SUBJECT: MORE ON THE WARS OF MIS-REPRESENTATION : FROM THE CENTER FOR THE ADVANCED STUDY OF
AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS,
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
In the course of the current
terrorist attacks in
In this bulletin we share with our
readers several items we have recently received which challenge the legitimacy
of the nations' "representatives" in
Below please find the following items :
Item A :
Professor Sheila Whittick, at
Item B :
Dr. Günther Siegwart-Horst
reports in great detail on the medical effects of depleted uranium used by
Item C : Another article forwarded by Prof. Whittick, this time written by investigative reporter Seumas Milne on the implications of Prime Minister Blair's
denial syndrome concerning the
Item D :
Dahr Jamail has sent us
another of his "Iraq Dispatches", on the shameless collaboration of
the British media with the
Item E : An opinion piece in the New
Item F : An article recently published in Dollars & Sense, in which Matias Vernengo warns of self-deception among the new generation of Latin American "leftist" leaders.
And finally, item G : Shirley Doulière,
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université Stendhal-Grenoble III
from Professor Sheila Whittick:
Hope you are well. Thought you might be interested in this article in last Sunday's Observer by John Berger.
The bloody outcome of two worlds at war
[In a fierce piece of personal polemic, a leading cultural commentator argues that the West's capitalists can be just as 'fanatical' as Muslim fundamentalists]
'Everyone was stunned. We could see a flickering light, and thought there was going to be a fire. We could not open the door of the carriage at first; when we got out, we could see seriously injured people in the tunnel.' These are the words of Loyita Worley, a passenger on the Circle Line train going to Aldgate a little before on Thursday 7 July.
People underground are both sheltered and helpless. Tunnels are ways of escape and terrible traps. The dust suffocates when the tunnels are blocked.
To blow to pieces those going to work by public transport is to attack, in shameful stealth, the defenceless. The victims suffer more pain and for far, far longer than the suicide bomber. And such suffering gives them most surely the right to judge.
Yet others, the politicians, rush in to speak in their name, while serving their own interests, which involve gross simplifications, the use of terms that deliberately confuse and, above all, an attempt to justify themselves and their past, however disastrous the errors committed. Not even the innocence of the pain and grief they have come to staunch and console appears to give them pause, so that for one moment they hesitate.
'I kept closing my eyes and thinking of outside. It was frightening because all the lights had gone out and we didn't hear anything from the driver, so we wondered how he was.' (Fiona Trueman on the Piccadilly Line.)
The calm of Londoners, who suffered
the outrage of the explosions and the ordeal of waiting for news from dear ones
who may have been there (that silence which cuts like a blade through your
heart), impressed the watching world, as did the calm of
In London, despite the evident failure of that war to bring anything but chaos and ruin to the nation it claimed to be liberating, the effect of the atrocities suffered by people on their modest way to work has only been to increase the intransigence of the Prime Minister and government who tugged a protesting country into an unnecessary war.
On the day of the explosions, speaking from Gleneagles, Mr Blair declared that [terrorists] 'are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cow us, to frighten us out of doing the things that we want to do, trying to stop us going about our business'.
Those who argue that al-Qaeda was active before the invasion of
The same bad faith encouraged them
to lie about the weapons of mass destruction which did not exist. Bin Laden was
certainly planning his attacks against the West before the
The atrocities were planned to coincide with the G8 meeting which, this year, the British Prime Minister chaired. What happened at that meeting is not another story but another part of the same one.
In this context, it is not the Koran
that should be studied but the behaviour of the
richest countries and corporations in the world. Those corporations
consistently wage their own 'jihad' against any target that opposes the maximisation of their profits. The war in
Before the meeting, voices from all over the world - economists, rock singers, ecologists, religious leaders - appealed, in the name of conscience and solidarity, for new, unprecedented decisions, for some change that might improve the planet's future chances. And what happened? After you've sorted through the rhetoric ... almost nothing. A little dance of statistics. Why?
