Venezuela, Honduras, Peru, Ecuador: Media Lies and “Oversights” by Eric Toussaint

Dandelion Salad

by Eric Toussaint
www.globalresearch.ca, October 23, 2009
CADTM

It may be useful to assess the dangers of the systematically hostile attitude of the overwhelming majority of major European and North American media companies in relation to the current events taking place in Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela. This hostility is only matched by an embarrassed, complicit silence with regard to those involved in the putsch in Honduras or the repression enacted by the Peruvian army against the indigenous populations of the Amazon.

In order to demonstrate this statement, here are a few recent facts: Continue reading

Eradicate Capitalism and All Forms of Oppression by Eric Toussaint and Damien Millet

Dandelion Salad

Bookmark and Share

by Eric Toussaint and Damien Millet
Global Research, June 8, 2009

The partisans of capitalism, and among them, prominently, the EU leaders, have lost all credibility. For years now they have trampled on the rights of peoples while not wavering when it came to making decisions directly opposed to their advertised principles in order to bail out major banks.

European government parties could have acted differently and nationalised the banks, thus retrieving the cost of the bailout on the patrimony of major shareholders and CEOs. The public credit instrument that would have resulted could finance socially useful and environment-friendly projects while guaranteeing individual savings. The crisis has brought back onto the agenda proposals that had been swept aside during the long neoliberal night such as a radical reduction of working time (with creation of jobs and no loss of pay) or indexation of wages and social benefits on the cost of living. Europe needs new financial discipline: company ledgers have to be opened to external and internal auditing (through the trade unions among others), all financial products must be regulated, and it must be forbidden for companies to have assets in any tax haven. Major means of production, trade, finance, communication and other services must be transferred to the public sphere and taken away from capitalists’ control. Access to public goods must be systematically promoted.

Continue reading

Latin American integration — an alternative to capitalist crisis?

Dandelion Salad

Posted with permission from Green Left Weekly

by Eric Toussaint
translated by Federico Fuentes
Green Left
31 October 2008

The below article is based on a paper presented on October 8 by Eric Toussaint to the international Responses from the South to the World Economic Crisis seminar held in Caracas. It has been translated by Federico Fuentes and is abridged from socialist e-journal Links, Links. Toussaint is from the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt.

Other speakers on the panel included Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and planning minister Haiman El Troudi, as well as Ecuador’s minister for economic coordination, Pedro Paez, minister of economic coordination. The entire conference was broadcast live by Venezuelan state television.

The economic and financial crisis, whose epicentre is in the United States, has to be utilised by Latin American countries to build an integration favourable to the peoples and initiate a partial “de-linking” from the world capitalist market.

We need to learn the lessons of the 20th century in order to apply them.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, 12 countries in Latin America suspended for a prolonged time repayment of their foreign debt, principally to North American and Western European bankers. Some of them, such as Brazil and Mexico, imposed on their creditors a reduction of between 50% and 90% of their debt some 10 years later.

Mexico went the furthest with its economic and social reforms. During the government of Lazaro Cardenas, the petroleum industry was completely nationalised without any compensation for the North American monopolies.

Moreover, 16 million hectares of land were nationalised and in large part handed over to the indigenous population.

From the ’30s until the mid-’60s, various Latin American governments carried out very active public policies that aimed at a partially self-centred development, known later as the model of industrialisation via substitution of imports.

On the other hand, beginning in 1959, the Cuban Revolution attempted to give a socialist content to the “Bolivarian” project of Latin American integration (named after Simon Bolivar, who helped liberate South America from the Spanish and promoted South American unity).

This socialist content began to appear in Bolivia’s 1952 revolution.

Continue reading

The Proof Is in: Third-World Debt Is Erasable

Dandelion Salad

by Damien Millet and Éric Toussaint
Global Research, March 27, 2008
Le Monde

Since August 2007, North American and European banks have been experiencing a very severe crisis, now poised to spread to the entire neo-liberal free-market system as a whole. The actual sum of asset write-offs the banks have had to make now exceeds $200 billion (127.4 billion Euros). According to the most qualified experts, the bill will ultimately exceed a trillion dollars.

