Page 6


some locals that they abandoned Monterrey for early Holy Week sojourns, even as 10,000 federal, state, and local military and police were moving into the city to counter the globalphobe threat. For weeks, Televisa, the senior partner in Mexico’s two-headed TV monopoly \(which accorded World nightly file film filled with skinheads and ski-masks, burning cars, and spooky music, to properly panic the populace. A march commemorating Mexico’s expropriation of its oil industry from foreign owners drew just 10,000, a pale shadow of the hundreds of thousands who had filled the streets of Barcelona just two days earlier. The lean showing was attributable to the big scare build-up and heavy security. During the first Mexican anti-globalization outing at a Cancun WEF roadshow last year, protesters were beaten bloody under orders from the federal police. But the fear factor was not the only root of the lax turn-out in Monterrey. “The United Nations is just not the World Bankpeople still have illusions about the U.N.,” observed Louis Webber of France-Attac, one of the few European anti-globalization activists who managed to come to Monterrey. Moreover, there was virtually no organized labor opposition to globalization, while in Barcelona, union participation swelled mass protest to a half million anti-globalization marchers. But what definitely depleted the anti-globalist ranks in Monterrey was the absence of allies in the NGO community who normally might have been pounding the pavement alongside them. Instead they were inside, trying to make their voices heard. Labeling themselves critics of globalization rather than outright phobes, NGO reps allowed themselves to be lured into the CINTERMEX with promises that they would at last have a say in the proceedings. The Monterrey Consensus, a U.N. document hatched in Washington, D.C., is being marketed by its architects as the ultimate global bargain between rich nations and poor. But, as quickly became apparent at the forum, the planet’s most impoverished peoples are not convinced that this U.N.-sponsored initiative is such a great deal after all. At the nub of the dispute was just how much rich nations are going to cough up to meet millennium goals to halve extreme poverty by 2015. With foreign aid to the poorest countries in steep decline since the 1997 Asian economic crisis, development aid has virtually dried up for those nations at the bottom of the barrel. Africa, where the AIDS epidemic is lowering human life expectancies, lost 40 percent of all development aid in the booming 1990s. In order to recoup, the World Bank advertises that between $60 and $80 billion will have to be raised each year to come close to cutting extreme poverty in half. Yet the rich northern donor nations fall far short of this goal. Although the developing world has long petitioned the world’s wealthiest nations to set aside 0.7 percent of their GDP to finance development, response has been negligible. Monterrey was no exception. Taken together, the 15 European Union countries only reserve between 0.33 and 0.39 percent of their incomes for Third World aid. Nonetheless, EU donations are three times that of the planet’s largest economy, the United States, which kicks in a munificent 0.1 percent of its $10,000,000,000,000 GDP annually. Stung by criticism of its Guinness Book of Records chintziness, on the eve of the Monterrey Summit, Washington announced a $5 billion increase in aid over the three years beginning in 2004, a boodle that breaks down to a little over a dollar a year per capita for 1.2 billion souls who earn a dollar or less a day. By way of comparison, recent statistics released by the U.S. pet industry calculate that North American pet owners spent $34 per pet for gifts this past Christmas. Stung by criticism of the paltry $5 billion, the President promised to ask Congress to cough up additional foreign aid. But Bush’s less-than-largesse has so many strings attached that recipient nations will be tied in knots for years to come. U.S. contributions are conditioned on compliance with War on Terrorism strictures, International Monetary Fund-ordered structural adjustments, and free market reforms. Nations receiving Washington’s aid must support free trade and purge themselves of corruption. \(Although it’s currently in the throes of the tawdry Enron scandal, Washington continues to argue that denying bread to the starving because the rulers of their countries are corrupt is cruel and unusual punishment. Missing from the Monterrey agenda was discussion of how continued on page 29 4112/02. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9