Fanaticism comes from any form of chosen blindness accompanying the pursuit of a single dogma. The G8's dogma is that the making of profit has to be mankind's guiding principle before which everything else from the traditional past or aspiring future must be sacrificed as illusion.
The so-called war against terrorism is, in fact, a war between two fanaticisms. To bracket the two together seems outrageous. One is theocratic, the other pos itivist and secular. One is the fervent belief of a defensive minority, the other the unquestioned assumption of an amorphous, confident elite. One sets out to kill, the other plunders, leaves and lets die. One is strict, the other lax. One brooks no argument, the other 'communicates' and tries to 'spin' into every corner of the world. One claims the right to spill innocent blood, the other the right to sell the entire earth's water. Outrageous to compare them!
Yet the outrage of what happened in
John Keats wrote: 'Fanatics have their dreams wherewith they Weave/ A paradise for a sect.' All those who belong to no sect would choose to live, not in a paradise, but above ground, together.
from Francis Feeley :
Subject : Gulf War; depleted uranium.
Depleted Uranium and the Gulf War Syndrome
by Siegwart-Horst Günther
The conditions in
According to recent estimates by
UNICEF, 80,000 to 100,000 Iraqi children died in 1993. Thomas Eckwall, UNICEF director in
Properties of Depleted Uranium
In natural uranium, the proportion of the isotope 235 is only about 0.7 percent. The greater part is uranium 238. As only uranium 235 is suitable as fissile material for use in nuclear power plants, the uranium ore has to be enriched by artificially increasing the proportion of this isotope. As a result, there are large quantities of waste produced in this procedure, i.e., the so-called DU consisting almost solely of the isotope 238.
Depleted uranium has properties which make it highly attractive to the armaments industry:
1. It is practically the heaviest naturally occurring substance.
2. DU projectiles, the development of which is presumably based on German technology, have a great penetrating power and are better suited for penetrating steel armor plating than any other weapon.
3. It is also an inflammable material. It ignites immediately upon piercing armor plates, releasing highly toxic and radioactive substances upon combustion.
4. After the Gulf War, since 1992,
Different types of depleted uranium
ammunition have been manufactured in the
At the beginning of March 1991, I detected projectiles in an Iraqi combat area which had the form and size of a cigar and were extraordinarily heavy. At a later point, I saw children playing with projectiles of this kind; one of them died of leukemia.
My efforts to have one of these
projectiles examined brought me into serious trouble in
As early as the end of the 1991, I diagnosed a hitherto unknown disease among the Iraqi population which is caused by renal and hepatic dysfunctions.
During the last five years, I have
been able to carry out extensive studies in
" A considerable increase in infectious diseases caused by the most severe immuno-deficiencies in a great part of the population.
" Frequent occurrence of massive herpes and zoster afflictions, also in children.
" AIDS-like syndromes.
" A hitherto unknown syndrome caused by renal and hepatic dysfunction-now called "Morubs Günther."
" Leukemia, aplastic anemia and malignant neoplasm.
" Congenital deformities caused by genetic defects which were partly also diagnosed in animals.
DU and the Gulf War Syndrome
The results of my studies show similarities to the Gulf War Syndrome found in Allied soldiers and their children. The congenital deformities caused by genetic defects in American and Iraqi children are identical.
Newspapers recorded that many Gulf
War soldiers from the
In the opinion of the American nuclear scientist Leonard Dietz, the development of the uranium projectiles is as revolutionary as the machine-gun was during the First World War. However, he observed that the Gulf War was the most toxic war in the history of mankind.
According to statements by the U.S.
Army, about 14,000 high-caliber shells were fired during the Gulf War.
Estimates by the British Atomic Energy Authority say about 40 tons of this type
of ammunition are scattered in the border regions between
A British company had rejected the order to remove this uranium ammunition because the health risks to their staff would be too great.
Postwar Death Toll
The president of the American Gulf
War Veterans Association is especially preoccupied by the Gulf War Syndrome.
