Friday, March 16, 2007

Venezuela Squeezes Out the International Monetary Fund

Thursday, Mar 15, 2007

By: Marie Trigona - Venezuelanalysis.com

Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 14, 2007--President Bush wrapped up his 5 nation-tour today dodging criticisms on immigration policy and opposition to the war in Iraq in Meridia, Mexico where protestors lobbed concrete rocks at his hotel. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez dogged Bush during his own whirlwind tour of Latin America, signing trade accords to promote regional integration. Part of Chavez’s agenda is to squeeze the International Monetary Fund out of Latin America and replace it with a regionally based institution.

Speaking in front of thousands of supporters in Buenos Aires, Chavez announced plans to create Banco del Sur or Bank of the South, a socialist alternative to the Washington based IMF lending institution. Argentina has already agreed to transfer 10 percent of the nation's reserves to boost the Bank of the South, a financial institution that could serve as an alternative to the IMF.

Chavez said that the Bank of the South can break the vicious cycles of foreign debt. "We have paid a countless amount of resources to pay back foreign debt. In the past 20 or 25 years we have paid more than 2.2 billion dollars in debt. We have paid back the loans more than three times over.”

He also announced that Argentina and Bolivia have eagerly adhered to the development fund. “Seven years ago I was alone in South America with a proposal for the Bank of the South, a bank that is ours to replace the international financing system, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. 15 days ago with Argentina we signed an agreement and today we have agreed to move forward to outline the Bank of the South. Tomorrow, Bolivia will adhere to the Bank of the South. They are building a bank that is ours."

Leaders in the Southern Cone, so far from Venezuela, Argentina and Bolivia, have joined the bank project with hopes that such a bank would allow Latin American nations to avoid the policy conditions that generally come with IMF loans.

According to Alan Cibils, an Argentine economist specializing in foreign lending institutions, the Bank of the South is still in its early stages but could develop into a concrete alternative to the IMF and World Bank. “It could be that part of the function of this bank is to act as a lender of last resort for countries in crisis that need funds and instead of going to the IMF they would go to the Banco del Sur, so that's a possibility. The other possibility or the other alternative is that it acts as a development bank for development projects of the different countries. I think either way it's a good idea to have both of these functions.”

The IMF’s current crisis has further compelled leaders to look for regional alternatives for financing. “I think that it points to a very clear failure of the northern institutions specifically the IMF and also the World Bank and the effects of the policies they have promoted in Latin Ameirca and throughout the world,” says Cibils. He adds, “so having an alternative institution that is local and really obeys more to local needs than to the
need of northern finance I think is a good thing and is desirable.”

Despite enthusiasm, Cibils warns that the fund will have to overcome corruption and stay wary of draining economic reserves in the respective Latin American countries. “Now how this will be implemented and whether it will be able to act outside of the clientalism and corruption that you sometimes have in governments like Argentina for example is an open question.”

Carlos Aznarez international journalist with Resumen Latinoamericano says that Argentina and Brazil joined the Bank of the South project to keep up with competition with one another in the global market and in leadership of Mercosur. “Not all the countries think the same about the Bank of the South. The idea that is pushing Chavez is the idea to precisely use the funds and federal reserves from each country to promote economic growth in Latin America’s poorest countries.” Although he says he is skeptical over Brazil’s and Argentina’s intentions to adhere to the regional fund. “The direction this project is going to take depends on the ideological influence of Venezuela. Bolivia is the country that is going to receive substantial support because it doesn’t have a lot of economic alliances. And Brazil and Argentina are going to flirt with the Bank of the South.”

The Bank of the South is set to begin operations within four months with international reserves from all participating nations. Venezuela hopes that Nicaragua and Ecuador will soon join the fund, whose initial capital will be 10 percent of Caracas and Buenos Aires international reserves, or roughly seven billion dollars.

