January 7, 2004
Translation: FTAA Secretariat
COMMITTEE OF GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES ON THE PARTICIPATION OF
CONTRIBUTION IN RESPONSE TO THE OPEN AND ONGOING INVITATION
EDUARDO PEREZ-ALBELA FERNANDEZ
FTAA entities addressed in the contribution
Negotiating Group on Market Access
Latin America is standing at a crossroads, and the road it chooses to go
down now will define the continent’s future for ever. Moreover, Latin
America is facing this choice at a time when its peoples are struggling
through another one of the lean decades they have become used to.
For several years now, our foreign ministers and our bureaucrats have been
discussing the pros and cons of the FTAA, regardless of the fact that it
is the people who bear the burden of the frustration and deceit.
We lost a whole decade with the import substitution program promoted by
ECLAC; the foreign debt problem has left us with our hands tied for who
knows how long, and the privatization of our state enterprises in line
with the “Washington Consensus” has been so disastrous that even the
person who coined the phrase has acknowledged it.
So who is the United States to come and propose a fourth way for us to get
out of our state of underdevelopment if everything so far has been deceit
and failure? Who are they to ask us to open our markets when they
subsidize their steel industries and their agriculture?
Look at Argentina, the country that most faithfully applied the Washington
Consensus recipes, now, as it faces its collapsed financial system. And
look at Colombia, trapped by the guerrilla. Guerrilla movements are a
cancer produced by the injustices of the North.
The FTAA is an agreement for the free movement of goods and services in
the Americas. In other words, it is a market game. We are underdeveloped
countries, and our industries are backward if not obsolete, but we have
raw materials and agricultural products, and above all, we have markets.
The countries of the North are interested in our markets and, divided and
parceled up as they are now, they will soon turn them into booty. They
have actually chased ahead and cut off the road that MERCOSUR and the
Andean Pact were slowly and dramatically building towards the continent’s
unification. They have even set us a deadline: 2005, under the “divide and
rule” approach. We are already divided, and they are just waiting until
2005 to devastate our markets.
The FTAA from now on should mean first ALADI (the Latin American
Integration Association) for the people of Latin America, and 2005 should
be the deadline for forging Latin America into a single market: then we
could start talking about the FTAA. Doing so beforehand is tantamount to
Some countries are already willing to sign the FTAA agreement, however,
and would do so tomorrow if they could. They have become tired of waiting
for the union of Latin America, and individually things will probably turn
out well for them. These are the countries that the United States is
counting on for the 2005 deadline; and thanks to them, the union of Latin
America is in doubt. No longer a utopia, it is turning into a flop. That
is what the countries of the North want: to divide and rule.
Fortunately, there is still time to prevent a total collapse. Not because
we have a way to go until 2005, but because in Brazil, a country which
carries such a huge weight in this region, that has taught us so much
about how to protect markets, and which cares deeply for MERCOSUR,
authorities have emerged that are going to redefine the FTAA project and
address the issues at the very heart of the negotiations so that we Latin
Americans once and for all take a stand against decisions on the future of
Latin America being made in Washington.
There are many astute minds in Latin America; there is great support for
integration; but decisions need to be made. The time has come; history
awaits. The dream of our liberators lives on in our minds. Let it not fade
in this dark night of Latin America’s history; when dawn breaks, let us
have made that dream a reality so that we can face the globalization of
the world as a rich, vigorous and united continent.
Caracas, December 2003