Anyone would have thought there would be a profound debate on the thorny issue.
On November 15, the press agencies were reporting on the program that would unfold at the G20 meeting in the National Building Museum in Washington.
Every second was covered. It would start at 11.30am. First, there would be a photo op, or "family picture" as US President George Bush called it, and 20 minutes later the first plenary session would start followed by a another one in the second half of the day.
Everything was strictly planned, even the fine sanitary services.
The speeches and analysis would last approximately 3.5 hours. Lunch would be at 3.25pm, immediately followed by the final declaration at 5.05pm. At 6.05pm, Bush would be leaving for Camp David to rest, have dinner and a pleasant sleep.
Those following the event were impatient to see the day going by and trying to know how the problems of the Earth and the human species would be dealt with in such a short time.
The fact is that the summit's final declaration was worked out by previously chosen economic advisors, very much in line with neoliberal ideas.
Neoliberalism wins again
Bush, in his statements prior to the summit and after its conclusion, claimed more power and more money for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and other world institutions under strict control of the US and its closest allies.
That country had already decided to inject US$700 billion to bail out its banks and multinational corporations. Europe had offered an identical or even higher figure. Japan has promised $100 billion.
Where would so much money come from if not from the deep indebtedness of new generations?
How can the structure of the new world economy be built on paper money, which is what is really circulating in the short run, when the country issuing it is suffering from an enormous fiscal deficit?
Could the US radio, TV and press be right not to pay special attention to this old imperialist game in the much-trumpeted meeting?
What is really incredible is the final declaration adopted by consensus in the conclave. It is obviously the participants' full acceptance of Bush's demands made before and during the summit.
Some of the attending countries had no choice but to adopt it; in their desperate struggle for development, they did not want to be isolated from the richest and most powerful and their financial institutions, which are the majority in the G20.
Bush was really euphoric as he spoke. He used demagogic phrases that mirror the final declaration.
He said: "The United States has taken some extraordinary measures. Those of you who have followed my career know that I'm a free market person — until you are told that if you don't take decisive measures then it's conceivable that our country could go into a depression greater than the Great Depression."
And: "Transparency is very important so that investors and regulators are able to know the truth."
The rest of what Bush said goes more or less along this line.
The final declaration of the summit, which takes half an hour to read in public due to its length, is clearly defined in a number of selected paragraphs: "We, the leaders of the G20 have held a first meeting in Washington, on November 15, in the light of serious challenges to the world economy and financial markets ...
"... we should lay the foundations for a reform that will make this global crisis less likely to happen again in the future. Our work should be guided by the principles of the free market, free trade and investment ..."
"The authorities, regulators and supervisors from some developed nations did not realize or adequately warned about the risks created in the financial markets ..."
"... Insufficient and poorly coordinated macroeconomic policies as well as inadequate structure reforms, led to an unsustainable macroeconomic global result ...
"We note the important role of the IMF in response to the crisis; we salute the new short-term liquidity mechanism and urge the constant reviewing of its instruments to ensure flexibility ...
"We shall encourage the World Bank and other multilateral developing banks to use their full capacity in support of their agenda for assistance ...
"We are determined to advance in the reform of the Bretton Woods institutions so that they reflect the changes in the world economy to increase their legitimacy and effectiveness ...
"We concede that these reforms will only be successful if they are based on a serious commitment to the principles of free market, including the rule of law, respect for private property, free trade and investment, efficient and competitive markets and effectively regulated financial systems ...
"We are certain that as we advance through cooperation, collaboration and multilateralism we will overcome the challenges and restore stability and prosperity to the world economy."
This technocratic language is beyond the grasp of the masses.
The empire is treated courteously; its abusive methods are not
The IMF, the World Bank and the multilateral credit organisations are praised despite the fact that they generate debts, enormous bureaucratic expenses and investments while supplying raw materials to the large multinationals, which are also responsible for the crisis.
It's a boring declaration full of the usual rhetoric. It doesn't say anything.
War and climate change
It was signed by Bush, the champion of neoliberalism, the man responsible for genocidal wars and massacres, who has invested in his bloody adventures all the money that would have sufficed to change the economic face of the world.
The document does not have a word on the absurd policy promoted by the US of turning food into fuel; or the unequal exchange of which the Third World countries are victims; or about the useless arms race, the production and trade of weapons, the breakup of the ecological balance and the extremely serious threats to peace that bring the world to the brink of annihilation.
Only a short four-word phrase in the long document mentions the need "to face climate change".
The declaration reflects the demand of the countries attending the conclave to meet again in April 2009 to examine the situation of the world finances, dreaming that the cyclical crises with their dramatic consequences never happen again.
The privileges of the empire were not even touched. Having the necessary patience to read it completely, one can see that is simply a pious appeal to the ethic of the most powerful country on Earth, both technologically and militarily, at the time of economic globalisation; it's like begging the wolf not to eat up Little Red Riding Hood.
[Abridged from a November 16 article published at http://www.cuba.cu.]