[Marxism] ALBA vs. the G20: Two divergent responses in Latin America to the capitalist breakdown

Richard Fidler rfidler_8 at sympatico.ca
Thu Dec 25 21:13:59 MST 2008

Links has posted an English translation of an important article on
recent developments in Latin America:
http://links.org.au/node/817. The author, Luis Bilbao, described
by Links as "a central participant in the construction of the mass
United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and the Union of South
American States (Unasur)", reports on an important decision at the
recent ALBA summit: to create a new currency, the Sucre, as a
monetary mechanism to be used in egalitarian trade relationships
among the ALBA partners, as a substitute for the US dollar.
"Sucre" stands for Sistema Unitario de Compensación Regional, or
Unitary system of regional compensation, and is also the name of
the general who led the creole and mestizo forces in the final
battle against the Spanish empire in the 19th century. 

The article, on “two paths in the face of capitalism's global
breakdown”, explains the growing conflicts among the South
American nations under the impact of the developing world economic
crisis, and describes the somewhat divergent roads being taken by
Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, on the one hand, and the ALBA states
on the other. It contrasts the November meeting of the G20 nations
convened by Bush in Washington with the meeting of ALBA presidents
that month in Caracas: 

“In the capital of the empire the G20 agreed upon an erratic
document lacking any precise definitions, except the common aim of
propping up capitalism and correcting what different heads of
states classified as “excesses resulting from the lack of
regulation”. In Caracas, after diagnoses that expounded the
graveness of the systemic crisis and its structural character,
transcendental economic and political measures were adopted, such
as the creation of a common monetary zone, the decision to put an
end to the hegemony of the US dollar in international trade, and
defence of a multipolar world.” 

The G20 meeting, attended by Brazil and Argentina as well as
China, reflected, says Bilbao, “the decision of the strategists in
the State Department, who have their sights set on an objective of
a strictly political nature: impede China and Latin America lining
up in the direction of the formation of regional financial
subsystems and entering into the new international scenario opened
up by the crisis with action plans independent of the will and the
interests of the G7 (United States, Germany, Japan, France,
Canada, Italy and Britain).” 

Bilbao sees the G20 summit, as a “relative success of the
imperialist strategists” and notes that: 

“. . . looking only at this hemisphere, with the exception of
ALBA, none of the regional bodies have met to take into
consideration the issue of the crisis and design a common
response. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), a recent
formidable conquest in the direction of South American
convergence, remained mute and paralysed, likewise Mercosur, not
to mention the moribund Community of Andean Nations (CAN). Rather
than convoking an urgent meeting of UNASUR, Brasilia and Buenos
Aires went to Washington. Meanwhile, the heads of state of Peru,
Chile and Colombia took refuge at another summit which Bush
attended, APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), which met in

He asks whether we are seeing a “reversal of the trend”: 

“Following eight years in which the centripetal forces in South
America have produced a drastic geopolitical change to the
detriment of imperialism in general, and more specifically the
United States, an unknown remains: is the tendency reversing, and
will a centrifugal force accentuated by the global collapse
destroy the conquests achieved so far this century? 

“The increasing number of clashes for the most diverse reasons
between Brazil and Argentina, Ecuador and Brazil, Uruguay and
Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil are indicative of the multiple
gravitational pull of internal and externals forces that are
working to undermine the process of regional union which has
predominated in recent years. As was noted in these pages some
time ago, following the great victory against ALCA (Free Trade of
Americas Agreement or FTAA), an imperialist counter-offensive
introduced a number of factors that pull in the opposite direction
of South American convergence. Nevertheless, the most potent
forces of disintegration result from the role played by the
regional bourgeoisies. The competition for markets prevails and
the more powerful the dominant classes of each country are, the
more they feed internal shock troops. With the eruption of the
world crisis, these objective forces come together in order to
drag with them governments verbally committed to the Latin
American cause. This is the crossroads at which all will have to
make their choice without further delay.” 

And Bilbao concludes: 

“Within this framework one begins to see the real dimension of the
agreements reached in Caracas by the countries of ALBA. The final
declaration of the summit affirmed the decision of ‘constructing a
monetary zone that initially includes the country members of ALBA
(Dominica will participate with the status of observer) and the
Republic of Ecuador, through the establishment of a common unit of
accounting, the Sucre (Unitary System of Regional Compensation)
and a chamber of payment compensation. The creation of this
monetary zone will be accompanied by the establishment of a
stabilisation and reserves fund with contributions from the member
countries, aimed at financing expansive demand policies to
confront the crisis and sustain a policy of investments for the
development of complementary economic activities.’ 

“The heads of state present unanimously approved the decision to
create ‘an economic and monetary zone of ALBA-TCP [People’s Trade
Agreement] that protects our countries from the depredation of
transnational capital, promotes the development of our economies
and constitutes a space liberated from the inoperative global
financial institutions and the monopoly of the dollar as the
currency for trade and reserves’. They affirmed the decision to
‘come up with a regional response, driven by ALBA-TCP, which seeks
independence in respect to the global financial markets, questions
the role of the dollar in the region and advances towards a common
currency, the Sucre, and contributes to the creation of a
pluri-polar world’. From its anti-imperialist perspective, moving
in the direction of socialism of the 21st century, ALBA shifted
from words into action, in sharp contrast to the rest of the

The article can also be read in the Spanish original on the web
site of the publication América XXI, under the title: El Alba crea
el Sucre: moneda común y símbolo para América Latina — Dos caminos
frente a la quiebra mundial del capitalismo, at

-- Richard

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