Alternativa Latinoamericana
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Alberta, Noviembre/November 2009
ALTERNATIVA Latinoamericana
hugged and kissed him, listen to him
and treated him with affection to
effect a change in his aggressive
behaviour. Love works with him. I
treated him as a child, lovingly and I
called him by his name." Such an
experience, she said, is powerful and
points to how important is to consider
quality of care in dealing with these
children: "It is surprising that we want
to hide the social drama behind
these children, using a disease
diagnosis and treating them with
The disease affecting these
children -condemned to premature
death but not before becoming
familiar with police, courts, jail and
finally arriving to the `cemeteries' that
surround our cities, is called
POVERTY. Nobody proposes yet
appropriate treatment for this
pathology. A good exercise would be
to seriously consider the words of
Almeida Garret: "calculate the
number of people who need to be
condemned to misery, unfair work,
demoralization, neglected infancy,
ignorance, produce a
rich person."
Something is diseased: the
society we live in ­contaminated by
speculation, money-based success
and complete absence of solidarity
and humane values. Only a sick
society spends fortunes in war
machinery, which shames us all, and,
in the process of making tanks and
airplanes makes a bunch of
scoundres rich with bribes -the same
scoundrels who cannot stop talking
about "honour" and "military
Surplus Children
Neoliberalism has designed a
society where things have a price but
no value and where people are
disposable. Particularly disposable if
they happen to have been born poor
and where the "market" is expected
to resolve all the challenges (and
always in favour of the winners of all
El Cisarro, el Garra, el Potito
Rico, el Coca Cola Chico, el Juanito
Pistolas, el Gorila, el Ceja, el Loquin,
and other thousands of children of
whom we are still unaware but who
are already here, will continue in the
path designed for them by a society
that breeds them outside of its city
limits, hidden from the sight of
visitors. A society that feeds them
only from what "they can steal as
soon as they no longer crawl". A
society that guarantees them a
franchised cell, a step before their
These children are the surplus
of the system. Theses children have
been born during the times of the
most successful Political Coalition of
Chilean history (Concertacion) -
according to those who measure
mainly income, business and
fortunes. Certainly nobody has ever
asked these children how they see
the future. As things go, these
unwanted grandchildren of Aylwin,
Frei, Lagos and Bachelet, must have
a perspective very different from the
perspective of who have directed the
building of this country -designed in
its beginnings for golpistas (coup
givers), criminals and thieves, thirty
six years ago on a cloudy Tuesday.
Ricardo Candia Cares
(Translated by NF)
El Cisarro,
his friends
and the State.
With virtually no fanfare or
media analysis, one of the most
transformative agreements ever
signed by Canada and the U.S.
(and Mexico) is officially dead. The
Security and Prosperity Partnership
of North America (SPP), the formal
expression of a corporate lobbying
campaign called deep integration, is
no more. Its official U.S. government
website declared last month: "The
Security and Prosperity Partnership
of North America (SPP) is no longer
an active initiative... There will not
be any updates to this site." (It's
been edited since to be a little less
We should celebrate. It seems
the economic crisis had a silver
The SPP met a fate similar to
the ill-fated MAI back in 1998: death
by secrecy and hubris. Terrified of
another public battle a la "free
trade" its proponents knew they
would lose, the Masters of the
Universe chose not only secrecy but
an exclusively executive agreement
in overt partnership with a super
elite, corporate committee of 30
CEOs from the three countries,
called the North American
Competitiveness Council (NACC).
Almost as important as the
SPP's demise, the NACC has been
left cooling its heels. It was not even
invited to the August trilateral
summit in Guadalajara, where the
SSP would normally have been
discussed. According to David
Ganong, a Canadian member of the
NACC, "Whether the [North
American Competitiveness Council]
will be allowed to meet with the
national leaders in 2010 remains
That's an incredible humbling
for a group that is used to dictating
policy to politicians.
SPP proponents virtually never
talked about it, leaving the field
open to relentless critics to the point
that even capitalist advice columnist
John Ibbitson at the Globe and Mail
got disgusted with the lack of
transparency, declaring, "If you're
going to negotiate freer trade sing it
from the rooftops. Keep the media
informed. Make it a Big Deal."
Return of the dead?
Some on the left are so
accustomed to losing that they
make the claim the SPP will just re-
emerge with another name. While
some of the nastier initiatives are
still in place, like energy
"integration" and common
regulations, a zip-locked North
America is off the agenda. Now we
have a weak version called the PPA
-- the Pathways to Prosperity in the
Launched by Bush last
December and being expanded by
Obama, the PPA is a neoliberal
fantasy about revising the FTAA,
the Free Trade Area of the
Americas. Sorry, guys, it's never
going to happen because the U.S.
has already lost the largest
economies in South America to
another agenda.
