EuroMemorandum group: Full Employment with Good Work, Strong Public Services, and International Cooperation: Democratic Alternatives to Poverty and Precariousness in Europe

Willem Bos
When one asks the average person about Amsterdam, Paris, or Rome, they will likely answerwith an enthusiastic – or not – description of these places with their true or assumed characteristics. The same goes for countries. But ‘Europe’ tends to trigger a very different reaction. Europe stands for rules and regulations, political arm-wrestling, much cry and little wool.
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EuroMemorandum 2007

The adoption of the new „Reform Treaty“ for the EU comes at a time of financial crisis, enhanced economic uncertainty and rising social inequality. Additional risks arise from the precarious situation in the areas of energy use and climate change and from mounting imbalances in the world economy. The new Treaty will not enable the EU to master these problems and challenges. On the contrary it will strengthen the neo-liberal policy framework which has contributed to the critical situation.
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Declaración Cumbre de los Pueblos del Sur: Declaración de Montevideo

Asunción – Paraguay, recipe 28 y 29 de junio de 2007
Montevideo – Uruguay
Todos los pueblos, check toda la esperanza
Desde Montevideo, República Oriental del Uruguay, healing capital del MERCOSUR, donde nos hemos reunido el día 17 de Diciembre de 2007, en la Cumbre de los Pueblos del Sur, con el lema “Todos los Pueblos, Toda la Esperanza”, ratificamos firmemente nuestra convicción y apuesta política en la integración de los Pueblos de América, como medio para profundizar la democracia y cambiar el modelo de desarrollo para la plena vigencia de los derechos humanos. En este sentido, declaramos:
Reconociendo los obstáculos que las élites tradicionales imponen a los procesos de transformación de la realidad social, económica, política y cultural que están siendo impulsados en la región, y en particular en la hermana Republica de Bolivia, levantamos enérgicamente nuestra voz de protesta para condenar los intentos de desestabilización de la democracia. Desde las organizaciones y movimientos sociales queremos expresar nuestra profunda solidaridad al pueblo y al gobierno de Bolivia en esta hora de difíciles definiciones en favor del pueblo.
Ratificando nuestra posición en contra de los tratados de libre comercio e inversiones, repudiamos de forma vehemente la firma del tratado entre el Mercosur e Israel, negociado a espaldas de la ciudadanía, que significa la claudicación del bloque frente a las presiones internacionales de liberalización y al mismo tiempo, con un gobierno que en alianza con el poder imperial de EUA impulsa la agresión permanente sobre pueblos vecinos. Este acuerdo viene a consolidar y profundizar un camino de resguardo de los intereses de los capitales internacionales frente a los cuales el Mercosur representó un freno con la derrota impuesta al ALCA.
Al mismo tiempo, rechazamos todas las propuestas surgidas en el propio seno del Mercosur, que estén destinadas a promover la firma de tratados bilaterales de comercio o de protección de inversiones.
Este tipo de acuerdos irán en el sentido de agravar el modelo de desarrollo que las políticas neoliberales han venido implementando en la región, que continua promoviendo la degradación ambiental, profundizando la exclusión social al interior de los países y las desigualdades entre los mismos. En el marco del modelo agroexportador, la expansión de los monocultivos está provocando la destrucción masiva de la naturaleza. El auge de los agrocombustibles que ahora se fomenta para sostener el patrón de consumo de los países industrializados, profundizará las consecuencias devastadoras en el medio ambiente, provocando cambios climáticos y riesgos de catástrofes naturales. El desarrollismo que impulsa mega obras de infraestructura, como las incluidas en la Iniciativa para la Integración de la Infraestructura Regional de Sudamérica (IIRSA) cuya ejecución responde a los intereses de las grandes corporaciones trasnacionales y de sus socios nacionales y locales traerá graves consecuencias para nuestros pueblos y la integración continental basada en la equidad, la inclusión, la diversidad, la soberanía local, la democracia, la justicia social y ambiental y la paz.
Consideramos que la creación del Banco del Sur abre en este momento una oportunidad de cambio en la lógica económica actual. Para incidir sobre estos cambios de rumbos exigimos de los gobiernos que se garantice el acceso público a la información y la participación social en las decisiones del Banco.
En este sentido, asumimos desde los movimientos y organizaciones sociales el desafío y la tarea de hacer que esta herramienta esté al servicio de las necesidades de nuestros pueblos.
Asimismo, saludamos el proceso de auditoría integral iniciado en el Ecuador, que constituye una posibilidad para fortalecer nuestro reclamo que en cada uno de nuestros países se implemente una auditoría participativa de todas las deudas.
Nos oponemos a la creación de las mega represas destinadas fundamentalmente a reforzar el modelo exportador de recursos naturales en forma de productos electro-intensivos. El proceso de integración energética en curso debe ser desarrollado a partir de la recuperación de la soberanía sobre los recursos energéticos de la región. Este proceso debe basarse en el fortalecimiento de las empresas estatales de energía, la nacionalización de los recursos estratégicos y la utilización de la renta así conseguida en la construcción de un desarrollo sustentable con políticas de redistribución de la riqueza y la construcción de nuevas matrices a partir de fuentes renovables de energía, donde la prioridad sea garantizar el acceso digno de todos los habitantes del continente a los bienes energéticos.
Demandamos la urgente renegociación de los Tratados de Itaipu y Yacyreta así como la necesidad de una auditoria de la ilegitima deuda paraguaya, producto de los injustos términos de los tratados firmados por los gobiernos dictatoriales del Paraguay, Brasil y Argentina.
Alertamos y repudiamos la promulgación de leyes denominadas “antiterroristas” destinadas a criminalizar la lucha social, a los movimientos sociales y a sus líderes.
En este sentido, la Cumbre de los Pueblos del Sur exige la urgente libertad de los 6 ciudadanos paraguayos presos en Argentina, por tratarse de una persecución política y una violación de los derechos humanos fundamentales, solicitando el respeto a los acuerdos referentes al asilo político.
Reafirmamos la necesidad de la inmediata retirada de la Misión Militar de NN.UU. (MINUSTAH) de Haití.
Asimismo, expresamos el apoyo y solidaridad a la campaña popular por la nulidad de la Ley de Caducidad de la pretensión punitiva del Estado, desarrollada por los movimientos sociales en Uruguay.
En contrapartida, defendemos la soberanía alimentaria, cuyos principios articulan políticas de autonomía productiva en base a las necesidades de los pueblos, y no supeditadas a las demandas del mercado mundial. Es urgente implementar reformas agrarias basadas en los principios de la soberanía alimentaria y territorial de los pueblos campesinos e indígenas.
La integración de los pueblos implica, para nosotros, considerar las diferencias entre los mismos como una expresión de la diversidad cultural, a la vez que un desafío para que a través de la complementariedad y la solidaridad mutua se conquisten mejores condiciones de vida para todos. El combate a las asimetrías no puede agotarse en medidas compensatorias y desarticuladas, sino que debe contribuir a resolver los problemas estructurales que impiden la autonomía y el bienestar de nuestros pueblos.
Los procesos de integración deben asegurar la libre circulación de trabajadores y trabajadoras, la recuperación y ampliación de los derechos laborales al mismo tiempo que garantizar el derecho de las personas a no migrar como también todos los derechos de los y las migrantes.
Una vez más, rechazamos todas las formas de discriminación, basadas en el género, las razas y etnias, la orientación sexual, las creencias o religiones, las ideologías, el origen, o cualquier otra distinción que menoscabe los derechos de las personas y limite el ejercicio de la ciudadanía.
La integración que queremos requiere la inclusión de la diversidad de los sujetos sociales y culturales basada en el reconocimiento de los territorios de los pueblos y naciones indígenas, que inclusive muchas veces sobrepasan las fronteras de los Estados nacionales.
Exigimos también políticas públicas universales que respondan efectivamente a las necesidades de hombres y mujeres de acceso a la educación, a la salud, a servicios públicos esenciales, y al ejercicio pleno de los derechos económicos, sociales, políticos, culturales y ambientales.
Exhortamos a los gobernantes a garantizar la transparencia y el acceso a las informaciones substanciales en las negociaciones del Mercosur y fortalecer los espacios de diálogo e interacción entre pueblos y gobiernos, estimulando los mecanismos de democracia participativa y control social.
Consideramos que el fortalecimiento de los procesos de integración en la región debe profundizarse y en este sentido, apoyamos la plena inclusión de Venezuela como también de Bolivia y Ecuador al bloque.
Las organizaciones y movimientos sociales de América del Sur reunidos en Montevideo ratificamos nuestra voluntad de seguir impulsando la integración de los pueblos.
Por una verdadera integración que nos permita construir la soberanía desde y para los pueblos del Sur.

People's Dialogue on Alternatives for Regional Integration

Rosalba Icaza – (Institute of Social Studies, The Netherlands)
This contribution seeks to understand how changing patterns of power and governance affect the meanings and practices of citizenship in a globalising world. It does so by looking into local manifestations of regionalization and their dynamic interactions with collective experiences of women resistance to neo-liberal regionalism in Mexico.1 In particular, the paper looks at the poor record on transparency and accountability of North American official regionalism together with women organizing strategies in national and local arenas of governance opposing it.
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Eric Toussaint


La crisis económica y financiera internacional cuyo epicentro se halla en Estados Unidos tendría que ser aprovechada por los países latinoamericanos para construir una integración favorable a los pueblos y al mismo tiempo iniciar una desvinculación parcial.

Se debe aprender las lecciones del siglo XX para aplicarlas en este comienzo de siglo. Durante la década de los 1930 que siguió la crisis que estalló en Wall Street en 1929, hubo 12 países de Latinoamérica que fueron directamente afectados y que, clinic capsule en consecuencia, suspendieron de manera prolongada el reembolso de sus deudas externas contraídas, principalmente, con banqueros de América del Norte y de Europa occidental. Algunos de ellos, como Brasil y México, impusieron a sus acreedores, diez años más tarde, una reducción de entre el 50 y el 90% de su deuda. México fue el que llevó más lejos las reformas económicas y sociales. Durante el gobierno de Lázaro Cárdenas, la industria del petróleo fue completamente nacionalizada sin que por ello los monopolios norteamericanos fueran indemnizados. Además, 16 millones de hectáreas fueron también nacionalizadas y retornadas en su mayor parte a la población indígena bajo la forma de bienes comunales. En el transcurso de los años treinta y hasta mediados de los sesenta, varios gobiernos latinoamericanos llevaron a cabo políticas públicas muy activas con el fin de conseguir un desarrollo parcialmente autocentrado, conocidas más tarde con el nombre de modelo de industrialización por substitución de importaciones (ISI). Por otra parte, a partir de 1959, la revolución cubana intentó dar un contenido socialista al proyecto bolivariano de integración latinoamericana. Este contenido socialista despuntaba ya en la revolución boliviana de 1952. Fue necesaria la brutal intervención estadounidense, apoyada por las clases dominantes y las fuerzas armadas locales, para terminar con el ciclo ascendente de emancipación social de este período. Bloqueo de Cuba desde 1962, junta militar en Brasil desde 1964, intervención estadounidense en Santo Domingo en 1965, dictadura de Banzer en Bolivia en 1971, golpe de Estado de Pinochet en Chile en 1973, instalación de las dictaduras en Uruguay y en Argentina. El modelo neoliberal fue puesto en práctica primero en Chile, con Pinochet y la ayuda intelectual de los Chicago boys de Milton Friedman, y luego se impuso en todo el continente, favorecido por la crisis de la deuda que estalló en 1982. A la caída de las dictaduras en los años ochenta, el modelo neoliberal continuó vigente gracias principalmente a la aplicación de los planes de ajuste estructural y del Consenso de Washington. Los gobiernos de Latinoamérica fueron incapaces de formar un frente común, y la mayoría aplicó con docilidad las recetas dictadas por el Banco Mundial y el FMI. Esto acabó produciendo un gran descontento popular y una recomposición de las fuerzas populares que condujo a un nuevo ciclo de elecciones de gobiernos de izquierda o de centro izquierda, comenzando por Chávez en 1998, que se comprometió a instaurar un modelo diferente basado en la justicia social.

En este comienzo del siglo, el proyecto bolivariano de integración de los pueblos de la región ha tenido un nuevo impulso. Si se quiere llevar más lejos este nuevo ciclo ascendente es necesario aprender las lecciones del pasado. Lo que le faltó, en particular, a Latinoamérica durante las décadas de 1940 a 1970 fue un auténtico proyecto de integración de las economías y de los pueblos combinado con una verdadera redistribución de la riqueza en favor de las clases trabajadoras. Ahora bien, es vital tener conciencia de que hoy en Latinoamérica existe una disputa entre dos proyectos de integración, que tienen un contenido de clase antagónico. Las clases capitalistas brasileña y argentina (las dos principales economías de América del Sur) son partidarias de una integración favorable a su dominación económica sobre el resto de la región. Los intereses de las empresas brasileñas, sobre todo, así como de las argentinas, son muy importantes en toda la región: petróleo y gas, grandes obras de infraestructuras, minería, metalurgia, agrobusiness, industrias alimentarias, etc. La construcción europea, basada en un mercado único dominado por el gran capital, es el modelo que quieren seguir. Las clases capitalistas brasileña y argentina quieren que los trabajadores de los diferentes países de la región compitan entre sí, para conseguir el máximo beneficio y ser competitivos en el mercado mundial. Desde el punto de vista de la izquierda, sería un trágico error recurrir a una política por etapas: apoyar una integración latinoamericana según el modelo europeo, dominada por el gran capital, con la ilusoria esperanza de darle más tarde un contenido socialmente emancipador. Tal apoyo implica ponerse al servicio de los intereses capitalistas. No hay que entrar en el juego de los capitalistas, intentando ser el más astuto y dejando que éstos dicten sus reglas.

El otro proyecto de integración, que se inscribe en el pensamiento bolivariano, quiere dar un contenido de justicia social a la integración. Esto implica la recuperación del control público sobre los recursos naturales de la región y sobre los grandes medios de producción, de crédito y de comercialización. Se debe nivelar por arriba las conquistas sociales de los trabajadores y de los pequeños productores, reduciendo al mismo tiempo las asimetrías entre las economías de la región. Hay que mejorar sustancialmente las vías de comunicación entre los países de la región, respetando rigurosamente el ambiente (por ejemplo, desarrollando el ferrocarril y otros medios de transporte colectivos antes que las autopistas). Hay que apoyar a los pequeños productores privados en numerosas actividades: agricultura, artesanado, comercio, servicios, etc. El proceso de emancipación social que persigue el proyecto bolivariano del siglo xxi pretende liberar la sociedad de la dominación capitalista apoyando las formas de propiedad que tienen una función social: pequeña propiedad privada, propiedad pública, propiedad cooperativa, propiedad comunal y colectiva, etc. Así mismo, la integración latinoamericana implica dotarse de una arquitectura financiera, jurídica y política común.

Se debe aprovechar la actual coyuntura internacional, favorable a los países en desarrollo exportadores de productos primarios antes de que la situación cambie. Los países de Latinoamérica han acumulado cerca de 400.000 millones de dólares en reservas de cambio. Es una suma no despreciable, que está en manos de los Bancos Centrales latinoamericanos, y que debe ser utilizada en el momento oportuno para favorecer la integración regional y blindar al continente frente a los efectos de la crisis económica y financiera que se desarrolla en América del Norte y Europa, y que amenaza a todo el planeta. Lamentablemente, no hay que hacerse ilusiones: Latinoamérica está en vías de perder un tiempo precioso, mientras los gobiernos prosiguen, más allá de la retórica, una política tradicional: firma de acuerdos bilaterales sobre inversiones, aceptación o continuación de negociaciones sobre ciertos tratados de libre comercio, utilización de las reservas de cambio para comprar bonos del Tesoro de Estados Unidos (es decir, prestarle capital a la potencia dominante) o credit default swaps cuyo mercado se ha hundido con Lehman Brothers, AIG, etc., pago anticipado al FMI, al Banco Mundial y al Club de París, aceptación del tribunal del Banco Mundial (CIADI) para resolver los diferendos con las transnacionales, continuación de las negociaciones comerciales en el marco de la agenda de Doha, mantenimiento de la ocupación militar de Haití. Después de un ruidoso y prometedor arranque en el 2007, las iniciativas anunciadas en materia de integración latinoamericana parecen haberse frenado en el 2008.

En cuanto al lanzamiento del Banco del Sur, éste lleva mucho retraso. Las discusiones no se profundizan. Hay que salir de la confusión y dar un contenido claramente progresista a esta nueva institución, cuya creación fue decidida en diciembre del 2007 por siete países de América del Sur. El Banco del Sur tiene que ser una institución democrática (un país, un voto) y transparente (auditoría externa). Antes que financiar con dinero público grandes proyectos de infraestructura, pocos respetuosos del ambiente, realizados por empresas privadas, cuyo objetivo es obtener el máximo beneficio, se debe apoyar los esfuerzos de los poderes públicos para promover políticas tales como la soberanía alimentaria, la reforma agraria, el desarrollo de la investigación en el campo de la salud y la implantación de una industria farmacéutica que produzca medicamentos genéricos de alta calidad; reforzar los medios de transporte colectivo ferroviario; utilizar energías alternativas para limitar el agotamiento de los recursos naturales; proteger el ambiente; desarrollar la integración de los sistemas de enseñanza…

Al contrario de lo que muchos creen, el problema de la deuda pública no se ha resuelto. Es verdad que la deuda pública externa se ha reducido, pero ha sido sustituida por una deuda pública interna que, en ciertos países, ha adquirido proporciones totalmente desmesuradas (Brasil, Colombia, Argentina, Nicaragua, Guatemala), a tal punto que desvía hacia el capital financiero parasitario una parte considerable del presupuesto del Estado. Es muy conveniente seguir el ejemplo de Ecuador, que estableció una comisión de auditoría integral de la deuda pública externa e interna, a fin de determinar la parte ilegítima, ilícita o ilegal de la misma. En un momento en el que, tras una serie de operaciones aventuradas, los grandes bancos y otras instituciones financieras privadas de Estados Unidos y de Europa borran unas deudas dudosas por un monto que supera largamente la deuda pública externa de Latinoamérica con ellos, hay que constituir un frente de países endeudados para obtener la anulación de la deuda.

Se debe auditar y controlar estrictamente a los bancos privados, porque corren el peligro de ser arrastrados por la crisis financiera internacional. Hay que evitar que el Estado sea llevado a nacionalizar las pérdidas de los bancos, como ya ha pasado tantas veces (Chile bajo Pinochet, México en 1995, Ecuador en 1999-2000, etc.). Si hay que nacionalizar unos bancos al borde de la bancarrota, esto debe hacerse sin indemnizaciones y ejerciendo el derecho de reparación (repetición) sobre el patrimonio de sus propietarios.

