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02/05/08

Bank Of The South: A potential new challenge to hegemonic global finance and its monetary terrorism

By Dr. Mehdi S. Shariati, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Economics/Sociology

Acknowledgement: Author would like to thank his colleagues Dr. Chales Reitz, Dr. Steve Spartan, Dr. John P. Ryan, Dr. Tamela Ice and Mr. Ed Pedersen for their comments and suggestions.
 

Payvand.com - National identity, along with political and economic democracy are essential ingredients of a society that is sustainable across time and space. On the other hand, economic dependency, political powerlessness and alienation, along with the absence of democracy, create vulnerabilities for internal and external plunder and exploitation. Accordingly, in the post-colonial societies of Africa, Asia, and Latin America (particularly in the post-World War II era), the struggle today is to maintain a semblance of a genuinely independent socio-economic and political structure. This is particularly challenging in the face of massive economic and political pressures emanating from the dynamics of polarization in the global division of labor. Latin America as a region has always had a very difficult relationship with the advanced economies of the North. The North has always maintained a hegemonic posture in its relationship with this region. As in Africa and Asia, the interests of the general public in post-colonial Latin America have been disconnected from the political and the economic systems in severe and widely de-humanizing ways. The political structures of the region are active participants in systems of control, and they are primarily the internal manifestation of a global political economy predicated on an international class alliance and class interest.

Today's neocolonial relationships of the contemporary post-colonial international system are as violent and oppressive as in the international system of the colonial era. In the face of this violence, from time to time the post-colonial entities try to break away from the domineering system by pursuing independent policies and political alliances. In each case the reaction on the part of hegemonic powers has been harsh. The South, however, shows a long history of struggle against neo-colonialism in the form of nationalism. The contemporary struggle against transnational capitalism has been stimulated by sensible nationalism with a dose of socialism, and its authors subscribing neither to post-colonial nor to post-modern discourse. Constructed within the South, and based on South's urgent priorities, this nationalism has aimed at preventing a crushing blow from the forces of neoliberal global finance.      

Contemporary Latin America has been working toward a new identity reflecting the region's longing for economic and political autonomy by trying to reassert its cultural identity after decades of suffering from a disdainful attitude from the North. The new strategy has dimensions embedded in national aspirations and regional imperatives. Not too long ago, the United Nations Commission for Latin America (ECLA) was launched, with the help of the Argentine banker, Raul Prebisch, to tackle the chronic underdevelopment of the region. Although it produced little in terms of integration and economic change, it did, however, call for import-substitution industrialization policies hoping to overcome underdevelopment and dependency. It also provided the platform for a school of thought which in many ways was a reaction to, and a rejection of, the dominant modernization/developmental theories of the Western, primarily American, social and political sciences.

Dependency theory analyzed and criticized the manner in which the satellites in the orbit of post-World War II Anglo-American capitalism were being treated. Admittedly, direct American involvement in the domestic affairs of Latin America -- the American "backyard" -- was to be geared toward the creation of a profitable investment for North American capitalism. Authentic regional integration was neither a preference nor a priority for some Latin leaders at the mercy of North American political and military power (1). Rather, they were willing participants in regional associations and treaties initiated by the United States. This was characteristic of the Monroe Doctrine, Taft's "dollar diplomacy" as well as the Good Neighbor policies of Teddy Roosevelt; also of the Rio Treaty, the Alliance for Progress (2), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). The one overriding emphasis has been on keeping the South profitable for the North American business class (1A). More importantly, during and immediately after WWII the United States initiated regional integration through an anti-communist agenda predicated on military "standardization," and private sector initiatives. Latin America's contribution to domestic and foreign military efforts was much more extensive than conventional/mainstream history shows. For example, the region provided military personnel and agreed to the Lend Lease program with the United States.

