ALAI, América Latina en Movimiento
The second south - American Summit
| Clasificado en:|| Política: Politica, DerechosHumanos, | Internacional: Internacional, Globalizacion, | Social: Social, Exclusion, Pobreza, | Economía: Economia, Comercio, Paradigmas, PoliticasEconomicas, | |
On July 26, 1822, liberators José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar
met in Guayaquil to coordinate the struggle against Spanish
colonialism. There, the former opened the door for the latter to
reach Lower and Higher Peru and eventually name the second region
after himself: Bolivia .
Exactly 180 years later, the representatives of the 12 South American
republics gathered in the same city. The objective of the conclave
was not to agree on measures against any power in the North, but
rather to seek ways to cooperate.
The leaders of Brazil and Ecuador (where the first South-American
Summit was held in 2000 and the second is held this year) stated that
their objectives were not to reject the processes for global
integration but to pressure the North to open its markets and engage
in true integration.
Ecuador , the site of the second conclave, has dollarized its
economy. This subcontinent has applied different monetary formulas
contemplated in Washington circles. In South America , there are
liberal democracies that have opened their economies to the market
and to international investors and have agreed to enter the Free
Trade Agreement of the Americas within three years.
However, some presidents have expressed their dissatisfaction with
aspects of the old neoliberal model that has been applied in the
region. Ecuador questioned the protectionism of the more
industrialized nations, which keep the products from poor countries
from entering their markets and immobilize the poor countries by
those means. The Ecuadorean foreign minister denounced protectionism
as "terrorism against the poor."
One serious problem in this subcontinent is the increase in poverty,
unemployment and emigration. Sixty percent of the population live in
poverty. More than 10 percent of all Ecuadoreans and Colombians have
found it necessary to work abroad. The delegation of the host country
stated that if the bananas the country grew were given duty-free
access to the markets in the North, Ecuador 's economy would improve
and the flow of emigrants would decrease. The signatories of the
Agreement on Trade Preferences of the Andes (ATPA) demanded that the
United States lower its tariffs to zero.
Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo asked for a Financial Solidarity
Fund, although the Uruguayan delegation maintained that the
subcontinent would have no resources to create it. Venezuelan
President Hugo Chávez proposed a kind of International Monetary Fund
of poor countries: an International Humanitarian Fund that would
finance enterprises of development on the basis of a percentage of
the foreign debt. He also suggested the creation of Petroamérica, a
super-corporation of the various oil companies of the subcontinent to
compete with the various multinational corporations.
The Brazilian chief of state, Fernando Cardoso, has sought to
accelerate the integration between the two major economic blocs in
South America : Mercosur and the Andean Community. Both should begin
to blend and, in that process, attract Chile , Guyana and Surinam so
they could join the FTAA or enter globalization as a South-American
market capable of negotiating in better conditions. By coincidence,
the meeting held 180 years ago in Guayaquil was between the liberator
who was born in what today is the Mercosur and the liberator who gave
the five Andean Community nations their independence.
The summit has reflected certain changes in the region. Argentina ,
which was one of the main military allies of the U.S. and chief
advocate of the policies proposed by the IMF, is going through its
worst economic crisis, a crisis that is also affecting Brazil and
other nations. Brazil has tried to distance itself from the monetary
orthodoxy and it is likely that, within a few weeks, the Workers
Party will win the presidential elections. In Venezuela , Chávez
managed to defeat a coup d'état. In Bolivia , the parties that
question the neoliberal system have just had a major success at the
However, this was not an "anti-imperialist" summit. No denunciation
of the U.S. or the FTAA was passed. No calls were made to end the
blockade against Cuba or to stop paying the foreign debt. The
European powers were not urged to withdraw from their colonies in the
Antilles , French Guiana or the Falkland Islands .
Unlike the Madrid summit of European, Caribbean and Latin American
presidents, no declaration against terrorism was passed, but all the
chiefs of state decried the actions of the Colombian guerrillas.
Quiroga, about to leave the Bolivian presidency, said that foreign
intervention in Colombia was possible if Bogota requested it.
Outside the summit site, street demonstrations led to arrests. The
protest focused on the FTAA, the IMF, the privatizations and
globalization and the demonstrators asked for self-determination for
the indigenous nationalities and the restitution of social rights.
