Rights and Sovereignty vs. Free Trade, Debt and Corporate Power
Peoples´Summit Building Sovereignty
Forum Rights and Sovereignty vs. Free Trade, Debt and Corporate Power
Summary of situation and popular alternatives and strategies
The crisis we are experiencing is not a conjunctural moment. In Latin America we have experienced a permanent crisis, based on the capitalist dispossession of Peoples. The bases of the crisis have been the non-payment to workers, the non-payment and non-recognition of the work of women, the looting of the commons and of all that belongs to colonized peoples. Consequently, our responses must go in the direction of changing the system, because the crisis is the capitalist system and the society that has been built up on its basis.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was a change in the world system characterized by three factors: a) the role that China and India are beginning to play, countries which by 2030 will supply 40% of world GDP; b) the hegemonic transition; c) the deepening of the processes of plunder, colonization and waste.
In response to the moment of crisis experienced by the process of capitalist accumulation and concentration, there have been different strategies from the ruling class and from peoples in resistance. The strategies of the ruling class include, among others: the intensification of the processes of commodification, the recolonization of both terrestrial and marine territories, large-scale war to destroy capital and low intensity conflict such as the categorization of Failed States, the increase in the criminalization of popular struggles, the authoritarian drift, militarization, the creation of new blocks within the same logic of capitalism like the G20, the attempts at financial regulation that remain mere attempts, green capitalism as the commodification of nature. These responses turn increasingly evident that the contradiction capital-labor is now joined by the contradictions capital-life and capital-democracy.
In this context, public debt has become a privileged tool of the capitalist expansion of concentration, inequality and oppression. It acts to subordinate the model of production and consumption to the search for resources to pay interest and continually refinance the ever-increasing balances. We must consider the Debt not only from a macroeconomic perspective, but also from how it affects our rights and ways of life, and how it undermines the Sovereignty and Self-determination of Peoples. The expansion of the mercantilist green economy and the violations of human rights are linked to the Debt. States give priority to paying the Debt, sacrificing the political, social, economic, environmental and cultural rights of Peoples, pressured by big capital and the multilateral institutions at its service, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, etc.
These institutions, together with the World Trade Organization, promote an economic liberalization that increases corporate power and intensifies the deep asymmetries that cut across our Peoples and Countries. A critical examination of these past decades shows what the impacts of the neoliberal trade and investment regime have been. More than 20 years of NAFTA show how dramatic these treaties can be for our Sovereignty and Rights. The Investment Protection Agreements generate disproportionate benefits for corporations. For example, they externalize risks through demands against governments before international private courts, and by shielding regulation in their favor. The mere threat of demands for billions of dollars exerts a formidable pressure on States, in relation to the exercising of their sovereignty and their role as guarantors of human rights, environmental protection of the environment, respect for labor rights.
Corporate power has become increasingly concentrated and strengthened under the transformations driven by the capitalist system and its dictatorial instruments, such as the system of perpetual indebtedness and the trade and investment regime. These have subordinated sovereign national norms to illegitimate corporate law. This facilitates the actions of the transnational corporations, which systematically violate human rights, subjecting Peoples and Nature to ever greater harassment. Such is the case of the transnational Bennetton, among many examples, that despoils the Mapuche people and their territories with the active complicity of the Argentine State and government.
The transnationals act under the protection of an Architecture of Impunity, which includes the debt system, free trade and investment protection agreements, and multilateral organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). These give rise to a globalization based on their lust for profit. Other pillars of this architecture are: the capture and privatization of democracy that crystallizes into true CEO-cracies; the fiscal and financial feast that is behind the dynamic of the concentration of capital. Likewise, in the intellectual property regime where knowledge has become a registered trademark, and in the extractivist dynamic, the taking of control and plunder of territories, knowledge, bodies, and the natural commons takes place.
Peoples Building Sovereignty and Rights
Capitalism is always in action and does not give up. However, popular strategies of resistance are also evident. There is an apparent demobilization, fragmentation and pessimism in Latin America. However, this makes no sense as we have an accumulation of experiences of resistance that serve as hope to continue building sovereignty.
As an instrument of domination, the repercussions of the Debt made evident in the multiple resistances must be unveiled and socialized, denouncing its illegitimate character and demonstrating who really owes whom. The construction of a horizon of transformation and hope implies taking on our rightful role as the true Creditors, of debts that are not only economic, but also social, historical, ecological, democratic and of gender, among others. The praxis of the various resistances must allow us to understand their demands and claims and relate them to the system of perpetual indebtedness, in order to defeat the power of capital and strengthen spaces of articulation among the diverse struggles for a dignified and just world. We need to continue building on the basis of popular struggles to advance in this process, including actions such as comprehensive and citizen audits of the Debt, ethical tribunals and popular consultations, among other strategies. We must demystify the role assigned to Debt as the engine of growth. We must be able to use the wealth generated by our Peoples for the satisfaction of our needs and rights rather than to feed the dynamics of speculation and debt. No more debts! We don´t owe, we won't pay!! We the Peoples are Sovereign!
Faced with the trade and investment regime, we must organize ourselves to stop its expansion, move towards audits of the treaties that enable us to delegitimize and overturn them. We need a space of global articulation of struggles against the trade and investment regime. We reject the European Union's proposal for a Multilateral Investment Court (MIC) and we call on governments to denounce existing investment protection treaties and to not sign any more free trade agreements, including the EU-Mercosur Agreement which they are threatening to sign shortly as the result of a secret negotiation behind the backs of our Peoples. Furthermore, we reaffirm that the WTO continues to kill peasants and that it is one of the causes of global injustice. The WTO must be abolished. In the short term, the current expansion of its mandate and disciplines, pushed by the Global North and its transnational corporations, must be stopped. WTO Out! Enough of "free" trade! We the Peoples are Free!
We will continue to confront corporate power, which is carrying out the dispossession by the transnationals in the territories, the evictions, the criminalization and loss of' access of Peoples to their natural resources in the sea and on land. Through our resistances we continue to take care of our territories, our seeds, our bodies, our languages and cultures, our Memory. We must globalize our struggles, and continue to strengthen our ties and networking as well as our capacity for joint action in order to dismantle corporate power. We must continue to fight in order to achieve an international treaty that obliges transnational corporations to respect human rights. We must dispute the legislative and judicial space, denouncing how laws are violated, distorted, misinterpreted and adapted in the interest of the transnationals. They criminalize the people, organizations and communities that defend our rights and those of nature, while ensuring the impunity of capital. We must maintain the autonomy of social movements in relation to governments, offering our solidarity with Peoples, communities and organizations that suffer persecution and repression. Corporate power generates physical, structural and symbolic violence against Peoples. Enough already! End impunity and dismantle the power of the transnationals now!
Peoples everywhere must assume themselves as protagonists and builders of their destiny, exercising their sovereignty. When we talk about human rights, we refer to the Rights of Peoples and the Rights of Nature; rights that today are totally overcome. Out of commitment to all those people who are no longer with us, we continue in the hope of further deepening our struggles and advancing in the construction of sovereignty and alternatives of dignified life for all. We shall Overcome!
- Buenos Aires, December 11, 2017