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Catalan International View

Issue 2 • Autumn 2008 • E 5

A European Review of the World

European divisions: EU without answers

by Carme Colomina

The Western Balkans: the challenge of democratization

by Sonja Mitrovic

Languages: the European model

by Fèlix Martí

Counting on Brazil

by Martí Anglada

SECTIONS: Europe · The Americas · Asia · Interview · Opinions · Africa Business & Economics · Science & Technology · Green Debate · The Artist · A Poem


Editor: Víctor Terradellas editor@international-view.cat

Director: Francesc de Dalmases director@international-view.cat Senior Designer: Quim Milla designer@international-view.cat

Editorial Coordinator: Geni Flos coordinator@international-view.cat Editorial Board: Chief €Editors:

Martí Anglada Manel Balcells Enric Canela Àngel Font Anna Grau Montserrat Guibernau Guillem López Casasnovas Manuel Manonelles

Fèlix Martí Arcadi Oliveres Eva Piquer Ricard Planas Vicent Sanchis Pere Torres Vicenç Villatoro

Judit Aixalà Francesc Parés

Linguistic Advisors: Nigel Balfour Júlia López Seguí Executive Production: Headquarters, Administration and Subcriptions: Fonollar, 14 08003 – Barcelona · Catalunya (Europe) Tel.: + 34 93 533 42 38 Fax: + 34 93 319 22 24 www. international-view.cat Legal deposit: B-26639-2008 ISSN: 2013-0716 © Edicions de la Fundació CATmón. All rights reserved. Neither this publication nor any part of it may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, protocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Edicions de la Fundació CATmón.

Printed in Catalunya by: Grup Balmes Published every three months.

Cover Art: Arranz-Bravo

Catalan International View


To Our Readers

Contents

6......... From Georgia to Kosovo via Europe by Francesc de Dalmases Europe

8......... European divisions: the EU once more without answers

by Carme Colomina

12........ Great Britan: Blair’s ghost haunts Brown

by Rosa Massagué

16........ Languages: the European model

by Fèlix Martí

20. ...... The Western Balkans: liberal democracy and reconciliation in sight?

by Sonja Mitrovic

The Americas

26........ The shaming of the elite

by Anna Grau

30........ Counting on Brazil

by Martí Anglada

34........ New York: an urban refugee camp

by Emma Reverter

Asia

38........ Russia’s shadow in post-Soviet Central Asia

by Natàlia Boronat

44. ...... Pakistan: light at the end of the tunnel

by Víctor Terradellas

Interview

48........ August Gil Matamala

by Francesc de Dalmases

Opinions

54........ The media in the Arab-Islamic world

by Adrián MacLiman

Africa

60....... Mugabe, the wraith of God

by Nicolás Valle

Business and Economics

64........ ‘Normality’ in global financial markets has gone forever

by Guillem López Casasnovas

68........ Inclusive yoghurts: a reflection on the social component of a business

by Àngel Font

Science and Technology

72........ Challenges facing the knowledge society

by Enric Canela

Green Debate

78........ A question of priorities and habits

by Manuel Manonelles i Tarragó

82........ Food crisis, sustainability crisis

by Pere Torres

A short story from history

86........ Famous Catalan figures: the Borgias

by Manuel Manonelles i Tarragó

The Artist

88........ Arranz-Bravo: singular complexity or retro-futurist physiognomy

by Ricard Planas

A Poem

90....... Josep Carner

Catalan International View


Editorial Board Martí Anglada

Manel Balcells

Foreign news editor at TV3 (Catalunya Television). He has been foreign correspondent in the Middle East, Italy and Great Britain (1977-1984) for the Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia and United States correspondent for TV3 (1987-1990). He has also been an international political commentator. He recently published Afers no tan estrangers (Not So Foreign Affairs) for Editorial Mina (part of Grup 62).

(Ripoll, 1958). Doctor specialising in orthopaedics, traumatology and sports medicine. Holds a degree in Health Management from EADA and is a member of a number of scientific societies. In his long career in the health sector he has been medical director of Granollers General Hospital (Barcelona); both director and secretary of Coordination and Strategy for the Department of Health of the Generalitat of Catalunya; councillor for the Department of Universities, Research and Information Society; and consultant for the Catalan Hospital Consortium. Since the 27th of December 2006 he has been president of the board of directors of the Private BioRegion Foundation of Catalunya.

Enric Canela (Barcelona, 1949). Holds a Chemistry degree from the Universitat de Barcelona (UB, 1972) and a PhD in Chemistry with Biochemistry as his specialisation. Lecturer at the UB since 1974, he is professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and head of the department of the same name in the Biology Faculty of the UB. He collaborates in research on intracellular communication and theoretical biochemistry. He regularly publishes in scientific journals of international renown. Between 1991 and 1995 he was vice-president of the Catalan Biology Society. He has been president of the Society for Knowledge since September 2007. Since June 2007 he has been patron of the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA) for the Spanish state.

Anna Grau Journalist and writer. From 1991 to 2005 she worked as a political journalist in Barcelona and Madrid, where she was the correspondent for the Avui newspaper and numerous programmes for TV3, Catalunya Ràdio, Ràdio4 and COM ràdio. In 2005 she left for New York, where she currently works. Author of El dia que va morir el president (the Day the President Died), Dones contra dones (Women Against Women) and Endarrere aquesta gent (Reject These People) and the essay Per què parir (Why have a baby?).

Guillem López Casasnovas (Menorca, 1955). Holds a degree in Economics (distinction, 1978) and Law (1979) from the Universitat de Barcelona (UB). He obtained his PhD in Public Economics from the University of York (UK, 1984). He has been a lecturer at the Universitat de Barcelona, visiting scholar at the Institute of Social and Economic Research (UK), University of Sussex and at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Stanford (USA). Since June 1992 has been full professor of economics at Barcelona’s Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), where he has been vice rector of Economics and International Relations and dean of the Scool of Economics and Business Science. In 1998 he created the Economics and Health Research Centre (CRES- UPF), which he directed until recently. Co director of the Master’s in Public Management (UPF-UAB-EAPC). In 2000 he received the Catalan Economics Society Award and in 2001 the Joan Sardà Dexeus Award. He is also a member of the Menorcan Institute of Studies, The Catalan Royal Academy of Medicine and a distinguished member of the Economists’ Society of Catalunya. President of the International Health Economics Association and since 2005 one of the Spanish Central Bank’s six independent Council members.

Fèlix Martí Former president of the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (Pax Romana), from 1975 to 1984; director of Catalonia magazine (1987-2002), a publication printed in four different languages, aimed at disseminating Catalan culture; director of the UNESCO centre of Catalunya (1984 to 2002) and later its honorary president (from 2003). From 1994 to 2002 he was editor of the Catalan editions of the yearly reports of the Washington based Worldwatch Institute, L’Estat del món (The State of the World) and Signes vitals (Vital Signs). He promotes the Declaration on Contributions by Religions to a Culture of Peace, signed by leaders of the great religious traditions in 1994. President of the Linguapax International Institute from 2001 to 2004 and honorary president thereafter. Wrote his memoirs Diplomàtic sense estat (Diplomat Without a State), published by Edicions Proa in 2006. Was awarded the UNESCO Human Rights Medal in 1995 and the Generalitat de Catalunya’s ‘Creu de Sant Jordi’ (St. George’s Cross) in 2002.

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Àngel Font i Vidal (lleida, 1965). Holds a degree in Chemical Sciences from the Universitat de Barcelona and a diploma in Business Management from EADA Business School. Began his career in an environmental engineering company and subsequently joined Intermón Oxfam where he held the post of coordinator on projects in Latin America, fund-raising and public relations and assistant to the director general. Since 2000 he has been director of the Un Sol Món (One World) Foundation financed by the Caixa de Catalunya (savings bank) where he runs projects for social housing and employment for disadvantaged groups as well as the development of microfinance in Spain, Latin America and Africa. Àngel Font is a member of the Cooperation Council of the Generalitat de Catalunya and was the first vice-president of the European Microfinance Network. He carries out teaching duties related to the management of non-profit organisations at a number of business schools.

Montserrat Guibernau Professor of Politics at Queen Mary College, University of London. Holds a PhD and an MA in Social and Political Theory from the University of Cambridge and a degree in Philosophy from the Universitat de Barcelona. She has taught at the universities of Warwick, Cambridge, Barcelona, the London School of Economics and the Open University. Guibernau has held visiting professorhips at the universities of Edinburgh, Tampere, Pompeu Fabra, the UQAM (Quebec) and the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Currently she holds a visiting fellowship at the Centre for the Study of Global Governance, London School of Economics. Montserrat Guibernau is the author of numerous books and articles on nationalism, the nation-state, national identity, and national and ethnic minorities in the West from the perspective of global governance.

Manuel Manonelles i Tarragó Political commentator specialising in international relations, human rights and democratisation processes. Currently director of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace, Barcelona. He has been special advisor to the Co-chair of the UN High Level Group for the Alliance of Civilisations, as well as advisor to the coordinator of the Secretariat of the World Forum of Civil Society Networks (Ubuntu Forum), which is a member of the International Council of the World Social Forum. He has been an international electoral observer and supervisor for the OSCE and the EU on many occasions, and has participated in several international intergovernmental and non-governmental processes.

Arcadi Oliveres (Barcelona, 1945). PhD in Economic Science, lecturer in the Department of Applied Economics at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and president of the organisation Justícia i Pau ( Justice and Peace). He is also president of the Catalan Council for the Promotion of Peace, the International Peace University Foundation of Sant Cugat del Vallès, the Federation of Internationally Recognised Catalan Organisations (FOCIR) and the Easy to Read Association. He is an expert on North-South relations, international trade, external debt and defence economics and also lectures on aid and development for a number of master’s and PhD programmes.

Catalan International View


Eva Piquer

Ricard Planas

(Barcelona, 1969). Writer and journalist. Works for the Avui newspaper where she coordinates the cultural supplement and the culture section. Has been a lecturer at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and a New York news correspondent. Won the 2002 Josep Pla prize for her novel Una victòria diferent (A Different Victory). Also author of several books, including La noia del temps (The Weather Girl), Alícia al país de la televisió (Alice in Television Land) and No sóc obsessiva, no sóc obsessiva, no sóc obsessiva (I’m Not Obsessive, I’m Not Obsessive, I’m Not Obsessive).

(Girona, 1976). Journalist, art critic and cultural promoter. Studied Philology and the History of Art at the University of Girona. in 1999 he founded the magazine Bonart, dedicated to the contemporary art scene in the Catalan Countries. More recently he created and directed the Catalan art fair INART in 2005 and 2006. Has worked as the curator for exhibitions by important artists such as Arranz-Bravo, Lamazares, Formiguera, Cuixart, Ansesa and Grau-Garriga. Ricard has collaborated with Ona Catalana, Catalunya Ràdio, iCatfm and Onda Rambla radio stations. Has also worked for the Diari de Girona, El Punt and El Mundo newspapers, among others.

Vicent Sanchis i Llàcer (València, 1961). Holds a degree in Information Science from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. In his career as a journalist it is worth highlighting that he has worked and collaborated on many publications and with numerous publishers; he has been editor and director of El Temps magazine; director of Setze magazine, the Catalan supplement of Cambio 16; and director of the newspapers El Observador and Avui. He has also excelled as a scriptwriter and director on different TV programmes. At present he is president of the editorial board of Avui, content director of Grup Cultura 03 and vicepresident of Òminium Cultural. Vicent is also lecturer in the Faculty of Communication Sciences at Universitat Ramon Llull de Barcelona.

Pere Torres Biologist and environmental consultant. After some time spent on research (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), he joined the Government of Catalunya in 1991. He was in turn secretary of the Catalan Inter-university Council (1991-1993), head of the Environment Minister’s staff(1993-1995), general director of Environmental Planning (1995-2000) and secretary for Regional Planning (2000-2003). Since 2004 he has done consultancy work in public management, sustainability and land use planning and has been a regular contributor to the International Institute for Governability and the Cerdà Institute.

Vicenç Villatoro i Lamolla

Francesc de Dalmases (Director)

(Terrassa, 1957). Writer and journalist. Holds a degree in Information Sciences. Currently the president of the Ramon Trias Fargas Foundation. As a journalist he has worked for numerous organisations. He was the editor of the Avui newspaper from 1993 to 1996 and head of the culture section of TV3. Between 2002 and 2004 was director general of the Catalan Radio and Television Corporation. He has contributed to a range of media companies, such as Avui, El Periódico, El País, El Temps, Catalunya Ràdio and Com Ràdio. As a writer he has written a dozen novels.

(Barcelona, 1970). Although originally trained as a Social Educator (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), he works as a journalist as well as being a logistician and consultant in humanitarian aid and cooperation and development. Has been president (1999-2006) of the Association of Periodicals in Catalan (APPEC); coordinator for the delegation to the Spanish state of European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages (1995-1999); coordinator for the third conference of the CONSEU (Conference of European Stateless Nations) (1999); and coordinator for the publication Europa de les Nacions (1993-1999). He is a founder member of CAL (the Coordinator of Associations for the Catalan language). Has acted as a foreign expert in aid projects in such diverse locations as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mongolia, Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mexico, Guatemala and Morocco. He is patron of the Reeixida Foundation and the CATmón Foundation. President of IGMAN-Acció Solidària and director of ONGC a magazine dedicated to political thought, solidarity, aid and international relations. He is a member of the Cooperation Council of the Generalitat de Catalunya.

Víctor Terradellas i Maré (Editor) (Reus, 1962). Entrepreneur and political and cultural activist. President and founder of CATmón Foundation. Editor of Catalan International View and ONGC, a magazine dedicated to political thought, solidarity, aid and international relations. Victor has always been involved in political and social activism, both nationally and internationally. The driving force behind the Plataforma per la Sobirania (The Platform for SelfDetermination) as well as being responsible for significant Catalan aid operations and international relations in such diverse locations as Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Pakistan and Kurdistan.

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Catalan International View

5


To Our Readers

from Georgia to Kosovo via Europe by Francesc de Dalmases

As a rule it is dangerous to draw parallels between separate events. However it is not unreasonable to make a comparison between the different stances taken by the international community following, on one hand, Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence and, on the other, Russia’s aggression against Georgian territory, using South Ossetia as an excuse. Such parallels are dangerous because, while it is transparently obvious that Kosovo and Georgia are not comparable, we have also witnessed how some countries have contradicted the arguments they employed following Kosovo’s independence. A prime example is Russia, which was firmly on Serbia’s side during the supposed violation of its territorial integrity as a result of Kosovan independence. This summer, however, saw Russia’s army violating Georgia’s sovereignty with its military invasion of South Ossetia. It is yet another case where we find a lack of a coordinated voice from the European community: a voice that is reasoned and above all capable 6

of winning respect and recognition of its authority. While it is certain that the European Union’s eventual position over Kosovan independence was virtually unanimous (with Spain, Romania, Slovakia and Cyprus’ sole opposition being of little importance) it is equally true that for the first ten years of the Kosovan war Europe watched and failed to reach an agreement with respect to the Balkan question. Once more traditional state interests have proven to be more important than the common European interests of showing political, economic and social support for a Balkan region where each and every national identity is recognised and is obliged to live together. In the case of Georgia it is unfortunate to observe how Moscow and Washington have taken up opposing positions. It is not so much that the common European opinion has been smothered by the unreasonable views of others, but rather that the Union’s very role as an intermediary has failed due to a lack of strength in its voice as an interlocutor. This was expressed by the President of Georgia himself, Mikhail Saakashvili when he

Catalan International View


came to sign, with conditions, the resolution proposed by Sarkozy (who currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU) and forced on him by Russia’s President Medvedev.

and failures in terms of American foreign policy. Meanwhile, China has ceased to be an emerging power by developing a potential with the desire to be, shortly, ‘the’ power.

If the global political debate eludes Europe we will miss a train that will be difficult to board at a later date

In the midst of all this we find a Europe too interested in the economic crisis to stop and pay attention to the EU’s own political and institutional crisis. The combination of both these factors could prove lethal in terms of the necessary consolidation of Europe as a main actor on the international stage.

Russia’s resurgence as a hegemonic force in the majority of the ex-Soviet Union republics has not taken place on the basis of understanding and democracy, but rather military supremacy and the desire to control energy reserves at origin and while in transit. In the same way, the United States has too many military fronts open (of which Iraq and Afghanistan are notable) with their accompanying human, political and economic costs of unprecedented proportions. This combined with a presidential race that questions, unmasks and weakens the final days of George Bush, a president who will be remembered for his continual gaffes

If the global political debate eludes Europe and centres on the emerging axes of China and Russia both opposing American foreign policy, then the people of Europe as a whole will miss a train that will be difficult to board at a later date. Meanwhile, the majority of the planet will lose out on a voice that, beyond the legitimate defence of geopolitical and geostrategic interests, should also be the source of a certain idea of democracy that we desire, based on dialogue, understanding and the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Catalan International View

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Europe

European divisions: the EU once more without answers by Carme Colomina*

Treaties are no more than legal documents at the service of the European Union. A fundamental question is ‘what Europe do we want exactly?’ However, the EU has been unable to come up with a unanimous answer. Ireland’s ‘no’ to the Lisbon Treaty has reopened divisions among those that support economic union and those that aspire to more political integration. In times of a global threat to the economy and with Russia acting tough at the Union’s borders, what the EU needs is not only a new legal framework but real political leadership. Since Ireland’s ‘no’ to the Treaty, the EU has been split in two. For some it is a chasm that divides European citizens from the political class. The EU, built from the top down as the result of political agreements on the distribution of influences, has to find a way to make the democratic process more transparent before the next round of European elections in June 2009. For others the European project has broken with its original objectives due to the lack of a clear answer to the most basic question: ‘what Europe do we want?’

as if our national government was the only one able to provide answers to our most immediate problems’. Fifty years of a common project have still not changed the inertia of blaming Brussels for the difficult decisions that need to be made at state level. It is as if ‘Brussels’ was an entity in itself when, in reality, it is a European Commission, whose members have been assigned by each of the Member States and approved by the European Parliament, and a Council of Ministers in which the 27 EU governments participate.

The eternal dilemma, unsolved by the current economic and political union, has returned once more to threaten its immediate future. A Europe that is more politically integrated not only frightens some of its citizens, but also most of its leaders. The veteran of all heads of European governments, Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg, recently admitted that ‘between globalisation and the nation, there is an organised Europe’, but ‘we continue to act before public opinion

The Lisbon Treaty was meant to put an end to fifteen years of institutional reforms begun in Maastricht and in need of consolidation. It was a matter of bringing to an end the almost five years lost due to the failure of the European Constitution. In the words of one European political expert, there was a need to pacify ‘the two souls of this beast that is the European Union: the supranational soul and the inter-governmental’. Once again, everything is left hanging in the air.

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Catalan International View


The shock brought about by the Irish ‘no’ and the new uncertainties in the process of ratification of the Lisbon Treaty have further weakened the already fragile European project. The European Commission’s capacity to initiate new legislation has been reduced to a minimum, unable to act in order to avoid a mistake: a mistake that might slow down a ‘yes’ to the Treaty or that may also affect the political career of its members just one year away from the renewal of Brussels’ executive. The poor leadership shown by this Commission has been the perfect excuse for those that defend the view held by the Council of Ministers that ‘the strict community processes, those of directives and an interior market, are practically finished, and that from now on it is much better to function with an intergovernmental mechanism’. This is because, as Nicolas Sarkozy argues, ‘there is life beyond the institutions’. The euro and Schengen are two great instances of cooperation between states that are held up as examples. If this view prevails, a European Union made to suit its

states would consolidate itself, to the detriment of institutions that were meant to guarantee the democratic participation of its citizens.

Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg, recently admitted that ‘between globalisation and the nation, there is an organised Europe’ The intergovernmental way is taking shape. From some European capitals the idea of a Europe operating on different tracks is gaining ground, as outlined in Maastricht and strengthened by each later treaty. 27 countries moving ahead as one is seen as an impossible undertaking. The latest ‘no’ from Ireland has convinced those who favour a more political union that it is necessary to find a way for those countries that want more integration in specific areas to go ahead, without being held back by those that resist giving up sover-

Catalan International View

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Europe

eignty. However, the smallest countries fear the formation of closed clubs of members inside the EU, with the larger countries calling the shots. Institutional weakness is translated into impotence on an international scale. Only the recent European Union initiative, under Nicolas Sarkozy’s leadership, to broker a cease-fire in the Russian-Georgian conflict breathed some life into a common foreign policy, even if negotiations where extremely careful not to damage strategic bilateral relations between the Kremlin and Germany, Italy or France. Beyond this, the EU appears trapped by its own Eurocentrism without realising that, little by little, it is losing its ability to face the new global arena. This Union of some 500 million inhabitants represents just 4% of the world’s landmass and around 10% of its population. By 2025, China will be the second largest global trading nation and India will occupy the fourth position, just behind the EU. Asia is imposing new forms of capitalism which reject Western values. China and India are putting into practice new foreign policies in Africa and Latin America. Russia has revealed its new leadership under Dimitri Medvedev and the long shadow of Vladimir Putin. The United States will do so from next November with Barack Obama or John McCain. Meanwhile, the EU continues to be stuck with the impossible reforms of its institutions. The disproportion of the situation is evident. Europe’s presence in the world is waning. The EU does not exist as a political entity on the UN’s Security Council, for example, or in the International Monetary Fund, because the European states of which they are formed want it that way. Among so much limitation it is not possible for the EU to be a credible actor in foreign policy. Without the Lisbon Treaty coming into effect the European Union remains, for the time being, without a strong foreign policy, without the legal personality that would allow it to sign international treaties and unable to open doors to the new states born of the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. The EU has for too long been offering the carrot of membership to the Balkans, while the reality has continued to erode its cred10

ibility in the region. The Union lacks a permanent president (one that does not rotate every six months) to represent it to the world. In a shocking instance of realism, a leading member of the European Council recently confessed to a group of experts that “we will never have a common voice in the world: our highest ambition should be to get a well rehearsed choir”.

