Fernando Fuster-Fabra's Blog

HAITI A YEAR AFTER

January 13, 2011
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Atletas Olímpicos de España / Olympic Athletes from Spain

 

Versión en Español –              http://wp.me/pRlnf-2V


Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.Michael Crichton

After the earthquakes that not only caused tragic death but left many Haitians homeless and hungry several world leaders and international delegations gathered at the U.N. General Assembly to state publicly their support for Haiti’s aid & reconstruction. There was consensus!

A year later, Haiti remains mostly in ruins moreover people have been struck with cholera, remaining as hungry and poor as before. Elections were held but still Haiti is lacking true leadership to fight for its survival amongst the nations that join it in plenary sessions at the U.N. headquarters. Meeting of scoundrels, as Michael Crichton put it?

At the height of the tragedy, one than one flamboyant world leader was in first line to appear in the headlines with his promises. Today, none of these have fulfilled their compromise to support Haiti’s return to a minimum decent life.

Had it not been for the NGOs operating in Haiti, I wonder if the death toll for both the earthquake and the cholera epidemic would have been worse. For them, Haitians do matter. For world leaders, Haiti is only an added burden in their crisis-menaced expenditures.

If the reconstruction was already supposed to take at least a decade, after this obvious indolence in contributing of the wealthier nations, I fear that Haiti will never regain its former level, already then amongst the poorest nations in the world.

Hay we lost all humanity and decency to permit this new ethical blunder?

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona, Spain

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NOBEL’S EMPTY PEACE SEAT

December 11, 2010
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I can forgive Alfred Nobel for having invented dynamite, but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize.

–       George Bernard Shaw

 

 

 

 

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I have come to wonder if the witty Bernard Shaw in saying what he said about the Nobel Prize was right, especially after the 2010 ceremonies.

The empty awardee’s seat at the Oslo Peace Award ceremony dampened the glittering reception of the Nobel Awards in Stockholm and once again demonstrated that this world is guided not by worthy principles intended to be rewarded by the Nobel Prize in its different categories but by vested interests and geo-political strategies.

China has again had its ways over those of the civilized Western world. Neither Liu Xiaobo nor any member of his family was allowed to assist the December 10 ceremony, much less accept the Peace Award from the Norwegian-based jury. In fact, China set up its own version of a so-called ‘peace prize’ awarded precisely the day before. The ‘hissing oriental dragon’ has launched another warning that it is not to be tamed into the fold of the democratic capitalist world so easily.

In a year where international events have not only been dominated by the pervading global economic crisis but likewise tinted with ominous signs of political tensions in various conflictive points around the globe, China has stoutly withstood pressures of the Western democracies for its aperture towards less restrictive policies in its territories.

It is not only its steadfast policy on the renminbi or yuan that confronts China with the USA and its Western allies but also its international support or consent of persistent conflicts with Iran and North Korea. However, some of said allies boycotted the Nobel Awards ceremony to satisfy China, each with different reasons for such support to the Chinese protest for Liu Xiaobo’s Peace Prize.

What is at stake in this rather repulsive situation is the way China can dictate its arrogant will upon some boot-licking trade partners or ideological sympathizers. Moreover, the passiveness of the other larger world powers may grant China a shift of attitude from a hissing dragon to a fire-throwing one.

On this very same weekend, the United Nations’ climate talks are to close at Cancun. There again China will probably be imposing its taciturn stance against anything that represents human rights, freedom or democratic principles.

How long is the free world going to stand for this daily repetition of the Tian’anmen episode of a now more powerful devil-dragon in the economic and geo-political world fronts?

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Independent Observer

Barcelona – Madrid

 


OBAMA’S RETURN TO EUROPE: WHAT IS IN STORE AFTER THE G-20 FLOP?

November 19, 2010
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Sad to say but true, President Obama is not only a questioned leader in the USA but also as a world leader before the eyes of some of his staunch allies, particularly in Europe.

