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Critical Responses to Globalisation in the Mercosur Region. Emergent Possibilities for Democratic Politics?

Heikki Patomäki
Teivo Teivainen

International Studies Association
41st Annual Convention
Los Angeles, CA
March 14-18, 2000

List of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Defining the basic concepts
  3. Responses to globalisation
  4. Micro-level responses
  5. National responses
  6. Attempts to change social relations on a regional basis
  7. Trans-regionalism
  8. Global actions in concrete (local, national, regional) settings
  9. Conclusions: Emergent democratic possibilities?
  10. References


1. Introduction

In political theory, perhaps the most articulate response to globalisation processes is the theory of cosmopolitan democracy, as developed by David Held and his associates. 1 The idea is simple: given our democratic ideals and aspirations, globalisation requires us to rethink the political community within which these ideals and aspirations can be realised. Hence, Held has developed in great detail a model of democratic governance to be realised in multiple layers (from global to local) and exercised by democratised, overlapping authorities.

The problem of this model is its tendency to make normative claims in abstract. Held makes implicit assumptions about the universal validity of the context of idealised, modern European nation-states and their changing conditions in the late 20th century. Indeed, Held's model has been greatly inspired by the European integration process, although he hardly ever acknowledges this in his theoretical texts 2 . In an interview by Baogang He, after having already recognised that the notion of cosmopolitan democracy has been partially developed in the context of the EU, Held says:

Despite Held's attempt to be sensitive to cultural and historical differences, we may assume that in practice the model of cosmopolitan democracy tends to be Eurocentric and partially detached from (many of) the real world historical processes. This has at least three consequences: it tends to lack an account of what is going on in different concrete contexts of the globalising world 4 ; it tends to lack an account of the process of transformation towards 'cosmopolitan democracy' 5 ; and, as a model, it may not be open-ended enough (any process of democratisation should be both concrete and democratic, that is, also defined by the involved actors) 6 . Last but not least, as a relatively closed normative model, based largely on reflections on European experiences only, it can also give rise to exclusionary and violent effects of power. Held's noble intentions notwithstanding, his presuppositions concerning territoriality and community may, in some contexts, turn out to give rise to a rigid political identity and a hardened will, with too little learning capacity and openness for dialogue and self-transformation. 7

Globalisation has led and will lead to a variety of critical responses. The primary material of this paper is based on discussions with, and documents related to, a number of political civil society actors in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil, which are the full members of Common Market of the South (Mercado Común del Sur, Mercosur). 8 Mercosur was formally founded in 1991 in Asunción, Paraguay and is partially modelled on the European Union, even if not as clearly as the other major South American integration process, the Andean Community. Yet, the historical context of South America in general and Mercosur in particular is very different from that of Europe. It is worth noting that there have been reflective discussions on critical responses to globalisation by many of the actors themselves, such as the Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analysis (Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Sociais e Econômicas, IBASE), an NGO based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 9

Studying the developments in the Mercosur region, this paper discusses the lessons from the democratic experiences of the southern part of Latin America. Further, we assess the hypothesis that some of these experiences also carry seeds of transnational or global democracy. To scrutinise and elaborate this hypothesis, we describe and analyse different critical responses to neoliberal globalisation; try to explain the co-determination of these responses; and make also some remarks on assessing their soundness and, in the longer run, their relevance to the models of global or transnational democracy.

First, we shall define the basic concepts: globalisation; capitalism and democracy; and civic public spaces. Simultaneously, we draw a picture of the historical context of the Southern part of Latin America and develop an analytical framework for the rest of the paper. Secondly, on the basis of our empirical research, we develop a categorisation of different responses to neoliberal globalisation of the 1990s. In this context, we also discuss similarities and differences between the individual Mercosur countries as well as between the region and other parts of the world. Thirdly, we take some steps towards explaining these different responses. Finally, on this basis, we shall assess what kinds of prospects for cosmopolitan democratic projects there exist in the Mercosur region.


2. Defining the basic concepts

To begin with, we define and briefly discuss the basic concepts of this paper: globalisation, capitalism and democracy, and civic public spaces. Given that social scientific concepts make references to, and are defined in terms of, historical worlds, this also provides us with an opportunity to briefly outline the context of the Mercosur region.

2.1. Globalisation

In a sociological and geographical sense, globalisation has two interrelated meanings. Firstly, globalisation means that faraway decisions, actions and processes increasingly co-determine the conditions of social beings and actions. In other words, it implies the spatial expansion of social systems. In this sense, Latin America is a hybrid produced essentially by the original, Eurocentric globalisation (which of course has had far-reaching repercussions on European developments as well).

Secondly, globalisation is also about restructuration of social space. Collapse of distances due to technological changes is only one aspect of this. In the late 16th century, a journey from Portugal to Brazil took more or less one month. Now it is possible to fly from Europe, make an extensive Mercosur tour and return to Europe in about the same time. And to communicate instantly across the Atlantic by telephones, faxes and Internet.

Equally important, however, is the way space is socially organised. For instance, the modern private/public distinction has developed in relation to globalisation. Colonialisation was also about universalising European private ownership, which also organises social space. Other rights — constituting both private and public domains — have followed suit. Later, there has emerged for instance "an international public opinion", intensively utilised by human rights organisations in the Mercosur region, among many other actors.

Being and action is necessarily spatio-temporal, but like all conditions of action, spatio-temporalities do change. Late-modern social spaces are co-constituted by technological facilities and access to them; by changing private/public distinctions; and by constructed, experienced and imagined spaces lived through in everyday practices. Obviously, globalisation has collapsed distance and reorganised social spaces and practices.

But there is more to globalisation than this. Although a useful analytical concept, in its short history the term 'globalisation' has been strongly associated with a particular ideology of globalism, namely transnational neoliberalism that emerged in the 1970s and ascended in the 1980s. The term 'globalisation' is new; it was not generally known before the 1980s. The ground was prepared by the use of such terms as 'transnational', 'global' and 'globalism' in the 1970s, and also stimulated by outer-space pictures of the earth and rising ecological awareness. In the 1980s, the notion of globalisation was first discussed by some sociologists, such as Roland Robertson 10 . During the second half of the 1980s, 'internationalisation' and 'globalisation' became commonly used terms in intellectual, business, media and other circles. By 1990, the term 'globalisation' in particular had become an important part of the triumphant USAmerican neoliberal vocabulary associated with ideas such as the 'new world order'.

Globalism is the belief in the oneness of the world and humankind. 11 Transnational neoliberalism assumes that the globalisation of the economy has made the world an economistic unity; or that (the only) rational economic policy, when implemented by most states, will soon lead to a harmonious coming together of the world economy. 12 The re-articulation and advocacy of neoliberalism began in the early 1970s by the followers of Milton Friedman, Friedrich A. Hayek and other neo-classical liberal thinkers; and by transnational think tanks such as the Trilateral Commission. 13 Increasingly, organisations such as New York City or the IMF and countries such as Chile started to implement neoliberal policies. Since the 1980s, the economic policy requirements of this ideology have been spelled out in the "Washington consensus". This is, roughly speaking, the consensus between the White House (and, of course, the British government), the IMF, the World Bank, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the International Herald Tribune.

According to this consensus, growth can be best achieved via "free" international trade, sound budgets — means normally fiscal austerity, which translates into cuts in welfare spending — low inflation, privatisation, economisation of social life, and deregulated markets, including financial markets. Temporally, this ideology is based on stories of the end of the past (History, nation-states, statist welfare spending, populism, territorial geography, inter-state wars, in some stories even democracy) and the beginning of a new era (borderless world, regionalisation within a global economy as a huge shopping mall, market civilisation, network society, world consumerist culture etc.).

Spatially, and in sociological class-terms, what for some appears as globalisation means localisation for many others. Sharp-sightedly, Bauman talks about a new version of 'absentee landlordship': global elites have acquired a new independence from territorially confined unites. This has strengthened their power resources, while simultaneously disempowering those still confined within territorial units or, even worse, recently localised (this concerns, in particular, those people who have been excluded from both formal labour markets and national welfare systems by the effects of de-industrialisation, debt problem or neoliberal globalisation). 14

Restructuration of social space can be experienced in different ways and has always symbolic dimensions, including those constituting actors” identities. What are the meanings attached to places, increasingly abstracted from their natural and historical settings? Yet, spatial structuration is a not only an intersubjective matter: available resources make a difference as well. Although transnational neoliberalism has gained popular electoral support not only in the US and the UK but in various countries of the world, including Argentina and Brazil in the 1990s; and although neoliberalism has often been successfully represented as the only alternative to the bankruptcy of the past national models; it obviously corresponds with the perspective of those commercial elites, whose socio-economic positioning is based on transnational mobility.

Mobile elites have superior access to the means of telecommunication, transportation, and to the markets, networked glocalities and places of business and tourism. Some representatives of these elites may also have a privileged access to the national and transnational spaces of political agenda-setting and decision-making. They are dependent on the disappearance of the territorial logic of states, whether it assumes the form of wars, autarkism, protectionism or democratic self-determination of economic policies. They can gain market shares also by creating and circulating new consumerist images, thus contributing to the making of a "global culture" — aided by the globalising media, which is itself entangled with these commercial interests.

However, from the bottom practical possibilities and social spaces tend to look quite different. How, if at all, are your relevant places abstractable, if you happen to live in a villa miseria or favela (shanty town) and do not have a telephone or Internet connection — or not even sewage or running water (almost third of the population of Argentina and Brazil is without access to safe water and sanitation 15 ); and cannot afford a bus ticket to the other parts of the mega-city, in which access to many areas and places is in fact defined in terms of private ownership and purchasing power? 16 In the absence of both, millions of slum-dwellers and other impoverished people in Mercosur countries are excluded from many spaces of the city; but so are the wealthy, by fear of crime and violence. Yet, even in these circumstances, nationalist inclinations can be as strong as interest in USAmerican soap operas and talk shows, both in the shantytowns and wealthy neighbourhoods. 17

Now, in this paper, we are interested in critical political responses to globalisation. Given the far-reaching effects of various forms of globalisation, including the more recent effects of the debt problem of the 1980s and the effects of neoliberal policies in the 1990s, to what extent do actors critical of (this kind of) globalisation attempt political self-empowerment by finding new ways of political action, possibly contributing to more democratic globalisation? To what extent do they have access to new technological facilities and use them to find new spaces of action? What kinds of spaces and possibilities do they imagine, experience and create in the course of their everyday political practices? What resources do they command? What are their political aims?

2.2 Capitalism and democracy

Capitalism and democracy are ambivalently related. Capitalism is constituted by absolute and exclusive private property, and presupposes a market-based system of exchange. This is consistent with the facts that in the really existing capitalism (i) state (or inter-nationalised state structures) not only provides the infrastructure and the regulatory framework of capitalism but also intervenes in many other ways in the functioning of the economy, and (ii) intra-firm transactions and planned transfer prices of big corporations account for a substantial part of all transactions.

What is crucial is that capitalism is a system of ownership and control of means of production; market is a system of economic exchange. Capitalism presupposes markets, but not vice versa. Also in non-capitalist contexts, economic exchange can be based mostly or largely on price-setting markets. Moreover, as said, in capitalism, a major part of transactions occurs within organisations, in a planned manner.

It is equally noteworthy that capitalism and democracy (or, more strictly, nation-state based "liberal democracy") are not necessarily connected. Historically it is obvious that capitalist market-economy can exist without democracy. During most of the modern era, this has been the case. Even after the late 19th century, this has been true for the majority of countries. It is only in the late 20th century that it appears that capitalism and (liberal) democracy tend to coincide — since the 1980s, even in most parts of Latin America.

But would it be possible to argue that capitalism is a necessary although not sufficient condition for democracy? Some classical republicanists argued that the plurality of ownership, conceived in the Lockean manner, is a prerequisite for democracy, since only this can guarantee the de facto autonomy of citizens. 18 Most of the classical republicanists were arguing against forms of feudalism and the despotic powers of absolutist monarchy; their modern counterparts have extended the argument against absolute and exclusive state ownership of means of production. Further, it is historically true that modern liberal democracy emerged in capitalist countries. 19 Moreover, there is also the more dubious sociological argument that the emergence of the middle class — presumably typical for "developed capitalist market economies" — is good for democracy, since the middle class is supposed to be everywhere and always in support of democracy and peace 20 .