Immediately after WW II, deteriorating hemispheric conditions (economic, political, and inter-republic conflict) were a concern. Trying to prevent further deterioration, the United States called for an inter-republic conference to be held at the Chapultepec Castle in Mexico early in 1945. The Chapultepec Conference was both an attempt to bring Argentina (perceived as recalcitrant by the United States) into a hemispheric treaty and to create a solid anti-Soviet regional alliance. But the pervasive question on the mind of the Latin American countries was the deteriorating economic and social condition of the region and to what extent the United States was ready to help it in a manner that it had helped Western Europe -- namely in a way similar to the Marshall Plan. On June 3, 1947, more than two years after the San Francisco Conference (which led to the creation of United Nations), President Truman refused to commit to economic assistance to Latin America. He argued that "....the problems of countries in this hemisphere are different in nature and cannot be relieved by the same means and the same approach which are in contemplation for Europe. Here.... [a] much greater role falls to private citizens and groups" ("Rio Pact" President Secretary's Files, Elsey Papers, 1947). In fact, Truman once remarked that the United States had a Marshall Plan for Latin America for the past century and half -- the "Monroe Doctrine" (The Nation, 1947:178).  In March 1947, Assistant Secretary of State, George C. McGhee, argued that American economic thinking is based on the free enterprise system which is almost a religion, and it would be in the interest of other nations to follow the American example (Department of State Bulletin, March, 2, 1947, p.71). 

On the political front, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Federal bureau of Investigation (FBI), Under J. Edgar Hoover monitored the political movements and decisions. Independent minded and democratically elected Allende of Chile, Arbenz of Guatemala, and countless others were not to be tolerated. They were generally labeled as communist and therefore not fit to hold political office. Few of the countries of the South found an opportunity to break the chain of dependency by taking measures toward integration.  But no deviation from Washington's line was to be tolerated, as manifested in the history of U.S.-Latin American relations - a history which is replete with overt and covert cases of imperialistic intervention and desperate resistance.

The United States has been consistent in pushing for neoliberal policies or regional integration and economic prosperity. To that end privatization, deregulation, and the sanctity of the "free market" in the context of transnational control have been the guiding principles in every North American attempt at regional integration while the supranational financial organizations, including Inter-American organizations, worked towards the extension of credit and control.

Latin American social formations, today enjoying a bit of legitimacy and autonomy, are now looking forward to a prosperous future in the context of a regional common market: one most certainly free of the prophets and agents of neo-liberalism and its dynamics of global accumulation. The election of populist presidents in countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, and to some extent Argentina and Chile, signaled a new approach to economic and social ills. Regional integration and the creation of a common market became attractive alternatives in contrast to neoliberalism. PetroCaribe  (3) was one early attempt toward regional integration. Launched in June of 2005, PetroCaribe is a quasi barter system in a region struggling with the absence of a hard currency and easy access to credit. It recognizes only the state-controlled and non-profit entities and considers the private sector businesses to be "criminal enterprises" (Kaia Lai - COHA, 2006). In other words, legitimate business transactions are those that have a touch of socialism and are conducted for the betterment of the community.

 The payment system allows for a few nations to buy oil at market value, but only a certain amount is needed up front; the remainder can be paid through a twenty five year financing agreement at 1% interest. Participating nations can purchase up to 185,000 barrels of oil per day with a fraction of the cost up front and the rest can be paid in twenty five years (Venezuelaanalysis.com). The interesting part is that it introduces barter within the region by allowing them to pay a portion of the cost with other products and services provided to Venezuela, such as bananas, rice, and sugar, nurses, doctors, teachers, social workers as in the case of Cuba. An elaborate and potentially more powerful arrangement between some major countries in the region has just now been created: the Banco del Sur -- Bank of the South.

On December 10, 2007 the idea of a new regional financial institution with Venezuela, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Peru, and Chile as the principal founding members became a reality. The bank has an initial capital of $7 billion, with a board of directors made up of the economic ministers of the member countries, each having a veto power. To understand the rationale for the idea of the Bank of the South, it is necessary to delineate a history of finance capital's brutal control over the southern hemisphere, particularly from the latter part of the twentieth century to the present period of globalization and neo-liberal economic policies. The very idea of the Bank of the South is both a rejection of global capitalism's hegemonic economic policies over the South and a rejection of the "austerity measures" imposed by global capitalism through its supranational financial organizations such the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (4).