Marie Trigona is an independent journalist based in Buenos Aires. She can be reached at mtrigona@msn.com

Marie's Blog, Latin America Activism

RENEGADE EYE

29 comments:

troutsky said...

uyxhrflThe trick is insuring participation of civil society in decision making about loans. If it just supports Brazillian soy producers in further destroying the Amazon it will not be progressive.All profit must be re-directed into helping the poorest sectors. As a counter to US and British private banks, who assume much of the portfolio of the World Bank in the Millenium Project,this will make financial markets even more jittery.A good thing.

sonia said...

As with all those schemes, the only real beneficiaries will be the Swiss banks where all the money stolen from the poor will end up.

And without free, independent press in Venezuela to watch over Chavez and his cronies, it will be easier for them to steal than before.

And without opposition parties in Venezuela to denounce the corruption in parliament, the stealing will go on.

That's why Chavez is trying so hard to make all media in Venezuela be under his direct control, and that's why he tries to forcibly merge all political parties under a single party under his direct control.

Marie Trigona said...

Troutsky,
I completely agree with your comment. This lending institution could help foster real development for the poorest sectors, or could be another scheme to aid local oligarchies. The issue of development projects based on the exploitation of natural resources is no new idea. Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela are all exploiting resources and subsiquently displacing local populations at a rapid rate. I think that Brazil and Argentina will be most reluctant to promote civil society participation. However, I thought the project was interesting and deserves attention.

Nadia A. said...

Good article,

I'm definitely a critic of the IMF and the Structural Adjustment Programs. SAP can be known to actually hurt, instead of help, the poorest in the countries by forcibly removing any social security net that the poor may have relied on.

CB said...

Liberal redistribution schemes have failed everywhere they've been attempted. Leftist central control is a disaster. But it sounds high minded, right?

Sincere leftists, not the ambitious types like Chavez, Castro, Ortega, et al, never understand the role of prices in economic growth. Without a profit incentive, shortages will appear where they cannot be tolerated and surplusses will show up where they are not needed.

Next, private property rights must be honored and protected for the poor to move out of poverty, you can't redistribute your way out of poverty, it has never worked. Even Hu Jintao is delving into limited private property rights.

New York Times reporter Walter Durante reported back on the Soviet Miracle. Western leftist were excited and arranged to travel to Moscow, where they discovered Stalin's terror famines. Enjoy your fantasy as long as you can!

ramo said...

Venezuela isn't doing as good economically as it claims. Although Chavez doesn't terrorize his opponenets. Noble goal of uplifting poor is fine. But the results talk louder over time. Only time will tell how far Chavez and Bank of South will succeed. Although I wouldn't bet on it, I would surely wish good luck to them.

GraemeAnfinson said...

That's why Chavez is trying so hard to make all media in Venezuela be under his direct control, and that's why he tries to forcibly merge all political parties under a single party under his direct control.

As Sonia may or may not know, the opposition in Venezuela was not affected by the proposed merging of political parties. The merging was suggested by Chavez to parties that backed him. Some have yet to decide. They certainly don't agree on everything.

Judging from the recent switch in Congressional control, I would say Venezuela has much better opposition parties than the US.

MarxistFromLebanon said...

CB, currently most accused two to committ massacres are the USA (Iraq-Afghanistan) for demolishing a regime without having any real alternative but capture the black oil, and Israel (last year alone 1300 lebanese butchered)not to forget the on-going daily slaughter.

Renegade, I really love this combination of bloggers, each from a corner of the world.

Marie Trigona, I might email you for some questions if I can, because I am working on paper regarding WTO and Class Struggle.

Cheers from Beirut
MFL

Frederick said...

Sorry, off topic, but I have the pictures up from the Answer protest in Washington D.C.

Little Pope said...

Este proyecto financiero denominado “Banco del Sur” es una empresa destinada al fracaso. ¿No entiendes que cualquier política de corte socialista ha fracasado estrepitosamente en el mundo? Fracasó en Rusia, Fracaso en Europa del Este, fracaso en Cuba, fracasó en Corea del Norte, fracasó, en fin, en todo país conducido por una elite burocrática de tinte comunista. Hasta el Partido Comunista Chino está liderando actualmente la transformación capitalista de su sociedad.
El hecho de que te guste emborracharte, drogarte y fornicar con anglosajones no te da el derecho de hacer creer al mundo que nosotros los latinoamericanos buscamos el “socialismo” Queremos disfrutar las libertades que ofrece la democracia liberal. Las mismas libertades que tú gozas cuando sales de América del Sur. Juega a ser la revolucionaria en otra parte del mundo. Bitch.