But even if we accept the more solid idea that autonomy of citizens is indeed a condition for democracy, a widespread and relatively equally divided capitalist private ownership is only one possible way to ensure the autonomy of many. And again we face an ambivalent relationship: capitalist ownership can also give rise to manifold relations of dependency. Indeed, some democratic theorists have been concerned about the material and distributional preconditions for democratisation. In particular, social-democratic theorists have argued that decommodification of labour is a condition for autonomous democratic actions. 21 If people are entangled in relations of dependency in labour markets and of clientelism within economic organisations, how can we expect autonomous will-formation or spontaneous forms of political association and organisation?

For similar reasons, it can be also argued that the fair right to participate is a condition for well-functioning democracy. In his Theory of Justice John Rawls makes a strong argument for the republican social-democratic view by defending the right to equal participation, which "requires that all citizens are to have an equal right to take part in, and to determine the outcome of, the constitutional process that establishes the laws with which they are to comply" 22 . Rawls derives his principle of equal participation from the notion of justice, but further justifies it and its widest possible application by instrumental, factual considerations: if there is no widespread participation (in elections and political parties, but also in political associations and movements), there will be a de facto escalation of the concentration of privileges and power, leading to an unjust society, and eventually to an undemocratic one as well. As Rawls puts it:

In this conception, the equal autonomy of citizens and thus democracy is socio-economically conditioned. There should be not only equal rights for association and for engaging in public affairs, but also specific measures taken "to maintain the fair value of these liberties" 24 . Obviously, Rawls presumes that these redistributional, infrastructural, educational and other measures should be taken by the state. There must also be fair, transparent and accountable public funding of political activities.

Radical democratic thinkers, such as Roberto Mangabeira Unger, have further argued that democratisation of state and related structures must also be linked with vanguard democratisation of organisational relations of production, otherwise the autonomy and openness of actors cannot be ensured. Unger is a Brazilian social and legal theorist, based in Harvard, who attacks both neoliberalism and institutionally conservative social democracy, and "maps out the initial steps in a path they foreclose toward the deepening of democracy and the quickening of economic growth". 25

If it is plausible to amend and deepen the view that autonomy of the plurality of citizens is a condition for democracy, it is also possible to question the supposedly democratic tendencies of capitalism. As the Argentine scholar Atilio Boron argues, there are built-in authoritarian tendencies in capitalism, even after the initial establishment of liberal democracy within a nation-state. In the early 20th century, Argentina, at that time one of the five richest countries of the world, and also Chile and Uruguay, were among the first liberal democracies of the world.

Boron explains this instability and fragility of liberal democracies in terms of struggles over the inviolability of private property. In many historical contexts, there is a tendency for the majority of people — and interest groups, unions, political movements, and parties — to demand and support social democracy and, more generally, socio-economic equality, including the possibility of publicly regulating or transforming previously 'private' domains and consequently refashioning property rights. These kinds of demands go not only against property rights but also the prevalent economic theory of capitalist market economy, which says that free capitalist markets are in general Pareto-optimal: nobody could do better by changing their choice, without reducing the general welfare. Whatever the angle, the moral is always: the absolute freedom of action of the propertied individuals and — more paradoxically — private firms must be respected.

According to this perspective of economic liberalism, the problem is that labour unions and states tend to interfere in the free play of capitalist market forces. Thus, the conclusion must be that in the name of freedom and economic efficiency, these demands should be suppressed, even against the will of the majority. Moreover, the desired "adjustment programme" to pure free market capitalism must be imposed "despite the demands, opinions, and preferences to the contrary of many who will be affected by the programme's results: recession, unemployment, and all types of physical and moral pains". Hence, the reactionary outcome and tendency towards despotism. 27

This spectre became political reality in the mid-1960s in Brazil and in the mid-1970s in the Southern cone of Latin America. While the Trilateral Commission was still preparing its (in)famous book on the Crisis of Democracy, Pinochet's Chile provided a brutal example of how to re-realise the pure ideals of capitalism, or more concretely, the principles of the Chicago School (a restatement of orthodox economics). Uruguay and Argentina soon followed, by installing reactionary military dictatorships in 1973 and 1976, respectively. Not only theoretical reasoning but also available empirical evidence clearly suggests that important sectors of both big landowners and private business supported (and sometimes were actively involved in) the re-establishment of the caudillo rule, the control by military strongmen. 28 In all of these cases, except for Brazil, the ideological inspiration came from Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom, although nowhere were these ideas implemented as thoroughly, systematically and persistently as in Chile. 29

It is worth emphasising, however, that it is not plausible to interpret the military coups of the 1960s and the 1970s as quasi-automatic consequences of challenge to inviolability of private property and (more or less) free capitalist markets. Particular choices restructuring the political context further towards a more conflictual direction were made in a particular historical context. This context included widely perceived economic problems (lack of sufficient growth, inflation, uncertainty affecting investments etc.); the rise of not only popular mobilisation for social and democratic reforms but also Cuba-inspired guerrilla movements; and the Cold War struggle, which meant willing and generous support for the escalation of the conflict especially from the US but also from the USSR (or Cuba). 30

Youssef Cohen argues that the political situation in these countries developed in such a manner that the two moderate camps (representing perhaps the majority of citizens) were caught in a political situation in which the rational pursuit of their own interest would lead to an outcome they both wanted to avoid — no reforms, no democracy — "an outcome that was clearly worse than the possible co-operative one which included moderate reforms under a democratic reforms." 31 If Cohen is right, at least in Brazil and Chile the strategic situation emerged as a Prisoner's Dilemma structure, as depicted in Figure 1. The dilemma here is whether to break with one's extremist counterparts (left or right) and declare disassociation with them — with those radical ends and propensity to use violent means — in a situation which is a deadlock without concessions and compromises. Yet, in a context of fear and suspicions, a unilateral break with the extremists would imply giving in to the unacceptable demands of the radical sections of the other side.

Figure 1: The moderates' dilemma
Moderate right
Breaks (Cooperate) Does not break (Defect)
Moderate Left Breaks (Cooperate)
Agreement on reforms; democracy
Left defeated; minimal reforms
Does not break (Defect)
Right defeated; radical reforms
Agreement impossible; democracy collapses

For all players, T>R>P>S, hence defect is the dominant strategy for both, although both would be better off by co-operating. This strategic dilemma does not, of course, explain why the context developed in such a manner that the "moderate" actors faced this dilemma; or why the military assumed the right to intervene in the course of affairs (and why it had done so repeatedly in some countries of the region); or why the emergence of military juntas seemed to be contagious. And even in Cohen's game theoretical interpretation, there are hints at the basic asymmetry of the situation, which gives in fact some support for Boron's more structuralist interpretation:

Also in this interpretation, the left seems to enjoy popular support, whereas the right is backed up by the military. Moreover, what exactly is the difference between "moderate" and "radical" in Cohen's account? Moderates on both sides appear to be those willing to compromise about social-democratic reforms that would leave the basic structure of capitalist market economy intact. Radicals on the right are those willing to use violence to defend property rights and "freedom", whereas most of the radicals on the left are those ready and willing to regulate or transform previously "private" domains and consequently refashion property rights, with popular support (although it is also true that typically the extreme right always associated these demands with armed struggle of the guerrilla movements, which consequently emerged also as perhaps the main justification for the "national security" regimes of military juntas).

In the 1980s, re-democratisation took place in all Mercosur countries, even though in Paraguay the coup that deposed the long-time dictator Alfredo Stroessner in 1989 only democratised very limited aspects of the country's social and political life. Usually the restoration of democracy had also the backing of main sectors of private business; at least in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, it also appeared to them that the economic policies of the military had been unsuccessful, resulting in (further) slow down of growth and mounting debt problem, among other things. 33 In the course of the 1980s, these countries turned to new models, including that of the European Union.

The regional integration organisation, Mercosur, is not only an incomplete customs union, but is linked to the wish to consolidate democratisation in the region. However, the neoliberal policies of Argentina, in particular, have implied the decline of industry and the middle class (like in Chile previously). 34 For some liberal democratic theorists, this should be a cause for concern, because they normatively assume that the middle class is conducive to democracy. In Uruguay, there never was any significant industry, but the modest welfare policies continue, because when subjected to referendums, neoliberal programmes have been rejected. In Paraguay, there was even less industry, middle class or coherent economic policy (or, rather, much of its economy has been based on corruption and smuggling). In Brazil, the middle class was always weak, and now declining, but the active industrial strategies of the state still continue — and so does its industrial base.

Now, as will be explained later in more detail, global financial and investment flows, together with global systems of governance can have disciplinary effects that are functionally equivalent to authoritarian states. In this context, Mercosur countries are one example of the fact that globalising capitalism may coexist with democratised state governments — but, it seems, only with the condition that democratisation is restricted to certain liberal rights and formal state-institutions.

2.3. Civic public space

Some of the liberal democratic rights constitute the formal condition for a public space, particularly freedom of speech and assembly. But in practice the public sphere comes into being whenever actors are together through speech and action in a reciprocal manner. This kind of space predates and precedes all formal constitution of the public realm and the various forms of government and ways of organising political life. Even in the theory of Hannah Arendt, this kind of understanding of public, political space appears as an unconventionally deterritorialised idea:

Obviously, the dictatorships in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil attempted to destroy public space in most senses (although in Brazil, the military government established in 1964 allowed for municipal elections and development of an NGO sector). They did this both by abolishing liberal democratic rights and attacking the practices of speech and action, wherever they spontaneously occurred. Also most labour unions and opposition parties were abolished, freedom of speech suppressed, and attempts to come together by way of political speech and action were made extremely dangerous.

In Uruguay, some 25% of the economically active population fled the country after 1973. In Argentina alone, perhaps 30 000 people 'disappeared', and some 300 000 had to flee the country between 1976 and 1983. 36 Most — particularly leftist — political activities were destroyed. Only a few human rights organisations could still act, even if in a suppressed manner, with the support of 'international public opinion'; and few others than the mothers of the disappeared were able to and courageous enough to assemble for political purposes. Eventually, these few remaining and emerged political actors contributed to the transition to liberal democracy.

In all of the Mercosur countries, the re-emerged public spaces have to be understood in terms of the post-dictatorial situation. Moreover, political violence is still widespread in the region, except in Uruguay, albeit it assumes different forms in different places (corruption and power struggles in Argentina; coup attempts in Paraguay; and violent measures to safeguard private property in Brazil).

Now, in addition to the Arendtian definition of public spaces, what we mean by 'civic public spaces' is that (i) this space is based on certain rights and, particularly, civil virtues that makes its existence, reproduction and cultivation possible; and that (ii) these civic rights and virtues also enable actors to organise their political activities in a systematic way. Hence, civic public spaces are constituted not by a plurality of individual actors, but also by a plurality of self-organised collective actors.


3. Responses to globalisation

If Latin America is a hybrid essentially produced by globalisation since the 16th century, in the late 20th century globalisation has assumed new forms. Following David Harvey, these changes in the relations of production and finance, stemming also from technological innovations, and closely related to 'post-modern' cultural forms, can be traced back to early 1970s. The global triumph of neoliberalism quickly followed these transformations. In fact, the US decision to allow for, and support, the re-emergence of global financial markets in the 1960s; the increased utilisation of orthodox economics and rational choice theory in the US domestic policy-making; and the Nixon decision to let currency exchange rates float in 1971, and create a US-centric global financial system, were important signs of the rise of neoliberalism.