Por lo demás, han surgido numerosos litigios en estos últimos años entre los Estados de la región y multinacionales, tanto del Norte como del Sur. En lugar de remitirse al Centro Internacional de Resolución de Diferendos en materia de Inversiones (CIADI), que es parte del Banco Mundial, dominado por un puñado de países industrializados, los países de la región tendrían que seguir el ejemplo de Bolivia, que se ha retirado del mismo. Deberían crear un organismo regional para la resolución de litigios en cuestiones de inversiones. En materia jurídica, los Estados latinoamericanos deberían aplicar la doctrina Calvo y negarse a renunciar a su jurisdicción en casos de litigio con otro Estado o con empresas privadas. ¿Cómo se puede seguir firmando contratos de préstamos o contratos comerciales que prevén que, en caso de litigio, sólo son competentes las jurisdicciones de Estados Unidos, del Reino Unido o de otros países del Norte? Se trata de una renuncia inadmisible del ejercicio de la soberanía.

Es conveniente restablecer un control estricto de los movimientos de capitales y del cambio, a fin de evitar la fuga de capitales y los ataques especulativos contra las monedas de la región. Es necesario que los Estados que quieren materializar el proyecto bolivariano de integración latinoamericana para una mayor justicia social avancen hacia una moneda común.

Naturalmente, la integración debe tener una dimensión política: un Parlamento latinoamericano elegido por sufragio universal en cada uno de los países miembros, dotado de un poder legislativo real. En el marco de la construcción política, hay que evitar la repetición del mal ejemplo europeo, donde la Comisión Europea (o sea, el gobierno europeo) dispone de poderes exagerados con respecto al Parlamento. Hay que caminar hacia un proceso constituyente democrático a fin de adoptar una Constitución política común. En este caso también, se debe evitar reproducir el procedimiento antidemocrático seguido por la Comisión Europea para tratar de imponer un tratado constitucional elaborado sin la participación activa de la ciudadanía y sin someterlo a un referéndum en capa país miembro. Por el contrario, hay que seguir el ejemplo de las asambleas constituyentes de Venezuela (1999), Bolivia (2007) y Ecuador (2007-2008). Los importantes avances democráticos logrados en el curso de estos tres procesos tendrían que ser integrados en un proceso constituyente bolivariano.

Así mismo, es necesario reforzar las competencias de la Corte Latinoamericana de Justicia, en particular en materia de garantía del respeto de los derechos humanos que son indivisibles.

Hasta este momento, coexisten varios procesos de integración: Comunidad Andina de Naciones, Mercosur, Unasur, Caricom, Alba… Es importante evitar la dispersión y adoptar un proceso integrador con una definición político-social basada en la justicia social. Este proceso bolivariano debería reunir a todos los países de Latinoamérica (América del Sur, América Central y Caribe) que se adhieran a esta orientación. Es preferible comenzar la construcción común con un núcleo reducido y coherente, que con un conjunto heterogéneo de Estados cuyos gobiernos siguen orientaciones políticas sociales contradictorias, cuando no antagónicas.

La integración bolivariana debe ir acompañada de una desvinculación parcial del mercado capitalista mundial. Se trata de ir suprimiendo progresivamente las fronteras que separan los Estados que participan en el proyecto, reduciendo las asimetrías en los países miembros especialmente gracias a un mecanismo de transferencia de riqueza desde los Estados más «ricos» a los más «pobres». Esto permitirá ampliar considerablemente el mercado interior y favorecerá el desarrollo de los productores locales bajo diferentes formas de propiedad. Permitirá poner en vigencia el proceso de desarrollo (no sólo la industrialización) por sustitución de importaciones. Por descontado, ello implica el desarrollo, por ejemplo, de una política de soberanía alimentaria. Al mismo tiempo, el conjunto bolivariano constituido por los países miembros se desvinculará parcialmente del mercado capitalista mundial. En particular, esto implicará abrogar tratados bilaterales en materia de inversiones y de comercio. Los países miembros del grupo bolivariano también deberían retirarse de instituciones tales como el Banco Mundial, el FMI y la OMC, promoviendo al mismo tiempo la creación de nuevas instancias mundiales democráticas y respetuosas de los derechos humanos indivisibles.

Como se indicó antes, los Estados miembros del nuevo grupo bolivariano se dotarán de nuevas instituciones regionales, como el Banco del Sur, que desarrollarán relaciones de colaboración con otras instituciones similares constituidas por Estados de otras regiones del mundo.

Los Estados miembros del nuevo grupo bolivariano actuarán con el máximo número de terceros Estados por una reforma democrática radical del sistema de las Naciones Unidas, con el objetivo de hacer cumplir la Carta de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas y los numerosos instrumentos internacionales favorables a los derechos humanos, tales como el pacto internacional de derechos económicos, sociales y culturales (1966), la carta de los derechos y deberes de los Estados (1974), la declaración sobre el derecho al desarrollo (1986), la resolución sobre los derechos de los pueblos indígenas (2007). Igualmente, prestarán apoyo a la actividad de la Corte Penal Internacional y de la Corte Internacional de Justicia de la Haya. Favorecerán el entendimiento entre los Estados y los pueblos a fin de actuar para que se limite al máximo el cambio climático, ya que esto representa un terrible peligro para la humanidad.

By Eric Toussaint, try translated by Federico Fuentes



The economic and financial crisis, whose epicentre is found in the United States, has to be utilised by Latin American countries to build an integration favourable to the peoples and at the same initiate a partial delinking from the world capitalist market.[1]

We need to learn the lessons of the 20th century in order to apply them at the beginning of this century. During the decade of the 1930s that followed the crisis that exploded on Wall Street in 1929, 12 countries in Latin America suspended for a prolonged time repayment of their foreign debt, prinicipally to North American and western European bankers. Some of them, such as Brazil and Mexico, imposed on their creditors a reduction of between 50% and 90% of their debt some 10 years later.

Mexico was the one that went the furthest with its economic and social reforms. During the government of Lazaro Cardenas, the petroleum industry was completely nationalised without any compensation for the North American monopolies. Moreover, 16 million hectares of land were also nationalised and in large part handed over to the indigenous population.

During the 1930s and up until the middle of the 1960s, various Latin American governments carried out very active public policies with the aim of seeking a partially self-centred development, known later as the model of industrialisation via substitution of imports. On the other hand, beginning in 1959, the Cuban Revolution attempted to give a socialist content to the Bolivarian[2] project of Latin American integration. This socialist content began to appear in the Bolivian revolution of 1952.

Brutal US intervention, backed by the dominant classes and the local armed forces, was necessary to put an end to the ascending cycle of social emancipation during this period. The blockade of Cuba since 1962, the military junta in Brazil from 1964, US intervention in Santo Domingo in 1965, the Banzer dictatorship in Bolivia in 1971, the Pinochet coup in Chile in 1973, and installing dictatorships in Uruguay and Argentina. The neoliberal model was put in practice first in Chile with Pinochet, and with the intellectual guidance of the Chicago Boys of Milton Friedman, and afterwards was imposed on all the continent, aided by the debt crisis that exploded in 1982.

With the fall of the dictatorships in the 1980s, the neoliberal model continued in force, principally through the application of structural adjustments programs and the Washington Consensus. The governments of Latin America were incapable of forming a common front, and the majority applied the recipes dictated by the World Bank and the IMF in a docile manner. This ended up producing a large popular discontent and a recomposition of popular forces that led to a new cycle of elections of left or centre-left governments, beginning with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 1998, who committed himself to installing a different model based on social justice.

Two projects of integration

At the beginning of this century, the Bolivarian project of integration of the peoples of the region has gain new momentum. If we want this new ascending cycle to go further it is necessary to learn the lessons of the past. What was particularly missing in Latin America during the decades of the 1940s to the 1970s was an authentic project of integration of economies and peoples, combined with a real redistribution of wealth in favour of the working classes. We need to be conscious of the fact that in Latin America today there is a dispute between two projects of integration, that have an antagonistic class content. The capitalist classes of Brazil and Argentina (the two principal economies of South America) are partisans of an integration based on their economic domination over the rest of the region. The interests of Brazilian companies, above all, as well as Argentine ones, are very important in all the region: oil and gas, large infrastructure works, mining, metallurgy, agrobusiness, food industries, etc.

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The European construction, based on a single market dominated by big capital, is the model that they want to follow. The Brazilian and Argentine capitalist classes want the workers of the different countries in the region to compete among themselves in order to obtain maximum benefit and be competitive on the world market.

From the point of view of the left, it would be a tragic error to fall back on a policy of stages: support a model of Latin American integration according to the European model, dominated by big capital, with the illusionary hope of giving it a socially emancipatory content later on. Such support implies putting oneself at the service of capitalist interests. We do not have to involve ourselves in the capitalist’s games, trying to be more astute and letting them dictate the rules.

The other project of integration, that falls within Bolivarian framework, wants a social justice content to integration. This implies public control over natural resources in the region and over large means of production, credit and commercialisation. The levelling from above of the social conquests of the workers and small producers, at the same time as reducing the differences between the economies in the region. The substantial improvement of communication between countries of the region, rigorously respecting the environment (for example, developing railway lines and other means of collective transport before highways). Support for small private producers in numerous activities, agriculture, artisan, trade, services, etc. The process of social emancipation that the Bolivarian project of the 21st century is pursuing aims to liberate society from capitalist domination, supporting forms of property that have a social function: small private property, public property, cooperative property, communal and collective property, etc. At the same time, Latin American integration implies the creation of a common financial, judicial and political architecture.

Losing precious time

The current international conjuncture, favourable for developing countries that export primary products, needs to be utilised before the situation changes. The countries of Latin America have accumulated close to US$400,000 million in reserves. This is no small amount in the hands of Latin American central banks and which needs to be utilised at an opportune moment in order to help regional integration and shield the continent from the effects of the economic and financial crisis that is unfolding in North America and Europe, and that threatens the whole planet.

Unfortunately, we should not create illusions: Latin America is losing precious time, while governments, beyond the rhetoric, pursue a traditional policy of signing of bilateral agreements on investment, acceptance or continuation of negotiations over certain free trade agreements, utilisation of reserves to buy bonds from the US Treasury (that is, lending capital to the dominant power) or credit default swaps whose markets have collapsed with Lehman Brothers, AIG etc., advance payments to the IMF, World Bank and the Paris Club, acceptance of the World Bank tribunal – the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes — as a way to resolve differences with transnational corporations, continuation of trade negotiations within the framework of the agenda of Doha, maintenance of the military occupation of Haiti. Following a loud and promising start in 2007, the initiatives announced in regards to Latin American integration seem to have come to a halt in 2008.

Bank of the South

In regards to the launching of the Bank of the South, this has already been delayed quite a bit. Discussions have not progressed. We have to get rid off any confusion and give a clearly progressive content to this new institution, whose creation was decided upon in December 2007 by seven countries in South America. The Bank of the South has to be a democratic institution (one country, one vote) and transparent (external auditing). Before using public money to finance large infrastructure projects that don’t respect the environment and which are carried out by private companies whose objectives are to obtain maximum benefit, we have to support the efforts of the public powers to promote policies such as food sovereignty, agrarian reform, the development of studies in the field of health, the establishment of a pharmaceutical industry that produces high-quality generic medications, collective rail-based means of transport, alternative energy to limit the impact on depleted natural resources, protection of the environment and the development of integrated education systems.

Cancel the debt

Contrary to what many think, the problem of the public debt has not been resolved. It is true that the external public debt has been reduced, but it has been replaced by an internal public debt that, in certain countries, has acquired totally huge proportions (Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Nicaragua and Guatemala) to the point that it diverts a considerable part of the state budget towards parasitically financial capital.

It is very worthwhile following the example of Ecuador, which established an auditing commission to study the external and internal public debt, with the aim of determining the illegitimate, illicit and illegal parts of the debt. At a time when, following a series of adventurous operations, the large banks and other private financial institutions of the United States and Europe are wiping out dubious debts with an amount that by far surpasses the external public debt that Latin America owes them, we have to constitute a united front of indebted countries in order to obtain the cancellation of the debt.

Nationalise the banks without compensation

Private banks need to audited and strictly controlled, because they run the risk of being dragged down with the international financial crisis. We have to avoid a situation where the state ends up nationalising the losses of the banks, as has happened many times before (Chile under Pinochet, Mexico in 1995, Ecuador in 1999-2000, etc.). If some banks on the brink of bankruptcy have to be nationalised, this should be done without paying compensation.

Moreover, numerous litigation cases have emerged in the last few years between the states of the region and multinationals, from the North and the South. Rather that taking them to the ICSID, which is part of the World Bank dominated by a handful of industrialised countries, the countries of the region should follow the example of Bolivia, which has pulled out of the organisation. They should create a regional organisation for the resolution of litigation initiated by other countries or private companies. How can we continue to sign loan contracts or trade contracts that state, in the case of litigation, that the only jurisdictions that are valid are those of the US, United Kingdom or other countries of the North? We are dealing here with an inadmissible renouncement of sovereignty.

It is worthwhile establishing strict control over capital movements and exchange rates, with the goal of avoiding capital flight and speculative attacks against currencies in the region. For the states that want to make the Bolivarian project of Latin American integration for greater social justice a reality, it is necessary to advance towards a common currency.

Integration has a political dimension

Naturally, integration has to have a political dimension: a Latin American parliament elected by universal suffrage in each one of the member countries, equipped with a real legislative power. Within the framework of political construction, we have to avoid repeating the bad example of Europe, where the European Commission (that is, the European government) has exaggerated powers in regards to the parliament. We have to move towards a democratic constituent process with the goal of adopting a common political constitution.

We also have to avoid reproducing the anti-democratic procedure followed by the European Commission that attempts to impose a constitutional treaty elaborated without the active participation of citizens and without submitting it to a referendum in each member country. On the contrary, we have to follow the example of the constituent assemblies of Venezuela (1999), Bolivia (2007) and Ecuador (2007-8). The important democratic advances achieved in the course of these three processes will have to be integrated into the Bolivarian constituent process.

Likewise, it is necessary to strengthen the powers of the Latin American Court of Justice, particularly in matters regarding the guaranteeing for the respect of inalienable human rights.

Until now, various processes of integration coexist: the Community of Andean Nations, Mercosur, Unasur, Caricom, Alba. It is important to avoid dispersion and adopt a integration process with a social-political definition based on social justice. This Bolivarian process should bring together all the countries in South America, Central America and the Caribbean that adhere to this orientation. It is preferable to commence this common construction with a reduced and coherent nucleus, rather than with a heterogeneous set of states whose governments follow contradictory, if not antagonistic, social policies.

Partial delinking from the world capitalist market

Bolivarian integration should be accompanied with a partial delinking from the world capitalist market. We are dealing with trying to progressively erase the borders that separate the states that participate in the project, reducing the asymmetries between the member countries, especially thanks to a mechanism of transfer of wealth from the “richer’’ states to the “poorer’’.

This will allow for the considerable expansion of the internal market and will favour the development of local producers under different forms of property. It will allow for the putting into action of a process of development (not only industrialisation) with substitution of imports. Of course, this implies the development, for example, of a policy of food sovereignty. At the same time, the Bolivarian project made up of various member countries will partially delink itself from the world capitalist market. This means, in particular, the repealing of bilateral treaties in areas of investment and trade. The member countries of the Bolivarian group should also pull out of institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF and the World Trade Orgaisation (WTO), at the same time as promoting new democratic global institutions that respect inalienable human rights.

As was mentioned before, the member states of the new Bolivarian group would equip themselves with new regional institutions, such as the Bank of the South, which would develop collaborative relations with other similar institutions created by states from other regions in the world.

The member states of the new Bolivarian group will act with the maximum number of third states in favour of a radical democratic reform of the United Nations, with the objective of ensuring compliance with the United Nations Charter and the numerous international instruments that defend human rights, such as the international pact on economic, social and cultural rights (1996), the charter on the rights and responsibilities of states (1974), the declaration on the right to development (1986), the resolution on the rights of indigenous people (2007). Equally, it would lend support to the activities of the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice in The Hague. It would act in favour of reaching understandings between states and peoples with the goal of acting to limit climate change as much as possible, given that this represents a terrible danger for humanity.

[Eric Toussaint is from the Committee for the Abolition of the Third World Debt. Translated from the Spanish version by Federic Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.]

 


[1] Paper presented in Caracas on October 8, 2008, presented during the international Responses from the South to the World Economic Crisis seminar, held at the Venezuelan School of Planning. The other speakers on the panel were: Hugo Chavez, president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Haiman El Troudi, minister of planning (Venezuela), Claudio Katz, Economist of the Left (Argentina) and Pedro Paez, minister of economic coordination (Ecuador). The entire conference was broadcast live by Venezuelan state television.

[2] Simón Bolívar (1783-1830) was one of the first to try and unify the countries of Latin America with the aim of creating a single independent nation. He led the struggle to liberate Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia from Spanish domination. He is considered to be a hero, and his name is well recognised across Latin America.

By Eric Toussaint, treat translated by Federico Fuentes



The economic and financial crisis, whose epicentre is found in the United States, has to be utilised by Latin American countries to build an integration favourable to the peoples and at the same initiate a partial delinking from the world capitalist market.[1]

We need to learn the lessons of the 20th century in order to apply them at the beginning of this century. During the decade of the 1930s that followed the crisis that exploded on Wall Street in 1929, 12 countries in Latin America suspended for a prolonged time repayment of their foreign debt, prinicipally to North American and western European bankers. Some of them, such as Brazil and Mexico, imposed on their creditors a reduction of between 50% and 90% of their debt some 10 years later.

Mexico was the one that went the furthest with its economic and social reforms. During the government of Lazaro Cardenas, the petroleum industry was completely nationalised without any compensation for the North American monopolies. Moreover, 16 million hectares of land were also nationalised and in large part handed over to the indigenous population.

During the 1930s and up until the middle of the 1960s, various Latin American governments carried out very active public policies with the aim of seeking a partially self-centred development, known later as the model of industrialisation via substitution of imports. On the other hand, beginning in 1959, the Cuban Revolution attempted to give a socialist content to the Bolivarian[2] project of Latin American integration. This socialist content began to appear in the Bolivian revolution of 1952.

Brutal US intervention, backed by the dominant classes and the local armed forces, was necessary to put an end to the ascending cycle of social emancipation during this period. The blockade of Cuba since 1962, the military junta in Brazil from 1964, US intervention in Santo Domingo in 1965, the Banzer dictatorship in Bolivia in 1971, the Pinochet coup in Chile in 1973, and installing dictatorships in Uruguay and Argentina. The neoliberal model was put in practice first in Chile with Pinochet, and with the intellectual guidance of the Chicago Boys of Milton Friedman, and afterwards was imposed on all the continent, aided by the debt crisis that exploded in 1982.

With the fall of the dictatorships in the 1980s, the neoliberal model continued in force, principally through the application of structural adjustments programs and the Washington Consensus. The governments of Latin America were incapable of forming a common front, and the majority applied the recipes dictated by the World Bank and the IMF in a docile manner. This ended up producing a large popular discontent and a recomposition of popular forces that led to a new cycle of elections of left or centre-left governments, beginning with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 1998, who committed himself to installing a different model based on social justice.