Where Europe is concerned the citizen’s dissatisfaction with the political class in general is exacerbated Ireland’s ‘no’ is not an isolated case. It is the same ‘no’ as France and Holland gave to the European Constitution. It is a ‘no’ that mixes an absence of knowledge, false arguments, dissatisfaction with the current national government and above all else a lack of confidence in the EU. The citizens, who in surveys define themselves as clearly pro-European, respond with a ‘no’ to changes that would reinforce Europe. Meanwhile the governments are too scared to suggest a genuine consultation that could potentially supply ammunition for eroding their autonomy. The lack of confidence is mutual. In recent months the main aim for the heads of the EU has been to buy more time to manoeuvre. Little else is expected than to avoid paralysing the ratification process. Ireland needs to find its own way out of the problem, while the Czech Republic should try not to make it any bigger. The Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, threatened not to ratify the Treaty. Europe once more became the perfect excuse for conducting internal politics in Poland since President Lech Kaczynski, who leaned on his European counterparts in order to essentially obtain a tailor-made Treaty, also tried to play his own cards against ratification. In all it foretells a complicated period of political leadership when Prague takes over the reigns of the EU’s rotating presidency on the 1st January 2009. Diplomatic sources consulted in the making of this article do not expect a way out of the latest institutional dis-

Catalan International View


aster till 2010, preventing the renewal of the European Commission and the next Parliamentary elections to be held within the framework of the Lisbon text. In the following months there is important work to be done, not only to once again explain the European project, but also to really listen to what the citizens want from the EU. Over the years we have all learnt to view and value the EU with less passion and more pragmatism, but if this distancing and abstentionism on behalf of the citizenry is not dealt with, this sense of rejection will end up being a problem of political legitimacy. Where Europe is concerned the citizen’s dissatisfaction with the political class in general is exacerbated. The day-to-day work of the institutions have served to enhance this perception. The image we receive from the media is of a Europe that is undermining its own democratic demands: the controversial debate about immigration; the investigation into the CIA’s secret flights in EU

territory; the reduction of liberties as a result of the fight against terrorism; arbitrary measures such as the inspection of liquids and airport security checks; and the surrender of personal information of all European passengers that fly to the United States. Such measures are interpreted as a challenge to the social European model, till now considered one of the key values of the European project. In reality, social Europe has always been the lowest common denominator of a union that, since its enlargement in 2004, has become ‘Britanised’ to coin a phrase. The new French president of the EU spoke on the ‘need to reconciliate European citizens with Europe’. However, the key questions are, ‘with which Europe?’ Followed by, ‘to what end?’ No one doubts that without the support of its citizens it will be impossible to move towards an ever-closer union. For those that want it, this much is clear. Reality has a habit of reminding us that we do not all want the same thing for this Union.

*Carme Colomina (Ripollet, 1970). A journalist specialising in the present day European Union. She has been with Catalunya Ràdio for more than fourteen years, where she has been the Brussels correspondent, head of the International Section and News sub-editor. She is a member of Team Europe of the European Commission for Catalunya and the Balearics and the Catalan branch of the European Journalists Association. Currently she works for different media organisations and workshops on communication and the European Union.

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Europe

GREAT BRITAIN: Blair’s ghost haunts Brown by Rosa Massagué*

A little over a year has passed since Tony Blair left number 10 Downing Street and it looks like his successor, Gordon Brown, has used up a rich legacy. This may be the impression people have, but the reality is a little different. It is true that Brown and the Labour Party are going through hard times, but it is equally true that the prime minister was forced to reap what his predecessor had sown.

It is also true that Brown did not appear out of nowhere. Since the years of the ideological origins of New Labour, he and Blair formed an almost-perfect team in which each had their role clearly defined. One had the attractive face, the enthusiasm, the extraordinary capacity to connect, to convince. The other was the brain, which thought and worked better away from the public eye. There is no need to say who was who. Once in government the duo undertook a neat division of labour without encroaching on the other’s territory. Towards the end, however, the distance between them had grown to such an extent that they did not appear to belong to the same government. Brown, as chancellor of the exchequer during three labour terms, had ultimate responsibility for the economy. Blair, for everything else. The somewhat unexpected legacy that Brown has inherited is the international economic crisis, which has global witnesses willing to testify. Difficulties for the Labour Party New Labour radically shook up British politics. It was to bring a breath of fresh air to the 12

stuffy corridors of Whitehall and Westminster. It brought enthusiasm to a society tired of stale, grey, militant Thatcherism and social confrontation. Blair won three successive elections, but from the first, in 1997, to the last in 2005, the Labour Party lost 113 seats and four million votes. ‘Britain has not re-elected Labour with any enthusiasm’, went the Economist commentary following the last election1. The publication shared a feeling expressed by the citizens at the ballot box, where there was no other alternative at the time, since the Conservative Party had still not recovered from its great set-back of 1997. Nowadays, the popularity of Labour and its leader has fallen to a level comparable with that of the Conservatives when the party Margaret Thatcher had led to glory in four consecutive victories (three with her as leader and the last with John Major) was hopelessly lost. During the ten years of Labour domination with Blair at the lead, the Conservative Party never had even a slim chance of governing. Having three leaders (William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard) in less than ten years has, naturally enough, served to frighten

Catalan International View


off the party’s traditional supporters. Nevertheless, the youthful David Cameron, elected Tory leader in 2005, is winning back support from the middle classes, particularly those in the south of England that had betrayed their party by voting for Labour. Indeed, this vote is what led the BlairBrown team to win repeatedly.

The difficulties of the economic situation When Brown became the new chancellor of the exchequer in 1997, the priorities he established included an increase in productivity, the creation of employment and, above all, achieving stability. Essentially he wanted to do away with periods of boom and bust, the stop and go that had characterised the British economy in previous decades. A key measure was the granting of independence to the Bank of England.

During the ten years of Labour domination with Blair at the lead, the Conservative Party never had even a The results of his policies were seen four years slim chance of governing The current prime minister, besides inheriting a shrinking electorate and increasingly rebellious MPs, also inherits a party full of deserters and what could be far worse, a party that is bankrupt, with a debt estimated to stand at twenty-four million pounds. Such preposterous means of collecting funds as auctioning a chance to play tennis with Tony Blair (apparently a good player, according to sources close to the former leader) are a clear indicator of the perilous state of Labour’s coffers.

later when, in presenting the 2001 budget, Brown was able to say that the United Kingdom had ‘the lowest inflation for 30 years; the lowest long term interest rates for 35 years; mortgages now averaging one thousand two hundred pounds a year lower than under the last Government; more people in work than ever before, and the lowest unemployment rate since 1975’2.

Six years later, in 2007, during the tenth anniversary of Labour’s victory and his arrival at the Treasury, Brown assured the nation that the British economy ‘is today growing faster than all

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Europe

the other G7 economies - growth stronger this year than the euro area, stronger than Japan’s and stronger even than America’s’. Brown added that before 1997 ‘we were bottom in the G7 for national income per capita - seventh out of seven, behind Germany, Italy, France, Canada and Japan. Now we are second only to America and ahead of all these countries. Every country has faced a trebling of oil and commodity prices. But while inflation peaked at 4.7% in America and went as high as 3.3% in the G7, here in Britain, inflation has never gone beyond 3%, has fallen from 3% to 2.8%, and will fall further this year to 2%’1.

ing to a loss of confidence. Everything appeared to conspire against the new prime minister, even things that were foreseen or known about, such as oil prices, for example. Since 1980 the United Kingdom had been a net exporter of oil, thanks to the North Sea oil fields. This was to change, however, and since 2005 the UK has become a net oil importer. The energy crisis, with British characteristics, has been added to the financial one.

The quarterly projections the Bank of England publishes in its Inflation Report are increasingly preoccupying. Whereas they predicted growth of 1.7% in February, by May the figure had de One of Brown’s undeniable merits is of hav- creased to a scant 1% for the coming year to the ing converted what was ‘the sick man of Europe’ first quarter of 2009. The daily consequences are in the 90s into a country with one of the highest starting to be felt. growth rates and healthiest economies. Without wishing to belittle the chancellor’s achievements, this did of course happen at a time of Blair’s ghost continues to haunt global growth, the opposite of what is occur- Brown, even when it goes by the name ring at present. Since his arrival at Downing of Cameron Street, however, it appears as if everything has suddenly changed. At first it appeared as if the British welcomed the arrival at Downing Street ‘When Gordon Brown became prime minister of a leader with a style markedly different from last June’ one could read in The Economist, ‘few his predecessor. People were tired of the Blair doubted that it was his commanding performance era with the perpetual movement of an extrovert, in ten years as chancellor of the exchequer that tiresome leader and in particular of a prime min- made him the uncontested candidate. Yet in his ister who embarked on the Iraq War and who astonishing fall from grace in the past few months, had appeared before committees investigating economic and fiscal stumbles have featured large’2. lies and manipulations. Brown is not photogenic The financial weekly reminded us of another case or friendly, nor does he like to be seen in pub- of a politician that was an expert in a certain area lic all the time and he appears uncomfortable in and who went on to fail on one of the questions in front of the media’s microphones. Furthermore, which he was purportedly well versed. The politihe had managed to go unnoticed during the crit- cian was Anthony Eden, considered an excellent ical months of the Iraq War and its immediate diplomat, who nevertheless was unable to manage aftermath. The first opinion polls were proof that the Suez Crisis in 1956. His term in Downing this weariness, the desire for a change of style, Street was not to last longer than twenty months. gave Brown a high margin of confidence. In this way, William Rees-Mogg, former editor of The Times, recalled the words of Charles I The honeymoon period was not to last for when he took to the stand to explain that being long, however. The mortgage crisis sweeping the the chancellor of the exchequer and prime minUS also arrived in the UK. Brown’s ordeal began ister are not the same: ‘A subject and a sovereign last September when Northern Rock, an Eng- are clean different things’3, although we could ask lish bank specialising in mortgages, suffered the what led the eminent journalist to recall such a consequences of the ‘economic turbulence’, lead- scandalous episode in British history.

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All the opinion polls held on the anniversary of Brown’s arrival in Downing Street on the 27th June painted a desolate picture for the prime minister. Nevertheless, Rees-Mogg wrote: ‘Public opinion often exaggerates. Mr Brown was not as good a chancellor as the public thought, and he is not as bad a prime minister’, while adding: ‘Yet one cannot see how he can expect to win a general election in 2010’4. It appears that a change in the political cycle in the United Kingdom is clear. There are those that see another Blair in David Cameron. He is young, likeable, enthusiastic, a good communicator and with enough energy to reshape the party (as he is already doing), making him a very likely

contender for Downing Street. The ideological divide that once separated the Conservatives and Labour, especially since Blair-Brown’s adoption and development of Thatcherism, has declined. This has left the role of ideals (which in general are having a hard time) out in the cold. Historically the two parties were poles apart, especially in a society characterised by a strong pragmatism. Nowadays it is Cameron who is copying from Labour and any differences are seen as minor. In a society dominated by image and superficiality, if we were to place Cameron alongside the prime minister it is clear who would win. Blair’s ghost continues to haunt Brown, even when it goes by the name of Cameron. *Rosa Massagué

Journalist specialized in international relations. Has developed most of her professional career at El Periódico de Catalunya, the daily newspaper she joined when it was founded in October 1978. Has been correspondent in London and Rome and as special envoy has reported on conflicts such as Ulster, Cyprus and the Balkans. She also contributes with regular comments on radio and TV stations. She is the author of the book El Legado Politico de Blair (Blair’s Political Legacy), (Catarata, 2007).

1 http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/budget/budget_07/bud_bud07_speech.cfm 2 “A flimsy fightback”, The Economist, 15th May 2008.

3 William Rees-Mogg: “Not Such a good Chancellor, not such a bad PM”, The Times, 23rd June 2008. 4 Ibid.

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Europe

Languages: The European Model by Fèlix Martí*

The evaluation of universal linguistic diversity has changed dramatically over the last three decades. Previously only a few languages were thought to have importance as instruments in scientific and cultural life. Currently, however, all languages are seen as valuable resources in the field of knowledge, of the different ways of living and in symbolic references. Each and every language forms a unique part of our cultural heritage. The growing awareness of the need to protect living species, so characteristic of our time, is spreading to include linguistic diversity. Experts warn us as of the possible negative consequences of communication technology and economic globalisation for the majority of the some 6,500 linguistic communities currently in existence. Some sociolinguists foresee the disappearance of 90% of these languages during the twenty-first century unless an enormous rescue operation is undertaken to save both minority languages and the languages of medium-sized communities.

One of the main obstacles to the effective management of universal linguistic diversity is the traditional belief in the superiority of certain languages. This manifests itself in linguistic policies that support the promotion of prestigious languages and the marginalisation of all other languages in public administration, the education system and the media. On the African continent, for instance, many states unilaterally chose to adopt their colonial language. They see their economic and social progress as being tied to the substitution of their languages by English, French or Portuguese. Nevertheless, the recent creation of the African Academy of Languages by the African Union may signal a change in direction. On every continent and in every state, linguistic policies have typically been characterised by the imposition of linguistic uniformity, with a corresponding disregard for minority languages.

other languages. Monolingual speakers are often unaware of the fact that speaking more than one linguistic code enriches ones understanding of reality and facilitates relations with people from other cultures, thus contributing to tolerance and peace. The most developed proposals in the field of multilingual education recommend the learning of at least three languages; the local one, often coinciding with an individual’s family language; the inter-community language, which in many countries is often declared the official language; and a language for international communication, which is often English. There is a large consensus in favour of making English the number one international language, but only on condition that it does not replace local languages or inter-community languages. Nevertheless, schools must tailor these general principles to each particular situation.

The prestige of some languages explains the lack of interest its speakers have in learning

In Europe it is clear that the process of the creation of the European Union, in other words a

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unified political space, seeks to respect the linguistic diversity of its territories. Europe is not, nor does it wish to be, a melting pot with a tendency to eliminate linguistic differences, but rather a space which celebrates diversity. Twenty-three languages have been given ‘official’ status. Experts point out that the expense of operating the various EU institutions with so many languages is less than the benefits gained from such complexity. In terms of the day-to-day operation the working languages are English, French and German, with the first having an enormous advantage. Europe also protects its other 60 local languages with a special legal mechanism: the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which has been ratified by 23 Council of Europe member states since it was passed in 1992. The Charter aims to defend the linguistic rights of the more than 45 million Europeans that speak regional languages. Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, adopted in 2000, obliges the EU to prohibit discrimination

based on language and, in Article 22, goes on to guarantee the respect for linguistic diversity.

One of the main obstacles that handicap the effective management of universal linguistic diversity is the traditional belief in the superiority of certain languages The majority of European political, social and economic leaders believe that linguistic diversity is positive for development and for trade. The Business Forum for Multilingualism held in 2007 at the behest of the European Commission, which brought together representatives of various industrial sectors, recommended that businesses improve their linguistic competence. The Forum also went on to recommend they invest in language training and increase the linguistic pluralism of their employees. The Commission itself,

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Europe

acting on the recommendations of its Group of Intellectuals for Intercultural Dialogue, wishes to promote the learning of a second mother tongue, which in some documents it refers to as a ‘personal adoptive language’. Following the 2001 European Year of Languages, the 26th September was declared European Languages Day. According to Eurobarometer surveys, at present half of European citizens are able to hold a conversation in a language other than their mother tongue. With programmes such as Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci, the European Commission hopes to significantly increase the linguistic ability of Europeans. Some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have made major contributions to the defence of Europe’s linguistic heritage. The best-known is the European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages (EBLUL), based in Dublin. Since 1982 it has promoted studies and programmes in favour of minority and marginalized languages. EBLUL was instrumental in the approval of the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights (UDLR) in 1996, in Barcelona. They worked in conjunction with 61 NGOs from around the world, 41 international PEN centres and the International Escarré Centre for Ethnic Minorities and Nations (CIEMEN) as well as the collaboration of 40 specialists in sociolinguistics. The UDLR is not an international convention as yet, but sets out the challenges which must be met in relation to linguistic rights. The Declaration was presented before UNESCO in Paris, calling for a working group to be established to elaborate a less ambitious declaration while being more acceptable to all member states of the Organisation. Recently a similar contact has been made with the Human Rights Council of the United Nations based in Geneva. An official declaration of linguistic rights would be a complement to the repertoire of specialised legal tools concerning human rights. Among the numerous international NGOs that contribute to the protection of linguistic diversity, special mention should be made of the Foundation for Endangered Languages, Linguapax International Institute, Terralingua and the univer18

sities on all continents with research departments that specialise in this field. The new areas of interest for academics working in linguistics are machine-assisted translation and linguistic diversity in cyberspace.

The European option is the growth of a new sociolinguistic ethical conscience that generates realistic and effective policies to protect diversity The management of European linguistic diversity has two dimensions. On one hand we need to evolve towards renewed forms of legislation which reduce the privileges enjoyed by the official languages of those member states that have historically existed with other languages. Both France and Spain, for example, still have laws that exclusively promote the use of French and Spanish respectively, thus marginalizing their other national languages. Nevertheless, even in these countries changes have taken place that allow for the effective recognition of their linguistic diversity. In July of this year France added the statement that “Regional languages are part of France’s heritage” to Article 75 of its constitution. In Spain many voices call for regional languages (Basque, Catalan and Galician) that are currently co-official in their territories to be recognised as such in the state as a whole, so that they might be used in Parliament or the Senate. The changes that have taken place indicate that the linguistic colonialism period has come to an end in Europe. The second dimension to European linguistic diversity is the attention and respect that the languages spoken by immigrants receive. The millions of new citizens that have arrived in every European country speak hundreds of languages that were originally ‘exotic’ in relation to a European linguistic heritage. Mechanisms of linguistic integration are being created that allow immigrants to use the local languages of their adopted state in order that they are not excluded from the

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labour market or face social exclusion. Such integration is achieved without them having to give up their languages or original culture. The respect for immigrants’ linguistic rights does not prevent the historical linguistic communities from continuing to maintain their languages as the principal language of communication. The European experience could also prove valuable to other continents. The prospects for the future, in terms of languages, can be reduced to two main hypotheses. The first sees a reduction in linguistic diversity. Globalisation, which facilitates movement and the mixing of human population, as well as the powerful media industry, which inevitably favours linguistic communities that are

most potent demographically and economically, could well cause the rapid disappearance of minority languages. The second hypothesis is the growth of a new sociolinguistic ethical conscience that generates realistic and effective policies to protect diversity, in the same way that a decision has been made to halt the apparently inevitable disappearance of natural species and promote sustainable models of development. The European option decidedly corresponds with the second model. From Europe we think that linguistic sustainability is better than resignation and the acceptance of a loss in linguistic diversity, precisely because it is the most valuable expression of the human species. *Fèlix Martí

Former president of the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (Pax Romana), from 1975 to 1984; director of Catalonia magazine (1987-2002), a publication printed in four different languages, aimed at disseminating Catalan culture; director of the UNESCO centre of Catalunya (1984- 2002) and later its honorary president (from 2003). From 1994 to 2002 he was editor of the Catalan editions of the yearly reports of the Washington based Worldwatch Institute, L’Estat del món (The State of the World) and Signes vitals (Vital Signs). He promotes the Declaration on Contributions by Religions to a Culture of Peace, signed by leaders of the great religious traditions in 1994. President of the Linguapax International Institute from 2001 to 2004 and honorary president thereafter. Wrote his memoirs Diplomàtic sense estat (Diplomat Without a State), published by Edicions Proa in 2006. Was awarded the UNESCO Human Rights Medal in 1995 and the Generalitat de Catalunya’s ‘Creu de Sant Jordi’ (St. George’s Cross) in 2002.

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Europe

The Western Balkans: liberal democracy and reconciliation in sight? by Sonja Mitrovic*

Ever since Kosovo declared its independence, the main issue on the table has been how it will affect other secessionist movements around the world. It remains to be seen whether Kosovo is indeed a sui generis case, or more members of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation will follow suit, populating the new international reality with more Kosovos.

Nevertheless, Kosovo’s independence comes first and foremost as a shock to the Western Balkans. Rather than being the final act of Yugoslavia’s dissolution, the case opens novel socio-political and identity dilemmas. If these are left in the hands of local non-democrats, the region could fall back on the path of nationalist animosities, clearly a potent threat to security and the European perspective that the Balkans have been painstakingly rebuilding ever since the conflict ended. Furthermore, Kosovo looks as if it will see the major powers entrenched in their positions in the region for many years ahead. Their previous meddling in Balkan crises was certainly not always beneficial to the genuine interests of the local people. More significantly, the constitution of the Kosovar state opened a new round of territorial frictions and aggressive nationalisms. The recent electoral success of the pro-European coalition, led by President Boris Tadic, indicated that Serbia had finally opted for democracy and regional reconciliation; but the electoral aftermath spoke differently. In order to form a gov20

ernment, Mr Tadic will have to make concessions to xenophobic forces of the ancien rĂŠgime, which in the past used an ultra-nationalistic discourse and regional imperialism once too often (out of a genuine belief, but mostly as a shield for rigging the transition and avoiding responsibility for war and financial crime). This spells trouble for Bosnia, since Republika Srpska, a Serbian constituent region, has already threatened to hold a referendum on secession. If Serbia flirts with the plan, it could undermine unification programs in Bosnia, or even split the state, as it simply adds to its potentially lethal problems: unemployment, political apathy, youth emigration and no single national identity. Assuming that Russia blesses the secession, the Russian-American quarrel about the Balkans will move from Kosovo to Bosnia (the US administration invested too much in designing the Dayton peace agreement that ended war in Bosnia to quietly watch it disintegrate). Heated nationalistic rhetoric that has plagued the region since Kosovo declared independence

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also threatens to undermine fragile SerbianCroatian links. This is a defeat for policies that brought multi-nationalism in Croatia to a healthier level. After years of mistrust, the two communities now work for their mutual benefit. This is a consequence of Croatian Serbs realising they have more to gain from a prosperous Croatia, than from asking neighbouring Serbia for political direction. At the same time, Zagreb has got its act together with minority protection, looking to enter the EU by 2010. Now, however, all these positive steps could be set back, as previously happened with Slovenia and Serbia.

move triggered a formidable protest by Serbian nationalists, who boycotted and torched Slovenian property. The attacks did no service to the government in Belgrade. Slovenia is among the few countries that encourage the Balkans’ EU bid. Hence Serbia, with its poor international image, should do more to appease any ally it can get hold of (Slovenian sponsorship comes with a price tag, though. It demands ‘flexibility’ in disputes over the Croatian-Slovenian sea border and facilities for Slovenian businesses in Serbia).