This weekend’s NATO Summit in Lisbon will be the first encounter after the disheartening G-20 performance by the cast of developed & developing nations’ leaders meeting in Seoul. Said summit will be followed by yet another bilateral one between the USA & the EU which may not count with Obama’s presence.

The disheartening results of an ineffective meet such as the one held in Seoul, whereby developed democracies on both sides of the Atlantic succumbed to a subtle Chinese strategy of political abstraction, cannot but have cooled even further already estranged EU-US postures in the economic field. China had its ways at the Seoul summit and as of today has further aggravated economic tensions with the latest communiqué from its central bank by raising its reserve ratio 50 basis points. Furthermore, the Communist Asian superpower has set its protectionist mechanism to curtail foreign investment in Chinese real estate and enterprise as a precautionary measure to avoid speculation.

True to say, the EU’s stance at the G-20 meet wasn’t all that unanimous, with Germany applying pressure on the USA in a similar manner as China but with different tactics. I keep asking myself why both superpowers – the USA on one side and the EU as a whole bloc of 27 state & 500 M population on the opposite side – haven’t yet decided to sit down to draw out a single strategic route for the economic crisis resolution.

The opportunity was missed when the EU-US bilateral summit scheduled in Spain in May was cancelled due to Obama’s overloaded agenda on the home front. Since then, six months have elapsed and the crisis has not only grown in intensity but rather new doubts have been raised as to the best common ground solutions no one seems to venture into.

The NATO encounter will have Afghanistan at the top of the priority list. The US seems more worried about ensuring military backing from the EU partners than solving other issues on hand. Indeed, probably the new common adversary encased in Al Qaeda’s terrorism requires a collective effort in lieu of a defunct ‘cold war’ with the extinct USSR now converted into an ally represented by Russia. Nevertheless, even in this new ‘war against terrorism’, I see a lack of realism in the world leaders’ analysis.

¿Can we forget that China, the emerging superpower with UN veto rights, not only is not a full-pledged democracy but likewise is a traditional sly manipulator of world political tensions in such vital issues as Iran & Korea?

Resolving favourably the Afghanistan issue is yet light years away, if ever a satisfactory solution is feasible on medium term. Yet, NATO members are attending the issue as ‘top priority’ with the presence of a no less insignificant and worthless Karzai. Instead, these nations should be discussing not only a common defence with Russia against ‘international terrorism’ (not only Al Qaeda), which goes from fanatic movements bent on destabilising democracies but also implies ‘economic terrorists’ who are capable of sinking the world into further long-term crises whilst bolstering their unscrupulous enrichment schemes.

While the powerful in economy and the military meet in Lisbon, the Nobel Peace Awards Committee has cancelled this year’s ceremony because China has not allowed the 2010 awardee, Liu Xiaobo, nor any family member, to travel to Oslo; Haiti is plagued by cholera and the population has uprisen in revolt against the UN Blue Helmets; Indonesia suffers from volcano eruptions with death toll rising; the Sahara territory under Moroccan dominion is isolated from the world whilst possible abuses are being committed; More than 30,000 children die each day due to hunger, and malnutrition shortens the life expectations of many thousand more; There are over a billion hungry people in the world today according to FAO’s malnutrition report, with almost 2/3 in Asia (where China & India have the largest populations) and 1/3 in Africa & Latin America.

I could go on to cite numerous such situations, not to mention that poverty has increased even in developed countries (15 M in 2009) the world over.

I wonder how our leaders can meet time and again to discuss economic & military issues and get nothing resolved to the world’s citizenry’s satisfaction in what really counts.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra Fdz.

Observer of Human Behaviour


HAITI & THE WORLD’S FALSE PROMISES

October 25, 2010
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Scarcely nine months after Haiti suffered the earthquake disaster, it appears again in headlines the world over. This time is the outbreak of cholera that is brought to front page.