This syndrome includes damages to organs, genetic manifestations, chronic
fatigue, loss of endurance, frequent infections, sore throat, coughing, skin
rashes, night sweats, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, headaches,
memory loss, confusion, vision problems, muscle spasms and cramps, joint pains
and loss of mobility, aching muscles, swollen glands, dental problems, and
malformation of newborns. According to his estimates, 50,000 to 80,000 U.S.
Gulf War veterans are affected; 39,000 have been dismissed from active service
already; and 2,400 to 5,000 have died so far. Today in
Similar symptoms have occurred in
DU Dangers are Spreading
In May 1994, reports published in
A parallel can be drawn with the
situation that has developed after the 1986 accident at the
It is important to point out what
The grave dangers are increasing because DU weapons are at the disposal of several states. These weapons have already caused irreparable damage. It is for the citizens of the world to see that such dangerous weapons systems are not used again and are immediately banned.
(M.D., D.Sc., Ph.D.) is President of the Yellow Cross and lives in
from Sheila Whittick :
Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited
It is an insult to
the dead to deny the link with
Tony Blair put his own people at risk in the service of a foreign power
In the grim days since last week's
bombing of London, the bulk of Britain's political class and media has
distinguished itself by a wilful and dangerous
refusal to face up to reality. Just as it was branded
unpatriotic in the
But while some allowance could be
made in the American case for the shock of the attacks, the
But when the newly elected Respect MP
George Galloway - who might be thought to have some locus on the subject,
having overturned a substantial New Labour majority
over Iraq in a London constituency with a large Muslim population - declared
that Londoners had paid the price of a "despicable act" for the
government's failure to heed those warnings, he was accused by defence minister Adam Ingram of "dipping his poisonous
tongue in a pool of blood". Yesterday, the Liberal Democrat leader Charles
Kennedy was in the dock for a far more tentative attempt to question this
suffocating consensus. Even Ken Livingstone, who had himself warned of the
danger posed to
A week on from the
The wall of silence in the
The first piece of disinformation
long peddled by champions of the occupations of
The central goal of the al-Qaida-inspired campaign, as its statements have regularly
spelled out, is the withdrawal of US and other western forces from the Arab and
Muslim world, an end to support for Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and
a halt to support for oil-lubricated despots throughout the region. Those are
also goals that unite an overwhelming majority of Muslims in the
The second disinformation line
peddled by government supporters since last week's bombings is that the
We can't of course be sure of the exact balance of motivations that drove four young suicide bombers to strike last Thursday, but we can be certain that the bloodbath unleashed by Bush and Blair in Iraq - where a 7/7 takes place every day - was at the very least one of them. What they did was not "home grown", but driven by a worldwide anger at US-led domination and occupation of Muslim countries.
from Dahr Jamail's
copyright 2004, 2005
The following is a media action
update. For those reading it in the
MEDIA ALERT: BIASED, BLINKERED, CULPABLE
John Pilger, Hans von Sponeck, Dahr Jamail and Others Respond to BBCStatement Regarding
The World Tribunal on
"Why say more? Observe this distinction:
between the fool who longs for his own advantage
and the sage who acts for the advantage of others."
(Shantideva, 8th century)
Media Lens recently issued a media
alert about the lack of British media coverage given to the World Tribunal on
We suggested that readers ask senior
BBC managers and editors why the BBC, a publicly-funded broadcaster, is failing
to cover the many reports of alleged
These are troubling questions for well-rewarded media professionals to answer rationally, while preserving any semblance of self-respect. The cognitive dissonance demonstrated by senior BBC managers trying to believe that BBC 'impartiality' is upheld, even while actual media performance clearly promotes the agenda of destructive state power, is astounding to behold. One recalls the
White Queen's boast in Lewis Carroll's 'Through the Looking Glass': "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Helen Boaden, the BBC news director, has now issued the following statement to the many people who wrote to her. We asked a number of knowledgeable commentators to respond (see below).