However, under rather different circumstances of the Southern part of Latin America, not really discussed by Harvey or most European or USAmerican social theorists, neoliberalism was more fully enacted in Chile, Argentina and, to a lesser extent, in Uruguay in the mid-1970s. After an era of populism and nationalism, this was a return to the economic liberalism hegemonic in the area before the 1930s. Both the United States and orthodox, USAmerican economics played an important role in this transformation. It was only later, and particularly after the dictatorships in all Mercosur countries, that the role of the IMF, World Bank and structural adjustment programmes became crucial. The effects of this neoliberal globalisation have been different in different countries, but there are certain common features.

In short, neoliberal globalisation has served to strengthen the position of the economic elites of these countries. The 'middle class' — partially a creation of the welfare policies of the populist era — has declined. Relative and often also absolute poverty has increased, and the living standards of the majority have in general got worse — despite the occasional outbursts of high growth rates in some of these countries, and despite some advances in health care (elimination of some common diseases, rise in the average life expectancy etc.). At least in Argentina, an intensive process of de-industrialisation has taken place, and there have been similar tendencies in Brazil, but with less significant effects. Predictably, neoliberalist attempts to create the conditions for economic growth have also had destructive environmental consequences. The polarisation of society and ecological problems have occurred simultaneously with the new social movements and postmodernisation of culture. Let us assume that these changes constitute the real effects of neoliberal globalisation in this region. 37

However, the impact of the latest phase of globalisation has also created new conditions in Latin America for the emergence of public spaces that transcend state borders. The tension today is not only between national and continental imagined communities, as was the case in the 19th and early 20th centuries. 38 A multilayered structure of overlapping regional, hemispheric, transnational and global social processes is constantly being produced. Globalisation has empowered many actors to try new options, and consequently they take part also in reconstructing civic public spaces in the region.

Indeed, Latin American social and political movements perceive globalisation not only as a threat against which one needs to struggle 'from within' but also as a possibility (often as a result of a conclusion that globalisation is a reality that does not go away) to participate in transformative projects within, through and beyond state borders. A growing number of Latin American social actors are responding to globalisation in ways that make them participants in the creation of transnational, regional and global public spaces. As stated by Cândido Grzybowski, from IBASE, the action of the NGOs "presupposes a globalising project". 39

In the Mercosur region, we found various kinds of responses to globalisation among actors within what might be called political civil society. We distinguish between four typical responses to the social and political problems stemming from neoliberal globalisation. 40 What is the main orientation of action, defined in spatial terms: local, national, regional or global? In addition, we also ask whether the actors have effective transnational links or not. Thus we have the eight categories of Table 1. Our categorisation of them is not intended to describe the totality of possible responses within the vast region comprising four heterogeneous countries and 200 million people. It should rather be read as an initial attempt to create analytically coherent, sufficiently accurate and, also, politically useful ways of reflecting on the possibility of cosmopolitan democratic politics.

These responses occur in a context of much less political mobilisation than in the "populist" era from the 1930s up to 1960s. This (at times violently enforced) decline in political participation has had an effect particularly on conventional labour union and party politics. Also, it is clear that responses to neoliberal globalisation are less radical than in the "populist" era, at least in terms of leaving the capitalist structures intact. On the other hand, transnational links are more common than ever, at least since the beginning of military dictatorships. It also seems that local and national politics without effective transnational links is becoming increasingly unusual. Regional politics in the Mercosur area is a new phenomenon, as is the emergence of increasingly important non-statist attempts to participate in world politics.

Figure 2: Typical political responses to the consequences of neoliberal globalisation
  Transnational links
No or ineffective Yes
Main orientation of action Local 1a. Re-establish law, education, basic social services or alternative micro-economic systems locally; defensive strategy, but appears as the "only alternative" for many. 1b. As 1a, but either with support from multilateral or Western NG-organisations; or by spontaneous networking.
National 2a. Change conditions and social relations in a given area and/or on a national basis. Conventional labour union and party-politics; also the approach of many NGOs and mass movements as well. 2b. As 2a, but with the help of regional or global networks.
Regional 3a. Change conditions and social relations by trying to influence the rules and principles of the regional integration organisation, Mercosur. 3b. Always regional links; trans-regional relations particularly with the European Union.
Global 4a. Change conditions and social relations by trying to influence the rules and principles of the systems of global governance. 4b. As 4a, but by creating broad trans-regional alliances with other political actors, in particular churches, NGOs and social movements, based typically in the North.


4. Micro-level responses

In the 1970s and early 1980s, due to re-emergence of the global financial markets and the oil revenues for the OPEC countries, there was a huge inflow of money (mostly loans) to Latin American and African countries. In Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, the military juntas borrowed petrodollars and other funds from the financial actors of the North ("Paraguayn government was too incompetent to apply for international loans" 41 ). This helped to create the debt problem. In the 1990s, there has been not only an acceptance of the neoliberal programme — as an essential element of IMF and other conditions of multilateral debt rearrangements — but also two major financial crises. First the Mexican crisis of 1994—95 spread to Argentina; and secondly, the Brazilian crisis of 1998—99 has had repercussions in other Mercosur countries — particularly in Argentina. These despite the re-invention of the currency board — a colonial practice — in Argentina, dollarisation of its economy, and radical privatisation and downsizing of its state.

The 1980s, the "lost decade", was characterised by rapidly widening income gaps and rising numbers of poor people everywhere in Latin America. In Argentina, extreme inequalities grew by almost half in the late 1980s and in Brazil they expanded by one-fifth in the 1980s. 42 In the 1990s, inflation came to halt and economic growth recovered, yet the pie to share has not grown much since the early 1970s. GNP/capita annual growth rate 1975—1995 was —0.1% for Argentina, $#43;1.5% for Brazil, +1.2% for Paraguay and +0.7% for Uruguay. Available indicators of the 1990s tell that despite partial economic recovery, there has been no improvement in income distribution: Uruguay remains relatively egalitarian for a Latin American country, whereas Paraguay and Brazil are characterised by extreme disparities, and Argentina has now, of these countries, the biggest officially reported percentage of population below the national poverty line, namely 26%. About a third of the population of Argentina and Brazil, and half of the population of Paraguay, are without access to safe water or sanitation. 43

In our categorisation, the first response to globalisation is 'trying to create an alternative micro-system'. Given that for a large part of the population the capitalist market economy has become more inaccessible, and many have been marginalized within it; and that the downsized states have been increasingly less able to provide even basic social welfare services (such as health, education or minimum income); there have emerged alternative networks of local economic exchange and basic services.

Typically, these are connected to regional or even global networks, but in essence this response is inward looking, empowering the people included, but mostly leaving the more general causes of exclusion and marginalisation intact. At least implicitly, it politicises the local, but retreats from participating in other public political spaces. Perhaps also for this reason, the World Bank and the organisations of western development aid have tended to prefer these kinds of responses (and the related NGOs, and co-operation between these NGOs and municipalities). In some cases, they have even actively produced these micro-scale solutions to acute social problems. For instance, Rosario, Argentina, experienced an outburst of looting and rioting in 1989, and again in 1990, as a response to austerity, inflation and the deteriorating situation of the urban poor. In response to this and similar episodes elsewhere, the World Bank initiated a series of social emergency programmes, based on co-operation between the Bank, subnational actors and NGOs. They ended up being short-term, casual, welfare-type programmes. 44 As Charles A. Reilly puts it, "advocates of privatization and antagonists of government rhapsodize about the potential of NGOs"; but he also warns against dismissing all NGO service delivery, self-help and localism "as a neoliberal subterfuge" 45 .

Indeed, there have been many spontaneous micro-level responses. One recent example of the creation of alternative socio-economic networks has been the creation of local barter movements, especially the Argentine Global Barter Network (Red Global de Trueque, RGT). A barter club was founded on 1 May 1995 in Buenos Aires Province, and the experience was soon multiplied in various parts of the country. 46 The RGT activists have established an exchange mechanism where state-printed money is not used. The system has become a useful safety net for a relatively high number of people. 47 Even though the RGT activists form a relatively local movement in various parts of Argentina, they also have various transnational links, though in terms of strategies and resources these links are not of crucial importance for them.

For many activists who may consider networks like RGT too marginalizing and still want to focus mostly on local issues, municipalities have become an increasingly interesting context of action. New links between the municipal public sector and civil society are being developed in various parts of Mercosur where civil society actors, including business, are given a share in municipal decision-making. One of the most famous examples is the participatory budget movement in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre. 48 Some analysts consider these experiments with "dialogic politics" a promising model that could perhaps be "connected to more democratic structures at higher levels of the world-system". 49 Regional networks have been built between cities like São Paulo, Montevideo and Rosario, especially when the cities have been under leftists municipal governments. As the left has never held state power in the countries of the region, municipal administrations have constituted important experiments with power for left-wing parties.

The renewed interest in municipal issues in times of increasing globalisation and regionalisation has also led to the creation of inter-municipal networks. For example, the Inter-Municipal System of Exchange and Compensation (Sistema Inter-Municipal de Intercambio y Compensación, SIMIC), connected to the local barter networks is explicitly trying to foster sustainable regional intergration within the framework of Mercosur. 50


5. National responses

The second response we found is to "change social relations in a given area and on a national basis, but with the help of global networks". This is the approach of conventional labour union and party politics. From the point of view of critical responses to neoliberal globalisation, some organisations and movements struggling for land reforms and more sustainable and ecologically sound exploitation of natural resources are more relevant examples of this category. Moreover, the Brazilian Workers Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT), perhaps the biggest leftist party in Latin America, has emerged from these of grassroots movements, and is also championing land reforms and ecological and social-democratic reforms.

The struggles for social, ecological and democratic reforms occur in a peculiar context of liberal-democracy. This context has been variously characterised as "delegative democracy", in which the elected president is granted the capacity to govern as the "saviour of the nation" above parliamentary, judicial, party or other controls; "new (neoliberal) populism", in which an appeal is made to people directly to grant exceptional powers to the elected president, without the intervention of parties or representative bodies; and as a "throwback to the style of the pre-1916 political oligarchy". 51 In the 1990s, these neoliberal policies have gained legitimacy from economic growth that has averaged almost 5% in Argentina, and 2—3% in the other Mercosur countries; partially this has been based on increased regional trade and inflow of private investments. It seems, however, that by 1998 the growth spurt had ended, and after the Brazilian financial crisis of 1998—99, there appears — again — to have been a period of negative growth. It also has to be noted that especially in Argentina the annual growth figures have varied remarkably throughout the decade. 52

Essentially, although widely and thoroughly networked, and despite the universalism of some of the claims made, the vision of the reformist organisations and movements is mostly about changes within a country. In some cases of critical political responses to globalisation, there is also a well-articulated nationalist programme against capitalist globalisation. Also struggles around referendums on privatisation in Uruguay in the 1990s and large-scale mobilisations for democracy in Paraguay in 1996 and 1999, following coup attempts, belong essentially to this category, although especially in Paraguay Mercosur played an important role in preventing the civilian government from falling (demonstration effect; democracy clause and diplomatic pressure).

According to the Latin American Subaltern Studies Group, the new global political economy has brought in its wake "a conceptual movement to de-emphasise paradigms of nation and independence". 53 Even though we agree in principle, the national space is still important for many labour unions, parties and social movements in Mercosur region. These actors often argue that their actions constitute defense of the national space/sovereignty/autonomy in front of neoliberal globalisation. The establishment of a national, social-democratic welfare state remains an ideal that many actors still consider worth struggling for.

The resistance to the neoliberal reforms in the name of welfare-statist values by the civil society has been more effective in Uruguay than in the neighbouring countries. The labour movement that was recreated as the Interunion Work Pact — National Workers' Center (Pacto Intersindical del Trabajo — Central Nacional de los Trabajadores, PIT-CNT) after the dictatorship in 1984 has been capable of forcing the governments to make various concessions to its demands. 54 As noted by Eduardo Fernández, International Relations Secretary of the PIT-CNT, the actions of the union have been clearly defensive: "we have been able to put a brake on government's reform plans". 55

In his address to the nation in January 1992, President Lacalle stated that privatisations and other neoliberal reforms were necessary if Uruguay wanted to form part of Mercosur. 56 The labour movement and left-wing political parties were, however, able to collect enough signatures to have a referendum on the privatisation law which was perceived to bring an Argentine-style neoliberalism into Uruguay. 57 After the military government was overthrown in 1985, there have been eight referendums in the country. When the referendum took place in mid-December 1992, the privatisation law was rejected.


