International Information Programs
February 8, 2005

February 8, 2005





**  Editorials reveal a positive sea change in attitudes towards globalization. 

**  Outlets remain skeptical over Western intentions but praise rhetoric to combat poverty.  

**  Global events overshadow core Davos agenda.

**  Davos seen as more credible than Porto Alegre counter summit




Globalization has 'brought inestimable benefits'--  Austria's centrist Die Presse proposed that even "aggressive proponents of anti-globalization" must "acknowledge the world is in reality not suffering from too much globalization but too little."  Commentators added it "does not matter" that the "sudden outburst of concern by the wealthy first world" is "largely motivated by self-interest," but bemoaned that "there is still a long way to go before...positive sentiment translates into concrete steps."  Various papers attached this caveat to European initiatives: 

"without the United States, nothing goes."


Leftist outlets question 'new liberal world order' motives--  Dailies called Western anti-poverty initiatives a way to "to ease their conscience".  Italy's left-leaning La Repubblica described the Europeans' "sudden generosity toward the southern hemisphere" as "suspect."  Cuba's official Havana Radio added that "Western media" are not really interested in reporting on an "end to the payment of the foreign debt", "distribution of land to farmers", and "protection of the indigenous communities in the Third World."  Conversely, Euro commentators applauded French President Chirac's "innovative and thought-provoking solution to the problem of raising funds for development" and relief of "the silent tsunamis" of poverty and disease.


Davos used as a soapbox--  Various papers stressed other global issues raised at Davos.  Russia's government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta opined that PA President Abbas' visit to Davos proved "he is aware of the importance of the international arena in countering terror and building an economic basis for a future Palestinian state."  Numerous Euro editorials used the Davos summit to discuss the state of transatlantic relations.  South Korea's independent Joong-Ang Ilbo mentioned Seoul's official invitation to the North to "join the APEC meeting in Busan this November" so that "all the members of the Six-Party Talks will be gathered together in one place." 


Davos triumphant over rival Porto Alegre--  Latin papers dismissed the "semi-parodied counterfeit" Porto Alegre conference, noting that even its strongest promoters instead attended the "great celebration of global and wild capitalism in Davos."  Brazilian commentators said "Davos won, and won big" and downgraded Porto Alegre to an "ideological Disneyland" that provided no "useful results."  While left-leaning Latin leaders risked "leaving some old comrades disgruntled" by going to Davos, outlets ruefully emphasized that they must turn to the "political and economic elite" at Davos to attract "investors that can put money" into their countries.


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, rmrmail@state,gov


EDITOR:  Patricio Asfura-Heim


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 37 reports from 18 countries over 26 January - 7 February 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Chirac Offers Solutions To 'Silent Tsunamis'"


The left-of-center Guardian opined (1/28):  "In his speech to the World Economic Forum, Mr Chirac spoke movingly of the 'silent tsunamis' of famine, disease and violence that regularly strike the developing world....  Chirac has promoted an innovative and thought-provoking solution to the problem of raising funds for development, which deserves to be studied and supported by the international community....  The Chirac plan begins from the basis that the amounts being called for, while large in their own right, are small in comparison with the sums generated by the global economy....  Chirac laid out ideas that sprang from his Landau commission, which suggested international taxes or levies on a variety of cross-border activities.....  Chirac offered two other possibilities: that the levy could be used to punish tax and bank havens, by placing it on flows of foreign capital moving across their shores. The second, just as ambitious, was a proposal to tax aviation and shipping fuel....  The idea of a global tax is controversial, and it is heartening that both Gordon Brown and Tony Blair have expressed support for the idea....  Their response was as heartening, in fact, as Mr Chirac's own expression of support for the international finance facility put forward by Britain as a means of front-loading international aid contributions....  This, like Mr Chirac's scheme, is encouraging.  It is a world away from the 'free trade fixes everything' nostrum that was once the status quo."


