The Disproportionate Enchantment With the Pacific Alliance
By: Raúl Zibechi
The managerial and media elites quickly pronounced campaigns with the Seventh Summit of the Pacific Alliance, held in Cali (Colombia) between May 20 and 24. The gathering summoned abundant delegations of directors of big corporations and the presidents of the four member countries that belong to it: Enrique Peña Nieto, Sebastián Piñera, Ollanta Humala and Juan Manuel Santos. The prime minister of Canada and the presidents of Spain, Costa Rica, Panama and Guatemala also attended.
Delegations from Uruguay, Australia, Japan, Portugal, New Zealand and the Dominican Republic, who already had observer status, also gathered in Cali. Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Honduras, Paraguay and Portugal and were added this time.
We’re dealing with a gathering to oil businesses and exploit the export of commodities that the president of Colombia persisted in calling “integration,” as he did a year ago in Antofagasta upon assuring that we are facing “the most important process of integration that Latin America has made.”  Without anyone asking him, he emphasized that the alliance “is not against anyone,” although it is evident that it is oriented against the Mercosur and the Unasur and, more concretely, seeks to isolate a Brazil.
The Alliance’s defenders emphasize that it represents 35 percent of the Latin American GNP and 55 percent of the region’s exports to the rest of the world, and that during 2012 the four countries had greater growth than the rest of the region. However, they don’t contribute any basic data. It is certain that they export more than the Mercosur (573 billion dollars compared to 438 billion), but their exports are concentrated in raw minerals and hydrocarbons. Only 2 percent of the exports are directed to other countries of the Alliance, while 13 percent of what the Mercosur members export is intra-zone trade, which always entails greater value added.
If we look back a little further, the data are even more convincing. The Pacific Alliance’s intra-zone trade increased 215 percent in the last 10 years, while Mercosur’s internal exchange expanded 376 percent in the same lapse.  In Parallel, the four presidents of the alliance made ridiculous announcements that they put into evidence: they created a fund of one million dollars (250,000 dollars per country) to support projects against climate change, in favor of science and technology, corporations and social development.
Theotonio dos Santos is right when he was asked about the Pacific Alliance: “What is it that the United States government can offer the countries of the Pacific area? Trade with the United States.” And he clarifies: “The countries that enter into such an association do not make agreements with each other, each of them makes an agreement with the United States: that is not integration. It is more, each one of them in the relationship with the United States is going to become a debtor.”
In effect, the Pacific Alliance has three objectives: One: to subject countries of the Pacific as exporters of natural wealth, consolidating them as countries without industry with enormous inequalities and, therefore, with increasing doses of internal militarization; two: to impede the consolidation of regional integration and isolate Brazil, but also a Argentina and Venezuela; and three, and what its defenders never say: to form the American leg of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which the United States wants to convert into the economic arm of its military mega-project to contain China.
Since the Left has appropriately denounced that the Pacific Alliance is inscribed in the United States policy of consolidating its hegemony in the region, which passes for impeding that blocks emerge out of its control. They do not explain, nevertheless, why the Mercosur is stuck and in crisis, to the point that the Uruguay of José Mujica propones to enter the Pacific Alliance. Nor does one talk about the reasons for which the Banco del Sur (Bank of the South) does not advance or that it takes suspiciously slow steps. Nor are the reasons in depth for the chronic trade crisis between Argentina and Brazil mentioned.
Bringing up these problems would be much like submitting the policies of the region’s progressive governments to scrutiny. Perhaps the biggest limitation of progressivism is its inability to confront, ideologically and politically, the corporate elites, above all on the part of Brazil and Uruguay, but also of Bolivia and Ecuador. Where there is certain confrontation, in the cases of Venezuela and Argentina, it is due to the offensives of the right but country models are not debated and they continue gambling on an extractivism that carries water to the mill of the Pacific Alliance. Regional integration doesn’t matter for exporting oil, soy, beef and wool to China.
The right speaks clearly. Roberto Gianetti, of the Federation of Industries of the San Pablo State, proposed being free from “Mercosur’s straitjacket” and reducing it from a customs union to a free trade zone. “We are not going to conclude any agreement having Argentina and Venezuela as associates,” he said in relation to the 14 years that the Mercosur has negotiating a FTA (free trade agreement) with the European Union.
Aécio Neves, candidate of the right in Brazilian elections next year, said that the Mercosur is paralyzed and proposed transforming it into “a free trade area that permits each member State to sign trade agreements with other countries” and places the Pacific Alliance as an example of dynamism. The ineffable Domingo Cavallo, one of those most responsible for the Argentina Crisis, says the same thing. It is evident that we are facing an offensive of the right allied with Washington that launch a challenge to which the Left doesn’t know how to or does not want to respond. The Pacific Alliance does not grow because of its own merit but rather because of the ambiguities of progressivism.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Chiapas Support Committee
Friday, June 14, 2013