Global Experience Shows Cha-Cha Pushed by U.S., Corporate Interests

Mar. 26, 2006

MANILA — Contrary to the propaganda of the countrys economic managers, charter change or Cha-cha is not a solution to the countrys economic problems. Rather, Cha-cha is part of an economic restructuring agenda advanced by the US and other rich countries to open the country further to exploitation by their transnational corporations (TNCs). This is shown by the experience of other countries undertaking US-promoted charter changes, according to independent think-tank Ibon Foundation.

The neoliberal agenda for charter change is clearly reflected in the US-imposed constitutions of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the US-encouraged drastic overhaul of some 25 erstwhile socialist constitutions of former Soviet bloc countries in Central Asia and Central and Eastern Europe. Neoliberal reforms involve removing restrictions on the movement of foreign capital and goods, easing of government regulatory power and the privatization of state-delivered services, in order to create new profit opportunities for transnational corporations and financial institutions.

In Iraq, for example, the US-led coalition provisional authority (CPA) issued a whole series of laws opening the country to private investors in blatant violation of international laws. The CPA also privatized 200 state-owned firms, which produced everything from cement to paper to washing machines, throwing thousands of state employees out of work.

When Iraqi politicians resisted privatization of Iraqs state-owned companies, the US appointed an interim government that would be bound by an interim constitution which protected the US-supported investment and privatization laws.

Across Latin America and the Caribbean, constitutional public controls over trade, investment and the national patrimony were rolled back and key economic sectors were denationalized. In Africa, the globalizing presence of stabilization and structural adjustment programs of the US-dominated International Monetary Fund and World Bank reined in the nationalist stridency of post-independence constitutions.

Among the Constitutional provisions that the Arroyo government proposes to be changed or removed entirely are those involving the countrys economic sovereignty, such as provisions restricting foreign ownership in vital sectors such as mining and media, and allowing foreign ownership of land.

According to Ibon, any changes in the charter should be undertaken in the context of better meeting the peoples needs, rather than the interests of foreign corporations and their local allies. (Ibon)

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