SENZA CENSURA n.10
Italy, february 2003
IMPERIALISM IN LATIN AMERICA
Let's start to reflect about the counter-revolutionary strategy in Latin America
Since many time even in Latin America they are developing articulate and stratified national, "sub-continental" and international discrepancies, with important social and class conflicts against the unopposed rule of the USA.
Though late and starting in this number, we think necessary to start to deal continuously with the strategy of counter-revolution which the middle class reveals even there.
We think that the relationship between the accumulation crisis and the imperialist war is the central link around which the capital since always "interprets" history; and today, beyond Afghanistan and Iraq, even this continent is a centre of interest and scene of cruel clashes as in Colombia.
We think that understanding what today is happening in Latin America, means try to focus on the specific economic, political and military situation, but looking at the crisis of the capitalistic way of production and its involvements worldwide. Starting from the crisis, we know that in general it develops on different levels, becoming worse for extension and deepness.
The tendency to a progressive decrease of capitalistic accumulation drives masters to concentrate an increasing quantity of money, strength and productive capacity, into few hands, corporations and multinationals. Now neither reducing the labour cost nor investing capitals is enough to "save" from the economic stagnation. We know that every development stage, the great capacity and productive strength developed, though increasing the surplus value chiefly at wage's damage, is not able to compensate adequately the rise of the capital's organic composition; inevitably the obtained profit tends to decrease: in this way they originate different war pressures through history, like today the ruling capitalistic nation which is engaging in different fronts of imperialistic conflict and in a renewed field of rivalry with other capitalistic powers.
Without catastrophic theories about the collapse, and aware of the limits of some pages in comparison with the complex argument of the crisis, we think important to start talking about Latin America giving some elements about economic conditions which suggest and subtend planned projects of expansion and imperialist conflict.
Press an information are a strong instrument in the hands of imperialist countries, and they represent an essential plug to precede and prepare war and imperialistic aggression campaigns : for them the Vietnam lesson represents an essential experience.
Now, that the attention is turned towards east, the deformed lens of western journalists is warping reality making it out of context, isolated, and abstract from historical/economic/politic and social dynamics into which we are involved worldwide: often, objectively or subjectively, we are victims of one-sided point of view, looking at the capitalistic way of production as the only one development model, and wars as the necessary evil to generalize democratic values and rights. This kind of vision inevitably influences the interpretation and comprehension of the cause/effect relationship into historical facts, and it represents the forerunner for campaigns against "terrorism" even into the south American continent, for example equalizing guerrilla and traffic in drug. It distorts the meaning of many interesting experiences of struggle made by mass vanguards which, instead, even in Latin America are developing strength, awareness and capacity of intervention as necessary weapons because, even in this continent, people is ready for the next appointment with history.
THE NORTH AMERICAN CRISIS
The north American imperialistic middle class is troubled by some economic, politic and social indicators.
The GDP as total value of goods and services produced by a country during one year, is used by bourgeois economists to calculate the increase of one country's economy.
The gradual decrease of the GDP, started in 70s, surely has had moments of discontinuity but also strong accelerations down confirming to long term anticipations of negative tendency. Since half 1999 the International Monetary Fund, after having noticed in the USA a real increase of the GDP of 3,9% in 1997 and 1998, forecast an increase of 3,7% in 1999 and 2,6% in 2000 (FMI,1999).
Other studies and articles forecast the 2,2% (The Economist) or even 2% (OECD).
Besides, during last years the nature of this indicator has been modified (that is fixed) and this "adaptation" contributed to form a compensating element for the "transformation" of the productive system, at least by appearances.
In 1997 economists tried to cover a spectacular demolition of economic sectors, which were strategic and driving as those relative to the value production, producing fireworks in the Stock Exchange and displaying a GDP of 3,9%.
The demolition of productive sectors means that the main element of this indicator is no more given by manufacturing and building sectors, by mining and transport industry, but it is formed by the so-called "services". If in 1944 the north American GDP was determined for the 55% by driving productive sectors, during last years this number has reached the 32,5%.
