Friday, 8 July 2011


(break's new tattoo...almost at 40 he decides to tatoo Veganism!)

Q:ok tell me, you are now in your mid-thirties, about to reach forties, how different do you feel / think you are from that kid who got involved with the punk/hardcore scene almost 20 years ago? Was it blessing or a curse?

A: Some ideas are poisonous. I keep remembering Ken from Ebullition with that Straight Edge Compilation. I feel I engaged on a journey that brought me a lot of good things and happiness but also a way to be completely out of step with this world and some pains to deal with.

Like that blue and red pill in the Matrix, I chose to live reality when I got in contact with Punk / HC which led me to a whole bunch of Social Movements, Political Prisoners, Indigenous Struggles, Veganism, Straight Edge, etc., I was 20 years old, youth blossom you know? I was never the same from that day. I was too naïve yes, but that’s part of the deal and learned a lot through the years about things I never imagined. But on the other hand, it’s been difficult to find a place where you feel comfortable when you know the world that’s been pulled from your eyes blinds you from the truth. It’s a liar world. You choke on all the lies that have been fed through your throat generation through generation, all the concepts, “their” truths, their definition of every single word and its meanings. And when you step out of what they “teach” you, you find yourself being labelled and unadjusted, out of time, a dissident, an angry person, etc.

Today, I am no longer the same as nothing stays the same ever. As we live in a constant state of impermanence and although I am a product today of all I’ve learned over the years with all the experiences I had, pains I endured, people who crossed their way with mine, time that went on, I am still that kid many times but I’ve also became an adult. I never saw the world the same way after getting in deep contact with Punk / HC and with all I’ve learned, socially, politically and spiritually. I have grown up to be a person beyond any expectations I had for myself, in both good and bad things. I have had and I am today a different type of human being that I would be if I would never got to know Punk or HC.

Sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse, I just know I never looked to the world again naively and a lot of times felt and still feel out of step with it. As you grow older and slowly disconnect in some way with what you used to deal with daily, you find yourself sometimes a little isolated in terms of the way you look at what society standards are. And sometimes, you choose to fit in, as if there was no other choice. It’s frustrating, it seems no matter which way you choose, all roads seem to lead to Rome and you feel like giving in.

I admit that sometimes I felt I wish I could be ignorant enough to believe in the world that is shown to me instead of questioning beliefs, established concepts, food, fortune, fame, love, success, etc. I found and still find myself victim of brainwashing sometimes, at all sorts of levels. I’m aware but sometimes I let go. It’s kind of a contradiction but I admit that’s the way I feel.

I’m still Vegan, still Straight Edge, I still carry all those words and lessons learned through years of “activism” of being in a band with an uncompromising message of awakening. I just don’t use that everyday to speak to people about it but I try to apply all the good values I learned and self-fed through the years. It’s easy to get old and jaded and I confess, sometimes it’s hard not feeling that way…

Q: ok, interesting but it seems to me that not everyone who got into hardcore feels the same i mean it seems that sometimes it doesn't touch people's lives and their perspectives on the world at all and after some years they just walk out of the scene barely changed. Why do you think it had such a deep impact on you? do you think it had to do with your heart being more receptive at the time, or were you looking for directions at that point in your life? or was it because you were fronting new winds who in a way were being placed at the spearhead of the emerging SxE scene in Portugal in the early 90's and therefore got more raw first hand blissful experiences? and how does this seemingly long-lasting influence affects you in practice and in real life situations. how does it reflect? or do you feel that a big part of it is just a melancholic, nostalgic mindtrip...what you think?

A: I think that first of all it all comes down to who you really are and how deep you are engaged regarding any situation. When I engage in something, either I am there wholeheartedly there or I’m not there at all. There are no grey zones on this.