Once Slovenia recognized Kosovo’s independence, there was a dramatic In the troublesome post-Yugoslavia space of the last decade, there has been one positive area: reversal Slovenia and Serbia. Slovenian companies have brought new jobs and more advanced labour ethics. Thousands of Slovenian visitors each year help the Serbian tourist industry recover from the ashes.

Once Slovenia recognized Kosovo’s independence, there was a dramatic reversal. The Slovenian

Kosovo’s independence has also encouraged Albanian national hardliners. As recent violence in Macedonia showed, people easily return to guns; and not only when rightfully claiming a greater share of autonomy and prosperity, but also when settling scores with rivals within their own Albanian community.

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Europe

Paradoxically, heavy EU engagement in Kosovo may jeopardize, rather than enhance, the region’s European prospects. The EU is sending the EULEX (European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo) contingent, which is to replace the UN mission that has administered Kosovo since 1999. The detachment’s primary task is to guarantee peace, stability and reform, as part of Kosovo’s ‘supervised independence’ package. It is by far its most ambitious mission ever, seen to confirm the EU’s status as a global player. Yet the inability of the EU to give the new state a united welcome showed that a ‘common’ European foreign policy is still a utopia. Moreover, it became evident that key decisions about the EU’s nearest neighbour are taken in Washington and Moscow.

the Balkans was a ‘decaffeinated’ version of Russian capitalism of the 90s, where connections to state authorities and secret police counted more than a degree in economics. No wonder then that Russia’s oligarchs found it easy to engage in corrupt ex-Yugoslavia commerce. What is new is Russia’s wish to cement political control over the zone, in the latest round of geopolitical games. From Serbia’s standpoint, turning to Russia was beneficial, as any new UN Security Council Resolution on Kosovo gets blocked. That alliance had disastrous effect on the country’s inner politics, however, and its energy sovereignty and democratisation record in particular. Since this U-turn from Brussels towards the Kremlin started, Russian firms have enjoyed privileged access to Serbia’s markets. Gazprom bought a Serbian gas and oil complex without submitting a tender and at a clearly undervalued price, thus becoming the only gas supplier in Serbia.

Kosovo’s independence has also en By privatising in this manner, the Serbian couraged Albanian national hard- government has only served to perpetuate the liners existence of corruption, monopolies and embez Consequently, the Western Balkans might feel compelled to keep relying on Russia and the US (Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo are loyally pro-American). This is a policy that could strip the EU of its power to transform, a power which successfully helped Central and East Europe to adopt democracy and more open economies. With more bad news coming from the region, the EU, already divided over new enlargements, could overturn its policy of committing the Balkans to joining. Even Croatia, which thanks to good diplomacy and advanced reforms went further, could see its chances stalled. The crisis over Kosovo’s future as an independent country is also crucial as it has firmly tied Russia to the region for decades to come. Russian firms have been steadily participating in murky regional corporate deals. Privatisation in

zlement. According to EU Stabilisation and Association Reports, these are actually the greatest challenges to Serbia’s troubled economy in that they deter badly needed foreign capital. Meanwhile, the Kremlin got a chance to influence Serbian politics by threatening energy cut-offs, the way it has done to Ukraine, since the country signalled a dash towards EU and NATO integration after its ‘Orange Revolution’ in 2004. Links between conservatives in the state security services are also grounds for worry. The contacts date back to the early years of Milosevic’s rule. In 1991 he openly sided with the Soviet military - the prime movers of the August putsch against President Mikhail Gorbachev. Between wars, Russian mercenaries found their way into Serbian paramilitary squads. The fact that some were actively employed in Russian special operation units caused a controversy as to possible systematic Russian-Serbian cooperation on security

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Europe

matters. After the autocratic Belgrade regime fell, Milosevic’s family and several generals indicted for war crimes were granted political asylum by Moscow, thus escaping local and international criminal charges. Last February, the Russian establishment staged what was probably the most open disregard for democracy in Serbia. Its public TV heavily criticised Serbian president Tadic for his democratisation and pro-EU efforts. ‘Those Serbian officials who cooperate with the West deserve to be murdered’, the commentator said, making reference to the late prime minister Djindjic, assassinated in 2003. By imposing the ‘Kosovo question’ as the only relevant issue on the agenda, Serbian anti-reformists are trying to stall democratisation. Hysteria as to the ‘loss of Kosovo’ has jeopardised an already shaky consensus for transition. The government is disturbingly polarised as well, a situation the recent elections did nothing more than confirm. Whereas the return of the ultra-chauvinist Radical Party will most likely be prevented, they are left with enough power to block most progressive initiatives. The Russophile Serbian Democratic Party of the ongoing prime minister is marginalized, but the Socials of the late dictator Milosevic have found a new impetus. As a consequence, the incoming cabinet will find it hard to agree on crucial issues which could bring real change to the system. This happened in the previous eight years of the transition: parliament introduced many sensible economic reforms, but they were almost all implemented only partially and corruptly. The work of the Special Chamber for War Crimes and the Special Chamber for Organised Crime has often been ridiculed by top state officials. Though the president apologized to Croatian citizens ‘for all the atrocities they might have suffered at the hands of Serbian forces’, parliament ditched the 2005 ‘Srebrenica Resolution’ meant to symbolize a fresh start in relations with their neighbours. 24

Initiatives to arrest general Mladic and transform compromised factions of the army and police were sabotaged. ‘Lustration Law’, designed to keep perpetrators of human rights abuses of Milosevic’s era away from the administration, was never put into practice. Finally, a set of anti-corruption laws directed at oligarchs who rose to power via war and contraband, became nothing more than nicely written proposals. At the same time, there was systematic curbing of dissonant voices coming from NGOs, opposition parties, associations and the media. A report published by Amnesty International last February warned that even Serbian human rights activists

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Europe

So far, the European perspective has seemed too distant and fragile for most Serbians. In such a context, riddled with frustrations and economic troubles, it was hard for democrats to attract votes. A recent report by euro-parliamentarian Kacin underscored the poor results of the EU’s isolationist policy towards the Serbs. According to the Kacin Report, keeping Serbia at bay is counterproductive, as it stifles progress and alienates citizens. The result is a xenophobic society with high unemployment and 70% of its students never having been abroad. Hence, the ‘Kosovo moment’ should be used to signal the beginning of a new strategy towards Serbian democrats.

‘have concerns for their security’. In addition, Reporters without Borders warned that in 2007 Serbia ranked 7th in Europe in the number of journalists that had been assassinated. So what should the EU and European civil society do about the situation?

More international contacts increase the chances of a responsible citizenry, and in consequence, of a capable, democratic government with a mature answer to Kosovo’s independence. That is, a government that makes sure Kosovo Serbs take part in its institutions; solves the daily problems of all Kosovo’s citizens, such as freedom of movement and trade across the new border, energy supply, pension and medical coverage; cooperates with EULEX and NATO; and negotiates a special status for Kosovo’s orthodox monasteries, a move that would do more to heal broken national pride than a futile repetition of how ‘Kosovo is the heart of Serbia’. This would be a genuine contribution to the Serbian national interest and to the stabilisation of the Western Balkans.

*Sonja Mitrovic (Belgrade, 1978). Holds a degree in International Relations from the University of Belgrade (Serbia). She undertook further studies in Political Science at the University of Twente (The Netherlands) and the University of Georgetown (USA). She received a scholarship from the Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca (University Grants Management Agency or AGAUR). Holds a predoctoral scholarship for international cooperation and development. Since 2005 she has conducted doctoral research in Political Science for the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). Mitrovic is a member of the newly formed research group on Turkey, the Middle East and the Balkans of the UAB as well as the Security Group of the Political and Sociological Sciences Institute of Barcelona.

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The Americas

The shaming of the elite by Anna Grau*

When Barack Obama’s candidacy was still in its infancy a well-meaning American acquaintance told me, ‘Obama might not win now, but someone like him needs to win soon; it’s the only way to solve the worst problem America will have in the coming years; racism’.

Racism against blacks? ‘Not against African Americans’, I was told, but rather against newer, less assimilated blacks, people who have recently arrived from Nigeria, Sudan or Somalia. Then there are the Arabs and Asians that appear not to limit themselves to the typical multiracial cities such as New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco. Instead they head for rural Kansas or the potato fields of Idaho. The message is that the ‘melting pot’ is not exactly a myth, but rather a reality historically restricted to a few cosmopolitan enclaves. The rest is a desert. As dry as a bone.

factors are handled successfully: a) he is an unusually honest man, b) Bush hates him and c) he represents the small man, what we might call the ‘American Chekhov’. He is the American who is sick and tired that the world laughs at him and calls him an idiot. How would most people feel if Michael Moore were to decide to make documentaries about the amazing adventures of the Catalan Statute?

They are correct in one sense: Obama is not only risking losing the elections by being black. He may also This belief is widespread among Obama’s followers. Many see themselves as General Custer, lose by forming part of the elite surrounded by Indians, making the image more politically correct by changing the roles. In any case they see themselves as an inspired but ultraminority elite besieged by a massive, intractable middle America.

They are correct in one sense: Obama is not only risking losing the elections by being black. He may also lose by forming part of the elite. By being too refined, brilliant, educated and well grounded. With blacks like this, who needs well turned out whites? This becomes a factor especially when we are faced with a candidate like John McCain, someone who neither by background nor intelligence can cast the slightest shadow on Obama. He could, however, become a tricky rival if three 26

What will the American population do in November? One year ago the Democrats were heading for certain victory with an inevitable candidate called Hillary Rodham Clinton, a select choice, while still being popular. By choosing Obama, the Democratic delegates are heading for an uncertain victory with a candidate who, while more inspiring, is less of a majority. He is more suitable for the domestic market. Why the domestic market? It is because the priority of everyone who has voted for Obama up to now (and we should keep in mind that they are all voters registered with the Democratic Party; we have witnessed a gigantic process with a global impact, while being essentially local) has not so much been with the next

Catalan International View


presidential election in mind, but rather the last one. They wished to rid themselves of the ghost of George W. Bush, the Iraq War and all of its associated miseries. There are a large number of well-meaning Americans that right now look back and, as happened to the character by Cortázar, have a feeling of having taken a wrong turn. A black wave of shame washes over the liberal’s heart. Let us examine an example. Leonard Downie Jr. has recently taken early retirement from his post as director of The Washington Post, a position he held for some seventeen years. He became a journalist and presumably a man, working as the Post’s editor when Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward wrote about Watergate. Downie leaves a respected, brilliant legacy, blemished by one final stain at the end: the months and months that the Post spent supporting the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and in defending the war. It is precisely what The New York Times did too, along with many others that now deny it.

All those who are in denial complain the government cheated them. As if this was the first time. Who spoke the truth in Watergate, the Nixon administration? Or Bill Clinton in the Lewisnky case? Since when have serious newspapers taken what a president says at face value? It would be more true to what actually happened to say that the rules changed as the game proceeded. Initially the patriotic course of action was to defend the Iraq War and trust a government that wanted to defeat the terrorist threat as never before. However, while at first it appeared to be patriotic, gradually, precisely the opposite appeared to be the case. This about-turn was not a moral one, which is what some would now make us believe, but rather a loss of faith in their leader. They do not feel repentant for having gone to war, but for having done so badly. For having left the field a loser. One of Barack Obama’s strong points is having said no to the war from the outset. This is one

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The Americas

of the reasons many Americans see him as ‘inspiring’. They wish their hearts to be cleansed under his wing that was never sullied by mud. It is worth revisiting the first public speech by Obama on the topic, which evidently is now a historical document: ‘I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda. I AM NOT OPPOSED TO ALL WARS. I’M OPPOSED TO DUMB WARS’.

if the memory of immigrants of bygone centuries was exaggeratedly sweetened? In order to find out one need only take a walk around Ellis Island, where a century and a half ago the immigrants had to wait months before they could set foot in New York. Nowadays there is a museum dedicated to immigration, with terrible photos of illiterate people arriving from Lithuania with nothing to their name. In their eyes you can see the panic of the cornered animal that has suddenly realised the enormous step it has taken. The ordeal they and their children will have to go through in order that their grandchildren will, with luck, be able to survive.

If Obama wins, the American identity will close behind him, to contin The capitals are mine. With them I wish to draw ue clashing in a traumatic manner attention to the fact that with this speech Obama with everything that has not so far distances himself equally from both the warmon- been assimilated gers and the egotistical pacifists (who are so fashionable in Europe) who merrily allow massacres like those in Zimbabwe and Darfur to occur.

Obama’s genius is simply to have seen before others that the Iraq War was unwinnable. His ‘no’ is not mystical; he is not a Ghandi, a Jesus or a Martin Luther King Jr. confronting a tank with a carnation in his mouth. He is an intelligent man that knows that two plus two makes four, whatever happens. Going back to the beginning, the theory that Obama could be the ‘racial Moses’ that the US needs to confront the new version of the ‘melting pot’ is an interesting one. Now that the traditional races have more or less settled into position, to the point that even black power is suffering from the contradictions inherent in having a mortgage and two cars, it may be that the new batch of immigrants may bring more complicated problems of integration. It may be that this wave of immigrants turns out to be more truculent than the others. It may also turn out that this is not to be the case. What 28

It was something far worse. A glance through ‘A Popular History of the United States’ by Howard Zinn is enough to permanently put you off raising a toast with Sam Adams beer. Behind the myth, the American War of Independence was a horrific example of double standards. It was an elite that ‘gloriously’ revolted against the English metropolis, while simultaneously brutally consuming the native Americans’ territory and enslaving blacks in such a savage way that it excelled in its inhumanity. It was not only slavery, it was rape and mutilation, children sold to one buyer, the father sold to another. In some towns in the US where tourism thrives you can still see the post where blacks were tied up and whipped. The Civil War is also a story of horror where poor whites in the North lynched blacks because they considered them guilty of making them fight a war the rich whites could avoid by paying an exemption tax of 300 dollars. This went on while Abraham Lincoln reassured his potential allies by saying that he only wanted to get rid of the

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plantations run by slaves and he would categorically refuse to give the same rights to blacks as the whites had. When the military leaders in the South saw the battlefields were mined they demanded they be able to recruit blacks on equal terms as the whites. Until then blacks could not operate on the front lines. Military headquarters replied (not without a dose of coherence) that if blacks could be as good as soldiers as whites, then what sense did the war that the heroic Confederation was fighting have?

It brings to mind the movement of the tectonic plates. Now and then an identity is reopened and reincorporates that which has sufficient impetus in order for it not to be ignored. One day it was possible for a Catholic to become president of the United States. Now they say they may have a black president. If Obama wins, the American identity will close behind him, to continue clashing in a traumatic manner with everything that has not so far been assimilated. We must wait for the next seismic movement.

Something that most saddens me when I read history is comparing it with contemporary news reports and observing that we have not made much progress. All of the centuries that have passed since the first ship left Africa laden with its human cargo bound for America (one in three died on the journey, but it was still a good business) have not really changed anything. The modern slave traffickers continue just the same. The great waves of migrations, so mythologised and feared, continue unchanged as if they were the movement of terrified animals on a global scale.

The bad news: the world is a mess. The good news: there is no tiny, immaculate elite that never makes a mistake, surrounded by an enormous rabble that never gets it right. The United States has never been the land of the free, nor the home of the brave, or at least, not only the brave and the free. Neither is it the refuge of pigs or cowards. It is a great, passionate, contradictory country, where everyone has a dash of Jekyll and Hyde, of Bush and Obama. It does not need reinventing or inspiration, but rather the capacity to recognise its errors, correct them and get down to work. The same can be said for others.

The integration of identities and races is not, and never has been, easy or problem-free.

*Anna Grau Journalist and writer. From 1991 to 2005 she worked as a political journalist in Barcelona and Madrid, where she was the correspondent for the Avui newspaper and numerous programmes for TV3, Catalunya Ràdio, Ràdio4 and COM ràdio. In 2005 she left for New York, where she currently works. Author of El dia que va morir el president (the Day the President Died), Dones contra dones (Women Against Women) and Endarrere aquesta gent (Reject These People) and the essay Per què parir (Why have a baby?).

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Counting on Brazil by Martí Anglada*

Every region on the planet has one or more corresponding regional power. In continental Europe these are France and Germany. In the Middle East the regional powers, in terms of cultural influence and population size, are Egypt and Iran. In Asia we have China and India, while South East Asia-Oceania has Indonesia and Australia as the dominant countries. In Sub-Saharan Africa the position is held by a single nation, South Africa. Similarly, in North America the United States is the undisputed regional power. Some of these powers are rivals and in a few cases they attain global leadership: this is the Anglo-US’ well-established position and China’s emerging position. The question is: who leads Latin America?

A possible answer is that the United States also takes on this role. This answer is based on its status as a planetary superpower and the view that the Americas as a whole form a region. However, this is not completely in line with reality. The fact that the US exercises its hegemonic influence over a large part of the continent is an unquestionable reality, but considering the whole continent as a single entity is a cultural and geographical misconception. It is unquestionable that Latin America exists as a region that is distinct from Anglo-Saxon America. However, since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement that aligns the United States, Canada and Mexico and the extension of these accords to the majority of small states in Central America, another continental region has clearly emerged. It is a Latin one, including the whole of South America. This region, that covers two large commercial blocs, Mercosur and the Andean Community of Nations, still has no undisputed leader. 30

South America is a region that is on the lookout for a regional power. Given Chile’s exclusion, thanks to its concerted effort to remain on the periphery of the South American arena, there are four states that are both willing and able to take on the role. In demographic order they are Brazil (with a population of 187 million), Colombia (44 million), Argentina (40 million) and Venezuela (28 million). The Chilean desire to ‘go it alone’ (they have never been a fully-fledged member of Mercosur, preferring to take a back seat) and their lack of a regional ambition have been supported until now by good economic results and a social structure that is far superior to that found in the rest of the continent. For different reasons neither Colombia nor Argentina can aspire to be regional leader at this time. Colombia, while being a great economic power, with a healthy ratio of population size to natural resources, is still being held

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back by the endemic conflict with the FARC. Argentina, with a small population in relation to its size and its riches, is still slowed down by political destructuration that is equally endemic. This political destructuration has repeatedly undermined Argentina’s aspirations for dominance.

Brazil tries to behave as a regional power by setting a good example and being a good neighbour Although in political terms there is an undeniable antagonism between Presidents Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, it is doubtful that there could be a true rivalry between the two South American countries they represent. In terms of location and geographical extension, population size, demographic diversity and dynamism, agricultural capacity and, above all, economic health, Brazil beats Venezuela outright. It is only in terms of energy, oil and gas, that Venezuela has the advantage.

The fight is, therefore, both political and personal. There are two ways of seeing South America’s role in the world. Chávez is in a relationship with the US governed by a lack of trust and, frequently, hostility. Lula da Silva, on the other hand, sees a South America that, in its dealings with the US, replaces the submission of the past with a new loyalty (a loyalty that combines critical dialogue with a fundamental coherence between the North and the South of the continent). This leads them to behave very differently in their dealings with the world. Chávez and Lula da Silva each have a very distinct international outlook. Hugo Chávez seeks partners among the oil producing countries that are not direct allies of the United States. The choice is rather wide, therefore, and includes countries such as Russia and China. However, Chávez wishes to do business with those states that have a poor or confrontational relationship with the US. In this sense the most extravagant relationship that the Venezuelan leader has actively sought out is with the Iranian

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The Americas

president, Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Nevertheless, the differences between the vested interests of the petroleum producing countries (some, such as China, have more technology for extraction than oil to extract, while with others, such as Iran, the reverse is true) have made the practical results of Hugo Chávez’ international relations scarce. The Brazil of Lula da Silva, on the other hand, has consolidated its position among the four great emerging powers of the twenty-first century, what the Anglo-Saxon media calls BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China). Of even more interest is the fact that, within the developing world, Brazil has become one of the exemplary instances of commercial and agricultural production (the other being India, with its own particular approach). Brazil and India are clear role models for the Third World, more so than Russia or China. Moreover, both Brazil and India are democracies and this is of great importance when it comes to dealing with role models. From this global position, Lula da Silva maintains a close relationship with other regional powers such as South Africa, as did his predecessors in the presidential role.