So, if the 67,5% is produced by services , we can state that the GDP (increasing or decreasing) shows the present process of expansion of the tertiary sector, being indicator of "deindustrialization" than real productive activity, and not only in North America.
The trade and internal indebtedness of the USA has increased for many time, and it became seven times greater in twenty years. Since time there are foreign founds from Japan and Western Europe "compensating" USA's balance of payments: other capitalistic economies with their investments support the north American market, which is drive of the demand worldwide, and they "have extended its life" averting the moment of a deeper crisis which could train into disaster the world economy. In this way they have also contributed to keep away the ground on which it is based an economic structure, expanding and strengthening the weakness of the USA guiding light of the world capitalistic economy.
From the financial point of view it is important to tell about what has happened in 1998. The Long Term Capital Management ( LTCM), considered the most important investment fund of the world, was leaving a deficit of 16 billion dollars. The LTCM was formed by capitals paid by great central banks of main (16) imperialist countries, obviously in contributions proportional to everyone's economic weight. The "pile of money" collected has been presented to the international credit system and it has reached 1250 billion dollars: this great sum has been used to buy up foreign debt amounts, to speculate on money and Treasury bonds of some Latin American countries, and not only. Expectations of "valorisation" and maybe the "warranty" that the leaders of world finance were guiding this operation, has driven this fund to risk for a sum ten times greater than the first one. In September 1998 the LTCM's dreams vanished because of 9 unrecoverable billion dollars. Banks in the world (in "sub-imperialist" countries) and in Latin America which had received these sums to invest them in local enterprises, did not have an economic return and they declared bankruptcy . This disaster pushed imperialist countries inspiring this adventure to make rescue to balance the debt, to control the distrust in the credit system and financial investments, trying to prevent the escape of capitals from Latin America countries and not only. A hole than "covered" directly by USA and EU' s central banks, which have the interest to keep various productive and financial peripheric systems in the economic orbit of the imperialist centre.
But while it is enlarging the difference between finance and real economy, they are exploding enormous financial bubbles (as LTCM), they are discovering bookkeeping deceits of economists, which are playing with indicators (as the GDP), even for imperialistic countries the economic crisis is meaning more and more low wages, unemployment increase, and whole social sectors condemned to poverty.
Crisis in Latin America.
Before we were talking about the financial "help" by other world economies to the trade indebtedness of the USA.
It can seem strange, but also Latin America has had its little part in this "support": during ten-years periods and with great social costs, this continent is slowly becoming part of the world capitalist reproduction and in this way its middle class has begun to cash its own little parts in prosperous periods. But every "recessionary" period in Latin America is expanded and worsened by its subalternity to other imperialist countries.
In fact through years in this continent every country's middle class has grown, and in some sectors, together with the more traditional landowners, it is developing a layer of middle rank and entrepreneurs. Since time the Latin American middle class is developing projects of integration as the Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay), it is planning and carrying out national plans of reform, and it is trying to limit the foreign interference in its economy, trying also to oppose to the increasing rule of the dollar. The Brazilian President, Mr. Lula, on one side is interpreting the conflicts of peasants, workers and proletarians, on the other side he is trying to favour the increase of his productive system on a national and continental level, to get out of the foreign imperialist rule and the different national oligarchies. Then, with the President of Venezuela, Mr. Hugo Chavez, we can see a radical reform process: prohibition to privatise some sectors, agrarian reform and a policy to increase in value their own oil.
So, Latin American countries, closely dependent from the USA, have a bad beginning of the 2002. The decrease of prices of Latin American products and the decay of financial systems of the Argentine one (also induced by the LTCM), should be among the main causes of this situation, clearly on the ground of the so called "consumption stagnation to worldwide level".