What really is concerning is the fact that the Haiti earthquake disaster harvested promises expressed in high-sounding phrases before the General Assembly and in other international forums. Today, when Haiti again is news, not only have the promises not been fulfilled but likewise world leaders and organisms have a rather indifferent reaction to the urgent sanitary needs of a stressed Haitian population still living in provisional tents since last January. Only Oxfam seems to have kept acting to bring comfort to the needy in the distressed island. The UN officials have not said a word about their role, which should be a leading one. Nor have the economic organisations linked to the UN seemed to seek the urgency of rebuilding homes and roads in the ruined Caribbean nation. Likewise, the USA and the EU have decelerated the flow of humanitarian aid after the first months of the disaster. Many nations seemed to have returned to their priorities and principal worries, the global economic crisis.

Where are those millions of Dollars & Euros in aid boisterously promised nine months ago? Has part of the aid received been deviated by corrupt officials in charge of the humanitarian actions? Have the countries delivered the sums promised by their respective leaders when the flashes and TC cameras registered their promises?

In any manner, world leaders have failed to fulfil their compromise with the disaster-stricken victims of Haiti. Aloofness and disdain of true world humanitarian affairs is part of the role that most leaders seem to prefer, as a shield from miserable reality. Only the economic crisis keeps them awake at night but snore whilst human beings die of hunger, disease or natural disasters.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona


FROM BILDERBERG CLUB AT SITGES TO G-20 IN BUSAN

June 6, 2010
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version in Spanish –  http://wp.me/pRlnf-10

The tranquil Mediterranean sky over Sitges suddenly was a flurry of helicopter traffic last Thursday afternoon whilst security measures were tightened at the entrance of Can Girona.  The arrival of members and guests of the exclusive five-decade Club at Sitges’ Hotel Dolce coincided in time with the start of the Finance Ministers’ conference 10.000 kilometres in Busan, preparatory to the world leaders meet at the end of June in Canada.

A world in crisis with the elite of the wealthy and powerful in their annual get-together since its first session in the Bilderberg Hotel in Arnhem, the Netherlands in 1954 must talk much more than of the nice sunny weather and the pleasure of Sitges’ excellent golf course. In turn, the Finance Ministers of the developed and developing countries of the world must have sat down to decide which path to take at the June 25-26 leaders’ conference in Toronto.

Coinciding with these economic and political events thousands of miles apart were two Israeli blockade actions in international waters.

The Bilderberg Club, in spite of its discreet holdings and utmost secrecy, seemed to have been fortified its existence with NATO Secretary-Generals from as permanent members. More than a shear economic club, ever since Polish political advisor Jósef Retinger received Netherland’s Prince Bernhard’s backing to his idea, Bilderberg has acted more like a political one. In fact, its first meeting in 1954 was meant to establish closer ties between the leaders of Europe and the United States of America and avoid an anti-American wave in Western Europe. Although never mentioned, one of the issues that has always hovered the European scene since the end of World War II has been the moral and economic reparations of Jewish Nazism victims. At the turn of the tides, with Israel now as an established independent state, what does the club think about Israel’s arrogant stance in the world scene today?

The G-20 Finance Ministers closed their meet yesterday with not even a mention of the deadly effects of Israel’s boarding in international waters of a Gaza-bound six-vessel flotilla, supposedly bearing humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip; a second vessel, the Irish MV Rachel Corrie was likewise hijacked to prevent its arrival at Gaza. Not only did the ministers not decide a common stand on new banking regulations and control but neither did it evaluate the effects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the world’s economy.

The Bilderberg Club seems to have agreed that the crisis is due to last at least another year and surely the G-20 ministers must have talked along the same line. What is indeed worrying is to observe that neither political nor economic world leaders seem to be concerned about the risks of another global conflagration in the crossroads between Sitges and Busan, in Gaza just where Israel is challenging all international authority in its arm-twisting strategy on the Palestinian issue.