The major obstacle to Brazilian leadership is none other than the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez In keeping with this distinct global orientation, Venezuela and Brazil also project themselves in a fundamentally different way in their own region, which is to say, towards the rest of South America. Brazil tries to behave as a regional power by setting a good example and being a good neighbour. It displays the evidence of its economic weight and the neighbourliness of exercising its strength fairly. It is not about political manoeuvring, making gifts and buying influence (Brazil has enough on its plate with its own internal fight against hunger and illiteracy), but rather a policy of offering model development and the desire for peaceful relations. All this without wishing to hide at any time the country’s desire for hegemony over the region. The best example was seen last May, when Lula da Silva gathered twelve heads of state 32

in Brasilia to create the South American United Nations (UNASUR). These attempts to create an international organisation that only includes countries of the South American region as members (there is the Organisation of American States, the OAS, representing the Americas as a whole, with its headquarters in Washington) are not new. We could observe, not without some irony, that the desire for unity comes from as far back as Simón Bolívar and the days of independence. More recently, in 2004, there was an attempt to create the South American Community, with the objective of combining the two main South American free trade associations: Mercosur and the Community of Andean Nations. All of the states in the region belong to one of these two organisations, except Chile, which only holds observer status in Mercosur. The failure of the 2004 initiative brings us to the present, with the great novelty being Brazil’s leadership. UNASUR was born with plenty of ambition, but two left feet: Firstly, there was Colombia’s military attack, a short time before, against a group of FARC guerrillas in Ecuadorian territory. It led to some presidents changing hotels in order not to have to greet their Colombian counterpart in the lobby; the other problem, related to the first, was the momentary failure around the Brazilian proposal to create a Defence Council within UNASUR. Brazil, which has the potential to convert itself into a nuclear power, although it has never sought to do so, possesses the largest arms industry in the region. It is logical, therefore, that it wishes to influence the defence policy of the whole region. On a regional scale, Brazil could exercise a military leadership similar to that of the United States within NATO. The major obstacle to Brazilian leadership (whilst remembering its consensus-building, non aggressive nature) is none other than the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez. He also implements an unmistakable policy of regional leadership, in his case enlarged to include Central America

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and the Caribbean, where he has allies with Cuba and Nicaragua, among others. In promoting this policy, Venezuela does not so much act as an economic model as create faithfulness in exchange for a generous umbilical cord of oil. In any case, the model is largely pure rhetoric since Bolivia, and to a lesser extent Ecuador, are uninterested in importing the Venezuelan misiones sociales, while only welcoming the grand socialist slogans of the twenty-first century. Although Chávez’ anti-US rhetoric appears very attractive to many social groups in the region, the Venezuelan leader appears to have reached his limit with only Bolivia as a faithful South American ally. Ecuador, Paraguay and even Argentina

view Chávez with a certain uneasiness. Buenos Aires toys with Chávez’ grand energy projects (gas pipelines from the north to the south of the continent), but fails to defy Lula da Silva when he snaps his fingers. Indeed Brazil, which is currently preparing to exploit a massive offshore Atlantic oilfield, holds the key to obstruct Chávez’ objective to enter Mercosur. The Brazilian senate has still not ratified the entry of the till-now Andean Venezuela to Mercosur, where Chávez would like to exercise the role of energetic conductor. Whether Venezuela enters or not, it is clear that Brazil, the new regional power, would never permit such baton strokes.

*Martí Anglada Foreign news editor at TV3 (Catalunya Television). He has been foreign correspondent in the Middle East, Italy and Great Britain (1977-1984) for the Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia and United States correspondent for TV3 (1987-1990). He has also been an international political commentator. He recently published Afers no tan estrangers (Not So Foreign Affairs) for Editorial Mina (part of Grup 62).

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New York: an urban refugee camp the nyu/bellevue hospital treats survivors of torture from around the world by Emma Reverter*

New York welcomes newcomers. This fact is amply demonstrated by the three million immigrants that inhabit the city. They left their country of origin for a variety of reasons. Some fled from poverty, while others escaped from torture and intimidation. It is possible for the latter to claim refugee status if they can demonstrate that they are unable to return to their home country because they would be persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality or ideology.

The largest public hospital in the United States, the NYU/Bellevue Hospital, is located in the heart of Manhattan. The comings and goings in the hospital’s main entrance reminds one of the United Nations, situated a short distance away. Every day hundreds of people from around the world pass through the doors, many of them in the national dress of their country of origin. Since the Program for the Survivors of Torture (PSOT) was set up, the medical team have treated more than 2,500 patients from 70 countries; Tibet, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Yemen, Bosnia, East Timor and other countries that fail to respect the religious, political and sexual choices of their citizens. These refugees have managed to survive dictatorships, civil wars and ethnic conflicts, or the abuse and humiliation of their family and their community. The majority of the survivors of torture that join the Bellevue 34

Hospital programme suffer from physical and psychological problems as well as a wide range of economic, social and legal ones. The programme is designed to meet these needs in their entirety. To this end the team is made up of psychiatrists, gynaecologists, therapists, social workers, nurses, translators, administrative staff and volunteers such as English teachers and client chaperones fluent in French, Tibetan, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Krio (spoken throughout Sierra Leone), Wolof (spoken in Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania), Albanian, Greek and other languages. Children who have been tortured and children of the traumatized refugees receive paediatric medical care. The Bellevue programme is the only one of its kind in the US to be run by a hospital. It is also unique in that it has developed therapies spe-

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Models of resilience

but has lived in New York for the last thirty years, greeted me on the hospital’s seventeenth floor. Many years’ experience with patients have taught Aladjem that ‘human beings are fascinating and have an extraordinary capacity to overcome adversity; they are a model of resilience’.

‘New York is an enormous refugee camp’, observes Asher Aladjem, Professor of Psychiatry at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine and the programme’s Director of Psychiatry Services. Doctor Aladjem, who was born in Israel,

Throughout the interview he constantly uses the word ‘resilience’. It has been heard repeatedly in recent years, especially since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001, when some 3,000 people died. For the

cifically designed for homosexual and transsexual refugees that have fled from countries that refuse to accept their sexual orientation.

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psychiatric profession, ‘resilience’ is the human being’s capacity to overcome a tragedy, face up to it and come out of it strengthened. It is the final element of recovery that separates ‘resilience’ from ‘resistance’, in which a person attempts to remain where there are (many dictionaries translate the term ‘resilience’ as ‘resistance’ or ‘strength’). The Diccionari de la Llengua Catalana (The Dictionary of the Catalan Language of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans) contains the term ‘resilience’ although it does not associate this quality with humans, but rather with solids and ecosystems: ‘The resistance of solids to withstand fracture due to shock / The capacity of an ecosystem to recover stability when affected by disturbance or interference’.

The PSOT has condemned the techniques employed by US intelligence agencies when they interrogate terrorist suspects The participants in the Program for the Survivors of Torture, which has a two-month waiting list, are an example of resilience. There are patients that need plastic surgery, such as the Tibetan monk who had his hand burnt by the Chinese authorities so that he would be unable to paint slogans against the government, or the Bosnian girl with a face disfigured by boiling oil. Others need a medical certificate that certifies they were tortured, such as the Egyptian mother and daughter that suffered genital mutilation. Others need treatment for anxiety problems, such as nightmares, phobias, headaches and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Some need all manner of treatment, while others simply need someone to talk to and be listened to. The majority of participants undergo a course of treatment that lasts two and a half years. They learn to live with and learn from their past in order to build a better future. Torture closer to home The PSOT was originally created to help foreigners that had been tortured by totalitarian re36

gimes: the wrongdoer was remote and alien. The doctors at Bellevue never imagined that ten years after its foundation they would have to treat patients claiming to have been tortured by the United States government. The PSOT has condemned the techniques employed by US intelligence agencies when they interrogate terrorist suspects. In doing so it is joined by other doctors’ organisations, among which Physicians for Human Rights stands out. Such interrogation techniques are used with the aim of obtaining information in the so-called Global War on Terror begun after the attacks of 9/11. The doctors’ organisations have severely criticised fellow professionals that participate directly or indirectly in the interrogations since under the Hippocratic Oath they are sworn to ‘do no harm’, reminding them that the term ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ is nothing more than a euphemism for torture. A year ago, in September 2007, the PSOT’s Director, Allen S. Keller, who is also a member of the International Advisory Board of Physicians for Human Rights, testified in front of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He was highly critical of the interrogations and the techniques they employ such as stress positions, shaking and beating, temperature manipulation, threats of harm to the individual or loved ones, prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, sensory overload, sensory deprivation, sexual humiliation, exploitation of fears and phobias, cultural or religious humiliation, and water-boarding. ‘From a medical, scientific and health perspective, there is nothing benign about them. Such techniques are gruesome, dehumanising and dangerous’, Keller stated. In 2005, the Programme for Survivors of Torture treated a group of Iraqi youths that were mistakenly detained and maltreated in Abu Ghraib prison. The United States government itself sent them to Bellevue for treatment. ‘These youngsters were in the wrong place at the wrong time; many had been reported to the authorities as a form of revenge or for financial reward’, Asher Aladjem

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tells us. ‘They trusted the doctors at the hospital; they never saw us as their enemies’.

Since the Program for the Survivors of Torture (PSOT) was set up, the medical team have treated more than 2,500 patients from 70 countries The programme has also been an opportunity to collaborate with lawyers working for prisoners held at the Guantanamo military base. One of the psychiatrists at the hospital, doctor Kate Porterfield, gave a course on psychological preparation for over a hundred lawyers representing the prisoners. The objective was to help them predict the reactions their clients might have when they visited them at the prison. ‘We described in vivid detail the barriers that would have to be overcome in the first meetings with their clients, some with no desire to speak to a lawyer from the United States

and others who were extremely passive’, explains Porterfield. She continues, ‘we also outlined some of the strategies for overcoming this rejection’. According to Porterfield, it is also common that the prisoners’ testimonies are incoherent and the lawyers need to be prepared to listen to such testimonies: ‘They are not lying: mental lapses and incoherence are typical of people who are traumatised’. Porterfield states that the Guantanamo prisoners are still immersed in the trauma stage, ‘people who are still immersed in a traumatic situation have many difficulties in talking about it’. The connection between NYU/Bellevue Hospital and refugees goes back a long way. One century ago the hospital’s Department of Psychiatry was run by the eminent Armenian psychiatrist Menas Gregory, himself a refugee.

For more information: www.survivorsoftorture.org

*Emma Reverter Emma Reverter holds a degree in law and journalism. She has written numerous articles and opinion pieces on the United Nations, Guantanamo, the refugee crisis in Iraq and the death penalty in the United States. Her articles on international politics and culture have been published by Avui and La Vanguardia newspapers, the cultural supplement Babelia of the El País newspaper, as well as National Geographic Spain and Law and Security magazine of the Faculty of Law of NYU. Reverter has closely followed developments at Guantanamo prison in Cuba since it came into being in 2002. Following her visits to Guantanamo she published Guantánamo, presoners als llimbs de la legalitat internacional (Guantanamo; prisoners in an international legal limbo).

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Asia

Russia’s shadow in post-Soviet Central Asia by Natàlia Boronat*

Moscow is keenly interested in maintaining its influence over the ex-Soviet republics, which in Russia are known as ‘the near abroad’. Last summer’s armed conflict with Tbilisi for control of Georgia’s seccionist Republic of South Ossetia left the world in little doubt that Russia will look after its interests in what it considers to be its sphere of influence.

The stage for this confrontation between Russia and the West (for Georgia’s European and Atlantic aspirations) was the Caucasus. However, there is another region, Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan republics) that Moscow observes in order that it does not escape its influence.

tinctly authoritarian tendency with a high level of corruption that affects all areas of power and the economy, based on the distribution of ex-Soviet property that took place at the time when the states changed their names.

The region is sought after by the United States, China, Russia and Europe because of its geostrategic position, between Russia, China, Afghanistan and Iran, in addition to the presence of oil reserves in some of the republics (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan).

The Central Asian republics did not wish to become independent of the Soviet Union. The ‘Russification’ the states underwent with the arrival of the Tsarist empire, later followed by the process of ‘Sovietisation’ of local structures (governmental, educational and so on) was so strong that these countries found themselves with a large cultural chasm after the break-up of the USSR.

The situation in Kazakhstan is substantially different from those of other republics, due to its great potential for energy and its low population density. Nevertheless, analysts agree that the standard of living in these countries is generally lower than during the end of the Soviet era and that there is a strong social crisis. In all of the republics the regimes in power have a dis-

Jirbek Sizdikova, a Central Asia and the Caucasus analyst at the Moscow State University and a Russian citizen of Kazakh origin, considers that the problem of identity the republics find themselves in has been provoked by ‘a break with a national past, firstly resulting from the Tsarist administration and later, seventy years of the Soviet Union’.

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Russia and the Central Asian republics continue to have strong mutual ties. Aside from Moscow’s desire to control the exploitation and transit of hydrocarbons headed for Europe (a mission in large part covered by pipelines owned by Gazprom, Russia’s state monopoly gas company), the Asian republics and Russia participate collectively in diverse regional organisations. On the geopolitical scale these include the Collective Security Treaty or the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, with the Euroasian Economic Community in the economic arena. Russian companies that exploit energy reserves have a strong presence in Central Asia. Russia supports authoritative regimes in the area and does not get involved in internal problems such as the human rights situation. Furthermore, Moscow cannot ignore the human factor: on one hand there are the millions of Russians who live in ‘the near abroad’. An estimated ten million Russians lived in Central Asia in 1989, mostly as a result of Soviet policies that obliged specialists in particular fields to be sent to

work in a different region; on the other, there is the forced labour migration of inhabitants of Central Asia towards the former metropolis. Multicultural, well-integrated Russia referred to in Soviet propaganda remains distant, while xenophobic, racist attitudes, particularly towards people from the Caucasus and Asia, are on the rise.

Moscow is keenly interested in maintaining its influence over the ex-Soviet republics, which in Russia are known as ‘the near abroad’ Sizdikova argues that in spite of Russia’s great need for Central Asia, ‘Moscow has nothing to offer and is unable to fill the gaping hole left by the collapse of the Soviet Union’. The analyst adds that, ‘the end of the empire was not more traumatic thanks to an external cause, the combination of international economics that led to rising oil prices in recent years’.

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Serguei Abaixin, a researcher at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes that, ‘the problem is that Russia does not have a strategy for Central Asia and does not know what it wants’, in contrast to Chinese expansionism, which does have clear objectives in this region, ‘the gas pipelines and stopping the problem of Uyghur separatism’. Moscow wishes to control the gas and oil so that it is only exported through Russian territory. However, according to Abaixin, it has no policies in terms of the Russian-speaking population of these republics. Neither does it have any idea of how to manage labour migration, nor how to direct the growth of Islam. Abaixin sees Moscow as simply supporting the elite of the governments of these countries. During the 90s Russia did little to maintain the leadership of Central Asia it had inherited from the USSR. The turning point for Russian foreign policy occurred when Vladimir Putin became president in 2000 and Russia’s need to reaffirm its position in the post-Soviet era. Russia and Central Asia also joined in the debate over ‘the War on Terror’ following the attacks of 11th of September 2001, which temporarily served to bring Washington and Moscow together. The events of 9/11 also served to reinforce the US presence in Central Asia, from where it operates in Afghanistan. From 2005, the republics began to look more towards Moscow. The authoritarian Central Asian regimes saw the presumably democratic revolutions in the post-Soviet region as a threat (Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004 and Kyrgyzstan in 2005). Uzbekistan in particular is an example of such a shift. In May 2005, in the city of Andijan, the Uzbek government ordered security forces to open fire on a peaceful demonstration, citing the fight against Islamic fundamentalism as a justification. It is still not known how many people died. When Washington called for an investigation into the events in Andijan Uzbekistan closed the US military base on its territory and Islom Karimov’s government turned to face Russia. 40

In diplomacy and international relations the first overseas visit of a new head of state gives clues as to their orientation in terms of foreign policy. Dimitri Medvedev, shortly after taking office as the new leader of the Kremlin on the 7th May 2008, undertook a journey to Asia. He first travelled to Kazakhstan, the post-Soviet republic with which Moscow maintains the best relations as well as numerous joint energy projects. Next, Medvedev travelled to China. At the end of June, Medvedev undertook another energetic trip, this time travelling to Azerbaijan (the oil and gas-producing ex-Soviet republic located in the Caucasus) and Turkmenistan, which holds the fifth-largest gas reserves in the world. Turkmenistan was for many years the most insular country in the region, with its personality cult around Turkmenbashi (literally ‘Father of the Turks’, as Saparmurat Niazov called himself ) and faithful to Moscow and its agreements with Gazprom. When Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow came to power in 2006, Turkmenistan initiated a series of reforms and began to open towards the West. Moscow’s fear of losing a faithful energy ally is well-founded, therefore. In order to safeguard its gas and Turkmenistan’s participation in the gas pipeline on the shores of the Caspian Sea (a pipeline that has already been agreed by Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to carry Central Asian gas to Europe via Russia, competing with the West’s Transcasp project, that avoids Russian territory) Moscow has agreed to pay for its gas at market prices, rather than the cut-price rate it has hitherto paid. The case of Kyrgyzstan, ‘a country that no one is bothered about but that bothers everyone’ Russia was essentially a country of nomads until the arrival of the Tsarist Empire in the twentieth century. The remnants of that past can be seen in Kyrgyzstan. It is a mountainous country of some 200,000 km2 and with a population of little more than 5 million inhabitants. Although Kyrgyzstan does not have the oil reserves of its

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Asia

RUSSIA

ASTANA

CASPIAN SEA

KAZAKHSTAN

CHINA

UZ

BISHKEK

BE KYRGYZSTAN KI TASHKENT TUR ST KM ENI AN STA N DUSHANBE ASHGABAT

IRAN

LAKE BALQASH

ARAL SEA

AZERBAIJAN BAKU

MONGOLIA

TAJIKISTAN

AFGHANISTAN

neighbours, it is a strategic corridor for Russia, the United States and China in their quest for control of Central Asia.

Although Kyrgyzstan does not have the oil reserves of its neighbours, it is a strategic corridor for Russia, the United States and China in their quest for control of Central Asia Close to the capital, Bishkek (the result of Russian town planning where Soviet-era statues live in harmony next to national symbols), there is Manas, a US military base, from which missions to Afghanistan are mounted. The Russian base of Kant is located but a few kilometres away. Kyrgyzstan is also an important stop on the drug route from Afghanistan and Tajikistan to Russia

PAKISTAN

and Europe as well as being a significant gateway for Chinese products entering Central Asia. Many Europeans first placed Kyrgyzstan on the map in March 2005 when, following some highly dubious parliamentary elections maintaining supporters of President Askar Akaiev (the only president in ex-Soviet Central Asia not a former apparatchik) in power, a discontented populous took to the streets, leading to his resignation. The Russian media immediately classed the incident as a potential conflict between ethnic groups, due to the importance of Muslim groups in the south of the country, where the protests had originated. Once again an unjustified fear emerged of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. These events came to be known as the Tulip Revolution, another of the colour revolutions, like Georgia’s in 2003 and Ukraine’s in 2004. The latter led to a change in government in the post-Soviet

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Asia

space thanks to street protests which, according to Russia, would not have been possible without Western support for the opposition. In contrast to Georgia and Ukraine, the new Kyrgyzstan government has good relations with Moscow. Elnura Osmonalieva, a young political scientist at the American University of Central Asia, was closely involved in the revolution but believes that, ‘now everything is the same or perhaps there is even more corruption’. Osmonalieva considers that the time for change has still not arrived and that it must be left to the younger generation, who now no longer have to live through a Soviet past. According to Osmonalieva, who occasionally works as a translator for the president, currently in Kyrgyzstan, the political capacity of a leader is measured in the quantity of people they are capable of mobilising in a few hours, which is to say having access to the money needed to pay demonstrators.

Kyrgyzstan is a key route for drugs originating from Afghanistan and Tajikistan heading for Russia and Europe Nuriia Omurbekova is a 50 year-old engineer from Kyrgyzstan who works as a consultant for various organisations from her country and abroad. Her parents were also from Kyrgyzstan, but the family language has always been Russian, ‘because during the Soviet era we were educated in Russian so that we could have more opportunities’. Omurbekova recognises that Russification and Sovietisation were significant advances for her country, primarily a nomadic nation till the Russian colonisation with forced settlement and

subsequent Soviet collectivisation. Nevertheless, she also believes that the situation of poverty and corruption that Kyrgyzstan is experiencing, ‘are the consequences, or more correctly the continuation, of the bureaucratisation and corruption of the Soviet Union’. Nuriia belongs to a different generation from the young political scientist and no longer believes in anything. Her dream is to emigrate to Europe. Assad is a lawyer and mathematician originally from the south of Kyrgyzstan. He works as a narcotics agent for a police organisation financed by the United States government to control drug trafficking on the country’s southern frontier. He once drove me from Oix, the southern capital, to Bishkek. Kyrgyzstan is a key route for drugs originating from Afghanistan and Tajikistan heading for Russia and Europe. The terrain is so mountainous that it is very difficult to effectively police the frontiers. Assad believes that after Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan is the most open, democratic ex-Soviet Central Asian republic. He feels that thanks to its largely nomadic character before the arrival of the Russians it is where Islam has made less of an impact and the people are more open. He is proud to say what he thinks and to speak badly of whoever he likes, ‘unlike in Uzbekistan where some unwisely chosen words could land you in prison, or Turkmenistan, where criticising the president was unthinkable’. Assad accepts that the Kyrgyzstanis are neither particularly pro-Russian nor proAmerican, they are for whoever gives more money and repeats an oft-heard phrase: ‘Kyrgyzstan is a country no one is bothered about but that bothers everyone’.

*Natàlia Boronat i Rovira (Salomó, 1973). Holds a degree in Information Sciences from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and in Slavic Philology from the Universitat de Barcelona. Since 2001 she has spent most of her time in Russia. She worked in St. Petersburg as a Catalan lecturer at the State University and in the tourism industry. She now lives in Moscow, where she works as a freelance journalist for different Catalan media organisations and reports on the current situation in the Post-Soviet area.

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Asia

Pakistan: light at the end of the tunnel by Víctor Terradellas*

Attacks against Afghanistan’s Taliban by the armed forces of the United States and its allies began in October 2001. When I first heard the news I was in Peshawar, the centre of Pakistan’s controversial, dangerous and beautiful North-West Frontier Province. The war that began following the 9/11 attacks put Pakistan and Afghanistan on the front page for the first time for a significant part of the Western world. Nonetheless, the war has been nothing more than another link in the heavy chain that bound and imprisoned the societies of both countries during the second half of the twentieth century and of which we may begin to see the end in the early part of this century.