"Davos Man To The Rescue"


Anatole Kaletsky stated in the conservative Times (1/27):  "Tony Blair's...eloquence and his dishonesty; his energy and his lack of focus; his passion for justice and his adulation of wealth and power....  His enthusiasm for combating global evils...climate change and African diseases were the featured items on last night's only exceeded by his naivety in believing that solutions can be found by creating a consensus among people of goodwill.  In all these respects, Mr Blair exactly resembles the vast majority of the global power elite who gather at Davos each year....  Consider global warming....  Blair had nothing concrete to say yesterday about how he hopes to prevent climate change and what he might do to persuade the U.S. to join in the global effort....  Bur far more serious than his sins of rhetorical omission are the actions he has already taken or failed to take on this issue in his eight years as Prime Minister....  Most importantly, Mr Blair revealed the shallowness of his interest in global co-operation by failing to exploit the position of influence he briefly enjoyed in Washington as a result of the Iraq war. Mr Blair could, and should, have made his support in Iraq conditional on a more internationally co-operative attitude from the Bush Administration; a softening of US obstinate opposition to international action on climate change could have been the perfect symbol for such a change....  But Mr Blair failed even to contemplate any such action.  In sum, at Davos last night the Prime Minister epitomised Blairism: the confusion of rhetoric with reality; the substitution of words for actions, and of good intentions for good deeds."


FRANCE:  "World Forum On Sustainable Development:  Between Davos And Porto Alegre"


Emile H. Malet and Thierry Naudin commented in the monthly Paris Defense Nationale (1/15):  In regards to the Davos conference, "this is a matter of picking up the challenge of 'civilizing' globalization by gathering together the major protagonists of development each year and inviting them to think about the future of the next generations by combining equity, efficiency and the ethics of solidarity."


GERMANY:  "Leap In The Dark"


Gerhard Dilger judged in leftist Die Tageszeitung (2/1):  "At the right time, the World Social Forum sent the right signals.  By focusing on certain issues, by voting on several campaigns, and by deciding to split the annual meeting in 2006 and organize it on three or four continents, the global citizens movement succeeded in getting out of the defensive.  Even Chancellor Schroeder and President Chirac' surprising commitment in favor of the Tobin tax is a success of Attac & Co.  It is no coincidence that the prominent leaders, who had gathered in Davos, wanted to excel leach other with symbolic statements and humanitarian gestures.  It is still true that the hegemony of the neo-liberal world order is still unbroken, but at the level of debates, the state leaders of the West are still under pressure to legitimize [their actions]."


"Eyes On Africa"


Nikolaus Piper asserted in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung (1/31):  "It is important that the public in the industrialized world realizes that helping Africa is in its own interest.  Africans cannot resolve their problems themselves.  If one ignores them, the continent will export its problems, for instance terrorists....  The most difficult part is the correct spending of the money.  Some well-meaning people in the West still believe that Africa is a victim of globalization.  Indeed, Africa is a victim in particular because it cannot participate in the globalization due to corrupt leaders of potentially rich countries, the lack of property rights, and the devastating effects of civil wars.  As a result, development aid in the past often had no effect or was even counterproductive." 


"Errors Of Development Aid"


Roger Koeppel commented in right-of-center Die Welt (1/31):  "Former President Clinton's claim that there is no corruption in Africa and his demand to send more money there were enthusiastically applauded.  No one disturbed the service when Nigerian leader Obasanjo called upon the West to fund billions of development aid for Nigeria, although his country has massive oil resources.  Who benefits from such calls?  Since the tsunamis in South East Asia more and more concerned politicians said they want to set up accounts for the developing world.  Their calls are heard, but the rhetoric of solidarity obscures the problems.  The poor countries in Africa are not sick because of a shortage of development aid.  Subsidies have been poured into the continent for decades.  The figures are well above the money Europe enjoyed after World War II.  No other region in the world has been given more money and has used it so badly.  Africa remains subjugated by conflicts and governments that blame the West for domestic problems."


"Stick By One's Word"


Moritz Döbler opined in centrist Der Tagesspiegel (1/28):  "Only one third of the global population benefits from a globalized economy.  A privileged minority in the world of uncertainty is dangerous, morally reprehensible, and nonsense as far as the economy is concerned.  These ideas are not new but the fact that French President Chirac presents them in a passionate way at the Global Economic Forum in Davos is new and makes the world prick up its ears....  And he made concrete suggestions:  He wants to spend three percent of global economic growth, about 50 billion dollars, for the fight against 'quiet tsunamis,' that's what he called poverty, epidemics and civil wars....  As a first measure he plans to impose a tax on financial transactions to collect ten billion dollars a year....  But this initiative of the 'old' European will hardly meet with applause in Washington, which is underrepresented in Davos this year.  And without the United States, nothing goes.  Nevertheless, Chirac's suggestions could mark a turning point.  They are based not only on a sense for justice, but for the industrialized world, the issue is also to maintain its influence, for the leading industrialized nations....  In Davos, debates no longer mainly focus on shareholder value but on justice and this is a right development."