"Thank you for your email criticising the BBC for lack of coverage of the World
"The subjects under discussion
"Currently our top financial
priority in relation to
broadcaster to have maintained a continuous
presence in the country, including the maintenance of a permanent bureau in
"Turning to the agenda of the
World Tribunal on Iraq, the BBC has examined events in Iraq from many angles,
including the legal framework; the role of the UN; international relations; the
conduct of coalition forces and the human rights violations at Abu Graib; the controversy over Guantanamo
Bay. But unlike the WTI which takes the war in
"We are committed to
evidence-based journalism. We have not been able to establish that the
"The BBC takes its commitment to impartial reporting with the utmost seriousness. Please rest assured that we strive for open-minded, responsible journalism.
Helen Boaden, Director, BBC News" (Email forwarded by numerous Media
Lens readers, July 13 onwards, 2005)
The award-winning journalist John Pilger, who has extensive experience of visiting and
response is simply ridiculous. She says the BBC 'has not established' that the
Americans and British and report the
occupiers' news, about which there is nothing 'impartial'." (Email to
We also contacted the World Tribunal
Dymond confirmed to us that he attended
the opening press conference, and was present on the first day of the 5-day
proceedings (email from Jonny Dymond
to Media Lens,
Caroline Muscat told us: "The lack of coverage on BBC World Service is not due to any neglect our end."
But not a smidgen of even this
limited coverage was broadcast on the major BBC news bulletins, such as the
evening Six O'Clock and Ten O'Clock
television news on BBC1.
"In effect, Ms. Helen Boaden is saying that the Tribunal was not a priority story
for the BBC because of judgments made at the BBC on this global
initiative." She added that the Tribunal "was followed by millions of
people around the world on alternative media sites, the live audio and video
streaming provided by the WTI web site... The fact that Iraqi people risked
their lives to travel to
"While we respect the BBC's commitment to evidence-based journalism, it is hard to ignore the fact that the evidence in this story is the Tribunal itself. The fact that a significant number of respected diplomats, academicians, reporters and human rights lawyers came together with international experts from various fields to bring to the world's attention the injustice occurring in Iraq, is in itself a story that merits reporting.
"The BBC has disregarded the
experience and professionalism of all those who participated in this Tribunal.
In fact, one of the reasons why this initiative took place is precisely because
we felt, like millions of people around the world, that there was an imbalance
and a lack of clarity and objectivity in the reporting of the so-called 'war on
terror'. By failing to understand the significance of presenting this other
side of the story of this war the BBC has in fact proved us right." (Email
to Media Lens,
We contacted Dahr
Jamail, a 'non-embedded' journalist who has bravely
"It is interesting that Helen Boaden uses the reason for not covering the WTI that the BBC uses 'evidence-based journalism,' then goes on to state that the BBC has, 'not been able to establish that the US used banned chemical weapons and committed other atrocities against civilians in Fallujah last November.'
"This is one of the main
purposes for the WTI to have even occurred - to provide this information to the
media and to inform the world of the atrocities being committed in
"It is clear that if the BBC was truly 'committed to evidence-based journalism' as Ms. Boaden states, they would report what Iraqi doctors and civilians say as to what occurred in Fallujah in November."
Blind Faith: The BBC Ignores Its Own 'Impartiality' Mantra
Hans von Sponeck
is a former UN Assistant Secretary-General who ran the humanitarian
oil-for-food programme in
"The World Tribunal was
anything but just 'another conference'. A sensitive and impartial BBC should
have quickly discovered that the
Tim Llewellyn, a former BBC Middle
East correspondent, acknowledged "the immense difficulties on the
ground" for reporters in
"There is plenty of reliable
evidence that the invasion forces used depleted uranium and napalm-style
certainly used the former in 1991) and the
BBC's defence experts could do a lot more to put this
into the public arena. The deployment of such ghastly weapons against civilian
areas is surely +feeding+ the anger that results in attacks like those against
(Email to Media Lens,
Finally, Richard Keeble,
professor of journalism at
"The mainstream media have been celebrating the 'revolution' that occurred over the coverage of the London bombs - with the prominent use of mobile phone images provided by members of the public and weblogs. This, it has been argued, represents a major 'democratisation' of the mainstream media. Yet significantly, the incorporation of data supplied by non-professional journalists has in no way impacted on the overall bias of the coverage. In other words, the most important revolution needed in the mainstream media is over news values. Their failure to report the Iraq War Tribunal shows how conventional news priorities still predominate. Mainstream journalism remains too closely tied to dominant economic, political and economic structures and interests. More
and more people are realising
this and turning to more authentic alternatives." (Email
to Media Lens,
the BBC's deputy director-general, claimed recently that the "BBC now
begins with the presumption that the licence-payer is
right. After all, the licence-payers are the public
that fund and own the BBC in the
11, 2005) He observed: "How an organisation responds when someone complains is an important determinant of how people feel about its openness and responsiveness."
