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The Treaties - 14 - Treaty of the People of the Americas


1. On 27 June 1990, an expression of the policies of the Northern countries toward the South: the Enterprise of the Americas Initiative (or Bush Plan), was made public. It covers three areas: trade, investment and external debt. As far as the first is concerned, a policy of free trade has been proposed, including the United States commitment to reduce tariffs on Latin American exports. On the theme of investment, the United States proposed the formation of an investment fund for Latin America and the Caribbean, administered by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), to promote privatization. In relation to debt, it proposed a small reduction in the external debt and the expansion in stages of official U.S. loans to countries that adopt programs of structural adjustment imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Also proposed was the creation of environmental funds to systematize a debt-for-nature swap mechanism. These funds are to be administered by a board formed by non-gov ernmental organizations (NGOs), local governments and the United States, intending in this manner to control and integrate the NGOs in the general Bush initiative proposal and to diminish their critical capacity.

2. This initiative intends to reinforce the prevailing development model and the transnationalization of the economy, with big social and environmental consequences. This process also undermines the organization of community challenges and strongly affects the possibility that local populations can, with autonomy, chart their own development course.

3. We reject the Enterprise of the Americas initiative, the payment of the debt and structural adjustment, and we commit ourselves to promote an initiative of the People of the Americas and models of decentralized development via the following agreements:

Structural Adjustment

4. The financial policies of the IMF and the World Bank in Latin America since the decade of the 70s have been defined fundamentally by: the liberalization and deregulation of the market and of international trade; freedom for foreign investments; an increase in production in the export sector; the promotion of product specialization by country; the deepening of a process of impoverishment and marginalization of large sectors of the Latin American and Caribbean population; overexploitation and contamination of natural resources; increase in foreign debts; and increased concentration in the ownership of land. In general, there has been a transnationalization of economies, in which the basic necessities of the people have been put to the side. Similar policies have been implemented in the United States and Canada, with many of the same grave results.

5. Therefore, we take on the commitment to disseminate information and improved analyses about the environmental and social consequences of the process of "economic structural adjustment" in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the United States and Canada, including the effects on the condition of social groups such as women, youths, children, ethnic minorities, etc. Denouncing the concentration of power and income caused by this model and considering that all economies need profound changes in their organization to make possible a focus on sustainability, we commit ourselves as well to support new forms of economic organization, based on the decentralization of productive activity and the autonomy of populations.

Free Trade and Integration

6. The liberalization of national economies, in the form of programs of structural adjustment, has been a prerequisite for the effective implementation of a hemispheric program of trade liberalization. Transnational corporations need a deregulation of national economies and an absence of labor-related and environment-related restrictions in order to move their capital and products among the countries of the region without encountering major obstacles. Nevertheless, the economic integration of Latin American countries can constitute a positive alternative.

7. To prevent an integration not directed towards a model of sustainable development from exerting a downward pressure on the salaries, health and rights of workers and on the protection of the quality of the environment, and to ensure that the people of each country do not lose control over their local resources and their right to make decisions about their own economy, we reject proposals for free trade and integration that do not ensure protection and improvement in the areas of labor, the environment and citizen control.

External Debt

8. The present neo-liberal economic program, imposed by the countries of the North through the international financial institutions and adopted by the governments of the South, has deepened in great measure the enormous economic, political and social inequality that exists between the North and the South. It has also increased loan payments and debt servicing that cause a greater impoverishment of the already poor countries, as well as environmental destruction generated by production and exportation at any cost. This exclusively monetarist vision impedes the establishment of models of sustainable development.

9. We thus commit ourselves to fight against the payment of the debt by Third World countries, having considered most of it illegitimate and already paid in the form of unjust interest charges and debt-service payments. For the same reason, we do not accept debt-for-nature swaps nor other such mechanisms. We also reject forms of debt relief conditioned on the implementation of structural adjustment programs. And we call for a complete audit of the debt of the countries of the Third World.

Ecological Debt

10. The mechanisms of structural adjustment, the external debt and the international financial system have generated the net transfer of resources (natural, financial, human and energy-related) from the South to the North, as well as the aggressive, inverse transfer of environmental technology from the enriched countries of the North to the impoverished countries of the South. This not only limits the possibilities for development that is autonomous and harmonious, but it also attaches countries to the predominant development model. With it comes the intensified destruction of nature and the marginalization of important sectors of the populations of Third World countries.

11. It is therefore necessary that the system as a whole and in particular its central agents provide restitution for this growing debt to the biosphere, the effects of which vitally alter the quality of life and the capacity to sustain it.

12. We commit ourselves to work for the international recognition of ecological debts.

13. At the same time, we commit ourselves to a recognition of the ecological creditors (ethnic groups, communities, countries or regions affected by the exhaustion of resources), the ecological debtors (responsible for environmental and social deterioration) and the necessity of applying measures of ecological adjustment (necessary modification and changes in the present patterns of production and consumption) so that actions of devastation and contamination do not continue to be taken. We must demand that governments and national and transnational enterprises correct the environmental degradation that they have caused and provide economic compensation for the damage.

Cultural Diversity

14. The diversity of cultures and civilizations is a characteristic of the Americas, which for 500 years have been suffering a violent process of homogenization and disappearance of cultures that is associated with a shameful fall in the quality of life and of the environment.

15. We take on the commitment to fight for the defence of cultural diversity and for the civilization of our peoples, promoting through education profound respect for our differences and valuing not only the original cultures of America (Amerindian, African and European) but also ethnic groups and their racial mix and culture, as well as bio-diversity.

Some Alternatives

16. We will fight so that the transfer of technology is oriented towards sustainable development and so that the practice of transferring dirty technologies to the Third World is suspended.

17. We will promote the design and dispersal of clean technologies appropriate to the ecological, social and cultural conditions of each country. We will support urban and rural micro-industry and the development of small producers as the basis of a new model of development that is multiple and diverse, integrated, community-controlled, self-managed and consistent with the environmental and social diversity of our peoples and their localities. And we will promote in all cases the economic and social equality and advancement of women and minorities.

18. The social and environmental realities of the Latin American countries have many similarities, including the level of their social and economic structures. The NGOs of these countries have not developed joint and integrated actions to confront their problems. In the same way, the relations among these NGOs, the social movements and the indigenous peoples of North America, Latin America and the Caribbean have been weak, failing to utilize the enormous potential of interchanges of experiences and support.

19. We thus commit ourselves to increase communication of our experiences, to expand our sharing of information, to develop mechanisms of solidarity and joint action and to link organizations in the search for decentralized forms of ecologically sustainable and socially just development and for a profound democratization of our societies.


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