Attempts at integration of the South have taken many forms for the most part in the political and ideological tradition of Bolivar and Che Guevara. To be sure, there have been many attempts at an integration of the South (which often implied the shedding of North American imperialism and cultural disdain). Juan Peron, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Salvador Allende, and now Hugo Chavez (albeit markedly different than his predecessor) are just a few such cases. The reaction from the North has always been hostile and violent (except for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) which were not Central or South American initiations and are equipped with different instruments of violence.

Is there a lesson to be learned from this recent development? Is it possible to have rising independent regional banks such as Banco del Sur to enter intra- and inter-regional agreements on extending credits and planning?  Although there are no well-developed models, the possibility of regional banks independent of the agents of monetary terrorism

serving what David Harvey calls "vulture capitalism"  is becoming a reality. Before addressing that issue let's look at the current reality of the world of global finance as controlled by the Western mega banks whose interests are safeguarded by the IMF and the World Bank.  It is no secret that all of them are in Washington, controlled by Washington, and they act as agents for the expansion of the interests of global capitalism. The President of the United States has always appointed the head of these institutions, and all take their orders from Washington. The Breton Woods agreement stated one overriding objective: consolidating and expanding global capitalism led by North America and Western Europe.

A review of lending practices, policy objectives, and neo-liberal philosophy indicates very little regard for the well-being of people in the "developing" countries (particularly those with a soft state and a battered colonial history) and enormous concern for the well-being of the global corporations. The rising levels of poverty, war, terrorism, and all forms of violence, show a positive correlation with high rates of profit.

The current reality shows a world suffocating under massive debt and pressure by the IMF to meet their debt obligations through its brutal austerity measures (what the IMF itself calls "structural adjustments"). Countries which submit to the IMF's austerity measures are vital to global accumulation. As long as these countries submit to these measures and the climate for profitable foreign investment, they have to suffer the consequences of those decisions.

Currently, the neo-liberal policies in the form of austerity measures are imposed by powerful multilateral financial institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank, and WTO. At the core of the global neoliberal policies are privatization and deregulation --two defining features of globalization.  The IMF promotes the private sector and privatization as the precondition for receiving loans. It opposes state intervention in the private sector particularly in the form of welfare, forces elimination or reduction of social services in the countries, and traps them in the vicious cycle of indebtedness. It enforces wage reductions as a mechanism of controlling inflation; makes its loans conditional on the expansion of the market for commodities and investments; recognizes bidding as the only legitimate way of awarding contracts to mostly private sector firms from the advanced industrial countries.

Because of this the new Bank of the South needs to move aggressively in two important directions -- expanding ties outside its own region (a Latin American Bank presence in the Middle East and vise versa), and as a competitor to the well-established lenders such as the IMF and the World Bank. Expansion outside its own region would allow it to tap into overseas capital markets, thereby increasing its presence on a global stage, and competition with the IMF would accomplish two goals -- forcing the IMF to revisit its policies, while through its successful competition increase its earnings (albeit modestly) for further expansion. 

