HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Places » International » Latin America (Group) » The neocolonial strategie...

Sun Jun 3, 2012, 04:33 PM

 

The neocolonial strategies and the Pacific Alliance

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, a theory flourished among certain Western "thinkers" - celebrated and spread by several media groups - stating that we came to the "end of history", with the definitive imposition of the neoliberal ideology in a new world, with a permanent “Pax Americana”. In this period of time, that lasted until the new millenium, the West thought it could re-divide the planet and Spain, based in its sudden and artificial prosperity, nurtured the neocolonial dream of promoting a new reconquest in the Latin American geopolitical space.

With that in mind, Spanish diplomacy and "think-tanks" even rescued an old expression, "Ibero-America", a mythical continent extending from the Pyrenees to Tierra del Fuego, embodying Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Central America, and all the countries of South America, until the edges of the Strait of Magellan.

Suddenly transformed into "nouveau riche" - forgetting that their quality of life, as well as the relative power of their companies resulted from billions of euros transferred as financial help by the European Union, in particular by France and Germany, and cheap money, at very low interest rates, lent by the European Central Bank - the Spanish royal court, bankers, neoliberal politicians and opportunist adventurers set themselves, with the enthusiasm of a Cortez, to the looting of Latin America.

The "strangulation" of most of our countries by inflation - as well as questionable foreign debts - and the absence of equal conditions of access to cheap and widespread credit to our business communities resulted in the largest process of denationalization in history.

A process that was tragic for private initiative, with the handover of centenarian companies and their technology to multinationals, as happened to the Metal Leve, of our sadly missed José Mindlin, for example. But it was much worse, dreadful indeed, in the public sector, in which new Iberian crusaders, like Emilio Botin, of Santander, Antonio Brufau, of Repsol, Cesar Alierta, of Telefónica, and even opportunists like Gregorio Marin Preciado - some of them presently being investigated for tax evasion and money laundering - counted on the abject and conditioned complicity of collaborators (always the same collaborators...) to the disassembly, the quartering and the denationalization of the national patrimony and strategic assets.

In Brazil, it is currently a proven fact that the excited followers of Washington Consensus spent more money (fattening the chickens to deliver them to the foxes, while they "prepared" the state companies to privatization) than they received, for the National Treasure, after the privatizations.

It was alleged by then that privatizations would abate the public debt, but the debt-to-GDP ratio practically doubled in eight years. It was said that the taxes would be reduced for the consumers, but, in telephone service or broadband internet, for example, we pay, according to international organizations, the most expansive bills of the world. Not to mention, first of all, the lousy quality of the services - that led to the prohibition of Telefónica selling broadband services in São Paulo for some time.

Those who wish to confirm the extravagant and pernicious content of the General Law of Telecommunications - approved during the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso and intended to penalize the consumers - may look for information in the National Agency of Telecommunications, or, even better, try to solve a problem - by telephone - with his telephone company. The law even states that public telephones are "not obliged" to make interurban calls. And it is not even necessary to talk about the so called "universal access" to telephone and internet services. Those who live in the countryside know about that quite well.

Another argument used a lot by that time was the existence of "featherbedding" in state companies. In this aspect, we just have to remember that Antonio Carlos Valente, president of Vivo in Brazil, was one of the men that led the telecommunications privatization in Brazil since the beginning, and one of the first advisers of the National Agency of Telecommunications - the Federal department responsible for the audit of his current bosses' activities. And that the son-in-law of the King of Spain, whose greatest skill as a telecommunication expert is being an excellent polo player, is a member of the Council of Telefónica do Brasil, receiving dozens of millions of euros per year for doing nothing.

The private orgy with state companies was so big, and the profits so huge, that Francisco Luzón, a "senior official" of Santander, who led the buyout of the Bank of the State of São Paulo, retired some months ago, taking home, as a reward for his work in Latin America, a gratification of 70 million euros, or 175 million reais.

In telecommunications, oil, financial services, the Spanish strategy is investing the minimum amount possible and taking to Europe the largest share of profits they can. If investments are necessary, they ask others to do it, as did Santander Brasil, when they raised money in its own market for a takeover; and Repsol do Brasil, that was forced to sell part of its capital to China's SINOPEC.

Needing financial resources to fulfil obligations, like investments in infrastructure, for example? Easy. Borrow money from Brazilian Development Bank, with subsidised interest rates, like Vivo did last year, receiving three billion reais from Brazilian taxpayers. Of course, that didn't stop the company's remittance of profits of billions of euros to its headquarters in Madrid.

Like the Italians say, "it thundered so much, that it's now raining". Argentina grew tired of such effrontery of Spanish companies. Tranformed - thanks to privatization - from an oil producing nation into an oil importer, it decided to take over the control of YPF, Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales, denationalized during the neoliberal government of Carlos Saul Menem.

Cristina Kirchner's government intervened in the company last week, dismissing the Spanish senior officials of Repsol and replacing the security of the building. The "nice guys", like vultures, "dried off" the company's wells that were functional when they acquired YPF, sending profits abroad, without risking one cent of a peso to find new oil fields or drilling new wells.

With a country-risk scoring 500 points, the Spanish people is being harassed by the disastrous situation created by the incompetence of their ruiling elite. Even so, the right-wing was elected once again, using xenophobia to blame not the bankers, but immigrants. They will now go further against the citizens, withdrawing and softening workers' rights to healthcare, education and job security.