6. Attempts to change social relations on a regional basis

As has been stated many times over, Mercosur was created by "diplomats and economists", though ratified by parliaments of all four member states. The Treaty of Asunción, signed on 26 March 1991, expressed little concern for citizen's participation in the regional integration process, even though there were certain formulations in the Treaty that offered juridical basis for the construction of a more socially oriented Mercosur. 58 For example, the Treaty called for "economic development with social justice" and "betterment of life conditions" of the people. The general tone was, however, clearly economistic. This creates and is due to both a democratic deficit and, in the words of Jorge Grandi and Lincoln Bizzozero, a historical social deficit in Mercosur. 59

The Andean integration process, which started as an elaborate economic and political integration plan in the late 1960s, has been a particularly important negative model for the drafters of the Mercosur plan in all the member countries. Light bureaucracy has often been justified by pointing to the bureaucratic excesses associated with the original Andean integration model. 60 At the same time, however, need for deeper institutional structures for Mercosur has also been justified by pointing to an example of integration elsewhere: the European Union.

There are few "Mercosureaucrats". The Administrative Secretary was established in Montevideo in 1997, and by 1999 it had only 26 members. There is pressure both in civil society groups and even in some governments, especially that of Uruguay, towards greater institutionalisation of the Mercosur process. 61 Not all Mercosur pressure groups want to build a Brussels-like bureaucracy, but various actors have demanded more supranational decision making. 62 Many that would in principle be willing to deepen Mercosur's institutionality may at the same time consider it a halfway house in the road towards larger integration schemes. One set of factors that may therefore work against any major institutional changes in Mercosur in the short run is the integration arrangements and plans that cover the Americas as a whole.

The Mercosur governments may be reluctant to deepen the Mercosur process in any particular direction until there is more clarity about the alternatives and options implied by such initiatives as the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). 63 The elites of Argentina and Brazil, especially, place emphasis on Mercosur as a vehicle for extra-regional negotiations. 64 If Mercosur becomes more institutionalised with fixed common rules, it could be more difficult to adjust the region to a new and wider integration process. Even if it may work against the deepening of Mercosur integration, the FTAA plan may, however, at the same time consolidate the existing Mercosur structure. The Brazilian government has emphasised that in order to have strong position in negotiations on FTAA, Mercosur countries must act as a unified bloc. 65

Is Mercosur then "good or bad" for democracy? In April 1996, there was a direct threat to the democratic institutions of Paraguay. The commander of the Armed Forces Lino Oviedo was threatening with a military coup. It has been argued that the pressure exercised by the other Mercosur countries was a decisive factor is rescuing the democratic institutions during the crisis. According to Tommy Strömberg, "the civil society of Paraguay never would have dared to go into the streets without the support of the international community". 66 As he points out, it is difficult to separate the influence of other external actors such as the United States government from that of the Mercosur actors. The US influence, however, was probably at the moment the most important external factor. 67

Another major crisis — and a more violent one — took place in Paraguay in March 1999. A movement of youth that coincided with a major peasant gathering in front of the parliament was able to physically block the entrance of the militarist groups inside the parliament. The youth, mostly not from political parties but from organisations that ranged from pacifists to football clubs, stayed in the plaza despite many of them being easy targets for sharpshooters in nearby roofs. 68 Dozens of people got killed, many more injured. The dramatic images that spread from the plaza to TV screens in the country, and were soon to be spread abroad, probably saved the defenders of the parliament from more brutal attacks and Paraguay from a new military coup.

In our Uruguayan example, through Lacalle's formulations, Mercosur represented a threat to democratic values in the national space: despite wide-spread opposition, the government wanted to impose a neoliberal reform "because Mercosur demands it". Following our analysis in Chapter 5 above, Lacalle's attempt was an example of the ways global and regional capitalist processes can be used to create restrictions to democracy. In Paraguay, on the contrary, Mercosur has been conceived as bringing support to national liberal-democratic institutions.

Even though these two examples of Uruguay and Paraguay may give seemingly contradictory messages on Mercosur's implications for democracy within the member countries, they both point to the establishment of a limited democracy as a norm that Mercosur integration reinforces. On one hand, Mercosur provides various obstacles to the execution of military coups in the region. On the other hand, through its economism Mercosur at the same time places restrictions to democratic politics and imposes a particular political programme in the member countries. As the Uruguayan example shows, relatively strong and autonomous civil actors may, however, also offer resistance to attempts to use Mercosur in executing unpopular political decisions.

Box 1: Differences within the Region

Over the centuries, the differences between what became Portuguese Brazil and its southern neighbours colonised by Spain were considered much stronger than the differences between many other Latin American countries. There have certainly been various themes and areas of rather intense interaction across the Brazilian borders with its Southern Cone neighbours. Multi— or transcultural areas were formed in the border areas such as the "gaucha/gaócha" region that extended from southern Brazil to northern Uruguay and the "Jesuitic-Guaranitic" region that included parts of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. (Lacarrieu and Raggio 1997; on social movements in the latter region, see also Jelin, Valdés & Bareiro 1999) Nevertheless, the integration process that formally started with the signing of the Argentine-Brazilian Economic Co-operation and Integration Programme in June 1986 has been considered surprisingly rapid by many commentators. (E.g. Ferrer 1997a) As an intergovernmental process, Mercosur has been mostly conducted through the dynamics of the relationship between Brazil and Argentina, while Paraguay and Uruguay have remained junior although by no means insignificant partners.

Even though for the most part of the 20th century Brazil had relatively few formal links with its Southern neighbours, along with Argentina it was ranked among the top countries in the world in terms of international treaty participation in 1946—1975. (Remmer 1998, 32) The governments in both Argentina and Brazil have been eager to play an active role in world politics. For example, one global reform claim that in both countries has been justified in terms of global democratisation is permanent membership for a Latin American country in the UN Security Council. (E.g. Bolívar 1992, 136) The role of the state has been quite different in the two largest Mercosur countries during the past century. In Argentina, state intervention has been more linked to income redistribution, which has implied that important civil society actors such as trade unions have been in relatively close contact with state organs. In Brazil, interventionist policies were protectionist and developmentalist in the sense that the state actively promoted investments, accumulation and technical changes. (Ferrer 1997a, 16) One of the factors that have made protectionist policies possible in Brazil has been its huge size and the resulting economies of scale. Size is also an important factor in explaining Brazil's tendency towards unilateral policy moves even under the Mercosur integration process. (Interview with María Elena Bosch) A related factor in explaining Brazil's tendency to unilateteralism is that Brazil is a "global trader", though its declining share of total world exports also helps explain its initial eagerness to find new, regional markets. Brazil's share of total world exports declined from 1,9% in 1984 to 0,9% in 1994 ('A Lopsided Union' The Economist 12.10.1994).

The Brazilian markets are more important to the other member countries than vice versa. While Brazil is Argentina's principal market with 30% of total Argentine exports in 1998, Argentina accounts for only 13% of Brazilian exports. (IRELA 1999) It is therefore not surprising that of the four countries, Brazil has been the least willing to build supranational institutions for Mercosur. Being the most important actor in the region, Brazilian state has considered it potentially harmful to subjugate its policy decisions to any collective decision-making body where it needs to have the consent of its much smaller neighbours. It could, in principle, insist on a weighted voting system within Mercosur, which might resolve part of the problem from Brazil's perspective. Despite the problems, Mercosur integration has had various impacts in the Brazilian society. For example, Brazilian schools now teach more Spanish and Latin American literature than before. (Interview with Cândido Grzybowski) The corporativist tradition has been stronger in Argentina than in its neighbours. The most important representative of corporativism, President Juan Perón, was also an eager proponent of regional and continental projects in Latin America. (Bolívar 1992, 140—142; see also Fausto 1999, 249, on an assumed plan between the Brazilian president Getúlio Vargas and Argentina's Juan Perón to move towards "the installation of a republic dominated by trade unions" in the 1950s). Through the 1990s, under the administration of President Carlos Menem — formally a Peronist politician — the Argentine government was one of Latin America's most faithful followers of neoliberalism. According to Menem's "peripheral realism", in a country like Argentina there is little room for deviance from external dictates, especially in economic-policy matters (on peripheral realism, see Ferrer 1997b).

Whereas the Argentine neoliberal reforms under the Menem government were mostly executed through presidential decrees, in Uruguay both parliamentary debates and civil society participation have been given more importance. Unlike in the other member countries, in Uruguay there was at least some parliamentary and public debate on the Treaty of Asunción during its ratification (see Alimonda 1994). Compared to its neighbours, in Uruguay trade unions, parties and other civic organisations have also been quite autonomous from the state. During the neoliberal reform policies of the 1990s, it has therefore been more difficult for the government to control or co-opt resistance to the reforms. (Vacs 1998, 170—171) Even though they may express relatively loud critisism towards Mercosur, Uruguayan civic actors are also in general more positively disposed towards the deepening of Mercosur integration than their neighbours.

Of the four Mercosur countries, Paraguay was the most isolated one during the decades preceding the establishment of Mercosur (Pagliai 1997, 102). As we could witness in Asunción during the days following the fall of Stroessner in 1989, the new liberties for civic activities were sometimes confusing for Paraguayan social actors. Contending perspectives on citizen's rights were presented by two different art exhibitions in Asunción within few days after Stroessner's fall in 1989. One exhibition was called Acto de Libertad (Act of Liberty) and its underlying idea was that the Paraguayan people were finally able to express themselves freely. The other one, called Años de Miedo (Years of Fear), had a slightly different message: the fear was not over yet. A whole generation had become used to living under dictatorship, and it was not always easy to find methods or even concepts with which one could act in the new political context. Many of the most active people before 1989 were related to the Catholic Church. (Strömberg 1998, 26; interview with Pedro Parra Gaona, 14.4.1999, Asunción) Even though Paraguayan civic organisations have been much more active in the 1990s than in any of the previous decades, the historical context of long dictatorship has left various difficulties for the action. Paraguayan functionaries tend to emphasise that Mercosur should develop more mechanisms for redistribution within the region. (Interview with Luis Alberto Mauro) The fear of a centre-periphery-like differentiation within Mercosur is particularly prevalent in Paraguay, though also in Uruguay there have been voices that have demanded special treatment for the two smaller countries of the region. One of the justifications for such demands has been the existence of compensatory measures for poorer areas within both European Union and the Andean Community. (Alimonda 1994; See also Ferrer 1997a, 22—23)

Labour movements in the Mercosur countries offer many examples of action that have been oriented towards creating regional institutions well before Mercosur itself was established. Workers' Council of the Southern Cone (Consejo de Trabajadores del Cono Sur, CTCS), related to Latin American Association of Workers (Central Latinoamericana de Trabajadores, CLAT), was founded in 1973 69 and Southern Cone Syndical Coordinator (Coordinadora de Centrales Sindicales del Cono Sur), related to Inter-American Workers' Organization (Organización Regional Interamericana de Trabajadores, ORIT), was born in the context of redemocratisation processes in 1986. 70 It is therefore not surprising that labour movements have been the most vocal actors in demanding a "social dimension" to Mercosur, especially since 1992—93.

Many of the issues that the labour movements emphasise in the regional context are relatively technical questions of labour legislation, social charter and immigration. More general demands that might be seen as expressions of cosmopolitan democratic aims have also been added to the labour movements' agenda. For example, the final declaration of the Trade Union Conference on the Social Dimension of Mercosur and the European Union in Montevideo in May 1998 demanded democratic construction of the regional integration spaces. 71 Yet, we found that Mercosur is relevant only for a handful of actors, and in most cases, their vision was concerned with relatively modest reforms, basically steps towards the capacities of the EU institutions as they exist now.

