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(en) Argentina: 4th Summit of the Americas: Negotiating for big business on the backs of the people [ca]

Date Wed, 21 Sep 2005 13:26:19 +0300


What is it?
The 4th Summit of the Americas is a meeting of the continent's rulers organized
by the OAS (Organization of American States), where the signing of the Free
Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) or, at the very least, a number of bi- or
trilateral Free Trade Agreements will be discussed. It will also deal with
payment of the foreign debt of Latin American countries, projects for the
looting of natural resources and plans for militarization and occupation by
means of the stationing of military or civilian infrastructure under Yankee
control. That is to say the same politics that have generated poverty and
exclusion throughout the continent for decades. All the presidents of the
continent will be participating, with the exception of the president of Cuba,
who was explicitly banned from participating in the negotiations. The Summit
will take place in the Argentinian city of Mar del Plata on 4th and 5th
November.

The 1st Summit of the Americas was held in 1994 in Miami, the 2nd in Santiago
(Chile) in 1998, the 3rd in Quebec (Canada) in 2001, and there was also an
extraordinary summit in 2004 in Monterrey (Mexico). All in all, it has been
thus far a case of establishing a latticework of legal bonds between the
various countries, guaranteeing for many years to come the so-called Washington
Consensus which was so prevalent during the 1990s. Something that we know only
too well here: it is the economic policies of neo-liberalism, that imposes
labour flexibilization laws sweeping away the historic conquests of the working
class, that believes that state companies are deadweights and that it is
necessary to sell them off, that considers that everything as merchandise -
including health, that gives private companies and multilateral credit
organisation (like the World Bank, the IMF, etc.) absolute dominion over the
interests of the people.

What is planned is the signing of unequal trade agreements between the United
States and the poor countries of the region. They want to control the whole
continent militarily, citing "security in the face of the terrorist threat".
During the summits, policies are discussed for the control and restriction of
migrants, especially if it is to find work. All that matters is that they, and
the workers who stay in their countries of origin, accept wild conditions of
exploitation. On the other hand, companies and their capital can move without
restriction throughout the whole continent, so that when one country has been
exploited to the limit, the company can simply move to another.


The position of the Argentinian government

The government of president Néstor Kirchner has made its position on the FTAA
crystal clear through the chancellor, Rafael Bielsa. According to Bielsa "there
is a commitment and a permanent interest in moving these negotiations ahead in
order to achieve substantial improvements in the conditions for market access".
The justification is that the markets of the 34 countries that would make up
the FTAA buy more than 50% of Argentina's exports and are the source of 60% of
imports.

The government puts emphasis on the markets, without keeping any other aspect
in mind, without clarifying who will benefit from that access to the
continent's markets. There will be benefits only for big capital, national or
transnational, guaranteeing privileges that will eliminate the small fry,
small-scale businesses and regional economies. These criticisms have been
outlined by militants of all types of organizations, by economists, academics
and NGOs, by everyone from the revolutionary left to the most reformist
centre-leftists. However, the chancellor rejects all criticism, saying that it
is just "café political analysis". He considers the popular resistance that has
appeared throughout America to be "artificially ideological posturing", he
insists that the government has an interest "in an agreement that can satisfy,
in terms of access to the markets, the interests of Argentinian exporters".

Its position regarding foreign debt is also clear: in spite of all the
propaganda around about not satisfying the creditors' demands, and no matter
how much talk there is about not paying the debt even at the cost of our people
going hungry, this government nonetheless pays up on time, even with all the
hunger and poverty on Argentinian soil. And nothing is being done to avoid the
militarization of the country: the US military in Argentina continues to carry
out joint military exercises and the possibility of intervention by the Bush
government in the area of the Three-Border Triangle is increasing - in fact
they have already installed a military base in Paraguay.


Preparing the repression

In photos, the American presidents and chancellors smile and talk away to the
media about how fantastic the treaties being negotiated at the Summits will be
for the people. The huge abyss between the words of the officials and the real
effects that those agreements will have on our lives is obvious when one
observes the phenomenal deployment of military and police every time there are
meetings.

It was like this during previous Summits and it will be like this in Mar del
Plata. Kirchner and his ministers are worried about the security of the 34
presidents that will be coming. And they are not the only ones. For the
governor, Solá, the Summit is a hot potato. If anything happens, the
responsibility he holds could destroy his political aspirations. León
Arslanian, security secretary for Buenos Aires province, has also openly
admitted that there is great concern for the security of the Summit. He admits,
almost with pride, that his department is working with the FBI and the CIA.
According to the minister, the secret services of the empire are cooperating
with exchange of information. A not-so-innocent collaboration, if we keep in
mind by FBI and CIA standards, anyone who takes part in any activity group is a
potential subversive.