When I got into New Winds I got involved with a lot of issues that were unknown to me. A whole new world was being pulled over my eyes. It was a lot of information to process, a whole new way of looking at things and a whole new meaning too. Yes, I was 20, looking, like any other teenager, to have something to hold on to. It’s something common for the age I guess as all people go through this. You want to grab onto something that you feel connected to. I just didn’t know how that would change my life until today. But different people suffer different impacts when dealing with the same subjects. Regarding this one specifically, it depends on who you are, what you are looking for at that time and how deep you are willing to go and how you are affected by what you find. A lot of people were greatly impacted and a lot went away as time moved on. Some just wanted to fit in and feel a sense of belonging to a group. These wanted to experience change as individuals too and they, even for some time, got involved in demonstrations, became vegetarians, launched labels or distros, even wrote letters to political prisoners. But, and this is something common, if you don’t feed yourself daily with those situations, reading, updating, arming yourself, it becomes a matter of losing touch and interest and disconnect with a lot of things you were interested before. Actually, the whole world distracts you to a lot on uninteresting stuff. It’s easy to go, to leave to something more trivial. It’s easy to be a happy dumb. Look at all the toys and pleasures out there to entertain you and keeping you away from yourself!

Moving on. Yes, it’s true, we were in the 90’s, being politically and socially fed with bands like X-Acto, Nations on Fire, Manlifting Banner, Separation, Blindfold, Earth Crisis, etc., and were all very influenced by their lyrics and the subjects we were being alerted to. This is something unarguable: If were being fed with all this information and if this had such an impact on us as individuals and as a band, we could not expect to be transformed into something different. We identified ourselves with the message of those bands, we wanted to use music as an approach to people by alerting themselves, even sometimes naively, that we could change the world! And our lyrics were all focused on a lot of social and political issues and we made a stand as a band in the Punk / HC Scene. For some people though, we planted a seed in their hearts and some got involved in social projects years later, for some, it was just a phase where they had fun, learned some stuff and went looking for something else. I guess that’s part of the game of life. Most of those people are gone, never to be heard or seen again. Some others are still going to shows but it’s just music for them and hang-out with people, get tattoos and stuff and that’s it. Some pick up what’s left and still maintain reminiscing of the good old days where we were all friends and did stuff together for society and the world. But most of it was all bullshit, we were just having fun, most did not know what the hell we were talking or writing about. It was easy to play and pick up a microphone and shout slogans of change or tell stories about situations. Fortunately, some very interesting and dedicated people were found there, really committed and really aware of who was who and who would stay, who would go. These ones, still apply all they learned in their day-to-day and are much, much more mature about how they approach issues. Some influence others and show a lot of things that people never heard of, in our jobs, new friends, friends of friends, etc. It’s like passing a torch. That is the reason why I sometimes feel so out of step with the world. I fit in here, this type, the ones that learned that this whole system is rotten to the core and we are daily brainwashed in a v.2.0 of an Orwellian world. This is the hardest part. Seems like your life summarises as a tree branch and no matter how many ramifications it might have, it will all lead to a door that says: “Fit in. You have no other choice”. That’s why the “ignorance is bliss” is so true although such lie, you know?

On the other hand, as time moves on, although you feel you’re still yourself, you’re not the same anymore and you are totally right, this is a mindtrip as you get assaulted by tons of memories of what it was and where it went, people you met, places you played, causes you supported, people you helped. I sometimes think, as you once told me, I can never understand what did I do to deserve so much. I’m still glad I took the red pill because although painfully sometimes, I’m aware of the world I’m in and I’m still connected, although differently, to a lot of the subjects I used to when New Winds was still playing.

Q: When you say "... even sometimes naively, that we could change the world!..." do you mean in terms of the hardcore changing the world or in terms of any (r)evolutionary struggle?

In summary do you believe that the world (by any means ) can be changed? and If yes would you dare to change it? you know i look around and see so many of us really well in life (if we compare it to 90% of the worlds population...) that i don't really know if would run the risk of loosing our white, middle-class european priviledge...i don't really know if we're just enaged in rethoric mental masturbation or if we really mean what we say.

A: The phrase was to illustrate that we all had the illusion that a band could in fact change the world just as if we could indeed be a real change in society. At some point this was true, we did touch a lot of people but that to change the world was a hyperbole.

The world is constantly changing with our impact. We live in an impermanent state of things, all is changing, transforming. But I understand what you’re trying to ask. Yes, I was mentioning in HC terms. There was a time we were all so deeply involved with the HC scene that we had the illusion, at least I call it as an illusion, we were indeed doing something with a huge impact in society. We lived, breathed, dreamed and were sop deeply involved with so many subjects, that we thought New Winds was making a really difference outside the HC Scene and it wasn’t this much as we believed. We were doing a few things, we were involved but not to a point of being considered as a salvation army for the world. There was a time, I confess this, that when New Winds was considering breaking up, I even thought “Gee, what about now? What about all the oppressed people we used to speak up in favour of?” “How is the world going to live without us?” That was so stupid, so naïve! I could I ever consider that the band I was in was so important for the world to be a better place? This was such a lack of humility! When I realized what I was thinking I even felt like ashamed for thinking that this was so important. Maybe it was and I know that even for a tiny number of people we were able to inspire and to generate a will for a change in habits or looking for social projects to engage in but from that to changing the world, wow, that was an insane thought.

