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World Debts, Who owes whom?

World Debts, Who owes whom?


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By Julio Alexander Parra Maldonado

The Social Debt Summit was just held in Caracas, and interesting points of view were observed on the connotation of the external debt in Latin America, but more importantly, the necessary and just cancellation of the social debt with the peoples was clearly envisioned. Latin Americans. All this motivates to make more emphatic positions about the debts in the current globalized world with the poor peoples of the South of the planet.

One of the main components of social debt is what is stated as the ecological debt. It is a fairly fair appreciation of what the unfair distribution of the planet's natural wealth, the resources used for the development of nations, has meant.

Thus, on the occasion of the recent Meetings of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Free Trade Organization, the G7 or the G8, the impact and consequences of the Foreign Debt of the countries of the South on the Global economy. Simultaneously, a large group of representatives of movements and non-governmental organizations stage protests in the cities where they meet, demanding a radical change in the mechanisms of these organizations that represent the lenders and main creditors of the External Debt.

This matter is not only economic, due to its implications and its social impact, it must be the product of a broad approach and have the participation of all those affected, creditors and debtors. Currently, debtor countries, including Venezuela, and their citizens make great sacrifices to "honor this debt," with the negative consequences that this brings to national economies. For example, in Venezuela, despite promises made prior to his arrival to the presidency, the government of Hugo Chávez, with everything and a revolution, keeps the payments of the Venezuelan debt abroad on time, well above its commitment to pay the debt. social debt.

But the peoples of the South not only owe, the development of the nations of the industrialized North also owes the "backward" South. There is also another possible analysis. There is a real Ecological Debt and without due attention.

Scholars, intellectuals, writers and various social movements, such as indigenous people and environmentalists in Latin America, refer to Ecological Debt as that which the North has with the South on account of ecologically unequal trade and the disproportionate use of environmental services historically made by the North. In this way, a fair remuneration would be established for the use that has been given to planetary resources to the detriment of the development of the South.

Indeed, the question is not only to adjust the financial economy to the productive economy, but to adjust it to a truly ecologically sustainable economy. As this has not been the case, as for centuries there has been an exploitation of the South by the North, it is worth claiming the Ecological Debt.

This would have the following origins:

a) On account of Ecologically Unequal Trade:
- Unpaid expenses for maintaining the exported «natural capital» (for example, when exporting agricultural products, nutrients are also exported, those chemical elements essential for life, such as: carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus) that have not been replaced, to the detriment of the agricultural soils of the countries of the South.
- Unpaid expenses to compensate for local damage caused by exports of some raw materials extracted in the countries of the South to satisfy the markets in the industrialized North (for example, mercury contamination when exporting gold, sulfur dioxide contamination when exporting copper).
- The updated costs of the future non-availability of exhaustible resources for the consumption of the future populations of the south (such as oil, but also including others such as mahogany and other forest species).

b) On account of the disproportionate use of environmental services by the North expressed in its high levels of consumption, at the expense of the South.
- What has not been paid, not only for raw materials that incorporate biodiversity, but also for knowledge about agricultural seeds, medicinal plants, traditional knowledge, etc.
- Unpaid expenses in compensation for the damages of imports of solid or liquid waste that are harmful (and that in many cases are prohibited in the North).
- Damages caused to the population and environment of the countries of the South by agrochemical fertilizers that are harmful to health and the environment, and which, produced in the North, are forbidden to use there, but not their export.
- Unpaid expenses for the use of environmental space to deposit gaseous waste such as carbon dioxide (the main greenhouse gas), and whose main generators are in the industrialized North.
Studies are currently being carried out on a possible quantification of this Ecological Debt. The implementation of green taxes to restore the ecological debt is also being studied. Thus, not only can the non-payment of the foreign debt be discussed, but the claim of the Ecological Debt of the industrialized North with the poor South could be discussed. In this regard, it is positive to highlight the agreements of the World Summit of the Earth held in Rio in 1992, on the payment of the conservation of the Biosphere Reservoirs, which are found mostly in the countries of the South, although not yet have effectively implemented.

It is time to consider alternatively the power relations in the world, we are in the same boat that is carrying the loads unevenly. From our countries we must take on these problems and decide how much we are willing to continue carrying, at the cost of our present and our future. We want modern economies, but more we must want educated, healthy and conscious peoples of their capacities to carve out their dignified future. That the IMF or the World Bank do not decide for us, that the social movements of the Northern countries do not protest for us, our social development organizations must not continue to wait for the North's directives.

It is useless for us to carry out "development" projects if we are going to continue depending on a world marked by the decisions of the North. Our peoples must propose and demand that their governments strengthen us in the face of this globalization of social inequalities that we face every day with greater violence and despair.

The External Debt exists, it is real and if you do not ask the governments how much it represents in the national budgets. But what about Ecological Debt? It is a good time to ask ourselves once again Who owes whom?

(*) Julio Alexander Parra Maldonado

Chair of Peace and Human Rights
[email protected]
http://www.geocities.com/catedradelapaz
University of the Andes
General Directorate of Culture and Extension
Chair of Peace and Human Rights
"Bishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero"
Merida - Venezuela


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