Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Zermeño: the US, globalization and the boomerang effect

Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translated by Maria Garrido

La Jornada
September 29, 2005

Why are Americans like this?

Sergio Zermeño

In the last days of September, the 11th reunion of the European Association of Development Institutes (EADI) took place in Germany. Reading from the conference’s program and proceedings, in which close to 300 research centers participated, one wonders why we [Mexicans] get to live globalization on the side of the United States.

In the second paragraph of the conference’s program, EADI questions if globalization shouldn’t be perceived as another threat, and maybe even the worst, to the safety of humanity in the period after the Cold War, together with AIDS, international terrorism, civil wars, organized crime and environmental disasters. Furthermore, EADI strongly asserts: “while trying to improve economic efficiency and quality of life, many countries opened their frontiers to international exchange, however, such openness increases their vulnerability to different types of risks generating poverty and inequality between rich and poor countries, and exacerbating the conditions within poor countries themselves. Poverty has been associated with different illnesses and environmental degradation, and this vicious circle can only be broken if the international community makes an effort to work in a coordinated way to improve the capacity of poor countries to resolve their problems”. That way, the principal objective is not economic growth but human security and wellbeing.

It is a shame that in Mexico the elite responsible for the management of our country worries exclusively about interest rates and the growth of the domestic product, thinking innocently that if these economic indicators improve (given the fact that in 20 years they haven’t) the situation for the poor will improve as well. Even the World Bank accepted that the current levels of poverty will not decreased by 2015 [as agreed on the Millennium Development Goals] and sets a new target year in 2050.

But for a country like ours, dependent on that evil empire, and where growth will probably mean that our maquiladora model has improved its competitiveness to defend itself better against China, things could not be worst. “Improved its competitiveness” in this context will mean that salaries will further decrease and that needs will intensify. This in turn will cause – we know it by memory – an increase in the statistics of feminicides, an acceleration of the exodus of our campesinos to the North, defeated by the products that come into the country at half price, submerging their families, now broken and left behind, in sadness.

We have reached an extreme in which it would not surprise us if Fox would be advised to rent the National Palace to Wall-Mart so it could, once and for all, from this privileged position, destroy all the small and medium retailers from the downtown area, and even all the informal commerce in the country.

Who knows what kind of knowledge our scholarship holders received in the universities of the northern country, or how they used this knowledge only to fulfill their own interests, but the fact is that, while Korea, Japan, France and other countries close their frontiers in the areas where competition is not viable, and the European Union has compensated the weakest countries in areas that were in trouble, the American formula has been the destruction of everything in the search for the immediate profit.

It seems clear that they [Americans] still don’t understand that there is not an outside and an inside, that the destruction and the human and ecological regression they produce beyond their borders is coming back to haunt them like a boomerang.