On the other hand, and directly answering your questions, I believe the world could really change through (R)Evolutionary Struggle(s), they would just have to be really well embedded in society and people would have to be really open and willing to change courses, parties, dogmas and beliefs and their current lifestyle. This is such a complex issue to debate and get to a conclusion. There are just so many issues to mention that I feel that unless I give a 5.000 page answer and touch all the details of a change in the world, I can tend to miss a lot of important points. It is such a deep subject with so many ramifications that you must go to the bottom of the well, the Human Nature it self to at least give a thorough and concise opinion about this.

Changing the world through whichever revolutionary struggle or movement is a process, a daily process that involves a trillion details at all levels, starting with awareness and a deep will to change through heart and then through action, brick by brick, wall by wall, so to speak. It involves love. Love and dedication to a cause. Jesus Christ and Marxism and Ghandi and Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and Sitting Bull and all the icons or Revolutionary struggles or groups, all wanted a change in society people’s behaviours but all shared one common fatal flaw: They were all assuming the goodness of the human being and they were all assuming people wanting to join their struggles. They were assuming human natured lacked greed and lust and power and thirst for material wealth. Unquestionably, and from my perspective solely, I identify with their struggles for self and social liberation and change which would make the world a better place in general terms. But change is indeed a slow process. One thing is sure. We cannot and must not ever continue to feed a system that is responsible for the slavery of millions of beings. We are killing ourselves daily by being a part of the problem and not part of a solution. It will always be important, no matter which route we follow, the importance of not forgetting so we can learn from past mistakes and the price a lot of people paid so me and you could have a middle class life full of comfort while a lot of people died and suffer today while we ask for sanctions and boycotts. A lot of us wouldn’t ever switch our comfortable homes in the west for the mountains or prisons losing all we have. It’s exactly those who have nothing to lose who are the ones who are in best position to give everything for a struggle. Of course there are exceptions too. Subcomandante Marcos traded university and a middle class life 18 years ago to be a spokesperson for indigenous peoples in Chiapas Mexico where he remains until today. He gave up everything for a higher struggle, the liberation of indigenous campesinos from a Capitalist system and for true recognition of indigenous culture and by the creation of a self sustained education and cultural code of conduct independent but parallel, from society. I brought this example just to illustrate that in general terms, almost no one is willing to give in what they have today, there are exceptions to the rule. As Zapata said, “I prefer to live on my feet than to die on my knees” Some people still live and some lived through this, take Che for example, Ken Saro Wiwa, Palden Gyatso, Frederick Douglass, John Brown, Huey P. Newton, just to name a few. History is stained in a good way by the brilliance of these revolutionaries who, in a lot of times, behind bars or with their own lives, paid the price for a better word.

Nevertheless, what I think no one should forget when it comes to the issue of changing the world and although we must step forward, we must not erase memory. Because those who strike the blows forget but those who bear the scars remember.

Q: You say "'...but all shared one common fatal flaw: They were all assuming the goodness of the human being and they were all assuming people wanting to join their struggles. They were assuming human nature lacked greed and lust for power and thirst for material wealth..." . I agree that the human animal definitely has all these tendencies that you illustrated but don't you think that at least with the spiritual figures you mentioned, a big part of their struggle is/was exactly the inner-struggle to overcome these obstacles and not merely an outward war against oppression? as Vegan Reich would say "the war outside as a manifest of the war within"...? And once we're talking about issues that revolve around spirituality do you have any spiritual path? and by that i mean not necessarily a religious creed but any belief/practice that allows you to regularly check your own greed, your own darkside, your own egoistic tendencies??? Would you share some aspects of your inner struggles with us?