How long will such inhuman actions go on in the name of a single state’s security? Can we honestly say that as developed and developing countries belonging to international organisations such as the United Nations all agree that Israel can have its ways in an eye-for-an-eye strategy against Hamas? Who then must speak out for all civilian victims of 20th. Century atrocities? Has Israel forgotten what its people suffered in the Nazi concentration camps? Is a similar action against all Palestinians justifiable and permissible?

Today, I for one, feel ashamed of belonging to our present-day inhuman race.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Sitges


WORLD TRADE & ECONOMY JIGSAW PUZZLE: THE EXPLOSIVE G-2 FORMULA

February 28, 2010
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President Obama’s visit to China last November hastily coined a new economic axis, G-2, in U.S. and international economic circles. The results of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference (https://fernandofusterfabra.wordpress.com/2009/12/20/obama-after-copenhagen/) a few weeks later seemed to confirm closer ties between two world powers with different goals. I for one was totally convinced that the Chinese theatre show would be short lived.

World trade events involving the U.S.A. & China in the last quarter have tensed relations. However, bilateral commercial relations have not been the only point of confrontation that has lit the red-light alert in the growing risk of rupture. U.S. arms sale to Taiwan and the Dalai Lama’s private visit to the White House have served to ignite the already heated atmosphere.

There are two main points that oblige the Obama Administration to watch their step in their relations with China :-

  1. The Iran nuclear dilemma
  2. China’s hold on U.S. public bonds

Let me analyse each item and the impressions said issues cause in other scenarios such as the European Union.

The Iran Nuclear Dilemma

The international scenario on nuclear development is supposedly supervised by the United Nations through its IAEA; such situation implies that the five U.N. members (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom & U.S.A.) with veto power in the Security Council have final say on sanctions and nuclear power control. Having convinced Russia to back U.S. demands on Iran, China is the only veto bloc power that could frustrate U.N. Security Council resolutions against Iran’s uncontrolled uranium enrichment scheme.

Being aware of its strategic vote, China has the Obama Administration in a rather awkward position. No words are required whilst China picks the flower dilly dallying on the issue.

China’s hold on U.S. public bonds

China may have as much as 20% of U.S. long-term bonds. A recent move to sell part of its holdings just as commercial hassle on Chinese products imported into the U.S.A., was but a warning of what China could do to effectively harm the still shaky U.S. economy. Furthermore, China has refused to revalue its Yuan, in order to rebalance U.S.-China import-export trade flow.

In this rather inflamed setting, American economic policies seem predestined to toe a soft-line where China is concerned. Nevertheless, President Obama’s bet on a G-2 axis to trigger a global world economic recovery is destined to fail. Moreover, if the U.S. Administration has still any hopes of soothing their Chinese counterparts with light concessions, it then becomes evident that the Obama team knows very little about Chinese Machiavelli-style use of time to wear off their adversaries.

Instead of a G-2 with this unreliable undemocratic commercial partner, the Obama Administration has to bend back to envision a more solid panorama where the other partner lies across the Atlantic Ocean, a natural partner for free-trade, economic sustainable growth, democracy and peace.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra, Madrid


THE HAITI TRAGEDY & POVERTY: WORLD POWERS MUST ACT NOW

January 20, 2010
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New tremors in Haiti today whilst dead still litter the streets, wounded are treated in open-air installations and humanitarian relief is slowly distributed in a trickle, proves that last week’s earthquake tragedy is but the tip of the true disaster in such forsaken paradise in the Caribbean.

Haiti, the poorest nation in the American continents and one of the poorest in the world, has been plagued since its independence from France in 1804 by political instability that provoked the United States to occupy the territory from 1915 to 1934. Further U.S. military and financial support in 1954 to François Duvalier (Papa Doc) imposed upon the island a pretended dynasty with his son, Jean-Claude (Nené Doc), succeeding him in 1971. A national uprising overthrew him in 1981 but still Haiti continued to live in misery in one coup after another that brought corrupt leaders into power.