What is certain is that for months the CIA and the FBI have been hanging around
Mar del Plata: they have already made five "expeditions" to make certain
recommendations that are supposedly necessary before Bush's arrival. But, in
order not to give lie to the [Argentinian] president's boasts of "sovereignty",
they make haste to clarify that these agencies are leaders in technical matters
but that the coordination of the actions is in the hands of the Ministry of the
Interior.

The security for the 4th Summit of the Americas will be nothing short of the
total militarization of Mar del Plata and its surroundings (as far as Dolores
and Necochea), with the mobilization of 7,000 troops contributed by the Buenos
Aires police and the federal police, the Gendarmería, the Naval Prefecture and
the SIDE (State Intelligence Service). To these must be added the cortege of
2,000 people who will arrive with Bush, most of which is for "security". Also,
the Ministry of Defence plans the use of a mobile radar and Air Force combat
jets.

The bloody attacks in London, that affected hundreds of workers in a different
way, only served to provide new excuses for control paraphernalia and
repression. Shortly after the attacks, the cabinet secretary Alberto Fernández
made assurances that the summit would go ahead and that the security of the
participating presidents and other officials would be guaranteed. What he did
not guarantee was the security of the residents of Mar del Plata, nor of the
participants in the Summit of the Peoples of America and the protest
demonstrations. The negotiations will take place in the three most expensive
hotels in the city, surrounded by office blocks. The people who live there will
have to apply for credentials, as if showing a document of safe conduct in a
war zone, to be able to get to their own homes. The whole coastal circuit will
be out of bounds. And these are not rumours: the general rehearsal was the
meeting of Ministers of Health and the Environment of the Americas, for which
the government mobilized more than 1,000 policemen. People living in the area
of the summit had to show the identity cards in order to prove they lived
there.


Where will we be?

In parallel with the rulers' summits, there has also been a coming together of
the various social and political movements from all over America, resisting the
annexation of the continent by the United States. This is the Summit of the
Peoples of America, summoned at a hemispheric level by the "Campaña Continental
de Lucha Contra el ALCA" (Continental Campaign for the Fight Against the FTAA)
and the "Alianza Social Continental" (Continental Social Alliance), which will
take place from 1st to 5th November in Mar del Plata itself. Organization of
this in Argentina is being looked after by the "Autoconvocatoria No al ALCA"
(Self-organized No to the FTAA).

This [counter]summit will consist of a series of activities: workshops,
presentations, debates, art exhibitions and sectoral forums such as the
Continental Forum on the Defence of State Education. It will revolve around
four main areas: against free trade, for the integration of peoples; against
the payment of foreign debt, for the recognition of the people as the true
creditors; against militarization and war, for the strengthening of sovereignty
and self-determination; against poverty and exclusion, for more jobs and a
demand for the re-distribution of wealth. There will be "official" activities
and other self-managed ones that can be proposed by any social, cultural,
religious, human rights, women's or indigenous people's organization or
political movement.

The Summit of the Peoples of America have served as constructive environments
for real alternatives for another future in the region. They have allowed bonds
to be made between peoples, and people to learn something of the experiences in
other struggles, to strengthen their levels of organization. The Summit of the
Peoples is what those who participate make it: for that reason it is especially
important that the greatest number possible take part and that the people of
the region, and especially the organizations in the host countries, adopt it as
their own. In the run-up to November, there will be a series of popular
assemblies, workshops, conferences and marches like the one in the city of
Buenos Aires on 9th July from the Congress building to the Obelisk or on 5th
August from the Avellaneda area to the Citibank building, in order to prepare
for the 3rd Summit of the Peoples of America to reject the plan for the US
annexation, in the person of George Bush.

Strengthening resistance and building a revolutionary alternative to this
imperialistic project is something that depends on every one of us.


EN LA CALLE, No. 56, Septiembre 2005
ORGANIZACION SOCIALISTA LIBERTARIA argentina
Periodico EN LA CALLE organo de difusion del anarquismo organizado

oslargentina@yahoo.com.ar
Buenos Aires: libertaria@infovia.com.ar
Parana: orgalibertaria@hotmail.com


Translation by FdCA - International Relations

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