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Ear to the Ground

Latin Leaders Blast Bailout

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Posted on Sep 25, 2008
Machado at the UN
AP photo / Seth Wenig

Jose Ramon Machado, vice president of Cuba, addressed the United Nations Wednesday with harsh words for U.S. imperialism and its effects both inside and outside its borders.

The most explicit anti-capitalist analysis of the U.S.‘s proposed bailout of major finance firms is not domestic, but rather international. A cadre of left-leaning leaders in Latin America is ramping up criticism of Bush’s crony capitalism, arguing that the U.S. economic crisis was caused by the driving logic of American imperialism: fast money at the expense of the poor.


The Guardian:

Without ever pronouncing the two words “United States”, Cuba’s first vice-president Jose Ramon Machado Ventura condemned Washington yesterday, telling the leaders gathered at the United Nations that the country’s quest for fast money at the expense of the poor was to blame for the world crises currently threatening the “existence of mankind”.

As Latin America elects more and more leftist leaders, its presidents suggested they are tired of decades of reliance on a nation that they said was not able to keep its own country from the brink of financial collapse.

“The prevailing world order, unjust and unsustained, must be replaced,” Machado Ventura said.

Chilean president Michelle Bachelet stressed that South American leaders held their own regional summit last week when civic disruptions broke out in Bolivia. The Union of South American Nations, created in May, met again yesterday in New York to keep Bolivia from political calamity.

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By samosamo, September 26, 2008 at 12:03 pm Link to this comment

South America has already gone through the milton friedman school of ‘unfettered, unregulated and totally free capitalism and markets’. They barely survived and if anyone or someones KNOW, it is they. Now the u.s.a is experiencing what others have survived and now it is our turn. Sad thing, and as usual we refuse to pay attention to history or to what uncle miltie’s disasterous economics did to the rest of the world, and the most tell tale that these countries all learned and are now rejecting, is the american way of anything, as it has nothing to do about improving countries but everything to do with enriching the rich even more. And we here in america are doing just like a saturday or sunday full day at the sports tube, drinking beer, laughing, farting, high fiving each other in just another spectator spectacle. Man oh man has the msm and its handlers ever done a job on the vegetables here in america.

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By Frostedflakes, September 25, 2008 at 8:08 pm Link to this comment

The bailout is crap. Paulson is the former CEO of Goldman-Sachs, just as Cheney is the former CEO of Halliburton, and we all know how that has worked out. There is no way possible that these people can be trusted. This will be equivalent to the secret energy meetings conducted by Cheney, not to mention the fact that the bailout has Cheney’s blessing. And for Bush this will be one more blow to destroy this republic.

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By mrmb, September 25, 2008 at 2:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If anyone needed to know that exact nature of democratic capitalism and hadnt figured things out by now then thay just have to look at the current mess in the USA and how the political elite are working so hard to help their brethren in the financial elite and are actually deceiving the general public by talking about gurantees, oversight, and etc….. without addressing the key underlying facts and issues. They have the audacity to brush aside criticism and say that we shouldnt be pointing finger and blaming others. What a novel idea.

The system is corrupt to its core and its high time that the American public wake up and realize what the hell is going on.

These theives keep on plundering the palnet and now their plunder of the massess in the USA has become so apparant that even their hard core supporters are finding it difficult to justify such acts.

I am glad that Latin leaders are speaking bluntly and I am also pleased that the Iranian president has been vocal and critical. It just burns these zionists when they see these things.

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By Alan, September 25, 2008 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Proclamation!
The Senate has spoken.
From all the corners of the empire,
1300 Billion Sestertii shall be levied against
the grain, cattle, and olives of the provinces.
700 Billion Sestertii shall be given to the gentry
and their estates to maintain the glory of the
empire.  600 Billion Sestertii shall be given
to the legions for the protection of the empire.

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By Xntrk, September 25, 2008 at 11:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Continued Article: Part 3:

There’s something beautiful, moving and pioneering in the fact that six powerful states should have come together in a concerted action to intervene massively in the economy: that’s what you call “a plan.”  In Marx’s time, capitalism was only “an exception in certain parts of the planet” and if it has come to cover the earth’s surface, it’s been thanks to a permanent state intervention, an uninterrupted “plan” that has combined and recombined evictions from the land, armed actions, protectionist measures, coup d’etats and international agreements.  Never before throughout history has an economic experiment had such powerful means or favorable conditions at its disposal to demonstrate its superiority.  In the last sixty years, the organized minority that runs global capitalism has been seen to be supported, on an unprecedented scale, by an entire series of international institutions (the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, the G-8, etc.) which have freely interpreted, and against all obstacles, applied the policies of liberalization and privatization to the worldwide economy.  After 200 years of free existence, supported, defended, sustained by all the earth’s powers and institutions, this is where this homicidal piece of junk has led us: a billion people dying of hunger and, if we don’t run and help those responsible, the rest of us may end up being buried with the poorest, after we’ve killed each other.

It seems then, that planning to save banks and insurers doesn’t work.  And planning to save lives?  This we still haven’t tested.  Capitalism and socialism do not challenge one another in parallel worlds or under equal conditions, each in a pure, disinfected laboratory.  Rather, socialism was born against historic capitalism, as a defense against it, and it has never failed because it has never had the means nor the support to prove itself as a model.  The little that we can intuit at present is more hopeful: following a similar history of colonialism and underdevelopment, socialism has done much more for Cuba than capitalism has done for Haiti or the Congo.  When one speaks of “socialism in only one country” this is to forget that “capitalism in only one country” is equally impossible and therefore a muscular international organization capable of penetrating all corners and all relationships has been created.  What would happen if the United Nations should decide to apply its charter for human and social rights?  If the FAO were run by a socialist Cuban?  If the model for international trade were ALBA and not the WTO?  If the Banco del Sur were as powerful as the IMF?  If all international institutions were to impose structural adjustment programs on unruly capitalists, aimed at increasing public spending, nationalizing public resources and protecting social and labor rights?  If six central banks for powerful states were to massively intervene to guarantee the advantages of socialism, threatened by a hurricane?  We might say that the organized minority that runs capitalism would not allow it, but we can’t say that it wouldn’t work.

