Mexico Still Awaiting the Good Times

Social Doctrine Institute Official Views G-8 Summit

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MEXICO CITY, JULY 26, 2001 (ZENIT.orgFides).- In the wake of the Genoa G-8 summit, Manuel Gómez Granados, president of the Mexican Institute of Catholic Social Doctrine in Mexico City, analyzed the summit´s sessions from the perspective of his own, heavily indebted country.

–Q: How do Mexicans see the G-8?

–Gómez: In Mexico there is an attitude of complete indifference to the G-8 summit, especially with regard to the lack of information both on the part of the government and public opinion. All we hear about is the increasing opposition by anti-G-8 demonstrators and their frequent use of violence.

In Mexico we are more interested in what is being done by Colombia and Venezuela, with which we form a G-3, similar to the G-8. However, for a country like Mexico, the priority is to establish agreements for free trade and closer contact with the G-8 nations, achieved above all through the European Union and the North America Free Trade Agreement.

–Q: What do you think of the G-8 viewpoint?

–Gómez: The G-8 must stop thinking that after the collapse of socialism, a neo-liberal capitalist system is the only alternative for development. The Pope, too, on his second visit to Mexico, stressed the need to “make a critical judgment of the effects produced by capitalism in so-called Third World countries.”

Since the government led by Luis Echevarría (1970-1976), Mexico´s first president to sign an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, up to today, there has been no improvement in the national economy; on the contrary, it has deteriorated.

Mexico´s international debt has increased by 500% and today it is $150 billion, 33% of the GNP. Life for many Mexicans suffocates in dire poverty.

–Q: How can the G-8 help to alleviate the situation of international debt?

–Gómez: During these meetings, the G-8 usually cancels part of the international debt owed by the poor countries of the earth. Although the reduction is minimal, this is always a step forward for our country, a lightening of our burden of debt. But what we need is a fair system of paying debts and, also, forms of solidarity among nations.

Mexico´s Catholic bishops have said: “Since the aim of a loan is to treat equally both the giver and the receiver, a payment must be applied in proportion to the payment of both the interest and the capital. […] The sole payment of interest destroys the very reason for, and the moral justification of, the debt generated by the loan, since it tends to subject the debtor to servitude, extending the debt ad infinitum, progressively weakening his ability to pay and seriously lowering the standard of living of the most needy” [see “Mexico´s International Debt,” Mexican bishops´ conference, July 1997].

So far, the Mexican government has only been able to pay the interest on the debt but not the debt as such. What strategies will the G-8 adopt to obtain a radical reduction of the debt?

It should also be recalled that an economic project which lacks the ethical aspect cannot guarantee that its aims will be reached. In his “Centesimus Annus,” the Pope says that the Church does not have economic, political or social models to propose, but only moral guidelines for living in society.

–Q: How is globalization and its influence seen in your country?

–Gómez: In an ever-more globalized world in the economic, political, social and cultural fields, Mexico has not remained on the margin.

Globalization is seen here mainly as an economic phenomenon: the setting of international trade agreements that permit fee exchange of products. Other aspects are forgotten: the right to work, protection of natural resources, protection of the environment.

Also, in Mexico we have no-globalization activists, whom President Zedillo calls “globalfobici.” Yet, there is no strong opposition to the world order, although there is an attempt by the left to ride the “globalfobici” wave. But they were answered by the “globalized leader” of the extreme left, Subcomandante Marcos: “It is not a question of saying no to things, but rather of building different forms of well-being.”

–Q: And the voice of the Church?

–Gómez: In a pastoral letter “From the Encounter with Christ, Solidarity with Everyone,” the bishops of Mexico write: “Economic reforms in Mexico in recent years have had positive results for the macro-economy. Nevertheless, from the point of view of the integral development needed by people and cities, we must admit that there have been serious deficiencies. […]

“So far, globalized economy has brought significant and concrete benefit only to a few individuals and restricted groups. Unless the debt is canceled, there is bound to be an increase in figures regarding extreme poverty in our country and also in the gap between the rich and the poor.”

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