Declaration: UNASUR Seminar: conflicting interests

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19 - 3 - 2008

Freely translated by Anoosha Boralessa in 2015 for bilaterals.org

Declaration: UNASUR Seminar: conflicting interests

The social networks, social organisations and trade unions gathered together at the seminar: "UNASUR: conflicting interests" held in Rio de Janeiro, 12-13 March 2008 and reached the following conclusions:

Since 2005, notably after the Summit held at Mar del Plata where the US sponsored Free Trade of Americas Agreement (the FTAA) was laid to rest, the regional integration of our countries has taken place at a considerable pace.

Stopping the FTAA was possible because the region’s people were fully mobilised and unyielding in their resistance.

It is on account of what was achieved during these struggles that we are bound to construct alternative paths for integrating our people, via paths that respect their sovereignty.

This process reached its climax in Cochamba, December 2006, when we set up the Social Summit for integrating our peoples and decided to strengthen the supplementary and ancillary mechanisms and debate on the direction of UNASUR.

Despite the people achieving this victory, US trade, military, diplomatic, financial and political strategies continue to threaten the regional integration of sovereign nations. It has led to bilateral free trade agreements and investment agreements with the United States being negotiated under pressure; it has strengthened the interests of transnational corporations operating in the region and undermined the efforts of constructing regional synergies.

Following the demise of the FTAA, a structure of a community of nations as expressed in the Union of Nations of South America is being transformed to a governmental strategy to allow the region to participate in global forums; it can be converted into an area for the defence of the popular sectors of the countries involved.

Although this process is still not clearly defined in favour of the people, we need to confront it and try to change its rationale for projects in areas such as infrastructure, energy, transport, telecommunications and financial integration. These are the chief subject matters of UNASUR and today are triggering important battles of social resistance.

The establishment of UNASUR must strengthen democracy and the interests of the region’s people.

The trade and investment policies adopted within the region must strive to transform the economic model away from being primarily export-driven: a model that expands monocultures, exacerbates land concentration, defends the interests of agro-business and the intertwined interests of transnationals.

The policy must move towards a development strategy that serves the people: building infrastructures responding to local, national and regional needs, thus guaranteeing a socio-environmental balance and the inviolability of territories belonging to Indians, people of African heritage and local people.

Our position on energy is to build on the principles, policies and programs that appear in the Declaration of Movements, Organisations and Social Networks and Trade Unions, released during the South American energy summit that took place on Margarita Island.

As for the recently established Bank of the South, we hope that UNASUR incorporates this issue into its agenda, recognising that it is a means of financing an alternative design to develop the region and also grasping its potential to establish alternative bases to overcome asymmetries between countries forming part of the region and disparities within countries.

To do so, member states must both use effective mechanisms to bring about democratic participation and they must be transparent. Also they must make an effort, in proportion to the size of their economy, to capitalise the bank; and adopt fair decision-making procedures.

However, availability of resources is not a pre condition to these countries participating.

In this sense, any development financing initiative must break away from the perverse logic of indebtedness (North - South or South-to-South), as this cripples self-determination and the sovereignty of our people.

To guarantee this happening, it is necessary to put into place procedures to audit the debt of South America countries. It is also necessary to hold International Financial Institutions liable for their serious errors which resulted in increasing financial debt, ecological, historical and social debt, all of which are owed to the South. Additionally, it is also necessary to review investment treaties and participation in institutions such as ICSID.

Following these social movements and organisations, we demand that our governments engage in this construction not only transparently and engaging civil society but also, and perhaps more importantly, recognising that the people inhabiting this region have developed democratic processes of integration that improve the position of men and women both urban and rural, the peasantry, workers (female and male), indigenous people and the youth; in conclusion: the entire continent, regardless of social class, race or ethnicity, that struggles for the long awaited Latin American and Caribbean integration.

We strongly condemn the violation of Ecuador’s territorial integrity by the government of Colombia. It is shameful that the latter conspired with the US government to make an assault on Ecuador’s sovereignty and international law.

On the other hand, using the theory of preemptive war/self-defence and the use of North American military indicate, without a shadow of doubt, US intervention in this episode.

The destablisation of the region, notably of governments seeking radical changes for the region’s people, together with the regionalisation of the Colombia Plan, are some of the main objectives of Colombian military action.

On the other hand, the prompt and unambiguous support lent by all the region’s governments to the government of Ecuador objectively demonstrates that they unanimously reject the position taken by Alvaro Uribe and that they are fundamentally welded to each other through a shared history and a process of integration that is currently unfolding.

Going forward we think that the UNASUR negotiations must attempt to tighten the bonds that history and politics have created between our countries. This includes settling conflicts peaceably and reestablishing diplomatic relations and a political outlet and dialogue to enable the confrontation of ideas.

This historic opportunity to further develop genuine, sovereign integration of the people cannot be rejected. Transparency and social participation are pre-requisites for this.

We highlight that the evening before the signature of the treaty establishing UNASUR the people of the region were ignorant of its content and its plan of action, contrary to the resolution signed by the governments in December 2006 which declared in interacting with civil society special consideration will be taken of the experience acquired during the Social Summit of Cochamba.

Following the positive record of our struggle to resist, we commit to urgently forge alternative policies.

We reaffirm that regional integration and solidarity is not only necessary but that it is also urgent.

source: ALAI