CB said...

Exactamente!

En cada quadro del mundo, ha fracasado...except for the ruling elite.

Edie said...

RE--

Thanks for the comment.

Homelessness is so under-reported, and yet so close to the heart for so many (myself included)!

troutsky said...

CB for an educated man, you seem to have slept through the history classes. How do you think the US brought it's working class out of poverty after the depression? through re-distributive tax policy and social programs. How do you think China, Russia and the rest of Asia went from fuedalism with regular famines to countries with comfortable working classes? Through re-distribution. How do you think Europe has finally united itself in peace? Through re-distributive policies and a strong safety net.The profit system starved 37,000 people to death today, mostly women and children.As a Christian, that should be a bit troubling.

LeftyHenry said...

its great to here this is happening. I was reading an article in Worker's World about this. It showed the difference between the popularity of Chavez and Bush in Latin America. Wherever Bush went, he was followed by a trail of burning American flags, and posters of him as hitler while Chavez was followed by enthusiastic supporters.

Little Pope said...

Hey, Leftyhenry:

Would you like to have a president like Chávez in the USA?
Why don’t you make a red revolution in your country? We in Latin America DO NOT WANT ANY SOCIALIST REVOLUTION? Got it?
We want more democracy, more liberties, more social progress, and more capitalism. Communist regimes in Latin America have taken the form of coercive, authoritarian governments that cared little for the plight of the working class and sought above all else to preserve their own hold on power.
And I do not care whether or not you can understand me.
Fuck English!
By the way, if you care so much about Latin America, Why don’t you learn some ESPAÑOL?

Marie Trigona said...

Hace mas de cinco siglos los opresores se inventaron el discurso unico del orden mundial que representa los que tienen poder economico y que desean seguir monopolizando este poder al costo del hambre y miseria de los trabajadores. Las dictaduras militares utilizaron terror y violencia para imponer este orden neoliberal que ha causado millones de muertes y enfermedades. Ahora que este orden social esta impuesta reemplazaron el terror de las dictaduras con gobiernos que invitan el saqueo de los recursos y del pueblo. Los pueblos estan eligiendo otro camino. Este es democracia, y queremos más. Queremos más libertad economica, soberenia, y igualdad. El sistema capitalista ha causada suficiente miseria. La burguesia no puede hablar por los pueblos, los pueblos venceremos este sistema de muerte. No me interesa debatir con el patronal o los que defienden los patrones. Así, estos comentarios nefastas no tienen lugar aquí. Abajo los patrones, arriba a los que luchan.

Little Pope said...

"I detest communism because it is the negation of liberty and I can conceive nothing human without liberty. I am no communist because communism concentrates and aims
at the absorption of all powers of society; the radical extirpation of that principle of authority and guardianship of the state which under the pretext of moralizing and civilizing men, has hitherto enslaved, oppressed, exploited and
depraved them"
(Bakunin)

!VIVA LATINOAMERICA LIBRE! !DOWN COMMUNISM!

Mike B) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike B) said...

The IMF is being squeezed out of Asia too. The decline of the IMF mirrors the decline of U.S. hegemony in the world. Since the "Monroe Doctrine" was fashioned, the U.S. ruling class has dominated or made sure that Latin America would remain a basket case, easy to control. But the "times, they are a chaningin'".

CB said...

troutsky,

Redistribution is not really what happened in the Soviet Union or China, it was simply a violent taking or confiscation. Once the population was subdued the attempt to control prices caused Soviet Union to collapse. The attempt to control prices not only caused the starvation of as many as 60 million people (Mao's version of Stalin's terror famines) but it continues to keep them impoverished.

