Week of global action against debt
Tim Flannery recently posed a provocative question: "Sometime this century, after 4 billion years, some of Earth’s regulatory systems will pass from control through evolution by natural selection, to control by human intelligence. Will humanity rise to the challenge?"
I think what we are currently witnessing is this transition. They say history is written by the victors. They are the ones who control the information sources, until now. We re currently witnessing a quantum leap in the number of people beginning to use their intelligence. We are all destined to discover that it is not about fighting for justice, it is about implementing the most intelligent system available. There is no argument! ...no sedition.
Here is a report on another effort promoting reform that works for all people and the environment.
Latin American and Caribbean social movements and organizations demand immediate actions
October 17, 2008
Social movements and organizations from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean today sent a letter to the Presidents of the countries of South America, demanding urgent action in the face of the financial crisis unleashed in the northern markets. As part of the Week of Global Action against Debt and the International Financial Instituctons, the presentation of the letter on October 17th marked in particular, the Global Day of Struggle against Poverty.
The more than 70 regional and national networks, organizations and movements, demand the realization of comprehensive, participatory Audits of public credit as a step toward stopping payment on illegitimate debts and ending the impunity now enjoyed by the principal agents of the international financial sytem. They also ask the presidents of the region to get the South Bank up and running, as a sovereign tool for the financing of a development based on economic, social, ecological, age and gender justice, and to begin discussion on the other financial instruments already proposed, such as the regional Stabilization Fund and the South American Monetary Unit.
The networks and movements also demand that their governments cancel ongoing free trade/economic partnership negotiations, withdraw from the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), and review the bilateral investment treaties and other legal changes imposed in order to liberalize regulatory frameworks governing global capital flows. In conclusion, the organizations underscored the need, particularly in times of crisis, for the governments to open instances of dialogue and participation with the social movements in order to debate and reach common agreement on the measures to be taken.
South America, October 17th, 2008
To the Presidents of the Republics of
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile,
Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru,
Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela
Please receive the greetings of the undersigned social movements and organizations, labour unions, churches and NGOs, gathered in networks and organizations that make up the Social Movement on Debt in South America.
In the midst of the Week of Action Against Debt and International Financial Institutions, the mission of this letter is to ask your governments – in the face of the financial and ideological crises of the economies of the global North – to take urgent action to: a) comply with the commitment to build a sovereign and independent financial order in South America, expressed in the Quito Declaration of May 3, 2007, signed by the Ministers of economy and finance of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Venezuela, when the process of founding the Bank of the South began; and b) move forward in the transformation of the economic policy based on financial and trade liberalization, and unlimited growth, towards one focused on the integration of the region's peoples in a framework of sovereignty and respect for human, collective and environmental rights.
In that regard, we specifically ask you to:
&Mac183; Ensure the realization of comprehensive and participatory Audits of public credit, with the aim of stopping payments on illegitimate debts and putting an end to the impunity with which the international financial system has operated in our countries;
&Mac183; Launch the South Bank, as a sovereign instrument for financing development based on economic, social, ecological, gender and intergenerational justice. Including in all instances, egalitarian decision-making mechanisms (one country, one vote) with the participation of social movements, and effective tools for transparency.
&Mac183; Initiate the process of discussion on the other financial instruments proposed in the Quito Declaration (Regional Stabilization Fund and a South American Monetary Unit), in order to ascertain whether they can serve to keep the reserves of our countries in the region, and for the promotion of just trade for and amongst our peoples.
&Mac183; Halt and cancel the ongoing negotiation of free trade agreements with the European Union, the United States of North America, China, and India, among others.
&Mac183; Review and reverse the investment protection treaties, including withdrawal from the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a World Bank dependency, as well as other changes imposed in regulatory frameworks dealing with capital movements, as a result of application of the neoliberal model which now exhibits with absolute brutality its own bankruptcy.
These demands are made on the basis of numerous observations and reflections within our movements about the serious situation developing, some of which we note below:
1. The current financial crisis through which the economies of the global North are passing, calls into question the essence of neoliberal ideology and overturns the dogmas that say: "the market regulates itself", "the State is not the solution but the problem," "profit mobilizes growth," "excessive profit is based on risk," "the transfer of state functions to the private sector is more efficient," "economic growth is the only way out of poverty" and so on. The financial crisis unleashed in the United States of America - which was touted as the engine of the global economy - has made painfully clear the risk of having our finances and our markets open and our countries dependent on external demand. The paradigm that preaches that the more we open our economies, the more we would experience price stability and growth with social welfare has also clearly shown its fallacy.
