SYSTEM CHANGE INSTEAD OF CLIMATE CHANGE
At the Climate Summit in Copenhagen, the presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia demanded a radical rethinking. Their appearance reflected South America's new self-consciousness
By Harald Neuber
[This article published in the German-English cyber journal Telepolis 12/18/2009 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/31/31753/1.html.]
They made the Climate Summit into a tribunal against capitalism, according to the Latin American media. In Copenhagen, the presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia, Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, leveled harsh criticism at the dominant global economic system. Capitalism and the resource policy of industrial states are responsible for the increasing destruction of the environment and the dangerous warming of the global climate, Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales said at the world conference.
It is "strange" when China and the US are put on one level in the climate debate, Chavez said  on Wednesday in his speech before 192 representatives of the United Nations. "The US has around 300 million inhabitants; five times as many people live in China. The US consumes around 20 million barrels of oil every day; China consumes five or six million barrels," Chavez added. With view to South America's leftist states, Chavez said they should not try to change the climate. "Change the system to save this planet" was his appeal. "If the climate were a big capitalist bank, the rich states would have saved it long ago."
A similar system criticism came from the Bolivian head of state Evo Morales. At the global climate discussions, the "culture of death" that squanders global resources at the expense of the majority of the population opposes a "culture of life." In his address on Thursday, Morales made three main demands: the industrial states must pay their "climate debt" to the countries of the South. Global warming must be limited to a maximum one degree Celsius by the end of the century compared to the pre-industrial era. Finally an international tribunal for climate justice must be established. Such a tribunal within the UN could call to account the culprits of destruction of the environment, Morales explained.
LITTLE HOPE FOR CLIMATE AGREEMENT
The concerted action of the two South American heads of state was not an accident. At the summit meeting of the Bolivarian Alliance for America  (ALBA) last weekend, Chavez, Morales and Latin American and Caribbean delegations agreed on a common petition . Cuba's head of state Raul Castro already predicted the breakdown of the world climate summit. The negotiations in the Danish capitol should "end with concrete and verifiable results," the Apa-correspondent Vicente Povada quoted from the speech. But "that no such agreement would be reached" was clear early on, Castro said afterwards.
In Copenhagen, Hugo Chavez announced a possible boycott of the nine ALBA states. Threshold states like Brazil, China and South Africa are also very unsatisfied with the course of the negotiations, not only the leftist governments of the Latin American alliance. At the last moment, the Danish president pulled a new text "out of his hat." This bizarre procedure was "undemocratic," Chavez said. The ALBA states considered not signing the declaration of Copenhagen.
The Bolivarian Alliance was launched five years ago by Cuba and Venezuela as a counter-concept to the neoliberal free trade model of the US. ALBA was based on the concept of a limited growth - this is directly connected with the climate debate in Copenhagen. Developing- and threshold states now demand this in Copenhagen.
MORALES: FIRST HUMANKIND AND THE ENVIRONMENT
In an interview , Bolivia's president Evo Morales explained this concept of his government. Obviously investments from foreign countries will not be absolutely refused, the indigenous head of state said.
"We are committed to think of the well-being of humankind. We must constantly try to think of our home, the planet earth - and not only of money."
Foreign investors are not scared away by this concept of a sustainable ecological economic development, Morales said. There are "some problems" with the US. But Chinese and European firms are increasingly present in Bolivia. Morales rejected the argument that reducing emission-intensive industries strains the labor market. "I am not an expert but one example to prove the opposite is lithium," he said. "100-percent ecological car engines could be produced with this alkaline metal that can be found in great quantities in Bolivia.
However developing new market- and production mechanisms in South America will not happen without opposition. Several presidents warned of a more aggressive US policy at the most recent summit meeting of ALBA states in the Cuban capitol of Havana. "The conflict is intensifying" between Washington and the leftist states of the continent, Cuba's head of state Raul Castro said. The Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega and his Venezuelan colleague Chavez spoke similarly. As evident, the summit guests cited the coup d'etat in Honduras and the construction of seven new US military bases in Colombia. These are "clear signs for an offensive of the US," Chavez said.
ALTERNATIVE INTEGRATION MODEL GAINS GROUND
The political and economic integration of Latin America's anti-neoliberal states increasingly threatens the historical dominance of the US and European industrial states together with their production- and consumption model. Building a common development model was recently discussed and sealed by numerous state agreements at the ALBA summit in Havana.
Firstly, the members of the alternative alliance set a fixed date for the start of a new regional currency system. The unitary compensation system  (Systema Unitario de Compensacion Regional Sucre) should be established in January 2010 as a virtual currency between the states of the ALBA alliance. The ECU negotiated in Europe between 1979 and 1998 as a unit of currency is a model of the inter-state unit of currency. Later the real euro arose out of the virtual ECU. The Sucre could also become a real regional currency in the medium-term.
With orientation in their own regional currency independent of the US dollar, the leftist states of Latin America and the Caribbean react to the worldwide economic crisis. No one should think that this crisis has already ended, Raul Castro warned at the beginning of the ALBA summit in Havana. He met with agreement in this judgment beyond the leftist alliance of states. The idea of a regional currency comes from the economist and Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa. For some time Correa has sought to get away from the US dollar introduced in his country in 2000. A common monetary council should now be created with the introduction of the new regional currency. The Sucre could serve as a common unit of payment. In addition, a reserve fund for commercial transactions is planned. On different planes, Latin America tries to free itself from the western production- and consumption model. The self-assured appearance in Copenhagen, where two prominent representatives of this group of progressive states defended alternative models was an expression of this development.
(3) link to www.prensa-latina.cu
(4) link to www.forbes.com
Telepolis Artikel-URL: http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/31/31753/1.html