Tuesday, November 17, 2009

500 Years of Globalisation created the 3rd world

FILM: Challenging 500 Years of Globalisation by French Filmmaker Philippe Diaz

Neocolonialism, using debt to keep the 3rd world impoverished, keeps coveted
natural resources cheap. Unfair trade rules foisted upon these weak nations prop up monopolies and the keep poverty cycle turning.

I stand that these nations were not poor before the arrival of colonies. Poverty is not a natural state of being. Something must constantly upkeep and maintain it.

"To end poverty, you have to know how it began - with globalisation. No, not the 20th century variety engendered by multinationals and their friends at the IMF, World Bank and WTO. They just codified practices that kept developing countries poor.

French Filmmaker Philippe Diaz, in an illuminating documentary opening in New York Friday, traces globalisation back 500 years to the Spanish and Portuguese conquests of the Americas. Diaz shows how the colonial North used the South's resources to build its industrial base and how its continued control over resources, global trade and debt rules prevents developing countries from ending poverty.

For example, Diaz is incredulous that Sachs's book ascribes Bolivia's economic failure to high altitude. He points out that 30 years ago, Sachs advised the Bolivian government to privatise everything, and today the country is essentially owned by foreign corporations.

Abel Mamani, Bolivia's water minister, says in the film, "In the case of railroads, they have practically disappeared since they were privatised. In the east we don't have trains anymore. They have been entirely dismantled."

The filmmaker says that the year "1500 is when everything started, the time where Europe expands outside its borders and takes everything it can from Latin America, Africa, Asia - the land and all the other resources. The moment you take the land away, the only way people can survive is to sell their work for food. You take resources away, you create slavery, poverty."

The film shows how European industrial development was not, as widely asserted, based on the Protestant ethic but on riches accumulated via colonialism.

"How do you think countries [like] Belgium, small countries with no resources, built empires? Existing industries were destroyed, even those of better quality, and colonies were forced to buy manufactured goods and equipment from colonial masters," Diaz told IPS.

Eric Toussaint, head of the Committee for Cancellation of Third World Debt in Belgium, describes in the film how "The Dutch destroyed the Indonesian textile industry and built a textile industry in Holland. Same for ceramics. The textiles and ceramics that we are told are Dutch are in fact made with techniques they took from Indonesia and specifically from Java, brought them back to Holland and built a wealthy industry."

He adds, "In the 18th century the Indian textiles were of a much better quality than those of the British. The British destroyed the Indian textile industry and prevented merchants within the British Empire from importing fabrics and other manufactured products from the colonies."

"Sixty to 80 million still live in slave-like conditions all over the world on plantations and in mines," he explains. "It was the same system, we just changed the tools. We don't have the guns to keep slavery; we have the programmes of the IMF and World Bank, the unfair trade system."

He says ex-colonial powers assured the new countries would be weak and forced to heed the North's demands by saddling them with debt. When countries won independence, debts of colonial powers used to exploit stolen resources were transferred to new governments - though they had never incurred or benefitted from them. This was enforced by the North via the IMF and World Bank.

Toussaint says that the World Bank, in the guise of helping, increased the debt: "Take more loans to build big infrastructure to export your riches." Weakened, countries couldn't escape the colonial trading system.

Take Kenyan coffee. Diaz points out, "The minister of agriculture, Kipruto Arap Kirwa, says in the film that Kenya doesn't have the right to roast its coffee. They are forced to sell their coffee to the North which refines and packages it. It's in the trade agreement with the former colonial power. Today, Germany is the biggest coffee exporter, and it doesn't have a single bush of coffee."

Diaz says, "People never got their land and resources back. We interviewed a general of the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya that threw the British out. He said, 'We were naïve. We thought we would get our land back. The British were better organised, they transferred the land from a white minority to a black minority.'" Liberation leader Jomo Kenyatta became the biggest landowner in Kenya.

Kenyan villagers tell how the Dominion Group of Companies in the U.S., which exports vegetables to the United States, destroyed their livelihoods and health. The company built a dam that overflowed and flooded homes and farms."

[Article] How 500 Years of Globalisation created the 3rd world

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