The MERCOSUR Meeting and Latin American "Integration"

July 17, 2006

The Meeting of the Common Market Council and Summit of Chiefs of
State of MERCOSUR and associated countries will take place with a big
security deployment, including 4,000 provincial and federal police,
while La Verdad Obrera is being published, in Córdoba [Argentina].
Presidents Kirchner, Lula, Nicanor Duarte, Tabaré Vázquez, Hugo
Chávez, Evo Morales, Michelle Bachlelet and, according to
speculation, Fidel Castro, and some other President from the region,
like the outgoing Alejandro Toledo of Peru, planned to be present.
Formally, the summit planned to have as its agenda, "service [sector]
business, the customs code, an agreement on border localities,
special import management," as well as "commercial agreements with
Pakistan, Cuba and Israel" (Clarín, 7/19/2006). During the joint
meeting of the Presidents, there will be various bilateral meetings,
and the so-called "Summit of the Peoples," promoted by the [trade
union federation] CTA and the CP, was going to take place, as well as
the "Latin American Meeting on Sovereignty and Regional Integration,"
promoted by organizations that support President Kirchner [of
Argentina].

Official discourse sets out that MERCOSUR, since Venezuela’s entry,
is taking steps toward a growing integration of the countries of the
region. But the "integration" in which these governments are
advancing is one that benefits the oil companies, the big auto
companies, construction enterprises, the big iron and steel
enterprises, and food exporters like the cereal companies. It is a
project that benefits the interests of local and foreign capitalist
groups tied to the various governments, that want to use the
perspective of new businesses (and shady deals), provided by the
combination of a conjuncture [occasion] of considerable economic
growth in the region with high incomes achieved by the increase of
oil (and gas) profits, incomes with which they promise to finance
projects like the gigantic "Gas Pipeline of the South," which in the
hands of these governments and businesses (the opposite of what an
infrastructure plan under workers’ control would be) promise to be
new "Yacyretás", a project that was supposed to be finished in 1982,
one that, as the President of Paraguay himself has said, has been "a
big creator of liabilities for the two countries, a burden for our
states" (Clarín, 7/19/2006). The deals are also projecting themselves
into finance: the possible launching of the so-called "Southern Bond"
continues the speculation connected with the purchase of $3.1 billion
US in Argentinean bonds (weren’t we going to get out of debt?) by
Venezuela, which has yielded to the bond-holders an income of $433
million US (Perfil, 7/16/2006), the result of a "financial bicycle,"
through which the majority of these bonds end up on the New York
Stock Exchange.

These agreements are combined with various disputes, like the current
dispute between Argentina and Uruguay about the paper mills (where
the demand to stop the factories has just suffered a defeat in its
case at the Court at The Hague, a choice promoted by Kirchner mainly
to end the road blockades by activists from Gualeguaychú), the
ongoing dispute over the price of gas exported by Argentina to Chile
or the always-vigorous threats by Uruguay and Paraguay to move
forward in Free Trade Agreements with the US if they do not get some
additional advantage from remaining in MERCOSUR.

The present picture of "unity" that the various governments are
trying to transmit should not deceive anyone with regards to its
soundness. If the conflicts and divergent interests are now
relatively cushioned by the favorable economic situation and
perspective deals for groups of capitalists, they will worsen as soon
as signs of crisis batter the region once again. As they have shown
repeatedly throughout history, when faced with necessity, the only
law the bourgeoisies and their governments know is "let anyone who
can, save himself" [sálvese quien pueda]. The real and necessary
economic and political integration of Latin America will not come
from their hand, but by the action of workers and peasants, by
conquering power in their respective countries and setting up a
Federation of Socialist Republics of Latin America.