Capitalism’s “chickens come home to roost” at the UN

June 25, 2009

Representatives of the world’s poorest countries joined other U.N. member states in New York this week at a three-day meeting of the U.N. General Assembly on the global financial crisis and its impact on the developing world.

Many delegates from “the South” blasted capitalism and the wealthy Western powers for the crisis. For once they could say they did not cause it though they are the biggest victims. Cuban Trade Minister Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz told the delegations — roughly three quarters of the General Assembly’s 192 member states are participating — that retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro had foreseen the current crisis nearly three decades go.

During a conference of nonaligned countries in 1983, Castro said in a speech that “declining foreign trade, hunger and unemployment” would eventually take their toll on the global economy,” Malmierca Diaz said.

“The current state of the world economy and its gloomy outlook should lead to a profound reflection in governments and in the most lucid minds of the developed world,” the minister said, adding that Castro’s analysis was “still valid.”

Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister and finance minister of the Caribbean island nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said the world economy is in “the worst crisis of international capitalism since 1929.”

“The chickens have come home to roost as the poor and the working people suffer consequentially,” Gonsalves said.

Ecuador’s fiery leftist President Rafael Correa agreed. He also joined the chorus of voices calling for the abolition of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which Cuba’s Malmierca Diaz said have “impoverished” the developing world.

There were other critical voices. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chided the world’s wealthy nations for reneging on pledges to boost aid to Africa. “Surely if the world can mobilize more than $18 trillion to keep the financial sector afloat, it can find more than $18 billion to keep commitments to Africa,” he said.

Turnout of world leaders has been low. Fewer than a dozen have shown up at what was billed as a summit meeting. Diplomats said that was partly due to the fact that the conference, originally scheduled for June 1-3, was postponed to this week by General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, a leftist former foreign minister of Nicaragua, due to the lack of agreement on a set of draft proposals on reforming the global financial system. Presidents Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez, leftist firebrands and critics of the United States from Bolivia and Venezuela, were supposed to attend but failed to appear.

The conference is set to adopt its financial reform proposals on Friday. The final draft was watered down from an earlier version prepared by D’Escoto that Western delegations complained was too radical for them. (One sentence in it read: “Mother Earth can live without human beings but we cannot live without Mother Earth.”)

Among the proposals in the final draft document are calls for greater supervision over hedge funds and the use of derivatives, gender and geographic equality at the IMF and World Bank and increased aid and debt relief for developed countries.

Diplomats from developing countries complained that the final draft was disappointing since it was thin on specifics and contained no concrete promises of new aid. Western diplomats said it was imperfect but a vast improvement over D’Escoto’s initial version.

The draft also calls for the United Nations to play a greater role in global financial matters. The poor nations outside the Group of 20 club of big developed and developing nations — India, China and Brazil are members — think that is a good thing. But big developed powers like the United States have traditionally opposed the idea of letting the other 191 U.N. member states tell it what to do with its money. (Diplomats said the United States, European Union and other Western participants would issue statements after the proposals’ adoption distancing themselves from some of language in the final document.)

Rene Grotenhuis, head of the Catholic development aid alliance CIDSE and director of the Dutch organization Cordaid, welcomed the idea of letting the U.N. play a bigger role: “Global economic policy should be like the World Cup, with every nation playing — not a tournament for rich countries and their invited guests.”

What do you think?


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no more money shld be sent to Africa until full accountability is known where all the money goes., these leaders r not distributing the money/food to whom it was intended but rather spending on themselves and making the gangs leaders richer. Africa wanted everyone out so they could run their own country so allow them to do so.
The UN is a joke anyway –

Posted by cheryl | Report as abusive

Every “ism” has its shortcomings, problems and excesses. Historically, when the economy is in a downward cycle, socialism rears its head and expunges its virtues on the world. Castro saw the current economic downturn coming 30 years ago? Let’s get real here. If that’s true, then why didn’t he see the collapse of commun”ism” 20 years ago? The most ardent proponents of “gloom and doom” for today’s economic outlook are those who would like social”ism” to replace capital”ism”. There is an enormous difference between social conscientiousness and social”ism”. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. Does social”ism” do a better job of dealing with social issues of providing personal opportunity and freedom than capital”ism”? Well, let’s look at a few examples………Nazi Germany, USSR, Communist China, Cuba………..America, Canada, South Korea. There is a difference that a blind man could plainly see. We’ve been down the social”ism” road before. Why travel that way again?

Posted by Gary Carpenter | Report as abusive

Totally agree with Cheryl. Africa should stop blaming the west and take some responsibility for their own actions and people.Perhaps its time for countries like China to step up to the plate – like that’s going to happen. Enough already with the blame game!!

Posted by gale | Report as abusive

The U.S.S.R. was not a communist state. It was centrally run by the Politiburro. The U.S. is not capitalist. We are a quasi fascist oligarchy. The characteristics of courage, integrity, sacrifice and genuine concern for the well being of the people being present in a nations leaders is far more important than what type of government or economic system said nation employs.

The underlying reason for the Soviet and U.S. collapse was greed fueled by wartime levels of military spending by their governments for decades on end. Senseless amounts of money was spent for military build up. The spending could not be sustained. Our collapse was much slower but evident to see.

It is academic to argue the virtues of capitalism versus socialism versus communism. Most of us have never lived in another country so we don’t really know whether or not other countries do better at serving the people. We do know our country does very well serving the extremely rich.

IMF and World Bank are so highly politicized by the G8 threats of withholding contributions so as to render them auxiliary foreign embassies. The loans issued are like foreign aid , quid pro quo.

Hind sight is twenty twenty. One day civilization will look back and see that our leaders were short sighted, self interested and hopelessly corrupt. If there is enough of civilization left to remember.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

Cheryl and gale, perhaps you both should take a good look at multinational corporate dealings throughout Africa. You are correct when you say corrupt African governments are at the heart of the matter. Our governments in the west give every advantage to our corporations to take full advantage of this corruption. This is economic oppression, empire. We enjoy cheap carbonated beverages, clothing, cell phones and more all because we pay to little for the resources we receive from the third world. What do you really think the answer is.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

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