Latin-American Diary 11/19 – Chileans Protest APEC

Znet: Corporate Globalization

Roberto Manriquez

http://www.zmag.org/content/print_article.cfm?itemID=6685&sectionID=13

“The safest city in the world” is the title of today’s newspapers in Santiago in order to explain the impressive amount of security measures taken for a new version of the Asian Pacific economy cooperation forum, to be held in Chile from November 19 to 21, a summit in which business men and chiefs of state from 21 Countries, including the US, Russia, Japan, China and Canada, among others, will gather.

To this mega appointment arrives: a triumphant George W. Bush, although according to a poll divulged last week, 58% of Chilean people would have followed the world trend and voted for Kerry. Hu Jintao, the Chinese President, infamous for having greeted as a regional member of the communist party the repression in Tiananmen Square. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, an ex KGB with a human rights record in no way desirable.

“The summit is nothing more than the attempt to start a business round and to initiate a pole of  competition with the EU, but based on our `competitive advantages’, that are none other than low salaries, environmental depredation and absence of civil control”, says Alvaro Ramis, theologist and one of the leaders of the Chilean Social Forum, a civil rights organization opposed to this meeting.

Founded in 1989 the APEC yearly summit has already had Commerce ministries, chancellors and top excecutives (there is a CEO summit) that handle more cash that many third world nations: 14 of them control multinationals that together are worth US $15 more billions than the GDP of any country that is not a member of this select group, or 20 times the chilean GDP.

The APEC economies concentrate 60% of the world’s GDP and 42% of the world population, and are the ones that supported the growth, trade and world investment
in recent years.

“Nothing will come out of this summit, some pictures a good will declaration which must be in a draft status by now, but respecting to the people’s interests, we can only expect more of the same old same old’ “, says Hugo Fazio, a well respected economist from the Center of Alternate Studies for Economy (CENDA) and a former Central Bank president (the chilean equivalent to the federal reserve).

The summit, defined as a meeting of economies, not countries, a euphemism adopted in order to integrate Taiwan (or Chinese Taipei, as the chilean government officially calls it) has produced a tide of criticism from the civil society that are assisting as a mere spectator to a mega display of capitalist joy, where “by the way, there won’t be discussing any form of control to the environmental depredation nor the establishment of unions in asian tax paradises” Says Ramis.

Go Home Mr.Bush

But the summit has turned out to be an excellent opportunity to organize those who are not content with the neoliberal economic model imposed by the government of the socialist president Ricardo Lagos and the thousands of chileans moved and angry with the latest images of devastation that the American army has perpetrated in Fallujah.

For weeks dozens of marches and protests have been organized that are considered to be a preparation for the big national protest day expected for this Friday, November 19th- made artificially a holiday, for security reasons, says the goverment.

Students and citizens organized in more than 200 NGOs and civil rights associations of all kinds are expected to march from the Alameda (the main avenue) in order to protest against APEC and Bush’es visit, who in addition to this summit will be making an Official estate visit, after the reunion.

“To achieve an official authorisation for these marches and public events has been an ordeal, the government seems to conclude that the streets and the city belong to executives, business men and chiefs of state and not to the citizens, any way, we have managed to prevail our civil rights and in this sense, we call out to a firm but peaceful and joyful demonstration”, emphatizes Ramis..

Translated Gwendolyn Ledger

* Periodista, robertomanriquez@hotmail.com

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