Redistribution did occur in the United States, but it is not that redistribution that pulled us out of economic decline, it was the economic activity associated with war and the end of the protectionist policies that put us there in the first place. The redistribution prolonged an already bad situation.

Similarly in Europe, redistibution has occured and it has caused high unemployment and the stagnation of their economy. Not only that but they have stopped having children so that they have to have high levels of immigration to support their welfare state and the immigration has come primarily from Muslim countries which threatens their security and their very civilizations.

marie,

Latin America has never truly had capitalism nor democracy. You have placed the blame for the misery, as you put it, of the poor on a strawman of your own invention. There has been corruption and exploitation of the uneducated. There has never been the type of representative government or free exchange economy of which I speak en alguna lugar de America Latina, ya. Espero que alguien lucha por los derechos de la gente y por la libertad.

Marie Trigona said...

I think Bakunin would probably puke or punch the person in the face who used his writing to defend los patrones (or bosses) and current system of exploitation. I do agree with Bakunin in his wish to
emancipate himself from all forms of state authority. Do I think the working class will be able to emancipate itself through progressive or left-wing governments? , no! The working class must emancipate themselves, which means to expropriate means of production and capital from the capitalists. This can be done with no leaders and egalitarian. Do I want liberal democracy? No! I want communities to be able to self-manage themselves. Do I think critically of Chavez? Heck yeah I do! But we must respect the sovereignty of the people who chose him and encourage the people to continue to make change from below.

CB you should really brush up on your history. The colonialist regimes implemented limitless exploitation of natural raw resources which was feudalist capitalism. Then dictatorships throughout Latin America later used terror to implement no holds bar open markets, which is quintessential capitalism. During the dictatorships, capitalists did not have to pay embargoes or taxes. laissez-faire in its purest form. They also promoted western ideals and industrialization, but as workers were being tortured for demanding social rights.

Today, Latin America no longer needs dictators to implement a neoliberal order. But the US is still eager to put military bases throughout the region to stomp out any dissidents in Bolivia and Venezuela in particular. But it is not the leaders the US is particularly worried about, but what is below. The people.

"Democracy is a lie, it is oppression and is in reality, oligarchy; that is, government by the few to the advantage of a privileged class. But we can still fight it in the name of freedom and equality, unlike those who have replaced it or want to replace it with something worse. We are not democrats for, among other reasons, democracy sooner or later leads to war and dictatorship. Just as we are not supporters of dictatorships, among other things, because dictatorship arouses a desire for democracy, provokes a return to democracy, and thus tends to perpetuate a vicious circle in which human society oscillates between open and brutal tyranny and a the and lying freedom. So, we declare war on dictatorship and war on democracy. But what do we put in their place?" -- Errico Malatesta, Democracy and Anarchy, 1924

CB said...

marie,

What you have described as "history" is not capitalism nor democracy, which was my point. John Locke said that it is a law of nature for man to have life, liberty and be free to pursue the ownership of property. The role of the government, to the extent it legitimately exists, would be for the preservation and protection of those rights.

Property rights are inseperable from liberty. If I am a tenant of a land owner or the state, I am by definition not free. I must abide by the rules of the owner or suffer the consequences. When you cannot even pursue ownership, you are consigned to serfdom, as Hayek might put it.

Property rights and laws enforcing those rights have been absent throughout Central and South America and the Carribean. Corruption has replaced the rule of law and there can be no prosperity without it.

Churchill would agree with you that democracy (or a republic in the case of the U.S. and representative government in general) is the worst form of government ever devised, except all other forms of government.

Collectivists, especially those who advocate central government control of industry from the sidelines, have egalitarianism in mind. Equality of outcome is their mantra. There is just one little problem; it has been tried and it failed. The Soviet Union, Cuba, China, North Korea, etc., attest not only to the unworkability of that system but to its inherent evilness. Even where democracy exists and property rights do not, there is no liberty and poverty abounds. India is the world's largest democracy and one of the poorest countries in the world because property rights are limited.