True enough. Alas, judging by the reactions we see every day, many members of the public are deeply sceptical about the BBC's own claims of "openness" and "responsiveness".
They are increasingly wise to the appalling reality that the publicly-funded BBC is an accessory to war crimes and state terrorism
perpetrated by the British government, in
tandem with its
SUGGESTED ACTION :
The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. When writing emails to journalists, we strongly urge readers to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.
Write to Helen Boaden, director of BBC news,
And Mark Byford, deputy director-general
Ask why the BBC is failing to give prominent coverage to the substantial
evidence of "coalition" war crimes
in Fallujah and elsewhere in
Why does the BBC never question Tony Blair and other senior politicians
about their culpability for these atrocities?
Please copy your emails to the following:
Roger Mosey, head of BBC television news
Mark Thompson, BBC director general
Michael Grade, BBC chairman
From: "t r u t h o u t" email@example.com
Blair Is Unfit to Be Prime Minister
by John Pilger
Terror and the
In all the coverage of the bombing of
Alex Salmond tried to say it on Today on Radio
4. He was told he was speaking "in poor taste . . . before the bodies are
even buried". George Galloway was lectured on Newsnight
(BBC2) that he was being "crass". The inimitable Ken Livingstone
contradicted his previous statement, which was that the invasion of
And yet, like the man who interrupted CNN, people understand and know
why, just as the majority of Britons oppose the war and believe Blair is a
liar. This frightens the British political elite. At a large media party I
attended, many of the important guests uttered "
The bombs of 7 July were Blair's bombs.
Blair brought home to this country his and Bush's illegal, unprovoked
and blood-soaked adventure in the
How much more evidence is needed? Before the invasion, Blair was warned
by the Joint Intelligence Committee that "by far the greatest terrorist
threat" to this country would be "heightened by military action
Now, an 18 July report by the Chatham House organization, a "think
tank" deep within the British establishment, may well beckon Blair's coup
de grâce. It says there is "no doubt" the
Blair's bunker-mantra is that there was terrorism long before the
invasion, notably 11 September. Anyone with an understanding of the painful
history of the
They were not free, of course. The Americans re-supplied the Israeli
army and they almost lost everything again. In
The gravity of the bombing of
I witnessed its consequences: tracts of southern
In 2001, in revenge for the killing of 3,000 people in the
Omitted from public discussion is that their state terror makes al-Qaeda's appear miniscule by comparison. More than 100,000 Iraqi men, woman and children have been killed, not by suicide bombers, but by the Anglo-American "coalition", says a peer-reviewed study published in the Lancet, and largely ignored.
In his poem "From Iraq", Michael Rosen wrote:
We are the unfound
We are uncounted
You don't see the homes we made
We're not even the small print or the bit in brackets . . .
because we lived far from you,
because you have cameras that point the other way . . .
Imagine, for a moment, you are in the Iraqi city of
Now imagine the same state of affairs imposed on the
The hand-wringing over "whither Islam's soul" is another distraction. Christianity leaves Islam for dead as an industrial killer. The cause of the current terrorism is neither religion nor hatred for "our way of life". It is political, requiring a political solution. It is injustice and double standards, which plant the deepest grievances. That, and the culpability of our leaders, and the "cameras that point the other way", are the core of it.