The debt trap as a mechanism of control has a long history, and in its most brutal form it began with the colonialism of the 19thcentury. It took two forms: the formal (direct control) and informal (indirect control through comprador groups and puppet regimes) empires now familiar through the history of global capitalism. In either case what is important and relevant today is the link between the debt trap and its consequences: poverty, deprivation, drug trafficking, HIV/AIDS, desertification, deforestation, hunger, political unrest, and many other problems. The debt trap is a sick and hopeless condition that does not end. Its impact is socio-economic, political, psycho-social, and existential. No exaggeration intended, but once a country (or an individual for that matter) falls in that trap, the creditors decide the macro- and microeconomic policies with particular emphasis on debt service ability. That is, once the debtor receives a few units of a hard (universal) currency through the sale of raw materials, food, tourism, finished goods, and other things, the debtor must think of interest payment on the debt before deciding to spend it on roads, health care, industrial base, schools and the poor. Just think how much money has been siphoned off to North American banks, the European banks and the other non-Latin American banks, and how this draining has undone these economies. As far as the creditors are concerned, there is only one choice for countries of the South trapped in the world of "vulture capitalism" and forced to give in to their hatchetmen's intimidation -- usually called an austerity program. Certainly when viewed in the context of the multiplier effect and in this case the multiplier in reverse, the realized losses are many times the original losses. This is significant since the interest payments to the Western banks are in the form of hard (or universal) currencies, which can be used to purchase technology and acquire capital. Brazil cannot service its debt by writing a check in Real neither can Paraguay write one in Sukret, nor Mexico one in Pesos. They must obtain hard currency. Any hint of default can ruin their credit and the ability to engage in global economy, and can risk political upheaval at home. It is no exaggeration to say that the IMF is credited with more coups d'état than the CIA and the KGB combined. In the past some governments have been able to break away from the debt trap only to be punished just to set an example. Between 1998 and 2002, Argentina came very close to utter chaos in all fronts (political, social, and economic) as the IMF put on the pressure to conform to its policies (which along with the U.S. treasury's role) are referred to as the "Washington Consensus."  In Ecuador, Yasuni Park and its vast oil deposits were to be used as dictated by the IMF to pay that country's huge foreign debt ($15 billion in 2000). Oil exploration would destroy the beauty and the natural/exotic nature of the park. Badly needing a loan to meet its debt trap interest, the IMF extended a $300 million loan to Ecuador. In return, Ecuador had to meet certain preconditions. These came in the form of the passage of its Economic Transformation Law "in a manner satisfactory to the international financial institutions" (Finer and Huta, 2005:30). One satisfactory manner included allowing the construction of a pipeline for Yasuni Oil. Ecuador is by no means an exception. In the early 1990s, neoliberalism affected the entirety of Latin America. The IMF, the World Bank, and other agents of neoliberalism, pressured Latin American governments to privatize all of the state-owned industries, particularly oil. The "Washington Consensus" simply revolved around deregulation, privatization, and the creation of a favorable foreign investment climate. Countries such as Argentina privatized Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales (YPF) in 1993. Venezuela, Bolivia, and other countries were pushed to privatize key state-owned industries and open up their economies to private investors in pursuit of high profit rates (Martinez, 2007:20). A review of the lending practices for the projects in and around the Amazon Forrest reveals a disturbing pattern in utter disregard for the environment. The deforestation of that precious gift to humanity and the subsequent impact on global weather conditions affecting many lives is just one of the devastating and terroristic policies of the World Bank and the IMF.  Of course these lending practices come with pre-conditions including but not limited to privatization, deregulation, and specifically the deregulation of labor (Multinational Monitor, September, 2002; July/August 20065).

 

MONETARY TERRORISM

Monetary terrorism committed by the powerful multilateral agencies will not end with the establishment of the regional banks, but its impact can be minimized until the situation which demands such terrorism is eliminated. Even though it may not be able to effectively compete with the financial mega institutions of global capitalism, it has the potential to develop into a network of regional banks that will gather momentum and strength through time. Monetary terrorism is only a symptom of the larger problem, the systemic and structural mechanisms of imperial profit extraction. This type of terrorism, and indeed all forms of terrorism, must have an enabling apparatus and a breeding ground. So long as the political will is non-existent and so long as economic dependency reinforces the political powerlessness, monetary terrorism will remain an effective mechanism in the implementation of imperialistic strategies.  Equally problematic is the legitimation crisis within nation-states as a contributing factor. Even though economic dependency and powerlessness are enabling factors, political illegitimacy is an essential prerequisite in the process of imperial extraction and the protection of the interest of the dominant groups. As one of the World Bank's spokesperson put it "I don't think economic policy is democratic or not by its nature" (cited in Multinational Monitor, September, 2002:10). Yet the very countries that formulate and implement these exploitative policies are using "democracy" as a cover and a disguise in plundering the planet's resources. It seems that the economic summits of the G8 countries -- the very countries whose political ancestors raided and plundered Africa, Asia, and Latin America in the centuries past -- are designed to map new and more sophisticated strategies for greater exploitation. No one ought to have been surprised to see Paul Wolfowitz, as former Under-Secretary of Defense in charge of implementing the Program for the New American Century and one of the architects of Iraq invasion, become the head of the World Bank in the Bush Administration -- an appointment which even by the World Bank's standard was scandalous from the start.