Besides, national recessions of South American countries seem to feed each other, with a contraction of 41% in the first quarter of 2002. In the whole area unemployment is increasing, and in 2001 it reaches the highest level since the end of the 2nd World War; at the end of 2002 it is again increased. In Colombia and Uruguay at the end of 2001 the 20% of the active population was unemployed.
According to official sources very sensitive to government "conditioning" and "adjustments", in Argentina the employment level is around 20%, while the real number should be 30% and more. There has been also a great devaluation of the local money (which faces an unequal struggle with the dollar), with sudden apocalyptic inflationary tendencies, together with the block of wages and the confiscation of financial deposits in December 2001. Industry and finance have been sacked by foreign enterprises which now control old public services and the bank system. The economic situation of this country has reached a real failure, with the tragic social consequence we know, following the IMF's "structural adjustments" (which has to be thought as international economic institution belonging to the national north American middle class).
In a recent interview, the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, explains the rightness of the reform process begun with the Bolivarian Constitution: "In Venezuela in 1989 there was a great revolt against some measures imposed by the IMF... against the increased price of the fuel, against the privatisation of enterprises, services, health, school. I took part into a military and progressive revolt, with my people. Against oligarchies, against those which now would like to eliminate me. During that revolt against liberalism, students, journalists, political leaders died. Somewhere else in the continent, the model was accepted. In Argentina they made an overdose of neo-liberalism. They privatised everything. Now we can see the result. If in 1989 Venezuela didn't revolt, now it would be like Argentina. Since three years in Caracas, it's a period of proposal. The proposal became constitution. Our basic rule is anti-liberalist, as the laws we are passing. The last has been only just passed: it prevents to privatise the pension plan".
As regards Brazil, if imperialist countries seem to be less exigent, the tendency and the approach have been the same. The financial crisis of the last period , partially induced by Brazilian parasitic oligarchies frightened by a possible election of "Lula", has tried to evoke the fear of an Argentine way even for Brazil.
So it has been granted a fund to allow to make pressure to empty the country's economy with a "structural adjustment": fiscal, monetary and productive. Brazil, to avoid a situation similar to the Argentine one, should walk on the same way towards a sure disaster.
Before, we have talked about the tendency to a decline in the GDP's increase (in USA, Germany, and Japan), and about the "adjustment" of this indicator to the expansion of the service industry, as an index of clear crisis of accumulation for the USA, in this juncture.
Besides, the increased falling of the profit rate as present relationship between capital and job, and the perspective of different "fronts" of international rivalry, are inducing us to observe some elements which could underline what policy USA are preparing, from an economic and military point of view; to understand what passage of growth and strengthening of its own rule the American imperialism is going to determine n this continent.
North American perspectives in Latin America:
the "cooperation" program
Since 100 years as regards the American subcontinent, the USA policy has always been inspired by this thought: "America to Americans"; every administration has tried to increase and strengthen its own rule with a great unscrupulousness, arrogance, and certainty of impunity.
In 1994 with the NAFTA treaty among Canada, USA, and after Mexico, it takes place a trade area into which, goods, services and capitals of these countries, can freely circulate.
It's clear that this is a false "trade egalitarianism", freedom of enterprise and access to goods; instead this treaty implies that who has got the greatest quantity of capitals, who can support better his own economy and products, and who has got technology and military strength, with the pilot project NAFTA and with the perspective of a continental trade area, can have an uncontested rule in this part of the world. This means new and wider parts of trade control, but above all productive control which could allow to influence contrariwise the tendency to deindustrialization, testified also by the present calculation of the GDP.
As we are talking about agreements and free trade treaties, let's make a confrontation between NAFTA and E.U. The official propaganda describes the NAFTA as an integration process, and the continental one as the "most important effort for the integration made by developed countries and developing countries, with the common aim of free trade and investments on goods and services based on strengthened trade rules".