On 19 July, while the BBC governors were holding their annual general meeting at Television Centre, an inspired group of British documentary filmmakers met outside the main gates and conducted a series of news reports of the kind you do not see on television. Actors played famous reporters doing their "camera pieces". The "stories" they reported included the targeting of the civilian population of Iraq, the application of the Nuremberg Principles to Iraq, America's illegal rewriting of the laws of Iraq and theft of its resources through privatization, the everyday torture and humiliation of ordinary people and the failure to protect Iraqis archaeological and cultural heritage.
Blair is using the
from Dollars and Sense :
copyright May/June 2005
Latin America’s Left Off Track
Latin America has a new crop of leftist leaders, but their macroeconomic policies are sadly familiar
BY MATIAS VERNENGO
For several years, electoral results
Beyond these center-left electoral victories, it is clear that the majority of civil society in Latin America rejects the neoliberal policies imposed during the 1990s. Popular demonstrations against privatization and trade liberalization are widespread. Last October saw a dramatic revolt in Bolivia, for example, where a coalition of labor unions and indigenous peoples, spurred by the government’s plan to privatize the nation’s gas reserves, brought about the resignation of President Sanchez de Lozada and strengthened the position of the indigenous leader Evo Morales.
The resurgence of the left is a momentous step in Latin America. The election of Ricardo Lagos, Chile’s first Socialist president since the 1973 military coup against Salvador Allende, is a landmark, as are the victories in Brazil and Uruguay of new-style left governments embedded in deep-seated social movements. The political changes underway in Latin America today are comparable to the victories of Felipe Gonzalez after the long night of Franco’s dictatorship in Spain, and the more recent revival of the Labor Party under Tony Blair following Margaret Thatcher’s conservative reign. These victories are significant, especially because they reflect the region’s long process of redemocratization, a political shift which has gone hand in hand with the revival of civic life: the rise of empowered indigenous movements, renewed struggles for land reform, worker occupations of factories to keep them operating in the face of economic collapse, the rise of asambleas (neighborhood assemblies) meeting to discuss the way forward for anti-neoliberalism protests.
Observers of the region have usually credited this left turn to dissatisfaction with the neoliberal, "Washington Consensus" policies imposed during the 1990s. The Washington Consensus basically required deregulating markets, liberalizing trade and finance, and privatizing public firms. The emphasis was on price stabilization, fiscal austerity, and market-friendly policies, a mix that ultimately favored international financial markets and the local elites who could benefit from a more open financial environment. Arguably, if the left is to stake out a new direction and change the region for the better, economic policies will have to be at the center of the social transformation. Notwithstanding the political importance of Latin America’s recent left turn, however, there is little reason for progressives to be optimistic about the economic policy direction of Latin America’s new leaders.
Many observers have tried to sort the new left-leaning leaders into "good" and "bad" camps. Rutgers’ Tomás Eloy Martínez, an Argentinean writer, sees two antagonistic economic models at play. In his view, a "negative left," embodied by Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution, uses the windfall gains from higher oil revenues to promote an unsustainable redistribution policy without laying the foundations for future growth. The "positive left" is represented by Lula and his policy of macroeconomic austerity as the necessary prerequisite for sustainable growth, allowing, in a hoped-for second phase, redistribution of the fruits of prosperity to the less privileged.
Jorge Castañeda, ex-foreign affairs minister of Mexico and former advisor to Cuauhtémoc Cardenas, also argues that Latin America has voted two lefts into power. In his view, Lagos and Vázquez should be included with Lula in the responsible and pragmatic left that has learned that market discipline and macroeconomic stability are important for development. Castañeda groups Kirchner and Mexico City mayor and possible presidential contender Andrés Manuel López Obrador with Chávez as representatives of a nationalist and populist left of the past, one that has been less receptive to modernizing influences. (Despite parallels with Chávez, Ecuador’s Gutiérrez was timid in distancing himself from Washington and fulfilling his campaign pledge to overturn neoliberal policies, which may explain, in part, his recent fall from power.)