Two projects of integration

At the beginning of this century, the Bolivarian project of integration of the peoples of the region has gain new momentum. If we want this new ascending cycle to go further it is necessary to learn the lessons of the past. What was particularly missing in Latin America during the decades of the 1940s to the 1970s was an authentic project of integration of economies and peoples, combined with a real redistribution of wealth in favour of the working classes. We need to be conscious of the fact that in Latin America today there is a dispute between two projects of integration, that have an antagonistic class content. The capitalist classes of Brazil and Argentina (the two principal economies of South America) are partisans of an integration based on their economic domination over the rest of the region. The interests of Brazilian companies, above all, as well as Argentine ones, are very important in all the region: oil and gas, large infrastructure works, mining, metallurgy, agrobusiness, food industries, etc.

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The European construction, based on a single market dominated by big capital, is the model that they want to follow. The Brazilian and Argentine capitalist classes want the workers of the different countries in the region to compete among themselves in order to obtain maximum benefit and be competitive on the world market.

From the point of view of the left, it would be a tragic error to fall back on a policy of stages: support a model of Latin American integration according to the European model, dominated by big capital, with the illusionary hope of giving it a socially emancipatory content later on. Such support implies putting oneself at the service of capitalist interests. We do not have to involve ourselves in the capitalist’s games, trying to be more astute and letting them dictate the rules.

The other project of integration, that falls within Bolivarian framework, wants a social justice content to integration. This implies public control over natural resources in the region and over large means of production, credit and commercialisation. The levelling from above of the social conquests of the workers and small producers, at the same time as reducing the differences between the economies in the region. The substantial improvement of communication between countries of the region, rigorously respecting the environment (for example, developing railway lines and other means of collective transport before highways). Support for small private producers in numerous activities, agriculture, artisan, trade, services, etc. The process of social emancipation that the Bolivarian project of the 21st century is pursuing aims to liberate society from capitalist domination, supporting forms of property that have a social function: small private property, public property, cooperative property, communal and collective property, etc. At the same time, Latin American integration implies the creation of a common financial, judicial and political architecture.

Losing precious time

The current international conjuncture, favourable for developing countries that export primary products, needs to be utilised before the situation changes. The countries of Latin America have accumulated close to US$400,000 million in reserves. This is no small amount in the hands of Latin American central banks and which needs to be utilised at an opportune moment in order to help regional integration and shield the continent from the effects of the economic and financial crisis that is unfolding in North America and Europe, and that threatens the whole planet.

Unfortunately, we should not create illusions: Latin America is losing precious time, while governments, beyond the rhetoric, pursue a traditional policy of signing of bilateral agreements on investment, acceptance or continuation of negotiations over certain free trade agreements, utilisation of reserves to buy bonds from the US Treasury (that is, lending capital to the dominant power) or credit default swaps whose markets have collapsed with Lehman Brothers, AIG etc., advance payments to the IMF, World Bank and the Paris Club, acceptance of the World Bank tribunal – the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes — as a way to resolve differences with transnational corporations, continuation of trade negotiations within the framework of the agenda of Doha, maintenance of the military occupation of Haiti. Following a loud and promising start in 2007, the initiatives announced in regards to Latin American integration seem to have come to a halt in 2008.

Bank of the South

In regards to the launching of the Bank of the South, this has already been delayed quite a bit. Discussions have not progressed. We have to get rid off any confusion and give a clearly progressive content to this new institution, whose creation was decided upon in December 2007 by seven countries in South America. The Bank of the South has to be a democratic institution (one country, one vote) and transparent (external auditing). Before using public money to finance large infrastructure projects that don’t respect the environment and which are carried out by private companies whose objectives are to obtain maximum benefit, we have to support the efforts of the public powers to promote policies such as food sovereignty, agrarian reform, the development of studies in the field of health, the establishment of a pharmaceutical industry that produces high-quality generic medications, collective rail-based means of transport, alternative energy to limit the impact on depleted natural resources, protection of the environment and the development of integrated education systems.

Cancel the debt

Contrary to what many think, the problem of the public debt has not been resolved. It is true that the external public debt has been reduced, but it has been replaced by an internal public debt that, in certain countries, has acquired totally huge proportions (Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Nicaragua and Guatemala) to the point that it diverts a considerable part of the state budget towards parasitically financial capital.

It is very worthwhile following the example of Ecuador, which established an auditing commission to study the external and internal public debt, with the aim of determining the illegitimate, illicit and illegal parts of the debt. At a time when, following a series of adventurous operations, the large banks and other private financial institutions of the United States and Europe are wiping out dubious debts with an amount that by far surpasses the external public debt that Latin America owes them, we have to constitute a united front of indebted countries in order to obtain the cancellation of the debt.

Nationalise the banks without compensation

Private banks need to audited and strictly controlled, because they run the risk of being dragged down with the international financial crisis. We have to avoid a situation where the state ends up nationalising the losses of the banks, as has happened many times before (Chile under Pinochet, Mexico in 1995, Ecuador in 1999-2000, etc.). If some banks on the brink of bankruptcy have to be nationalised, this should be done without paying compensation.

Moreover, numerous litigation cases have emerged in the last few years between the states of the region and multinationals, from the North and the South. Rather that taking them to the ICSID, which is part of the World Bank dominated by a handful of industrialised countries, the countries of the region should follow the example of Bolivia, which has pulled out of the organisation. They should create a regional organisation for the resolution of litigation initiated by other countries or private companies. How can we continue to sign loan contracts or trade contracts that state, in the case of litigation, that the only jurisdictions that are valid are those of the US, United Kingdom or other countries of the North? We are dealing here with an inadmissible renouncement of sovereignty.

It is worthwhile establishing strict control over capital movements and exchange rates, with the goal of avoiding capital flight and speculative attacks against currencies in the region. For the states that want to make the Bolivarian project of Latin American integration for greater social justice a reality, it is necessary to advance towards a common currency.

Integration has a political dimension

Naturally, integration has to have a political dimension: a Latin American parliament elected by universal suffrage in each one of the member countries, equipped with a real legislative power. Within the framework of political construction, we have to avoid repeating the bad example of Europe, where the European Commission (that is, the European government) has exaggerated powers in regards to the parliament. We have to move towards a democratic constituent process with the goal of adopting a common political constitution.

We also have to avoid reproducing the anti-democratic procedure followed by the European Commission that attempts to impose a constitutional treaty elaborated without the active participation of citizens and without submitting it to a referendum in each member country. On the contrary, we have to follow the example of the constituent assemblies of Venezuela (1999), Bolivia (2007) and Ecuador (2007-8). The important democratic advances achieved in the course of these three processes will have to be integrated into the Bolivarian constituent process.

Likewise, it is necessary to strengthen the powers of the Latin American Court of Justice, particularly in matters regarding the guaranteeing for the respect of inalienable human rights.

Until now, various processes of integration coexist: the Community of Andean Nations, Mercosur, Unasur, Caricom, Alba. It is important to avoid dispersion and adopt a integration process with a social-political definition based on social justice. This Bolivarian process should bring together all the countries in South America, Central America and the Caribbean that adhere to this orientation. It is preferable to commence this common construction with a reduced and coherent nucleus, rather than with a heterogeneous set of states whose governments follow contradictory, if not antagonistic, social policies.

Partial delinking from the world capitalist market

Bolivarian integration should be accompanied with a partial delinking from the world capitalist market. We are dealing with trying to progressively erase the borders that separate the states that participate in the project, reducing the asymmetries between the member countries, especially thanks to a mechanism of transfer of wealth from the “richer’’ states to the “poorer’’.

This will allow for the considerable expansion of the internal market and will favour the development of local producers under different forms of property. It will allow for the putting into action of a process of development (not only industrialisation) with substitution of imports. Of course, this implies the development, for example, of a policy of food sovereignty. At the same time, the Bolivarian project made up of various member countries will partially delink itself from the world capitalist market. This means, in particular, the repealing of bilateral treaties in areas of investment and trade. The member countries of the Bolivarian group should also pull out of institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF and the World Trade Orgaisation (WTO), at the same time as promoting new democratic global institutions that respect inalienable human rights.

As was mentioned before, the member states of the new Bolivarian group would equip themselves with new regional institutions, such as the Bank of the South, which would develop collaborative relations with other similar institutions created by states from other regions in the world.

The member states of the new Bolivarian group will act with the maximum number of third states in favour of a radical democratic reform of the United Nations, with the objective of ensuring compliance with the United Nations Charter and the numerous international instruments that defend human rights, such as the international pact on economic, social and cultural rights (1996), the charter on the rights and responsibilities of states (1974), the declaration on the right to development (1986), the resolution on the rights of indigenous people (2007). Equally, it would lend support to the activities of the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice in The Hague. It would act in favour of reaching understandings between states and peoples with the goal of acting to limit climate change as much as possible, given that this represents a terrible danger for humanity.

[Eric Toussaint is from the Committee for the Abolition of the Third World Debt. Translated from the Spanish version by Federic Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.]

 


[1] Paper presented in Caracas on October 8, 2008, presented during the international Responses from the South to the World Economic Crisis seminar, held at the Venezuelan School of Planning. The other speakers on the panel were: Hugo Chavez, president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Haiman El Troudi, minister of planning (Venezuela), Claudio Katz, Economist of the Left (Argentina) and Pedro Paez, minister of economic coordination (Ecuador). The entire conference was broadcast live by Venezuelan state television.

[2] Simón Bolívar (1783-1830) was one of the first to try and unify the countries of Latin America with the aim of creating a single independent nation. He led the struggle to liberate Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia from Spanish domination. He is considered to be a hero, and his name is well recognised across Latin America.

Eric Toussaint


La crisis económica y financiera internacional cuyo epicentro se halla en Estados Unidos tendría que ser aprovechada por los países latinoamericanos para construir una integración favorable a los pueblos y al mismo tiempo iniciar una desvinculación parcial.

Se debe aprender las lecciones del siglo XX para aplicarlas en este comienzo de siglo. Durante la década de los 1930 que siguió la crisis que estalló en Wall Street en 1929, shop hubo 12 países de Latinoamérica que fueron directamente afectados y que, en consecuencia, suspendieron de manera prolongada el reembolso de sus deudas externas contraídas, principalmente, con banqueros de América del Norte y de Europa occidental. Algunos de ellos, como Brasil y México, impusieron a sus acreedores, diez años más tarde, una reducción de entre el 50 y el 90% de su deuda. México fue el que llevó más lejos las reformas económicas y sociales. Durante el gobierno de Lázaro Cárdenas, la industria del petróleo fue completamente nacionalizada sin que por ello los monopolios norteamericanos fueran indemnizados. Además, 16 millones de hectáreas fueron también nacionalizadas y retornadas en su mayor parte a la población indígena bajo la forma de bienes comunales. En el transcurso de los años treinta y hasta mediados de los sesenta, varios gobiernos latinoamericanos llevaron a cabo políticas públicas muy activas con el fin de conseguir un desarrollo parcialmente autocentrado, conocidas más tarde con el nombre de modelo de industrialización por substitución de importaciones (ISI). Por otra parte, a partir de 1959, la revolución cubana intentó dar un contenido socialista al proyecto bolivariano de integración latinoamericana. Este contenido socialista despuntaba ya en la revolución boliviana de 1952. Fue necesaria la brutal intervención estadounidense, apoyada por las clases dominantes y las fuerzas armadas locales, para terminar con el ciclo ascendente de emancipación social de este período. Bloqueo de Cuba desde 1962, junta militar en Brasil desde 1964, intervención estadounidense en Santo Domingo en 1965, dictadura de Banzer en Bolivia en 1971, golpe de Estado de Pinochet en Chile en 1973, instalación de las dictaduras en Uruguay y en Argentina. El modelo neoliberal fue puesto en práctica primero en Chile, con Pinochet y la ayuda intelectual de los Chicago boys de Milton Friedman, y luego se impuso en todo el continente, favorecido por la crisis de la deuda que estalló en 1982. A la caída de las dictaduras en los años ochenta, el modelo neoliberal continuó vigente gracias principalmente a la aplicación de los planes de ajuste estructural y del Consenso de Washington. Los gobiernos de Latinoamérica fueron incapaces de formar un frente común, y la mayoría aplicó con docilidad las recetas dictadas por el Banco Mundial y el FMI. Esto acabó produciendo un gran descontento popular y una recomposición de las fuerzas populares que condujo a un nuevo ciclo de elecciones de gobiernos de izquierda o de centro izquierda, comenzando por Chávez en 1998, que se comprometió a instaurar un modelo diferente basado en la justicia social.

En este comienzo del siglo, el proyecto bolivariano de integración de los pueblos de la región ha tenido un nuevo impulso. Si se quiere llevar más lejos este nuevo ciclo ascendente es necesario aprender las lecciones del pasado. Lo que le faltó, en particular, a Latinoamérica durante las décadas de 1940 a 1970 fue un auténtico proyecto de integración de las economías y de los pueblos combinado con una verdadera redistribución de la riqueza en favor de las clases trabajadoras. Ahora bien, es vital tener conciencia de que hoy en Latinoamérica existe una disputa entre dos proyectos de integración, que tienen un contenido de clase antagónico. Las clases capitalistas brasileña y argentina (las dos principales economías de América del Sur) son partidarias de una integración favorable a su dominación económica sobre el resto de la región. Los intereses de las empresas brasileñas, sobre todo, así como de las argentinas, son muy importantes en toda la región: petróleo y gas, grandes obras de infraestructuras, minería, metalurgia, agrobusiness, industrias alimentarias, etc. La construcción europea, basada en un mercado único dominado por el gran capital, es el modelo que quieren seguir. Las clases capitalistas brasileña y argentina quieren que los trabajadores de los diferentes países de la región compitan entre sí, para conseguir el máximo beneficio y ser competitivos en el mercado mundial. Desde el punto de vista de la izquierda, sería un trágico error recurrir a una política por etapas: apoyar una integración latinoamericana según el modelo europeo, dominada por el gran capital, con la ilusoria esperanza de darle más tarde un contenido socialmente emancipador. Tal apoyo implica ponerse al servicio de los intereses capitalistas. No hay que entrar en el juego de los capitalistas, intentando ser el más astuto y dejando que éstos dicten sus reglas.

El otro proyecto de integración, que se inscribe en el pensamiento bolivariano, quiere dar un contenido de justicia social a la integración. Esto implica la recuperación del control público sobre los recursos naturales de la región y sobre los grandes medios de producción, de crédito y de comercialización. Se debe nivelar por arriba las conquistas sociales de los trabajadores y de los pequeños productores, reduciendo al mismo tiempo las asimetrías entre las economías de la región. Hay que mejorar sustancialmente las vías de comunicación entre los países de la región, respetando rigurosamente el ambiente (por ejemplo, desarrollando el ferrocarril y otros medios de transporte colectivos antes que las autopistas). Hay que apoyar a los pequeños productores privados en numerosas actividades: agricultura, artesanado, comercio, servicios, etc. El proceso de emancipación social que persigue el proyecto bolivariano del siglo xxi pretende liberar la sociedad de la dominación capitalista apoyando las formas de propiedad que tienen una función social: pequeña propiedad privada, propiedad pública, propiedad cooperativa, propiedad comunal y colectiva, etc. Así mismo, la integración latinoamericana implica dotarse de una arquitectura financiera, jurídica y política común.

Se debe aprovechar la actual coyuntura internacional, favorable a los países en desarrollo exportadores de productos primarios antes de que la situación cambie. Los países de Latinoamérica han acumulado cerca de 400.000 millones de dólares en reservas de cambio. Es una suma no despreciable, que está en manos de los Bancos Centrales latinoamericanos, y que debe ser utilizada en el momento oportuno para favorecer la integración regional y blindar al continente frente a los efectos de la crisis económica y financiera que se desarrolla en América del Norte y Europa, y que amenaza a todo el planeta. Lamentablemente, no hay que hacerse ilusiones: Latinoamérica está en vías de perder un tiempo precioso, mientras los gobiernos prosiguen, más allá de la retórica, una política tradicional: firma de acuerdos bilaterales sobre inversiones, aceptación o continuación de negociaciones sobre ciertos tratados de libre comercio, utilización de las reservas de cambio para comprar bonos del Tesoro de Estados Unidos (es decir, prestarle capital a la potencia dominante) o credit default swaps cuyo mercado se ha hundido con Lehman Brothers, AIG, etc., pago anticipado al FMI, al Banco Mundial y al Club de París, aceptación del tribunal del Banco Mundial (CIADI) para resolver los diferendos con las transnacionales, continuación de las negociaciones comerciales en el marco de la agenda de Doha, mantenimiento de la ocupación militar de Haití. Después de un ruidoso y prometedor arranque en el 2007, las iniciativas anunciadas en materia de integración latinoamericana parecen haberse frenado en el 2008.

En cuanto al lanzamiento del Banco del Sur, éste lleva mucho retraso. Las discusiones no se profundizan. Hay que salir de la confusión y dar un contenido claramente progresista a esta nueva institución, cuya creación fue decidida en diciembre del 2007 por siete países de América del Sur. El Banco del Sur tiene que ser una institución democrática (un país, un voto) y transparente (auditoría externa). Antes que financiar con dinero público grandes proyectos de infraestructura, pocos respetuosos del ambiente, realizados por empresas privadas, cuyo objetivo es obtener el máximo beneficio, se debe apoyar los esfuerzos de los poderes públicos para promover políticas tales como la soberanía alimentaria, la reforma agraria, el desarrollo de la investigación en el campo de la salud y la implantación de una industria farmacéutica que produzca medicamentos genéricos de alta calidad; reforzar los medios de transporte colectivo ferroviario; utilizar energías alternativas para limitar el agotamiento de los recursos naturales; proteger el ambiente; desarrollar la integración de los sistemas de enseñanza…

Al contrario de lo que muchos creen, el problema de la deuda pública no se ha resuelto. Es verdad que la deuda pública externa se ha reducido, pero ha sido sustituida por una deuda pública interna que, en ciertos países, ha adquirido proporciones totalmente desmesuradas (Brasil, Colombia, Argentina, Nicaragua, Guatemala), a tal punto que desvía hacia el capital financiero parasitario una parte considerable del presupuesto del Estado. Es muy conveniente seguir el ejemplo de Ecuador, que estableció una comisión de auditoría integral de la deuda pública externa e interna, a fin de determinar la parte ilegítima, ilícita o ilegal de la misma. En un momento en el que, tras una serie de operaciones aventuradas, los grandes bancos y otras instituciones financieras privadas de Estados Unidos y de Europa borran unas deudas dudosas por un monto que supera largamente la deuda pública externa de Latinoamérica con ellos, hay que constituir un frente de países endeudados para obtener la anulación de la deuda.

Se debe auditar y controlar estrictamente a los bancos privados, porque corren el peligro de ser arrastrados por la crisis financiera internacional. Hay que evitar que el Estado sea llevado a nacionalizar las pérdidas de los bancos, como ya ha pasado tantas veces (Chile bajo Pinochet, México en 1995, Ecuador en 1999-2000, etc.). Si hay que nacionalizar unos bancos al borde de la bancarrota, esto debe hacerse sin indemnizaciones y ejerciendo el derecho de reparación (repetición) sobre el patrimonio de sus propietarios.

