One of the lingering residues of the independence struggles in South America has been the question of continental integration. This comes up regularly, most recently during the Pink Tide. Then the question of integration emerged as a part of the regional class struggle – should the terms of integration merely benefit the oligarchy and multi-national firms, or was integration a means to socialist development? Last week, in Rio, as part of a Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research co-organised series, Monica Bruckmann and Beatriz Bisso of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro joined Mariana Vazquez of the University of Buenos Aires and Olivia Carolino of Tricontinental before a crowded room of academics, students, and militant to discuss these themes. The idea of integration is a pressing one, but not integration without a clear assessment of its class character. Globalisation is a form of capitalist integration; integration of countries on a programme to benefit the working-class and peasantry is an entirely different issue. How to do it when the balance of forces is adverse? That’s the question on the table. These presentations will be folded into a book from us.
It has been ten years since Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez address the climate conference in Copenhagen. Chávez evoked the regionalism of Latin America – notably ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our Americas). His sharpest comments came when he pointed his finger at the richest individuals and countries of the world whose attitude ‘shows high insensitivity and lack of solidarity with the poor, the hungry, and the most vulnerable to disease, to natural disasters’. The richest, Chávez said, should do two related things: first, ‘set binding, clear, and concrete commitments for the substantial reduction of their emissions’; and second, ‘assume obligations of financial and technological assistance to poor countries to cope with the destructive dangers of climate change’. Simple.
Chávez saw those roots reaching for each other. But this is not a perspective shared by the G7 and the OECD. They see the fruits, which they want to pluck and eat for themselves. That’s their attitude. It is the attitude of the marauder, not of the human being.
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