The creation of a bank such as the Banco del Sur has the potential to enable states with a very strong public sector to continue to move their economies forward without paying ransom to global capitalism's bankers by giving in to devastating privatization  pressure. It also has the potential to map out a future independent of the global financial vultures and the big and small investors who often make money off these countries without being able to identify them on the map and/or being able to pronounce their names. Would this reinforce isolationist tendencies? It is likely that initially the bank will have to be concerned with its own area of influence -- its own region, but in the long run the suggested competition with powerful entities such as the World Bank, the IMF, and other regional or quasi-regional financial institutions, could a regional bank.

 

WILL THIS BANK HELP OR HINDER LIQUIDITY ISSUES?

Domestic banks in member countries can benefit from the regional bank in many ways provided that there are uniform rules and regulations governing the relationship between the regional bank and the domestic banks. For one thing, loans to business enterprises in member countries must filter through the banking system of the receiving country. That injection of new money furnishes new opportunities for the system as whole. It will further lubricate the wheels of commerce and allow for more activities - if nothing else, through the multiplier effect. Member countries such as Bolivia and Venezuela (with a very strong public sector in the form of nationalized oil) among others will be in a position to borrow from the bank without pressure to privatize and give in to the market forces. Moreover, those countries with a surplus of petrodollars and hard currencies obtained through other means have a greater opportunity to put their surplus to good use. Both in the Middle East and Latin America the recycling of petrodollars no longer will be necessary in the long run, since the opportunities for investment of regional bank's capital and the ensuing economic growth of the region would allow greater bargaining power vis-ŕ-vis global finance capitalism. 

 

GREATER INTEGRATION

What is needed in Latin America and indeed in all of regions outside of Europe and North America is an integrated, self-sufficient, potentially competitive and enduring regional common market similar in many ways to that of Europe. Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile as the major economic powerhouses of the South along with industrious people of Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay having public sector control over their natural resources could become more formidable than the mechanism one envisioned by Peron of Argentina many decades ago. A strong regional bank has the potential to become a defensive force in moving the Latin economies toward a greater common market, while allowing each state considerable autonomy to pursue their own domestic and foreign policies at least until a strong and differentiated and well-entrenched common market is established. 

Similarly, in the Middle East the great resources of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, the Caucasus states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Central Asian states could establish a truly common market capable of deciding its own future. A common market combining Iran's traditional and modern technologies, traditional and industrial products, with Saudi, Kuwaiti, and other smaller Persian Gulf states' vast reserves of petrodollars (and petroeuros) and their skilled and proud labor is what a bright future needs. Recently Iran's President M. Ahmadinejad proposed somewhat similar steps toward regional integration for the countries of the Persian Gulf. Though the idea is still at the level of a proposal, the possibility of a successful and truly regional bank with certain preconditions is very high. Currently there is a substantial amount of trade and joint economic projects between the countries of the Persian Gulf region, Central Asia and the Caucasus countries, but there is no formalization of these relationships and there is no mega financial institution capable of facilitating greater integration. The question of what regional integration can do is answered best by asking what regional disintegration is like. And any attempt at regional integration must be formulated, implemented and evaluated in the context of global political economy. 

With the crushing force of neoliberalism's push toward privatization, deregulation, and the destabilization of the nation-state, regional integration must begin with a reduction of dependency while at the same time building an independent and humane industrial economy with the realization that time is of the essence. Any regional attempt in the Middle East must not be predicated on models from regions such as Latin America. There are more intraregional similarities in Latin America than in the Middle East, and therefore any model must be cognizant of a region's unique socio-economic and political characteristics. These characteristics, however, must not be viewed as obstacles. Rather, they could in the spirit of multiculturalism be perceived as assets.