The PPA is a stalking horse for
a weakened U.S. empire trying to
reassert itself in its own backyard.
Canada Must Forge Its Own Economic Fate
The SPP is dead. Good.
That helps reduce dependence
on a downbound US
The new version of the Canadian
government carrying the bully's coat
is renewed Canadian "interest" in
Latin America -- the empire's junior
partner helping out in the hope that
Uncle Sam will throw it a bone.
The SPP was the ultimate
expression of Bay Street's hare-
brained determination to put all of
Canada's economic eggs in one
basket -- or in this instance, basket
case: the U.S. economy. Barack
Obama's administration has
apparently figured out that
globalization is critically wounded if
not dead and wants to retrench into
the safety of protectionism and its
old sphere of influence.
How trade
liberalization crippled
Canada's economy
The demise of the SPP should
provide Canada with an opportunity
to have a serious debate about our
economic future. One of the
consequences of "free trade" and
the pursuit of the SPP was that
Canadian governments effectively
abandoned the domestic economy
as a driver and reduced all
economic development policy to a
single objective: increased trade with
the U.S.
No one imagined that the whole
world trading system could suffer
such a catastrophic decline. But it
did, and now the once-robust, high-
wage Canadian domestic economy
isn't there to cushion the blow.
In the period immediately
following the signing of the 1989
Free Trade Agreement with the U.S.,
federal governments of both stripes
began an intensive program of
structural adjustment. The program
was sold as the creation of a level
playing field with the U.S. so that
Canadian companies could
compete. But we savaged the
domestic economy for nothing.
Industry Canada reported that 92
per cent of the increase in trade with
the U.S. was due to our low currency
and the U.S. economic boom.
Waged and salaried employees
got hammered in this nasty race to
the bottom. One of the results was
the shrinking of the middle class and
the total stagnation of disposable
income. This was largely the result
of the policy of "labour flexibility" -- a
euphemism for driving down both the
cost and the bargaining power of
Liberal finance minister Paul
Martin slashed unemployment
insurance benefits, and he repealed
the Canada Assistance Plan, freeing
the provinces to gut their welfare
programs. His radical low inflation
policy deliberately kept
unemployment at high levels (8-9
per cent) for most of the 1990s --
essentially creating a recession to
emasculate labour. This crude
strategy for driving down wages was
so successful that Canada ended
up with the second highest
percentage of low wage jobs (after
the U.S.) in the OECD.
This was an unprecedented
assault on Canadian living
standards and workers' safety nets.
The middle class lost enormous
ground in terms of real income, and
lower income Canadians fared even
worse. Between 1980 and 2005, the
increase in yearly median income, in
real (inflation-adjusted) dollars,
amounted to a paltry $51. The
amount of wealth and income lost
was counted in the scores of billions
of dollars; government tax revenue
also took a huge hit.
The middle class did what you
would expect: they went into more
and more debt to maintain their
lifestyle. The savings rate
plummeted to near zero. And now
that the economy desperately needs
a strong domestic sector to counter
the collapse of trade, we have a
terminally indebted population, living
from paycheck to paycheck, afraid to
spend the money they do have
because the safety net is shredded
and there are precious few new jobs
to replace those lost forever.
But the Canadian corporate
elite, led for 30 years by Tom
d'Aquino's Canadian Council of
Corporate Executives (CCCE), has
learned absolutely nothing. It is
holding on for dear life to the
"promise" of the SPP, says
d'Acquino, whether "it's called SPP
or it's given a new name, which I
predict will be the case." Bay Street
is still committed to the path of least
resistance -- i.e. least risk -- and
yearns for "open access" to the U.S.
But the U.S. economy will never
recover from its current economic
catastrophe. It has a gargantuan
public debt and a huge balance of
payments deficit. Consumer debt is
equally enormous. The trillions
pumped into the economy will
eventually destroy the dollar even if
it doesn't lead to hyper-inflation. The
U.S. recklessly de-industrialized,
assuming that globalization would
continue for ever, and lost millions of
its best paying jobs. They will never
come back. The U.S. dollar is
doomed as a global currency. And
it's headed for another bubble as
Wall Street spends millions lobbying
to stop financial re-regulation.
Fully 50 per cent of the
economic growth in the world since
2007 has taken place in the so-
called BRIC countries (Brazil,
Russia, India and China). Yet Bay
Street is still blindly tying their future,
and our own, almost exclusively to a
fragile and sick U.S. economy. But
we need and deserve something
better. Bay Street has been dictating
economic policy to Ottawa for 25
years. They had their chance and
failed. Now it's Main Street's turn.
Murray Dobbin
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