While the attack on the Marriott hotel in Islamabad was dismissed by a large part of the international press with a simple mention of AlQaeda and Pakistan’s internal instability it would appear necessary to go a little further. Pakistan is a country that is divided between those who wish to maintain its strategic alliance with the US, orchestrated by the now-fallen Musharraf, and those that wish to resume cordial relations with a China that gave them the technology to develop a nuclear weapon defence programme. There are also those that miss the pro-Taliban connection and finally, the immense silent majority that long for a period of democratic stability with which to overcome the lethal effects of political and economic corruption. Meanwhile, there are a series of conflicts and tensions of a clan and tribal nature that take the form of a national crusade in Kashmir every time a call for national unity is needed, thanks to the eternal enemy, India. 44

Of the attack on the Marriott hotel on the 20th September we are left with the official statistics of 53 dead and 260 injured as well as its classification by the new Pakistani government, headed by Asif Ali Zardari, as ‘the worst attack in our history’. More conclusions can be drawn, however. The management of the crisis has served to highlight the chaotic situation in which the country has been living for some months now: contradictory information, confused demands, isolated clashes between US soldiers and Pakistani armed forces on the Afghan frontier and the kidnapping of the Afghan consul in Peshawar. These are all images of a Pakistan that looks set to close the Musharraf chapter and that is working to achieve a degree of stability with little political or social coordination. In reality the profound social division caused by former President Musharraf ’s support for Wash-

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ington’s armed intervention against Afghanistan that started in 2001, has been overtaken by a new feeling by the majority of a rejection of everything connected to the US government. Aside from agreement on this issue it is difficult to identify an alternative foreign policy that currently enjoys majority support.

There is an immense silent majority that longs for a period of democratic stability with which to overcome the lethal effects of political and economic corruption This social rejection by the majority has been especially evident since George Bush made public his uneasiness with Pakistan. In effect, in an interview broadcast by the ABC channel last April the American president revealed that the US se-

cret services were investigating an attack of similar dimensions to 9/11 that was being planned on Pakistani soil. In the same interview Bush directed himself directly at Pakistani political leaders when he said, ‘they need to decide if they are with us or they are with our enemies’. A surprising statement if one considers that Pakistan is still taken to be a strategic ally of the United States in Asia. The response from Pakistan’s media since last spring has been an escalation in articles denouncing American foreign policy and its open threats against Pakistan. An example comes from the Roznama Nawa-i-Waqt newspaper that used its editorial to accuse the president of the US of ‘aiming directly’ at Pakistan and making it a priority military objective. Other newspapers, such as the pro-Islamic Roznama Jasarat took advantage of the situation of social indignation to claim that the threat of an attack on

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Pakistan was already on Washington’s agenda and that the grave political, social and economic crisis that the country is experiencing internally and in its regional relations originate from its strategic ties with the United States. Even the pro-Western Dawn newspaper declared in an editorial this July that, ‘we do not wish to become an enemy of the United States, but neither are we prepared to be the target of an enemy dressed as a friend’. At this point it appears evident that Pakistan’s strategic alliance with the United States does not have much of a future in the form it existed in the Musharraf period. It is worth keeping in mind the troubled alliance was forged in 2001, in a response to a threat from America to include Pakistan in the list of so-called Axis of Evil countries. At present it is also hard to know what the new Pakistani government’s regional and international proposals will be. Nevertheless, it is hard

to imagine it could return to the days of close ties with China, or that it would once more build them with Russia. It is in this atmosphere of doubt and uncertainty that we propose the European Union strengthen its political and economic ties with Pakistan and strives to become the preferred institution in the terrain of democratisation, of a country devastated by corruption and public inefficiency. The low profile of European institutions in the region and the respect in which they are held could, in this case, be an opportunity to establish links that are not a cause for concern among the more outspoken regional powers. It could be a new opportunity for Europe and a magnificent opportunity for a giant of more than 165 million inhabitants that finds itself between various, dangerous extremisms and a general social weariness that calls for a new period of democratic stability.

*Víctor Terradellas i Maré (Reus, 1962). Entrepreneur and political and cultural activist. President and founder of CATmón Foundation. Editor of Catalan International View and ONGC, a magazine dedicated to political thought, solidarity, aid and international relations. Victor has always been involved in political and social activism, both nationally and internationally. The driving force behind the Plataforma per la Sobirania (The Platform for Self-Determination) as well as being responsible for significant Catalan aid operations and international relations in such diverse locations as Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Pakistan and Kurdistan.

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August Gil Matamala ‘It appears as if in europe the defence of human rights is solely the responsibility of the european court in Strasbourg’ Interviewed by Francesc de Dalmases

August Gil Matamala has been a practising lawyer since 1960, specialising in the fields of criminal and labour law. He has taken part in numerous cases in defence of those on trial for their demands in favour of people’s rights, as well as hearings before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Matamala fought the first successful case against the Spanish state for the violation of basic rights. He is a founder member of the Commission for the Defence of Individual Rights of the Col·legi d’Advocats de Barcelona (the Barcelona Bar Association) and the Catalan Association for the Defence of Human Rights, which he presided over from its foundation in 1985 to 2001. Gil Matamala has also been president of both the Catalunya Foundation and the European Democratic Lawyers organisation. In 2007, coinciding with his retirement, he received the Saint George’s Cross (the highest honour awarded by the Catalan government) in recognition of a lifetime dedicated to the defence of people’s and individual’s rights, the preservation of the independence of the judiciary and the fight for the establishment of a democratic, progressive, European legal system, respectful of the rights of all its citizens. 48

Catalan International View


Interview

We Europeans have a tendency to analyse the situation of human rights as removed from our continent. Looking at the situation of human rights within the European Union, are our states really shining examples?

we have taken a step backwards, in the sense that human rights are something that are taken as being complete, the fight is over, we’ve won them and there’s no need to keep them alive or defend them.

I believe this has never been true and, what is more, as time passes it is actually less so, due to a process of regression in terms of human rights. It is true that we always feel the abuse of human rights is something from the past and we have a tendency not to see what’s in front of our eyes. For example, I’m surprised by the enormous effort made by judge Baltasar Garzón in relation to Chile, Argentina and other continents, while paying little attention to the abuses and excesses against human rights in his own country. There’s a certain tendency to consider that now it is something taken care of and under control and therefore not worth bothering about. Nevertheless, when someone brings to light the violation of human rights in Spain, or speaks of the police overstepping their authority, they are met with a reaction of great surprise, as if such a thing were unthinkable. Since such acts are forbidden by the constitution or the penal code it is seen as if they could not take place. It’s the same with torture: since it’s prohibited it can’t exist, when in fact it does.

At the same time there is the feeling that nothing is more important than security, a concept that has been gaining ground. The fight against terrorism, against external immigration, against uncontrolled immigration, on these issues the states evade the issue of human rights because it is a nuisance to them.

Let’s talk about this process of regression…

I feel it is extremely apparent. We can say that the construction of human rights on an international scale began after the Second World War and the victory over fascism, Nazism and dictatorships. It was a time of great treaties, conventions, the international pacts that proclaimed fundamental rights, a desire that culminated in the European Convention on Human Rights. One has the feeling that there was a real feeling that certain events could not be allowed to happen again and that there was a desire to form the basis of a respect for fundamental human rights in law with mechanisms of protection that impede the violation of these rights whether individual or collective. What has happened since then? Well,

The International Criminal Court has a fundamental flaw which is that the most important countries in the world are not included in its remit From a judicial point of view, how can we overcome this contradiction that means that states consider they are being brought into question when human rights issues are put on the table, that they feel their very existence or legitimacy is being questioned? What is the solution to this situation? It’s a hard question to answer. The respect for and defence of human rights is increasingly being seen, from the point of view of those in power, as an aggression against that very same power and that it is being done in order to serve certain groups which are often depicted as being subversive or apologists for terrorism. I believe that there are two problems: one is the ceding of political power to non-democratic bodies that answer to economic interests or the group’s own interests. Politics should exist to balance the interests of the many against individual interests. We all know that human rights are a real irritation for the intelligence services and they want to use all available means to find out everything, control everything. We know the police are bothered by lawyers and human rights as they see them as being invented to make their lives more difficult and, in particular, as something which gets in the

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way of their role of maintaining social order. This situation has clearly always existed, and the intelligence services will always come into conflict with the limitations which are imposed by rights for the individual. However, for a long time political power has more or less served as a counter balance. Government has served as a guarantee of general 50

interests and basic rights, but this is disappearing. Increasingly politicians have less autonomy and the powers that be which are not democratically elected, hold the power. The events of 9/11 in New York signal a turning point in these policies.

Catalan International View


Interview

I would argue the events of 9/11 didn’t cause governments to react in the right way. The result has been for political power to be surrendered to the security services. Surrendered in the USA, in Europe and the whole world, it was a case of, ‘what do you want? what do you need?’ This has meant giving in to the demands of the so-called ‘intelligence’ and ‘security’ services. You said there are two problems: the first is that political power has lost its influence. What is the second? Next we have the judicial problem. They should have maintained certain criteria of respect for the law. Respect for human rights are incorporated in the legislation as part of the constitution of all European countries. It forms a part of international agreements that are immediately, directly applied in any state. Therefore I feel that judicial power has weakened, taking a lax view as to the application of guarantees of citizens’ rights, of individual liberties. They are much more concerned with the higher principles of security and the fight against terrorism. What we need, therefore, is for politics to recover its original role and jurisdiction, but I’m afraid this may be a long way off. As far as justice is concerned it appears as if the defence of human rights is solely the responsibility of the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. As I see it, it is the last bastion of respect for the basic principles of human rights. There are still judges there that carry on with this mission. As a lawyer you managed to obtain the first judgement to find against the Spanish government for the violation of fundamental human rights, in a case brought before the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Is it truly exceptional in a legal world that is in such poor shape? Obviously it is under pressure and it’s possible that it will end up adapting to the new situation. One problem with the European Court is that a lot of countries join it via the Council of

Europe, but they don’t have much of a tradition in terms of the respect for human rights. I don’t know what might happen in the future, but I think that at the moment something that gives a lot of protection to the Court is the existence of a solid legal framework. The Court has been in existence for many years since its foundation in 1950, when it began with judges from countries with a long democratic tradition and respect for human rights. Was the ruling you obtained against the Spanish state truly significant? The ruling, on a European level, may have helped to consolidate a pre-existing doctrine in terms of the presentation and practice of giving evidence in court, especially with regard to ensuring the principle of the presumption of innocence. As for the Spanish state it had an important impact at the time, especially when it came to establishing criteria for incriminating evidence in legal proceedings. Speaking of international courts. What is of value and what needs improving in the International Criminal Court? The International Criminal Court has a fundamental flaw which is that the most important countries in the world are not included in its remit. It can’t act against the US, Russia or China, for example. It is an International Criminal Court that acts against the weak and in the most serious cases, but those called before the Court need to come from weak countries, such as Serbia or Rwanda. The International Court can only punish the abuses of the defeated, the fallen or those that are not important on the international scene. The Court is excellent as a declaration of principles, but so long as it fails to have a truly universal reach it will always be under suspicion of being in the hands of the global powers that control the Court’s actions while, paradoxically, not being under its jurisdiction.

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Interview

Do you see the great challenge for international legal order as being the recognition of identity of collectives, beyond the recognition of individual identities? If we see the spread of law as progress, that law moves forward, meeting one challenge before moving on to another, then we can say that after the apparently solid recognition of individual rights on paper, this should be the next step. On the other hand this isn’t so surprising since there are some legal precedents for this such as the Atlantic Charter. This declaration was signed by the US and Great Britain on the 14th August 1941 in the midst of the fight against fascism. It recognises that all peoples have a right to self-determination. There are also the Potsdam Accords, which recognise the right to self-determination as a principle to be applied in every case and which are enshrined in a number of international treaties.

The right to self-determination means each national community can freely decide what they want to be Nevertheless, a reductionist view has always been held, as if it were only applicable to the decolonisation process. This is because self-determination is seen as a right that can only be exercised by people that have plaited hair and wear colourful costumes. It is an absurd interpretation, without any foundation. The United Nations International Treaties (the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both adopted by the General Assembly on the 16th December 1966) state explicitly that all peoples have the right to self-determination, in Article 1. Nevertheless, it is necessary to define what is meant by ‘peoples’. A people is a population in a given territory that has the political will to form an independent entity. We need only find out if this political will exists. In other words, selfdetermination means each national community 52

should be left to freely ask itself whether it wants to be one thing or another. Little political influence, excessive influence from the security services and international corporations and a political crisis with a global reach. With such a situation it looks like we are in for a difficult twenty-first century. When there is a crisis in the dominant economic model the future always appears uncertain. You need only read the newspapers to realise this. In fact, maybe we should forbid predictions, especially by certain economic analysts. I don’t know how they have the nerve to go out in public.

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The other day I read that no one, absolutely no one had foreseen that Lehman Brothers might have collapsed, no one had the slightest idea that it would go bankrupt. We are living in a time of profound economic movements. During the Cold War two fundamentally different ideologies opposed each other. Now, however, we are looking at models that are essentially interchangeable, compatible and the dispute is simply one of hegemony. We are indeed experiencing a paradigm shift, which I see as dangerous. Earlier we said that politics is shaped by hidden powers, well increasingly nowadays those same powers head the po-

litical institutions. This new situation means that politics as such, as in the practice of democratic government, is disappearing. In this sense we can be sure that the fight to defend and consolidate democracy and the fight to defend and consolidate human rights are one and the same. In spite of current difficulties we have to view the situation with the hope that this fight will win more ground at the same time as more groups and organisations join in the struggle for human rights as an inviolable legal right.

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Opinions

The media in the Arab-Islamic world by Adrián MacLiman*

In mid-November 2006 the then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, surprised his colleagues by admitting before television cameras that the Western invasion of Iraq had been ‘rather disastrous’. With his habitual cynicism, the chameleon-like Labour politician attempted to ingratiate himself with the audience of Al Jazeera. The channel was inaugurating its English language programmes with an exclusive interview with the occupant of number 10 Downing Street, one of the principle architects of the crusade against the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s inexistent weapons of massive destruction.

Since its creation in 1996, Al Jazeera has been one of the Arab world’s symbols of the freedom of expression. The broadcaster, whose major shareholder is the Emir of Qatar, set about systematically breaking moulds and doing away with ‘information taboos’ put in place by the majority of Middle Eastern governments. The key to its success: the satellite broadcasts were not subject to prior censorship by the Ministries of (Dis)Information that are charged with putting obstacles in the way of the free circulation of information in the countries of the Levant and the Maghreb. It is calculated that Al Jazeera’s Arabic language programmes are watched by some 60 million spectators worldwide. The inhabitants of the Arab-Muslim world eagerly search out the ‘other side’ of the news: a more independent, objective version of the events in their respective countries. For western Arabists and Islamologists, the information provided by the channel constitutes an authentic goldmine of information, supplying the raw materials necessary for a rapid analysis of the fluctuating situation in the region. 54

The oft-repeated independence of the news

channel was called into question after 9/11, during the war in Afghanistan and following the West’s second attempt to deal with Saddam Hussein. President George Bush even asked the Emir of Qatar to ‘control’ the content of the programmes. It was in vain: the Emir had to remind the White House’s occupant of the concept of the ‘freedom of information’, mentioned in the American constitution. ‘You wouldn’t want me to violate that sacrosanct principle, Mr President’, replied the Emir. ‘They accuse us of partiality, but it is not true. Al Jazeera dedicated seven hours of coverage to the messages from Osama Bin Laden and… more than 700 (hours) to the speeches and declarations of George Bush’, asserts Hafez al Mirazi, the channel’s chief Washington correspondent. However, it appears that the American political establishment has decided to join the now long list of Arab detractors of the channel, of this ‘black beast’ of the totalitarian regimes of the region. The question of the freedom of the press in the Middle East and the Maghreb has become a hot topic after the war in Afghanistan and the West’s intervention in Iraq. It seemed as if the allies were not very keen on accepting criticisms, much less

Catalan International View


the condemnation of the Arabic media, who were unlikely to support the presence of foreign troops on Islamic soil. Washington and London did not hesitate to criticize the anti-Western stance of the broadcasters and publications from around the Islamic world. When it came down to it, the motivation of the Arabic press mattered little, the image (or at least the illusion) had to be given of being united against a common enemy of democratic values. Curiously, the media of the region seemed eager to defend the unity of Islam! However, it is not the case of a simple coincidence. In this particular situation, the West had touched a sensitive point in Arab identity. In this particular situation, the Ministries of (Dis)Information did not have to resort to the usual gestures. ‘If anyone were to ask any reader of the Arabic press if they are satisfied with the information published in their newspaper, the answer would undoubtedly be ‘no’’, asserts the American journalist of Palestinian origins Daoud Kuttab, founder of various analysis centres of the Middle Eastern media. The professional career of Kuttab reflects the difficult situation of professional Arabs. More than fifteen years ago he had to put up with the demands of Israeli military censorship,

little-prepared to afford Palestinian journalists the same courtesies applied to foreign correspondents. From 1994, after the creation of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Kuttab had to contend with the limitations applied by the more conservative factions of Yasser Arafat’s administration. Currently he directs the Jordanian project AmmanNet. He does not feel afraid to take on the responsibilities of the press in a region where: • dictators refuse to share ideas with democrats, • basic infrastructure is lacking and the resources required to train independent journalists are in short supply, • rivalry between media companies and competition are conspicuous by their absence, • repressive laws, censorship and self-censorship abound, • the obsession for ‘consensus’ issues, such as the Palestinian issue, relegates local news to the background.

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Opinions

In Pakistan the suicide attacks and clashes between the army and Islamists explain the increase in the number of journalists killed in 2007. Muhammad Arif of the ARY One World Channel was one of the 133 victims of the attack directed Infringing the rules can and does have fatal against Benazir Bhutto in October 2007, in Karaconsequences. In the first five months of 2008, chi. Hrant Dink, director of the Turco-Armenian fourteen journalists were killed. Eleven of the vic- magazine Agos, was assassinated on the 19th Febtims came from Arab-Muslim countries. ruary 2007 in an Istanbul street by ultra nationalist militants. The court case, held at the start of According to the Committee for the Protec- February 2008, was unable to identify all of those tion of Journalists, the number of deaths of jour- responsible, nor establish the supposed links benalists from Arabic countries totalled 48. In the tween the elements that make up the Turkish majority of cases it was due to murders carried forces of law and order. out by political groups (more than 24%), governments (20.5%), paramilitary groups (8.5%) and Although in countries such as Egypt, Lebanon army members (7.2%). and Syria the law guarantees the freedom of the press, reporters frequently come up against im The most common motives were: armed con- pediments put in place by government agencies. flict, political information, cases of corruption, or- These impediments often lead to arrest and/or ilganised crime and the violation of human rights. legal jail sentences. ‘As a general rule, newspapers can publish any news related to the Arab world, except for information related to the country in which they are published’, asserts Daoud Kuttab.

The satellite broadcasts were not subject to prior censorship by the Ministries of (Dis)Information obstructing the free circulation of information in the countries of the Levant and the Maghreb

In Saudi Arabia the media are prohibited from criticising Islam, nor can they express an opinion on the behaviour of the Royal Family.

Since the US invasion of Iraq some 207 media professionals have been murdered. All of the journalists killed in Iraq in 2007 (47) were of Iraqi nationality, with the exception of one Russian. The data comes from the latest report by Reporters Without Borders, adding that the majority worked for national media companies and were victims of deliberate assassination. Frequently the motive is related to the victim’s job or the particular organisation they work for. Armed groups take journalists as hostage if they are from organisations linked to a different branch of Islam from their own, if they collaborate with foreign media companies or if they receive foreign funding. At present the Iraqi government has been unable to find a suitable solution to the violence.

To finish, it is worth remembering that one of the principle objectives of the oft-repeated US administration’s initiative for the creation of a Greater Middle East is to favour the freedom of expression of the region’s press. However, we must ask ourselves whether ,when the time comes, the same criteria will be applied to Al Jazeera as immediately after 9/11.

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In Iran, after the ‘unfreezing’ of the Khomeini period, the authorities closed down 120 newspapers. Nevertheless, the Iranians found a way to express themselves through Internet blogs.

The West’s perception of the contemporary Arab world It is also worth asking what our perception is of the citizens of the Middle East. The conclusions of the investigations carried out in the last

Catalan International View


twenty years by various universities in the Old Continent are not very flattering. In effect, from 1954, when modern Arab nationalism emerged, the impression that the Europeans have of the Arabs is limited to four stereotypes: The terrorist, The Gulf sheik, The migrant worker and The religious fundamentalist (*)

An analysis of each of the aforementioned concepts would invariably allow us to detect deliberate distortion in the image of the Arab-Islamic world. The ‘Arabic’ or ‘Muslim terrorist’ is the label given to those guerrillas or freedom fighters who appeared in the 50s in both North Africa and the Middle East. Strangely, the IRA were never referred to as ‘Catholic terrorists’, nor the German Baader Meinhoff group called ‘Protestant terrorists’.

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Opinions

Nevertheless, the ‘Arab terrorist’ label stuck, largely thanks to the insistence of the Israeli propaganda apparatus, and was adopted by Western media organisations. The ‘Gulf sheiks’ or ‘petrol princes’ appeared for the first time in the 70s following the oil embargo imposed by OPEC as a result of the Arab-Israeli War in 1973. The ‘sheik’ is, as a rule, an inept individual that nevertheless possesses immeasurable material wealth. His naivety and general lack of knowledge of the Western world typically lead him to acquire an endless quantity of useless objects, at an outrageous price.

