The Summit of the Group of 77 plus China, marking the alliance’s 50th anniversary, closed in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on June 15 with the adoption of a declaration entitled “For a New World Order for Living Well”.
There were delegates from 104 nations out of the 133 from the global South that now make up the Group of 77 plus China. Bolivia is chairing the alliance this year, and its president, Evo Morales, hosted the summit.
Fidler said there are two different but complementary aspects to the declaration the summit adopted. The first, focused on reform of institutions, sets out sustainable development objectives to replace the United Nations’ Millennium Goals.
It points to the need to integrate economic, social and environmental strategies that promote sovereign control of natural resources in harmony with “Mother Earth”.
If the document’s proposals for confronting climate change were implemented, it would mark a big departure from current international practices, including by many G77 member states.
The second dimension focuses on building “that other possible world, a world of sovereignty for the global South, free of all forms of colonialism and imperialism”.
It calls for a radical reconfiguration of international political and financial institutions “based on the principles of respect for sovereignty, independence, equality, unconditionality, non-interference in the internal affairs of states and mutual benefit”.
The Group of 77 plus China is a very heterogeneous group of countries and governments. Many were once colonised and all are to varying degrees subject to domination by imperialism as a system still dominated by the United States. But they have mixed records, to say the least, when it comes to confronting imperialism.
The group even includes some emerging imperialist states such as China ― and soon Russia, if it accepts the Summit invitation to join.
However, the radical anti-imperialist and ecological content of the declaration reflected the input of the left-wing Morales government.
Morales set the tone in his opening speech to the summit, which is heavily abridged below. The full version can be read at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, along with a more detailed introduction.
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For a global brotherhood among the peoples
By Evo Morales
Today, 10 countries in the world control 40% of the world’s total wealth and 15 transnational corporations control 50% of global output.
Today, as 100 years ago, acting in the name of the free market and democracy, a handful of imperial powers invade countries, block trade, impose prices on the rest of the world, choke national economies, plot against progressive governments and resort to espionage against the inhabitants of this planet.
A tiny elite of countries and transnational corporations control the destinies of the world, its economies and its natural resources.
The economic and social inequality between regions, between countries, between classes and between individuals has grown outrageously.
About 0.1% of the world’s population owns 20% of humanity’s assets. In 1920, a business manager in the US made 20 times the wage of a worker, but today he is paid 331 times that wage.
This unfair concentration of wealth and predatory destruction of nature is also generating a structural crisis that is becoming unsustainable.
It is a mutually reinforcing crisis affecting international finance, energy, climate, water, food, institutions and values. It is a crisis inherent to capitalist civilisation.
The climate crisis is caused by the anarchy of capitalist production, with consumption levels and unharnessed industrialisation that have led to excessive emissions of polluting gases that in turn have led to global warming and natural disasters affecting the entire world.
For more than 15,000 years before the era of capitalist industrialisation, greenhouse gases did not amount to more than 250 parts per million molecules in the atmosphere.
Since the 19th century, and in particular in the 20th and 21st centuries, thanks to the actions of predatory capitalism, this count has risen to 400ppm. Global warming has become an irreversible process, along with weather disasters felt worst by the poorest and most vulnerable countries of the South.
In turn, global warming is generating a water supply crisis that is compounded by privatisation, depletion of sources and commercialisation of fresh water. As a consequence, the number of people without access to clean water is growing apace.
The water shortage in many parts of the planet is leading to armed conflicts and wars that further aggravate the lack of availability of this non-renewable resource.
Add to these issues the cutting of food-producing lands, the imbalances between urban and rural areas, the monopoly exercised by transnational corporations over the marketing of seeds and agricultural inputs, and the speculation in food prices.
The imperial model of concentration and speculation has also caused an institutional crisis characterized by an unequal and unjust distribution of power in the world in particular within the UN system, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation.
People’s social rights are endangered. Nature itself is threatened with extinction.
We have reached a limit, and global action is urgently needed to save society, humanity and Mother Earth.
Bolivia has started to take steps to address these issues. Up to 2005, Bolivia applied a neoliberal policy leading to the concentration of wealth, social inequality and poverty, greater marginalisation, discrimination and social exclusion.
In Bolivia, the historic struggles waged by social movements, in particular the indigenous peasant movement, have allowed us to initiate a “democratic and cultural revolution” through the ballot box and without the use of violence.
This revolution is rooting out exclusion, exploitation, hunger and hatred. It is rebuilding the path of balance, complementarity, and consensus with its own identity, Vivir Bien (“living well”).
Starting in 2006, the Bolivian government introduced a new economic and social policy, enshrined in a new community-based socioeconomic and productive model. Its pillars are nationalisation of natural resources, recovery of the economic surplus for the benefit of all Bolivians, redistribution of wealth, and active participation of the state in the economy.
In 2006, the Bolivian government and people made their most significant decision: nationalisation of the country’s hydrocarbons, the central axis of our revolution.
Contrary to the neoliberal prescription that economic growth ought to be based on external market demand (“export or die”), our new model has relied on a combination of exports with a domestic market growth primarily driven by income-redistribution policies, repeated national minimum wage raises, annual salary increases above the inflation rate, cross subsidies and conditional cash transfers to the neediest.
As a consequence, Bolivia's GDP has risen from US$9 billion to more than $30 billion over the past eight years.
Our policies have helped generate budget surpluses for eight years in a row, in sharp contrast with the recurrent budget deficits experienced by Bolivia for more than 66 years.
When we took over the country’s administration, the ratio between the wealthiest and poorest Bolivians was 128 fold. This ratio has been cut down to 46 fold. Bolivia is now one of the top six countries in our region with the best income distribution.
It shows that the peoples have options and that we can overcome the fate imposed by colonialism and neoliberalism.
These achievements produced in such a short time can be attributed to the social and political awareness of the Bolivian people.
We have recovered our nation for all of us. Ours was a nation alienated by the neoliberal model, a nation that was ruled from abroad, as if we were a colony.
We are no longer an “unviable” country, as we were described by the international financial institutions. We are no longer an ungovernable country, as the US empire would have us believe.
Today, the Bolivian people have recovered their dignity and pride.
I want to tell the entire world in the most humble terms that the only wise architects who can change their future are the peoples themselves.
We intend to build another world, and there are several tasks designed to establish the society of Vivir Bien.
First: We must move from sustainable development to comprehensive development so that we can live well and in harmony and balance with Mother Earth
Second: Sovereignty must be exercised over natural resources and strategic areas.
Third: The provision of basic services is a human right and must be used to establish well-being for everyone.
Fourth: We must be emancipated from the existing international financial system and build a new financial architecture.
Fifth: We must build a major economic, scientific, technological and cultural partnership among members of the Group of 77 plus China.
Sixth: We must eradicate hunger among the world’s peoples.
Seventh: We must strengthen the sovereignty of states, free from foreign interference, intervention or espionage.
Eighth: We need a democratic renewal of our states.
Ninth: A new world must rise from the global South for all of humanity.
The time has come for the nations of the South. In the past, we were colonised and enslaved. Our stolen labour built empires in the North.
Today, with every step we take for our liberation, the empires begin to crumble.
However, our liberation is not only the emancipation of the peoples of the South. Our liberation is for the whole of humanity. We are not fighting to dominate anyone. We are fighting to ensure that no one is dominated.
Only we can save the source of life and society: Mother Earth. Our planet is under a death threat from the greed of predatory capitalism.