A: Yes, I get the point “you must become the change you want to see in the world”. I was just trying to express that people might be looking in the same direction but seeing things in a completely different way and therefore, adopting completely different approaches for the same problem, some for unity and one struggle, some for segregation and concentration of power in the hands of a few. Have you noticed that 1% has 99% on their knees? And that’s what I think revolutionary groups fight has a whole, to invert these numbers, all power to the people. Too few of a people have too many of slaves whose language they speak is one of silence. So, the first step, so to speak, about this one is to change hearts and minds through action, leading by example. Unless you feel it in your gut, you won’t be able to change anything.

A spiritual path…huh…well, I believe we are all spiritual beings and I believe we live in an impermanence state of things. Life itself corroborates what I just wrote, the clock, ticking seconds of your life way. How many seconds? How many years? How much time that will go by that everything I know, everything I touch disappears? Nothing stays the same, all is transformation. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you are able to live better and to be happier. But make no mistake, this is no easy thing, no kid’s candy. It is a (R)Evolutionary Process which you must work on every single day. I also believe I am not just this body. Although I feel pain, hunger, cold, etc., I believe that I am the personality that inhabits this machine I call body. Also, quoting New Winds, I believe that being Spiritual, living spiritually and believing in a Spiritual Revolution is the moment you realize you are not the centre of this world. It’s incredible how we are all connected, how one move affects an unknown person in a unknown city anywhere in the world. The way you think, act and live as an example can impact people’s lives. But it is important not to be confused by being Spiritual or by being Religious. I think being religious and the word used, “Religious” as a negative meaning associated to a lot of negativity, by reasons I don’t want to mention for now. I think the main difference between both (spirituality and religion) is that, for the first, you do believe in self-change through a D.I.Y path or process and give no shape to a God or live by the scriptures of a book. While in religion you believe there is God (whatever name he/she has) or whatever shape you give them and you actually follow a set of dogmas or “truths”. It might seem contradictory but when people ask me if I believe in God, the first answer that crosses my mind is answering with a question: “it depends, what do you mean by God?”. The God I believe in isn’t short of cash because he doesn’t need it, the God I believe in doesn’t need me to knee down and pray, doesn’t need me to go to a specific place to talk to him, doesn’t have a time schedule so I can discipline myself and pray cycle by cycle following a routine. The God I believe in is in the smile of children, is in the rocks Palestinian children throw at Israeli tanks, is in the hugs I receive from my friends, is in a rainy day that makes life come alive, is in every corner where there is hope for better days, is in animals being liberated from places of exploitation, is in every uprising of people who fight to destroy the shackles that makes them prisoners, is in birds singing, whales diving, trees growing, is in a summer rose being a victim of fall…on the other hand, and I admit this is a very contradictory subject, as God can be compared, for instance, to Nature. Nature is not just “good”. Nature has many forms, storms, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc., it’s not just sunny days and beaches and harmony in a forest. It is destruction too. But it is there, for some reason, somehow. I believe in an energy form, not a form I can even project in my mind. One of the things I feel is really important is to feel, to follow your heart. You head reasons but the heart always knows. Always. Rationalizing things solely in life is being limp. You have to dive deep into yourself to search for answers, explore who you really are, expand your limits and realize you are here temporarily. You were never asked to be born, you sure don’t know when you’ll die, so enjoy the ride the best you can. And if you are fortunate enough to have a bed, water, food, shelter, family, friends, clothes and a secret self, move on, time’s ticking away.

Q:last words?

A: just to thank you guys for wanting to interview me.

Friday, 28 January 2011


The processes of globalisation and its effects on Argentina's economy
(by Lady B.)

In today's political climate the term 'globalisation' has become a metaphor for many of the problems facing countless countries of the world, particularly poor countries, which many feel are being exploited by their rich and usually Western neighbours. This representation is one, which many would consider as the main feature of globalisation. However, globalisation is a rather broad and indefinable term absorbing all aspects of society and essentially far deeper and underlying currents can be felt, which the above description does not elude too. Globalisation is a process, which merges distinct and separate entities into a global network of markets, communications, cultures and identities.

These issues are proving extremely contentious with the present political climate. Never before has there been such a collective voice of dissent echoing from all corners of the world. Evidence of this can be seen with the anti-globalisation protests, which have occurred in all major cities of the world since 1997. Culminating in the Genoa protests of 2001 where we witnessed the most horrific event of these turbulent years with the death of the young Italian protester Carlo Giuliani killed by the Italian police.

