Mass actions reject anti-social offensive and neo-liberal summit
The 15th summit of the G20 took place in Argentina from November 30 to December 1. Argentinians, in particular youth and students, were already in motion to oppose the anti-social offensive of the Macri government. The presence of the leaders of the world’s largest and wealthiest countries, who give themselves the right to decide the fate of the world in the name of high ideals, to the exclusion of its peoples, was soundly rejected by Argentinians and others who came to Buenos Aires to affirm the peoples’ right to decide and reject the agenda of the G20. The peoples’ exclusion from governance is an established feature of the G20, and is underscored by the disproportionate security measures that accompany each summit, aimed at repression and criminalization of dissent. Activists in Argentina reported that one-third of the budget for organizing the G20 was dedicated to “safety and defence,” which roughly amounts to U.S.$50 million. Some 22,000 police were deployed for the summit, with an additional 5,000 security forces from neighbouring countries, in addition to the purchase of armoured vehicles and surveillance equipment. As many point out, these massive expenditures come as the Argentinian government is making massive cuts to health care and post-secondary education.
Another feature of the protests in Argentina was the people’s rejection of a massive $50 billion loan the Macri government received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Activists point out that this indebtedness is “to assure the country’s liquidity and its capacity to pay speculative hedge funds.”
A summit of current and former progressive leaders from across Latin America and the Caribbean took place on November 24, including former presidents Dilma Rousseff (Brazil), Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Argentina), Rafael Correa (Ecuador) and José Mujica (Uruguay), as well as the current president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro. The aim of this summit was to provide “a broad, plural, and open space for the contributions and interventions” of world leaders, intellectuals, student organizations, social movements and others.
A “global week of action” was also organized from November 26 to 30, under the banner “the G20 and IMF Out!” Activities included a people’s summit November 28 to 29 and a National Day of Struggle in Buenos Aires against the G20 and IMF on November 30.
As for the G20, the summit gave itself four priorities: “The Future of Work” – pertaining to the impact of technological change on work; “Infrastructure for Development” – aimed at “mobilizing private investment toward infrastructure [to close] the global infrastructure gap;” “A Sustainable Food Future” – concerning food security as “an important link in the process of achieving stability and peace;” and “Gender Mainstreaming,” where the G20 stated that “True development must put an end to gender inequality and guarantee women’s work, digital and financial inclusion.”
These priorities of course should be viewed in the context of the actual reality. In Canada, for example, workers are cast to the wind at the whim of supranational interests, quite apart from any technological changes. Private infrastructure is paid for with public monies to serve supranational interests. Food security is actively undermined through the destruction of supply management in agriculture, in subservience to the multinational conglomerates that dominate food production and in the name of free trade. Equality and rights for women in Canada have been achieved only insofar as the people have fought and won them, not because of governments, which pay only lip service to the situation facing women.
The self-congratulatory final eight-page statement of the Buenos Aires summit dovetails with its four priorities to put a human face on neo-liberal policies and agendas. All of it covers up a summit fraught with divisions and the inability of the G20 countries to resolve their differences, especially the contention between the big powers and their respective allies. None of it has anything to do with the reality faced by the peoples of the world and finding solutions to the problems they face.
TML Weekly, December 8, 2018, No. 43