Unlike Eloy Martínez, Castañeda sees macroeconomic orthodoxy dominating the region as a whole, Chávez and Kirchner included. Unfortunately, his view is closer to the truth. Apart from some anti-imperialist rhetoric, the economic policies of the new governments in Latin America cannot be classified as leftist. Like Tony Blair, the new center-left leaders in Latin America have embraced so-called "Third Way" economic policies that are largely indistinguishable from neoliberalism. In a sense, everyone has caved in to Thatcher’s infamous notion that there is no alternative. Maria da Conceição Tavares, a prominent Brazilian economist and member of Lula’s Workers’ Party, recently said that there is no such thing as left-wing macroeconomics.
Good Luck, Not Good Policies
If Keynesian fiscal policies—progressive taxation, increased spending on social programs, and deficit spending to maintain full employment—are the hallmarks of a progressive government, then the new left governments in Latin America cannot be seen as particularly progressive.
Despite variations in political discourse, the countries’ macroeconomic policies are broadly similar, and represent little change from those of the previous regimes. The continuity of macroeconomic policies is most evident in the arena of fiscal policy. All the center-left governments in the region have accepted the logic behind an emphasis on fiscal discipline: that high fiscal deficits cause inflation, and, by generating fears of default, cause capital flight and lead to balance-of-payments problems. All accept the dictum that they cannot pursue more progressive fiscal policies because international financial markets would punish their countries with a run on their currencies.
All of these center-left governments are prioritizing fiscal austerity to control government debt accumulation and are committed to maintaining primary surpluses even in periods of recession. (Primary surpluses correspond to the difference between spending and revenues, but excluding interest payments on outstanding debt. In other words, a government with revenues of $100 that pays $35 in interest payments and $70 on other expenditures would have a nominal deficit of $5 but a primary surplus of $30.) This is a significant change compared to the Keynesian approaches that dominated policymaking in the region prior to the 1990s and is more extreme than the anti-Keynesian bias in the developed world. The consequences are stark: maintaining primary fiscal surpluses has squeezed public investment and spending on social programs, dampened economic growth, and favored financial interests and the well-to-do.
Although exchange-rate policies vary somewhat, most Latin American governments across the political spectrum today emphasize the role of exchange rates in controlling inflation. Their role in promoting external competitiveness has become secondary. By controlling exchange rates, governments are able to keep the prices of imported goods, which crucially affect inflation, down. But this also means that the prices of domestic products are less competitive, and so hobbles the development of domestic industries.
At times exchange rate controls are
seen as a temporary device to avoid balance-of-payments crises, but not as
instrumental in promoting development. For example,
If the macroeconomic policies of the
region’s left regimes are successful, perhaps it doesn’t matter whether
or not they are progressive. In fact, recent economic performance in
However, these strong growth rates have
more to do with external drivers than with any innovative policies of the
region’s new leaders. Ultimately, the remarkable expansion of
Macroeconomic Conservatism and Distribution
Economic growth alone is not enough
to improve the lot of the region’s poor anyway.
Kirchner has been accused of
promoting irresponsible economic policies and favoring unsustainable
redistribution towards the poor, but it’s hard to see why.
The Venezuelan story is similar. Chávez’s 1998 government program (La Propuesta de Hugo Chávez para Transformar
More importantly, Chávez generated great expectations about using oil revenues to pay for social programs. His government did indeed implement a massive program of social spending, including an expansion of health assistance and distribution of foodstuffs; social spending as a share of total government spending did go up. Deficits soared, but less as a result of the increase of government spending than as the consequence of lower non-oil revenues due to recession. The social conflicts associated with the political resistance against Chávez exacerbated the fall in non-oil government revenues and forced the government to increase the amount of debt finance. Public debt has soared; interest payments on outstanding debt corresponded to around 40% of total spending last year.
With Latin American governments
maintaining primary surpluses even in times of crisis and channeling a sizable
share of spending into interest payments—in other works, redistributing
it to the wealthy—it is not surprising that unemployment remains high
across the region. The average rate of unemployment in 2003, according to
ECLAC, was above 10%, with
Fiscal Policy and International Financial Reform
Fiscal policy was central to the
development of the systems of welfare in the developed world, and for
industrialization in the global South, including in
Today, a more comprehensive reform
of the international financial system along the lines of Keynes’
proposals at Bretton Woods, as advocated by some
heterodox economists, is necessary not just to stabilize financial markets and
reduce balance-of- payments crises, but to promote more just fiscal policies.
