Crisis spreads to the ‘Switzerland of America’!

FRFI 169 October / November 2002

The dramatic run on the banks in Uruguay in August has put the country in nearly the same position as neighbouring Argentina.

From January to June, $5.7 billion fled Uruguay, 45% of bank deposits, much of which was Argentinean money. Central bank reserves fell $700m in the same period. In this ‘Switzerland of America’, half the 3.4 million population live in poverty and GDP has fallen since 1997 from 300m pesos to 270m in 2001. On 15 July, popular protests organised by trades unions against the privatisation of the state telephone company resulted in the death of two workers and the declaration of a state of
emergency.

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The challenge to US imperialism

FRFI 170 December 2002 / January 2003

US imperialism faces a major crisis: it cannot accumulate the profits necessary to maintain its current position in the world. These are not simply the profits generated in the USA but the total profits generated by its exploitation of workers throughout the world. In addition, European investment throughout America in recent years has pushed the USA onto the defensive; it cannot lose opportunities for its own capital. Within Latin America there is the challenge from popular movements which has resulted in the election of Presidents Chavez in Venezuela, Gutierrez in Ecuador and Lula in Brazil. ALVARO MICHAELS reports.

US strategy to resolve this problem is straightforward. It has to re-establish its imperialist monopoly within Latin America, crush the popular movements and massively intensify the rate of exploitation. How will it achieve this? Through the 34-nation Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the extension of the North American Free Trade Area. The FTAA removes all economic power from any state (except, of course, the USA): all state services have to be privatised, there has to be complete freedom of movement for capital to allow investment without restriction, state subsidies have to be ended and taxation on movements of all commodities abolished. In these circumstances the most productive and largest capitals will win, and they will be US multinationals. Through the FTAA the US hopes to restore its domination, exclude competing imperialist powers and further manipulate the continent in its interests alone.

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Latin America rises up against neo-liberalism

FRFI 170 December 2002 / January 2003

The RCG joined over 1,000 delegates from 41 countries attending the Second Hemispheric Conference of the Struggle Against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in Havana, Cuba, from 25-28 November. Representatives from social and political movements, trade unionists and analysts initiated discussion from the panel and workshops took place to establish continental exchange and unity for every sector, youth and students, rural workers, the indigenous movement, religious groups, trade unions, women’s groups, and environmental campaigners.

After in-depth discussion of the economic, political and social consequences of neo-liberalism, the conference drew up a ‘plan of action’ of immediate and concrete measures to develop the mass movement against the FTAA.

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Interview with James Petras: Neoliberalism and resistance

FRFI 172 April / May 2003

James Petras is a revolutionary, anti-imperialist activist and writer, who has worked with the Brazilian landless workers’ movement and the unemployed workers’ movement in Argentina. He gave this interview to Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! on 21 March 2003.

FRFI: What is the strategic importance of Latin America for the US, particularly in the present circumstances?


Well let’s deal with the phoney arguments that say Latin America’s percentage of world trade has been declining; its importance for the US economy as a whole, as a percentage of its world trade, has been declining, so it is not very important. These are generalised arguments with inappropriate comparisons. It is important to note that Latin America is the area where the US banks get the highest rates of return and where historically they have received the greatest part of their overseas earnings. Banks like Citibank and Bank of America have been enormously successful in transferring illegal funds from Latin America, amounting to tens of billions of dollars every year. In addition Latin America is the only region in the world where the US has favourable external accounts balance of payments, so it helps to compensate for the enormous deficits it has in Asia and even in Europe. From that vantage point, if the US did not have Latin America the dollar would be weaker and its external accounts would be in even worse shape than they are right now.

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Kirchner under pressure

FRFI 175 October / November 2003

With 60% of the population living below the poverty line, the intense squeeze on the poor and lower middle classes in Argentina leaves little room for manoeuvre by new President Kirchner who is attempting to regroup the Argentinean bourgeoisie. Since May he has sought favour with the US ruling class by releasing evidence on anti-Zionist bombings in August 1994 which killed 86 Argentineans. At the same time he has removed 58 generals in order to weaken US ‘coup capacity’. He then raised domestic support by revoking the 1986/7 laws granting immunity to 1,100 military and police for kidnap, torture, murder and other crimes committed during the dictatorship.

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