The Bank of the South is already a reality. Enthusiasts say it is another integrationist project under way in
Last week’s decision in
But what are the chances that the Bank of the South won’t be a repeat of the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank, or the World Bank? What guarantees are there that the regional Latin American multinationals will not take advantage of capital based on the pensions of the region’s peoples for their own ends?
Many people are concerned about these matters, not just in
We spoke about the Bank of the South with Plinio Soares de Arruda, an economist at the State University of Campinas in
Breaking imperialist domination
D.E. How has the debate gone in
Forming a bank to manage
But it is not a sufficient condition to break imperialism’s hold in the region. To interrupt the process of a return to neocolonialism that affects the region, promoting much deeper changes is fundamental, such as nationalization of the economy, renouncing spurious international agreements that hobble the liberty of our national states, land reform, urban renewal and so on. Without such measures, on the best hypothesis, the Bank of the South will turn into an institution for funding the so-called “national champions” – big companies that operate like multinationals, with great operational autonomy but with practically no national responsibility.
Brazil’s real concern
D.E. El ClarÃn reported on April 17th on the eve of the presidential summit on the island of Margarita, “Marco Aurelio Garcia, Brazilian President Lula da Silva’s adviser on international affairs yesterday squashed any hope of a supposed disposition by that country to participate as a founding member in the Bank of the South, an initiative proposed by Argentina and Venezuela.” He commented “We are not going to go along with the project, we are not going to eat from a plate prepared by someone else”. What is hiding behind this strong rejection of the Bank of the South project and what has been Lula’s position?
P.S.dA. Lula hasn’t the least problem with “eating from a plate made for someone else”. He has eaten from the hand of the IMF and the international banks since before taking office, in September 2002, when he underwrote the so called “Letter to Brazilians” in which he committed himself to following the neoliberal menu. The Brazilian government is more worried about sustaining its “credibility” with the international and national financial community than with trying more or less heterodox exits from the neoliberal dead-end. For that reason Lula is very resistant to getting close to the Bolivarian revolution and seriously mistrusts Evo Morales and Rafael Correa.
D.E. In what sense could the Bank of the South really be an alternative to the IMF, the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank in the grass-roots sense of integration and social development for the peoples who might be members of that bank? Or will it be, as some have put it, simply a lending institution for infrastructure works?
P.S.dA. The Bank of the South would be an alternative to the international bodies if its resources were used to finance a style of development where “the North is the South”, or in other words, to fund a model incorporating technical progress that categorically prioritizes the overall needs of Latin America’s people – land, employment, housing and national sovereignty. Otherwise, the bank will only be a tool for the region’s big economic groups to drive their international competitiveness. In other words, for the Bank of the South to serve the Latin American peoples, its formation ought to be part of a more general process of breaking away from imperialism. I don’t see the least possibility of a change on that scale without superseding capitalism. Thus, the Bank of the South ought to be a bank to finance a socialist economy.
Political power in the bank for the weaker economies.
D.E. How can it be a bank with equal participation for the member countries based on a proportional representation for the respective economies, as Guido Mantega the Brazilian Treasury minister has put it, so that all the countries can be “on an equal footing”.
P.S.dA. The integration of the peoples of
D.E. According to the Venezuelan ABN news agency, Mantega has also suggested to the government in
P.S.dA. The Brazilian government has no intention of breaking with the global order. Mantega’s concern is to subordinate the Bank of the South to the dominating logic of the North, since Mercosur is a commercial agreement serving the interests of some multinationals and fits perfectly into the framework of neoliberal globalization. A bank that might break ranks with that order does not figure in the plans of Lula’s government.
D.E. What path has
P.S.dA. Economic links between
The two objectives are complicated. The first one only reinforces an outmoded energy model. The second one, if it were implemented in accordance with the ultra-liberal rules of Mercosur, would compromise
Mercosur and the other South American countries are important commercial partners for
Lula’s double agenda
D.E. Is Lula playing with two agendas? One with Chavez and another with Bush? How important might an eventual agreement on ethanol between the
P.S.dA. Really, Lula only has one agenda : to win the confidence of imperialism as its most favoured partner in
Ethanol marries agri-business with the auto industry – the new great landowners with old international capital – giving a further push to the pattern of peripheral neoliberal accumulation that condemns Brazil to deepen the process of return to neocolonialism that has been on course now for more than thirty years.
Translation copyleft by tortilla con sal