ITALY:  "Blair:  America Opens To Dialogue"


Ugo Tramballi said in business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (1/27):  “In Davos, Tony Blair laid out the objectives of the upcoming British G-8 presidency....  While Chirac kept his remarks to AIDS and poverty, Blair placed the issue on a wider political scale...half of his speech was dedicated to George Bush’s America.  Blair said that there is a risk that the international community could take individual initiatives on the environment....  Obviously, Great Britain is once again acting as a bridge between the two sides of the Atlantic....  The U.S. Administration is even more hostile to the costs involved in reducing gas emissions than it is to strategies to curb global poverty.  But Blair, who is aware of this, manages to put together different, practically conflicting pieces of the puzzle.”


"And Blair Sides With Elysee"


Federico Rampini wrote in left-leaning influential La Repubblica (1/27):  "Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair are speaking the same language, they are challenging the U.S.' vision of the world, and they are imparting a fresh thrust to dialogue with the planet's southern hemisphere and to the struggle against poverty.  France and the UK are drawing a picture of what Europe could become, a soft power committed to forging a consensus for a fairer world....  Chirac countered Bush's crusade to export freedom in the world with his idea of taxing the movement of capital in order to fund the struggle against AIDS....  Chirac has responded by launching a controversial idea:  a tax on international financial transactions, or else a tax on fuel for air and naval transport, or finally, a $1 tax on every airline ticket sold in the world....  Blair, too, offered an alternative....  He urged Bush to make a commitment to the struggle against poverty....  Neither Chirac nor Blair could have chosen issues more distasteful to Bush....  Paris and London had not found themselves on the same side of the fence toward US policy for some time.  This alone would be enough for us to consider Davos 2005 an event worthy of note....  The Europeans' sudden generosity toward the southern hemisphere countries is suspect....  But what happened in Davos with Chirac's and Blair's speeches hints at one thing at least:  Europe's politicians have realized that their national grass roots are ready to reward those who invest not in war but in peace, in the struggle against poverty and disease.   Now there is an answer for those who are trying to discover what Europe's identity is today."


RUSSIA:  "Abbas Needs Support" 


Zakhar Gel'man filed in Rossiyskaya Gazeta (1/31):  "No doubt, without international support, the newly elected Palestinian leader will not achieve his main goal of an independent Palestinian state.  After Yasser Arafat, the situation has change drastically.  Homegrown terrorists have replaced Israel as the chief force confronting the Palestinian authorities.  The Mahmoud Abbas visits to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Jordan, Egypt and Moscow show that he is aware of the importance of the international arena in countering terror and building an economic basis for a future Palestinian state."


AUSTRIA:  "A Neo-Liberal Nightmare That Improves The World"


Franz Schelhorn noted in centrist Die Presse (1/28):  "There are many indications that globalization is one of the greatest promoters of prosperity that humankind has seen so far....  With the opening of the markets, not only did the incomes of the poor people rise, but there has also been improvement in the level of education, the health system and life expectancy.  The percentage of people living in extreme poverty has decreased significantly, if not as fast as had been hoped for.   In some regions globalization has even succeeded in narrowing the gap between poor and rich nations - as in the case of the emerging nations of Asia.   Even if the aggressive proponents of the anti-globalization campaign do not want to acknowledge the world is in reality not suffering from too much globalization but too little globalization."


