Havana. April 3, 2009
REFLECTIONS OF FIDEL
The beginning of the Summit
(Taken from CubaDebate)
TODAY the G-20 Summit Meeting began. The experts on economic issues have made a tremendous effort. Some with experience in important international posts; others, as research scholars. The issue is a complex one, the language is new and demands familiarity with terms, economic data, international agencies and the political leaders of most weight in the international sphere. Hence the effort to simplify and explain intelligibly what is taking place in London, as I see it.
It is no surprise to anyone that Obama is the star of the London meeting. He represents the most powerful and richest country in the world. Special circumstances are in his favor. The lying, cynical, warmongering and odious Bush is not there. Neither is the mediocre and ignorant McCain, precisely thanks to the amazing victory of Obama, an African American in the country of racial discrimination, where a majority of white electors voted for McCain, although not enough to compensate for the votes of more than 90% of Black and mixed-race Americans, citizens of Latino origin, the poor and those affected by the crisis. He has just been elected at a point when other G-20 leaders are about to end their terms and Obama will be the probable president of the United States for eight years. Nobody finds it strange that the news from London revolves around him.
What is important for the world is what comes of there, if something does come out. All the attendees have their own national and even personal objectives, as political leaders who will be judged by history.
Obama’s objective, in first place, is to change the image of his country, centrally responsible for the tragedy the world is enduring and which international opinion is rightly blaming for the current devastating economic crisis, for which he has no political responsibility whatsoever. As Joseph Stiglitz, former economic director of the International Monetary Fund and currently a professor at the Massachusetts Technological Institute points out: “He should come out and say that he is not to blame for anything and that he is trying to solve things as quickly as he can.”
His principal European ally, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is the Summit host and is unrestrainedly aspiring to change the current anti-Labour tendency unleashed by the blunders of his predecessor Tony Blair. Obama has been offered the honor of a visit to Buckingham Palace, where he was received with his wife Michelle. The president gave the veteran queen an iPod, fruit of sophisticated U.S. technology, with songs and images of the queen’s state visit to the United States in 2007 and a book of sheet music signed by Richard Rogers. With Her Majesty he didn’t have to exchange a single word on the worldly G-20 meeting.
On the other hand, Brown is staking all on the crisis. He is aspiring to change the rules of the banking system, promote economic growth, increase cooperation and do away with protectionism. He acknowledges that the negotiations will be difficult.
His slogan is “better to look forward rather than back.” Clearly, if the electors looked back he wouldn’t get many votes.
The desire of both allies at the heart of the G-20 is to minimize differences with France and Germany.
Sarkozy is making no attempt to conceal his displeasure with U.S. policy. He is explosive. He recently threatened to walk out of the meeting. Yesterday he informed the Europe 1 broadcasting station that, for now, there is no satisfactory agreement on the Summit, although he has softened his threats of walking out if there are no advances toward greater regulation. “I will not associate myself with a Summit that does not end with greater regulation.” He states that the negotiators have not reached any agreement.
The Summit draft communiqué, already circulating among journalists, refers to measures to reestablish global growth, maintain market openings and stimulate global trade. “We have to obtain results, we have no choice,” Sarkozy insisted yesterday.
Obama announced a few days ago that the United States proposes to introduce changes to its regulation and supervision system, in the hope that this statement would meet with one part of European demands, by snatching one its banners.
Sarkozy riposted that his undertaking to do away with tax havens is being taken seriously.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is very close to Sarkozy’s positions, is demanding that the agreement should not even include a demand for a stimulus package for the advanced countries, neither should there be any debate on the announcement of a new international currency, the emerging countries’ demand to the G-7.
“The word is at a crossroads,” Merkel declared, “We have to do everything possible to avoid the crisis being repeated.”
“We have to go further than what has been said in Washington,” and she added that everything agreed in London must have a guarantee of implementation. “Not one place, not one product, not a single institution, should be left without supervision and transparency.”
Merkel indicated that she is in favor of raising IMF funds and increasing aid to developing countries, which are essentially suffering the impact of the crisis.
An increase in the resources of the International Monetary Fund would now seem be a fact. On his arrival in London, the Mexican president said that he was negotiating a credit line of 26 billion euros with the Fund. Yesterday, John Lipsky, the International Monetary Fund’s No. 2, stated in London that the IMF is to facilitate a credit line of $47 billion to Mexico in order to guarantee the availability of liquidity in case the situation of the markets worsens because of the crisis. That is a larger sum than Mexico asked for.
As the United States holds the majority of IMF shares, such a credit would not be possible without its support, which also points to Obama’s influence at the London Summit.
The news agencies reported that Obama is to meet in London with Dmitry Medvedev and Hu Jintao, the presidents of Russia and China, to discuss the thorny problems that both countries are confronting with the United States.
The bilateral meetings between the superpower and the two major powers will certainly cover economic problems, or perhaps patiently debated agreements, approved via their diplomatic representatives, will be announced.
Today, April 2, I read an extensive and detailed dispatch from the Xinhua news agency, datelined the 1st, noting that “Chinese President Hu Jintao and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama agreed to work together to build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship in the 21st century.”
The two leaders decided to establish the mechanism of "China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogues…"
“The new commitment, made by the two heads of state during their meeting in London, will chart course for and give a strong boost to the sustained, sound and steady development of China-U.S. relations.”
“China-U.S. relations remain one of the world's most important bilateral relationships in the 21st century, when mankind faces tremendous opportunities and challenges. In the new era, the two countries shoulder important responsibilities for world peace, stability and development and they also share broad common interests.”
“Both sides should keep pace with the times and always handle bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective.”
“They should respect and take into consideration each other's core interests, and seize the opportunities and work together to meet the challenges in the century.”
“The establishment of the China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogues mechanism is an important step to further advance their bilateral relations. With that, the previous strategic dialogue between the two countries has been upgraded to a new level.”
“At a time when the international financial crisis continues to spread, it is in the primary common interests of China and the United States that the two countries support each other and work together to ride out the storm.”
“China and the United States should not only enhance exchange and cooperation in such fields as economy, the fight against terrorism, proliferation and transnational crimes, climate change, energy and the environment, but also strengthen communication and coordination on regional and global issues.”
Such an agreement cannot be discussed in a 60-minute meeting. It was already drafted with all the details.
China, whose current allies on the Asian continent invaded and plundered it barely 70 years ago, is now advancing toward a peak position in the global economy.
It is the principal creditor of the United States and is serenely discussing with the president of that powerful country the rules that are to govern relations between the two countries in a world impregnated with risks.
Maybe the Xinhua dispatch is transmitting one of the most important news items in relation to the G-20 Summit.
It began and ended today while I was writing these lines! Amazing!
Fidel Castro Ruz
April 2, 2009
Translated by Granma International