Foreign investment has brought great problems. Since 1988, with the opening up of our economy, we have seen a steady deterioration in the standing of living of most Colombians. With the complicity of successive governments, international capital, directed by the World Bank and the IMF has succeeded in shackling the Colombian economy to their own desires.
The economic opening in my country has only brought benefits to the “oligopoly”, the small group of families who have owned and run Colombia for generations. In agriculture and in manufacturing, the opening has brought unemployment, misery and hunger. 10,000 companies have closed since 1990, their workers thrown onto the streets. In the case of agriculture, Colombia was once the second biggest exporter of sorghum in the world. Since the economic opening, we have become an importer of sorghum. The same is true of coffee; we still export it, but producers are forced to sell it for cheaper than it costs to grow. A pound of Colombian coffee is cheaper in New York than it is in Bogotá or Cali.
Perhaps of greatest interest to the multinationals and to international capital, are Colombia’s hydrocarbons and minerals. Successive governments have sought to hand over our natural resources to foreign multinationals in return for great personal wealth. The paramilitaries forcibly displace the small farmers, then the multinationals take the empty land claiming the farmers left because the soil was bad.
In cases of privatisation of public services, multinationals are engaged in huge corruption. Corruption is an essential part of global capitalism, it keeps the wheels of business running smoothly. Our government has consistently undervalued our public services in order to sell them cheap to the multinationals.
Plan Colombia is supposedly an anti-drugs package. But the truth is that this money is being used to crush resistance to global capital and imperialism. The money and military resources that arrive from USA, Britain, Spain and elsewhere are used to buy the consciences of our governors, and through this to subjugate our economy.
Lucho Hernandez President, SINTRAEMCALI speech to Oxford TJM