With this in mind, the following will focus on the economics of globalisation with particular attention paid to Argentina, a country whose recent economic collapse has been widely attributed to the processes of globalisation. Argentina can be seen as a laboratory of the great Western powers (particularly the U.S), which used Argentina as a microcosm of the virtues globalisation has to offer and as will be seen, was initiated with dire consequences.

The following will look at globalisation, providing a descriptive definition and considering also, the roles of certain agencies such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and will additionally look at the economic collapse, which occurred in Argentina in 2002, considering how and why this financial disaster happened. Finally, a conclusion will be provided highlighting the main points of this article and suggesting what can be done to avoid such catastrophes in the future.

Globalisation, WTO, World Bank and IMF
According to David Held et al (1999) globalisation can be conceived of "as a process (or set of processes) which embodies a transformation in the spatial organization of social relations and transactions, assessed in terms of their extensity, intensity, velocity and impact-generating transcontinental or interregional flows and networks of activity, interaction, and the exercise of power." (Held, D, McGrew, A, Goldblatt, D, Perration, J, 1999).

In other words, globalisation is a process that attempts to create a more integrated and interdependent world economy. National economies that used to be fairly self-contained units and separated from each other by cross-border trade and from barriers to foreign investment have now become integrated global economies in which there are fewer taxes, tariffs or other kinds of restrictions for trade and commerce. Rapid progress in transportation technology such as the development of commercial jet aircraft and the introduction of containerisation, which easies and lowers the cost of shipping goods over long distances in addition to advances in communications, information processing, the emergence of the Internet and the World Wide Web, all have contributed to the increasing international integration of markets and of national economies.

Supporters of globalisation, namely economists, politicians and business leaders, emphasise the benefits of free flow of goods, capital and ideas and claim that these attributes drive the global economy towards greater prosperity and even peace and democracy. They argue that increased international trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) will result in lower prices for goods and services and that globalisation stimulates economic growth, raising the incomes of consumers and helps to increase employment in all countries that take part in the global trading system. But this view does not take into account the social and political tensions, which may result because of this process.

Critics such as Ohmae (1990) believe that in such an increasingly integrated and interdependent world any country's prosperity depends more than ever on the economic performance of other countries and on the continuation of an open and stable global economic environment. As a result, financial crises, when they erupt, tend to spread more quickly among countries, as can be seen in the Latin American countries, Brazil and Argentina, which are examples of this. Individual countries follow economic and financial policies that show how well or how poorly the world trade and payment system operates. With no restrictions on international investment, firms, especially multinational corporations (MNCs) that operate on a scale that exceeds the gross domestic product (GDP) of most nations of the world, will force countries to compete against one another. Every country and community is pressured to lower wages and taxes on business, to liberalise FDI controls and to reduce environmental regulations if they want to attract and hold existing foreign businesses. Held notes, "In 1996, a third of all bilateral investment agreements were concluded solely among developing countries.

In part such developments reflect the way developing countries have been under pressure from the World Bank and other multilateral agencies to liberalise FDI controls." (Held et al 1999, p.258.) Some critics such as Ohmae (1990) see globalisation as the supremacy of Western economic and cultural interests over the rest of the world; meaning the extension of inequality between rich and poor countries and regions, also described as the "New World Order". This extension of inequality between rich and poor countries can be shown by using statistical evidence taken from "International Business" by Hill (2002), it shows that in 1870 the average income per capita in the world's seventeen richest nations was 2.4 times that of all other countries. In 1990 the same group was 4.5 times as rich as the rest. The statistics also show that a quarter of the countries with a GDP per capita of less than $1,000 in 1960 had growth rates of less than zero from 1960 to 1995, and a third had growth rates of less than 0.05 %. This proves that globalisation has been beneficial for only some nations, mainly the developed nations, with the exceptions of the fast growth economies of Southeast Asia (China, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan and South Korea) and less beneficial for the rest of the world, as the statistics show.

The anti-globalisation movement, which consists of mainly workers, environmentalists, human rights activists, farmers, religious activists, native peoples and youth, comes together to demonstrate against a wide range of issues, including loss of employment in industries threatened by foreign competitors, pressure on the wage rates of unskilled workers, environmental degradation and the cultural imperialism of global media and multinational companies, which force American values of "free competition, fair rules, and effective enforcement," to the rest of the world.
Now I want to introduce some of the supranational organisations, which have been immensely critiqued for their politics and activity in the global economy.

