectiva estrictamente formal, el SICA tiene un alcance y profundidad que trasciende de la lógica mercantil del Tratado de Libre Comercio entre Centroamérica, República Dominicana y Estados Unidos (DR-CAFTA, por sus siglas en inglés), tal como lo recoge el texto de la Alianza para el Desarrollo Sostenible (ALIDES); sin embargo, los resultados que arrojan los quince años del proceso integracionista sólo pueden dar cuenta de las ventajas comerciales para unas cuantas empresas derivadas de la supresión de barreras arancelarias y las facilidades para la integración de los capitales financieros de la región.

Vale señalar que el Protocolo de Tegucigalpa a la Carta de la Organización de Estados Centroamericanos (ODECA) señala que “el Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana es el marco institucional de la Integración regional de Centroamérica” (Art. 2) y que “la tutela, respeto y promoción de los Derechos Humanos constituyen la base fundamental del Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana” (Art. 4); con lo cual los gobiernos centroamericanos están en la obligación de abstenerse de adoptar cualquier medida que sea contraria a las disposiciones del Protocolo o que obstaculice el cumplimiento de los principios fundamentales del Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana o la consecución de sus objetivos[3].

Los instrumentos jurídicos de la integración centroamericana formalmente se anteponen a cualquier otro acuerdo relacionado con esa materia[4], por lo que con la implementación del DR-CAFTA se genera una ruptura del marco jurídico de la integración centroamericana y, en particular, la violación de la Constitución de la República de El Salvador.

En contrapunto, el DR-CAFTA limita las facultades de los Estados para perfeccionar los instrumentos de la integración, en todo aquello que pueda resultar inconsistente con el DR-CAFTA[5]. Además, los contenidos de este tratado están referidos principalmente a aspectos relacionados con el comercio e inversión, por lo que resulta contraproducente darle preeminencia sobre un marco jurídico más general como es de la integración centroamericana que formalmente regula aspectos humanos, culturales, económicos y sociales, más allá de lo comercial.

El Protocolo de Tegucigalpa reafirma algunos principios de la integración de Centroamérica (Art.3), como son la consolidación de la democracia y el fortalecimiento de sus instituciones, concretar un nuevo modelo de seguridad regional o lograr un sistema regional de bienestar y justicia económica y social para los pueblos centroamericanos[6]. Si consideramos que el DR-CAFTA conlleva impactos negativos en el ámbito laboral, medioambiente, salud, entre otros, es evidente que el tratado resulta incompatible con los objetivos formales de la integración centroamericana.

Otra integración: desde abajo, desde adentro y a la izquierda

Es evidente que la integración de las corporaciones y del capital nacional no es la integración para los pueblos. Las alternativas no se construyen a partir de modelos globales, la idea de homogeneizar realidades disímiles en un esquema único es una de las grandes limitaciones que entrañan las simplificaciones y abstracciones de la realidad, y además son fuentes de debilidad e inaplicabilidad. Las alternativas se construyen desde las experiencias locales, territoriales y sectoriales, en un esfuerzo que parte de la realidad específica y cuyas propuestas dimanan desde abajo, desde los sujetos y sujetas del proceso.

Aunque la dimensión local es la base para la construcción de propuestas alternativas y de las acciones ciudadanas, éstas deben integrarse en una dimensión nacional a efecto de que no se conviertan en intentos dispersos o expresiones aisladas; además, los esfuerzos nacionales deberían articularse con los procesos que, en los planos regionales y globales, se están llevando a cabo. Esto porque el carácter global del neoliberalismo exige respuestas globales, aunque éstas se van tejiendo desde el plano territorial o sectorial.

Avanzar en la construcción de una integración regional nos exige la definición de nuestros propios proyectos nacionales de desarrollo, estructurados en base de principios de participación democrática, sustentabilidad y reducción de las brechas de desigualdad -genérica, etárea, étnica, social y geográfica–, que conduzcan hacia el cumplimiento y prevalencia de los Derechos Humanos y de un orden fundamentados en la justicia y dignidad de los pueblos.

Estos esfuerzos exigen superar la visión cortoplacista prevalente, reivindicar el rol del Estado en la actividad económica y en la planificación del desarrollo, priorizando el desarrollo de las empresas sociales y cooperativas; recuperando la capacidad de los pueblos de producir sus propios alimentos, las formas tradicionales de cultivo y las semillas nativas; retomando el control de los recursos naturales y garantizando la provisión pública de los servicios públicos.

Profundizar en la elaboración de propuestas alternativas representa un enorme reto para todas aquellas organizaciones y personas que, desde el plano ético y técnico, reconocemos las insuperables limitaciones que el orden capitalista tiene, y que se traducen en las intolerables brechas de desigualdad, exclusión y deterioro presentes en los países de la región. De allí que una de las acciones de importancia meridiana sea el desarrollo de nuevas formas de organización económica, social y política, que propendan a la construcción del poder popular.

La construcción de una integración desde los pueblos pasa por empujar la resistencia, lo cual entraña la realización de acciones ciudadanas que contengan y/o reviertan los proyectos neoliberales, como son los TLC, el ALCA y la privatización de los servicios públicos, entre otros; pero la resistencia también implica la concreción del esfuerzo por construir las alternativas, tal como se ha planteado anteriormente.

Uno de los ejes de la resistencia lo constituyen las acciones ciudadanas para poner freno a los procesos de privatización de los servicios públicos, pues trasladar a la esfera del mercado servicios fundamentales como la salud, la educación y el agua, implica su mercantilización y la consecuente negación del acceso de los Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (DESC), en un contexto que se caracteriza por la falta de acceso a los mercados de importantes sectores de la población.