2. The principal criticisms relate to the need for more regulation, control and state intervention, and to the rejection of greed as the overriding principle of business. This marks an ideological collapse of neoliberalism.
3. The same evidence that shows that the global financial (dis)order supported by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other institutions serves no other purpose than – via conditionalities – the imposition of the policies now put into question throughout the world. The very countries considered by these institutions as the example to follow, are the ones now facing serious problems of financial and economic fragility.
4. The relationship between this crisis and the system of indebtedness imposed on our countries in other circumstances, cannot escape our analysis. That system has been used to plunder the wealth and resources of the region in order to nurture the growth of the casino economy whose implosion today, as occurred with the explosion of the debt crisis in 1982, threatens the very existence of entire peoples. It will be impossible to break with its logic and build a new regional and global financial order without putting an end to the impunity with which the system and its principal actors operate and stopping the continued servicing of the illegitimate debt claims it has spawned.
5. The realities of insolvency and billionaire rescue packages carried out at the cost of common people's lives and taxes, not only reveal the weaknesses of the system. They also require a strong response from South governments in order to reduce the impact of this crisis and to ensure implementation of a new order that meets the needs and rights of peoples. This is even more urgent as other crises, such as the food, climate, and energy crises, also express the failure of this model while at the same time threatening to kill millions of people the world over.
6. One of the most worrying aspects of this crisis is that, similar to previous ones and including in particular, the debt crisis unleashed in 1982, the powerful seek to resolve it on the backs of the people. So much so that it is workers and employees in the North, including among them millions of immigrants from the South, who will bear the initial brunt of the measures thus far announced by the U.S. government, as well as its European peers, in order to bail-out the greed of the financial sector.
7. That same greed, which fuels the capitalist system that prioritizes private accumulation over collective well being, is clearly expressed today in the socialization of the losses, whereas the benefits have always been privatized.
8. The economies of our peoples and of our countries will undoubtedly be affected - to a greater or lesser extent - by the irresponsible financial and political management of governments and hegemonic interests of the North, starting with the immediate threat of job losses as a result of a fall in external demand.
9. What appears stronger than ever is the contradiction that despite the fact that our countries hold large levels of international reserves, governments fail to invest the necessary resources to ensure people's rights and the promotion, preservation and protection of the environment. In this model there always is some justification to prevent an equitable distribution of the wealth that is generated. If not for imported inflation, it is the financial crisis, but it is always investment and public spending on behalf of people's basic needs that are the first to be cut-back or "adjusted".
10. The concern about the amount of international reserves that our countries have deposited in U.S. Treasury bills becomes even more serious, considering that it is by far the most indebted country of the world. Furthermore, in order to secure and maintain reserves at these levels, governments have resorted to a highly problematic increase in domestic borrowings.
11. The non-transparent management of the present financial crisis, expressed in the negotiations around the financial rescue packages, makes it even more important to establish permanent mechanisms for transparency and the auditing of public debt as key components in the process of building and operating a new financial order in South America. It is critical that the governments of South America come together to support and multiply throughout the region, in a coordinated way, the initiative of the Ecuadoran government in this regard. Conducting such public Audits will not only contribute to resolving outstanding debt claims, but it will also provide essential elements for achieving a "Never Again" to market terrorism.
We are convinced that the financial crisis that has erupted in the very heart of the most important neo-liberal economy, not only requires strong and concerted responses from the governments you preside, but also that it can become a critical opportunity conducive to reorienting production to the domestic market and to moving forward in the promotion of a just and sustainable South American integration, based in solidarity among peoples and countries.
To regain our sovereignty and build a South America that is financially autonomous is now more necessary than ever; and as we proposed at the Peoples' Social Summit in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in December 2006, as in subsequent gatherings, it is a necessary step in order to ensure the changes needed to achieve real social, economic, and environmental development for all the peoples of the region.
