Hugo Chavez FTAA George Bush What Went On In Argentina??
The summit in Mar Del Plata, Argentina on the weekend of November 4, 2005 did not go
as George Bush hoped it would. Thousands marched and protested the “free trade”
baloney that is the FTAA, after similar neoliberal rape-o-lations turned Argentina into
a desperate debtor nation, its Pampas burned off by glyphosphate from China.
Free Trade Area of the Americas [FTAA], George Bush, Hugo Chavez, Argentina
What happened down in Argentina with George Bush, the
Argentinian government, and the FTAA [Free Trade Area
of the Americas] a few weekends ago, you might NOT be
wondering enough about today. What is with Hugo Chavez,
jumping up and down at that rally in opposition to the FTAA,
and free trade in general? And then, he and the Venezuelan
owned Citgo oil company handing poor AMERICANS discounts and rebates
on home heating oil? Did you see that on your evening news
this week, especially ABC-TV***? The Massachusetts official
speaking out in favor of this juke at our irresponsible government
not increasing the domestic funding for poor people and their
home heating bills. Hugo Chavez supporting poor people
in his supposed enemy-country of the USA? Opposing
so-called “free trade” and agreements like the FTAA,
because they affect the sovereignty of ALL nations. Latin
American, Central American, North American, even the
sovereignty of the USA!!
Not going along with the rule-to-be if the FTAA is approved that
says henceforth, your country cannot give preferential lower
gas and oil prices to its own people!! Did you know about that?
So, Chavez, in his array of recent gestures, offered low priced
oil to his neighboring countries, as reported on that same ABC-TV-News
report of November 22, 2005.
Yet our corporate-polluted media makes Chavez out to be an evil demon, flashing
images of him and Fidel Castro animatedly communicating
at a dinner table; Chavez leading anti-Bush/America marches; jumping
up and down happily at that FTAA-opposition meeting in Mar Del Plata,
Argentina. Right-wingers saying he is an avowed Marxist; that those
protestors opposing the FTAA were just troublemakers and terrorists. . . .
However, one of those protestors was Nobel Prize winner Alfonso
Perez Esquivel, who led one of the marches in Mar Del Plata.
Another was Argentinian soccer star Diego Maradona.
As many of you know, “free trade” is not really that. It is more
“corporate managed trade” with plenty of rules and restrictions
to benefit mainly big corporations.
Yes, it would be nice if it was just to remove those tariffs levied
on goods, that would then make those goods cheaper for both
the producer and the consumer.
However, as our USA Trade Representative has stated:
“Liberalization of trade in GOODS is best able to promote development
when it is coupled with an open SERVICES market.” [my capitals]
[from page 10 of Pillars of Power, by Nadia Martinez]
70% of the USA economy is made up of services. About 60% of the rest
of the worldís economy is made up of services. As of 2003, only 20% of
these services were being globally traded.
One of the four biggies when it comes to services, planet-wide,
is ENERGY. Estimates put the value of this golden cow at 2 TRILLION
dollars per year. The total annual USA budget currently is about 2.5 TRILLION.
[The other three biggies are water, at ONE TRILLION dollars; health
care services at 3.5 TRILLION dollars; and education at 2 TRILLION.]
Here is how the USA has proposed to define energy services:
“. . . those services involved in exploration, development, extraction,
production, generation, transportation, transmission, distribution,
marketing, consumption, management, and efficiency of energy,
energy products and fuels.”
According to Nadia Martinez in her paper entitled “Pillars of Power – –
How The FREE TRADE Agenda Promotes DIRTY ENERGY:”
“Through this broad classification of energy services, countries like the U.S.
are seeking the removal of trade barriers involving just about every segment
of the energy industry: oil and gas exploration and production; construction
of energy facilities; electricity and gas networks; energy transportation and
storage; and, energy supply, including trading and brokering of gas and
electricity.” [from page 10, Pillars of Power]
Think Enron and what happened in the USA and California specifically, when
you read those last words in the above quote. If you saw the Enron movie, about
those corporate leaders like Ken Lay and Jeff Skelling being the smartest guys in
the room, you can never forget how you heard and saw the Enron traders
actually calling power plants, getting them to slow or stop energy generation
for certain periods, so electricity prices could be traded at exorbitant rates,
eventually leading to a vast budget deficit, and another Hollywood empty head
Republican named Arnold Schwarzenegger becoming
governor of California. For corporate trade and profit. It was known, and shown,
that Arnold met with Enron officials before he became governor, probably to lay the
groundwork for him entering politics backed by their money.