In the United States, 84 mortgage loan companies went bankrupt or ceased all activity between January 1 and August 17, 2007, versus only 17 for the whole year in 2006. In Germany, the IKB bank and the public SachsenLB were barely saved. England had to nationalize the bankrupt Northern Rock bank. Carlyle Capital Corporation fund, close to the Bush family, has just collapsed: its debts represented 32 times its capital. As for the prestigious American bank Bear Stearns, it has just called on assistance from the United States Federal Reserve Bank to obtain emergency financing; it will be purchased by JP Morgan Chase for a mere mouthful of bread.

So several segments of the debt market are in the process of collapsing and are dragging the powerful banks and hedge funds that created them along in their wake. The rescue of these private financial institutions is being realized thanks to massive intervention by government entities.

A question arises in consequence: why have the banks, which do not hesitate today to erase doubtful debts in the tens of billions of dollars, always refused to annul developing countries’ debt? They are demonstrating that it’s possible and altogether necessary. Let us remember that criminal dictatorships, corrupt regimes, and leaders faithful to the great powers obtained the debts the banks presently claim. The big banks lent sums without count to regimes as disreputable as those of Mobutu in Zaire, Suharto in Indonesia, the Latin American dictatorships of the 1970s-1980s, without forgetting the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

How can they continue to inflict the yoke of this debt on the peoples who suffered these dictatorial regimes the banks themselves financed? Legally speaking, numerous odious debts figure on their books and have not been repaid. But the banks continue to exact reimbursement. Let us also recall that the third-world debt crisis was provoked in 1982 by the Fed’s brutal and unilateral decision to increase interest rates.

Previously, private banks had loaned money at variable interest rates as if there were no tomorrow to already-over-indebted countries, ultimately unable to cope. History is repeating itself, but in the North this time and in a particular way: the over-indebted households of the United States have become unable to repay their variable-rate mortgages because the real estate bubble has burst. The debt write-offs that banks are effecting today vindicate those who demand cancellation of developing countries’ debt: that third-world public debt to international banks came to $181.9 billion in 2006, or a lesser sum than that which has been written off in a few months….

The big private banks have triply sinned: they’ve constructed the disastrous montages of private debt that led to the present catastrophe. They’ve lent money to dictatorships and forced the democratic governments that succeeded them to reimburse every last cent of that odious debt; they’ve refused to annul third-world debt, although its repayment involves deterioration in the living standards of the populations involved.

Consequently, we must demand that they account for themselves. The governments of the countries in the South must effect audits of their debt, as Ecuador is doing today, and repudiate all odious and illegitimate debts. The bankers are showing them that it’s possible. It would be a first step in returning finance to its appropriate role, that of a tool in the service of the human being. Of all human beings.

infos article
URL: http://www.cadtm.org

Article in french: http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8451

Damien Millet is the spokesperson for the Comité pour l’annulation de la dette du tiers-monde (CADTM France)[Committee for the Abolition of Third-World Debt].(http://www.cadtm.org/)

Eric Toussaint is the president of CADTM Belgium. (http://www.cadtm.org/) His last book: The World Bank: A Critical Primer (http://www.cadtm.org/)

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Damien Millet, Le Monde, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8454

China and India: Two Models? by Eric Toussaint

Dandelion Salad

by Eric Toussaint
Global Research, January 31, 2008

China, a capitalist country of the modern style

China is presented from the angle of its economic success, in terms of GDP growth and increased exports. GDP growth may well be impressive, but in fact, China has chosen a capitalist model of development, implying increased exploitation of Chinese workers, mass redundancies, privatisation of many public companies, radical reductions in State spending on education, health, social security, and unbridled productivism with total disregard for nature and public health. Over the last ten years, the percentage of wages in the GDP has fallen sharply, going from 53% in 1998 to 41% in 2005.1 It is true that China is a net creditor with regard to the United States but it has accumulated a colossal internal debt. Worse still, social inequalities are growing at a horrendous speed. Various studies show that while the living conditions of the poorest 10% of the population have seriously declined, the richest 10% have seen their income and wealth booming. The number of Chinese billionaires in dollars has shot up from 3 in 2004 to 106 in 2007.2