Even Hu Jintao recognizes, that he can't fund his aims and objectives under communist domination. He and the overlords of that regime have a real dilemma. Having seen the great prosperity and abundance of Hong Kong, how can the elite consign the mainland to the desperate and miserable lives they live. The answer is that the People's Republic could give a damn about the people. But guess what they're doing. They are allowing limited private ownership and prices to control the distribution of resources (labor and capital).

Why is the demand for oil so high? Because China and India (who is easing restrictions on ownership and lowering the barriers to entry for industry) are growing and not at the expense of anyone. It is a slippery slope, particularly for China, as they found out when they tried to take back some ownership rights in the Guangdong province. It sparked a riot and the killing of civilians which brought about an unprecedented apology from the state.

I could go on and on, but there isn't enough space.

Graeme said...

One thing that CB doesn't mention is shared ownership. By that I mean decentralized democratic councils that control elements of the economy (and other factions of society that I won't go into). Of course, CB probably doesn't believe in society.

This is more of that stark individualism that is so pronounced in the US. They don't want actual democracy, because that includes democracy of the workplace-- which they feel infringes on their ownership "rights." They continue to spout slogans of freedom ad nauseam, but to them freedom means the ability to own the means of production. (their freedom allows capital and resources to move wherever, but not the labor element of the factors of production. They want to build fences to stop them.) Controling the ability to produce goods means having control over people. Which, in turn, is only freedom if you are the one doing the controlling. The real "road to serfdom" is allowing a small group of people OWN the means of production. Which will no doubt happen in that contradiction in terms called capitalist democracy.

We aren't faced with much of an alternative. Quit work and beg for employment from another Lord, or start your own business in hopes of becoming one of the lords. (Nevermind the fact that you might find that to be unethical.) That, is the improvement from feudalism to capitalism. The ability to destroy peoples' lives for profit now has some class mobility. Some. Not a whole lot, but some.

To quote Lennon (the Beatle of course, not the right-winger) "there's room at the top they're telling you still, but first you must learn how to smile as you kill."

CB said...

Graeme,

54% of American households own stock (the means of production). Many people have chosen the contracting route instead of the employee route because they feel as if they have more control over their destiny. The bottom line is, that they are not coerced. They can be an employee, contractor, play the lotto, sit at home and collect unemployment, they have choices.

Yes, I believe in society. I believe in the value of free association. Institutions like schools, churches, businesses and service organizations add to the cohesiveness and common concern for one another. At the heart of this is the family. The societal institutions that support the family are the most valuable to that society. Those that subvert the family, that would subjugate the family to the will of the state are harmful, dangerous and potentially evil.

The model is not perfect, but it benefits almost everyone and it is the most efficient in resource utilization. It is a model that defies the notion that economic is a zero sum game because the pie keeps getting bigger. It is a model that is least subject to tyranny.

Unfortunately for the people of Latin America, it is not a model that has ever been allowed to develop there.

Graeme said...

Of those 54% of people that own stock, the rich 10% own 86% of the value. The top 1% owns almost half of all stocks in the US.

Of course all that doesn't really matter because owning the means of production is not the same as owning stock in a company. Worker councils practice direct democracy.

Renegade Eye said...

CB: Would you rather fall and break your leg in Venezuela or in a country where every time an MD says hello, you get billed? In Nigeria they ask for $$ before you are admitted. Human needs and profit is contradictory.

Little Pope: You can do better than calling Marie names. Now that you quoted Bakunin to argue with Marie, I want my Trotsky quote.

Actually this is a good discussion.

CB said...

Ren,

When illegals with no health care coverage break their leg or are otherwise sick, they get the best medical care available in the world and are not billed (or if they are they don't have to pay).

folkrockgirl said...

Hey Renegade, where have you been? I moved my blog again ;)

Russet Shadows said...

I own my own productive capability and I shop it to whom I choose. Believe it or not, this is a rather common case in America -- especially among the technology-literate. If I own a computer, then I own the means of production for producing web sites, games, fiction, poetry, and so forth. The problem with many a Marxist is that they are stuck in the 1900s, where capital consisted of huge mills, plants, and factories.