From Chile to You - HAtred Grows
A World of Enrgy and a Struggle for Power
W Bush W he is not the Anti-Christ - But soon...
Drug War Propaganda The USA is made up of old and spoiled people (they are the ones who vote the most too). The past abuses of the US should make it a poor partner for a new path – cooperation ?? US support to the elite and the corrupt militaries should doom any efforts they pursue, but will they?.
The USA & Economic Terrorism: TLC/AFTA/WTO
Free Trade for Poor Andean Countries?
Or Trade as War
by Jason Martin
INTRODUCTIONS: The Andes
Mountain regions are often poor areas involved in border or ethnic/indigenous conflicts. Popular movements in the three AFTA countries (Peru, Ecuador and Colombia) and in Bolivia are insurgent - rising up and demanding participatory democracy and a trade economy that benefits all of the people and the nation, environment, sustainability and independence from US dependency/hegemony. To ratify Free Trade Agreements (TLC) in the politically unstable world of the Andes is just wrong and obvious coercion by the USA and the regions elite (oligarchies).
(See Breakdown in the Andes -- Michael Shifter, Foreign Affairs Journal, Sept./Oct.2004)
The US is militarizing the Colombian borders with Venezuela and Ecuador. US military bases are expanding! The failed drug war goes on and on. This tragedy is like a poorly thought out experiment - burn, attack and spray chemical fumigants over millions of acres of Colombia – pollute the headwaters of the Amazon, Magdalena and Orinoco rivers and spend enough money to eliminate poverty in the Andes region – for what? The price of cocaine remains the same in the USA and prisons and hospitals fill up from the carnage of the war and of the drug abuse worldwide.
The Neoliberal Problem: The Overview
In the face of growing opposition to the agreement and to neoliberalism in general all throughout South America, the United States is desperate to impose a free trade area in whatever form possible. This makes Colombia--with its geographic location as the door to South America, its vast natural resources and the complicity of its President Alvaro Uribe Velez as Washington's junior partner--the perfect target.
For decades U.S. corporations have reaped huge profits from the cheap labor of Colombian workers. Occidental Petroleum, the main U.S. oil corporation active in Colombia, Coca-Cola, Dole, Drummond, Exxon Mobil and Monsanto are some of the best known corporations. But there are also less well known military contractors like DynCorp and Military Professional Resources. Even W Bush's old energy company Harken Enterprises is active and seeking Colombian profits.
US policies are a great disaster and so they seek to penetrate the economies of each region and offer them big investments and trade deals if they go along with the US plan -
One cannot separate US trade policy from its foreign or military strategy. AFTA is designed to prop up the right wing political parties or the business community - to cushion them from the impacts of the drug war, the vagaries of economic globalization and the anger of a people betrayed.
The Real Latin American Left and its Views on the Andean Region
The US has launched no less than nine free trade campaigns against the poor of Latin America : NAFTA, CAFTA, AFTA, ALCA (FTAA), WTO, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Panama. The idea is that the USA cannot lose most of these initiatives and even compromises on all of them would equal a great victory for the US and its giant corporate apparatus.
These free trade agreements enable the US to sell more to this region - the only region where the US has a positive trade balance. But more importantly free trade regimes help these regions (or more precisely the US) to prop up the business communities in the region -- to buffer them from the loss of markets that result from free trade (increased US market penetration – especially in corn, wheat, soy, sweeteners, agricultural supplies and processing). This "aid" is accomplished through Direct Foreign Investment by corporations (USA). These investments (takeover and privatization of Latin American industries and companies) and the construction and banking activity associated with new investments keeps employment and economic growth from shrinking. And this investment mechanism keeps neo-liberalism and trade with the USA from being perceived as wholly negative - which it is in the long run.
For an Alternative Economic Program Based on the Chavez Model see:
AFTA-TLC - Unmasking Barriers: Ecosolidarity Andes:
Applying the Perspective of James Petras to the World of Activism.
-- The left in the USA and the global CARNIVAL of Resistance groupings (ATTAC, ZAPATISTAS, etc.) are more of the same sell-out, role-playing and misleading activism that does not really challenge the US at all.
Does the Colombian Democratic Pole fall under this rubric - or is it likely to be co-opted by careerist?