But while the E.U. is eliminating internal trade barriers and is activating a common regulation for goods, services, capitals and people (clearly as regards the heart of the European project), NAFTA' s countries are keeping pre-existent rules with other trade partners; there is not an effort to harmonize internal rules or economic and social policies, because they are starting from an economic discrepancy they want to keep.
The NAFTA means a trade area without customs duty and with very strict ties, so north American companies can bring an action against every obstacle to their perspective of improvement.
Residual protectionist laws, rules which influence production costs, everything which can prevent the privatisation of goods, services, sources, are defeated by agreements as the NAFTA.
For example, if a North American enterprise locates a source (plant, mineral...), today in Mexico it is very favoured : thanks to capitals and its technology it can transform the found source in goods, because in this country it finds a propitious field to produce it, even gaining from the lack of job caused by financial speculations; then it can also gain a local market shares, at last taking on the exclusive right holding its intellectual property.
Thanks to the geographic closeness, since time many imperialist enterprises move their production to far countries, taking advantage of an economic situation created by themselves. The production of standardized goods which can be surely sold (mass-produced goods which don't need high technology, high professionalism, elaborate and integrated infrastructures result of a design which is living of little evolving adjustments) has been moved very far taking advantage of periods when labour, transport and distribution had a lower cost.
Together with some sectors' movement , the space closeness in America as in Europe (as regards the Mediterranean Sea) becomes a strategic element for their own expansion project: if in the past imperialist enterprises moved their factories to very far regions because of a low labour cost, today there is a rationalization process in which they are thought to be important the closeness and the possibility of integration in the production and advanced and computerized project ; the NAFTA also represents this change.
In 2001Eduardo Lucita (director of the Marxist review "Cuadernos del Sur") mentioned an evaluation according to which more than 1,000,000 employments have been lost in the USA because of the movement of companies in Mexico, which benefit by a favourable job legislation.
Many of these workers have found again employment with less safety and with wages lower of 77% than before. In Mexico the deficit has increased until 18,6 billion dollars.
Despite outlooks of a greater development only the border region has increased its industrial activity. But this increase has not brought prosperity: more than 1,000,000 of Mexicans work with wages lower than the minimum one. Besides, the increase of industrial activities in the area has worsened environmental and safety conditions.
In December 1994 the USA government has called in Florida 34 governments of the continent (except for Cuba, obviously) to "discuss about the unification of economies of the western hemisphere into only one agreement of free trade".
This aim has to be realized until 2005, and it has been called "Area del Libre Comercio para las Americas" (ALCA). The contemporariness between Nafta and ALCA, and the fact that whole chapters of discussion papers of the ALCA have been copied from the experimented Nafta, let us understand that the ALCA is only a wider cover, an extension of the Nafta to the whole American continent.
However, as regards first planning, the material conditions and the time for the realization of the LACA are modified, and thinking about the international dynamism, they alternate accelerations and sudden braking.
in the past they have been meetings of other countries (Andean Community-Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru-) and they seem to present new balances in the South American continent, into which a Brazilian and Mercosur's initiative can have a new strength.
Chile yet has made bilateral agreements with the NAFTA, and Argentina which is part of the Merocsur, but it has had an ambivalent position towards the NAFTA, while Chavez's Venezuela, Lula's Brazil, Gutièrrez's Ecuador are promising a strong opposition to the ALCA. The situation is very complex and it is difficult to realize such agreements. The conflict social and political situation which many South American countries are living, with a continuous widening of the opposition front to the ALCA, should be the main reason of attempts to make start the project before 2005.
In fact it is widening the thought that the ALCA could determine a greatest dependence and economic vulnerability of peripheric countries. with a raid of their productive, water, food and mineral sources, in favour of the economy of rulers. There could be another and deeper political, economic and military colonization of the whole continent under USA's control, and Colin Powell seems not to hide it: "We want to sell merchandise, technology and North American services, without obstacles or limitations, to a unique market of 800 millions of people, with a total income of 11 trillion dollars a year, into an area which will go from the Artic to Cape Horn".