Por lo demás, han surgido numerosos litigios en estos últimos años entre los Estados de la región y multinacionales, tanto del Norte como del Sur. En lugar de remitirse al Centro Internacional de Resolución de Diferendos en materia de Inversiones (CIADI), que es parte del Banco Mundial, dominado por un puñado de países industrializados, los países de la región tendrían que seguir el ejemplo de Bolivia, que se ha retirado del mismo. Deberían crear un organismo regional para la resolución de litigios en cuestiones de inversiones. En materia jurídica, los Estados latinoamericanos deberían aplicar la doctrina Calvo y negarse a renunciar a su jurisdicción en casos de litigio con otro Estado o con empresas privadas. ¿Cómo se puede seguir firmando contratos de préstamos o contratos comerciales que prevén que, en caso de litigio, sólo son competentes las jurisdicciones de Estados Unidos, del Reino Unido o de otros países del Norte? Se trata de una renuncia inadmisible del ejercicio de la soberanía.

Es conveniente restablecer un control estricto de los movimientos de capitales y del cambio, a fin de evitar la fuga de capitales y los ataques especulativos contra las monedas de la región. Es necesario que los Estados que quieren materializar el proyecto bolivariano de integración latinoamericana para una mayor justicia social avancen hacia una moneda común.

Naturalmente, la integración debe tener una dimensión política: un Parlamento latinoamericano elegido por sufragio universal en cada uno de los países miembros, dotado de un poder legislativo real. En el marco de la construcción política, hay que evitar la repetición del mal ejemplo europeo, donde la Comisión Europea (o sea, el gobierno europeo) dispone de poderes exagerados con respecto al Parlamento. Hay que caminar hacia un proceso constituyente democrático a fin de adoptar una Constitución política común. En este caso también, se debe evitar reproducir el procedimiento antidemocrático seguido por la Comisión Europea para tratar de imponer un tratado constitucional elaborado sin la participación activa de la ciudadanía y sin someterlo a un referéndum en capa país miembro. Por el contrario, hay que seguir el ejemplo de las asambleas constituyentes de Venezuela (1999), Bolivia (2007) y Ecuador (2007-2008). Los importantes avances democráticos logrados en el curso de estos tres procesos tendrían que ser integrados en un proceso constituyente bolivariano.

Así mismo, es necesario reforzar las competencias de la Corte Latinoamericana de Justicia, en particular en materia de garantía del respeto de los derechos humanos que son indivisibles.

Hasta este momento, coexisten varios procesos de integración: Comunidad Andina de Naciones, Mercosur, Unasur, Caricom, Alba… Es importante evitar la dispersión y adoptar un proceso integrador con una definición político-social basada en la justicia social. Este proceso bolivariano debería reunir a todos los países de Latinoamérica (América del Sur, América Central y Caribe) que se adhieran a esta orientación. Es preferible comenzar la construcción común con un núcleo reducido y coherente, que con un conjunto heterogéneo de Estados cuyos gobiernos siguen orientaciones políticas sociales contradictorias, cuando no antagónicas.

La integración bolivariana debe ir acompañada de una desvinculación parcial del mercado capitalista mundial. Se trata de ir suprimiendo progresivamente las fronteras que separan los Estados que participan en el proyecto, reduciendo las asimetrías en los países miembros especialmente gracias a un mecanismo de transferencia de riqueza desde los Estados más «ricos» a los más «pobres». Esto permitirá ampliar considerablemente el mercado interior y favorecerá el desarrollo de los productores locales bajo diferentes formas de propiedad. Permitirá poner en vigencia el proceso de desarrollo (no sólo la industrialización) por sustitución de importaciones. Por descontado, ello implica el desarrollo, por ejemplo, de una política de soberanía alimentaria. Al mismo tiempo, el conjunto bolivariano constituido por los países miembros se desvinculará parcialmente del mercado capitalista mundial. En particular, esto implicará abrogar tratados bilaterales en materia de inversiones y de comercio. Los países miembros del grupo bolivariano también deberían retirarse de instituciones tales como el Banco Mundial, el FMI y la OMC, promoviendo al mismo tiempo la creación de nuevas instancias mundiales democráticas y respetuosas de los derechos humanos indivisibles.

Como se indicó antes, los Estados miembros del nuevo grupo bolivariano se dotarán de nuevas instituciones regionales, como el Banco del Sur, que desarrollarán relaciones de colaboración con otras instituciones similares constituidas por Estados de otras regiones del mundo.

Los Estados miembros del nuevo grupo bolivariano actuarán con el máximo número de terceros Estados por una reforma democrática radical del sistema de las Naciones Unidas, con el objetivo de hacer cumplir la Carta de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas y los numerosos instrumentos internacionales favorables a los derechos humanos, tales como el pacto internacional de derechos económicos, sociales y culturales (1966), la carta de los derechos y deberes de los Estados (1974), la declaración sobre el derecho al desarrollo (1986), la resolución sobre los derechos de los pueblos indígenas (2007). Igualmente, prestarán apoyo a la actividad de la Corte Penal Internacional y de la Corte Internacional de Justicia de la Haya. Favorecerán el entendimiento entre los Estados y los pueblos a fin de actuar para que se limite al máximo el cambio climático, ya que esto representa un terrible peligro para la humanidad.

Eric Toussaint


La crisis económica y financiera internacional cuyo epicentro se halla en Estados Unidos tendría que ser aprovechada por los países latinoamericanos para construir una integración favorable a los pueblos y al mismo tiempo iniciar una desvinculación parcial.

Se debe aprender las lecciones del siglo XX para aplicarlas en este comienzo de siglo. Durante la década de los 1930 que siguió la crisis que estalló en Wall Street en 1929, prostate
hubo 12 países de Latinoamérica que fueron directamente afectados y que, hospital en consecuencia, suspendieron de manera prolongada el reembolso de sus deudas externas contraídas, principalmente, con banqueros de América del Norte y de Europa occidental. Algunos de ellos, como Brasil y México, impusieron a sus acreedores, diez años más tarde, una reducción de entre el 50 y el 90% de su deuda. México fue el que llevó más lejos las reformas económicas y sociales. Durante el gobierno de Lázaro Cárdenas, la industria del petróleo fue completamente nacionalizada sin que por ello los monopolios norteamericanos fueran indemnizados. Además, 16 millones de hectáreas fueron también nacionalizadas y retornadas en su mayor parte a la población indígena bajo la forma de bienes comunales. En el transcurso de los años treinta y hasta mediados de los sesenta, varios gobiernos latinoamericanos llevaron a cabo políticas públicas muy activas con el fin de conseguir un desarrollo parcialmente autocentrado, conocidas más tarde con el nombre de modelo de industrialización por substitución de importaciones (ISI). Por otra parte, a partir de 1959, la revolución cubana intentó dar un contenido socialista al proyecto bolivariano de integración latinoamericana. Este contenido socialista despuntaba ya en la revolución boliviana de 1952. Fue necesaria la brutal intervención estadounidense, apoyada por las clases dominantes y las fuerzas armadas locales, para terminar con el ciclo ascendente de emancipación social de este período. Bloqueo de Cuba desde 1962, junta militar en Brasil desde 1964, intervención estadounidense en Santo Domingo en 1965, dictadura de Banzer en Bolivia en 1971, golpe de Estado de Pinochet en Chile en 1973, instalación de las dictaduras en Uruguay y en Argentina. El modelo neoliberal fue puesto en práctica primero en Chile, con Pinochet y la ayuda intelectual de los Chicago boys de Milton Friedman, y luego se impuso en todo el continente, favorecido por la crisis de la deuda que estalló en
1982. A la caída de las dictaduras en los años ochenta, el modelo neoliberal continuó vigente gracias principalmente a la aplicación de los planes de ajuste estructural y del Consenso de Washington. Los gobiernos de Latinoamérica fueron incapaces de formar un frente común, y la mayoría aplicó con docilidad las recetas dictadas por el Banco Mundial y el FMI. Esto acabó produciendo un gran descontento popular y una recomposición de las fuerzas populares que condujo a un nuevo ciclo de elecciones de gobiernos de izquierda o de centro izquierda, comenzando por Chávez en 1998, que se comprometió a instaurar un modelo diferente basado en la justicia social.

En este comienzo del siglo, el proyecto bolivariano de integración de los pueblos de la región ha tenido un nuevo impulso. Si se quiere llevar más lejos este nuevo ciclo ascendente es necesario aprender las lecciones del pasado. Lo que le faltó, en particular, a Latinoamérica durante las décadas de 1940 a 1970 fue un auténtico proyecto de integración de las economías y de los pueblos combinado con una verdadera redistribución de la riqueza en favor de las clases trabajadoras. Ahora bien, es vital tener conciencia de que hoy en Latinoamérica existe una disputa entre dos proyectos de integración, que tienen un contenido de clase antagónico. Las clases capitalistas brasileña y argentina (las dos principales economías de América del Sur) son partidarias de una integración favorable a su dominación económica sobre el resto de la región. Los intereses de las empresas brasileñas, sobre todo, así como de las argentinas, son muy importantes en toda la región: petróleo y gas, grandes obras de infraestructuras, minería, metalurgia, agrobusiness, industrias alimentarias, etc. La construcción europea, basada en un mercado único dominado por el gran capital, es el modelo que quieren seguir. Las clases capitalistas brasileña y argentina quieren que los trabajadores de los diferentes países de la región compitan entre sí, para conseguir el máximo beneficio y ser competitivos en el mercado mundial. Desde el punto de vista de la izquierda, sería un trágico error recurrir a una política por etapas: apoyar una integración latinoamericana según el modelo europeo, dominada por el gran capital, con la ilusoria esperanza de darle más tarde un contenido socialmente emancipador. Tal apoyo implica ponerse al servicio de los intereses capitalistas. No hay que entrar en el juego de los capitalistas, intentando ser el más astuto y dejando que éstos dicten sus reglas.

El otro proyecto de integración, que se inscribe en el pensamiento bolivariano, quiere dar un contenido de justicia social a la integración. Esto implica la recuperación del control público sobre los recursos naturales de la región y sobre los grandes medios de producción, de crédito y de comercialización. Se debe nivelar por arriba las conquistas sociales de los trabajadores y de los pequeños productores, reduciendo al mismo tiempo las asimetrías entre las economías de la región. Hay que mejorar sustancialmente las vías de comunicación entre los países de la región, respetando rigurosamente el ambiente (por ejemplo, desarrollando el ferrocarril y otros medios de transporte colectivos antes que las autopistas). Hay que apoyar a los pequeños productores privados en numerosas actividades: agricultura, artesanado, comercio, servicios, etc. El proceso de emancipación social que persigue el proyecto bolivariano del siglo xxi pretende liberar la sociedad de la dominación capitalista apoyando las formas de propiedad que tienen una función social: pequeña propiedad privada, propiedad pública, propiedad cooperativa, propiedad comunal y colectiva, etc. Así mismo, la integración latinoamericana implica dotarse de una arquitectura financiera, jurídica y política común.

Se debe aprovechar la actual coyuntura internacional, favorable a los países en desarrollo exportadores de productos primarios antes de que la situación cambie. Los países de Latinoamérica han acumulado cerca de 400.000 millones de dólares en reservas de cambio. Es una suma no despreciable, que está en manos de los Bancos Centrales latinoamericanos, y que debe ser utilizada en el momento oportuno para favorecer la integración regional y blindar al continente frente a los efectos de la crisis económica y financiera que se desarrolla en América del Norte y Europa, y que amenaza a todo el planeta. Lamentablemente, no hay que hacerse ilusiones: Latinoamérica está en vías de perder un tiempo precioso, mientras los gobiernos prosiguen, más allá de la retórica, una política tradicional: firma de acuerdos bilaterales sobre inversiones, aceptación o continuación de negociaciones sobre ciertos tratados de libre comercio, utilización de las reservas de cambio para comprar bonos del Tesoro de Estados Unidos (es decir, prestarle capital a la potencia dominante) o credit default swaps cuyo mercado se ha hundido con Lehman Brothers, AIG, etc., pago anticipado al FMI, al Banco Mundial y al Club de París, aceptación del tribunal del Banco Mundial (CIADI) para resolver los diferendos con las transnacionales, continuación de las negociaciones comerciales en el marco de la agenda de Doha, mantenimiento de la ocupación militar de Haití. Después de un ruidoso y prometedor arranque en el 2007, las iniciativas anunciadas en materia de integración latinoamericana parecen haberse frenado en el 2008.

En cuanto al lanzamiento del Banco del Sur, éste lleva mucho retraso. Las discusiones no se profundizan. Hay que salir de la confusión y dar un contenido claramente progresista a esta nueva institución, cuya creación fue decidida en diciembre del 2007 por siete países de América del Sur. El Banco del Sur tiene que ser una institución democrática (un país, un voto) y transparente (auditoría externa). Antes que financiar con dinero público grandes proyectos de infraestructura, pocos respetuosos del ambiente, realizados por empresas privadas, cuyo objetivo es obtener el máximo beneficio, se debe apoyar los esfuerzos de los poderes públicos para promover políticas tales como la soberanía alimentaria, la reforma agraria, el desarrollo de la investigación en el campo de la salud y la implantación de una industria farmacéutica que produzca medicamentos genéricos de alta calidad; reforzar los medios de transporte colectivo ferroviario; utilizar energías alternativas para limitar el agotamiento de los recursos naturales; proteger el ambiente; desarrollar la integración de los sistemas de enseñanza…

Al contrario de lo que muchos creen, el problema de la deuda pública no se ha resuelto. Es verdad que la deuda pública externa se ha reducido, pero ha sido sustituida por una deuda pública interna que, en ciertos países, ha adquirido proporciones totalmente desmesuradas (Brasil, Colombia, Argentina, Nicaragua, Guatemala), a tal punto que desvía hacia el capital financiero parasitario una parte considerable del presupuesto del Estado. Es muy conveniente seguir el ejemplo de Ecuador, que estableció una comisión de auditoría integral de la deuda pública externa e interna, a fin de determinar la parte ilegítima, ilícita o ilegal de la misma. En un momento en el que, tras una serie de operaciones aventuradas, los grandes bancos y otras instituciones financieras privadas de Estados Unidos y de Europa borran unas deudas dudosas por un monto que supera largamente la deuda pública externa de Latinoamérica con ellos, hay que constituir un frente de países endeudados para obtener la anulación de la deuda.

Se debe auditar y controlar estrictamente a los bancos privados, porque corren el peligro de ser arrastrados por la crisis financiera internacional. Hay que evitar que el Estado sea llevado a nacionalizar las pérdidas de los bancos, como ya ha pasado tantas veces (Chile bajo Pinochet, México en 1995, Ecuador en 1999-2000, etc.). Si hay que nacionalizar unos bancos al borde de la bancarrota, esto debe hacerse sin indemnizaciones y ejerciendo el derecho de reparación (repetición) sobre el patrimonio de sus propietarios.

Por lo demás, han surgido numerosos litigios en estos últimos años entre los Estados de la región y multinacionales, tanto del Norte como del Sur. En lugar de remitirse al Centro Internacional de Resolución de Diferendos en materia de Inversiones (CIADI), que es parte del Banco Mundial, dominado por un puñado de países industrializados, los países de la región tendrían que seguir el ejemplo de Bolivia, que se ha retirado del mismo. Deberían crear un organismo regional para la resolución de litigios en cuestiones de inversiones. En materia jurídica, los Estados latinoamericanos deberían aplicar la doctrina Calvo y negarse a renunciar a su jurisdicción en casos de litigio con otro Estado o con empresas privadas. ¿Cómo se puede seguir firmando contratos de préstamos o contratos comerciales que prevén que, en caso de litigio, sólo son competentes las jurisdicciones de Estados Unidos, del Reino Unido o de otros países del Norte? Se trata de una renuncia inadmisible del ejercicio de la soberanía.

Es conveniente restablecer un control estricto de los movimientos de capitales y del cambio, a fin de evitar la fuga de capitales y los ataques especulativos contra las monedas de la región. Es necesario que los Estados que quieren materializar el proyecto bolivariano de integración latinoamericana para una mayor justicia social avancen hacia una moneda común.

Naturalmente, la integración debe tener una dimensión política: un Parlamento latinoamericano elegido por sufragio universal en cada uno de los países miembros, dotado de un poder legislativo real. En el marco de la construcción política, hay que evitar la repetición del mal ejemplo europeo, donde la Comisión Europea (o sea, el gobierno europeo) dispone de poderes exagerados con respecto al Parlamento. Hay que caminar hacia un proceso constituyente democrático a fin de adoptar una Constitución política común. En este caso también, se debe evitar reproducir el procedimiento antidemocrático seguido por la Comisión Europea para tratar de imponer un tratado constitucional elaborado sin la participación activa de la ciudadanía y sin someterlo a un referéndum en capa país miembro. Por el contrario, hay que seguir el ejemplo de las asambleas constituyentes de Venezuela (1999), Bolivia (2007) y Ecuador (2007-2008). Los importantes avances democráticos logrados en el curso de estos tres procesos tendrían que ser integrados en un proceso constituyente bolivariano.

Así mismo, es necesario reforzar las competencias de la Corte Latinoamericana de Justicia, en particular en materia de garantía del respeto de los derechos humanos que son indivisibles.

Hasta este momento, coexisten varios procesos de integración: Comunidad Andina de Naciones, Mercosur, Unasur, Caricom, Alba… Es importante evitar la dispersión y adoptar un proceso integrador con una definición político-social basada en la justicia social. Este proceso bolivariano debería reunir a todos los países de Latinoamérica (América del Sur, América Central y Caribe) que se adhieran a esta orientación. Es preferible comenzar la construcción común con un núcleo reducido y coherente, que con un conjunto heterogéneo de Estados cuyos gobiernos siguen orientaciones políticas sociales contradictorias, cuando no antagónicas.

La integración bolivariana debe ir acompañada de una desvinculación parcial del mercado capitalista mundial. Se trata de ir suprimiendo progresivamente las fronteras que separan los Estados que participan en el proyecto, reduciendo las asimetrías en los países miembros especialmente gracias a un mecanismo de transferencia de riqueza desde los Estados más «ricos» a los más «pobres». Esto permitirá ampliar considerablemente el mercado interior y favorecerá el desarrollo de los productores locales bajo diferentes formas de propiedad. Permitirá poner en vigencia el proceso de desarrollo (no sólo la industrialización) por sustitución de importaciones. Por descontado, ello implica el desarrollo, por ejemplo, de una política de soberanía alimentaria. Al mismo tiempo, el conjunto bolivariano constituido por los países miembros se desvinculará parcialmente del mercado capitalista mundial. En particular, esto implicará abrogar tratados bilaterales en materia de inversiones y de comercio. Los países miembros del grupo bolivariano también deberían retirarse de instituciones tales como el Banco Mundial, el FMI y la OMC, promoviendo al mismo tiempo la creación de nuevas instancias mundiales democráticas y respetuosas de los derechos humanos indivisibles.

Como se indicó antes, los Estados miembros del nuevo grupo bolivariano se dotarán de nuevas instituciones regionales, como el Banco del Sur, que desarrollarán relaciones de colaboración con otras instituciones similares constituidas por Estados de otras regiones del mundo.

