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To Fight Pandemic, Ibero-Americans Seek To Dump Old Neo-Liberal Order, Build One To Defend Human Beings

March 29 (EIRNS)—The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across Ibero-America is provoking a debate about the need for a new global economic order that values human life. “We have to reflect on whether what we were doing in terms of economics ... or an economic model, is the one we should continue with. We have to rethink what type of development model should emerge from this crisis,” said Bárcena, executive director of the UN’s Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in an interview with BBC Mundo published March 28. It will be necessary to “rethink globalization,” she continues, observing that Ibero-American economies in this pandemic era “will look very much like a war economy,” and will have to consider regional integration, and returning to “a kind of regional self-sufficiency” in that context.

Bárcena points to the region’s immense poverty and inequality, bereft of healthcare, whose people are unable to do simple things like handwashing due to lack of running water. She emphasizes, it’s appropriate, therefore, to ask the IMF, World Bank and other multilateral lenders to “sincerely consider postponing payment of foreign debt, and in the case of countries with fewer resources, to forgive bilateral and multilateral debt.” The IMF’s recent refusal to grant Venezuela $5 billion to help it fight COVID-19, and the continued sanctions against that country, means “that we are really condemning an entire people” to death, she warns.

Writing in today’s Página 12, Argentine historian Mario Rapoport compares today’s COVID-19 pandemic to the 14th century Black Plague, out of which a new world order did emerge. Today, he adds, because of the ravages of neoliberalism, the world is living through a New Dark Age, in which the post-World War II welfare state has been replaced with a casino economy, debt bubbles, permanent war and unbridled speculation to the detriment of human life.

The solution? “Drastic changes in the world economic and financial order are required,” he writes, and that “pseudo-globalization based on a neoliberalism” that benefits a few, hasn’t stopped wars, aggravates inequality and “helps to spread the new pandemic.” What’s needed are “exchange controls and a kind of ‘universal vaccine’ against vulture funds,” to force the restructuring of a largely artificially created debt, “which would not be dependent,” as former Argentine Foreign Minister José María Drago observed, “on creditors’ jurisdiction.” Recall that in 1902, after Great Britain, Germany and Italy blockaded Venezuela’s ports to forcibly collect its debt, Drago codified the international law that prohibited the forcible collection of a nation’s debts, which thereafter became known as the “Drago Doctrine.”

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