In Brazil, there was a widespread perception that enhancing the institutions of Mercosur would go against the national interest of Brazil, which is much bigger — in all terms — than other members combined. In fact, except in Uruguay, Mercosur is not an important public political issue in these countries: it is new; it does not function effectively yet (its secretariat in Montevideo is very small, its new official buildings are still partially unused, and its financial resources are very limited); there is relatively little knowledge about it; and for many, it seems that the relevant issues — such as the debt problem, financial crises, ecological problems, human rights, extreme poverty — have other, more relevant sources of determination.

A further problem is the top-down constitution of legimate actors. Actor-identities are defined in terms of positions in capitalist markets: employers; labour unions; and consumers, with heavy emphasis on the first two categories. However, together with business representatives, organised on the regional level in institutions such as Consejo Industrial del Mercosur and Consejo de Cámaras de Comercio 72 , trade union movements have been central actors in the establishment and functioning of the Economic and Social Consultative Forum (Foro Consultivo Económico-Social, FCES). The FCES was established within the official Mercosur structure in 1995 on the basis of the Ouro Preto Protocol of 1994. 73 A consultative body with few decision-making powers, it is composed of an equal number of representatives of each member country. The only other Mercosur organ with official civil society participation is Working Subgroup 10, which is dedicated to labour relations, employment and social security. 74 The term "civil society" (sociedad civil) is, however, never mentioned in the official structure and functions of Mercosur. The standard reference is to "economic and social sectors". 75

The Ouro Preto Protocol modified various aspects of the institutional structure of Mercosur, but the economistic bias did not disappear. Various social actors have criticised the fact that civil society has been represented in the FCES mainly by business and labour organisations. Consumer organisations have also been included in the FCES consultations, though in the beginning only in Argentina and Brazil. 76 There exist national sections of the FCES, and each of them selects nine representatives to the regional FCES. In the national sections there is a slightly greater variety of organisations represented, such as co-operatives and academics in the Uruguayan section. 77

In Paraguay, the national section of FCES has been facing a relatively indifferent attitude from the government, which contrasts especially with the situation in Uruguay. 78 Also, the Paraguayan trade unions and business representatives have had relatively distant relations, which has created some problems for their co-operation within FCES. 79 The basic rule in the regional FCES is that each national section needs to appoint an equal number of labour and business representatives. Taking into account this rule, a national section can decide to include representatives of other civil society organisations in its delegation. 80 A great majority (32—34 out of 36) of the FCES seats have, however, until now been assigned to business and labour. 81

The composition of the FCES is an example of the economistic orientation of the Mercosur process even after Ouro Preto. To repeat, in the few instances where civil society is given institutional space, the identity of the civil society actors is mostly formulated in terms of the market: either as producers (business and labour) or as consumers. As to the participation of labour, a further problem is that during the neoliberal reforms a significant number of workers in the region have either moved to the informal sector or become unemployed. 82

Stable wage employment has become relatively rare. In Argentina in particular, there has been a very sharp reduction in employment for state employees, railroad workers, city workers and textile workers (often the employees have lost their jobs without notice or compensation). Moreover, due to the legacy of the authoritarian era and the economic crisis of the 1980s, the rate of participation among the employed is relatively low. 83 In many sectors, the industrial base of Argentina in particular has been in decline, which has also meant erosion of the industrial base of many unions. Simultaneously, deregulatory legislation has undermined the power resources of unions. Last but not least, some of the labour unions are in fact under the control of the government or, in some cases, they have been turned, in the process of privatisation, into corporatist capitalists themselves. 84 Hence, the representativeness of the labour unions as regards the population as a whole is generally not very high.

The tendency to mercantilise civil society representations through market categories is not very promising in terms of possibilities for pluralist democratic openings. Nevertheless, there are various on-going attempts to open Mercosur for a wider understanding of civil society participation, although typically in a corporatist manner (which implies that there will be no public politicisation, just access to closed negotiations). For the civic organisations that already take part in Mercosur, mostly through FCES, there exists an increasing tendency to network transnationally with similar organisations in other member countries rather than with organisations of different sectors within one's own country; 85 but there are also various attempts to organise regionally without paying much attention to the Mercosur institutions.

One of the most impressive grass roots organisations in Mercosur (and in the whole world) that focuses on local and national contexts is the Brazilian Landless Rural Workers Movement (Movimiento de Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, MST). They claim to have been able to acquire land for 250 000 families; and in April 1999, they were in the process of mobilising the seizure of land by 70 000 people. About 5000 activists form the core of MST, many of them under constant threat of violent death. Even though MST participates in various transnational networks, its aims are related to a concrete national problem: unequal distribution of land ownership in Brazil. 86 Within MST, there are currents that would like to abolish private ownership of land altogether although for some sectors a more equal distribution of it is a sufficient aim. 87 Institutionally, Mercosur is not very important in the work of MST, even though through its contacts with the trade unions it has some contact with the FCES. Mercosur is, however, not irrelevant: for example the entrance of subsidised Argentine milk into Brazil is a serious problem from the MST perspective. 88

Many social actors still situate themselves primarily in a national space, but there is less obsession with the ideals of nation-building than during the previous decades. 89 In the globalisation process, the possibility to "leap-frog the national arena" 90 has become increasingly tempting. For social actors in the Mercosur countries, various regional contexts have increased their importance vis-á-vis the nation-state. Apart from the Mercosur region, which is largely overlapping with the area of Southern Cone, social processes can have South America (often understood as Mercosur plus the Andean Community), Latin America (as for groups that aim at a Latin American Community) and the Western Hemisphere (includes North America) as their primary contexts.

The larger hemispheric context has various aspects other than the Free Trade Area of the Americas plan. For example, the demographic and political growth of latinos within the United States is a factor that needs to be taken into account. 91 Even though the importance of the US latino communities is stronger for social movements in Central America than in the Southern Cone of South America, there are also many connections between Mercosur-based NGOs and US-based social actors, whether composed of latinos or not.

Latin American women's movements increased their continental and regional interactions significantly in their preparations for the IV UN world conference on women in Beijing in 1995. 92 In the continental inter-governmental context, the Organization of American States adopted the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence Against Women in 1994 in Brazil. 93 Within Mercosur, Forum of Mercosur Women (Foro de Mujeres de Mercosur) was created towards the end of 1995 in Uruguay. It established national chapters in each of the member countries. One of the most active chapters has been active in Paraguay, where it was able to establish links with the Paraguayan section of the Foro Consultivo Económico-Social. 89 The overall results of the women's groups attempts to get incorporated into the Foro have, however, been meagre. In general, gender has been a neglected dimension in the whole Mercosur process. 90

Human rights has also been a relatively marginal issue in the Mercosur process. SERPAJ (Servicio Paz y Justicia) is one of the few human rights organisations that has been able to act continuously in Argentina since the 1970s, and Mercosur is "no issue for them", and has "never been a real issue for related organisations". 96 SERPAJ is a transnational organisation, founded and funded by churches and, now, also e.g. by Belgian NGOs (with the support of Belgian Foreign Ministry). Originally, it was a "social organisation" concerned with justice and development, in accordance with the vision of theology of liberation. Soon, it became an internationalist response to authoritarianism. Today it continues its human rights struggles, but deals also with street children, prostitutes, minorities, and AIDS, among other things. It also takes part in Jubilee 2000 campaign to alleviate the debt problem. Some of its key activists in Argentina are North Americans or West Europeans immigrated to Buenos Aires.

For at least some human rights groups, however, regional co-operation has increased its importance in recent years. Paraguayan secret police archives found in December 1992 established new and astonishing proofs of the extensive co-ordination between the state security organs of the Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile, especially during the period of military governments. 97 The co-operation was baptised as Operación Cóndor by the repressors themselves. 98 Mercosur of Terror may be a thing of the past but regional human rights networking is getting more intense in today's Mercosur of Impunity. The discovery of the extent of regional cooperation in repression has given the human rights groups new incentives to pay attention to the regional level. For this networking the official institutions of Mercosur, however, are not very relevant.

Environmental groups and movements have been mostly left aside in the official Mercosur process. In the region, there are various transnational projects that can have significant negative environmental impact. One of the most infamous ones is the Hidrovía Paraguay-Paraná, a navigation project along the rivers that flow across various intra-Mercosur boundaries. Coalición Ríos Vivos, an alliance of ecological organisations, indigenous peoples' groups and other civic actors, has started a transnational campaign to bring the project under public scrutiny in order to avoid the feared environmental impact. 99


7. Trans-regionalism

Apart from being, to an extent, a "model", EU-Europe has influenced the Mercosur integration process more directly. For example, it has been stated that the Mercosur governments established the Economic and Social Consultative Forum FCES "to keep the European Union happy". 100 Once FCES was established through the Ouro Preto Protocol, the EU still requested the parliamentary approval of the protocol. 101 As in many other aspects of "democracy promotion" by former colonial powers, there are differing opinions on the desirability of this kind of soft paternalism. For many civil society actors in Mercosur, the possible losses in national sovereignty caused by this kind of low-profile interventionism may mean less than the new possibilities for political actions created by the results of such interventionism.

When civil society organisations look at the wider Latin American context, they sometimes see reasons for slight optimism as regards the old Bolivarian ideals of continental unity. 102 Even though there is little discussion on such continent-wide integration schemes that would include detailed mechanisms for democratic participation and accountability, trade unions and other actors have repeatedly referred to cosmopolitan democratic ideals. The economistic plan of Free Trade Area of the Americas is often countered by a plan for a Latin American Community of Nations (Comunidad Latinoamericana de Naciones, CLAN) 103 , initially proposed by the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO) and supported by various civil society organisations such as Latin American Association of Workers CLAT. 104

The Latin American Community plan has also been given verbal support by various intergovernmental meetings in Latin America, but no concrete governmental actions towards its realisation have been undertaken. The civil society organisations that held the Second Latin American Social Summit in Santiago de Chile in April 1998 decided to form a Permanent Latin American Civil Society Forum that would aim at the establishment of the Latin American Community. 105

For the editors of Notisur, a journal related to CLAT, establishing a social dimension to Mercosur is explicitly seen as a step along the road towards a Latin American Community that would extend from Tierra del Fuego to Río Bravo. 106 One of the aims of many activists is to establish closer co-operation and eventual unification between Mercosur and the Andean Community. 107 The resulting South American regional bloc would in these visions then be able to resist the hegemonic advances of the FTAA or other integration schemes directed by the United States, and struggle for the establishment of the Latin American Community that would not include the United States. Ideally, it would also help Latin Americans defend themselves from the negative aspects of the agreements of the World Trade Organization and the planned Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI). 108

One little explored aspect in the possible integration between Mercosur and the Andean Community is that the latter has already taken various steps towards redesigning its communal institutions along the lines of the European Union. By 2002, the Andean Community is planning to have a regional parliament constituted through direct and universal elections, while in Mercosur there exists no similar plan. Assuming that the Andean Community will indeed have an EU-style parliament within a few years, it might provide the impetus for expanding the idea to the Mercosur region. 109 Considering the problems of accountability that trade unions, NGOs and other civil society organs often have, it is important that parliament-like institutions are not left aside in cosmopolitan democratic plans. Civil society projects often focus only on participatory aspects of democratisation, but representative institutions too should be imagined and created beyond the nation-state.

To what extent a regional parliament may realise cosmopolitan democratic ideals depends of course of various factors, not least of the powers given to it. Today's Mercosur's Joint Parliamentary Committee (Comisión Parlamentaria Conjunta, CPC) can be better characterised as a holiday resort for bored national politicians 110 than an effective decision-making body. In many ways it is not the CPC but rather the FCES that among the Mercosur institutions is at present supposed to have, even if imperfectly, the public role that the European Parliament has in the debates about the EU. 111 If the democratic accountability of Mercosur structures is to be increased, an effective representative institution is needed. One problem in the creation of an EU-like parliamentary body is that there has been little transnational co-operation between political parties of the Mercosur countries.