Nevertheless, after the events of 9/11, the Western media began to rail indiscriminately against Islam and Islamists The ‘migrant worker’, which is to say the millions of Muslims from North Africa and Turkey who contribute with their labour to the well-being and prosperity of France, Germany and Spain, are what the sociologist Guy Sorman did not hesitate in calling ‘new barbarians’. According to the clichés offered by the press they are ‘illiterate and uncultured’, with customs (fasting at Ramadan, wearing of the hijab) that do not merit an explication or objective evaluation. After the reunification of Germany these ‘new barbarians’ appeared as the white middle class Europeans’ greatest enemy. Here, as in the aforementioned cases, the manipulation is obvious. It is hardly a secret that immigration is due to economic and demographic factors. However, these motivations disappear, leaving room for arguments with a racist motivation, carefully dis-

guised behind false arguments of a political or religious nature. For example, in the summer of 1990, when the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front (ISF) won its first victory in local elections, a wellknown Catalan newspaper published the analysis of a university professor in its opinion pages. It ended with the following phrase: ‘…because the ISF is violent, it is fanatical, it is intolerant, it is Islam’. Thus was born the image of the ‘religious fundamentalist’, a mosaic that lumps together the followers of Ayatollah Khomeini, members of the Armed Islamic Group (known by its French acronym, GIA) in Algeria, the ranks of Hezbollah, the Afghan guerrillas, the Islamic opposition in Egypt and members of Hamas. In the majority of cases, the West rejects or condemns their existence, giving as an argument ‘their’ religious intolerance. The ‘religious fundamentalist’ is by definition the enemy of Western civilization. This was decided in the 90s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of what was known as the ‘Socialist Bloc’. Clearly the image of Muslim countries in the Mediterranean region improved somewhat in the middle of the last century, largely thanks to the start of a cultural dialogue that accompanied the putting into action of the Barcelona Process. Nevertheless, after the events of 9/11, the Western media began to rail indiscriminately against Islam and Islamists. Ignorance? Lack of understanding? A desire to ingratiate oneself with the powerful factions of the New (and only) Empire? (*) to the four stereotypes mentioned above must be added a fifth, in Spain’s case: el moro (literally ‘Moor’, but which translates as something equivalent to ‘darkie’) *Adrián MacLiman

Adrián MacLiman is a political analyst and international consultant. He was a correspondent for El País in the United States and worked for international media (ANSA - Italy, AMEX - Mexico, Gráfica - USA). He has been a habitual contributor to Informaciones daily and for the magazine Cambio 16 (Spain), war correspondent in Cyprus (1974), witness to the fall of the Iranian Shah (1978) and a special correspondent of La Vanguardia newspaper (Barcelona) during the Lebanon invasion (1982). He has lived and worked in Jerusalem as a regional correspondent for the Madrid weekly magazine El Independiente(1987-1989). Following his participation in the Euro-Mediterranean Conference (Barcelona, 1995), he joined the Group of Mediterranean Studies of La Sorbonne University (Paris) a as an expert.

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Data from the latest report by Reporters Without Borders Freedom of the press: 2007 in figures 86 journalists killed in 2007, an increase of 244% in five years Maghreb & Middle East

48 Killed 132 Arrested 95 Injured 43 Media Outlets Censored 29 Journalists Kidnapped

In 2007:

86 journalists killed 20 media employees killed 887 arrested 1511 physically attacked or threatened 528 media outlets censored 67 journalists kidnapped

Relating to the Internet :

37 bloggers arrested 21 injured 2,676 sites closed or shut down

Compared with 2006 :

85 journalists killed 32 media employees killed 871 arrested 1472 physically attacked or threatened 912 media outlets censored 56 journalists kidnapped

Geographical Killed Arrested distribution

Africa The Americas Asia Europe & ex-Soviet bloc Maghreb & Middle East Total 2007

Physically attacked or threatened

Media outlets censored

Kidnapped

12 7 17 2

162 86 430 77

145 626 562 83

61 91 273 60

1 11 23 3

48

132

95

43

29

86

887

1511

528

67

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Mugabe, the wraith of God by Nicolás Valle*

Most Zimbabweans dream of the Limpopo. The promised land of Robert Mugabe’s subjects is on the opposite bank of this calm, brown river that cuts through the savannah in the south of the country. Thousands of people draw close every day at dusk and hide among the reeds. They wait for nighttime to arrive, when it is more suitable for swimming across the river that marks the natural border between Zimbabwe and the South African Republic. Once they arrive on the other bank they must scale the four-meter high fence erected by the government in Pretoria to prevent illegal immigration. The perimeter is electrified. The more prudent dig a tunnel and cross the frontier like a mole.

On the other side there is glorious Johannesburg, the Kimberley mines and Africa’s most prosperous southern cities. There is work, but it is hard, whether in mines, factories or mansions owned by the white middle class and the new black aristocracy. The Zimbabwean immigrants are condemned to a marginal life in the suburbs, to a life in one of the ‘matchboxes’, the one-storey houses named for their size. Exploitation by the ruling classes and hate from the working class await them. They are blamed for all social ills, of working for a lower salary, of the increase in crime, drug trafficking and so on. Nevertheless, any option is better than living in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. Three million people have fled from Zimbabwe in recent years. Remaining in the country is a gigantic act of patriotism. The problem of living there is not dealing with inflation of gargantuan proportions, it is not being governed by a perverse, enlightened dictator, it is not wasting away from hunger or being bored to death in a place with no food in the shops, without freedom, without a future. No, Zimbabwe’s shame is not the fact that the elections do not count for anything. Its real problem is having to accept its isolation. No country or international organisation appears in60

terested in seeing justice done to the inhabitants of this republic that was once the envy of Africa, an example of economic prosperity and harmony between its various national communities. The Zimbabweans are alone and the majority simply wait for nature to do the job that neither the United Nations nor the African Union want to do. They simply await the death of the dictator in order to put an end to the nightmare. Robert Mugabe1 has declared more than once that only God Himself will remove him from power, a prediction and threat that the international community have taken stoically. Up to now they have tolerated everything: the assassination of the opposition, the closure of newspapers and radio stations, election rigging and so on. The manipulation of the elections in 2002 broke records for irregularities. These included voting lists for inexistent districts, the duplication of voting slips and fortuitous computer errors. All this to obscure the victory of Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)2. In the 2008 presidential elections, Mugabe knew that he would be unable to repeat a fraud on the same scale and decided to resort to direct action to intimidate

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and repress the dissenters. Opposition meetings were prohibited and gangs of paid thugs working for the regime broke up any form of gathering that resembled a political meeting. Thousands of militants and sympathisers were detained without justification. Tsvangirai was arrested on numerous occasions and his number two, Tendai Biti, was convicted of treason, a crime that carries the death penalty. Seventy supporters of the rival MDC have been murdered and nearly 200 are still missing and presumed to have died under torture in police stations. The climate was so menacing that Tsvangirai had to seek refuge in the Dutch embassy and withdraw his bid for the presidential elections. Mugabe thus became the only candidate and the elections turned into a referendum: ‘yes’ to Mugabe or ‘no’ to Mugabe. It was a form of one-horse race, with an inevitable winner and a certain loser: the people. Mugabe suffers from the sickness that infects all politicians that believe they are men chosen by providence: they identify their needs with the needs of the country. The Zimbabwean dictator was already a mature politician when he took power in 1980. At 84 years of age he insists on continuing to live as if politics were an exercise

in personal purification, as if it were a fight to the death: of his opponents. However, in reality, Mugabe does what he has always done, which is probably the only thing he knows how to do: fight. In the 60s he fought against colonial power and white hegemony. He obtained the country’s independence, but he had to continue the fight to survive the Cold War and ensure that Zimbabwe achieved an envious prosperity: to become southern Africa’s breadbasket. Nowadays Mugabe is simply fighting against reality, his final battle. ‘Comrade Bob’ does not appear conscious of the fact that he is ruling an impoverished country, lacking in prestige, with a population full of pariahs and outcasts. He still likes to see himself as the strong, agile anti-colonial hero. It turns out that the real heroes, however, are his people, tired of being hungry and keeping their mouths shut. Mugabe is the answer to the question as to whether it is possible to destroy a country without weapons. Apparently it is, by government decree. At the end of the 90s, in the middle of the economic crisis, he ordered the expropriation of large farms in order, officially, to reallocate them to the small, local farming communities. Those dispossessed were exclusively whites. The plan produced

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good electoral results, but was a spectacular failure: half of the land was given to members of Mugabe’s family clan or prominent members of ZANU-PF3, the ruling party. The other half was never again cultivated or was ruined by the inexperience of the local farmers in intensive farming methods. The expropriation law, however, not only sunk the agricultural and livestock sectors, it put an end to the ideological foundations upon which the Republic had been founded: racial and social tolerance. The country had ceased to be an enormous self-sufficient farm, to convert itself into a deficient state that had to import everything, from milk to wheat. Inflation has exploded and the country’s banknotes are filled with zeros. Everyone takes to the streets with millions and millions (!) of Zimbabwean dollars in their pocket. The latest banknote to be issued bears the sum of 500,000,000 ZWD. However, this is often insufficent and you need an enormous wad of notes for the smallest purchase. A loaf of bread costs a fortune at 7,000 dollars, while a litre of petrol now costs more than 20 billion. The official inflation rate stands at 150% per day, while economists estimate that accumulated price rises throughout 2007 and 2008 exceed 1,400,000% (7,000% per day). According to Mugabe this is nothing but an international conspiracy: inflation is an artificial manoeuvre, engineered by Western powers with the intention of destroying his political efforts. ‘Comrade Bob’ had already won the world record for outrageous policies when, in 2007, he decided to dictate the most surreal of all: he prohibited inflation. The price of basic products was frozen by decree and shopkeepers who broke the law were subject to fines and prison sentences. The shops have been empty ever since. For the shopkeepers and business owners it is not worth their while selling anything as Mugabe’s law obliges them to sell their products for less than the cost price. This is how the Zimbabwean dictator fights against reality. The results are evident: fertile land abandoned, food shortages, hunger, businesses shut down, fleeing investors and unemployment at almost 80%. Many do not work and many others simply do not go to work. It is not worth 62

continuing with an official job with three-digit inflation and frozen salaries. A teacher earns 6 billion dollars a month while a litre of milk costs 10 billion. Despite the worsening situation the regime carries on regardless. The blame always lies with someone else. There is no food in the supermarkets or petrol in the petrol stations. The guilty party: the small-time vendors that sell food and other products on the street. Solution: prohibit street sellers. Result: increased scarcity and more families without an income. The farms are abandoned. The guilty party: the people from the countryside that migrate to the cities. Solution: destroy the suburbs and send the population to repopulate the rural areas. Result: more frustration and a generation fed on nothing but resentment.

Three million people have fled from Zimbabwe in recent years. Remaining in the country is a gigantic act of patriotism Mugabe believes in God. He is his protector and the source of inspiration, the spirit that one day will remove him from power. Of course, this will happen once he has achieved his mission. ‘Comrade Bob’ has a veritable obsession with purity and he dreams of founding a form of rural, African Arcadia. It is not a new concept: it is the same Maoist delirium that infected the Cambodian Pol Pot and the Peruvian Abimael Guzmán. The countryside represents the purity of the national soul; the simplicity of the customs, the survival of the traditions, the connection with the soil. This in contrast with the city, which represents chaos, materialism and racial interbreeding. The number of people who have been deported, or the names of dissidents confined to re-education camps is still not known. It is estimated that some 50,000 families have faced forced resettlement in agricultural communities. The operation has been dubbed Operation Murambatsvina, which means Operation ‘Drive Out Trash’ in the Shonan language. No comment required.

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Africa

Mugabe knows he is an outcast, a man without status, ridiculed by the European press, criticised by those of moral fibre such as Nelson Mandela or Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He knows that Washington and London have him in their sights and that half the world refuses to recognise his fraudulent re-election. Nevertheless, he feels able to parade before international conferences with an almost unbelievable self-assurance. This is how he appeared at the African Union summit just one day after the circus that was his re-election. He knew he was the centre of attention, but he remained calm. At the end of the day, few of those present could give him lessons in democracy. At his side were Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, the Angolan José Eduardo dos Santos (29 years in power) and the Libyan Muammar Al-Gaddafi (39 years). The most enthusiastic was Omar Bongo, who showered Mugabe with praise, perhaps because the president of Gabon holds the world record for staying in power: 42 years. The Zimbabwean crisis has revealed Africa’s two souls, the one that favours democracy and the one that favours authoritarianism. From the divided summit only a half-hearted proposal could emerge: a call for the regime and the opposition to make a pact for unity. The proposal, full of good intentions, nevertheless reveals a certain fatalism: in Zimbabwe fair elections are impossible. For months now Mugabe has been under pressure. The US and the UK have stepped up sanctions and legal proceedings for genocide hang

over his head4. None of this bothers ‘Comrade Bob’, however. He has but one ally, but it is a good one: South Africa. Only one man could convince Mugabe to retire from politics, only one man has enough influence to persuade him to dismantle his repressive apparatus. Only Thabo Mbeki could do it, but he will not. The president of South Africa has his own plans for Zimbabwe and he is not bothered by the fact that everyone sees him as an accomplice to the totalitarian regime. Mbeki aspires to convert Zimbabwe into a protectorate, a satellite state such as Lesotho, Mozambique or Namibia. The African continent is now at the centre of a race between China and the United States for access to its natural resources. South Africa also wishes to take part. At the end of the day it is a country with the desire and potential to aspire to continental hegemony. Mbeki knows that Mugabe’s abrupt disappearance (a rupture, in other words) would leave Zimbabwe part of the United State’s global franchise. It is said that the South African president spoke daily to Tsvangirai and Mugabe to try to persuade them to accept the government of unity established last September. Only a political transition led from Pretoria can allow South Africa to control Zimbabwe. The recent solution to the crisis, therefore, was reached while ignoring the will of the people. The problem of being a Zimbabwean citizen is not living in a totalitarian state, or living in poverty, but being ignored by everyone and being alone and defenceless before the wraith of God.

*Nicolás Valle (Acehúche, 1964). Journalist for the foreign news desk of TV3 (Catalunya Television). Author of ‘Ubuntu. Estimada Terra Africana’ (Ubuntu. Beloved African Land. Published by Proa, 2008). He carries out a range of academic tasks at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. He previously worked on the foreign desk of the Avui newspaper. He specialises in African current affairs, a continent in where he has travelled extensively.

1 Robert Gabriel Mugabe (Kutama, Zimbabwe. 1924). 28 years in power, since independence in 1980, first as head of government and later as president. He has a degree in Economics and Arts. He joined the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZAPU) guerrilla group to fight against the segregationist Rhodesian regime, a former British colony. He participated in guerilla activities and was

instrumental in the peace accords which converted the republic into a democratic, multiracial state. 2 Morgan Richard Tsvangirai. (Buhera, Zimbabwe. 1952). Human rights activist and unionist. Arrested on numerous occasions, accused of plotting against the regime and treason. 3 Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

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4 The darkest episode of his regime. Between 1980 and 1988, Mugabe ordered the liquidation of his political rivals, at that time made up of members of the Ndebele tribe who form a large part of the population of Matabeleland. The army received the order to show no mercy: it is calculated that some 20,000 Ndebele civilians were massacred.

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‘Normality’ in global financial markets has gone forever by Guillem López Casasnovas*

The immediate effects of the current crisis in the financial markets have started to be quantified in terms of lost global output, which lies at around 4% of GDP according to some estimates. It may look like a minor effect, but it is not. The indirect consequences in terms of a loss of confidence in the economic system, and the financial markets in particular, are huge. It is unlikely that anything will ever be the same again.

Financial hiperactivity and the regulation gap Creating new financial instruments, ‘producing to distribute’, has become for a while the current business practice for a market that never ceases to innovate. This seems to be required if the system wants to maintain profitability given the enormous liquid assets that far exceed those necessary for the normal functioning of the economy. The creativity and imagination demonstrated by creators of products that are distributed by third parties (through conduits, for example), thereby transferring the risk to ‘who knows who’, has had multiple effects. They have ranged from excessive risk-taking and turning a blind eye to the levels of risk associated with the potential profits, to being unconcerned with having such a concentration of high risks, through to the expectation that someone else would always be prepared to take on the portfolio. From here one may try to understand or rationalise the crisis we are going through and use theory or similar situations as a reference point from which to extrapolate. However, in the present situation, predicting the evolution of the financial markets is nowadays an impossible task. Ultimately, whatever happens in a crisis is the result of the accumulated behaviour of many agents based on thousands of different expectations and millions of decisions, sometimes rational, sometimes derived from panic. It is the sort of dynamic where one hopes that the more decisions involved 64

the better the information, even at the expense of increased ignorance as to the sense lying behind it all, by postulating that the invisible hand of Adam Smith is guiding everything.

A new, global, forward-thinking leadership in economic policy is required, especially at this time of uncertainty. This definitive change in the financial markets occurred with such speed that it now makes it more difficult than ever to anticipate events, let alone try to direct their behaviour. In this context, managing monetary policy has become far more complex than any other economic policy. To this end, the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of Japan need to talk to one another and adopt a common language (an economic foundation) in order to coordinate and avoid contradictory actions since money is such a liquid and global asset. Actions in the financial arena produce direct and rebound effects, with conflicting interpretations. It may even be that what are currently interpreted as differences in the situation, say the exchange rates of the dollar against the euro, rather than interest rates, may finally turn out to be the optimum strategy in order to correct real output disequilibria. There are differences however in the instruments. The

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ECB is committed to control inflation and not to rescue economies from their output gaps. The United States’ Federal Reserve mixes up inflation and real output targets. Both institutions ensure liquidity in the financial system. In Europe this is done not so much in terms of quantity but rather in quality, although it is not clear whether windfall profits are created during the process. The US is even more prepared to bail institutions out if needed in order to help bring the skeletons out of their closets. At any rate, there is no such thing as a free lunch and such action does not guard us against future errors. The morality of such rescue missions is moreover debatable after cases of very poor decision-making by company executives with outrageous compensation agreements (‘golden parachutes’, as they are known). ‘Moral hazard’ effects and the erosion of social values cannot be left aside either. The domination of monetary policy In all these situations the solutions provided by the authorities in order to seek new forms of regulation for these novel scenarios have proved to be very poor. If regulation does not help to prevent bad outcomes, after-the-fact interventions,

are seen to be always bad: while ‘not to act’ is bad, ‘to act’ may be even worse. In monetary policy, errors are indeed very expensive since they may easily contaminate real business sectors. For this reason central banks tend to prefer semiautomatic rules, rather than discretional ones, as the latter are seen as random and therefore the source of future volatilities and disturbances in the market. Thus at present we see the ECB basing its decisions as to bank rates on the Taylor rule (divergences in actual inflation and real output compared with their potential). Furthermore, statements made by President Trichet provide agents with some clues as to possible developments in future interest rates according to the mood of the ECB’s Governing Council. These are revealed through the terminology he employs (terms such as ‘closed monitoring’ and ‘strong vigilance’), which allow the market to adopt positions taking for granted future movements in the price of money with a good degree of certainty. Other than this, the states’ Central Banks, such as the Bank of Spain have the unenviable job of taking care of the solvency of the institutions and the stability of their financial system. Spain’s banking sector is in the first division, above that of the G8 or G10, to which Spain aspires as a Western state. Nevertheless, given the

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complexities of financial regulation for which the Central Bank is in charge, we must still hope above all, that our eminent bankers do not make mistakes in their day-to-day decision making. Despite local regulations, these mistakes indeed would have devastating consequences due to the negative external effects that they might provoke on the citizens’ confidence in the stability of the whole financial sector. No turning back

been purchased, but others too, in the new form of ‘toxic waste’ (figuratively speaking). For the same reasons as such funds are bought, they may just as speedily be abandoned: capital knows no boundaries and only shows loyalty to profit (the expected value, given the risks). This liquidity also flows among agents, sectors and countries, it is used to hide from fiscal institutions in both mutual and private funds, and they may play a role as counter-powers against the traditional sense of the state’s sovereignty.

The financial world is not what it was, nor will it be so ever again in the future. There are so many direct and structured, lateral and colateral products in the market place, so many intermediary agents and emerging nominees, so many players present in the new global market and such dominant interests at stake that the future of retail and investment banking is quite unknown.

Financial markets have acted like misbehaving children whose parents have found them difficult to handle. It may be better to leave them alone, disown them, or declare them to have grown up before their time. Reality shows that some correction Such a process of innovation has been devel- is needed oped thanks to significant financial engineering from a new way of understanding financial activities, favoured by extraordinary liquidity, essentially from emerging countries and sovereign funds. Recycling dollars derived from oil (currently volatising prices at a higher level than ever in the past) and revenues from the currencies of developing countries (economies that show twodigit growth and with rates of saving three times ours) has definitively changed the situation. To this new balance on international financial powers we must add the situation provoked by the current (and expected) future increases in the cost of food and some other raw basic materials. The gains and losses created by these sometimes random, sometimes speculative shocks are still unknown. However, without doubt they will be felt in the way liquidity supplies the financial systems and even in changing the political equilibrium of states. Past experience is particularly illustrative. Growth in developing countries such as China, India and Brazil flooded the Western world with liquidity, and the financing of all manner of assets, including marginal ones (‘sub’ as they are known) prove to be possible. Not only have junk bonds 66

The prophets of the current disaster There are certainly many who have written and continue to write about the problems of the present financial crisis. However, the more I read on the topic and more accurate the diagnosis is, the more I believe that we are ignorant of the prognosis. For some time the situation of the credit crunch appeared bleak to regulatory authorities. Everything in economics can be explained after it happens: anticipating a phenomenon and correcting it is always more difficult. Intervention is seen as poor policy, but a failure to intervene can make for a disaster. Some even seek the reassurance of rules above action. However, the conventional economic theory of the rule of the market, in order to set intervention levels, is largely obsolete. This is due to the fact that the costs of intervention, to be justified by the increase in efficiency derived from this, i.e. the hoped-for gains in a context of uncertainty, can be enormous. Flexible interventions can lead to the ‘moral hazard’ of abuse (the rescue rule), taking away responsibility and favouring risk-takers, who are poor at foretelling the future. Public re-

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Business and Economics

sponses tend, moreover, to be rather ‘ad hoc’ which leads to economic policy containing more politics (in the worst sense of ‘exchanging favours’) than economics (theoretical foundations). Looking to the past is wise and necessary, but the landscape has clearly changed. Those responsible for monetary policy are entering unknown territory. A new, global, forward-thinking leadership in economic policy is required, especially at this time of uncertainty. New Realities in the Financial World The new, open economic world will most probably be submerged in financial crises like the current nightmare with greater frequency in the future. The current stock surplus, which has been estimated at three times global GDP, while the tradable portion is not above 40%, far exceeds the real need for a surplus. This new situation, with shares being dealt as if they were any other product and with low interest rates of between 1 and 2% in order to influence the money supply (a la Greenspan) is permanently motivating agents to find better returns. This leads institutions to find new, higher risk markets, if required, through financial products that are ‘synthetic’, structured, collateral, derivatives and so on. In a context of an increase in routine information processing (where a lot of information is being processed impersonally), the result is a loss in the criteria applied to lenders, shifting the balance by undervaluing risk-taking and thereby contaminating the real

economy. Avoiding such ‘contamination’ should be the main objective of the regulatory authorities so the ‘casino economy’ does not have an influence beyond the profits of its players. For the time being the regulators have not achieved this, as evidenced by the ensuing mess created by the sub-prime crisis. This was a market in which it was believed that prices would increase ad infinitum and be reassessed every two years to provide positive feedback to this ‘economic racket’ (from the investment to the consumer and vice versa). The regulators were well aware of this. The savvy players bailed out before the bubble burst. As always happens in this game, the distribution of the gains and losses will not be neutral. Again, the complete lack of morality of this business should be one of the main lessons to be learned by financial regulators as a result of the crisis. To sum up, the financial markets are nowadays like misbehaving children (cheeky, or hyperactive perhaps) whose parents (the regulatory authorities) have found them difficult to handle or discipline. Up to now they have decided it was better (or easier) to leave them alone (give them up for adoption by the free market), disown them, or declare them to have grown up before their time. They have not been seen as pathologically sick, requiring treatment and their bad actions prevented. Let us hope that what we have witnessed these past months will serve to change attitudes in the future.