Recognizing that it is people who are the real sources of financing, the new regional financial instruments, such as the South Bank, must maintain their counter- hegemonic spirit; for that reason they must be financed with resources from the region so as to have no pressure or conditionalities of any kind. They should also build transparent and participatory processes of deliberation and implementation in order to meet the objectives laid out in its Founding Act and avoid the problems now faced by many financial institutions.
In that spirit, we would also like to highlight the importance of convening social movements and organizations, in particular at times of crisis, in order to discuss together and build agreements around possible ways forward. On other occasions we have expressed interest in participating actively in the creation of the South Bank, an initiative that should be up and running and is already long delayed. We would like now to reaffirm that willingness and in particular, to request a meeting with the ministerial committee of the South Bank at some point in the agenda of its next meeting. We would also like to request that a dialogue be established regarding the various concerns and proposals identified here, during the upcoming meetings of UNASUR and other instances of integration in the region.
Now is the moment to retake control of the financial, fiscal, and natural resources of our countries, in support of our peoples’ collective social and environmental welfare.
Jubilee South/Americas - Latin American Network on Debt, Development and Rights – International Network Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt – Friends of the Earth in Latin America and the Caribbean – Continental Cry of the Excluded – International Alliance of Inhabitants – Latin American Coordinating Table on Just Trade – Americas Trade Union Confederation – Network of Women Transforming the Economy – World March of Women – International Gender and Trade Network – Lutheran World Federatio Program on Illegitimate External Debt – Intercontinenal Network for the Promotion of a Latin American Social Economy in Solidarity – Lay Coordination of the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Network (continued on next page)
Argentina - Dialogue 2000, Foundation SES, ATTAC, CEASOL, Ecoportal.Net, No More Poverty, Newpaper “The Mirror”, National Economics Chair Arturo Jauretche, Argentine League for the Rights of Man, Movement for the Sovereignty and Integration of Peoples MoSIP, Ecumenical Space Bolivia – Jubilee Foundation Bolivia Brazil – Jubilee South Brazil Network, Brazil Network on International Financial Institutions, Policy Alternatives for the Southern Cone (PACS), Citizen’s Debt Audit, Santa Catarina Popular Consultation, Socioenvironmental Institute of Baía da Ilha Grande – RJ (ISABI), Permanente Assembly of Environmental Defense Entities in the State of Rio de Janeiro (APEDEMA-RJ), Brazilian Forum of NGOs and Social Movements on the Environment and Development (FBOMS), Brazilian Environmental Justice Network (RBJA), Work Group on Environmental Racism RBJA Colombia – Campain “In Debt with Rights”, Women and the Economy corporation& Jubilee South Colombia, National Union of Bank Employees (U.N.E.B) Chile – National Association of Rural and Indigenous Women (ANAMURI) - Cuba - Cuban Chapter of the Hemispheric Social Alliance Ecuador – Economic and Social Rights Center (CDES), Jubilee 2000 Guayaquil Network, Human Rights Documetation Center "Segundo Montes Mozo S.J." (CSMM) El Salvador - Sinti Techan Network Haiti – Haitian Advocacy Platform for an alternative Development (PAPDA) Honduras – Popular Block Honduras México – Mexican Council of Solidarity Economy Enterprises, Mexican movement of those affected by Dams and in defense of Rivers, Mexican network of those affected by Mining, Jubilee South México Nicaragua – Nicaraguan Social Movement “A different world is possible” Paraguay - National Coordinator of Rural and Indigenous Women Workers (CONAMURI), Paraguayan Iniciative for Peoples Integration Peru – Jubilee Peru Network, Hermanitas de la Asunción del Perú, Paulo Freire Forum-Network, Solidarity Economy Network Group Peru, Peru Network on Just Trade and Ethical Consumption, Interamerican Platform on Human Rights, Democracy, and Development, CJS, Hermanas Dominicas de Sta. Maria de las Fuentes, Amazon Institue for Development and Peace Puerto Rico – Cry of the Excluded Uruguay – Plataform Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (DESCAm), Popular University Popular Joaquín Lencina, REDES – Friends of the Earth Venezuela – Venezuelan Network on Debt/CADTM
(translated from the original in Spanish)
For more information, please contact:
Jubilee Peru Network, firstname.lastname@example.org