Controls on capital flows would allow lower rates of interest, reduce spending
on debt service, and allow for more public investment and higher levels of
social transfers. These policies should be complemented with trade polices that
promote full employment, and a coherent set of industrial policies to promote
international competitiveness. The experience of the new left-leaning
Furthermore, international financial
reform is unlikely to come as a result of the victory of the left in developing
countries. (Admittedly, progressive observers hoped there would be less
subservience to international financial markets in
is Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Utah,
Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer, eds., The Economics of the Third Way: Experiences from Around the World (Edward Elgar, 2001); Jorge Castañeda, "Las dos izquierdas latinoamericanas," La Nación, 1/4/05; CEPAL (ECLAC), Estudio Económico de América Latina y Caribe, 2003-2004; Martínez, Tomás Eloy, "Bolívar quería otra cosa," La Nación, 12/31/04; José Antonio Ocampo, "Half a Lost Decade," ECLAC Notes, No. 24 (9/02); Leonardo Vera, "Interpretando la Agenda Económica de Chávez," www.analitica.com/va/economia/opinion/3817548.asp; Matías Vernengo, "Fear, Hope and Wishful Thinking in Brazil," Dissent (Winter 04).
Subject: Bush Nominates Far-Right Judge to Supreme Court
Hi Professor Feeley,
I thought it would be interesting to see feminist reactions to Bush's new step toward dictatorship.
Message transféré par Eleanor Smeal
Dear Feminist Activists,
TAKE ACTION TODAY
Step 1: Contact your Senators: Urge them to thoroughly question Roberts about his views on women's rights, civil rights, and the right to privacy.
Step 2: Make an emergency contribution to the Feminist Majority's Save Roe Campaign.
Step 3: Learn More and stay up to date at Feminist Court Watch.
President Bush has nominated an ultra-conservative judge to take Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court.
The fight to save the Supreme Court must begin now. The Feminist Majority is opposing John Roberts for the Supreme Court.
Roberts, a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, has a record that indicates he will be a solid vote against women's rights and Roe v. Wade. As Deputy Solicitor General, Roberts argued against Roe v. Wade, and also argued on behalf of Operation Rescue, an extreme anti-abortion group, in Bray v. Alexandria. Those of us who defend clinics know that the result of the pro-choice loss in Bray v. Alexandria was increased violence at clinics. In private practice, Roberts argued against affirmative action.
The Feminist Majority will urge every Senator who supports women's rights to thoroughly question Roberts on his views on fundamental women's rights, civil rights, and reproductive rights issues. If Roberts is to be confirmed by Senators, he must say where he stands on Roe, the right to privacy, women's rights, and civil rights. The burden is on him.
The opposition forces behind
President Bush have already raised millions of dollars to support Bush's
nominee for the Supreme Court. Just one such right-wing advocacy organization,
Let there be no mistake about it. The case most likely to be reversed or pivotal in the coming Supreme Court nomination fight is Roe v. Wade. But even some of our progressive friends tend to marginalize the abortion issue. We must rally the millions of women and men who support reproductive rights if Roe is to be saved.
The Feminist Majority must be strong enough to ensure that the rights of women are a central part of the Supreme Court debate. Please make a special emergency contribution to the Feminist Majority's Save Roe Campaign today. We need money for Internet banner ads, grassroots organizing kits, field organizers, and a massive PR operation.
The Feminist Majority will continue to examine Roberts' record, and it will demand that Senators not confirm Roberts unless he makes clear that he will not reverse Roe and civil rights for women, minorities, and the disabled.
Women, who have the most to lose, must be the strongest voice in the debate over the Supreme Court. This time, for once, we will not be ignored.
Please help us to mount a campaign worthy of the rights of women.
Together, we can make a difference.
For Women's Lives,
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research at CEIMSA-IN-EXILE