Cuba is the only country in the world where, even after a hurricane destroyed 15% of its housing, realism continues to mean the saving of lives and demagoguery means stealing food from a brother.  In the United States when the same hurricane passed through, realism meant the Texas Attorney General mounting an operation to protect victims of the catastrophe from exposure to sex offenders, while asking the government for economic aid was demagoguery.  Now Iñaki Gabilondo has said it to millions of Spaniards who believed it to be eternal and natural: planning to save banks doesn’t work.  And planning to save lives?  It’s the only way for realism to cease to be criminal, and for truth, compassion and solidarity to cease to be demagoguery.

Machatera is a good source of Latin American News. Try it…

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By Xntrk, September 25, 2008 at 11:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Demagoguery and Realism
September 24, 2008

The Crisis of Capitalism

Demagoguery and Realism

Santiago Alba Rico - Rebelión

Translation: Machetera

The same day that the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that almost a billion human beings are affected by hunger and that the aid necessary to save their lives would cost $30 billion dollars, six central banks (United States, Japan, Canada, England and Switzerland) injected $180 billion dollars in the financial markets in a concerted action to save the private banks.

In the face of data such as this, there are only two possible alternatives: that we be demogogues or that we be realists.  If I invoke the natural law of supply and demand and say that there is much more worldwide demand for bread than for cosmetic surgery and much more for remedies against malaria than for haute couture clothing (and still more for housing than for mortgage loans); if I call for a Kantian referendum that would ask European citizens whether they would prefer that the monetary reserves of their country go to saving lives or to saving banks, without a doubt, I’m being a demagogue.  If, against reason and ethics, I accept that it is more urgent, more necessary, more convenient, more effective, more beneficial to mankind, to stop the ruin of an insurer and the bankruptcy of a banking institution than to feed thousands of children, provide relief to hurricane victims or cure dengue fever, then I am being realistic. There’s not a sliver of irony in my words.  That’s how things are: a true circle that is not allowed to be tested is demagoguery; a sharply pointed monstrosity that has no allowable alternative is realistic.  To have a lot or to have a little - or even to have only the desire of having something - one must put aside all the true circles and accept all the sharp points.  The organized minority that runs capitalism - the ministers, bankers, multinational executives, brokers and financial journalists - can invoke Hayek with arrogance during boom times and demand the state’s intervention with aplomb when a crash is imminent, because it knows that its impunity is proportional to our dependency.  For this reason - we must admit it - European citizens called to a hypothetical Kantian referendum (the bank, or life) would doubtless respond realistically, in favor of the banks, conscious of everything they mean to us - from our lovers’ embraces, to the smiles of our children - the concession is theirs.  The organized minority that governs us has taken humanity hostage and, if we do not come to the aid of the kidnappers, they may now kill us all.

For a captive humanity, it’s realistic to cede to blackmail and put truth, compassion, sensibility and solidarity aside.  A system that, when things are going well, kills a billion people by hunger, and when it’s going badly may do away with the rest, is not only an immoral system, but an economic failure.  In this sense, the journalist Iñaki Gabilondo is right, and it’s good, practically revolutionary, that many people listen to him.*  But it’s wrong to evoke the fall of the Berlin Wall, however rhetorically effective it might be, because if capitalism had anything to do with the defeat of the Soviet Union, it cannot also be said that the (already vanished) Soviet Union has anything to do with the capitalist agony.  Capitalism simply doesn’t work.

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By Xntrk, September 25, 2008 at 11:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is long. I’m posting it because of its relevance. Read it an pass it on please: Part 1

>>* On September 18, 2008, Spain’s El Plural, which bills itself as a “progressive digital periodical” quoted Iñaki Gabilondo, a star television anchorman in Spain with an affinity for the ruling Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE) and capitalism as saying: “The current economic model has failed.”

  “The financial jitters will not stop.  Public actions to rescue the market are taking place, but the markets are a madhouse, mistrust has taken root in the system.  In these circumstances, it’s ridiculous to continue believing that we’re facing a rough patch, that it will end and that we’ll return - somewhat bruised - to the prior situation.  Such a thing is impossible, to start with, because when one comes out of the tunnel one is never in the place where one entered, but rather in a different place, and for another, because the current economic model has failed,” said Iñaki Gabilondo yesterday, in a report presented on Channel Four.

  The prestigious journalist also wondered “if there could be any greater failure of liberalism than the nationalizations of these financial giants, in the United States itself.”  The answer could not be more blunt: “It’s collapsing just as communism collapsed in 1989.  Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, are like chunks out of the Berlin Wall of liberalism.”

  “Here in Spain, the President of the CEOE [Confederation of Employers and Industries of Spain] has said - tenaciously - that “a bracket should be inserted in the free market economy.”  Yes, you heard right.  At the end of the day, we’re at the end of a trajectory, we don’t give the proper importance to the symptoms that herald the madness, the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, the Enron case.  Speculation, smoke, greed…the dominant thinking, infinite growth, is not within the laws of reality, nor those of physics, but it is the primary dogma of our economy.  Well, it’s finished, so now it doesn’t matter so much when we get out of the tunnel, but where we’ll be and where we’ll have to go.  This crisis is much more than economics and it can’t be enclosed in brackets in order to go backwards,” concluded Gabilondo.

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