Founded in 1994, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is an international organization of more than 140 member countries that controls the international trade system. The WTO is responsible for the privatisation of education, health, welfare, social housing, and transport. This supranational institution followed the "Uruguay Round"(1993), and prior to that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) aimed at promoting world trade by pressuring countries to reduce tariffs and to lower barriers to the free flow of foreign investment. (Hill 2002, p.28.) According to many critics (Klein), the WTO through economic means represses governments and populations on behalf of corporate profits. In every case that has been brought to the organisation challenging environmental or public safety legislation on behalf of corporations, the corporations have won. For example, when it was Venezuelan oil interests versus the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's air quality standards for imported gasoline, the interests of the oil industries won or when the European Union tried to ban the import of hormone-treated beef from the U.S, the European consumers lost and the list goes on.

The U.S. environmentalist and consumer rights advocate Ralph Nader argues that "under the new system, many decisions that affect billions of people are no longer made by local or national governments but instead, if challenged by any WTO member nation, would be deferred to a group of unelected bureaucrats sitting behind closed doors in Geneva (which is where the headquarter of the WTO is located). This is further supported by a statement from Held who believes that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the WTO, or regional bodies like the European Union (EU) or the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) progressively control national competition policy. "It is now commonplace for American or European competition authorities to intervene, either diplomatically or legally, in what might before have been regarded as purely domestic issues concerning major business mergers or acquisitions which could potentially undermine the competitive position of their own industries or corporations." (Held et al 1999, p.259)

Contrary to the critics of the WTO, the supporters such as Hirst and Thompson (1996) think that the power of supranational organisation such as the WTO or the IMF (International Monetary Fund, which will be discussed later) is restricted because individual governments of the member states still maintain control and influence and argue that the supranational organisations are there to serve the interests of each member state and not to harm them in any way. Before discussing these assumptions it is necessary to introduce another major global economy control institutions.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank were formed at the conference held at Bretton Woods in 1945. The IMF is the central institution of the international monetary system and the World Bank is the international institution for the promotion of general economic development in the world's poorer countries. The IMF is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and it is governed by its almost global membership of 184 countries. The IMF's role is promoting the balanced growth of world trade, the stability of exchange rates, the prevention of competitive currency devaluations, and the systematic correction of a country's balance of payments problems. The IMF has now become the main institution for promoting the liberalisation or deregulation of the international economic system.

John Pilger (2002) writes in his book The new rulers of the World that the "WTO and the IMF obtain their controlling power principally from an unrepayable debt that make the poorest countries pay $100 million to western creditors every day resulting in a world where an elite of less than a billion people controls 80 % of humanity's wealth." (Pilger, John, 2002, p. 2-3.) This statement can be verified by using the example of Argentina whose disastrous financial situation has been widely attributed to the actions of the WTO and the IMF.
Argentina's economic collapse

On December the 19th 2002, Argentina's unemployed, workers, and middle class finally had enough with years of government cuts, layoffs, privatisation, and other schemes designed by the WTO and the IMF to shift Argentina away from state planning toward a free market. This resulted in massive food riots, a state of emergency imposed by the government, thousands of shops looted, deaths of thirty people (including a small girl shot for stealing a bag of pasta) and four administrations brought down. (

Since the early 1970s Argentina's external debt has increased from $7.6bn to $132bn. Unemployment has risen from 3 percent to 20 percent, the number of people in extreme poverty from 200.000 to 5 million, those in poverty from 1 million to 14 million. Whereas the corrupt politicians and some union leaders who cooperated with the government's adjustment policies and industrialists who invested in this economy confiscated a fortune of around $120bn, millions of Argentinean citizens, who deposited their life savings in for example HSBC bank accounts could not access their money anymore because it was gone.

Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz truly remarks "The IMF led a whole series of mistakes, from exchange rate policy, to fiscal policy, to the privatisations, that resulted in disaster in Argentina." To understand the reasons for Argentina's economic crisis better, we have to discuss in more detail what actually happened in a country that was until recently the richest in Latin America.
In 1991, the then president, Carlos Menem, negotiated a multibillion-dollar deal with the International Monetary Fund, stating that the IMF would help the Argentinean country to overcome hyperinflation by introducing a currency board and "pegging" the peso at one-for-one to the US dollar.