Recently we have noticed a push toward de-privatization in some of the Latin American countries particularly Venezuela, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador and the creation of a very strong public sector in others. In Venezuela, Chavez's de-privatization is part of the "21st century socialism" with respect for private property and the private sector (Weisbrot, 2008). De-privatization of major industries, such as oil (in 2003) in Venezuela, has contributed to 87 percent growth in real GDP leading to a 50 percent reduction in poverty plus access to free health care and free education for a great majority of people (Weisbrot, 2008). 

A regional bank which aims to strengthen a regional economy based on the public sector is dramatically different than that which aims at regional integration based on profit motive and the sanctity of market and private sector.

But what of privatization and deregulation as hallmarks of globalization? Is it possible to have an economy not ruled by international bankers and transnational corporations? Although the current push toward privatization on a global scale as a pre-condition for globalization of the economy and membership in the World Trade Organization is obscenely harsh and cruel for millions, a different type of privatization for the purpose of creating a competing sector along side the public sector and for the purpose of tapping into the global market for technology could serve a useful function. If limited privatization is allowed and that limit does not create overnight parasitic billionaires through speculation, then it can lead to the creation of greater opportunities which then can be reinforced by a regional bank. 

For most Latin American people, internal deterioration is a manifestation of external influence. "Comprador" groups are perceived as the "fifth column" of the external power with imperialistic designs. Specifically they do realize that the penetration of their society and economy by multinational corporations along with overt and covert political and military involvements have been the primary causes of their economic deprivation.  This realization is one of the greatest assets in the struggle toward liberation. This realization has been manifested in the rising (social) revolutionary movements. The current rise of democratically elected governments -- with the realization that regional formations are their best hope of overcoming dependency and destabilization attempts -- is the necessary condition for greater regional integration.  The Bank of the South is one of the outcomes of such a realization and its creation is a component of national strategic planning toward reaping the fruits of their own labor.

One of the main objectives is to retain the income realized from its lending within the region to invest back into member countries instead of allowing this wealth to be siphoned-off to foreign banks and investors. The ultimate goal of the Bank of the South is to include every nation within the region of South America. Venezuelan President Chavez argued that no longer would the people of the region sing the "praises of neoliberalism" (Cormier, 2007). These sentiments were echoed by the Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, emphasizing the necessity of a united South America deciding its own destiny and the bank as the first bank truly controlled by the nations of the region (Carlson, 2007). The program would lend money to any nation involved in the construction of approved programs. The first planned mission for which funds are to be donated is an 8,000-kilometer gas pipeline from Venezuela to Argentina, to run through Brazil and Bolivia. The pipeline would cost a tremendous amount of time and money, and as such the Bank of the South would be required to raise large amounts from all involved nations.

Rodrigo Cabezas, Venezuela's Treasury Minister, stated that the Banco del Sur will be free from the power of the non-regional shareholder over projects and policies. This was an obvious reference to the veto power of the major Western shareholders over the lending policies to exclude non-conformist nation-states.  True to form and as a substantiation of the claim that the IMF and the World Bank are reactionary supranational agencies at the service of global finance, they forced Venezuela to pay off the $3.3 billion debt it owed when Hugo Chávez was elected the President of Venezuela in 1998.  Subsequently, Venezuela announced that it would be withdrawing from the World Bank and IMF and would expedite its loan payment to these agencies.  Similar bold steps in Latin America signaled the beginning of a new era in challenges to global finance capital. President Rafael Correa of Ecuador expelled the "Country Representative' of the World Bank from his country for its unilateral decisions. Venezuela, along with Bolivia and Nicaragua, charged the World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes with bias against South American governments in their dispute with transnational corporations (Lendman, 2007).