In the scenario of Mercosur and the Andean Community both being subsumed under FTAA or a similar hemispheric integration process, there are some plans for a civil society participation, even through "exporting" the FCES model to the FTAA. Mercosur countries have generally had a relatively positive attitude towards civil society participation in the possible FTAA, whereas countries like Peru and Mexico have been more negative. 112 These plans have, however, not convinced many Mercosur-region civil society actors and especially trade union activists of the FTAA plan. Álvaro Padrón, labour co-ordinator of the FCES, has made very sceptical comments on the probable role of civil society in a future FTAA. 113 Another example of the attitude of some Latin American trade union activists towards US-led integration processes is how CLAT General Secretary Emilio Máspero calls the FTAA a "hemispheric supermarket without a soul". 114

In the negative comments on the FTAA there is a marked contrast with the admiration many of the same activists show towards the European Union as a model for regional integration. Historically, this can also be seen in the light of South American Arielism. 115 Many Brazilian and especially Argentine political intellectuals have traditionally argued that they represent the "real outpost" of European civilisation in the Americas whereas the North American materialist culture represents more brutal forms of life. Even today, ten million Mercosur citizens hold a European passport. 116


8. Global actions in concrete (local, national, regional) settings

Some of the most important "transnational issue alliances" 117 in the Mercosur region have a context that goes well beyond the regional sphere. As expressed by Wellington Almeida, an activist in many Brazilian social movements, it is "often difficult to see the connection between Mercosur and discussion on global issues". 118 It should also be noted that for people from northern parts of Brazil, the sul (south) in Mercosul, as the organisation is called in Portuguese, often seems to refer to the south of Brazil. 119

The ecological and social problems of the Amazon area are one example of themes that connect to transnational and global networks but not so much to Mercosur. The Brazilian governments have, even after the military dictatorship, often used arguments of "national security" to criticise the transnational networks that local rubber tappers, indigenous organisations and other social movements of the Amazon area have participated in. 120 The emergence of the networks became clear at least in December 1988 when rubber tapper activist Chico Mendes was murdered in the remote Brazilian state of Acre.

The news of Chico Mendes' death and the resulting uproar was circulating in transnational advocacy networks through e-mail, fax and telephone before it was noticed by Brazilian national media. 121 In 1989, the political use of the Internet got an important institutional grounding when Rio-based NGO IBASE created Alternex, a computer network service intended to help civil society actors communicate. It was the first NGO-operated computer network service in Latin America that had a permanent connection with the Internet. 122

The political importance of Internet use in the region is difficult to estimate, and it has to be remembered that the resources are distributed very unequally in the region. For example, in 1999 Uruguay had almost as many Internet hosts per capita than Italy or France, whereas Brazil and especially Paraguay lagged far behind. The differences within the countries are far greater than between them in this respect. 123 The Internet is, however, not only a toy for the filthy rich in Latin America. Through the increasing Internet use by social movements and the gradual proliferation of communal Internet centres even in the poor neighbourhoods, new communication technology is opening new possibilities for meaningful political action.

The latest period of military dictatorships destroyed many spaces for doing politics in the Southern Cone of Latin America. However, by forcing an important part of the region's activists into exile, the dictatorships also helped to create conditions for later transnational activism. When the exiles started returning to their home countries, they had in many cases built intimate connections within civic spaces of Paris, New York or Mexico City. These connections would later be important in the transnational campaigns of the post-dictatorial era. The support that organisations such as the human-rights-oriented SERPAJ in Argentina got from abroad during the dictatorship was mostly political and moral — which also helps explain that no SERPAJ members disappeared. In the 1990s, monetary contributions have become more important in the support from abroad. 124

Organisations working in the transnational campaigns on the reduction or annulment of the foreign debt in Latin America often include concrete proposals for changing the rules of world politics. The Jubilee 2000 campaign, though initially started in Europe, was made more concrete when adopted by Latin American organisations in Latin American Jubilee 2000 Campaign Opening in January 1999. The initial demands were for the cancellation of the unpayable debt of the poorest countries, defined mostly in terms of the World Bank's HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) initiative. For many Latin American debt campaigners, the aims of the campaign needed to be set in the cancellation of the debt of many more than only the very poorest countries. 125 Especially for activists from the Mercosur region this was not surprising, since no Mercosur country belongs to the HIPC category. The closest candidate to a HIPC status would be Paraguay, and the Jubilee 2000 campaign in the country is of a relatively low profile. 126

In the earlier debt-related campaigns there used to be little attention to the issue of what kinds of transnational or global institutions might be needed in order to execute the desired transformations — or indeed, what kinds of institutions might result from these transformations. "Smaller" aims such as communal or national self-government were mentioned much more often than any concrete ideas on "bigger" issues such as details on how to bring transnational capital flows under democratic rule. 127 In the 1990s, the turbulent financial markets, however, helped to increase the popularity of the idea that transnational mechanisms for capital control might be necessary in order to avoid recurrent crises. The restructuring of the Argentine banking sector, following the Mexican Peso crisis of the mid-1990s and thereby known as the Tequila Effect, together with the Brazilian financial crisis of the late 1990s have been important processes in this respect. 128

In the late 1990s, the NGO struggle against the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) and the almost simultaneous inclusion of demands for Tobin tax and related mechanisms of capital control were changing the outlook of various campaigns. 129 Latin American social movements working on transnational financial issues were increasingly combining "alternative globalisation" themes such as Tobin tax with their more traditional "anti-globalisation" demands. Even if many may not agree with Candido Grzybowski's claim that "a global state" needs to be refounded 130 , radical transformations are no longer conceived as questions bounded within territorial containers of a nation-state.

Partially inspired by the Tobin tax idea, one of the most concrete campaigns for global reforms in the Mercosur region has been emerging around the issue of transnational investments. Especially in Brazil, organisations such as Comissão Brasileira de Justiça e Paz of the Brazilian Bishop's Council CNBB and PACS (Instituto de Políticas Alternativas para o Cone Sul), have been active in the world-wide movement to implement a tax on speculative investments. 131 An important mechanism in the diffusion of some of these ideas was the March 1999 visit to Brazil by Bernard Cassen, director of Le Monde Diplomatique and founder of the global organisation ATTAC. Over 1000 Brazilian parliamentarians, intellectuals, trade unionists and popular movement activists took part in the meetings organised during Cassen's visit. 132 In 2000, ATTAC is also growing stronger in Argentina. In Brazil, these issues have been brought to official debates in the Congress and elsewhere by PT, the leftist party that emerged from these kinds of movements.

The organisations often participate in various campaigns, and many see debt-related campaigns and global tax campaigns as two sides of the same coin. In April 1999, we participated in Tribunal da Dívida Externa — a transnational debt tribunal — that gathered in Rio de Janeiro. In its final declaration the tribunal, that consisted of various of the most important social movements of Brazil 133 , called for mobilisations that aim at breaking the debt agreements with the IMF and also at global taxation of speculative capital. 134

Participation in transnational networks has been increasingly intense among human rights organisations. The detention of Augusto Pinochet in London in October 1998 has created a precedent that many organisations look forward to repeating. Particularly in Argentina, along with the neighbouring Chile, human rights organisations have also globalised their struggle against impunity by demanding trials against human rights abusers of their own countries in foreign courts, mostly in Europe. The creation of an International Criminal Court in Rome has been another issue that has helped globalise their demands.

In global campaigns, different issues get intertwined in various ways, depending on the contexts. Since the 1980s, workers' rights in the Amazon region have often been formulated in environmentalist terms in order to attract the attention of transnational ecological networks. With the increased importance of human rights in many governmental and non-governmental development organisations, foreign debt has also been increasingly formulated in human rights terms. Within women's movements, the intense regional organisation and co-ordination related to the Beijing conference in 1995 was an important impulse in the more global orientation that these movements have had during the latter part of the 1990s. They have also increasingly formulated their demands in human rights terms. The language of rights has replaced some of the previous jargons in the civil society vocabularies in the region.

What are the resources and capacities for political mobilisation of those concerned with local/global connections and global issues? Some of the more visible NGOs in the capitals and big cities such as Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paolo are run by ex-exiles or European or North American expatriates. Even when dominantly run by locals, they are often funded by Western donors. The core is formed by a relatively small group of professionals, often with university degrees, some with PhDs. Although they are assisted by a somewhat larger group of volunteers, their popular base is limited. Many environmental movements are more grassroots-based, and the MST, for instance, has been capable of mobilising tens of thousands people for simultaneous activities. Referendums about neoliberal programmes in Uruguay, and perhaps even more noteworthily, anti-IMF activities in Argentina and Brazil, have gained widespread popular support (from the cynical, widespread jokes about the power of the IMF to mass demonstrations and even rioting and looting). PT in Brazil seems to be the most viable electoral alternative along these lines, yet even within it there seem to be tendencies to make more concessions to the neoliberal political programme.


9. Conclusions: Emergent democratic possibilities?

It seems that some of the responses to globalisation institutionalise marginalisation by creating pockets of alternative networks in localities. Quite often, the World Bank and other representatives of the Washington consensus have actively encouraged this. Moreover, for many — perhaps still for the majority — politics remains essentially national. Cynical disillusionment about real political possibilities is widespread, and typically mixes up allegations of corruption, generalised distrust, conspiracy theories and recognition of the power of Washington or the IMF. Yet, we have found also plentiful examples of post-national networking, regional institution-building and global ethico-political visions in the Mercosur region. These actors have concluded that globalisation not only constrains but also opens up new political possibilities.

As we analysed in our introductory chapter, the theory of cosmopolitan democracy has generally had, implicitly or explicitly, the European Union as its prime inspiration (at least as far as the really existing options are concerned). The theory is therefore, in principle, open for accusations of eurocentrism. Studying the options and opinions of social actors in the Mercosur region, one soon takes notice that many plans for a more institutionalised and especially a more democratic integration process indeed tend to take at least some aspects of the European Union as ideals worth fighting for. 135 Today's activists do not have an overly naïve view on the problems of the European Union. The EU is far from being an exemplar in transnational democracy. It is rather, as Argentine trade union leader Eduardo Menajovsky told us, that "we need in any case a regional actor, and the European Union is the closest one we can find." 136

However, considering the structurally different position in the world-system and different historical patterns, an outright copying of the European institutional designs in the Mercosur region is, however, unlikely to be successful. First of all, many of the critical responses to globalisation are not concerned with Mercosur at all — not even the regional ones. Rather, the regional human rights and environmental networks co-operate in order to influence national decision-makers — also via 'international public opinion'. Secondly, the regional integration projects in Latin America are in a state of flux. The overlap is considerable: there are many possible new projects that would incorporate the Mercosur countries. Perhaps most importantly, there is the struggle between the US attempts to rewrite NAFTA for the entire continent, and the Latin American attempts to create more autonomous and perhaps even more social-democratic integration arrangements. Thirdly, many actors have realised that to tackle the sources of determination of their local, national and regional contexts, they have to go trans-regional or, even better, global.

In participatory terms, the emergent global activities have been about demanding a voice in world politics. How to re-arrange debt or the rules and principles of the IMF? How to re-regulate direct investments or short-term capital flows? Some of the actors have been trying to build transnational civic public spaces to politicise neoliberalism and to find alternative ways of governing global political economy. The question is: to what extent do these regional, trans-regional and global aspirations accord with, or deviate from, the ideal model of cosmopolitan democracy? To what extent is concordance or discordance normatively significant? We will conclude this paper by summarising the implications of our study to the model of cosmopolitan democracy.

Any transformative actors must take into account the asymmetric power relations in the global political economy. Hence, at least at first sight, it seems to us that the notion of cosmopolitan democracy bears the promise of unifying different more concrete and substantial struggles, by providing a potential framework of fair procedures for political struggles. Although we are convinced that there is no such thing as a neutral procedure, it is hard to imagine — and many cases we have also discussed this explicitly — that more than a handful (if any) of the Mercosur actors responding critically to globalisation, would oppose the abstract principles of cosmopolitan democracy. These principles include 137 :

However, at the level of more concrete priorities and visions, there are a number of significant differences. Held's short-term objectives are concerned, first and foremost, with democratising the UN, enhancing the democratic international jurisdiction, and establishing an effective, accountable, international, military force, although they include also "introduction of strict limits to private ownership of key "public-shaping institutions" and "provision of resources to those in the most vulnerable social positions to defend and articulate their interests" 138 . In other words, his approach to global governance is rather legalistic, in the manner of traditional Idealist international political theory. This does not accord with the short-term priorities of post-national democratic actors in the Mercosur region. They are more concerned with curbing environmental destruction in a given area by whatever non-violent means; changing the principles of regional integration (upwards harmonisation of the standards for investment, anti-trust regulations, social commitment, the environment, and intellectual property) 139 ; increasing national autonomy by relieving debt; curbing global financial markets by the Tobin tax; and transforming the structures and powers of the Bretton Woods institutions.