The Argentinean government, on its part, would implement privatisation schemes, the opening of trade borders to allow foreign capital to flow in and out of the country in addition to laborious efforts to balance the state budget. Argentina had trustfully followed the instructions of the International Monetary Fund. The World Bank supported the privatisation of state enterprises. Ninety percent of its banks and forty percent of its industry including phone companies, gas, water, electricity, railroads, airlines, airports and the post office (which is now facing bankruptcy) and Argentina's social security system all belong to foreign companies.

In the early to mid-1990s, huge sums of foreign capital, particularly from Spanish firms, which bought many privatised institutions like banks and pension funds, flew into Argentina. The Argentine government decided to accumulate enormous dollar reserves to be able to run the peg by taking loans from either the IMF or from international bond markets, which meant immense debt. At first this measure seemed successful as it ended hyperinflation, but it also meant the end for Argentina's government's ability to set its own monetary policy. Instead, interest rates in Argentina were those set on the U.S.dollar by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

This was fine with the Argentinean government as long as the global economy flourished but it did not. In 1997-98, the Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Russia and Brazil like many of the "emerging markets", had to abandon pegs against the U.S. dollar and let their currencies float freely; floating exchange rates depend on the laws of supply and demand. Finally, Argentina's financial flows came to an end, its foreign debt holders' demanded higher interest payments on its debt, which led to higher deficits and which resulted in default and devaluation. This meant Argentinean's economy went into recession. The IMF pressurized the government of Argentina under President de la Rua to maintain the peg and to avoid devaluation, to pay the foreign debt and to balance the budget by implementing austerity measures.

On the other hand Brazil slowly recovered due to its drastic currency devaluation measures but Argentina's overvalued currency meant its goods and services sold to the global economy were uncompetitive and could not be further exported. The central banks of Argentina could not lower interest rates to encourage foreign investment because of its peso pegged to the US dollar. In addition, the implemented austerity measures decreased domestic demand, which worsened the recession.
And to top this all, now the World Bank has decided to delay a $700 million loan for Argentina's poor and unemployed, because it waits for the IMF's approval. The International Monetary Fund just announced that it is only willing to lend Argentina enough money to repay its debt to the IMF and other multilateral lenders such as the World Bank. (Updated 30/12/02)
This shows that the IMF and the WTO were not interested in the economic recovery of Argentina but were only serving the interests of the developed countries and foreign investors often at the expense of third world countries.

2001 was an important year for Argentina and its people. In December of that year, Buenos Aires (the Argentinean capital) witnessed a peaceful demonstration by thousands of people, who were aggrieved by the situation they were placed in by the WTO, IMF and their own corrupt government. This uprising provided a voice for a downtrodden people who seemingly overnight became politicised, and gave an empowerment and control of their own lives, giving glimpses of a never before seen democracy. Although Argentina's political future is still uncertain, at least the population has some capacity to effect change. The efforts of America to assert its political and economic might, in the form of globalisation has had dramatic and disastrous consequences. If Argentina is to be seen as the child of globalisation then its intentions to create a wealthier and prosperous nation have yet to be realised. If indeed Argentina has witnessed any benefits from globalisation, the poor and middle-class that make up the majority of the population have yet to receive their share and as Naomi Klein rightly notes in her new book Fences and Windows, "the Argentinean population should not be begging for loans; it should be demanding reparations." Klein, Naomi (2002),"Fences and Windows-Dispatches from the front lines of the globalisation debate", p.55, published in Great Britain by Flamingo 2002, printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, St Ives plc.


Held, David, McGrew, Anthony, Goldblatt, David and Perraton, Jonathan, (1999), Global Transformations-Politics, Economics and Culture, Second Edition, published by polity Press, printed in Great Britain
Hill, Charles, (2003), International business: competing in the global marketplace, Fourth Edition, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York
Ohmae, K (1990),"The Borderless world", London: Collins
Klein, Naomi, (2002), Fences and Windows-Dispatches from the front lines of the globalisation debate, published in Great Britain by Flamingo, printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, St Ives plc
Pilger, John, (2002), The new rulers of the world, published by Verso, printed in the UK by the Bath press, Avon and printed in Australia by Griffin Press, p.2-3.

World Wide Web (Updated 30/12/02)