But do not believe that our USA Enron debacle that wrecked so many
pension funds, and sucked a hole out of our own economy, was the only
example of corporate managed trade labelled as “free trade” injuring a national
economy, and specifically its energy sector. Back in 1998 the World Bank loaned
the Dominican Republic – – that occupies
the eastern half of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean, sharing it with Haiti – – 20
million dollars to privatize their power sector. This led to Enron and another
private company initialed AES to purchase “stakes in the generation and distribution
capacity of the Corporacion Dominicana de Electricidad [CDE], the countryís
previously state-owned power company. After the CDE was privatized, and the
private companies took over, electricity rates nearly doubled, forcing the government
to absorb most of the rate increases in order to avoid leaving poor consumers without
power. In just a few years, the government had amassed a strangling debt of US$ 217
million, over half of which was owed to private companies. When the government was
unable to pay, the new owners shut down the power, causing long blackouts that
sparked frustration from the public. As the situation continued without resolve,
widespread discontent triggered public protests, which at times were violently
countered by police.
. . . Opponents of the FTAA and GATS [General Agreement on Trade in Services – –
a “side agreement” of the international GATT agreement [which stands for General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade] which begat the WTO, the World Trade Organization]]
fear that once these types of policies are codified through free trade agreements,
situations like that in the Dominican Republic will become the norm instead of the
exception throughout Latin America.” Ms. Martinez explains on page 20 of Pillars of Power.
Not to belabor the Enron factor in all this, Enron was at it again in another Latin American
country, the landlocked Bolivia. When that country opened the gas sector to privatization,
Enron stomped in and “took over the entire gas network. . .Together with Shell, Enron
built a series of gas pipelines – – despite strong opposition from the communities in the
pipelinesí path – – to export Bolivian gas to Brazil. After the companyís [Enronís]
infamous demise, Enron continued to receive public financing for its operations,
scoring a $132 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank [IDB], less than
a year after its implosion.” [from pages 20-21 of Pillars of Power]
Ms. Martinez tells us that “liberalizing the energy sector involves considerable cost
for the host government, by having to borrow to develop its resources, or by
guaranteeing private sector loans, thus contributing to the increasing debt of most
developing countries. . . Additionally, lending institutions like the International Monetary
Fund [IMF] and the World Bank actually contribute to inefficiency problems by forcing
restrictions in public expenditures as conditions for loans and as part of their “structural
adjustment” programs for developing countries. Governments strapped for cash had to
choose among the many necessary public-spending programs, which in some countries
contributed to the subsequent neglect in modernizing and adequately maintaining public
utilities or power companies.” [from page 21 of Pillars of Power]
This liberalizing, or some label the politics of it “neoliberalization,” is happening all
over the world, and especially in Latin America – – where the World Bank estimated
in 1996, 13% of the worldís proven oil reserves exist. That was number two only behind
the Middle East, holding 66% of the worldís oil proven reserves.
As far as the USA goes, “the oil exporting countries of Latin America, cumulatively, now provide
the U.S. with more oil than any other part of the world. Four Latin American countries – –
Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador – – provide over one third of the oil the
U.S. imports. If Canada were added to the mix, North and South America would make up close
to half of U.S. imports. Maintaining and expanding that resource base is becoming increasingly
important to the U.S., and ensuring ready access to those resources by U.S. corporations is a
priority for them.” [from page 5 of Pillars of Power]
But what has happened to countries like Mexico is what makes those who are aware
of the dangers of “free trade” afraid of more such mega-agreements that the USA
is attempting to coerce upon this half of the world. NAFTA – the North American
Free Trade Agreement – involving Mexico, the USA, and Canada – caused 1.5 million Mexican
campesinos to have to leave their farms. That is why you see them in your town, trying to survive
elsewhere. When NAFTA government procurement rules forced Mexico to open up its energy
sector, the “biggest oil services companies in the world, particularly Halliburton and
Schlumberger, have rushed in, often with World Bank, IDB, or U.S. governmental support.
[Does that sound like “free trade?”]
Recent analyses of the impacts of NAFTA on the energy industry in Mexico show an alarming
increase in environmental degradation, depletion of natural resources, and decrease in economic
growth in the country.” [from page 10 of Pillars of Power]
The FTAA, Nadia Martinez notes, could lead to “Energy services . . [being] completely
controlled by foreign corporations.”
CAFTA – the Central American Free Trade Agreement – has countries like Costa Rica
worried about their electricity and telephone communications. Just in case you
did not know, this is one of the major reasons that Costa Rica has NOT as yet
signed onto CAFTA – – which the USA did, by just a 2 vote margin in the
House of Representatives a few months ago.