Los Estados miembros del nuevo grupo bolivariano actuarán con el máximo número de terceros Estados por una reforma democrática radical del sistema de las Naciones Unidas, con el objetivo de hacer cumplir la Carta de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas y los numerosos instrumentos internacionales favorables a los derechos humanos, tales como el pacto internacional de derechos económicos, sociales y culturales (1966), la carta de los derechos y deberes de los Estados (1974), la declaración sobre el derecho al desarrollo (1986), la resolución sobre los derechos de los pueblos indígenas (2007). Igualmente, prestarán apoyo a la actividad de la Corte Penal Internacional y de la Corte Internacional de Justicia de la Haya. Favorecerán el entendimiento entre los Estados y los pueblos a fin de actuar para que se limite al máximo el cambio climático, ya que esto representa un terrible peligro para la humanidad.

by CÂNDIDO GRZYBOWSKI
Institute of Social and Economic Analysis (IBASE), healing Brazil

In the resistance to the process of globalization, illness which seeks to submit territories, economies and governments to the interests of accumulation of large economic and financial corporations, schemes of regional and sub-regional integration are emerging as a possibility for the peoples of the South. The risk, however, is that the dominant trade agenda of North–South relations will eventually contaminate proposals and policies at the regional level, impeding the elaboration of genuine alternatives for democratic and sustainable human development.
Despite inheriting the great political drive of the governments of democratic transition in Brazil and Argentina opposed to the return of authoritarian military logic to the region, MERCOSUR (Common Market of the Southern Cone) evolved over the last decade of the 20th century to become predominantly an area of sub-regional free trade, also involving Uruguay and Paraguay. This regional bloc was pressured and threatened by the agenda of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) from the USA, and jostled by liberalizing and privatizing policies adopted by the national governments in the region as part of the stabilization plans promoted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Now into the new century, we see governments impacted to a degree by the overwhelming failure of such policies, the defeat of the FTAA, and a renewal of the policy of regional integration and bloc negotiations in international forums – an extremely contradictory policy that reflects the disparate colours of the mosaic of governments in the region.

Most recently, MERCOSUR expanded further with the inclusion of Venezuela and the association of Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador.  The People’s Dialogue on Alternatives is an initiative being forged within the heart of civil society, with the recovery of the peoples’ perspectives on ongoing regional processes and on alternatives to be constructed in the region as its basic motivation. In this sense, it is neither an initiative pushed by the official agenda of MERCOSUR, nor by global trade agreements. Its inspiration is the World Social Forum, or rather, the theoretical and political rupture that the Forum represents with the dominant ideas of free trade and the search for a new political culture that is capable of respecting, yet taking advantage of, the rich social and environmental diversity in the region, and of constructing alternatives that validate the autonomy and complementarity of the peoples, their territories, and the biodiversity and enormous array of natural resources that fall to them to manage in a planetary context. In sum, it addresses the renewal of struggles and knowledge accumulated by social
movements and local organizations, by civic entities and national and regional networks, respecting their outlooks and strengthening alternative practices of construction that they are currently developing. The major challenge of the project is to overcome the fragmentation, to create conditions of exchange of experiences and knowledges, and to stimulate the dialogue on practices and strategies of transformation.  The task of making the project visible set its own demanding challenges; first, at the level of the Institute of Social and Economic Analysis (IBASE) itself, it involved the facilitation of the initiative. As an entity based on active citizenship, IBASE needed to construct the project in consultation with various networks and partners. This involved the formation of a regional reference group, in order to share the political coordination of the dialogue with the more than 40 organizations and movements of different countries that are its actors. From there, we were all faced with the question of the methodology of the dialogue itself. In the background, the dialogue seeks to reinvent a mode of
dialogue that works towards the production of knowledge – inspired by Paulo Freire – but it faces the added complication of being an inter-movement and inter-regional dialogue, with all the social and cultural diversity this implies.  Beyond this, the initiative was envisaged from the beginning to involve both the MERCOSUR region and that of the South African Development Community (SADC), transforming it in dialogue with South–South peoples, which made the task all that more complex.  In practice, the People’s Dialogue initiative, in cooperation with the Alternative Development Center (AIDC-South Africa) took concrete shape throughout 2006. The question of ‘land and common wealth of nature’ was identified as a unifying theme, especially given the onslaught of processes of competition for territories and natural resources now in play. Many social movements, communities, indigenous peoples, quilombos, human rights networks and environmental networks are facing the question of land and the common wealth of nature as bases of life and, moreover, of alternatives for the
region, as much in South America as in Africa. What rights then emerge?  What forms of social inclusion and life are possible? What mode of democratic
management is necessary? These are questions for an alternative region and integration project. And this has to be elaborated in a context of confronting
powerful groups of multinationals and their global strategies of exploitation and control. A second broad theme for the dialogue, to be launched in 2007,
has already been identified as a common question for Latin Americans and Africans – namely, the theme of ‘work and inclusion in the cities’.
The People’s Dialogue on Alternatives for Regional Integration has only just begun. Determined efforts from organizations and social movements will be necessary to move it forward. But, without a doubt, the agenda set out to date already points towards a promising trajectory and the energy and fervour around the project is enormous.

(CANDIDO GRZYBOWSKI is a Sociologist and Director General of the Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analysis (IBASE), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.)

Segunda Carta abierta: Por un Banco del Sur orientado a una matriz soberana, solidaria, sustentable e integradora para el desarrollo del continente

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Durante más de 500 años los pueblos de América Latina y el Caribe fuimos sometidos por la acción del colonialismo y del imperialismo. El capitalismo de las grandes metrópolis y las élites locales, expoliaron y fraccionaron a Nuestra América a tal punto, que la independencia de cada una de nuestras repúblicas pasó a tener un mero carácter formal, el sueño integrador de nuestros pueblos y nuestros libertadores fue traicionado por los vínculos estructurales de las oligarquías locales con las políticas imperialistas y de dominación.


En los últimos 100 años los movimientos y gobiernos progresistas y socialistas han tenido que chocar contra las armas del imperialismo. Los pueblos hemos resistido y estamos construyendo salidas a las crisis generadas por las políticas neoliberales e imperialistas, fundamentadas en la convivencia, cooperación, complementariedad y solidaridad. El ejemplo histórico de Cuba, resistente a los embates del imperio, ha dado fuerza para la elevación de banderas en los tiempos de adversidad, el proceso revolucionario en Venezuela, ha catalizado y catapultado la bandera de unidad bolivariana que se asume con dignidad por los pueblos de Bolivia y su revolución indígena originario y campesina, así como el resurgimiento revolucionario del Sandinismo en Nicaragua que reivindica la lucha de los pueblos progresistas de Centroamérica. Ante este escenario hoy América es otra, una América que ha cambiado para siempre y no está dispuesta a retroceder.


Hoy estamos seguros de que estamos construyendo un modelo de crecimiento sustentado en los principios de cooperación, complementariedad, solidaridad, equidad y justicia social. En la Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América encontramos la manera de concretar, a través de los Proyectos Grannacionales, la puesta en practica de estos principios y la creación del Consejo de los Movimientos Sociales del ALBA-TCP nos permite influir directamente en una relación pueblos-pueblos y pueblos-gobiernos, para el beneficio de una población que debe cumplir con la meta de erradicar la pobreza y aportar a la construcción de un sociedad más justa.


La derrota del neoliberalismo en Nuestra América es un acto heroico que se debe consolidar con la unidad de las fuerzas populares y los liderazgos dignos y patrióticos de Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales, Daniel Ortega y de otros gobiernos progresistas que no se doblegan ante el imperio. Los movimientos sociales somos protagonistas en esta salvación histórica de la Patria Grande, a la que le está llegando la hora de constituirse en una sola nación.


Por tanto, los movimientos sociales de Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua y Venezuela aquí reunidos, nos incorporamos al proceso de unidad latinoamericana y caribeña a través del Consejo de los Movimientos Sociales del ALBA-TCP, en igualdad de responsabilidad y compromiso para el impulso, despliegue, desarrollo orgánico; buscando la concreción de lo acordado en el marco de los Proyectos Grannacionales, para que no se diluya entre laberintos burocráticos, afanes protagónicos o se queden en lo declarativo. De igual forma, asumimos el compromiso de trabajar para incorporar a corto plazo al conjunto de los movimientos sociales de los países de América Latina y el Caribe que apuesten por esta alternativa humana de unidad; con el firme propósito que este esfuerzo sea una alternativa cierta, eficaz, ética y revolucionaria de unidad y liberación de los pueblos de Nuestra América.


¡Nuestra América ha entrado en su hora histórica, una nueva era se ha abierto para nuestros pueblos!

Quito – Ecuador, 25 de julio de 2007


Nosotros, movimientos, organizaciones y redes sociales y sindicales de América del Sur, siguiendo el proceso de interlocución con el proceso de la Comunidad Sudamericana de Naciones que comenzáramos en el marco de la Cumbre Social por la Integración de los Pueblos, en Cochabamba en diciembre último, queremos hacer llegar a los Presidentes ésta vez de forma específica, y en razón de la realización de la 1era Cumbre Energética Sudamericana, nuestras ideas y propuestas sobre el modelo energético que anhelamos para nuestra región.

1- El proceso de integración energética en curso debe ser desarrollado a partir de la recuperación de la soberanía sobre los recursos energéticos de la región. Este proceso debe basarse en el fortalecimiento de las empresas estatales de energía, la nacionalización de los recursos estratégicos y la utilización de la renta así conseguida en la construcción de un desarrollo sustentable con políticas de redistribución del ingreso y la construcción de nuevas matrices a partir de fuentes renovables de energía.

2- Es necesario poder compartir nuestros recursos para beneficio de los pueblos respetando los derechos económicos, sociales culturales y ambientales para nuestro bienestar y el de las generaciones futuras y no en beneficio de las transnacionales o las oligarquías locales.

3- El desarrollo energético sustentable supone el respeto al derecho de las comunidades en la toma de decisión sobre la apropiación de los recursos naturales y la garantía de un acceso digno a los recursos energéticos

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

5- Las fuentes de energía deben ser renovables, limpias y de bajo impacto, garantizando su acceso equitativo y democrático. Los países de la CSN deben garantizar el acceso pleno de todos los habitantes del continente a los bienes energéticos, buscando superar la realidad actual en la que países con altos potenciales energéticos aún no han logrado un abastecimiento digno de sus habitantes.

6- Los proyectos de energía deben ser viables en términos de costos no sólo económicos sino también ambientales.

7- Solicitamos información sobre los impactos sociales, ecológicos y socioeconómicos, para evaluar si los megaproyectos de energía justifican la inversión de tanto capital, cuando existen otras alternativas descentralizadas para las inversiones, incluso para la generación de energía renovable. Rechazamos la idea de financiar éste tipo de obras con prestamos del Banco Mundial o del BID, porque esto llevaría otra vez a hipotecar el futuro de Sudamérica a los acreedores extranjeros. Asimismo rechazamos la posibilidad de que otras fuentes de endeudamiento público, como la CAF o el Banco del Sur, sean utilizadas para la realización de obras que no cuentan con el consentimiento ni llevan al beneficio de las poblaciones afectadas, generando de esa manera una mayor deuda ecológica, social y financiera con los pueblos de la región.

8- Es en este sentido que las entidades abajo firmantes planteamos:

–         La discusión acerca de la integración energética debe ser realizada en el marco integral del proceso de integración regional, discutiendo al mismo tiempo quienes serán los beneficiarios reales de la integración energética, para quien será destinada la energía y para que.
–         Manifestamos nuestra preocupación por el continuismo de políticas energéticas liberales fundamentalmente en cuanto  a mecanismos de integración pensados para garantizar energía segura y barata para EL MERCADO EXTERNO, sectores agroindustriales y extractivos y no en la necesidad de abastecer de energía a los habitantes del continente de manera garantizar una vida digna, su desarrollo armónico, con justicia y equidad en pos de la paz social.
–         Planteamos también nuestra solidaridad con las luchas de resistencias a los proyectos energéticos (mega represas, hidrocarburos, etc) y por los derechos de los pueblos a la autodeterminación sobre sus territorios y exigimos mecanismos de participación ciudadana en la toma de decisión de las nuevas obras.
–         Manifestamos nuestra preocupación por la falta de transparencia, casos de corrupción e injerencia de empresas transnacionales y hasta gobiernos en las políticas energéticas tanto nacionales como regionales.
–         Creemos que el marco de la integración debe reafirmar a la energía como un bien común y no como una mercancía. La inclusión de la energía como un derecho humano parte del conjunto de derechos ampliados.
–         Planteamos también la necesidad de ampliar y universalizar los derechos de los trabajadores del sector energía de todo el continente.
–         Manifestamos nuestra preocupación por el avance de proyectos asociados a lo que nosotros denominamos la agro-energía, cuya expansión se da a través de la extensión de monocultivos que tienden a concentrar aún más la propiedad de la tierra en nuestra región, reproduciendo relaciones laborales basadas en la violencia y en la extrema explotación de las y los trabajadores, aumentando la presión sobre los territorios y sus poblaciones, y la incompatibilidad con el desarrollo de la soberanía alimentaria en la región.
–         Hacemos llegar nuestra preocupación por la falta de análisis de los impactos de la estructura de producción y consumo de energía sobre el ambiente, la biodiversidad y los ecosistemas. La visualización de la problemática del cambio climático como uno de los aspectos fundamentales que afecta a la región.
–         Consideramos que no sólo necesitamos repensar los formatos productivos sin también las formas de consumo, ya que la presión para aumentar la producción de energía debe ir acompañada de estrategias para reducir su consumo.
–         Creemos que es necesario dar prioridad a la investigación e implementación de la producción de energías alternativas tales como la solar y la eólica, entre otras.
–         Creemos necesario priorizar la diversidad étnica y cultural del continente ante cualquier definición estratégica sobre los recursos naturales garantizando el derecho a la consulta obligatoria cada vez que se pretenda adoptar medidas administrativas o legislativas que puedan afectar directamente a los pueblos y comunidades indígenas y originarios
–         Manifestamos nuestra solidaridad con el camino emprendido por los pueblos del continente en la recuperación de sus recursos como ejemplo de recuperación de soberanía que hoy enfrentan los ataques de las transnacionales y las oligarquía locales

Finalmente, nos preocupa que el camino iniciado en Cochabamba no se cierra e insistimos en la necesidad de ampliar la discusión sobre éste y otros temas claves de la integración hacia todos los actores sociales involucrados en la producción y uso de energía así como aquellos afectados estos procesos.

Exhortamos a los gobiernos a que las directrices a ser adoptadas en esta 1era Cumbre Energética Sudamericana sean objeto de debate en nuestras sociedades, involucrando a los movimientos sociales y sindicales, a los sectores académicos y a los pueblos en su conjunto, para lo cual ofrecemos nuestra capacidad y experiencia en la interlocución y el diálogo político.


De parte de los Movimientos Sociales y personalidades del mundo


Por segunda vez nos dirigimos a Uds. para expresar la enorme expectativa abierta en nuestros pueblos por la iniciativa de creación del Banco del Sur. Nos anima también la respuesta positiva de nuevos países de América del Sur, que han manifestado su deseo de participar del Banco del Sur.


Los firmantes somos redes, organizaciones y movimientos sociales, sindicatos y académicas/os, que venimos luchando contra el flagelo de la deuda pública ilegítima y de las políticas y prácticas perversas de las instituciones financieras internacionales existentes y del actual sistema de comercio mundial. Estamos convencidas/os de que la decisión tomada de crear el Banco del Sur puede representar un enorme paso y oportunidad no sólo para América del Sur, sino que para América Latina y el Caribe como así también, otras regiones del Hemisferio Sur.


Venimos de una historia reciente de lucha contra las dictaduras en casi todo el continente. Esto explica nuestro empeño en abrir e instituir nuevos espacios de participación y de democracia directa. Sin embargo, la forma poco transparente y no participativa como se desarrollan la negociaciones para la creación del Banco del Sur, sin debate público y sin consulta a nuestras sociedades, puede indicar que estamos frente a algo que puede volverse más de lo mismo.


Es nuestra convicción que una nueva entidad financiera Sur-Sur debe orientarse a superar tanto las experiencias negativas de apertura económica – con la secuela de siempre mayor endeudamiento y drenaje de capitales -, desregulación y privatización del patrimonio público y de los servicios básicos sufridos por la región, así como de los hoy ya ampliamente reconocidos comportamientos no-democráticos, no transparentes, regresivos y desacreditados de los organismos multilaterales, como el Banco Mundial, el CAF, el BID y el FMI. Nuestra historia reciente ha mostrado que sus opciones de política económica y socio-ambiental, impuestas a nuestros gobiernos a través de condicionalidades, han resultado en descapitalización y desindustrialización de las economías de la región, y las han aprisionado al modelo agro-mineral-exportador, que frena su desarrollo y profundiza la situación subalterna a las economías del Norte, las inequidades sociales, los daños ecológicos y las deudas ‘eternas’ – financiera, histórica, social, cultural, ecológica.


Conociendo la importancia de que los países comprometidos hasta ahora con la creación del Banco del Sur lleguen a un acuerdo sobre temas-clave relacionados con su naturaleza y objetivos, su estructura financiera y operativa, creemos esencial plantearles las proposiciones siguientes, que expresan las aspiraciones de amplios sectores de las sociedades de nuestros países, de acuerdo a la manifiesta expresión de sus principales agentes sociales consultados:


1. Que el Banco del Sur se oriente a promover una nueva matriz de desarrollo, cuyos valores fundamentales sean la soberanía de nuestros pueblos sobre su territorio y su propio desarrollo, la autodeterminación responsable de nuestras políticas económicas y socio-ambientales, la solidaridad, la sustentabilidad y la justicia ecológica; que para el Banco, el desarrollo económico y tecnológico sean concebidos como medios para el objetivo superior que es el desarrollo humano y social;

2. Que la acción del Banco del Sur sea determinada por metas concretas, como el pleno empleo con dignidad, la garantía de la alimentación, la salud y la vivienda, la universalización de la educación básica pública y gratuita, la redistribución de la riqueza superando inequidades, incluso las de género y etnia, la reducción de las emisiones de gases-invernadero, y la eliminación de sus impactos sobre las poblaciones del continente y los restantes pueblos del Sur.


3. Que el Banco del Sur sea parte integral de una nueva arquitectura financiera latino-americana y caribeña, que incluya un Fondo del Sur, con función de Banco Central continental, capaz de articular un gran sistema de pagos continental con la más avanzada plataforma telemática; capaz de ligar las políticas que promueven la estabilidad macroeconómica con las políticas de desarrollo y de reducción de las asimetrías estructurales; y contemple el desarrollo futuro de un sistema monetario común al servicio de una estrategia de fortalecimiento de lazos económico-comerciales al interior de la región, introduciendo intercambios con monedas nacionales, y trabajando por el establecimiento de una moneda regional por lo menos para los intercambios intra-regionales. La construcción de un espacio de soberanía monetaria y financiera supranacional requiere dotarse de mucha flexibilidad local, para evitar tentaciones subimperialistas y el triunfo de la ortodoxia monetarista en ciertos aspectos, como en la experiencia europea reciente.