Rampant poverty (over 40%) in certain areas along with a worsening crime wave are so problematic that even the Bush administration has been forced to acknowledge the failures (Rohter, 2007). Millions of people in the region have suffered from poverty and degradation and all of the consequences thereof. Yet the solutions are sought in globalization in the context of neoliberal policies. The Economist (December 13, 2007) has already written a eulogy for the Bank of the South. The Economist's reason for predicting the demise of the bank is that "Brazilian diplomats have been unusually frank in revealing their lack of enthusiasm for the new institution. They fear it may give soft, politically driven loans that go unpaid." Measures can of course be taken so that does not happen.  Brazil already has its own well-endowed development bank, the BNDES, whose lending of 62.5 billion Reals ($37 billion) in the 12 months prior to September was 50% greater than that of the World Bank in the same period (The Economist, December 13, 2007). But it is solely a for-profit Brazilian bank and not a regional bank. Almost every country in the South is capable to lending, but the social and political question is for what purpose and for what project. The social and political need is to strengthen the region as a common market so it can withstand external shocks, repel external sharks and bring hope to millions. To that end a strong public sector capable of withstanding the pressures and terrorism of domestic, regional and international agents and institutions is vital. Like all other ambitious projects, the Bank of the South must be nurtured and turned into a model for all of the economic"South" everywhere. But what is essential is the presence of an  independent, committed, mass based and people oriented-democratic socio-economic and political structures in place so as to achieve the level of integrity and development the people deserve. Until that materializes, they will continue to be "waiting for Godot." 


ENDNOTES

1)  Between the end of the Spanish-American War and the Great Depression, the United States sent troops to Latin countries thirty-two times.  Teddy Roosevelt as indeed most of the U.S. Presidents before and after proclaimed the United States, as a "civilized nation," therefore, responsible for confronting what Roosevelt referred to as "chronic wrongdoing" throughout the Western Hemisphere. In other words, "Chronic wrongdoing" ("misbehaving" and not conforming to "Washington consensus") forces "the United States to exercise an international police power."

2) Alliance for progress was initiated by President John F. Kennedy and was signed at an inter-American conference at Punta del Este, Uruguay in August 1961. The alliance for Progress was to lead to great improvement in standard of living, equitable income distribution, price stability, the establishment of democratic governments, the elimination of adult illiteracy by 1970, and broader economic and social planning (Peter Smith, 1999). Latin American countries still had to pay off their debt to the US and other first world countries while the realized profits returned to the US by US investors exceeded new investment. U.S. industries lobbied Congress to amend the "Foreign Assistance Act" in 1961 to make sure that no foreign business could compete with US business and a 1967 study of AID showed that 90 percent of all AID commodity expenditures went to US corporations (Cox, 1994). The Alliance for Progress included U.S. programs of military and police assistance as a means of countering Communist subversion. Of the 15 million peasant families, only one million benefited from any kind of land reform partly due to the fact that he traditional elites resisted any land reform (Peter Smith, 1999). It is no accident that during the 1960s thirteen constitutional and popular governments were replaced by military dictatorships.

3) Twelve of the 15 members of CARICOM (plus Cuba and the Dominican Republic) signed the agreement on 7 September 2005. The nations signing the agreement were Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Suriname, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The only countries to choose not to join were Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. Haiti was not invited to the talks, since Venezuela did not recognize its U.S.-installed government. The country finally joined the alliance in April 2006, once the newly-elected president René Préval took office (venezuelaanalysis.com; Wikipedia).

4) The post WWII International Monetary System began with a meeting of ten industrialized countries at Bretton Woods, VT in 1944. The Bretton Woods accord created the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for reconstruction and Development-commonly known as the World Bank.  The World Bank group is composed of three institutions-IBRD created in 1945, International Development Association (IDA, 1960) and the international Finance Corporation (IFC, 1965). Cheryl Payer' Debt Trap' (1975) is a classic and original analysis of the international Monetary Fund at a time when its policies and those of its sister institution, the World Bank were not well known. She has many other well researched work on the global credit market, and indebtedness. Teresa Hayter's "Aid as Imperialism" is a good work on the link between foreign policy, foreign aid and imperialism.

 

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The Nation, August 23, 1947, Vol. 165.

Venezuelanalysis.com/articles.

Weisbrot Mark, (2008) "America Needs to Look beyond the Media on Venezuela", Center For Economic Policy Research (CEPR), Washington D.C. 

Wright, Thomas C. (2000), Latin America in the Era of the Cuban Revolution. Praeger, New York

 

... Payvand News - 02/05/08 ... --



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