The government of prime minister Mariano Rajoy - like the mouse that roared - threatened to act "with conviction" and affirmed that Cristina Kirchner's decision will bring "severe consequences" to Argentina.

Like Italy did in the Battisti affair, Spain asked the help of the European Economic Community, which - except for a few protocolar statements - just washed its hands and said that there are no legal treaties that would allow the organization to inferfere in the subject, that should be seen as a bilateral issue.

Western media exercised - with some of its local representatives - its right of screaming and kicking. During her visit to Brazil, Hillary Clinton said that Argentina must "justify and assume the responsibilities of its decision" and, being coherent with the US rigmarole in the defense of the free market - so much divulged and so little practiced - remembered that free market is the best model of competition and access to commodities and energy sector.

Spain, however, felt disappointed. The Spanish Minister of Foreign Relations said that he was expecting more of the north-american ally, to whom the country has been so subservient in recent years, taking part, among other issues, in military operations in Libya and Afghanistan. And recognized the fact that the US has, nowadays, "its own interests in Argentina".

With an unemployment rate of 23% of the economically active population, a high public deficit that the European Union recognizes as impossible to decrease before 2017, an external debt of 165% of the GDP, 80% of internal liquid debt, and only 30 billion dollars in international reserves, the Spanish government is using the Repsol affair to distract public opinion from the country's reality.

The most relevant newspapers have presented, in editorials and news stories covering the issue, the expropriation of the oil company as an insult, an aggression and a betrayal to Spain. Just like happened in the case of the adoption of reciprocity measures by the Brazilian government to the entry of Spanish tourists in Brazil, now a large number of internaut users claim that Spanish companies should fire all the Argentine employees living in Spain. Some ask the government to promote mass deportation of Argentine immigrants living in the country, forgetting of the Argentine's solidarity to Spain in times of need and the fact that there are currently more Spanish living in Argentina than Argentines living in Cervantes' fatherland.

But there is also a minority that asks, ironicallly, how many shareholders are among those defending Repsol. They remember that the company, since a longe time, does not belong to the Spanish people; that its capital is composed by Chinese and American funds, as well as "investors" that became suspiciously rich in the "golden years" - and who are also involved in the building of the crisis that the country now faces.

The visible indignation of the Spanish government is not directed to the defense of the interests of the nation or its people, but of private "investors". The Kingdom of Spain certainly lacks moral authority to question the Argentine decision. The Spanish Constitution determines that:

"All the wealth of the country in its distinct types and juridical nature is subordinated to the public interest. The public initiative will be legally recognized in the economic activity. Under the law, resources and essential services may be granted to the public sector, especially in case of monopoly, as well as intervention in private companies when required by public interest."

With a decreasing influence in Latin America, if it really had any in the last decades, Spain searches for allies where it can. The president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, expressed his concern with "protectionism and nationalizations" in Cartagena and in the "World Forum on Latin America", in Puerto Vallarta, where he received the Spanish prime minister. With "protectionism", Calderón sent a message to Brazil, that set import quotas to Mexican vehicles, after the overvaluation of 88% of the Brazilian real in comparison to the Mexican peso in a period of ten years, and also to other countries that send auto parts to mount them in Mexico and then export them to Brazil without paying import taxes. The warning about "nationalization" was directed to Argentina. Mexican Pemex possesses 10% of Repsol. Mexico and Chile are arguably the only Latin American countries that had relative benefits with the privatizations wave of the 1990s, that gave rise to controversial figures such as Carlos Slim - owner of America Móvil and the richest man in the world -

Mexico and Spain are more dependent on international trade than Brazil, whose trading influx barely reaches 13% of the GDP. But the fact that Mexico sends the huge majority of its exports to the United States and that its industrial policy is based on "maquillaje" and cheap labor, makes it difficult for Mexico do adpot an independent and sovereign trading policy. The same happens to Spain, that has long given away important aspects of its sovereignty, submitting its economic decisions to the rules of the European Union.

With the failure of the "Ibero-America" myth - the last "Ibero-American" summit held last year in Asunción, Paraguay, was noted for the absence of 16 of the 22 presidents invited, who blew the King Juan Carlos and Zapatero off - Spain now is betting, together with the United States, in the "Pacific Alliance".

The plan is using Mexico to gather governments known for having a stronger neoliberal profile, such as Colombia and Chile, together with Peru and watchers like Panama and Costa Rica, to counterpoint the process of continental integration led by Brazil in organizations such as Mercosur, Unsaur and the South American Defense Council.

This last neocolonial strategy also seems to be condemned to failure. The Peruvian president, Omanta Humalla, hasn't shown any enthusiasm for the initiative, launched by his predecessor, Alan Garcia, and already stated that he doesn't plan to take part of the group's first summit, to be held in June, in Santiago do Chile.

--------------------------------------

Free translation from Portuguese. As novas estratégias neocoloniais e a Aliança do Pacífico. Written by Mauro Santayana, journalist and diplomat. Republication of the original text is allowed as long as the author is cited.

http://www.maurosantayana.com/2012_04_01_archive.html

0 replies, 1719 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Reply to this thread