This may not be only a matter of the most urgent priorities. From the point of view of many actors in the Mercosur region, the international law or the rules of the IMF may already be much too strict and powerful. Enhancing international law and sanction mechanisms under these conditions would appear repressive. Moreover, the exclusionary effects of power of the model appear to be a problem also in this context. One of the emergent, urgent issues seems to be the Tobin tax, which would also yield huge revenues for the global community, also possibly allocating resources to those in the most vulnerable social positions to defend and articulate their interests. But it would be impossible — or at least unwise — to try to create a system of currency transaction tax without including the non-democratic states, such as Bahrain, Singapore or China. More imaginative solutions are needed to tackle these problems. 140

The cultural euro-centrism implicit in the model of cosmopolitan democracy does not, however, seem to be a problem in the Mercosur context. Argentines and Uruguayans, in particular, often identify themselves with Europe, and so do many Brazilians (along with the primary identification with their nation and, more complexly, Latin America). It is not only that the EU is often represented as a positive model of existing possibilities. At least the people we encountered never raised the euro-centrism of global democracy as an issue. It was more common to find a longing for new examples and ideas from Europe, often in opposition to the hegemonic ideas of the Washington consensus.


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Robertson, Roland and Frank Lechner (1985), 'Modernization, Globalization and the Problem of Culture in World System Theory'. Theory, Culture & Society 2:3, 103—118.

Robertson, Roland and JoAnn Chirico (1985), 'Humanity, Globalization and Worldwide Religious Resurgence: A Theoretical Exploration'. Sociological Analysis 46:??, 219—242.

Sanchez Bajo, Claudia (1999). 'The European Union and Mercosur: A Case of Inter-Regionalism'. Third World Quarterly. Vol 20, No 5. 927—941.

Saward, Michael (1999), 'A Critique of Held', in Barry Holden (1999) (ed.) Global Democracy. Key Debates, London: Routledge. 32—46.

Schlesinger, Sergio (1998). 'Síntesis subregional del Mercosur', in Participación de la sociedad civil en los procesos de integración. Montevideo: ALOP-CEFIR-CLAEH. 371—394.

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Strömberg, Tommy (1998). Did Regional Integration Save Democracy in Paraguay? An Analysis of Changing Levels of Governance. MFS-reports 1998:2. Department of Economic History, Uppsala University.

Teivainen, Teivo (2000). Enter Economy, Exit Politics: Transnational Politics of Economism and Limits to Democracy in Peru. Acta Politica No 11. Department of Political Science: University of Helsinki.

Teivainen, Teivo (1999). 'Globalization of Economic Surveillance'. Passages: Journal of Transnational and Transcultural Studies 1. 84—116.

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Travalloni, Elisa (1999). 'Exercício da cidadania cresce com a Rede', Journal do Brasil 17.12.1999. (17.12.1999).

Ulshoefer, Petra. 'El Mercosur y los desafíos para la integración y participación de la mujer en el mundo de trabajo'. In (30.11.1999)

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Vacs, Aldo C. (1998). 'Between Restructuring and Impasse. Liberal Democracy, Exclusionary Policy Making, and Neoliberal Programs in Argentina and Uruguay', in Kurt von Mettenheim and James Malloy (eds.) Deepening Democracy in Latin America. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. 137—172.

Vargas, Virginia (1999). 'Los feminismos latinoamericanos construyendo los espacios transnacionales: la experiencia de Beijing (reflexiones en proceso).' The Global Solidarity Site: Analysis, Theory, Strategy. (16.12.1999)

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List of Interviews (partial)

Juan De Wandelaer, SERPAJ, 8.4.1999, Buenos Aires

Beverley Keene, SERPAJ, 8.4.1999, Buenos Aires

Eduardo Menajovsky, CTA, Buenos Aires

Daniel Carbonetto, MTA, 30.4.1999, Buenos Aires

Víctor Morón, Economista, Centro de Estudios Socioeconómkicos y Sindicales, Buenos Aires, 30.4.1999

Gonzalo Paz, Investigador, Consejo Argentino para las Relaciones Internacionales (CARI), 11.4.1999, Buenos Aires

María Elena Bosch, Comisión Sectorial para el Mercosur, 13.4.1999, Montevideo.

Eduardo Fernández, Secretario de Relaciones Exteriores, PIT-CNT; Presidente, Asociación de Bancarios del Uruguay, 13.4.1999, Montevideo

Patricia Garcé. Secretaria Ejecutiva, Instituto del Tercer Mundo, 13.4.1999, Montevideo

Juliana Martínez, CIESU 13.4.1999, Montevideo

Fernando Filgueira, CIESU, 13.4.1999, Montevideo

Bruno Podestá, Coordinador, CEFIR, Montevideo, 13.4.1999, Montevideo

Pedro Parra Gaona, Secretario General Adjunto, Central Nacional de Trabajadores (CNT), 14.4.1999, Asunción

Juan Carlos Yusti, SERPAJ-Paraguay, 15.4.1999, Asunción

Marcelo Ibañez, Jovenes en Vigilia Permanente por la Democracia, 14.4.1999, Asunción

Luis Alberto Mauro, Senador de la Nación, 15.4.1999, Asunción

Flavio Luiz Schieck Valente, Global Forum on Sustainable Food and Nutritional Security, 16.4.1999, Brasilia

Flavio Camargo Schuch, Associação para Projetos de Combate à Fome (AGORA), 16.4.1999, Brasilia

Wellington Almeida, 16.4.1999, Brasilia

Luis Antonio Pasquetti, Coordinador do Setor de Planejamento e Projetos, MST, 17.4.1999, Brasilia

Various other MST activists

Atila Roque, Associação Brasileira de Organizações Não Governamentais (ABONG), 26.4.1999, Rio de Janeiro

Cândido Grzybowski, Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Sociais e Econômicas (IBASE), 26.4.1999, Rio de Janeiro



Note 1: See Held 1991; 1995; and Archibugi & Held 1995; Archibugi, Held & Köhler 1998; McGrew 1997; Holden 1999. Back.

Note 2: However, in passing, Held 1995, 113, does compare the conditions of Europe and the rest of the world: "Although the challenge to national sovereignty has perhaps been more clearly debated within the countries of the European Union than in any region of the world, sovereignty and autonomy are under severe pressure in many places". On the EU as an ideal, see also Archibugi 1998, 220 Back.

Note 3: Held 1997. Back.

Note 4: See e.g. the following post-colonial and post-structural texts urging for more pluralistic perspectives: Todorov 1984; Connolly 1989; Chan 1993; the demand for context-sensitive pluralism should be read also as a methodological guideline for all social-scientific research. Back.

Note 5: For the processual notion of democratic emancipation towards "universal human autonomy", see Bhaskar 1986, 169—223; Bhaskar 1993, 258—270; Bhaskar 1994, 141—160; for critical remarks and sympatethic amendments, see Patomäki 1992; Collier 1994, 169—204; cf. Patomäki & Wight 2000. Back.

Note 6: Saward 1999 emphasises that the model of cosmopolitan democracy is only a particular democratic common structure and tends to take us from state territoriality to multiple territoriality. By also considering more temporary and functionalist arrangements, he (ibid., 44) argues that "the menu of possibilities is larger, with more nuances" than in Held's model of cosmopolitan democracy. Back.

Note 7: See Patomäki 2000, 178—183. Back.

Note 8: We visited Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Asunción, Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro in April 1999, revisiting Buenos Aires in early May 1999. In addition to collecting documents and published material, we met people representing NGOs, social movements, labour unions, parties and bodies of Mercosur, and made some 30 formal interviews. We also participated in political events such as the traditional weekly demonstration of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires (as observers) and the Tribunal da Dívida Externa, a transnational debt tribunal, in Rio de Janeiro 28—29 April 1999 (as participants, representing the Network Institute for Global Democratization). Back.

Note 9: Our paper will be translated into Spanish, and is also intended to be a contribution to the discussions within the Mercosur region. Back.

Note 10: See Robertson & Chirico 1985; Robertson & Lehner 1985. Back.

Note 11: Robertson's well known definitions of globalisation as (i) the unification of the world, also in terms of conceptions of individuals and humankind (1990, 21—28), and as (ii) the "compression of the world into a single place" (1992, 6) tune well with the long-tradition of cosmopolitanism, but tend to confuse globalism as an idea (or ideology) and globalisation as a complex, non-teleological social process. Back.

Note 12: Popular articulations of this belief include Ohmae 1990. Similar deterministic picture of the new world of "network society" has been canvassed, although in a much more systematic and nuanced fashion, by the pseudo-Marxist neoliberal sociologist Manuel Castells; see Castells 1996, 1997, 1998. Back.

Note 13: See Gill 1990. Back.

Note 14: Bauman 1998. The notion of 'absentee lordhip' is discussed on pages 3 and 10. Back.

Note 15: UNDP 1999, Table 4, 146. Back.

Note 16: This approach to social spatiality is inspired by Harvey 1990, 211—225. Back.

Note 17: Sometimes these inclinations conflict. In Brazil, state protects national movie and TV production. Back.

Note 18: Rousseau, in particular, emphasised this point; see Held 1996, 55—62. Back.

Note 19: For a critical discussion of the relations between capitalism and the emergence and development of democracy, see Dryzek 1996, 24—31. Back.

Note 20: On the basis of various historical experiences, including those of the 1930s, many Political Realists ridiculed this belief so central to various forms of political liberalism; see e.g. Morgenthau 1946, 41—74. Back.

Note 21: See Esping-Andersen 1990. Back.

Note 22: Rawls 1973, 221. Back.

Note 23: Ibid., 226. Back.

Note 24: Ibid., 228. Back.

Note 25: See Unger 1987; and Unger 1998. Back.

Note 26: Boron 1995, 13. Back.

Note 27: See ibid., 63—65. From this perspective, there is nothing surprising in that Margaret Thatcher decided to defend publicly the case of former Chilean dictator and life-long Senator Augusto Pinochet, during his detention in the UK in 1998—2000. Back.

Note 28: In Argentina, as earlier in Brazil, the military governments had to discipline important sectors of capitalists as well, for the nationalist era of industrialisation by import substitution had produced industries dependent on the relatively closed domestic markets and state subsidies. Particularly in the more corrupt or nationalist military regimes of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, this also meant compromises with these interests. Although focussing on the period of democratic transitions, some systematic evidence about business attitudes also earlier can be found in Acuña 1995 (Argentina); Bartell 1995 (Chile and Brazil); and Payne 1995 (Brazil).

Note 29: See Moulian 1997. Back.

Note 30: On the ideological and practical importance of Cuba for some sectors of the Left in the region, see Castañeda 1994. Back.

Note 31: Cohen 1994, 56. Back.

Note 32: Ibid., 68. Back.

Note 33: See the sources referred to in note [28]. Chile was later applauded for its success, although it took two major economic crises and more than twenty years of very high unemployment and impoverishment of large segments of the population before the level of real wage level of 1970 was restored in the early 1990s. Assuming a modest counterfactual 2% annual growth of economy with an alternative path, the cumulative loss of output and real wages might have been some 50% of GDP. Back.

Note 34: Despite this deindustrialisation process, as Ferrer (1997b, 70) points out, Argentina still maintains a relatively strong industrial capacity as compared to other Latin American countries. Back.

Note 35: Arendt 1958, 198. Back.