Latin America: Political Re-alignment and Empire (An excerpt )
by James Petras
My thesis is that Washington's flexible adaptation and vigorous support of ex-Leftist parties and presidents has been a powerful force in sustaining and expanding imperial economic and military power in Latin America in the face of devastating social and economic results of two-decades of neo-liberal policies. The combination of political flexibility and imperial economic rigidity has provided an inconsequential safety valve for popular discontent while tightening US imperial control over wealth, resources, markets, labor and military bases.
The Nature of Political Flexibility
By imperial flexibility, I mean that US policymakers are not averse to working with ex-leftists, ex-guerrillas, demagogic populists, or even "anti-neoliberals" - providing they govern in the interests of the US MNC, pay the foreign debt and implement IMF dictates. US policymakers are less interested in past politics and class origins, than they are with current and future policies and structural commitments. Washington supports military coup and military intervention against regimes which oppose US imperial foreign policy (Chavez in Venezuela) or refuse to implement IMF privatization program (Aristide in Haiti). At the same time it supports electoral regimes like Toledo in Peru, Lagos in Chile, Gutierrez in Ecuador, Lula in Brazil, Fox in Mexico and others. In Colombia, Washington works closely with the death squad paramilitary and military forces assassinating opponents to elected President Uribe.
Unlike many on the Left, in Latin America, Europe and North America, Washington cut through political rhetoric and dismissed electoral demagoguery and got to the class and imperial core of the politics of Lula, Toledo, Gutierrez, Kirchner, and Mesa: Do they or don't they pay the foreign debt to US and European banks; do they or don't they respect the privatization of strategic industries; do they or don't they promote new privatizations; do they or don't they keep their markets open to overseas exporters; do they support the dollar against the euro by holding their reserves in dollars; do they or don't they pass regressive labor, pension and minimum wage legislation; do they sign and abide by IMF agreements and impose austerity programs and regressive tax laws? ( Need to add GMO bans – Why let Monsanto or Dow or any non-local company control your seed or farm production? ). Chavez banned GMOs – Lula legalized them.
Once having applied these class criteria and found the regimes accommodating, Washington certified their "democratic" colonial credentials and tolerated their ascent to political office. The certified regimes then proceeded to implement the commitments made to the empire, much to the surprise of the ill-informed and superficial left, impressed with the "social background" and political demagogy of the center-left politicians.
History will note 2004 as the Year of Infamy, not only for the crimes and plunder committed by the US but for the active and consequential collaboration of a new group of client rulers in most of the biggest countries in Latin America. As a consequence of the failures of the Left these new clients of Washington were able to gain power, embrace Washington's strategic agenda while at least temporarily dividing, disorienting and demoralizing a substantial sector of the burgeoning mass movements. The Left leaders have their place in this Year of Infamy, even as it is the urban and rural poor who have and are paying the price.
While most of the Left has focused exclusively on US militarization of The region, the impositions of the IMF and ALCA, they have largely ignored the political process which has made the aforementioned events possible. And when we write of the big political changes we are referring to the elections of a new set of political client regimes in almost all of the strategic countries in the region.
-- In Bolivia the US was able to overcome the brief threat posed by the Popular uprising of October 10-17, 2003 by supporting the assumption to power of Vice President Carlos Mesa, after the flight of his predecessor Sanchez De Losada. This delicate operation was make possible thanks to the Conversion of peasant leader, Evo Morales, to electoral politics and his political backing of Mesa. The Mesa-Morales-US Embassy triangle ensured the continuity and temporary consolidation of the Mesa regime and subsequent electoral victory of a hydrocarbon referendum reaffirming MNC control of Bolivia's strategic energy resources. Mesa proceeded to encourage Morales to split the opposition and they joined forces to defend the elitist electoral system against the new participatory forms of "assembly democracy" practices in the urban neighborhoods of El Alto, Cochabamba and La Paz, the workers assemblies in the mining communities and the peasant-coca farmer-landless peasant assemblies in the countryside. Once Mesa had succeeded in dividing the mass opposition he turned against Morales and launched a full-scale offensive against the cocaleros, eradicating coca plants - in accordance with the publicly pronounced fiats of the US Embassy. The Embassy tactics toward Morales combined promises to "respect the electoral process" and threats of US backing for a military coup if Morales expressed solidarity with the mass movements. Enticed by his vision of a "golden future" as an elected President, Morales fit the profile of an ideal client for imperialism - a "charismatic" leader of popular origin with a long history of leadership in the class struggles, an ambitious upwardly mobile petit-bourgeois politician.
