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Social movements debate participation in creation of South Bank
11 January 2008

Workshop on the Bank of the South within the framework of the South American People’s Summit.

Source: IFIs Latin American Monitor

The following is a first report on the Workshop on the South Bank held last weekend in Montevideo. With an important participation of social movements, networks, and organizations from seven countries in the “South of the South” region, the Workshop was an opportunity to exchange information and analysis on this new entity, as well as to discuss and propose strategies and actions for the purpose of deepening the mobilization and participation of movements in the central decisions still to be taken, over the next 45 days, with regard to the Banks´structure and functions. Over the coming days, we will continue to share with you more of the information and proposals, in particular about the campaign to promote, collect, and systematize contributions from interested organizations and movements, with reference to THE SOUTH BANK THAT WE WANT. We hope to hear from your organization ¡ ! - Jubilee South/Americas

On Saturday, December 15th more than 40 civil society representatives of South America attended a workshop to debate the process of the Bank of the South, and its implications in financing for development and the integration process. The workshop, entitled “Bank of the South: Which financing alternatives do we, the social movements, want?” was organized within the framework of the South American People’s Summit held in Montevideo, Uruguay simultaneously with the MERCOSUR (The Common Market of the South) Summit of South American Presidents.

The Bank of the South was officially launched by the presidents of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela and Uruguay on 9 December 2007 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after a long negotiation process. According to the constituency letter of the Bank, the aim is “to finance the economic and social development of the countries member of the Union of South American Nations (Unión Sudamericana de Naciones, en español) that are bank members, in a way that is equitable and stable using intra and extra region savings; strengthen integration; reduce the asymmetries among the countries and promote an equitable distribution of investments within member countries”.

For all this, the Bank represents a unique political and economical opportunity for the Latin American countries involved and is an independent and sovereignty declaration from the financing model promoted by the international financial institutions (International Monetary Fund and World Bank), where the majority of the loans are conditioned to neo liberal policies. Such policies were put in practice by Latin American governments during the 90’s, with negative results for the economical and social development.

For the civil society movements and organizations "the creation of the Bank gives a real possibility to create a public financing mechanism towards a sovereign, autonomous and just development, controlled by the countries of the South, that can encourage solidarity and complementarity among its members, that will help overcome the region’s dependency in relation to natural resources and the policies of the international financial institutions.

The debate came with the aim to involve several actors such as social networks, organizations and social movements in the process being carried by the governments, and to examine the challenges that the project poses in the short and long terms.

More than forty civil society representatives took part in the activity, representing Latin American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela and Uruguay, among others. Some of the organizations that participated were: Jubileo Sur/Americas, Rede Brasil, Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres, REMTE, Cono Sur Sustentable, Amigos de la Tierra, Servicio Paz y Justicia, Latindadd, CUT (Brasil), MOCASE/Vía Campesina, FOBOMADE and Instituto del Tercer Mundo.

The presentations and debate were divided in two stages. The first one was focused on the international and regional economic and financial context in which the Bank of the South emerges; a presentation of the project, its main actors involved and the issues that are still pending.

In the second part, civil society organizations presented their activities on the issue (public audiences with government representatives and open letters), and the work of Brazilian organizations on the Brazilian National Bank of Economical and
Social Development (BNDES, in Spanish language), also named “BNDES Platform” was explained.

At the end of the activity, participants presented different ideas and suggestions for future action in order to contribute to the debate and follow-up of the process, in the understanding that only by taking an active part will the organizations obtain greater transparency from governments, and assure that the new institution responds to a development model that is autonomous, sustainable, and socially and environmentally fair.

The notes of the workshop will soon be available.

Report prepared by