Note 36: On the policy of disappearances in the region, see e.g. Nunca más: informe de la Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas 1998; Weschler 1990. The number of the disappeared presented in Nunca Más is generally understood — even by the authors of the report — to be much lower than the real figures. Back.

Note 37: For details, see e.g. Panorama social de América Latina 1998, esp. 38, 64 and 66. Back.

Note 38: On Latin American nationalism and continentalism in the early 20th century, see Pakkasvirta 1997. Back.

Note 39: Grzybowski 1998, 12. Back.39

Note 40: The problem with this categorisation is that it already anticipates finding something along the lines of Heldian layered territorial spatialities, and hence may be circular. However, the category of transnational links should be able to overcome some of these limitations, for it opens up the possibility of seeing non-territorial spatial possibilities for post-national politics. Back.

Note 41: Interview with Juan Carlos Yusti. Back.

Note 42: Vilas 1997, 22. Back.

Note 43: UNDP 1999, 39; Table 4, 146; Table 11, 180—181. It is noteworthy that of these four countries, only Brazil has reported systematically the distribution of incomes. Moreover, the Montevideo-based Social Watch argues that even in Brazil, "the national system of social statistics is in a very serious crisis". Estimates of the poor and indigent in Brazil vary between 32 and 72 million people. That is, up to half of the population lives in absolute or relative poverty. See Social Watch 1996, 50—51. Back.

Note 44: Reilly 1995, 14—15. Back.

Note 45: Ibid., 7 and 8. Back.

Note 46: See 'El trueque desde el Río de la Plata'. Back.

Note 47: Interviews with various RGT activists and participants on 10.4.1999 in Buenos Aires and in September 1998 in Helsinki. For more information, see (23.2.2000). Back.

Note 48: See Baierle 1998, 124—134; Grzybowsky 1998, 25. Back.

Note 49: See Edwards, Hulme and Wallace 1999. Back.

Note 50: 'El trueque desde el Río de la Plata'. Back.

Note 51: See Alimonda 1994, 13; Teivainen 2000. Back.

Note 52: See ECLAC statistics at (6.2.2000). Back.

Note 53: Latin American Subaltern Studies Group 1993, 117. Back.

Note 54: Vacs 1998, 162. Back.

Note 55: Interview with Eduardo Fernández. Back.

Note 56: Vacs 1998, 165. Back.

Note 57: Alimonda 1994. Back.

Note 58: See Ermida Uriarte 1999. Back.

Note 59: Grandi & Bizzozero 1998. Back.

Note 60: From this perspective, an important reason for the failure of earlier integration processes in Latin America has been the erection of "complex structures of baroque extravagance, unrelated to the needs of those that actually do the trade". 'A Lopsided Union'. The Economist 12.10.1994. Back.

Note 61: 'Tune the Engine, Strengthen the Bodywork', The Economist 12.10.1994. Back.

Note 62: On the basis of his analysis of the Paraguayan crisis of 1996, Strömberg (1998, 39) argues that a "supranational mentality is forming around Mercosur". Back.

Note 63: As Grandi and Bizzozero (1998, 211) argue, the multiplication of negotiations in the "external front" of Mercosur have implied that negotiations on the "internal" deepening of the integration become less important. Back.

Note 64: See Grandi and Bizzozero 1998, 226. Back.

Note 65: Schlesinger 1998, 385—386. Wellington Almeida (interview) also pointed out that the Brazilian government is more willing to strengthen Mercosur by listening to the civil society after the FTAA plan has become more concrete. Back.

Note 66: Strömberg 1998, 33. Back.

Note 67: This was also the opinion of Luis Alberto Mauro, President of the Human Rights Commission of the Paraguayan Senate and Juan Carlos Yusti, Co-ordinator of SERPAJ-Paraguay. Back.

Note 68: Interview with Marcelo Ibañez; Interview with Juan Carlos Yusti Back.

Note 69: García Moure 1998, 20. Back.

Note 70: Ermida Uriarte 1999; Grandi & Bizzozero 1998, 223; Interview with Eduardo Menajovsky. On the connection between ORIT (associated with International Confederation of Free Trade Unions) and CLAT (associated with the World Confederation of Labor), see Wedin 1991. Back.

Note 71: Conferencia Sindical sobre la dimensión social del Mercosur y de la Unión Europea 1998. Back.

Note 72: Fraschini 1998. Back.

Note 73: The FCES was formally born when the Ouro Preto Protocol was ratified on 15 December 1995. The Protocol established the institutional structure of Mercosur, composed of six principal organs. Three have executive functions, namely the Consejo del Mercado Común, Grupo Mercado Común and Comisión de Comercio. FCES and Comisión Parlamentaria Conjunta have also consultative functions, and the administrative part is taken care by Secretaría Administrativa. Back.

Note 74: Both labour unions and business organisations take part in the work of the Working Subgroup 10. See Podestá 1998 Back.

Note 75: See Padrón 1998, 248. Back.

Note 76: Fraschini 1998, 236. Back.

Note 77: In Uruguay, along with Confederación Uruguaya de Entidades Cooperativas (Cudecoop), Agrupación Universitaria de Uruguay is present in FCES. In Paraguay, Centro de Regulación, Normas, Estudios y Comunicación. In Brazil, Instituto Brasileiro de Defensa del Consumidor. In Argentina, Adelco. See Podestá 1998, 58; Fraschini 1998. Back.

Note 78: Schlesinger 1998, 384. Back.

Note 79: Interview with Pedro Parra; Interview with Bruno Podestá. Back.

Note 80: Ermida Uriarte 1999. Back.

Note 81: Podestá 1998, 57. Back.

Note 82: Podestá 1998, 57. Back.

Note 83: Vilas 1997, 31—32. Back.

Note 84: Murillo 1997; also interview with Juan de Wandelaer.

Note 85: See e.g. Padrón 1998, 251. Back.

Note 86: For Furtado (1999,78—79), MST is the only new Brazilian social force with great mobilisation capacity. Back.

Note 87: Interview with Luiz Antonio Pasquetti; Interview with Hélio Madalena, PT. Back.

Note 88: Interview with Luiz Antonio Pasquetti. Back.

Note 89: Pakkasvirta & Teivainen 1997; Castañeda 1994, 279—280. Back.

Note 90: Edwards, Hulme and Wallace 1999. Back.

Note 91: As the Latin American Subaltern Studies Group (1993, 116) notes, "the signifier Latin American now refers also to significant social forces within the United States". Back.

Note 92: See especially Vargas 1999. Back.

Note 93: Internationally, this also established the earliest "official" definition of the term "violence against women". Keck and Sikkink 1998, 172. Back.

Note 94: See Ulshoefer 1999. Back.

Note 95: See e.g. Jelin, Valdés & Bareiro 1999. Back.

Note 96: Interview with Juan De Wandelaer. Back.

Note 97: For details, see Mariano 1998. Back.

Note 98: A "Mercosur of Terror" was functioning long before the Asunción Treaty was signed. Even though the region is in many ways different from the period of large-scale human right violations of 1970—80s', in their struggle against impunity human rights groups have pointed out a new dimension of the emerging regional identities. Interview with Juan De Wandelaer. See also 'L'affaire Condor rattrape les caudillos', Libération 2.11.1999, 2—3. Back.

Note 99: See 'Los ecologistas y la hidrovía'; Schlesinger 1998, 391. Eduardo Menajovsky (Interview), however, noted that the trade unions have not been able to find common ground for regional action in environmental matters. Back.

Note 100: Interview with Eduardo Fernández. Back.

Note 101: Sanchez Bajo 1999, 937. Back.

Note 102: On Latin American continentalism, see Pakkasvirta 1997. Back.

Note 103: It should be noted that in Spanish its name implies that it is a community with separate nations. The plans to establish such a community are generally silent about what it might imply for national sovereignty of these nations. See e.g. Declaración de México. Back.

Note 104: See 'Crear la Comunidad Latinoamericana de Naciones, uno de los Objetivos del G-Río en Cochabamba'; and Declaración de la II Cumbre Social Latinoamericana 1998. Back.

Note 105: Declaración de la II Cumbre Social Latinoamericana 1998. Back.

Note 106: 'Emerge el Mercosur Social'. Back.

Note 107: Máspero 1998, 10. Back.

Note 108: Resolución sobre la Comunidad Latinoamericana de Naciones. See also Marini (1994) on the need for the construction of a supranational state in Latin America. Back.

Note 109: Against this, one could note that from the very beginning, Andean integration has been more of a negative model to be avoided for many of the designers of Mercosur. As Bruno Podestá (interview) stated it, Mercosur people tend to say "look at the Andean Community, we do not want to go that way". Back.

Note 110: Interview. Back.

Note 111: Uzal 1998, 101. Back.

Note 112: Interview with Bruno Podestá. Back.

Note 113: Padrón 1998. Back.

Note 114: Máspero 1998, 15. Back.

Note 115: Arielism, named after José Enrique Rodó's book Ariel (1900), refers, roughly, to such Latin American anti-imperialism that at the same time values the hispanic tradition. See Pakkasvirta 1997, 82—83. Back.

Note 116: Sanchez Bajo 1999, 929. Back.

Note 117: See Hagopian 1998, 127. Back.

Note 118: Interview with Wellington Almeida. Back.

Note 119: 'A Lopsided Union'. The Economist 12.10.1994. Back.

Note 120: Somewhat paradoxically, transnational corporations engaging in at least potentially harmful activities in the same area have been treated with much more understanding by the government. See Paul 1996. Back.

Note 121: According to Atila Roque, the news first got from Acre to activists in Rio de Janeiro, and then onwards to transnational networks. See Travalloni 1999. Back.

Note 122: Lins Ribeiro 1998, 339. Back.

Note 123: In Uruguay, the figure was 5.02 Internet hosts per 1000 people, by far the best national rating in all Latin America. Argentina's figure was 1.75; that of Brazil 1.04; and in Paraguay a mere 0.15. See UNDP 1999, Table A1.3, 53 Back.

Note 124: Interview with Juan De Wandelaer. Back.

Note 125: Interview with Beverley Keene and Oscar Ugarteche. Back.

Note 126: Interview with Juan Carlos Yusti. Back.

Note 127: See e.g. Arruda 1999; Teivainen 1999. Back.

Note 128: It should be noted that from the World Bank's perspective, the Tequila Effect was in many ways positive, because, as Carrizoza et al (1996) argue, the "Argentine banking crisis accelerated a long overdue trend toward consolidation of the banking sector". However, an almost as orthodox an economic thinker, Paul Krugman 1999, 54, argued that it was a close call: "The country's banks moved quickly to the edge of collapse and threatened to bring the rest of the economy down with them". Back.

Note 129: On some of the campaigns, see Arruda 1998. Back.

Note 130: Grzybowski 1998, 29. Back.

Note 131: Interview with Marcos Arruda. Back.

Note 132: See various related documents in (10.2.2000). Back.

Note 133: For example, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST), Conferencia Nacional dos Bispos do Brasil (CNBB), Conselho Nacional de Igrejas Cristãs (CONIC), Central de Movimentos Populares (CMP) and Cáritas. Back.

Note 134: Campaigners on transnational financial matters have, in the words of a Brazilian food-security activist, won some struggles, such as the one related to MAI, "by default", but there are "no real victories". Interview with Flavio Valente. Back.

Note 135: According to Castañeda (1994, 313—318), the European integration process is "an example for Latin America" and Mercosur is an initiative that the left should "not only support but take the lead in promoting and strengthening". Back.

Note 136: Interview with Eduardo Menajovsky. Back.

Note 137: Held 1995, 270—273. Back.

Note 138: Ibid., 279—280. Back.

Note 139: See Jonas and McCaughan 1994; Marini 1994. Back.

Note 140: Patomäki 1999, 79—87, makes a proposal for a Tobin Tax Organisation (TTO) that would not exclude non-democratic states, although the structure of the TTO itself would be more democratic than any of the existing international organisations, and although the second pillar of the system, the House of Democracy, would be reserved to pluralistic, democratic actors only (part of this work is being translated into Portuguese). For a more thorough discussion, see Patomäki 2000. Back.