BELGIUM:  "The Forums' Uselessness"


Marc Lambrechts commented in financial L' Echo (1/26):  "Taking advantage of the huge burst of solidarity that followed the tsunami in Asia, it would have been particularly appropriate to merge the Davos and Porto Alegre forums this year into one forum with as only subject solidarity, debt, development, and fight against poverty.  Instead, there will be a social forum that is clearly out of breath and that only exists as an opposition to Davos.  At the latter all kinds of subjects have been put on the agenda: challenges that an enlarged Europe is facing, peace in the Middle East, oil and the dollar, global warming, and many others.  But how about concrete results?  Shouldn't we go beyond these forums in which political leaders, international organizations, and high level managers only participate to ease their conscience....  2005 will, perhaps, be the year of development and of Africa--that is what the British Presidency of the G8 set as a priority.  2005 will perhaps offer an opportunity to call the usefulness of these two

forums into question."


"Between Davos And Porto Alegre, An Ocean Of Poverty"


Philippe Regnier held in center-left Le Soir (1/26):  "Those who gather in Porto Alegre today on the occasion of their annual rout, i.e. the World Social Forum, claim that 'another world is possible'....  When one sees the deadly immobility that characterizes the management of world affairs, one can have doubts about this.  A fair distribution of the globalization's benefits is not for tomorrow.  Of course, the tsunami disaster led to unprecedented solidarity operations.  But at best, these operations  will enable those who survived the tsunami to return to their miserable life....  One only hopes that the tsunami tragedy will have sufficiently caught the world's attention to make 2005 a year of decisions.  There will be plenty of opportunities, with the G8 Summit in July and the UN Summit against Poverty in September. The time to act has come!"


IRELAND:  "An Uncomfortable Time For Americans At Davos"


Denis Staunton asserted in the center-left Irish Times (2/1):  “Washington is dragging its feet on Africa, has refused to sign the Kyoto treaty and remains unconvinced that diplomacy alone can stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability....  Above all, the cultural differences between Europe and America could deepen as Europeans view with alarm the influence of religious conservatives on the Bush administration and grow impatient with what they view as the hijacking of the concept of freedom to justify a dubious U.S. foreign policy.  Despite the transatlantic estrangement evident in Davos, both sides recognize that they need one another if they are to make progress on pressing issues such as Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict....  Europeans are increasingly confident that Washington is preparing to engage more energetically in promoting peace in the Middle East, and Israel's planned withdrawal from Gaza could offer an opportunity for better EU-U.S. co-operation in the region....  Trade relations are generally good, and the level of transatlantic economic integration has never been greater. Perhaps the most promising sign from Davos was that a growing element within the U.S. administration believes that Washington's interest lies in a strong EU with a more coherent common foreign policy....  Paradoxically, the estrangement between the EU and the U.S. could boost popular support for the constitution, particularly in countries where opposition to the invasion of Iraq was fiercest.”


"Davos Anxiety Turns to U.S."


Denis Staunton opined in the center-left Irish Times  (1/31):  "Politicians and business...left with an impression of a deeply divided world facing formidable economic and political risks.  Such pessimism is not unusual after the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, where experts are always on hand to warn authoritatively of doom around the corner. This year was different, however, in that most of the economic anxiety focused on the United States, while Europe was seen as poised for an economic renaissance.....  The Commission president, Mr Jose Manuel Barroso, reinforced the impression that Europe is dealing with its structural problems and taking the steps needed to boost growth. There was little evidence that Washington was taking a similarly proactive approach to its ballooning budget and current account deficits and few visitors to Davos predicted any imminent action to reduce the deficits.  Without any sign of a reduction in the budget deficit, the dollar is expected to fall further, particularly against the euro.  Few members of the U.S. administration were in Davos this year....  Many Americans who did make the journey left with the impression that Europeans had given up on the U.S. for the next four years....  Most American CEOs remained optimistic about their own companies' prospects in 2005, partly because so much of their business is conducted overseas.  Economists are worried, however, that America's overvalued property market and its small household savings ratio could spell trouble if US interest rates rise sharply....  Europe would not be immune from the impact of a U.S. recession but the sheer size of the EU's internal market could limit the damage from an American downturn and an even weaker dollar.”