4. Que el Banco del Sur sirva para recuperar valores relativos a las deudas histórica, social y ecológica, de las cuales nuestros pueblos son acreedores. Que sus financiamientos busquen superar las asimetrías y desigualdades sociales y los daños ambientales que se han perpetuado desde hace más de cinco siglos en el continente.

5. Que el Banco del Sur contemple la participación de las organizaciones ciudadanas y los movimientos sociales no sólo en la elaboración de su arquitectura original, sino también en la toma de decisiones financieras y operacionales y en el monitoreo de la utilización de los fondos adjudicados.


6. Que el Banco del Sur ejerza su dirección de forma igualitaria entre los países miembros, institucionalizando y manteniendo el principio igualitario de “un socio un voto” en todos sus niveles de decisión colegiada; y aspire a canalizar los recursos de ahorro de la misma región.


7. Que las subscripciones de capital del Banco del Sur sean proporcionales a la capacidad de las economías de sus países miembros; que otras fuentes de capitalización del Banco del Sur incluyan parte de las reservas internacionales y préstamos de los países miembros, impuestos globales comunes y donaciones. Deben ser excluidos los recursos financieros de las actuales instituciones financieras multilaterales y de Estados que han perpetrado el saqueo de nuestro continente. Que estos dispositivos del Banco del Sur permitan el aumento creciente de la aplicación de las reservas de los países miembros fuera del area del dólar y del euro, y alienten el retorno de los capitales nacionales depositados en el extranjero.


8.  Que el Banco del Sur esté comprometido con la transparencia en la gestión, rindiendo cuentas públicas de su funcionamiento y actividad, sometiéndose a la auditoría externa permanente de sus préstamos y de su funcionamiento interno con participación social.


9. Que, para que el Banco del Sur no sea “más de lo mismo”, se pondere en forma permanente la calidad, austeridad y eficiencia  de la administración, prohibiendo cualquier privilegio de inmunidad a sus funcionarios, afirmada en la más plena transparencia informativa en tiempo real y el control democrático y social de la gestión. Para evitar gastos excesivos y desviaciones burocráticas, se constituya un cuerpo de funcionarias/os compacto y, a la vez, diversificado, eficiente, eficaz y administrativamente polivalente.


10. Que los préstamos sean destinados a la promoción de una integración regional genuinamente cooperativa, basada en principios como la subsidiaridad activa, la proporcionalidad y la complementariedad; financiando proyectos de inversión pública; atendiendo al desarrollo local autogestionario e impulsando el intercambio comercial equitativo y solidario entre agricultores familiares, pequeños productores, sector cooperativo y de economía social solidaria, comunidades indígenas y tradicionales, organizaciones socioeconómicas de mujeres, de pescadores, de trabajo, de identidad, etc.

11. Que el Banco del Sur adopte como prioridad de inversión proyectos que se orientan a la soberanía alimentaria y energética; investigación y desarrollo de tecnologías apropiadas al desarrollo endógeno y sustentable de la región, incluso los software libres; la producción programada y complementaria de medicamentos genéricos; la recuperación de los saberes ancestrales de nuestros pueblos, sistematizado y aceptado como ciencia agroecológica; la promoción de la justicia ambiental; el fortalecimiento de los servicios públicos; el apoyo a las víctimas de desplazamientos forzados; el fomento de la comunicación y la cultura intra-regional; la creación de una universidad del Sur y un sistema de equivalencia de diplomas en toda la región; y la infraestructura a partir de otras lógicas de organización del espacio, que instrumenten las comunidades para el desarrollo local autogestionario y solidario. Que el Banco no reproduzca el modelo de financiamiento de las actuales instituciones financieras internacionales de construcción de mega-obras destructivas del medioambiente y la biodiversidad.


12. El Banco del Sur debe ser considerado como una herramienta esencial para custodiar y canalizar el ahorro, rompiendo los ciclos recurrentes de exacción del esfuerzo nacional y regional a  través de maniobras y negociados con el endeudamiento y títulos públicos, el subsidio a grupos económicos y financieros privados privilegiados y/ o corruptos locales e internacionales, y el aval permanente a movimientos especulativos de entrada y salida de capitales.


Todo ello lo entendemos en línea con lo destacado por la Declaración Ministerial de Quito del 3 de Mayo pasado, al señalar que: “Los pueblos dieron a sus Gobiernos los mandatos de dotar a la región de nuevos instrumentos de integración para el desarrollo que deben basarse en esquemas democráticos, transparentes, participativos y responsables ante sus mandantes”.


Nos preocupan las sucesivas postergaciones de la firma del acta fundacional, que pueden indicar la existencia de indefiniciones significativas. Esperamos que, en las negociaciones para superar estas indefiniciones, se tomen en consideración las proposiciones de esta carta.


La actual coyuntura económica y financiera regional e internacional sigue favorable para dar pasos concretos en este sentido, pero puede no prolongarse. Confiamos en que Uds. aprovecharán esta posibilidad histórica para crear lo que podrá volverse un verdadero Banco Solidario de los Pueblos del Sur.


Saludamos a Uds. con la mayor distinción.

Second open letter to the Presidents of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela

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The integration of energy markets in Latin America has been discussed for more than three decades. An expression of it was the creation of the regional organizations ARPEL (Association of Petroleum Enterprises of Latin America), CIER (Regional Electrical Integration Commission), and OLADE (Latin American Energy Organization), during the decades of the 60s and 70s. These initiatives took place within the framework of important participation by the State in companies tied to the energy sector.

During the 90s, initiatives for energy integration gathered momentum at the continental level. The proposals came about within the framework of the Americas Summit, which sprung from the Initiative for the Americas, proposed by the U.S. government in 1989. At the core of what was then called the “Hemispheric Energy Initiative” were the reforms outlined by the Washington Consensus. In the energy sector, it was proposed that obstacles to the operation of foreign firms in every branch of the energy industry be eliminated, from exploration and production of gas and oil, to distribution and product sales in the final market.

This was not always possible due to reigning constitutional limits in some countries. Nevertheless, foreign investment laws implemented in most of the countries of the region, through programs with multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, and consolidated in the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that many countries have signed or are in the process of negotiating with the United States, have attempted to assure that investments, particularly in the energy sector, operate with the least possible number of restrictions, so as to foster capital investment in this activity.

To a greater or lesser extent, since the beginning of the 90s the countries of the region liberalized their regimes in the treatment of investments, as well as their service sectors. In some cases such as Chile and Bolivia, the reforms were enacted earlier. In the energy sector, these reforms meant the elimination of obstacles to national and international private firms being able to operate at all levels of the energy industry, from exploration and production of gas and oil, to distribution and sales of petroleum products. Even though most of the countries in the region modified their normative frameworks in the sector, the degrees of liberalization were different. In many cases the modifications were limited by precepts established in their respective constitutions; in others it was determined that this was a strategic sector. Nevertheless, the foreign investment laws implemented by the majority of the countries in the region, and consolidated in the FTAs to which many countries have subscribed or are currently negotiating with the United States, seek to assure that investments, particularly in the energy sector, find no roadblocks in elements currently in effect in the respective national laws.

The thinking was that to the extent that the aforementioned reforms advanced, so would the integration process of the sector. Moreover it was thought that opening markets would give rise to a considerable expansion in business opportunities for private actors in infrastructure construction for energy interconnections. Said energy projects had the financial backing of the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank).

However, the desired results were not achieved. Liberalizing energy policies are being reviewed, especially in South America. A certain tendency is discernible to restore a more active role for the State in energy activities and to make state planning for energy markets an indispensable guiding instrument in channeling and coordinating the investments made by private and public agents. Similarly, the preservation of non-renewable resources and the autonomy of the State to regulate tapping them, have now been reclaimed as part of energy policies.

It is in this context that the Petroamerica Initiative has been launched by the Venezuelan government. Although the details of its implementation are still being developed, it is based on the premise that regional integration is a matter for States and governments, which does not imply the exclusion of private enterprise sectors. The agreements contained in Petroamerica propose that state energy enterprises in Latin America and the Caribbean be integrated, leading to agreements and joint investments in exploration, exploitation, and commercialization of oil and natural gas. It also seeks joint economic activities and a reduction in the negative effects of energy costs—originating in the increase in the global demand for oil, as well as in speculative and geopolitical factors—for the countries in the region. The process is meant to be implemented in stages and, according to what is indicated in the proposal, will begin to be realized through bilateral or sub-regional actions and agreements. The proposal also includes preferential financing mechanisms in the supply of oil for the nations of the Caribbean and Central America.

The first South American Presidential Energy Summit took place in April 2007. This was an opportunity for the South American heads of state to gather for the first time to draw up plans for a joint strategy regarding the matter of energy. An agreement was reached to institutionalize energy meetings at the ministerial level through the formation of a Council within the framework of regional integration that, among its main tasks, will develop an Energy Treaty for the region.

This takes place at a time when concerns about energy supplies and the impact that their consumption has on CO2 emissions have become topics at the top of the international relations agenda. Specialized agencies agree in pointing out that in the next decades, fossil fuels (oil, gas, and coal) will continue to be the main source of energy in the world. This will take place in a context where the production and supply of hydrocarbons is characterized by a new paradigm of high prices and a large degree of volatility, geopolitical tensions, an intensifying environmental debate at the international level; competition for access to new regions with reserves; demands for greater participation in hydrocarbon financial gains—especially in several Latin American countries—and an increment in the number mergers and acquisitions and profits without precedent.

In the area of renewable energy production, on the other hand, in March of 2007 presidents George W. Bush and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva signed a memorandum of agreement in which they expressed their intention to cooperate in research and to promote the production and export of ethanol to the world with the aim of creating a global biofuels market. Implementing these measures could mean new investments in Latin America, less dependence on oil, and a new dawn for development in the auto industry.

Brazil has made significant advances in fuel production technology, and in using it in modes of transportation. The United States has a deficit in that sector, thus requiring an increase in imports for which joint ventures are projected in biofuels production in other countries of the region, both for internal consumption and for exports. Currently there are lines of credit from international organizations to promote the development of biofuels in the entire region, which have been received well in the sugarcane producing regions of Central America, the Caribbean, Peru, and Colombia.

Within certain parameters, the development of biofuels could bring environmental benefits through a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and it could contribute to rural development and job creation. However, its development also has a negative environmental impact, since it would increase the monocrop model as the process perfects itself and, if necessary precautions aren’t taken, it could affect sustainable development and the production of food as well as local and regional ecosystems, with impacts on flora and fauna. So, it is not merely a matter of replacing non-renewable energy, but of trying to promote sustainable demand and efficient use. That is why it is very important to strike an energy balance in the production of biofuels with each raw material, establish what energy is required to produce it, what is the price for a barrel of oil that makes its development viable, design a conceptual framework to evaluate its environmental impact, and outline some criteria for establishing public policies for its development.

It is important to underscore that global energy trade continues to reflect disparities in global development levels but also as to responsibilities in facing climate change. Per capita energy consumption in the industrialized countries, for example, is five times higher than in Latin American countries. However, if there were no significant reduction in energy intensity nor progress made in making the energy consumed more renewable and clean, the disparities in implementing technical progress could have as a result that developing countries would be responsible for more than three-quarters of global CO2 emissions by 2030. That would lead to their participation in global emissions going from the current 39% to 52% in 2030.

Latin America and the Caribbean together represent a considerable surplus in the production of crude and gas. However, the energy resources of the region are concentrated in very few countries. For that reason there should be value placed on regional cooperation proposals geared toward guaranteeing and facilitating energy supplies and promoting the development of renewable energy, as well as more efficient energy use.

The energy integration of the region could be a decisive mechanism for a better geopolitical position in the international arena. To achieve that goal, it is fundamental to construct an adequate infrastructure, and to have an institutional scheme to regulate the way in which said infrastructure will operate. To be precise, the design of the technical as well as institutional mechanisms for the development of a common energy market is still a challenge to fulfilling the region’s prevailing political will.

Translated for the Americas Program by Annette Ramos.

Ariela Ruiz Caro (arielaruizcaro(a)gmail.com) is a Peruvian economist, formerly an official with the Andean Community. Currently she is a consultant for CEPAL (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) and for the Presidency of the Commission of Permanent Representatives of MERCOSUR, and a columnist from the Andean region for the CIP Americas Policy Program at www.americaspolicy.org.

We the children of the Indigenous Nations and Pueblos of the continent, ailment self convened and gathered at the III Continental Summit of Indigenous Nations and Pueblos of Abya Yala realized in Iximche’, salve Guatemala the days of Oxlajuj Aq’abal, thirteen powers of the Spirit of the Dawn (26th of March) to Kají Kej, four powers of the Spirit of the Deer (30th of March, 2007):

We hereby affirm the Declaration of Teotihuacan (Mexico, 2000), the Declaration of Kito (Ecuador, 2004) and ratify our millennial principles of complementarity, reciprocity and duality, as well as the struggle for our territories in order to preserve our Mother Nature and the autonomy and self-determination of our Indigenous Peoples. We announce the continental resurgence of the Pachacutic (the return) along with the closure of Oxlajuj Baq’tun (long count of 5,200 years) and as we approach the door of the new Baq’tun, we journey together to make of Abya Yala a “land full of life”.

We have survived centuries of colonization and now face the imposition of the policies of neo-liberalism that perpetuates the dispossession and sacking of our territories, the domination of all of social space and ways of life of the Indigenous Peoples, causing the degradation of our Mother Nature as well as poverty and migration by way of the systematic intervention in the sovereignty of our Nations by transnational companies in complicity with the government states.

In preparation to face and confront the challenges of the new times upon us, we now determine:

To commit to the process of alliance among our indigenous nations, and among our indigenous nations and the movements for social justice of the continent that would allow us to collectively confront the policies of neo-liberalism and all forms of oppression.

To make accountable the government states for the ongoing dispossession of our territories and the extinction of the indigenous peoples of the continent, due to impunity for the transnational corporations and their genocidal practices, as well as the lack of political will on the part of the United Nations in not advancing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and failure to guarantee the full respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

To ratify the ancestral and historical rights to our territories and the common resources of Mother Nature, reaffirming the inalienable character of these rights as being non-negotiable, unquantifiable, without impediment, and unrenounceable even to the cost of our lives.

To consolidate the processes now in effect to strengthen the re-foundation of the government states and the construction of pluri-national states and pluri-cultural societies via Constituent Assemblies with direct representation of the Indigenous Pueblos and Nations.

To advance in the exercise of our right of autonomy and self determination as Indigenous Peoples, in spite of the lack of legal recognition by the government states.

To ratify our rejection of the Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s) that make vulnerable the sovereignty of our Pueblos and to remain vigilant against similar intentions to implement new commercial agreements.

To reaffirm our decision to defend the nutritional sovereignty and struggle against the trans-genetic invasion, convoking all peoples of the world to join this struggle in order to guarantee our future.

To ratify the struggle for the democratization of communication and the implementation of public policies that contemplate specific applications for indigenous peoples and the promotion of inter-culturality.

To alert the indigenous peoples regarding the policies of the Inter American Development Bank, the World Bank and organizations of the like that penetrate our communities with actions of assistance and cooptation whose aim is the fragmentation of autonomous and legitimate indigenous organizations.

For the well being of the Indigenous Peoples, we now decide:

To demand of the international financial institutions and the government states the cancellation of policies that promote concessions for the extractive industries (mining, oil, forestry, natural gas and water) from our indigenous territories.

To condemn the policies of exclusion of President Bush and the government of the United States demonstrated in the act of construction of the wall along the border with Mexico while at the same time attempting to expropriate the common resources of our Mother Nature of all the peoples of Abya Yala by implementing expansionist plans and acts of war.

To condemn the intolerant attitude of the government states that do not recognize the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular those which have not ratified nor guaranteed the application of Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization.

To condemn the imposter and terrorist democracies implemented by the neoliberal governments, which results in the militarization of our indigenous territories and the criminalization of our legitimate indigenous struggle and the movements for social justice throughout Abya Yala.

In order to enact these words and realize our dreams, from resistance to power:

We constitute ourselves as the Continental Coordinator of Indigenous Pueblos and Nations of Abya Yala, creating a permanent vehicle of linkage and interchange, in order to converge our experiences and proposals, so that together we can confront the neo-liberal policies of globalization and to struggle for the definitive liberation of our indigenous Pueblos and Nations, of the mother earth, of our territories, of the waters, and entirety of our natural patrimony in order that we may all live well.

In this process we delineated the following actions:

- To fortify the organizational processes and struggle of the Indigenous Peoples with the full participation of our women, children and young people.

- To convene a Continental Summit of Indigenous Women of Abya Yala and a Continental Summit of the Children, Adolescents and Youth of the Indigenous Nations and Pueblos of Abya Yala.

- To convoke a continental mobilization of Indigenous Peoples to save Mother Nature from the disasters caused by capitalism, manifested by global warming, to be realized on the 12th of October of 2007.

- To actively engage the diplomatic mission of the Indigenous Peoples to defend and to guarantee the rights of our Indigenous Pueblos and Nations.

- To endorse the candidacy for the Nobel Peace Prize of our brother Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia.

- To demand the decriminalization of the coca leaf.

We have dreamt our past and we remember our future.


We the children of the Indigenous Nations and Pueblos of the continent, self convened and gathered at the III Continental Summit of Indigenous Nations and Pueblos of Abya Yala realized in Iximche’, Guatemala the days of Oxlajuj Aq’abal, sick thirteen powers of the Spirit of the Dawn (26th of March) to Kají Kej, four powers of the Spirit of the Deer (30th of March, 2007):

We hereby affirm the Declaration of Teotihuacan (Mexico, 2000), the Declaration of Kito (Ecuador, 2004) and ratify our millennial principles of complementarity, reciprocity and duality, as well as the struggle for our territories in order to preserve our Mother Nature and the autonomy and self-determination of our Indigenous Peoples. We announce the continental resurgence of the Pachacutic (the return) along with the closure of Oxlajuj Baq’tun (long count of 5,200 years) and as we approach the door of the new Baq’tun, we journey together to make of Abya Yala a “land full of life”.

We have survived centuries of colonization and now face the imposition of the policies of neo-liberalism that perpetuates the dispossession and sacking of our territories, the domination of all of social space and ways of life of the Indigenous Peoples, causing the degradation of our Mother Nature as well as poverty and migration by way of the systematic intervention in the sovereignty of our Nations by transnational companies in complicity with the government states.

In preparation to face and confront the challenges of the new times upon us, we now determine:

To commit to the process of alliance among our indigenous nations, and among our indigenous nations and the movements for social justice of the continent that would allow us to collectively confront the policies of neo-liberalism and all forms of oppression.

To make accountable the government states for the ongoing dispossession of our territories and the extinction of the indigenous peoples of the continent, due to impunity for the transnational corporations and their genocidal practices, as well as the lack of political will on the part of the United Nations in not advancing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and failure to guarantee the full respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

To ratify the ancestral and historical rights to our territories and the common resources of Mother Nature, reaffirming the inalienable character of these rights as being non-negotiable, unquantifiable, without impediment, and unrenounceable even to the cost of our lives.