-- After indulging in the usual vacuous populist rhetoric and empty Electoral promises, Gutierrez traveled to Washington to guarantee Washington's agenda on ALCA, Plan Colombia, the Manta military base, the privatization of petroleum and other issues of import to Washington. In return he received Washington's certificate of good conduct. In less than 2 months, President Gutierrez began implementing his "Washington" agenda. The leftist petit bourgeois ministers, secretaries and other lesser functionaries stayed on until they were eventually forced to retire form the Administration, but nor before they had totally mislead their mass followers, lost credibility among the many and facilitated Gutierrez role as a colonial client of Washington.
BRAZIL -- Lula Da Silva had far surpassed Cardoso in setting the budget surplus To meet the demands of overseas creditors, extended privatization to all the major infrastructure and even handed over oil exploration rights to foreign corporations (Shell, Exxon etc) of areas which the national enterprise, Petrobras, has identified as possessing billions of barrels of oil.
The "new clients" extremist pro-imperial behavior results from their desire to demonstrate to their imperial overlords that they have truly broken From their populist/leftist past and former mass allies, that they are Completely in line with imperial policies and institutions. The ostentatious display of identification with the ruling class is found in the numerous entourages of big business people who accompany the new clients in their overseas trips. Lula, for example, invited 400 bankers, traders, agro-business people, Mine owners and industrialists on his trips to Asia and Europe. They complement their pro-imperial policies, by engaging in sweeping rhetorical exercises in international forums, voicing concern about poverty but forgetting to link poverty with the wealth, power and pro-imperial policies which they pursue.
I. US AIMS:
Military bases, expanded exports, more dependence on US corporate investment and IMF/World Bank.
Oil – Pollution – Growth without profits – Disruption – Aid to US allies in business class – And to support right wing (or co-opted quasi-left populist) and free trader political parties.
II. US Military Bases – Drug War Propaganda
The USA is made up of old and spoiled people (they are the ones who vote the most too). The past abuses of the US should make it a poor partner for a new path – cooperation ?? US support to the elite and the corrupt militaries should doom any efforts they pursue, but will they?.
III. Ecology – The US model (AFTA/WTO) maximizes growth or incomes – but the US siphons off some of the growth through profits (repatriated) and through a focus on cheap and poor quality products (consumer goods). The Economist of November 18th cites two studies of free trade. In the WTO globalized model, the wealthy countries capture about two thirds of the profits (growth). The poor countries get the rest. In the bilaterral or AFTA type free trade regime the USA (or the wealthy) get all of the benefits (money).
IV. US motives – Number 1: to get the oil, coal and mineral resources. Number 2: to sell more US products to a growing materialistic middle class. Number 3: To Control the region and prepare military bases and alliances to attack Venezuela and rebels everywhere. But the Latin American people end up with not much more growth than they would have if they had gone their own – less efficient path. And a slower – local oriented path – could result in less pollution.
V. War Crimes and Negotiating Trade in a WAR ZONE :
If Kirchner, Lula, Gutierrez, Uribe, Toledo, Losa and Mesa were not the puppets of the US then they would pass resolutions in the OAS and the UN to condemn US support to Colombian paramilitary-Armed Forces collusion in massive war crimes. 100,000 civilians dead, 5000 disappeared and millions have fled the country or been displaced – 30,000 murders per year. How can other countries tolerate the existence of the Colombian government? How can anyone permit their representatives to stand on their soil – let alone discuss trade deals with them?
VI. Transparency – open government – the people must be exposed to and involved in policy. To have a democracy the people must have a system of participation or an understanding of the effects of economic policies. NGOs and Free Trade negotiators both allow little transparency while admitting its importance. Yet, from the left the definition of transparency used by these groups is consider inadequate and illegitimate. The participatory democracy promoted by Hugo Chavez is the only example of a top down empowerment. Is there a method for a bottom up (grassroots) empowerment?