*Guillem López Casasnovas (Menorca, 1955). Holds a degree in Economics (distinction, 1978) and Law (1979) from the Universitat de Barcelona (UB). He obtained his PhD in Public Economics from the University of York (UK, 1984). He has been a lecturer at the Universitat de Barcelona, visiting scholar at the Institute of Social and Economic Research (UK), University of Sussex and at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Stanford (USA). Since June 1992 has been full professor of economics at Barcelona’s Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), where he has been vice rector of Economics and International Relations and head of the Scool of Economics and Business Science. In 1998 he created the Economics and Health Research Centre (CRES- UPF), which he directed until recently. Co director of the Master’s in Public Management (UPF-UAB-EAPC). In 2000 he received the Catalan Economics Society Award and in 2001 the Joan Sardà Dexeus Award. He is also a member of the Menorcan Institute of Studies, of the Directors’ Board of the International Health Economics Association, The Catalan Royal Academy of Medicine and a distinguished member of the Economists’ Society of Catalunya. Since 2005 he has been one of The six independent members of the spanish central bank’s council.

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Business and Economics

Inclusive yoghurts, a reflection on the social component of a business by Àngel Font*

This spring saw the publication of two books describing the experiences of businesses of equal success, despite operating in local markets thousands of miles apart. Both conduct the same business, however: the production of yoghurt. Nevertheless, they are both much more than just another business enterprise as they define themselves as social enterprises.

One of the studies is entitled ‘La Fageda. The Story of An Obsession. The Keys to Success in a Social and Business Project’ (Dolors González and Cristóbal Colón, Edicions La Magrana, 2008). It recounts the story of La Fageda Cooperative, which in recent years has achieved its goal of eradicating unemployment among mentally disabled people in Girona province (Catalunya). The cooperative was formed as an answer to the difficult situation of people with an intellectual disability who were locked up in psychiatric centres throughout the 70s, robbing them of their human dignity. With time and through experimentation, Cristóbal Colón, founder and president of the society has given shape to a business with a human face. It is not only able to compete in the ultra-competitive dairy market, but also able to be a long-term solution to the problem of social exclusion encountered by thousands of people. 68

La Fageda was created in 1982 out of the belief that work, vital for social integration and the equilibrium of any human being, could serve as a means of rehabilitating people with a mental disability or mental disorder. They searched for different ways of creating jobs: carpentry workshops, forestry nurseries, dairy and farms, until they finally settled on the production of quality yoghurts. It was to be the means to make sense of work and also to establish a solid business project that would allow them to maintain the objectives of La Fageda. So far they have sold thirty million units, with a turnover of fifteen million dollars, thus making them the country’s third largest yoghurt producer. Dolors González’s book is full of anecdotes and personal accounts that illustrate one particular way of doing business. Here is one, which

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summarises Colón’s style: ‘In 2005, La Fageda received the Best Spanish Social Action Award. When Cristóbal Colón went up on stage he surprised everyone by giving a short speech on one of his favourite subjects: the importance of having meaning in ones work and the society in which we live, as well as the importance of creating businesses with a soul. The audience were spellbound, moved by Colón’s words. The last person to speak was José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the president of Spain, who dedicated the following phrase to the cooperative: ‘I like utopias. I’ll try your yoghurt’. The next day the phrase appeared in newspapers all over Spain’. The other book I have referred to is the latest work by the Nobel Peace Prize winner, professor Muhammad Yunus, entitled: ‘Creating a World Without Poverty. Social Business and the Future of Capitalism’ (Muhammad Yunus, Public Affairs, 2007). Yunus recounts the story of his business venture Grameen-Danone and its endeavour of producing and distributing yoghurts among the poor in Bangladesh as a supplement to the impoverished infant diet. This is but the

latest addition to a holding company that Yunus has organised around the Grameen bank, one of the institutions that has done most to help the international spread of microcredits as a sustainable tool for the eradication of poverty. As a result of this, Yunus takes a broader view as to a new concept of a social enterprise. It is a new means to employ the dynamism and creativity of businesses in order to confront the great social ills of the modern world, such as poverty, environmental degradation, health and education. It is estimated that by 2015 microcredits may allow some 500 million people to escape from poverty. In 2005, during one of Yunus’ trips designed to publicize the benefits of microcredits, while in Paris he met Mr Riboud, president of the Danone Group. They exchanged ideas and within little more than an hour they had reached an agreement: they would create a business together, with the main aim of improving the Bangladeshi rural diet, especially the children’s. The company was to have one unusual characteristic: it would not issue dividends. The investors can recover the money they have invested, over time, but the capital does

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not generate dividends, as any profits generated are reinvested in the company to finance its expansion, offer new products or increase its associated social action. Two years later, ‘Shokti Doi’ (‘Strong Yoghurt’) went into production and was distributed in different rural areas of Bangladesh through unconventional means. Small-scale factories were created, close to the dairy farmers. Distribution is through a network of ‘Grameen Ladies’ with portable fridges that deliver the yoghurt houseto-house in order to avoid breaking the cold chain. The packing is made from corn flour, which is subsequently recycled into fertilizer.

The new concept of social enterprise requires a very special leadership capacity. They are charismatic leaders as well as community leaders Yunus took advantage of Danone’s experience to define a new concept in capitalism based on social enterprises, where the profit motive is replaced by a social objective. Yunus imagines a world where social enterprises are widely recognised and can grow. He envisaged the creation of investment funds specialised in social enterprises; the creation of new banks specialised in the financing of social enterprises; the birth of a new secondary market in the registration of social enterprises, which may signal a veritable market in social values in the future; the creation of media specialised in news related to this new market; a new stock exchange where progress would be measured by the social impact of its businesses; and the emergence of new professionals that are searching for alternatives with some meaning. These are all elements of a utopia that is beginning to become a reality. A detailed analysis of both projects allows us to find multiple parallels, as well as general characteristics which new concepts such as the social economy and the social responsibility of businesses are moving towards. With experiences so 70

diverse as those of Colón and Yunus we can find certain traits in common, beyond the yoghurt: • Social Entrepreneurs. The new concept of social enterprise requires a very special leadership capacity. They are charismatic leaders as well as community leaders. They combine a great intuition for identifying opportunities in social difficulties with an equally great capacity for learning from their own and others’ errors together with a strong moral code. • Business acumen. The social objectives pursued by these social enterprises are similar to other charitable or non profit-making organisations. At the same time, the incorporation of professional management practices and activities coherent with the objective of generating sustainable income makes them very different in the manner in which they operate. • Sufficient funding. No economic activity can become sustainable without minimum resources that ensure investments and capital have the necessary flexibility. In this context social enterprises need specific mechanisms in order to develop their activities. • Forms of ownership and management. Companies made up of shareholders are not the only form of ownership and organisation that social enterprises can adopt. Cooperatives, mutual societies or foundations could all be the most suitable mechanism at any given time. They can constitute a group of organisations that ensure the long-term viability of attaining the objective, rather than the current emphasis on maximising shareholder profits. • The base of the pyramid. The continual thrust to offer products and services to the least privileged sectors of society, which in many countries constitute the majority, has to be the reason for these enterprises’ existence. This orientation has been called the ‘base of the pyramid’ identifying itself with a graphic representation of the distribution of income.

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These five elements could be seen as a new way to do business. They are valid criteria for new social enterprises, but they could go on to decisively influence all businesses with the need to increase their commitment to and responsibility for society. A large, potent movement of social enterprises around the world could force a social adaptation of the majority of businesses, gradually introducing ethical, social and environmental criteria into their activities. These examples are still of limited scale and influence, but they are growing. This may well be one of the key tendencies in the coming years. A new tendency or perhaps

not that new. Social enterprises have operated for more than three hundred years, such as the savings banks that are so widespread throughout Europe and in Catalunya in particular. The emergence of a new concept in social enterprises may also be an opportunity to revitalise these centuries-old structures with such a current role. For this reason, when Professor Yunus visited Barcelona some years ago he said to the then president of the Caixa Catalunya (a large Catalan savings bank): ‘If I’d known about the savings bank business model when I founded the Grameen Bank, today it wouldn’t be called the Grameen Bank but the Caixa Grameen’. *Àngel Font i Vidal

(lleida, 1965). Holds a degree in Chemical Sciences from the Universitat de Barcelona and a diploma in Business Management from EADA Business School. Began his career in an environmental engineering company and subsequently joined Intermón Oxfam where he held the post of coordinator on projects in Latin America, fund-raising and public relations and assistant to the director general. Since 2000 he has been director of the Un Sol Món (One World) Foundation financed by the Caixa de Catalunya (savings bank) where he runs projects for social housing and employment for disadvantaged groups as well as the development of microfinance in Spain, Latin America and Africa. Àngel Font is a member of the Cooperation Council of the Generalitat de Catalunya and was the first vicepresident of the European Microfinance Network. He carries out teaching duties related to the management of non-profit organisations at a number of business schools.

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Sience and Economics

Challenges facing the knowledge society by Enric I. Canela*

In 2000 the European Union undertook the task of becoming more competitive on the global stage and striving for full employment. These goals were set as part of the so-called Lisbon Strategy1, to be achieved by the end of the current decade. The rationale behind setting such objectives was neither purely theoretical nor due to acting solely on a whim. Fortunately, the European Union enjoys an enviable welfare system. While there are some differences between member states it is better than some of its main competitors, such as the United States or Japan. Nevertheless, we are in a globalised world full of social inequalities, where we compete against countries that base their economies on a weak welfare system, with few rights and with cheap labour.

Indeed, if the EU wishes to maintain the levels of welfare of its citizens it must change its model of production and generate goods and services with a high added value. The only means to achieve this is through a transformation of the economy to one intensive in terms of knowledge, which requires human capital that is highly trained; striving for excellence in basic and applied research; the transfer of knowledge to society, particularly to companies; development; and innovation in products and processes. Since the EU is conscious of the need for such changes it has been taking a series of measures to promote activities based on knowledge, in order to strengthen a single market, raise mobility, increase education and the training of its citizens and in order that private investment in research and innovation grows. 72

Of the many initiatives that have been undertaken, two are noteworthy: the first is the creation of the European Research Area and the second is the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), or so-called Bologna Process, which goes beyond the EU’s borders. Achieving a potent European Research Area requires a guarantee that the whole of the EU has a sufficient number of researchers at its disposal. The EU has an efficient higher education system and currently produces a greater number of engineering and experimental science graduates and PhD holders than the United States or Japan. Nevertheless, this apparent advantage is subsequently wasted since the number of people employed in research and innovation is vastly inferior. The capacity of the US to attract talent is higher and many researchers from the EU and

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other countries eventually migrate there. Meanwhile, far less people move to the EU as it is seen as much less attractive to researchers. The conclusion is that the EU states have a negative balance of talent, which is to say we export more researchers than we import.

The universities and centres of research must have a high level of tolerance in order to be attractive to a range of people, with diverse ideas and backgrounds One of the reasons that explain this negative balance is that employment law in the EU countries is rigid, especially where it concerns universities and public research centres. These organisms lack autonomy in being able to set salaries and working conditions. If to such a lack of autonomy we add the lack of publicity given to job vacancies it is easy to see why few researchers apply from other countries or regions. Such factors work against excellence in research since

it is not always easy to find the best researchers in a particular field in the same region. In terms of the business world, although European mobility is not particularly high, the problem is not as serious. Nevertheless, we must keep in mind that mobility in the EU is still not very easy and for this reason it is not sufficiently widespread. One of the measures that was adopted early on to promote mobility was the Erasmus programme, which stimulates mobility among students of EU member states. It is a system that has shown itself to be efficient and has meant that many European university students have taken a small part of their course outside of their home country. The Erasmus programme will probably be more efficient once the EHEA is fully functioning and clear, transparent procedures are in place for recognising the qualifications and skills acquired during training. The full implementation of the programme, however, is limited by the availability of economic resources of potential candidates for the pro-

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Sience and Economics

gramme. If it is truly to be a European political option all member states must strongly support it and increase their budgets in order to avoid inequalities in the uptake of the programme due to the economic circumstances of the applicants. Unfortunately the construction of the EHEA has not yet finished. Many states, of which Spain is one, face the transition with reluctance and still maintain excessive differences in terms of the length of courses and the heterogeneity of their education systems. The majority of states in the EU have adopted a model of three years for a degree course and two years for a master’s. Some are flexible and allow for the existence of both three and four year degrees, according to the area of study. Albania, Ireland, Latvia and Luxembourg fall into the latter category in that they allow for a three-year degree with a two-year master’s or a four-year degree and a one-year master’s, depending on the subject. The states that have settled on what I see as the mistaken option of homogenous, four-year degrees are: Armenia, Bulgaria, Spain, Greece, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Cyprus. They have opted for degrees of four years followed by either half a year, one year, or two years of further study to attain a master’s. The main reason why I hold my opinion that this is a mistake is that, in countries with threeyear degrees plus two-year master’s, students that have finished their degree would have no interest in completing their studies in a country where it only takes one year. Such an option subsequently loses its attraction. It remains to be seen how these differences are overcome in order to construct a European Union with a labour-force and student population that has a high level of mobility. Nevertheless, the public sector of certain EU countries is often unable to make attractive offers of work since realistic working conditions and salaries cannot be negotiated. This arises because the salary is not determined by the value and skills of the candidate, but rather by state legislation, which is applied across the board, regardless of specific qualifications or the sector and level of the position to be filled. What is more, salaries are 74

often not linked to the output of the activity, but rather they are mainly determined by how long the employee has held the post, regardless of the actual results. The diagnosis appears even more serious when we observe that the EU invests less in creating and maintaining research centres than the US or Japan. The direct consequence is, naturally, fewer positions for highly qualified researchers. As a result, researchers are led to search for work abroad and their return is practically impossible if they are to maintain their working conditions.

Achieving a potent European Research Area requires a guarantee that the whole of the EU has a sufficient number of researchers at its disposal It is not only a question of resources and mobility, however. Richard Florida2 argues for the importance of universities and research centres forming part of an ecosystem in which companies can absorb the fruits of research in order to convert them into commercial applications and ultimately into industrial development and longterm growth. For this to happen, Florida argues, a particular region must generate what he calls a ‘creative economy’ resulting from research and thus take advantage of knowledge held by society. Such a system would form a self-sustaining system whereby the universities play an important role in generating, attracting and retaining talent. They will be able to generate talent given the necessary staff and resources, but in order to successfully attract and retain talent other factors are required. The universities and centres of research, as well as the environment in which they are found, must have a high level of tolerance in order to be attractive to a range of people, with diverse ideas, backgrounds and so on. They must be ready to accept new ideas, diversity, differences and certain eccentricities. In short, Florida high-

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lights the need for ‘the three Ts: talent, technology and tolerance’. We need to question whether the universities and regions of the EU zone supply these conditions to a sufficient degree. Do they have, or are they capable of having, clusters that are rich in technology, full of talent and with a tolerance for diversity in order to generate, attract and retain innovation? They need to create sustainable prosperity and living standards that are constantly improving for their inhabitants. Unfortunately, the answer is in general, ‘no’, although there are some ‘megaregions’ which contain technological clusters that are capable of absorbing the results of research and creating spin-off companies. Nevertheless, the economic potential of such regions does not match the United States’ capacity to attract foreign talent and to retain its intellectual capital. Let us examine the situation in Catalunya, a country with an area which exceeds some EU

states, such as Belgium, Slovenia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta. It has an Autonomous Statute, which in some aspects allows for great freedom in decision-making. However, when it comes to the field of higher education, Catalunya is bound by the rigid bureaucratic norms of the Spanish state. An example of this is that universities are obliged to offer four-year degrees, with one-year master’s programmes, with the ensuing disadvantages outlined above. This is against the will of the universities themselves and the Catalan government. Catalan public universities are autonomous when it comes to choosing and recruiting their staff, but they are unable to negotiate their salaries or offer performance-based incentives. Nor are they free to choose their own students. Such a situation complicates the universities’ ability to attract and retain talent. A desire to partially solve this problem led the Catalan government to create the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA in Catalan). It is a body which recruits

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researchers from anywhere in the world, purely on merit, without any bureaucratic preconditions. In this way Catalan universities and research centres are better placed to attract researchers. The resources dedicated to the Institute are currently insufficient to make the necessary transformation, but it is a step in the right direction. It will also be necessary to create more research centres linked to universities. Some months ago, the Bruegel Group3 published a report that highlighted the fact that the quality of research undertaken by universities depends upon the investment in higher education and research. The experts argued that there is an economic and an organisational difference between universities in the EU and the United States. While money is a significant factor, so too is poor management, a lack of autonomy and the perverse incentive scheme for lecturers which the majority of European universities appear to operate. The report outlines a series of actions aimed at improving the current situation. It highlights the need to increase investment in universities by 1% of GDP over ten years, although it does not specify whether said funding should be public or pri-

vate. In addition, the experts suggest that university autonomy should be strengthened in terms of the setting of budgets, employment of personnel, salaries, design of courses and the selection of students, particularly in terms of master’s courses. All these steps are necessary if investment in higher education and research is to be truly profitable. Catalunya leads the way in business schools, being home to the renowned IESE and ESADE institutes as well as the newly formed Barcelona Graduate School of Economics. However, in spite of having a dynamic economy, Catalunya is prone to deficiencies that are typical of a Latin nation with a Catholic tradition: lack of success in a business venture is seen as a failure, rather than an opportunity to learn in order to do better. The stigma of failure typically accompanies those that fail to triumph. We must keep in mind that intelligence is not associated with any one country, differences stem from cultural, religious, political and other factors that mean that there are differences in priorities. The differences between one country and another are in organisation and investment. Undoubtedly everyone is aware of the latter, but often the former is forgotten.

*Enric Canela (Barcelona, 1949). Holds a Chemistry degree from the Universitat de Barcelona (UB, 1972) and a PhD in Chemistry with Biochemistry as his specialisation. Lecturer at the UB since 1974, he is professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and head of the department of the same name in the Biology Faculty of the UB. He collaborates in research on intracellular communication and theoretical biochemistry. He regularly publishes in scientific journals of international renown. Between 1991 and 1995 he was vice-president of the Catalan Biology Society. He has been president of the Society for Knowledge since September 2007. Since June 2007 he has been patron of the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA) for the Spanish state.

1 http://europa.eu/lisbon_treaty/index_en.htm 2 The University and the Creative Economy. Richard Florida, Gary Gates and Kevin Stolarick (2006) http://creativeclass.com/rfcgdb/articles/University_ andthe_Creative_Economy.pdf 3 http://www.bruegel.org/Public/Publication_detail.php?ID=1169&publicationID=4618

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Green Debate

a question of priorities and habits by Manuel Manonelles i Tarragó*

As everyone is well aware, the world is facing a food crisis of hitherto unknown proportions. It is remarkable both for its global dimension, since till now we have become all too accustomed to situations of local or regional crises, more or less chronic, but not global, and its effects over time, which is to say the experts warn us that it is not a temporary situation, but rather contains structural elements that could last a decade.

The causes: a deadly cocktail The causes are complex, diverse and operate in tandem; a paradigm for the modern world, increasingly interconnected and globalised. On one hand there is the rising cost of oil that has led to price increases, both in the production of food and its transport. It seems as if prices will rise inexorably, at least in the short term. To this must be added a general malaise of the abandonment of investment in the food sector on a global scale. This has gone on within a general framework of moderate prices and low economic returns when compared with other sectors with more attractive profits. On the other hand we find there is an increase in demand due to population growth accompanied by changes in eating habits in certain countries, specifically India and China, where some 40% of the world’s population can be found. Their combined population increases by some 80 million people every year, naturally causing an increase in demand. However, what is presumably caus78

ing a profound structural change in the situation are the alterations in the eating habits of these emerging countries. The strong economic growth in recent years in countries such as China, and to a lesser extent India and Brazil, is bringing about serious changes in traditionally vegetarian countries towards more Western models, where milk and meat form a part of the daily diet. Here is where the problem lies: in order to produce a kilo of meat we need eight kilos of grain. This leads to an increase in the demand for grain to make more meat that eventually goes to feed the same people. In global terms we are faced by changes that will probably create more profits but, in terms of food security, are grossly inefficient. The statistics speak for themselves: in ten years the Chinese have gone from consuming 9.5 litres of milk per person per year, to 32 litres per person per year. When multiplied by the number of Chinese, some 1.3 billion people (according to the latest census), this clearly has global implications. In the case of India’s population of one

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billion people, in the same time period they have gone from 73 litres a head to 91. This is obviously significant, but we must be conscious of the ‘mystery of statistics’. The fact that the per capita milk consumption rises does not imply that all Chinese and Indians are better nourished. It only means a part of them are. In fact they are even beginning to suffer the same problems brought on by obesity that are found in the West. Meanwhile, however, the rest of the population continues the same as before, or worse, as they do not get to see the meat or milk whereas the grains and vegetables they subsist on have begun to suffer shortages.

has caused more droughts and floods than usual in recent years. These have subsequently led to a drop in available food reserves, which, in the case of grain, is at its lowest level since 1980. The situation has been exacerbated by a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that for many years has pressed for a reduction in reserves in favour of the internationalisation of demand.

