GRANMA: 2009 Deceptions, Crises and Hopes (and a salute to “heirs of Morazon”)
December 30, 2009
Deceptions, crises and hopes
THE year 2009 has ended and the international panorama offers a curious gamut of conflicts, crossroads, frustrations and extreme situations intermixed with positive hopes and developments, all combined with the serious global economic crisis provoked by the United States. Its devastating effects extended vertiginously to the rest of the world, starting with the capitalist developed countries, but had its worst effect on the nations of the Third World.
In the midst of plunging economic indicators and their social consequences of increased poverty, hunger and disease – as confirmed by international agencies and the specialized UN bodies – 2009 was also overshadowed by the continuation of the wars of aggression and military occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and dangerously extended to Pakistan; the military-oligarchical coup d’état that deposed the constitutional government of José Manuel Zelaya in Honduras; and the installation of seven U.S. military bases in Colombia.
The great frustration of the year was doubtless the presidential action of Barack Obama, who was inaugurated as president in January surrounded by an aureole that seemed to presage the possibility of certain changes – albeit minimum – as he had promised in his spectacular campaign. But, within a few months, he rapidly demonstrated in his actions the real essence of his administration, thus confirming the foresight of those whose who always doubted such an eventuality in the context of the unalterable nature of the imperialist phenomenon and its need for wars, acts of aggression, domination and plunder in order to survive and impose itself on the world as such. The impossibility of reverting those intentions became evident within a few months, but not only that: the new U.S. president took measures and aggressive steps that his disastrous predecessor might even have envied.
Whether he has done so under brutal pressure, whether it has been the fruit of internal contradictions within his own government, whether he is acting as he is in search of possibly securing a second term; all of that is currently the subject of world debate and argument, but one that will not change the outcome in any way.
Without any doubt, the months that have gone by under the new White House incumbent demonstrate the need to continue confronting imperialist politics with renewed energy, particularly on the part of the countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean, which continue to be the preferred and propitious terrain for the exercise of hegemony and plunder.
The global economic crisis was accompanied by an environmental crisis whose most visible and threatening element is climate change, which is advancing uncontainably. It has proved impossible to halt it either with the ill-treated Kyoto Protocol or with summits like that of Copenhagen, whose degrading developments and shameful results demonstrated that, in a suicidal manner, the United States and the developed capitalist world are ignoring dangers that could lead to the end of humanity.
The Third World nations will pay the price for the depredators of world capitalism and small island states will disappear little by little if there is no end to the irresponsible contamination of the environment on the part of those who are currently and criminally practicing it in order to swell their pockets, thus accelerating the melting of icecaps and increased sea levels, drought and natural disasters.
The global economic crisis was accompanied by an energy crisis, already looming as a consequence of extremely high oil prices. The indiscriminate increase in biofuels on the pretext of replacing oil and avoiding its high price provoked a food crisis, which likewise affected, obviously, the poorest countries and the most vulnerable population sectors.
The AH1N1 influenza pandemic also made its presence felt throughout the year, bringing yet another calamity to the inhabitants of the earth, who have still not been liberated from HIV/AIDS and are fighting against dengue fever in tropical regions. The economic crisis, compounded by negligence, extreme apathy and diverted resources on the part of oblivious and irresponsible governments resulted in particularly acute effects being felt in certain countries.
The European Union finally managed to reach agreement over implementing the Lisbon Treaty, which replaced the constitutional treaty after years of fruitless attempts on the part of members to have it approved. After last-minute reluctance on the part of Poland and the Czech Republic, which enabled these two nations to secure certain concessions, the new legal framework for the union of 27 countries was signed.
However, the independent political role that the European Union could play in the world – and within Europe itself – remained unseen and, in 2009, it continued departing from its original intentions, becoming steadily more dependent on the positions of U.S. administrations, whether of Bush or of Obama, to which it virtually subordinated itself at the most important international junctures. The existence of a majority of right-wing governments within it; the relations that many EU countries are obliged to maintain with Washington given their membership of the NATO political-military pact; and the high-level of U.S. economic and cultural penetration after World War II and the disintegration of the USSR and the European socialist camp are factors that combine in one way or another to prevent the European Union from exercising a more active leadership.
On the contrary, in Japan, the arrival of the Democratic Party and its allies brought to an end the almost 50 years of uninterrupted rule of the Liberal Democratic Party, closely associated with the United States throughout that extensive period, and the reason for defense agreements that turned the country into a kind of Asian aircraft carrier for the U.S. armed forces. As he announced during his electoral campaign, Prime Minister Hatoyama is prepared to discuss alternatives with Washington that would transform and more effectively regulate the huge military presence in his country.
Throughout 2009, the development of certain previously initiated processes merit attention given their regional and global significance.
Despite the world crisis, one of these was the sustained growth of the economy of the People’s Republic of China and that country’s consolidation as a major economic power that many experts consider as already the second in the world.
In relation to Africa, it continued its conversion into a major world oil exporter via various contracts and agreements, according to the country involved, thus increasing the presence of oil transnationals and their profits, as well as the income of national governments benefiting from the oil boom. However, there are no reports of any notable improvements in the living standards of those peoples or any sustained reduction of poverty and underdevelopment.
One ray of hope, together with multiple concrete realities, continued reflecting its light from Latin America and the Caribbean. The processes of economic, political and social transformations involving a large number of Latin American and Caribbean countries in various forms have consolidated and, despite the onslaught of the economic crisis and the premeditated policy on the part of the U.S. government and associated and dependent national oligarchies intended to obstruct and liquidate them, they have advanced in many spheres of cooperation and integration.
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), created five years ago on the basis of agreements between Cuba and Venezuela signed by Presidents Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez, emerged as an unprecedented scheme of solidarity-focused and mutually beneficial integration, moving beyond the purely commercial union that had previously characterized other integration efforts in the region. The achievements of ALBA became rapidly evident and that provided a framework for the extension of the Alliance to other countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Honduras. Achievements that were celebrated at the end of 2009 with new goals and aspirations based on the principles of Simón Bolívar and José Martí and the construction of the Patria Grande (Greater Homeland).
The June 28 coup d’état in Honduras against the constitutional president José Manuel Zelaya is attributed, among other things, to his decision to join ALBA and to try and lead the country toward sovereignty and self-development, on the margins of the closed national oligarchy of a handful of families who have secularly exploited the country. As has been reiterated, this was a strike at ALBA involving the United States, which was already feeling the need to express its rejection of the Alliance and make patent that it was disposed to confront it on what it viewed as its weakest link.
Contrary to its aspirations, the year that is ending witnessed the birth of a popular resistance movement prepared to convert that setback into a victory, as confirmed by its firm decision not to demobilize but to do battle as the worthy heirs of Morazán.
Latin America and the Caribbean are undoubtedly moving into a new epoch and nothing is nor will be the same as before. Washington’s failure to impose the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) marked a definitive turning point in the situation, accompanied by the successive ascents to government of various progressive, nationalist, popular and even anti-imperialist forces – distinct in style and composition – but united by one common denominator that is integrating them and bringing them closer together.
Cuba’s entry into the Rio Group and the lifting of the sanctions that the United States had managed to impose on the Organization of American States, similarly expressed the decadence of the empire’s power and the loss of its all-embracing influence over its former “backyard.”
The New Year is not arriving in exactly equal form to all the regions of the planet, although global problems such as climate change and the economic crisis would seem to admit no witnesses and in them, we are all protagonists. Deceptions, crises and hopes could continue to characterize the successor to this convulsive 2009.