EGYPT:  "Globalization Is Against The Poor"


Mahmud Mu'awwad maintained in pro-government Al-Ahram (1/27):  "The Davos World Economic Forum embellishes itself by assigning the issue of poverty an advanced place on its agenda....  Quite divorced from the harvest of the forum of the rich, where truly there is no place for the poor, it is regrettable that the issue of poverty has now become the subject of international outbidding and competition....  The slogan of war on poverty has become an issue in the conflict between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown.  While the former has been promoting the issue of poverty during his leadership of the G8 countries this year, the latter has been proposing a Marshall Plan for Africa....  However, it is certain that in view of the suspicious war on terrorism the fountains of goodness and charity have dried up as the well-doers have stopped being charitable in order that they will not be considered terrorists, although history confirms, regardless of the sources, that Arab philanthropists had succeeded in implementing comprehensive humanitarian and social programs that were the pickax that struck all the pillars of poverty in its strongholds in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Balkan states.  Despite the slogans of globalization, after the opening up of international trade, the full opening of borders, and the creation of free markets, the number of poor living on less than two dollars per day is growing, and thus even fair globalization has come out against the poor.  Globalization has failed to provide job opportunities in poor areas....  It ultimately seems that poverty has become a value that is difficult to give up even if it is in return for stopping terrorism."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Dealing With Poverty"


The English-language pro-government Arab News observed (1/28):  "The contrast between the prosperous businessmen and politicians packing the World Economic Forum in the well-heeled Swiss ski resort of Davos every January and the poverty-stricken Third World could hardly be greater....  It is therefore appropriate that in 2005, among the many issues that are being raised the continuing tragedy of poverty, disease and failing investment in the world’s poorest countries has for once taken center stage....  The British are waiting for others to sign up to their radical program rather than making a sweeping unilateral gesture themselves.  It has taken French President Jacques Chirac to make more immediate and obviously positive suggestions to fund the fight against diseases like AIDS....  It does not really matter that this sudden outburst of concern by the wealthy First World is largely motivated by self-interest.  Europe and North America have woken up to two realizations. The first is that unless they better share the world’s wealth, important new markets for the products of their own mature economies will fail to open up. The more important realization however, which Chirac did not seek to hide, is that where there is poverty, despair and ignorance, terrorism and lawlessness will breed.  Thus if the First World fights to end these injustices now, it will save itself the greater effort of later having to fight against the consequences of neglecting them....  Rich countries have regularly pledged mountains to help the world’s poorest people, but in the event they have delivered molehills. This time though, there does seem to be growing acceptance that brave words are no longer enough....  It is meanwhile entirely appropriate that as the rich and powerful meet in Switzerland, a World Social Forum has got under way on the other side of the world in Brazil with the intention of keeping the Davos delegates honest.  It will quite rightly challenge them not only to deliver on their promises to the Third World but to deliver them sensitively and consistently."




JAPAN:  "European Proposals In Davos"


Liberal Mainichi editorialized (2/7):  "At an annual meeting of the World Economic Forum held last week in Davos, Switzerland presented specific plans to combat poverty.  French President Chirac also proposed an international solidarity levy to assist African nations, while British Prime Minister Blair suggested an international finance facility to seek a substantial increase in aid for Africa.  However, the feasibility of such proposals remain questionable because the support of the U.S., the world's largest financial power, is indispensable in establishing any scheme to tax international financial transactions.  Furthermore, the proposals lack details on how to collect such taxes.  Despite such challenges, the European proposals appear to be an important initial step in fighting poverty."


"Roadmap Should Swiftly Be Devised For Final Agreement On Trade Round"


Moderate, top-circulation Yomiuri declared (1/31):  "Trade ministers of the U.S., Japan, Europe and other nations agreed during an informal meeting in Davos, Switzerland Saturday that the proposed WTO trade liberalization talks should be completed by the end of 2006....  If global trade expands based on common rules, it is likely to become a force to help the world economy maintain a self-sustainable level of growth.  We urge WTO members to draw up a concrete roadmap for a final outcome by accelerating liberalization negotiations based on the latest agreement. As a starter, member states must overcome differences in such critical sectors as agriculture....  Amid stalled negotiations over the new trade round, more countries are stepping up efforts to conclude bilateral free trade agreements.  But, if each WTO member seeks FTAs without coordinating them with the trade round, differing trade rules and regulations are likely to emerge, leaving third-party nations out of bilateral schemes.  Such a prospect would be detrimental to further liberalization and facilitation of global trade."