The strong economic growth in recent years in countries such as China, and to a lesser extent India and Brazil, is bringing about serious To this situation must be added biofuels and changes in eating habits their questionable benefits, which result in part of the infrastructure and agricultural resources (on what is in many cases the most productive land) being diverted towards its production. This happens with soya in particular, but it is also true of corn. The result is scarcity and consequent price increases. To further complicate matters we need to add the consequences of climate change which

Finally we come to the most outrageous cause of the crisis: financial speculation. With the end of the construction bubble, chiefly after the crash in subprime mortgages in the US, the consequent collapse in the construction sector and repeated falls on the stock exchange, the most aggressive investment funds have found in the food futures market new sources of completely amoral wealth,

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especially given the current context. We have even reached a situation where some European banks invited their clients to invest in order to profit from the effects of climate change and rising food prices. The advertisements were not withdrawn until the European Parliament mounted an official, public complaint. The consequences: the insecurity of famine The consequences were soon felt. The first warning of what was to come occurred in January 2007 with the so-called ‘tortilla crisis’ in Mexico, when the effects of biofuels began to be felt in the Pan-American grain market (particularly that of corn). Nevertheless, at the time no one was aware of the snowball that had just begun to roll down the mountain.

meeting in Berne at the end of April that opened the doors to the Food and Agricultural Organisation summit in Rome at the start of June. For the first time in many years food security was firmly on the lips of many international leaders and the world’s media. It created a situation of raised expectations that led one to think that perhaps, finally, the international community would react decisively before a problem of colossal dimensions. Nevertheless, the results of the Rome summit, in spite of some promising initial efforts, have been disappointing. Beyond the promising headlines of multimillion-dollar aid packages from certain countries (it remains to be seen if they will actually materialise in the future), little has been done to change the structural causes of the crisis. Bandages and aspirin against a very large, deep wound that threatens to turn gangrenous.

We need to begin to seriously contemplate the effects of cultural globalisation and homogenisation and their ability to affect dietary habits

From the end of last year to the start of the current one the rumours were on the increase. Although the experts had been sending danger signals for some time, everything came to a head at the start of the year with protests and unrest around the world. The crisis was finally evident for all to see. In fact it was the avalanche of violent incidents, police detentions, the injured and even deaths that began at the end of January that raised the alert in public opinion and the international institutions. Unrest took place in Kiberia (Kenya), followed by Maputo (Mozambique), Mexico, Manila, Cairo, Port-au-Prince (Haiti), Rawalpindi (Pakistan), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and Dakar, among other places. The disturbances generated political instability, particularly in those areas of the world that are especially sensitive due to endemic poverty. In Haiti the crisis cost the prime minister his job, but no one knows the mid-term consequences in such unstable zones as the Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa.

At the Rome summit various states and international organisms promised to dedicate $12 billion over the next three years to the fight against the global food crisis. This is to say we will dedicate, to repeat, over three years, what the world dedicates to military spending (or ‘defence’) in (literally) four days. If we move from macro numbers to the micro, we can see that this substantial figure (when divided among the 850 million people at risk of starvation, which could well become 900 by the end of the year) becomes fourteen dollars a head over the next three years, which is to say less than three euros per person per year. We can see, therefore, exactly how serious the proposal is, assuming that it actually happens, of course.

The international community’s initial reaction was relatively rapid and significant, something not entirely usual. The Secretary General of the United Nations organised a high-level emergency

We find ourselves faced with a very complex and highly dangerous situation which requires us to clearly establish the priorities. We must act very carefully and there are those that claim we

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should concentrate on the food crisis and temporarily set aside the fight against climate change. This would be an unforgivable error as both problems are closely intertwined.

ernance for the financial market as well as the futures markets on a global scale to impede, among many other situations, cases of speculation on basic products and goods such as food.

Among other measures, in the short term we undoubtedly need a plan for a rapid response in terms of investment in the immediate agricultural sector; to which must be added a moratorium on biofuels until their role in rising food prices and their potential for sustainability have been made clear. Up to now many biofuels that are produced are as contaminating, in terms of CO2 emissions, as their petroleum-based counterparts. In the mid-term we need to establish a system of gov-

Nevertheless, it is also a question of habits. We need to begin to seriously consider the effects of cultural globalisation and homogenisation, if not a cultural sheep-mentality, and their ability to affect dietary habits. It is no longer a matter of defending gastronomical diversity as a complement to cultural diversity, but rather to seeing it as the key to nutrition on a global scale. If the tendency proves to be irreversible we will need to prepare ourselves for the consequences it will bring.

*Manuel Manonelles i Tarrag贸 Political commentator specialising in international relations, human rights and democratisation processes. Currently director of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace, Barcelona. He has been special advisor to the Co-chair of the UN High Level Group for the Alliance of Civilisations, as well as advisor to the coordinator of the Secretariat of the World Forum of Civil Society Networks (Ubuntu Forum), which is a member of the International Council of the World Social Forum. He has been an international electoral observer and supervisor for the OSCE and the EU on many occasions, and has participated in several international intergovernmental and non-governmental processes.

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Green Debate

Food Crisis, Sustainability Crisis by Pere Torres*

First there was the admission of guilt: ‘America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world’. These were the words of George W. Bush in his State of the Union address on 31st January 2006, when he unleashed a latent enthusiasm for biofuels. Such enthusiasm was to prove dangerous in that it presented the product as full of advantages: it was to reduce the dependence on petrol, cut greenhouse gas emissions, create employment and generate business opportunities. These were expectations that were not based on verifiable data. Up until then biofuels were to form but one part of a more sustainable energy model. Now, however, they appear to be the great solution, the much-awaited panacea.

As often happens there are misleading statements that end up having an enormous impact on public opinion, including legislators and investors. This is exactly what happened in this case, particularly in the United States: the production of biofuels began to take off, going from 14,800 million litres in 2005, before the speech, to 24,500 million in 2007. This was possible by taking the easy path: the buying up of corn. However, the production of biofuel from this grain is not particularly efficient and brings it into conflict with its other uses. Nevertheless, it was an easy solution to implement (both the technology and the grain were readily available). Shortly afterwards food prices rose worldwide, rapidly and dramatically. Corn, wheat, soybean, rice and other grains broke records and began to weigh heavily on the cost of living. Loud protests were heard on the streets of many countries. A guilty party was needed, a rational explanation for the phenomenon: biofuels were it. In October 2007 Jean Ziegler, a high-level official for the United Nations, called for the abandonment of this source of energy or, otherwise, a crime against humanity would be committed. 82

The same enthusiasm that was shown in favour of biofuels in 2006, rose against them in 2007. The public was bombarded with anti-biofuel propaganda: they do not save on CO2 emissions, they may well pollute more than fossil fuels, as much energy is consumed to produce them as is obtained using them, they encourage deforestation and the loss of biodiversity and so on. What is more, they push large numbers of people to the brink of hunger. The same scenes were played out once more, but with the roles reversed: armies of pontificating experts with little concrete data to support their positions. A recent report released by Donald Mitchell, an expert for the World Bank (A note on rising food prices, Policy Research Working Paper number 4682, July 2008) was impressive: from 70 to 75% of the increase in food prices in the 2002 – 2008 period was due to the growth in biofuels in the United States and the European Union. This headline, widely reported in the media, surprised me. The report itself surprised me even more. It put forward a simple and apparently irrefutable thesis: biofuels are not only responsible for direct increases in grain prices (due to an increase in de-

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mand while the supply remains static), they are also responsible for all associated secondary inflationary effects. Thus, if there are farmers who abandon traditional crops in order to plant corn, the subsequent price increase in the abandoned crops (due to a fall in production) is due to biofuels. If governments that are nervous about the situation prohibit grain exports, the ensuing impact on prices is also due to biofuels for having caused such concerns. If the rise in energy crops pulls with them ordinary crops, such as rice, due to internal market forces, we also need to add this to biofuel’s debts. If this tendency stimulates the activities of speculators, who withhold supplies of food in the expectation of receiving a higher price, then biofuels are also blamed for their pressure on demand having been the inspiration for such speculation. Such a perspective on the situation causes more problems than it solves. Many voices challenge its assumptions and as a result have called into question its conclusions. Associations that represent corn producers, among others, have unleashed an avalanche of arguments to repair the

negative image they have received, such as; the corn involved is only fit for animal consumption and not human (they are different varieties); there is a partial compensation in the form of material that is rich in proteins and nutrients left over once the ethanol is extracted; 80% of the price of corn derivative products comes from their commercialisation and not their production costs. Consequently, their price depends mostly on labour and energy costs and not the raw material itself. It is a case of using information to fight information, but at least the debate is based on data.

The same enthusiasm that was shown in favour of biofuels in 2006, rose against them in 2007 It is reasonable to judge something based on its direct and indirect effects. For this reason it is vital that we determine exactly how far the cause-effect sequence goes. In that way we can go a step back and say that policies that promote biofuels are a reaction to the risks attached to the accessibility and affordability of oil. Therefore the blame lies at its door. If the supply of oil were

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Green Debate

more secure, with fewer surprises, Bush would not have praised biofuels as an alternative, corn prices would not have increased and neither would the other negative events. Following this chain of thought we could go back even further and blame everything on the oil addiction criticised by Bush (as many have done so before him). After all, with a territory that did not generate so much traffic, with buildings that did not require so much energy or with consumption that did not smack of such opulence, the demand for oil would not constantly hover near the maximum level of supply. Consequently, the world would not have given up hope on lower prices and the vicious cycle of dependence that has brought us to the looming food crisis would not have begun in the first place. Some might say that this theoretical reflection is all well and good, but it does nothing to solve the human drama behind people dying of hunger or suffering from malnutrition with the accompanying life-long after effects. Faced with this situation it is clear that programmes that promote biofuels must be discontinued, thereby alleviating the suffering of so many people. However, we need to be sure that the debate is truly between biofuels and affordable food. In making that decision there are three factors which are especially important: the nature of biofuels, the evolution of agricultural prices and the role of agriculture. Biofuels are much more than ethanol derived from corn and other grains, or biodiesel extracted from edible oils. Although the criticisms of this alternative energy source have centred on these materials, inadequate from the point of view of sustainability, it is possible to obtain biofuel material from wood and vegetable waste (second generation biofuels) or algae (third generation biofuels). These are options that call for major technological development, but that do not compete with food cultivation and moreover count on a more favourable energy output. Therefore, it is possible to continue to promote significant projects for the substitution of fossil fuels with biofuels while 84

introducing restrictions that limit their origin to these sources. This is why it is important not to stigmatise biofuels indiscriminately. The fact that biofuels got off to a bad start should not entail the outright rejection of a possible means to resolve part of the energy problem of the near future.

We have a long, solid experience of finding unsustainable solutions to problems. Perhaps we can find one in a different way Moving on to the second factor, the behaviour of agricultural prices is staggered. Long periods of stability are followed by a relatively big jump which gives way to a new, higher level. This process is outlined by two economists from the University of Illinois, Darrel Good and Scott Irwin, in a report on the evolution of the prices of certain grains since the Second World War (WWII) (September 2008, ‘The New Era of Corn, Soybean, and Wheat Prices’ Marketing & Outlook Briefs, 08-04). They state that a significant increase took place just after WWII, leading to stability until late 1972. A brief period of increases were to follow, succeeded by another period of stability which lasted until autumn 2006. The pattern observed is one of rapid price increases (generally reaching double the original value) followed by a long period of stability, oscillating around the new base price. Are we currently experiencing a jump of such characteristics? According to the researchers, the evidence appears to confirm this view. In all previous jumps there have been structural changes in the formation of prices. If the pattern is repeated there are much more profound causes than biofuels, such as an underlying trend of rising oil prices. If this were the case it would be prudent not to over-simplify the problem in order not to over-simplify the solution. Unsustainability is characterised by the ability to overcome superficial problems without tackling with the root causes. This observation brings us to the third factor. Agriculture has to understand the ‘Four Fs’:

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Food, for humans; Feed, for livestock and domestic animals; Fibre, materials for industry; and Fuel, energy production. Historically, agriculture has covered these four kinds of needs and in the future it will have to continue to do so. The difference is the intensity of demand: there are a lot more of us, we consume a lot more food (meat in particular) per head, we have a growing preference for products manufactured from natural raw materials and we need to replace fossil fuels with alternative sources of energy. It is not possible to offer solutions with only a partial understanding of the problem, as initiatives undertaken on one factor do not inevitably have an impact on the other three. One cannot give simplistic answers or relativise the limits of production in order not to have to confront the seriousness of this progressive mismatch between demand and supply. An answer cannot be given

without seriously addressing the upcoming debates on new forms of increasing agricultural and fishing industry production (genetically modified crops, cisgenics, cloning and so on). An answer cannot be given without reviewing the agricultural policies of both the rich and the poor nations and without reintroducing the vital concept of food security (obviously in the framework of a desire for sustainability). In short, an answer cannot be given if we fail to see the big picture because we still do not have the question in its full complexity. We have a long, solid experience of finding unsustainable solutions to problems. Perhaps we can find one in a different way. For this to happen we need to relearn the basic maths lesson they teach us in school: the first step to correctly solving a problem is to understand it properly.

*Pere Torres Biologist and environmental consultant. After some time spent on research (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), he joined the Government of Catalunya in 1991. He was in turn secretary of the Catalan Inter-university Council (1991-1993), head of the Environment Minister’s staff(1993-1995), general director of Environmental Planning (1995-2000) and secretary for Regional Planning (2000-2003). Since 2004 he has done consultancy work in public management, sustainability and land use planning and has been a regular contributor to the International Institute for Governability and the Cerdà Institute.

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A portrait purportedly showing Lucrezia Borgia, by Pinturicchio

The Artist

Famous Catalan figures: THE BORGIAS by Manuel Manonelles i Tarragó

The Borgia family or ‘House of Borgia’ are famous for their two popes (Calixtus III and Adrian VI), and even more so for the dark legend as to their unlimited greed for power and wealth, in addition to their depraved private lives. They were originally from the towns of Xàtiva and Gandia (Valencia) and therefore the common language used within the family clan was Catalan. ‘Borgia’ is thus the Italianisation of the original Catalan name Borja. This fact has been studied by numerous historians, and many documents and examples of family correspondence in Catalan can be found in eight volumes of historical documents and papers originally from Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome, currently held in the Vatican archives. The Borgias are well known for the aforementioned legend relating to the papacy of Alexander VI, with the particular involvement of two of his natural sons, Cesar and Lucrezia Borgia. This myth, in several areas very close to reality but in others clearly embelished, is today alive more than ever. It formed the basis of the controversial BBC TV series The Borgias in the 80s, but its origins go back a long way. Indeed, the Italian, particu86

larly Roman, noble families such as the Borghese, the della Rovere, the Farnese, the Orsinis and the Colonnas, who for centuries shared the papacy among themselves, were most displeased by what was considered foreign interference in a post they perceived to be their personal property. They therefore devoted a great deal of time and resources to discrediting a family that, to be fair, behaved no more and no less viciously and corruptly as their Italian predecessors and successors did. Moreover, the House of Borgia cannot be judged only by the actions of one or two of its members. It was one of the most influential European dynasties of the late 15th and early 16th centuries, which not only sired two popes (of which Calixtus III was renowned for his austerity) but twelve cardinals and even a saint, Saint Francis of Borgia. The family were also promoters and patrons of some of the greatest artists of their time such as Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo and Pinturicchio.

For those interested in more information: International Institute of Borja Studies www.elsborja.org

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ARRANZ-BRAVO: singular complexity or retro-futurist physiognomy By Ricard Planas*

‘We need to structure the world beginning with new realities, realities that are increasingly more removed from the original biological structure of the primate. This world is constantly undergoing change and we can imagine it but are still not capable of building it. It is a world where dialectical imagination must be the logical basis of all actions.’

Eduard Carbonell. The Birth of a New Consciousness.

The objective of the Catalan artist, ArranzBravo, in the creation of a piece for the front cover, has been to make a human physiognomy created from nothing as an act of singularity. The artist has created a flag-face that represents both the complexity of existence and of human relations within this global-local world in which we live. A face whose gaze has tinged a space previously arid, the colour of blood and black cosmic energy. There are forms which make up a great premeditated, chaotic structure, filling a head in the form of a planet that boils. This is a modular, retro-futurist vision, which becomes the umbilical cord that connects us to a human society where technology has in some ways already beaten us. Superman, that other human, awaits us. Essentially it is a painting that depicts a brain that is too big in relation to the rest of the body, where the hands, equipped with a wide range of functions, serve as a mirror, a self-portrait of the artist and the human being. Above all else, however, it serves to represent dialectical imagination. This is the phase in which the work, and indeed any work which we might wish to call creative, operates. 88

Arranz-Bravo shows in the human figure, in the relation between the micro and the macro and the relation with the world of science, the essence of his idea, of his unique universe where a homo faber creates tangible, plastic and visual realities, while constantly interacting with his alter ego homo creativus. Tension, force, expression are some of the attributes needed to decode the choral work of this ‘symphony in A major’ where the silences, reservoirs of white on the paper, complement the rest, supplying oxygen, making it breathe to live once again. A white before which the lead of the pencil, inherited from the first primate ‘artists’, and Indian ink depict a melancholic gaze that calls us to reflect. We should remember the words of W.H. Auden where he makes the past and the present one when he says, ‘The sophisticated artist, elite, still lives and works as he worked one thousand years ago as his auditorium is too small to interest the media’.

Catalan International View


The Artist

SELECTED BIOGRAPHY

Born in Barcelona in 1941, Eduard ArranzBravo is one of the most international artists in present-day Catalunya. His varied career has included avant-garde movements as well as classical painting, from the murals at Pompey to the works of Durer and Rembrandt. He was present at the 39th Venice Biennial. Arranz-Bravo has held exhibitions in the most respected galleries throughout Catalunya (Centre Cultural Tecla Sala, Fundació Caixa Girona, Fundació Caixa Manresa, Caixa Terrassa and Palau Robert) as well as other major exhibition spaces such as the Reina Sofia National Museum in Madrid, or the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sao Paolo, Brazil. He has also been a constant presence in

Germany, Great Britain and the United States, where he is currently working with the Franklin Bowles Galleries in New York and San Francisco. In terms of other galleries, he has worked closely with some of the most significant, such as the legendary Sala Gaspar in Barcelona or Galeria Cadaqués, under the direction of his friend the architect Lanfranco Bombelli. Likewise, Arranz-Bravo has been present in key art fairs, such as Arco Madrid and Fiac Paris. He is also renowned for painting the Tipel factory in Parets del Vallès in the 1960s, with the collaboration of Rafael Bartolozzi. Currently the artist is readying a new building for his foundation to be established in l’Hospitalet, a city with which he has strong ties.

*Ricard Planas (Girona, 1976). Journalist, art critic and cultural promoter. Studied Philology and the History of Art at the University of Girona. in 1999 he founded the magazine Bonart, dedicated to the contemporary art scene in the Catalan Countries. More recently he created and directed the Catalan art fair INART in 2005 and 2006. Has worked as the curator for exhibitions by important artists such as Arranz-Bravo, Lamazares, Formiguera, Cuixart, Ansesa and Grau-Garriga. Ricard has collaborated with Ona Catalana, Catalunya Ràdio, iCatfm and Onda Rambla radio stations. Has also worked for the Diari de Girona, El Punt and El Mundo newspapers among others.

Catalan International View

89


A Poem

AT THE GATE OF AN INN

The glare of the deserted street Closes my eyes. Meanwhile a man Chips gravel and it is his life He chips. A young woman holds court Under a very dusty grapevine: She chases the turn of the hour with her deception I see someone sleeping with a rush basket Under his head. A cap hides His sleepiness which is abridging his day. Impermanent people! Me, the man from town, With different gestures and tongue, I sip, standing there, tedium, the only elixir To lengthen our useless life.

PORTA D’HOSTAL

El gran ressol de la deserta via mos ulls acluca. Mentrestant un home pica la grava i és la vida seva que està picant. Festeja la donzella sota una parra tota empolseïda: acuita amb son engany el tomb de l’hora. En veig un de dormint, amb una sàrria sota del cap: una catxutxa amaga el son pregon que ja sa diada escurça. Gent temporal! Jo, l’home de la vila, de diferent accionat i parla, provo, parat, el tedi, l’únic filtre per a allargar la nostra vida inútil. Josep Carner i Puig-Oriol (Barcelona, 1884 - Brussels, 1970) is one of the main representatives of Noucentisme (literally ‘1900ism’, or Catalan culture of the 20th century). He studied law, philosophy and the arts and participated in political, cultural and literary activities. A member of the Regional League, he contributed to The Voice of Catalunya newspaper and joined the Philological Department of the Institute for Catalan Studies (1911). He went on to have a career as a diplomat from 1920 to 1939, the year in which he was to seek exile in Mexico and Brussels, where he was to work as a lecturer at the Free University and to join the Generalitat government in exile (1945-47). With a long, distinguished career as a poet (‘First’ and ‘Second Book of Sonnets’, La paraula al vent, or The Word in the Wind), writer of prose, dramatist (El giravolt de maig, or May’s Spin) and translator. He was the forerunner of an innovative form of contemporary Catalan literature, superseding previous schools and styles. 90

Catalan International View


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