The summit approved "The Guayaquil Consensus," which is based on
three documents. One deals with Integration, Security and
Infrastructure for Development. Another declares a South American
Peace Zone, where the production or trading of weapons of mass
destruction is forbidden. The third is a declaration concerning the
World Summit on Sustained Development. In addition, an Andean human-
rights charter and an accord on Amazonian cooperation were
Isaac Bigio is an international analyst. A graduate of the London
School of Economics. He writes for numerous newspapers in Latin
America and Europe.
BOLIVIA: THE RISE OF THE PEASANT LEFT By Isaac Bigio ALAI/ América
Latina en Movimiento
The media agree when they point out that in the Bolivian elections of
June 30 the surprise candidate was coca farmers' leader Evo Morales.
He gained 18 to 19 percent of the votes and ended 4 points behind the
winner, Goni Sánchez de Losada. His party, Movement to Socialism
(MAS), would occupy second place in the Senate and maybe also in
Morales benefited from the fact that, days before the election,
United States Ambassador Manuel Rocha threatened Bolivia with cutting
U.S. aid if MAS rose to positions of power. Morales emerged as a
caudillo dedicated to the defense of the nation's sovereignty.
In Bolivia, the production of coca has been very important for the
survival of tens of thousands of families, including the families of
many laid-off workers who migrated from the mines and cities to coca-
producing valleys like the Chapare. Cocaine has become the nation's
main export product, although the successive governments have chosen
to eradicate crops if they can benefit from financial aid from the
To producers of coca, the leaves of that plant contain nutritional
and medicinal substances. The plant also has a sacred value, because
it has been cultivated since before the Inca period. To Andeans,
chewing coca leaves is as common a social event as going to a tavern
to drink and chat is to many Europeans. Just like potatoes or barley
are foodstuffs that can serve as a source of alcohol, coca is a leaf
that causes no harm. Processed coca is the source of many legal
products, from toothpaste to wine to ointments to a tea that relieves
altitude sickness. Then there's cocaine.
For more than a decade, Cochabamba has been a center where farmers
constantly stage marches, road blocks and face-offs with military
units and specialized police. Morales has become a spokesman for the
defense of cocaine, as part of the defense of Bolivia from the United
States. He has been expelled from Parliament for inciting to
To the U.S. State Department, the eradication of coca crops is
fundamental because the idea is to weaken drug trafficking, which is
so harmful to the American population. Coca farmers see themselves as
the first and poorest link of the chain. They ask the authorities
that, instead of targeting them, they strike at the big
intermediaries and dealers, including those who operate in the U.S.
Bolivian trade unions ask for the industrialization of coca as the
best way to end the illegal traffic in narcotics. Chicago economist
Milton Friedman believes the legalization of the production and the
commercialization of cocaine would help to control the problem, as in
the cases of alcohol and tobacco.
Another peasant candidacy that advanced in the recent election was
that of Felipe Quispe, who led the Red Offensive and the Túpak Katari
Guerrilla Army in the 1980s. His vision then was that of a violent
socialist revolution based on the ayllus (Andean communities) and his
speeches combined a Marxist, anti-Stalinist language with Quechua and
Aymará nationalism. At one point, he tried to link his movement to
the Peruvian Shining Path. With the passing of time, Quispe distanced
himself from his old Marxist positions and has moved to the center,
seeking to vindicate the idea of an Indian Bolivia, as opposed to a
nation dominated by the white élite.
The combined votes gained by both peasant candidates exceed the vote
gained by Sánchez de Lozada of the Movimiento Nacionalista
Revolucionario. The Bolivian left, which was alienated at the polls
after the labor unions failed to replace Hernán Siles Zuazo in 1985,
could be regaining its health. However, its social base and discourse
Between the 1930s and the 1980s, Bolivia's Marxist left held sway
over the labor unions, especially the mine workers unions. The
Bolivian Workers Central became the most powerful union in the
Americas, able to neutralize many coups d'état and becoming a sort of
parallel state, particularly in 1952, 1970-71 and 1985.
With the widespread shutdowns of mines and factories and with the
blows suffered by the labor unions, the role of the peasant
organizations continued to grow. To orthodox Marxism, this would
imply that the proletariat is losing its hegemonic position and is
being displaced by a small peasant bourgeoisie that will be
inconsistent in its struggle toward socialism and will end up sharing
government with the dominant class. Those who support the new peasant
movements now see a new left that becomes more Bolivian and waves
agrarian and Indian flags that the traditional left underestimated.
The growth of Indian and peasant movements in Bolivia will energize
their counterparts in Ecuador and will have repercussions in Peru.
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