SOUTH KOREA:  "In Davos, An Overture To The North"


Ahn Sung-kyoo and Lee Jung-min commented in independent Joong-Ang Ilbo (1/31):  "Unification Minister Chung Dong-young urged North Korea to send officials to this year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, or APEC, set to take place in Busan this November.....  If North Korea joins the APEC meeting in Busan this November, then all the members of the Six-Party Talks will be gathered together in one place....  South Korea wants to stand on the stage of history along with a North Korea that chooses to give up its nuclear arms programs....  The Six-Party gathering should be able to evolve into a security cooperation framework for the East Asian region."




INDIA:  "Be Hawkish About Davos"


Nationalist Hindustan Times asserted (2/1):  "It's fashionable to critsize Davos;  reverse snobbery works well while targeting a gathering of the rich, the powerful and the famous.  Was the Indian government taking that position?  Whatever the reason, official India's virtual absence at the Swiss resort this year is indefensible.  Governments cannot afford the luxuries of contrarian intellectuals....  It is fair-if politically say that a week in Davos does the country's image more good than weeks in various United Nations talkathons, events our governments never miss....  The audience would have loved to hear from a non-western country that handled its own problem and was the first country to help others (India's aid to Sri Lanka). India's profile would have gone up."


"India Spurns U.S. Offer For 'Elite' Grouping"


The pro-economic reform Delhi-based Business Standard maintained (1/31):  India has rejected offers made by developed countries to create another small group of advanced developing countries for purposes of further negotiations on contentious issues coming up during the ongoing Doha round being conducted by the WTO. The idea, mooted by the U.S. at a WTO mini-ministerial meeting of trade ministers on Saturday, was to have India, Brazil, China and South Africa in this group....  The developed countries also argued that developing countries must recognize that the European Union has agreed to make concessions on various contentious issues in the current trade talks."


"Falling Off The Map"


Shekhar Gupta of centrist The India Express wrote (1/29):  "Most Davos veterans agree that never in the past five to seven years, since India became sexy, has it counted for so little as this time....  The CII team is here in strength, working very hard, but really poorly served by the peremptory way the government in Delhi has treated this year's WE....  But from India, and I say this with due respect to friends Kamal and Kapil, there is nobody that the very busy crowd at Davos has time or keenness to listen to....  Rightly or wrongly, there is a feeling of things having stalled in India, of Indian politics speaking in different voices, of the new government being more inward looking, and so on."


"Get Ready For Davos, 2035"


Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar wrote in the  centrist Times Of India (1/29):  "The world's biggest capitalist get-together, the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, has started this week....  Indians call Kashmir their Switzerland. They can now call Gulmarg their Davos....  Globalization has brought inestimable benefits to the world.  Incomes have doubled or tripled in most developing countries, with China and India becoming high-income countries.  Yet, protectionist pressures continue to block true integration of the world. "




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Positive Davossentiment Should Translate To Concrete Steps"


The conservative Citizen opined (2/01):  "With pop star Bono and the flashy Sharon Stone grabbing the limelight, the World Economic Forum in Davos had something of the flavour of an Oscar party....  The extra publicity, coupled with Britain's campaign for debt relief, raised expectations that this time there really will be a new deal for Africa. Indeed, the Davos momentum carries over to the meeting of G-8 Foreign Ministers in London this week.  Germany, Italy and France now support the UK initiative.  There is even muted backing from low-level US officials. But there is still a long way to go before all this positive sentiment translates into concrete steps that will actually help Africa shed her crippling burden."




ARGENTINA:  "Davos:  The Spoltlight Is On Business In Asia And The Middle East"


Candelaria de la Sota wrote in leading Clarin (1/31):  "For six days, the most important world leaders have discussed in Davos the main problems of the world, the most important of which is poverty.  Economists, political and social leaders and even show-business stars came to this tiny Alpine village to express their commitment in the fight on poverty and misery. Nevertheless, attendants to the World Economic Forum focused little attention on Latin America, a region where poverty abounds and investment is scarce. Currently, business is more focused on Asia and the Middle East...Leaders have agreed that the only Latin American country capturing attention was Brazil... In contrast to Brazil, Argentina was only mentioned due to its debt swap offer...This is why, the Argentine Government preferred to have low profile and only sent Alfredo Chiaradia, secretary of Commercial Relations at the Foreign Ministry, as its sole official representative...The 2,200 global leaders participating in the event defined the six most serious problems for today's world: poverty, distributive equity, climate change, education, the conflict in the Middle East, and world governability."