To consolidate the processes now in effect to strengthen the re-foundation of the government states and the construction of pluri-national states and pluri-cultural societies via Constituent Assemblies with direct representation of the Indigenous Pueblos and Nations.

To advance in the exercise of our right of autonomy and self determination as Indigenous Peoples, in spite of the lack of legal recognition by the government states.

To ratify our rejection of the Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s) that make vulnerable the sovereignty of our Pueblos and to remain vigilant against similar intentions to implement new commercial agreements.

To reaffirm our decision to defend the nutritional sovereignty and struggle against the trans-genetic invasion, convoking all peoples of the world to join this struggle in order to guarantee our future.

To ratify the struggle for the democratization of communication and the implementation of public policies that contemplate specific applications for indigenous peoples and the promotion of inter-culturality.

To alert the indigenous peoples regarding the policies of the Inter American Development Bank, the World Bank and organizations of the like that penetrate our communities with actions of assistance and cooptation whose aim is the fragmentation of autonomous and legitimate indigenous organizations.

For the well being of the Indigenous Peoples, we now decide:

To demand of the international financial institutions and the government states the cancellation of policies that promote concessions for the extractive industries (mining, oil, forestry, natural gas and water) from our indigenous territories.

To condemn the policies of exclusion of President Bush and the government of the United States demonstrated in the act of construction of the wall along the border with Mexico while at the same time attempting to expropriate the common resources of our Mother Nature of all the peoples of Abya Yala by implementing expansionist plans and acts of war.

To condemn the intolerant attitude of the government states that do not recognize the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular those which have not ratified nor guaranteed the application of Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization.

To condemn the imposter and terrorist democracies implemented by the neoliberal governments, which results in the militarization of our indigenous territories and the criminalization of our legitimate indigenous struggle and the movements for social justice throughout Abya Yala.

In order to enact these words and realize our dreams, from resistance to power:

We constitute ourselves as the Continental Coordinator of Indigenous Pueblos and Nations of Abya Yala, creating a permanent vehicle of linkage and interchange, in order to converge our experiences and proposals, so that together we can confront the neo-liberal policies of globalization and to struggle for the definitive liberation of our indigenous Pueblos and Nations, of the mother earth, of our territories, of the waters, and entirety of our natural patrimony in order that we may all live well.

In this process we delineated the following actions:

- To fortify the organizational processes and struggle of the Indigenous Peoples with the full participation of our women, children and young people.

- To convene a Continental Summit of Indigenous Women of Abya Yala and a Continental Summit of the Children, Adolescents and Youth of the Indigenous Nations and Pueblos of Abya Yala.

- To convoke a continental mobilization of Indigenous Peoples to save Mother Nature from the disasters caused by capitalism, manifested by global warming, to be realized on the 12th of October of 2007.

- To actively engage the diplomatic mission of the Indigenous Peoples to defend and to guarantee the rights of our Indigenous Pueblos and Nations.

- To endorse the candidacy for the Nobel Peace Prize of our brother Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia.

- To demand the decriminalization of the coca leaf.

We have dreamt our past and we remember our future.



De parte de los Movimientos Sociales y personalidades del mundo


Por segunda vez nos dirigimos a Uds. para expresar la enorme expectativa abierta en nuestros pueblos por la iniciativa de creación del Banco del Sur. Nos anima también la respuesta positiva de nuevos países de América del Sur, que han manifestado su deseo de participar del Banco del Sur.


Los firmantes somos redes, organizaciones y movimientos sociales, sindicatos y académicas/os, que venimos luchando contra el flagelo de la deuda pública ilegítima y de las políticas y prácticas perversas de las instituciones financieras internacionales existentes y del actual sistema de comercio mundial. Estamos convencidas/os de que la decisión tomada de crear el Banco del Sur puede representar un enorme paso y oportunidad no sólo para América del Sur, sino que para América Latina y el Caribe como así también, otras regiones del Hemisferio Sur.


Venimos de una historia reciente de lucha contra las dictaduras en casi todo el continente. Esto explica nuestro empeño en abrir e instituir nuevos espacios de participación y de democracia directa. Sin embargo, la forma poco transparente y no participativa como se desarrollan la negociaciones para la creación del Banco del Sur, sin debate público y sin consulta a nuestras sociedades, puede indicar que estamos frente a algo que puede volverse más de lo mismo.


Es nuestra convicción que una nueva entidad financiera Sur-Sur debe orientarse a superar tanto las experiencias negativas de apertura económica – con la secuela de siempre mayor endeudamiento y drenaje de capitales -, desregulación y privatización del patrimonio público y de los servicios básicos sufridos por la región, así como de los hoy ya ampliamente reconocidos comportamientos no-democráticos, no transparentes, regresivos y desacreditados de los organismos multilaterales, como el Banco Mundial, el CAF, el BID y el FMI. Nuestra historia reciente ha mostrado que sus opciones de política económica y socio-ambiental, impuestas a nuestros gobiernos a través de condicionalidades, han resultado en descapitalización y desindustrialización de las economías de la región, y las han aprisionado al modelo agro-mineral-exportador, que frena su desarrollo y profundiza la situación subalterna a las economías del Norte, las inequidades sociales, los daños ecológicos y las deudas ‘eternas’ – financiera, histórica, social, cultural, ecológica.


Conociendo la importancia de que los países comprometidos hasta ahora con la creación del Banco del Sur lleguen a un acuerdo sobre temas-clave relacionados con su naturaleza y objetivos, su estructura financiera y operativa, creemos esencial plantearles las proposiciones siguientes, que expresan las aspiraciones de amplios sectores de las sociedades de nuestros países, de acuerdo a la manifiesta expresión de sus principales agentes sociales consultados:


1. Que el Banco del Sur se oriente a promover una nueva matriz de desarrollo, cuyos valores fundamentales sean la soberanía de nuestros pueblos sobre su territorio y su propio desarrollo, la autodeterminación responsable de nuestras políticas económicas y socio-ambientales, la solidaridad, la sustentabilidad y la justicia ecológica; que para el Banco, el desarrollo económico y tecnológico sean concebidos como medios para el objetivo superior que es el desarrollo humano y social;

2. Que la acción del Banco del Sur sea determinada por metas concretas, como el pleno empleo con dignidad, la garantía de la alimentación, la salud y la vivienda, la universalización de la educación básica pública y gratuita, la redistribución de la riqueza superando inequidades, incluso las de género y etnia, la reducción de las emisiones de gases-invernadero, y la eliminación de sus impactos sobre las poblaciones del continente y los restantes pueblos del Sur.


3. Que el Banco del Sur sea parte integral de una nueva arquitectura financiera latino-americana y caribeña, que incluya un Fondo del Sur, con función de Banco Central continental, capaz de articular un gran sistema de pagos continental con la más avanzada plataforma telemática; capaz de ligar las políticas que promueven la estabilidad macroeconómica con las políticas de desarrollo y de reducción de las asimetrías estructurales; y contemple el desarrollo futuro de un sistema monetario común al servicio de una estrategia de fortalecimiento de lazos económico-comerciales al interior de la región, introduciendo intercambios con monedas nacionales, y trabajando por el establecimiento de una moneda regional por lo menos para los intercambios intra-regionales. La construcción de un espacio de soberanía monetaria y financiera supranacional requiere dotarse de mucha flexibilidad local, para evitar tentaciones subimperialistas y el triunfo de la ortodoxia monetarista en ciertos aspectos, como en la experiencia europea reciente.


4. Que el Banco del Sur sirva para recuperar valores relativos a las deudas histórica, social y ecológica, de las cuales nuestros pueblos son acreedores. Que sus financiamientos busquen superar las asimetrías y desigualdades sociales y los daños ambientales que se han perpetuado desde hace más de cinco siglos en el continente.

5. Que el Banco del Sur contemple la participación de las organizaciones ciudadanas y los movimientos sociales no sólo en la elaboración de su arquitectura original, sino también en la toma de decisiones financieras y operacionales y en el monitoreo de la utilización de los fondos adjudicados.


6. Que el Banco del Sur ejerza su dirección de forma igualitaria entre los países miembros, institucionalizando y manteniendo el principio igualitario de “un socio un voto” en todos sus niveles de decisión colegiada; y aspire a canalizar los recursos de ahorro de la misma región.


7. Que las subscripciones de capital del Banco del Sur sean proporcionales a la capacidad de las economías de sus países miembros; que otras fuentes de capitalización del Banco del Sur incluyan parte de las reservas internacionales y préstamos de los países miembros, impuestos globales comunes y donaciones. Deben ser excluidos los recursos financieros de las actuales instituciones financieras multilaterales y de Estados que han perpetrado el saqueo de nuestro continente. Que estos dispositivos del Banco del Sur permitan el aumento creciente de la aplicación de las reservas de los países miembros fuera del area del dólar y del euro, y alienten el retorno de los capitales nacionales depositados en el extranjero.


8.  Que el Banco del Sur esté comprometido con la transparencia en la gestión, rindiendo cuentas públicas de su funcionamiento y actividad, sometiéndose a la auditoría externa permanente de sus préstamos y de su funcionamiento interno con participación social.


9. Que, para que el Banco del Sur no sea “más de lo mismo”, se pondere en forma permanente la calidad, austeridad y eficiencia  de la administración, prohibiendo cualquier privilegio de inmunidad a sus funcionarios, afirmada en la más plena transparencia informativa en tiempo real y el control democrático y social de la gestión. Para evitar gastos excesivos y desviaciones burocráticas, se constituya un cuerpo de funcionarias/os compacto y, a la vez, diversificado, eficiente, eficaz y administrativamente polivalente.


10. Que los préstamos sean destinados a la promoción de una integración regional genuinamente cooperativa, basada en principios como la subsidiaridad activa, la proporcionalidad y la complementariedad; financiando proyectos de inversión pública; atendiendo al desarrollo local autogestionario e impulsando el intercambio comercial equitativo y solidario entre agricultores familiares, pequeños productores, sector cooperativo y de economía social solidaria, comunidades indígenas y tradicionales, organizaciones socioeconómicas de mujeres, de pescadores, de trabajo, de identidad, etc.

11. Que el Banco del Sur adopte como prioridad de inversión proyectos que se orientan a la soberanía alimentaria y energética; investigación y desarrollo de tecnologías apropiadas al desarrollo endógeno y sustentable de la región, incluso los software libres; la producción programada y complementaria de medicamentos genéricos; la recuperación de los saberes ancestrales de nuestros pueblos, sistematizado y aceptado como ciencia agroecológica; la promoción de la justicia ambiental; el fortalecimiento de los servicios públicos; el apoyo a las víctimas de desplazamientos forzados; el fomento de la comunicación y la cultura intra-regional; la creación de una universidad del Sur y un sistema de equivalencia de diplomas en toda la región; y la infraestructura a partir de otras lógicas de organización del espacio, que instrumenten las comunidades para el desarrollo local autogestionario y solidario. Que el Banco no reproduzca el modelo de financiamiento de las actuales instituciones financieras internacionales de construcción de mega-obras destructivas del medioambiente y la biodiversidad.


12. El Banco del Sur debe ser considerado como una herramienta esencial para custodiar y canalizar el ahorro, rompiendo los ciclos recurrentes de exacción del esfuerzo nacional y regional a  través de maniobras y negociados con el endeudamiento y títulos públicos, el subsidio a grupos económicos y financieros privados privilegiados y/ o corruptos locales e internacionales, y el aval permanente a movimientos especulativos de entrada y salida de capitales.


Todo ello lo entendemos en línea con lo destacado por la Declaración Ministerial de Quito del 3 de Mayo pasado, al señalar que: “Los pueblos dieron a sus Gobiernos los mandatos de dotar a la región de nuevos instrumentos de integración para el desarrollo que deben basarse en esquemas democráticos, transparentes, participativos y responsables ante sus mandantes”.


Nos preocupan las sucesivas postergaciones de la firma del acta fundacional, que pueden indicar la existencia de indefiniciones significativas. Esperamos que, en las negociaciones para superar estas indefiniciones, se tomen en consideración las proposiciones de esta carta.


La actual coyuntura económica y financiera regional e internacional sigue favorable para dar pasos concretos en este sentido, pero puede no prolongarse. Confiamos en que Uds. aprovecharán esta posibilidad histórica para crear lo que podrá volverse un verdadero Banco Solidario de los Pueblos del Sur.


Saludamos a Uds. con la mayor distinción.

FOR A BANK OF THE SOUTH FOCUSED ON A MATRIX OF SOVEREIGNTY, SOLIDARITY, SUSTAINABILITY AND INTEGRATION FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONTINENT

Dear Mr. Presidents,

We are addressing you for the second time to express the high expectations created in our peoples on the initiative to establish a Bank of the South. We are also encouraged by the positive response of other countries of South America who have manifested their wish to participate in the Bank of the South.

Signatories are from social networks, organizations and movements, labour unions and professionals who are fighting against the scourge of illegitimate public debt and the twisted policies and practices of the existing international financial institutions and the current global trade system. We are sure that the decision to establish a Bank of the South can be a significant big step and an opportunity not only for South America, but for the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean, as also other regions of the Southern Hemisphere.

We come from a recent history of struggle against dictatorships in almost the whole continent. This explains our determination to open and institute new spaces for participation and direct democracy. However, the not very transparent and non participative way in which the negotiations on the establishment of the Bank of the South are being carried forward, without public debate and without consultation with our societies, can indicate that we are facing something that could turn out to be more of the same.

It is our conviction that a new SouthSouth financial entity should be focused not only on going beyond the negative experiences of economic opening , with always the same consequence of higher indebtedness and capital drainage, deregulation and privatization of the public patrimony and basic services suffered by the region; but also beyond the well-known non-democratic, non-transparent , regressive and discredited behaviour of multilateral bodies such as the World Bank, the CAF, the IADB and the IMF. Our recent history has shown that the latter’s choice of economic, social, and environmental policies imposed on our governments through conditionalities, have ended in the decapitalization and deindustrialization of the region’s economies, and have imprisoned these in the agro-mineral-exporter model that stops their development and deepens their subordination to the North economies, while worsening social inequity, ecological damage and the “eternal” financial, historic, social, cultural, and ecological debts.

Knowing how important it is for the countries involved in the establishment of the Bank of the South to reach an agreement upon key issues related to its nature and objectives, and its financial and operational structure, we think it is essential for us to pose the following proposals that express the aspirations of ample sectors of our countries’ societies, according to what was clearly manifested by their main representatives consulted:

1. That the focus of the Bank of the South should be in promoting a new development framework whose essential values be the sovereignty of our peoples on their territory and their own development; a responsible self-determination on our economic, social, and environmental policies; on solidarity, sustainability, and ecological justice; that for the Bank economic and technological development be conceived as a means for the superior goal which is human and social development.

2. That the action of the Bank of the South be guided by concrete goals such as full employment with dignity, ensuring food, heath and housing, universalization of basic public and free education, a redistribution of riches overcoming inequity, even gender and ethnic ones, reducing greenhouse effect gases and their effects on the continent’s population and the other peoples of the south.

3. That the Bank of the South be an integral part of a new Latin-American and Caribbean financial architecture which includes a South Fund with the functions of a Continental Central Bank capable of articulating a great continental payment system with a state of the art telematics platform; capable of linking the policies which promote macroeconomic stability with development and reduction of structural asymmetries policies; and which considers a development in the future of a common monetary system at the service of a strategy which strengthens economic and commercial ties within the region, introducing trade interchange with national currencies, and working towards the establishment of a regional currency at least for intraregional interchanges. The building of a space for supranational monetary and financial sovereignty demands a lot of local flexibility to avoid sub imperialist temptations, and the victory of monetarist orthodoxy in some aspects as those in recent the European experience.

.4. That the Bank of the South be useful to recover the values related to historic, social and ecological debts of which our peoples are creditors. That its financing be oriented towards going beyond the social asymmetries and inequities, and the ecological damage perpetrated in the continent for more the five centuries.

5. That the Bank of the South consider the participation of citizen organizations and social movements, no only in the development of its original architecture but also in financial and operational decision making, and in the monitoring of the use given to the funds awarded.

6. That the Bank of the South implements its management in an egalitarian way among its member countries, instituting and keeping the egalitarian principle of “one associate one vote” in all levels of collegiate decisions, and that it aspires to channel regional savings in the region.

7. That capital subscriptions of the Bank of the South be proportional to the capability of the economy of its member countries; that other sources of capitalization may include part of international reserves and loans from member countries, global taxes and donations. Financial resources from the present multilateral financial institutions and from states that have plundered our continent should be excluded. That these dispositions of the Bank of the South may allow an increasing growth in putting member countries’ reserves out of the sphere of the dollar and the euro, and encourage the return of national capitals deposited abroad.

8. That the Bank of the South be committed to transparency in its administration, settling public account for its functioning and activities, submitting to permanent external audits of its loans and its internal functioning with social participation.

9. For the Bank of the South not to become “more of the same”, the quality, austerity and management efficiency must be permanently evaluated, forbidding any kind of immunity privileges to its officials, and based on the maximum in time transparent reporting, and the democratic and social control of its management. To avoid excessive expenditures and bureaucratic deviations a small body of simultaneously diversified, efficient, effective and managerially polyvalent officials must be designated.

.10. That the loans be destined to the promotion of a genuinely cooperative regional integration, based on principles such as active subsidiarity, proportionality and complementarities; financing of public investment projects; paying attention to self-managing local development, and promoting equitable and solidarity commercial exchanges between family farmers, small producers, the cooperative sector and social solidarity economy, indigenous and traditional communities and women’s, fishermen’s, workers’, identity etc. socioeconomic organizations.

11. That the Bank of the South adopts as investment priority those projects oriented towards food and energy sovereignty; research and development of appropriate technologies for an endogenous and sustainable development of the region, including free software; the programmed and complementary production of generic medicines; the recovery of ancestral wisdom, systematized and accepted as an agro ecologic science; the promotion of environmental justice; the improvement of public services: support to victims of forced displacements; promotion of communications and intraregional culture; the creation of a University of the South and an equivalence system for diplomas issued in all the region: infrastructure starting from other logics of space organization instrumented by communities for local solidarity and self-management development. That the bank should not reproduce the financing model of present day international financial institutions with the construction of mega-projects that damage the environment and biodiversity.

12. The Bank of the South must be considered an essential tool for the custody and channelling of savings, breaking the repeated cycles of collection of the national and regional efforts through manoeuvres and suspicious deals with indebtedness and public titles, subsidies to privileged and/or corrupted private local and international economic and financial groups, and a permanent guarantee to the speculative movements of capital entry and outflow.

We understand that all the above is in keeping with what was emphasized in the Ministerial Statement of Quito, on May 8, pointing that: “The peoples have given their governments the mandate to provide the region with new instruments of integration for development which must be based on a democratic, transparent, participative, and accountable to their citizens’ design”.

We are worried about the postponements in the signature of the founding act, which could indicate the existence of significant unresolved issues. We hope that in the negotiations to overcome these unresolved issues, the proposals presented in this setter will be taken into account.

The current regional and international economic and financial situation is still favourable to give concrete steps in this direction, but it may not last. We trust in that you will take advantage of this historic possibility to create what could turn into a real Solidarity Bank of the peoples of the South.