Movilización ciudadana

La intención de los gobiernos de avanzar en la privatización de un bien público como el agua[7], esencial e indispensable para la vida misma, constituye la exacerbación de la lógica de la ganancia que ve en la privatización de este recurso un negocio altamente rentable, sin importar las serias implicaciones que ello entraña sobre la existencia de los seres vivos del planeta. Esta situación podría convertirse en un vector movilizador que articule los esfuerzos locales, nacionales y regionales para evitar la mercantilización y el control corporativo de los recursos hídricos.

En este contexto, resulta indispensable avanzar en las labores de difusión y alfabetización económica y política como factor de movilización, a partir de las cuales se logre elevar la conciencia ciudadana de hombres y mujeres para que puedan asumirse como sujetos y sujetas de derechos, y luchar por su vigencia y cumplimiento. Los medios de comunicación social juegan un rol fundamental en este esfuerzo de difusión de información; para ello vale identificar los vehículos idóneos y eficientes para acercar la información hasta los actores sociales.

Las dimensiones local, territorial y sectorial constituyen la base de las acciones ciudadanas, pues las reivindicaciones por la solución de sus problemáticas particulares es la que podría generar la sinergia de movilización y acción social. La organización en los lugares de vivienda, de trabajo y estudio, o la organización por la consecución de intereses comunes, pueden marcar una vía para enfrentar la globalización neoliberal.

La movilización también es un instrumento idóneo para reivindicar el respeto a la participación ciudadana en la toma de decisiones, con ello se busca la inclusión de las organizaciones sociales en la formulación de políticas públicas, haciéndolas participes en la función de contraloría ciudadana. Las acciones ciudadanas deberían emerger desde el seno mismo de las organizaciones y apoyarse en el trabajo y reivindicaciones realizadas desde otros espacios nacionales e internacionales.

Debería buscarse la mayor creatividad posible, incursionar en fuentes inéditas de resistencia y organización que puedan combinar las denuncias ante las instancias nacionales e internacionales idóneas, con la participación en la formulación y seguimiento de las políticas públicas, el involucramiento en las labores de contraloría social, y la exigencia concreta de reivindicaciones acogidas por los sectores sociales.

La magnitud de los procesos regentados por la OMC, y los que se impulsan desde el ALCA, los TLC y el PPP, desbordan nuestras capacidades locales y nacionales para aspirar a la posibilidad de lograr su modificación en los aspectos esenciales; esto nos impone el reto de imprimirle a las acciones ciudadanas la mayor creatividad y audacia posibles, lo cual exige mantener un profundo conocimiento del fenómeno, pero también una estrecha coordinación ciudadana en los planos local, nacional e internacional.

Sólo desde una lógica que parta y se construya desde abajo, activando la movilización ciudadana desde los territorios, podremos tener alguna seguridad de que los proyectos e iniciativas podrían generar bienestar para la población. Los tratados y acuerdos internacionales sólo pueden ser beneficiosos para los pueblos en la medida en que éstos sean definidos a partir de las estrategias nacionales de desarrollo, construidas democráticamente, y antepongan el respeto a la vida por encima del beneficio económico y la prevalencia de los intereses comerciales.

Raúl Moreno, economista salvadoreño, catedrático de la Escuela de Economía de la Universidad de El Salvador y miembro de la Red de Acción Ciudadana frente al Comercio e Inversión, SINTI TECHAN.

Notas

[1] El PPP incluye ocho iniciativas financiadas con recursos públicos, entre las que prevalecen los proyectos de infraestructura: un complejo de obras de interconexión vial que favorece el traslado de las mercancías, a través de canales secos que ligan ciudades maquiladoras con los puertos y aeropuertos; la construcción de redes para la interconexión eléctrica y telecomunicaciones; la construcción de presas y represas; y un corredor biológico ligado al interés corporativo en el control de los recursos de biodiversidad. No puede omitirse el objetivo contrainsurgente del PPP en la región mesoamericana, con especial interés en el sur-sureste mexicano.

[2] En la actualidad, la armonización arancelaria aún no se ha completado, están pendientes algunos productos sensibles, entre los que figuran la mayoría de los productos agropecuarios transables. En el marco de la negociación del Acuerdo de Asociación entre Centroamérica y la Unión Europea, los gobiernos de la región han planteado su interés de completar la armonización arancelaria. www.laprensagrafica.com.sv

[3] Red de Acción Ciudadana frente al Comercio e Inversión, SINTI TECHAN (2005): análisis de la Inconstitucionalidad del DR-CAFTA, mimeo, febrero, San Salvador.

[4] El Art. 35 del Protocolo de Tegucigalpa señala que el mismo prevalece sobre cualquier Convenio, Acuerdo o Protocolo suscrito entre los Estados Miembros, bilateral o multilateralmente, sobre las materias relacionadas con la integración centroamericana.

[5] El Art. 1.1.2 del DR-CAFTA señala que nada “podrá impedir a las Partes centroamericanas mantener o adoptar medidas para fortalecer y profundizar sus instrumentos jurídicos existentes en la integración centroamericana, siempre y cuando esas medidas no sean inconsistentes con este Tratado”.

[6] Red de Acción Ciudadana frente al Comercio e Inversión, Op cít.

[7] Las empresas transnacionales están empujando a nivel planetario la privatización del agua, con el apoyo de los organismos multilaterales. Estos procesos de privatización se presentan como acciones para la modernización del sector hídrico o descentralización del mismo, y como solución para las enormes deficiencias que la producción y provisión del líquido están teniendo.

Publicado en ALAI 414-415