"Argentina's Absence From Davos"


An editorial in conservative La Prensa read (1/31):  "While a small group of first-level businessmen and economists represented Argentina at the World Economic forum... this was not an adequate opportunity for national government officials to be absent in the most important current world economic event...The three most aggressive leaders who raised their voice against Argentina were:  IMF executive director Anne Kruger, who was never fond of Argentina; a member of the Council of Economic Advisors to the White House, Kristin Forbes, and the head of the Institute of International Finances, Charles Dallara... Forbes did not speak as an economist, but as an advisor to US President George W. Bush, which means that she read from an outdated script because she forgot to refer to the debt swap offer and the intention to crawl out from default, but, anyway, she spoke on behalf of the USG.  This is Washington's current position.  Neither the Argentine Economy Minister nor the Government replied to Forbes, not because they did not know what she said but because now they realize that any reply should have been made from Davos, where they were not present."


"The White House Harshly Criticizes The Argentine Economy"


Martin Kanenguiser commented in daily-of-record La Nacion (1/28):  "A White House consultant criticized Argentina's economic policy, urged the country to implement the reforms called for long-term growth and to adjust public utility rates.  Kristin Forbes, a member of the Council of Economic Consultants to US President George W. Bush said 'If Argentina wants to be completely successful and have a sustained economic recovery, it will have to take the hardest steps and advance on fundamental economic reforms.' On the second working day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Forbes spoke during a 90-minute session in which she analyzed the Argentine crisis....  The White House official urged the Kirchner administration to toughen the fiscal responsibility legislation, promote a new federal revenue co-participation law, and reduce tax evasion and distorting taxes. Forbes told 'La Nacion' that she was speaking 'on behalf of the White House,' not personally. Another lecturer who asked not to be identified, opined that 'The debt swap will not succeed, no matter what its acceptance rate will be...Forbes, who works for US President Bush and together with influential Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, added that the Argentine growth is due 'to the traditional rebound that occurs after a crisis and a favorable global framework.'"


"Investment: Argentina Is A Neglected Emerging Market"


Candelaria de la Sota commented in leading Clarin (1/27):  "During the opening sessions of the 2005 World Economic Forum, business executives from the main world corporations confirmed an open secret in the business world--that this year Brazil will be the star of the encounter. And they did it in a conclusive way....  When analyzing the most attractive emerging markets, experts pointed out Brazil, Mexico, Russia and Turkey, but they made no mention of Argentina....  The marked preference for Brazil should not surprise anyone.  Brazil is the tenth largest economy in the world and is five times the size of Argentina....  Business executives are particularly concerned over the way political changes can affect the future of their corporations."


"Lula, A Special Guest Invited By The Financial Elite In Davos"


Center-right InfoBae stated (1/26):  "The political and economic elite will begin holding sessions at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where it will seek to find urgent solutions to diverse problems, like the economic consequences of the Asian tsunami, poverty in Africa, or the Middle East conflict.  Nonetheless, the WEF will provide an ideal framework for countries like Argentina to capture the attention of developed countries and obtain their support....  Paradoxically enough, Brazilian President Lula, the main promoter of the Social Forum in Porto Alegre, which was created as opposed to the WEF, will be a special guest in the list of heads of State who will participate in the event.  In the attempt to hunt investment, Lula will bring his entire economic team."


BRAZIL:  "Editorial Evaluates Lula Performance At WEF"


Center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo contended (2/1):  "The Brazilian president discovered that Davos is a good environment for hunting for investments and showcasing opportunities for profit.  Well-planned and well-executed investments will increase the revenue of capitalists but will create jobs and income for Brazilian workers and more taxes for the government.  In the face of such possibilities, it is even worth receiving some heckles in Porto Alegre and leaving some old comrades disgruntled. They will never learn."