A severe economic slowdown in the United States may not make too much impact on the economic health of China, as it exports more to Europe than to North America. Nevertheless, it is not impossible that the contradictions of China’s domestic economy combined with an external shock such as a significant slowdown in the USA could lead to major problems. The rise of internal debt both at government level and in companies, the accumulation of unsafe debts in banking, the creation of speculative bubbles on the property market and the stock exchange are some of the factors that could lead to an economic crisis, sooner or later. Not to mention the powder-keg of glaring social inequalities. Quite apart from the risk of a crisis, it is the model adopted that deserves utmost criticism.3

India’s economic miracle – a myth

Another country presented as a success story is India. Economic growth exceeds 9%, the Mumbai (Bombay) stock exchange is booming, and Indian companies are investing in industrialized countries and developing countries alike. With few exceptions, the media fail to report on the changes in living conditions for the majority of Indian citizens. However, the Indian daily Hindustan Times on 14 October 2007 revealed that according to a study by a government institute, 77% of the population – in other words 836 million Indians – live on less than 20 rupees a day (less than 0.5 US dollars). These figures are very different from those of the World Bank, which only attest to about 300 million Indians living on less than one US dollar a day.4 India has a high number of working poor. India’s National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector reveals that 320 million workers live on less than 20 rupees a day.5 The same Hindustan Times article published the findings of a study on world famine carried out by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) according to which 40% of underweight children under the age of five live in India.

In the fight against famine, India lags behind other Asian countries such as Pakistan and China. In a ranking of 118 countries, Cuba and Libya figure among the first while China comes 47th, Pakistan 88th and India 94th. The report states that the situation has seriously deteriorated among India’s peasants. According to other sources, between 1996 and 2003 more than 100,000 small farmers committed suicide, most of them for reasons of over-indebtedness. This translates as one suicide every 45 minutes. According to the Indian newspaper DNA in its 17 September 2007 issue reporting on a government study, 46% of Indian children are underweight. In Mumbai, a city of 14 million inhabitants, where trading on the stock exchange reached unprecedented heights in 2007, 40% of children are underweight. According to DNA, in spite of 9 years of sustained economic growth, famine has declined by only 1% in India. Here we have a perfect example of the fallacy of the trickle-down effect, whereby the enrichment of the richest people is supposed to be automatically beneficial to the poor. According to Forbes, which publishes an annual report on the world’s richest people, in 2006 India became the Asian country with the highest number of billionaires (36 billionaires with a cumulative fortune of 191 billion US dollars, thus displacing Japan with its 24 billionaires together worth some 64 billion US dollars). Of the world’s richest people, Lakshmi Mittal ranks 5th..

According to data provided in October 2007 by the financial press, the Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani has now overtaken Lakshmi Mittal and may well be in a position to vie for first place (currently held by the Mexican Carlos Slim) or second place (currently held by Bill Gates) in the world’s wealthiest line-up. These figures are challenged by other sources: for example, Newsweek’s 12 November 2007 issue predicts that there will be 106 Chinese billionaires in 2007. In this case Chinese billionaires will outnumber Indian billionaires, ousting India from first place. But this is of little matter here. What is certain is that rapid growth in India and China is producing more and more rich people, and at the same time more and more poor people.

NOTES

1. Newsweek, 12 November 2007.

2. Ibid.

3. See Martin Hart-Landsberg – Paul Burkett, China : Entre el Socialismo real y el Capitalismo, Editorial CIM, Caracas, 2007.

4 It should be noted that to arrive at this figure the World Bank calculates in purchasing-power parity, which enables it to present the situation more positively.

5 Newsweek, 12 November 2007.

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Eric Toussaint, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7955