Ex-President Oscar Arias acknowledges that it will take about a year for Costa Rica to
decide on this, via their Presidential elections in 2006. CAFTA will be one of the major
issues that voters will use to choose to their next leader. Arias chimes in, at this
time, on the side of signing onto CAFTA, as he reportedly will run for President again.
A major example to perk Costa Ricansí fear of NAFTA, CAFTA, and the FTAA
is the Harken oil case. These trade agreements all have in common the
right of a private investor, such as a major corporation, to directly sue a country
for money it COULD HAVE MADE. With other trade agreements that are less
extreme, like GATT, a COUNTRY has to sue a country. Concern about environmental
impact to coastal park waters and turtles re Harkenís oil drilling and exploration
proposal led Costa Rica to reject Harkenís proposal. Harken then sued Costa Rica
for $57 billion dollars.
Know this: Costa Ricaís Gross Domestic Product [GDP] for 2003 totalled
only $35 billion.**** In other words, some oil companies and corporations are more
wealthy than entire Latin American countries. If CAFTA is passed, cases like the
Harken case would then threaten Costa Ricaís ability to control its own land
and water. Similarly, the FTAA threatens all the possible signatory nations from
Canada down to Argentina and Chile.
So, do not numb-brainedly indulge in oblivious denial when you see the
tub-thumped one-sidedly on your television against opponents of the FTAA, George
Bush, and the rapacious corporations methodically infiltrating more and more
sovereign nations, waving the deceiving banner of “free trade.”
“Weíve had enough of neo-liberalism and the damage it has inflicted on our societies,”
said Juan Montenegro, who came from Buenos Aires to take part [in the protests in
Mar Del Plata]. “Bush is trying to destroy Iraq with bombs and guns and Latin
America with an economic program that will rob us of our sovereignty.” *****
***ABC-TV Evening News, November 22, 2005
**** “CAFTA By The Numbers,” www.citizen.org
***** “Thousands Protest Against Bush at Summit in Argentina,” Nov. 4, 2005, New
For the “Pillars of Power” 25 page article you can go to www.seen.org
Brewster Kneen recently went to southern South America, visiting
Argentina, while also plugging his new book about food industry
giant Cargill, entitled “Invisible Giant.”
Here are a few paragraphs describing what has happened
in Argentina, one of the big four planters of genetically altered crops.
Recall that glyphosphate is the chemical name for Round-Up, the
“We headed by car 300 kilometers north up the Parana River to Rosario,
the third largest city in Argentina [population 1.3 million], a hub of
agroindustrial activity and a deep-water port. After emerging from
the sprawling city, we traveled the flat land of the Pampas looking at
hectare after hectare of brown stubble – – including most of the road
verges – – on a warm spring day when everything else was turning
green. The fields had all been “burned off” with glyphosphate
herbicide in preparation for the planting of transgenic soy [soja].
Much of the glyphosphate comes from China at a much lower
cost than Monsantoís Round-Up (the patent has expired, enabling
the generics to come in.).
Traditional agriculture on the Pampas was a sustainable alteration
of five years in pasture for beef and some sheep and five years of
cropping (which they refer to as “agriculture”) without fertilizers
or pesticides. Now the vast plains of central and northern
Argentina, all the way up through Paraguay, are dedicated to a
perpetual monoculture of transgenic herbicide-tolerant soy,
pesticides, and imported (by Cargill) fertilizers. (The people
who get “fumigated,” as they say, by the aerial spraying are not
as “tolerant” of glyphosphate as the transgenic soy.)”
Add that these “glyphosphate-tolerant” plants absorb the herbicide, though
they are not killed by it. So when you eat this toxic crap, you are
getting the glyphosphate that crosses the placental barrier, to possibly damage
your fetus, besides the other undiscovered toxic affects, including
possibly cancer-causing affects.
Mr. Kneen goes on to say “Argentinians, who used to be among the best fed
people anywhere, are now being, quite literally, forced to consume soy in
place of milk, meat, vegetables and pulses such as lentils, which were once
produced in abundance on the small farms that have been overrun by large
landowners growing soy. Lentils are now imported from Canada, of all
absurdities. One does not even want to wonder how many of the ubiquitous
garbage pickers on the streets of Buenos Aires were once small farmers.
Argentina is the worldís third largest producer of soybeans, accounting for
almost one fifth of world production.
It is the worldís largest exporter of
soybeans and oil products, amounting to 26% of Argentinaís exports in
2005. Soy exports are regarded as the primary means of paying the
national debt to the World Bank, IMF and others.”
— from the Ramís Horn, Number 233, October 2005