VII. Intellectual property – to follow the USA OR TO REJECT IT (and everything about the USA) OUTRIGHT. The US wants to extend copywrite and patent protection laws that would raise the costs of medicines – and may items.
VIII. Venezuela views – AFTA is very important to Venezuela as it tries to form an alternative (ALBA) to the FTAA and AFTA. Chavez supports an expanded Mercosur Trade Block of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico and ??? (Europe, Trinidad, Grenada??). The expansion of Mercosur could lead to a snowball or dominoe effect as additional countries join because it is a winner – has power. Bolivarians (in Venezuela, Bolivia, the USA... Chiapas) see the dire need to expand the revolution everywhere -- for their own security and for the benefit of all poor and uneducated/trapped people.
Latin American motives: Che, Marti, Bolivar y Ahora Mas:
To find their own way, to build their own things for local and regional use (preserving their identity and cultural values) – To use the regions oil for their own needs, to build a solidarity society of cooperation and regionalism; to go beyond nationalism.
Venezuela’s Triumph in Mercosur
“Venezuela will be a fundamental element in giving Mercosur a new dimension.” - Lula da Silva
“for Argentina it is not only an honor, it is above all a necessity to have Venezuela with us, so as to deepen the changes that we want to bring about.” - Nestor Kirchner -- Puerto Iguazu, Argentina, July 8, 2004—Finally, after 8 years, 5 protocols, and a decade of applications and frustrated attempts, Venezuela joins the Common Market of the South (Mercosur). Venezuela was admitted as “associate member” number 4, this July 8, during a marathon meeting of the presidents’ summit that took place in the Argentinean city of Puerto Iguazu, on the border with Brazil and Paraguay. Mexico received “observer status” in Mercosur, while the small print is fixed, which would allow it to join as well. For the government of the “Bolivarian Revolution” this is a political and diplomatic triumph, perhaps its most important since the reconstruction of OPEC, between 1999 and 2000.
The best expression of this reality we received from a high official in the Argentinean foreign ministry, who told us, off the record, “Now what will they accuse Venezuela of? It is our ally in Mercosur. We will not forget the generosity of its supply of gasoline our energy crisis this past February.” This is enough to make sense of the happy faces of the participating heads of state in Iguazu, who refuse to support the isolation that the U.S. is submitting Venezuela to in the United Nations, the OAS, and the international media. The entry of Venezuela into Mercosur is more valuable diplomatically, at this moment, than its membership in the OAS, where the U.S. would like to isolate Venezuela with the Democratic Charter. (See website )
1. What is Wrong with AFTA:
US Military Policies; Support to Corrupt elites of left and the right; Ecology; War Crimes; Transparency Buzzwords; Ignores the Alternatives.
2. Intorduction: The Andes: Colombia: Narco-Terror Uribe Update.
3. The Real Latin American Left and its Views on the Andean Region
4. Perspective of James Petras: A Criteria for Judging Governments:
Do they or don't they pay the foreign debt to US and European banks; do they or don't they respect the privatization of strategic industries; do they or don't they promote new privatizations; do they or don't they keep their markets open to overseas exporters; do they support the dollar against the euro by holding their reserves in dollars; do they or don't they pass regressive labor, pension and minimum wage legislation; do they sign and abide by IMF agreements and impose austerity programs and regressive tax laws? ( Petras needs to add GMO bans – Why let Monsanto or Dow or any non-local company control your seed or farm production? ). Chavez banned GMOs – Lula legalized them.
5. The "new clients" extremist pro-imperial behavior: Ex-Leftists sell-out the revolution in: BRAZIL, ECUADOR, COLOMBIA, PERU, ARGENTINA...
6. Venezuela views on trade: Revolutionary Proposals and Working Coalitions: Chavez Leads the Hemisphere: ALBA y Circulos Bolivarianos. Venezuela’s Triumph in Mercosur
7. Relevance – Activism: WHO; WHAT; WHERE; HOW??? Alternatives...
US Trade Rep Chief - Vargo touring the wonderful textiles mills of Guatemala - the ones soon to be closed when CHina takes over all textile production worldwide.