Latin America plays leading role at first G20 summit; Fidel unimpressed

The leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) nations met in Washington, DC on Nov. 15 for the group’s first summit—an emergency session to discuss the world financial crisis. The G20 combines the Group of 8 (Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US) with growing industrial powers like China and India; together the G20 nations account for as much as 90% of the world’s gross domestic product. The Latin American members are Argentina, Brazil and Mexico; this year Brazil holds the group’s rotating leadership.

The meeting failed to meet many members’ hopes for a global agreement on regulation of financial speculation. Instead, the final 10-page declaration committed the members to undertaking reforms before March 31. The G20 is to meet again on April 30, 101 days after Barack Obama replaces George W. Bush as US president. But Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva considered the summit an advance. “We are talking about the G20 because the G8 doesn’t have any more reason to exist,” he said when leaving Brazil for the summit. “In other words, the emerging economies have to be taken into consideration in today’s globalized world.”

At the summit he said that “existing multilateral organizations” like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had been “rejected by history. Both the IMF and the World Bank should open themselves to bigger participation of developing economies.” (International Herald Tribune, Nov. 15 from AP; La Jornada, Nov. 16 from DPA, AFP, Reuters and unidentified wire services)

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro Ruz was less optimistic. In an article published on Nov. 15, he noted that the G20 leaders were saying nothing about “the nonrenewable resources of the planet” or about ending the arms buildup. He added, alluding to president elect Obama, that “many people dream that with a simple change of office in the leadership of the empire, this [empire] will be more tolerant and less bellicose… It would be naive to believe that the good intentions of one intelligent person could change what centuries of interests and egoism have created. Human history demonstrates something else.” (Granma, Cuba, Nov. 15)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 16

See our last posts on Brazil, Latin America’s alternative integration, and the econocataclysm.