Effectiveness of Porto Alegre Forum


The lead editorial in center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo asserted (1/28):  "Porto Alegre started as a semi-parodied counterfeit of the World Economic Forum in Davos, each edition of the meeting in the Rio Grande do Sul State capital started gaining an international resonance of greater dimensions, along with a political and intellectual 'glamour' that never represented change, new ideas or transformational impact in the globalized world circuit; even though, in terms of practical results, nothing much different can be said about the meetings in Davos...always marked in the best of cases by well-intentioned wishful thinking with regard to the participation of rich nations in the fight against misery."


"President Lula Attends Davos"


An editorial in center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo said (1/27):  "President Lula again decided to divide himself between the ideological Disneyland of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre and the great celebration of global and wild capitalism in Davos.  Because of his origins and his long tenure as an opposition member, Lula may even feel a special affinity for the people gathered on the banks of the Guaiba River.  As one who governs, he has to think about how to solve problems. Without money there is no investment to sustain the expansion of the economy, the creation of jobs, or an effective fight against poverty.  Davos is where the owners of companies that import from Brazil and the investors that can put money into the country are, apart from the politicians and bureaucrats that negotiate trade and cooperation agreements. Like it or not, it is mainly toward Davos that the Brazilian president ought to turn if he wants to collect useful results for his job."


"Lula Visits Porto Alegre, Davos"


Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo columnist Clovis Rossi wrote (1/26):  "It would be good if some of the personalities in the World Social Forum were to learn a lesson to avoid the triumphalism of thinking that Davos, the counterpoint of Porto Alegre, lost or died.  Taken as a synonym of capitalism, Davos won -- and won big, by the way. The most recent and definitive proof of the victory of Davos over Porto Alegre is in the presence of President Lula in this little town nestled in the Swiss Alps. Before reaching office, Lula criticized Davos and implied that behind the police barriers that protect the participants of the World Economic Forum, and that now protect him too, evil deeds against the poor of the world were plotted. This year, Lula comes here for the second time and brings five of his ministers. Lula was, perhaps, the last hope of Porto Alegre of changing the world when one of its own came to power.  The opposite happened: the world...changed Lula to the point where he risks being heckled in Porto Alegre and cheered in Davos."


CUBA:  "Our Viewpoint"


A commentary by Roberto Morejon of official Havana Radio stated (1/28): "The meeting that breaks all records of assistance of men and women, who oppose neoliberalism, began today in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  The first forum was held in 2003 as a counterpart of the Davos World Economic Forum.  The Porto Alegre forum will once again try to send out its message of struggle against injustices despite the information blockade of the big western media.  The western media is not really interested in reporting on Third World countries are asking for an end to the payment of the foreign debt, distribution of land to farmers, and protection of the indigenous communities in the Third World.  They are also broaching the reaches of the wars of extermination and occupation, such as the one the United States unleashed in Iraq. They are also denouncing the neoliberal system because it creates more poverty even though there is talk of certain macro-economic results.  This Porto Alegre forum broaches various aspects, the land, the social struggles, and human rights.  The forum has returned to its original site until 2004 when it was held in India. It is expected that some 100,000 will attend and participate in this meeting.  This fifth forum is aimed at putting an end to that idea of a merciless free market.  The forum seeks to find mechanisms that will solve the situation in the world.  The participants believe that another world is possible. "


URUGUAY:  "Abdala Criticizes World Economic, Social Forums"


Washington Abdala commented in independent El Observador (2/2):  "The outcome of both meetings was predictable, meaning that the same things are repeated over and over again in them....  The presence of show-business entertainers, such as actresses Angelina Jolie and Sharon Stone, banalized the Davos forum....  The World Social Forum is the same old postmodern complaint which is colorful and naive....  Bipolararities are silly. Nothing is black or white....  Right and left. Davos and Porto Alegre."


"Final Deadline For Free Trade"


In its lead editorial independent El Observador noted (1/31):  "Unlike so many international summits in which wordiness has led to minuscule achievements, the World Economic Forum in Davos was the scenario in which agreements that represent the last chance to save the WTO's Doha round of trade negotiations were reached. In light of the little progress made regarding trade liberalization at the Davos forum, the program agreed upon by 50 countries that attended a meeting called by the WTO taking advantage of these countries' representatives presence in Davos had more practical consequences to liberalize trade given that it establishes reaching preliminary agreements in July to be approved at the WTO ministerial meeting to be held in December."



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