Banco Del Sur: Una perspectiva de integración desde los pueblos

Gabriel Strautman[*]

At the launching event for the Southern Bank, held in Buenos Aires on December 9, 2007, the presidents of Bank member countries set a 60-day deadline to define the structure and guidelines of the new South American multilateral financial institution. In practice, the idea was to set a deadline in order to eliminate the existing divergences among members on the role of the Bank. However, the deadline expired on February 9 without having made any progress. It has been more than 90 days since the foundation of the Bank. No government has made comments in this respect and the conservative media which have always addressed this issue in a prejudiced way, intending to directly link it to an expansion of the Bolivarian project throughout South America, have neither taken it into consideration, nor even questioned it. It is precisely within this context that we need to pay attention to all the information implied by silence, since the debate boycott actually consolidates some positions in this conflict.

From the beginning, the initiative aimed at the creation of a South American multilateral financial institution was associated with the idea of building a new regional financial architecture and searching alternatives to multilateral financial institutions (MFI) controlled by Northern countries, such as the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank. This debate has only been possible thanks to the large hoarding of international reserves by economies in the region, which has motivated the discussion on how to prevent the outflow of resources, thus injecting them into the productive sphere of regional economies. The idea was the creation of a South American development bank, capable of centralizing the savings of these countries, thus turning them into productive investments and reducing the vulnerability of the region to international economic cycles. This would be then laying the foundations for a truly autonomous financial system, which would contribute to the reduction of power asymmetries between countries in the region, and would cut their dependence on international flows of capital.

However, consensus on the role of the new institution was never reached among South Bank member countries. Debate has been marked by disputes between those who aim at the idea of breaking up with the international financial system and those who believe in respecting the rules imposed by the dictatorship of globalized finance and who, therefore, just consider the regional multilateral institution as a new source of finance for old projects. Following months of negotiation, the presidents of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela signed the founding chart of the South Bank, in what consisted the last official act of Argentine Néstor Kirchner as president of his country. In the document, besides the 60-day deadline to draw up the Bank’s Articles of Agreement, the presidents agreed on the fact that the new bank shall be a development bank, aimed at financing strategic sectors for the economy of the region, scientific and technological development, and poverty reduction projects. The document also provides for the creation of a disaster relief fund.

Meanwhile, this apparent convergence fades away with the silence that has characterized the 90 days that have passed since the signing of the chart. The same silence that has hung a cloud of uncertainty over the future of the South Bank. The focal points of conflict are related to the composition of capital and the decision-making system of the new institution, which at the same time will be crucial to decide on the Bank’s finance goals – maybe the main reason for disagreement among partners.

With regards to the composition of capital, the main points of conflict are related to the origin of funds and the contribution to be made by each country – if this is going to be the same or proportional to the size of each economy. With respect to the first discussion, there is a dispute among partners on whether to restrict or not the Bank’s composition of funds, that is, whether funds will only comprise public resources from each member country or if it will also be possible to raise funds from the capital market. In the first hypothesis, the composition of funds by means of public resources – for example, by transferring part of international reserves or through the taxation of capital flows – would imply a greater autonomy for the South Bank vis-à-vis the impositions of the financial market. On the other hand, raising funds from the market would force the institution to follow the strictly economic efficiency criteria and conditionalities imposed by MFIs. It is worth highlighting that the Bank’s founding chart already contemplates the possibility of raising funds from the market by stating that the institution shall comply with its functions “making use of intra- and extra-regional savings”. Among the advocates for these supposedly technical and non- policy guidelines, are Brazil and Argentina, which upon taking such position give evidence as to their disdain over the notion that the technicality of economic liberalism is imbued with ideology and that the MFIs have historically defended the political and economic interest of Northern countries.

For its part, the issue of the volume of contributions to be made by each country to the South Bank is related to one of the main reasons for the creation of the institution: financing the integration of countries in the region and reducing the asymmetries among them. From this perspective, the main economies could be expected to make larger capital contributions to the bank, without claiming thereby to have greater power in the decision-making system. In order to encourage a process aimed at reducing power asymmetries, and therefore economic asymmetries, the decision-making system at the South Bank should be based on the “one country, one vote” and never on the “one dollar, one vote” criterion. This distinction separates between countries with larger economies on the one hand and countries with smaller economies on the other, which represents the second focal point of dispute. In this context, proposals have been made for all countries to make equal contributions, which obviously fails to represent an effort equivalent to the situation of each country and does nothing to reduce asymmetries.

Both the discussion on the South Bank’s composition of capital – either with public funds from each country or the capital market – and the discussion on its decision-making system – either the “one country, one vote” or the “one dollar, one vote” criterion – are decisive to determine the bank’s finance goal. The founding chart provides for the “financing of strategic sectors”, so the correlation of forces within the new institution will be fundamental to answer the following question: strategic for whom?

Are we going to have a South Bank solely guided by economic efficiency criteria, having a decision-making system that reproduces currently existing power relations? In this case, will the new bank finance large infrastructure projects which have huge socio-environmental impacts and meet the expansion needs of the main economic groups in dispute in the region, or will it favor the funding of solidary projects aimed at the reduction of asymmetries in the living conditions of and among the different South American countries, based on the construction of an equal and transparent decision-making body, that would contemplate the existence of participation mechanisms within social movements?

The debate boycott on the creation of the South Bank benefits the position of those who have “more to lose” with the launching of the new institution. In this sense, Brazil would be among the most interested in the failure of the initiative and the one to be more benefitted by the silence of negotiations. Initially, the Brazilian government stated that it would not form part of the South Bank, with the excuse that the idea had not been sufficiently debated and that, on the other hand, it would increase its participation in the Andean Development Corporation (CAF, in Spanish). In fact, at that time Brazilian authorities did not believe that the idea originally promoted by Argentina and Venezuela would move forward. Besides, the country already has the resources of the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES), which only in 2005 disbursed some 30 billion dollars, even to Brazilian companies operating overseas. Nevertheless, given the progress of negotiations, the Brazilian government was forced to participate in the project, on condition that the Bank followed technical non-policy guidelines.

From an international perspective, the silence and stagnation of the process favor those who maintain that the project is just an idea of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, without much consensus or feasibility. In this framework, we can include the positions of Chile, Peru and even Colombia, although at some point it also expressed the intention to join the initiative. As extra-regional actors, the delay in the implementation of the bank finally favors the position of traditional financial institutions.

It is necessary to resist the initiatives that intend to frame the South Bank within the paradigm of a traditional bank such as the MFIs, since that which maybe exceeds control from a technical-scientific point of view, responds to the logic of resistance processes currently underway in the region. In this sense, and taking into account the important role to be played by the Bank in the promotion of a solidary integration among South American countries, and in the reduction of asymmetries in the living conditions of and among countries, citizens should put pressure on the governments of the region to make them adopt transparent positions that may contribute to the social monitoring of negotiations.

[*] Economist at PACS Institute and member of Rede Brazil on Multilateral Financial Institutions and Rede Jubileu Sul. The author thanks María José Romero – of the Third World Institute in Uruguay – for her comments.

¿Qué es el Banco del Sur?

En febrero de 2007, Argentina y Venezuela, y poco después Bolivia, Ecuador, y Paraguay, cerraron un acuerdo para crear un banco de financiamiento al desarrollo de y para los países del Sur: el Banco del Sur. El día 3 de mayo, en una reunión entre el presidente de Ecuador y los ministros de Economía, Finanzas y Hacienda de Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Paraguay, Venezuela y Ecuador, Brasil afirmó oficialmente que se integraba al proceso. El día 25 de junio, Uruguay, hasta entonces el único país del MERCOSUR que
no era parte de la iniciativa, decidió participar activamente de la creación del Banco del Sur.  Otros países como Chile y Colombia también mostraron interés, participando de algunas reuniones como observadores…


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Bank of the South: "A People's Perspective of Integration"


” WE DO NOT ACCEPT NEPAD !! AFRICA IS NOT FOR SALE !! “


We members of social movements, erectile trade unions, youth and women’s organisations, faith-based organisations, academics, NGOs and other popular civil society organisations from the whole of Africa, meeting in Port Shepstone, South Africa, 48 July 2002 on the threshold of the launch of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development in Durban, critically examined NEPAD in the context of the struggles for Africa’s development and emancipation.

While conscious of the importance of joint endeavours for thedevelopment of Africa, this ‘new international partnership’ initiative ignores and sidelines past and existing programmes and efforts by Africans themselves to resolve Africa’s crises and move forward from programmes such as the Lagos Plan of Action (1980) and the Abuja Treaty (1991), the African Alternative Framework to Structural Adjustment Programmes (AAF-SAAP, 1989), the African Charter for Popular Participation and Development (Arusha Charter, 1990) and the Cairo Agenda (1994).

In contrast to such programmes, NEPAD is mainly concerned with raising external financial resources, appealing to and relying on external governments and institutions. In addition, it is a top-down programme driven by African elites and drawn up with the corporate forces and institutional instruments of globalisation, rather than being based on African peoples experiences, knowledge and demands. A legitimate African programme has to start from the people and be owned by the people.

We take as our point of departure, and build upon, the many fundamental critiques of NEPAD from all over the continent, such as the statements of the African Social Forum (Bamako, Mali, January 2002) and of CODESRIA (Council for Development and Social Science Research in Africa) with the Third World Network-Africa (Accra, April 2002) and others.

During our deliberations and wide-ranging discussions on NEPAD we focused on the following key aspects and reached the following conclusions.

I . NEPAD , DEMOCRACY AND ‘GOOD GOVERNANCE’

We discussed the nature and role of the post-colonial state in Africa, and the role of the developmental state in the earlier economic, social and human development achievements following independence. We noted that NEPAD ignores the way the state has, itself, been undermined as a social provider and vehicle for development, particularly under the World Bank’s tutelage;
· ignores the way that the ‘structurally adjusted’ state has, in turn, been undermining institutions and processes of democracy in Africa;
· does not reflect the historic struggles in Africa for participatory forms of democracy and decentralisation of power;
· promises of democracy and ‘good governance’ are largely intended to satisfy foreign donors and to gives guarantees to foreign investment.

We conclude that
1. While we are committed to good government in Africa, we do not accept the interpretation and content that this is given in NEPAD, including questionable economic policies that we do not accept embedded within ‘good governance’.
2. We call on African people to mobilise for a developmental participatory state responsive to their needs and aspirations, and to build popular and democratic movements that can hold our states to their responsibilities.

II NEPAD, PEACE AND ‘STABILITY’

We discussed how the conflicts on the continent have their sources in the legacy of colonialism, economic exclusion, political intolerance, social polarisation, artificial borders and unequal access to resources. We noted that NEPAD

· ignores all these factors and approaches these problems mainly as technical peace-keeping operations;
· does not point to the structural adjustment policies of the IMF and World Bank in exacerbating conflicts leading to further wars;
· does not point to the interests of corporations, war profiteers and war-lords, in their determination to control and exploit our resources,
such as oil, diamonds, and other precious resources, as a major source of war and conflict in Africa

We conclude that
1. Peace based on and guaranteeing human security requires an environment that fulfils people’s needs, and livelihood needs free from all forms of discrimination .
2. Peace demands a Pan-African response to the divisions and tensions
created by the legacy of arbitrary colonial borders and divisive social relations.
3. The Kampala Declaration establishing the Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation (CSSDCA) can be an important instrument for peace building.

III NEPAD AND HUMAN RIGHTS

We discussed with great concern the longstanding denial and abuse of human rights in most of the countries of Africa and the devastating effects of the HIV-AIDS pandemic on our people. We noted that NEPAD
· makes very few references to human rights and these are largely rhetorical;
· deals only superficially with the impact of HIV-AIDS upon peoples lives;
· does not guarantee self-determination for the people and contains policies that contradict or are incompatible with democracy and human rights;
· promotes regional economic integration but is totally silent on the rights of people to freely move and seek employment across borders in Africa.

We noted, further, that since the recent G8 meeting in Kananaskis, NEPAD is now being linked to the US agenda on ‘terrorism’ that could be used as a lever for the introduction of legislation violating basic civil and political rights.

We commit ourselves to continue our struggle for human rights in the fullest meaning, including political, civil, economic, social, women’s, cultural and environmental rights.

IV NEPAD AND STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT PROGRAMMES

We analysed the policies and effects, and our direct experiences of World Bank SAPs over recent decades in our countries. We noted that, despite the negative economic, social, political, and environmental effects of SAPs, NEPAD

· accepts the fundamentals of the neo-liberal and gender-blind SAPs paradigm which has been largely responsible for the deepening of the African crises, including the feminisation of poverty;
· uncritically endorses the latest version of SAPs, the so-called Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme (PRSPs) which have been discredited by popular movements;
· throws a lifeline to the IMF and WB at precisely the time that they are in ideological and institutional crises as a result of unremitting criticism and struggles worldwide against their policies.

We commit ourselves
· To continue to expose to greater public knowledge, and reinforce our resistance to all policies of the IMF and the World Bank now incorporated into NEPAD.

V NEPAD AND RESOURCE MOBILISATION

We examined the challenges and problems of resource mobilisation for development, and noted that NEPAD
· ignores the question of people’s ownership and control of African resources, and disregards the people as the most vital resource and purpose of development;
· will not mobilise Africa’s rich natural resources for African development but for further foreign exploitation and plunder;
· has nothing to say about the mobilisation, redistribution and utilisation of African land for development, particularly for women;
· focuses heavily on external financial resources without concern for the costs, and the negative economic, social, and environmental effects of foreign investment and liberalised capital flows

We conclude that:
1. The unrealistic hopes for external financial resources will, as always, not be forthcoming, as already evident in the recent G8 response to NEPAD.
2. The ‘donors’ or aid givers have shown that they will decide separately which countries they will/will not support and on their own policy terms and self-interests.
3. The ‘debt relief’ offers by the G8 will, similarly, be very limited and only offered to those governments which dutifully follow neo-liberal and gender blind precepts.
4. Such limited debt ‘relief’ will, nonetheless, not go even to such countries but to bail out the creditors.
5. The whole NEPAD ‘fundraising’ project is a non-starter, and we will focus our efforts on appropriate resource mobilisation, including African financial resources now legally and illegally outside of Africa; and relate all such resources to alternative development strategies based on collective self-reliance.

VI NEPAD AND DEBT

We examined the nature, sources and causes of Africa’s ‘debt’, which is a fundamental cause of underdevelopment, poverty and inequality; is owed to the same forces that benefited from slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism; has served to build the wealth and power of the elites in Africa; and is not only a financial, but a political instrument of domination and control of the North over Africa.

We note, however, that NEPAD
· accepts the obligation for Africa to repay this illegitimate debt to the further prejudice of fundamentally important social services and development needs;
· ignores the demands for total debt cancellation produced by campaigns in Africa, in South-South campaigns and worldwide.

On this basis we
1. We demand total and unconditional debt cancellation.
2. We reaffirm the demand for reparations for the social, economic and ecological damage done to Africa and its people through slavery and colonialism.
3. We call for the return of Africa’s wealth corruptly transferred by African elites and held in the North.
4. We undertake to intensify popular mobilisation to pressurise African Governments to repudiate the debt.

VII NEPAD, TRADE AND GLOBALISATION

We fully discussed the role of trade in Africa and the current global system, and noted that indiscriminate trade liberalisation has led to de-industrialisation, increased unemployment and growing poverty, and has reinforced Africa’s role in the global economy as suppliers of cheap raw materials and labour.

We noted that NEPAD
· ignores experience and the huge body of evidence and analyses discrediting the theories that trade leads to growth which leads to development;
· accepts export-led growth and the expansion of Africa’s traditional exports which has already aggravated the deteriorating terms of trade for Africa;
· reinforces Africa’s focus on ‘market access’ into the richest countries through unilateral but false offers such as the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA);
· endorses the aims of reciprocal free trade and other policy conditionalities demanded by the EU and the US, such as privatisation, labour deregulation, and investment liberalisation in the Cotonou
Agreement and the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), respectively;
· accepts the erroneous depiction of the ‘marginalisation’ of Africa, whereas Africa has long been deeply and disadvantageously integrated into the global economy;
· promotes the deeper integration of Africa into the current globalisation process which fundamentally serves the interests of the rich;
· misunderstands the imbalanced nature of WTO trade agreements and trade-related agreements, particularly the General Agreement on Trade in Services which will extend global appropriation of African services and resources.

We conclude that
1. We need to continue our efforts to create different types of local, regional and inter-regional trade, and a different role for trade in our economies.
2. We will continue to campaign for our governments to resist unilateral, bilateral and multilateral trade agreements which do not address the inequities of the international economic system.
3. We will continue to campaign and mobilise the African peoples to pressurise their governments to resist an expansion of the scope and powers of the WTO through the introduction of ever more new issues, and to resist a new WTO round being pushed since the Doha Ministerial Conference.
4. We will continue to build the popular movement at national, continental and international levels against neo-liberal economic globalisation, and against the World Trade Organisation as the main
institutional force driving globalisation.

On the basis of the above, we do not accept the NEPAD plan, as a process and in its content. We are to committed to joint efforts for Africa’s development and emancipation, and we call upon all African peoples’ organisations and movements to continue their longstanding efforts to produce sustainable, just and viable alternatives that will benefit all the people of Africa.

ANOTHER AFRICA IS POSSIBLE !

ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE !!

Third World Network Africa
Economic Justice Network
Jubilee South Africa
Environment Monitoring Group
Environmental Monitoring Group
ROPPA
Department of Economics (University of Swaziland)
ENDA TM
Africa Youth Forum
NAFAU
Social Development Network
Department of Sociology
Women for Change
AIDC
Gender and Trade Network in Africa
Inter-Africa Group
Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt & Development
Gender & Forum National De Lutte Centre LA
AFRODAD
BOCONGO
TSOET / TCDD
Ecumenical Support Services
ESSET
EJC
Human Rights Committee of Youth Africa
Women in Business
Kenya Debt Relief Network
FEMNET
Development Network
Tanzania Social and Economic Trust
Zambia Congress of Trade Unions
Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union
Ledikasyon Pu Travayer (Mauritius)
Lalit (Mauritius)
South African Council of Churches
Wits University
Centre for Civil Society
Malawi Council of Churches
CECIDE
Friends of the Earth
Association of Farmers Education & Traders
Espace Associatif



What is the South Bank?  In February of 2007, cure Argentina and Venezuela, decease and soon afterwards Bolivia, Ecuador,and Paraguay, concluded an agreement to create a bank to finance development in andfor the countries of the South: the South Bank. On May 3rd in a meeting between thePresident of Ecuador and the Ministers of Economy and Public Finances of Argentina,Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Venezuela, and Ecuador, Brazil officially confirmed itsincorporation into the process. On June 25th, Uruguay, until then the only country of theSouthern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR) that was not part of the initiative,decided to actively participate in the creation of the South Bank. Chile and Colombia also showed interest, participating in some meetings as observers….


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Civil Society Challenging ASEAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FORWARD WITH THE STRUGGLE TO STOP THE EPAs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intra-African investment is modest but increasing

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

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

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

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


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Jenina Joy Chavez

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


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