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What Really Happened at Mar del Plata

by JOAQUIN BUSTELO

What an absolute load of manure the WSJ puts out. Straight from the sewers of Foggy Bottom.

The funny thing is that for all their millions of column inches, the pig press can’t bring itself to report the truth, which is that it was Vincente Fox that started this food fight.

The Mar del Plata summit of the Americas wasn’t called to discuss that rotting corpse, the imperialist Free Trade Area of the Americas, but to talk about job creation and sustainable development. Fox, acting his part of the imperialist cub (the translation of “cachorro” as “puppy” and now “lapdog” is an absurdity, because the obvious play was on Fox’s name), promised his master he’d get the summit to get the FTAA talks restarted but he could not deliver, not even with the help of Uribe and Lagos. So instead the three imperialist stooges disrupted the summit to such a degree that the Saturday afternoon banquet and various press availabilities were cancelled, and the final communique did not come out until hours after the presidents had left town.

Lula was one of the first to leave, at mid-day Saturday, and rightly so. Fox wanted the presidents to negotiate the language of the communiqué word for word. I don’t know WHAT he imagined. That Lula is such an ignorant peasant he wouldn’t notice when Fox snuck the ALCA into it?

Fox also went around leaking to the press that they would do the FTAA without the countries that were opposing it. What a joke! The Free Trade Area of the Incredible Shrinking Americas. Moreover, it is the kind of threat that is likely to piss off a serious person like Lula royally, because it is so empty and stupid, the kind of thing only Americans (United Statesians) would swallow.

Lula’s walkout (which I suspect he coordinated with Kirchner, as the latter could hardly walkout given that he was the host) made the imperialist charade collapse. ` Fox was furious! He took on the plane with him back to Mexico Carmen Aristegui, a Mexican journalist of some note who now does a nightly gabfest for CNN en Español. And Fox pissed and moaned to the imperialist Corporate News Network how Kirchner was being a demagogue and playing to the bleachers and so on, and had a few nasty things to say about Chávez, too.

Kirchner responded with great dignity. And Chávez did too, except, of course, that Chávez being who he is added a dose of humor, saying this guy was no fox, this guy was an imperial cub.

Our Faux Fox was outraged! The honor of the entire noble race of traveling salesmen of imperialist sugar water was on the line. He *required* an explanation. When the Venezuelan response came back –privately–, but you don’t have to be a psychic to know it was to the effect of “just what part of ‘imperialist clown’ didn’t you understand?” our imperial cub threw up a hairball.

Immediately he went on CNN, both in English and Spanish, to demand –demand!!!– a retraction, and gave Hugo Chavez an ultimatum: by this very night, at midnight, or else, or else … what? He’d bomb Caracas? Invade the oil fields? Torpedo the supertankers? No, he’d expel the Venezuelan ambassador.

The fact that he didn’t even have the dignity to announce this through Mexico’s own media, but instead went on the American CNN to make his “threat” only made it more pathetic.

You can imagine how Chavez reacted. They probably had to give him a tranquilizer to stop the uncontrollable laughing fit.

Now, entertaining as this schoolboy bravura may have been to watch on live TV, you have to remember Fox isn’t just CNN’s answer to American Idol and the Fear Factor.

There are real and very serious issues is for countries like Brazil and Argentina. And they should be also for Mexico, and I predict WILL be once this imperialist stooge leaves office. And that is that the United States REFUSES to put its monstrous agricultural subsidies on the table in regional or hemispheric trade talks. The imperialist countries between them spend 350 billion dollars a year on these subsidies and then DUMP the huge surpluses of agricultural products on the world market at prices that bear no relation to the real costs of production and are starving to death millions of farmers in the Third World.

Moreover, this attack on the agricultural sector of Third World Countries is completely unbounded. The only limit to these subsidies is the capacity of imperialist central banks to print money. This imperialist trade weapon made it impossible for Cuba to continue as a major sugar producer. In fact, it has ruined the cane sugar industry throughout the Caribbean. It has destroyed a lot of subsistence farming in Mexico. It has ruined cotton producers from Nicaragua to the Nile. It is shameless and ruthless, an act of economic warfare that should be responded to IN KIND.

The U.S. imperialists very hypocritically say they, too, want an end to the subsidies. That they’re going to sweet-talk their imperialist brethren in Europe and Japan into giving them up. That they are economically irrational, don’t you see, and economic rationality –free trade– will win out in the end. These are lies, all lies.

The agricultural subsidies ARE rational because the imperialists make their money on the super-exploitation of the Third World and this requires that these countries be constantly attacked economically. This isn’t “a mistake” an unfortunate and unforeseen byproduct of France’s drive to preserve its rich heritage of rural idiocy. Nobody is that stupid, not even the French.

It is the same thing as the IMF. A lot of people write about the IMF as if the neoliberal imperialist program it imposes on semicolonial countries were a “mistake,” you know, “Golly gee, why don’t they realize that by firing half the workers they’ll drive the country into a depression,” the kind of things “progressive” NGO’s and columnists and think tanks say to try to convince the Third World that this economic war against colonial and semicolonial peoples is some sort of *accident,* an Act of God, it “just happened.”

What’s happening in Latin America is that after fifteen years of galloping neoliberalism, the results are in. IMF policies and Washington trade deals are not “ineffective” in curing the economic ills of Latin America, they are its CAUSE. And you even have some national bourgeois sectors, represented by people like Lula and Kirchner, who are starting to resist. Not to mention the *masses* whose most conscious elements rightly look to, as the Mar del Plata counter summit and demonstration showed, to Hugo Chávez and Fidel.

The age of sugar water sellers masquerading as faux foxes is coming to an end. The Hong Kong session of the Doha round may be for WTO trade negotiations what the Miami ministerial two years ago was for the FTAA, its death knell. A coalition of Third World countries in which Brazil plays a leading role has drawn a line in the sand: an imperialist commitment to carry out a 50% cut in the subsidies when an agreement resulting from these negotiations goes into effect, and a commitment to the complete elimination of subsidies in a reasonable period of years, are the indispensable conditions necessary to BEGIN serious trade talks.

Until the Third World countries hear that, not only is there no deal, there are no negotiations. That’s what the melee in Mar del Plata was about. Fox was scabbing on the Third World’s efforts to deal with this imperialist economic aggression, the subsidies, by getting pre-agreement to restart FTAA talks –no matter how meaningless– in April, after Hong Kong but no matter what happens there. And Lula’s message is: these are our conditions for sitting down at the bargaining table. And he didn’t give, not one millimeter. I guess he hasn’t forgotten everything he learned as a union leader.

Joaquín Bustelo may be reached at: jbustelo@bellsouth.net

 

 

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