In a country where poverty is circumvented only with the funds from foreign aid and numerous NGOs operating humanitarian missions, it is understandable that the eradication of poverty has not been a priority for its successive governments. Lax government controls on the use of aid funds for development, health & educational projects have permitted the deviation of huge sums into private bank accounts of Haitian government officials.

The participation of the United Nations has not been limited to humanitarian support through its agencies but likewise had involved Blue Helmets stationed in the territory. However, it must be said that the U.N. role in Haiti has always gone along stream that of the United States and the U.N. Blue Helmet detachment was in lieu of American soldiers that were no more.

With last week’s earthquake, President Obama again compromised U.S. military forces for Haiti. The European Union headed by the Spanish Government which occupied this semester’s rotating presidency likewise acted resolutely with not too much ado and contributed towards a quick solution.

However, a new dilemma has arisen. Not taking seriously anti-American comments by Venezuela’s President, Hugo Chavez, the postures of French President Nicholas Sarkozy and Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva on U.S. troops on Haitian soil seemed out of place at a point  and time when humanitarian action was the only true concern.

Which brings me to question the handling of this situation:- Have we reached a point where the United Nations has lost authority and effectiveness to handle world crisis or major disasters?

Is protagonist role all world leaders think of or want when such situations arise or should these think first of the human tragedy?

The silent but effective actions undertaken from Spain and Spanish coordination of  the EU aids must be applauded. The quick reaction from the White House must be praised too.

It is not time for lead roles or being on front page headlines. It is time to seriously think why the developed countries have not resolved yet the poverty and misery that only ends in more misery in tragedies such as the Haitian earthquakes these days.

It is time to meditate whether the organization whose creation and charter were mean to face up to the challenges of a world in peace has failed in its objectives during this past six decades.

World leaders must decide whether the time has come to think more of justice and minimum quality of life for any human being with a new social & political order that the United Nations has been unable to provide.

Has the time arrived for a change in world governance?

Fernando Fuster-Fabra, Madrid


THE PITTSBURGH SUMMIT & THE WORLD’S FUTURE

September 26, 2009
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After Obama’s call for “.. a new era of engagement based on mutual interests and mutual respect ..”, and his insistence that “.. work must begin now”, one would expect world leaders to seriously involve themselves in concrete actions at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh. Thus far, the foremost outcome of the meet is the concession of exclusive powers from G-8 to G-20 to resolve the international economic issues.

G20 Pittburgh

I have analysed the final declaration of intentions. Aside from a lack of specific rules, I’m afraid that world leaders have failed to establish a strategic order of priorities in the 31-point document. Stating so optimistically that what has so far been done “has worked” is a rather hasty conclusion.

The economic recovery process, thus far, has a long way to go. From dumping huge amounts into the banking & financial entities to save the system, the governments must return to balanced budgets and inflation adjustments, each state applying specific measure in an unevenly distributed crisis.

President Obama spoke at the UN General Assembly of four pillars as fundamental for the world’s future – non-proliferation & disarmament, the promotion of peace & security, the preservation of our planet and a global economy that advances opportunity for all people. Other world leaders agreed while some remained silent. Still others dared question his posture.

In the very same week, the first three of such pillars were exposed to be dynamited by an issue which ended up stealing the headlines at the summit that had worked on the strengthening of the fourth pillar – “global economy that advances opportunity for all people”.

Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not only delivered a tirade of religious nonsense at the UN assembly but also an offensive speech that questions the average intelligence of Mankind. In his own right as Iran’s President to preach out his restricted views, Ahmadinejad launched a challenge to world leaders as a clear provocation of what was to come after. Naively picking up the glove, Israeli Prime Minister Nethanyahou availed of his turn to accuse the assisting assembly of ‘lack of decency’ for having politely withstood his adversary’s tirade without abandoning the hemicycle.

West trio

Referring to these speeches is necessary in order to comprehend how Iran stole the show at the Pittsburgh summit. The joint press conference – Obama, Brown & Sarkozy – versed on Iran’s new provocation in the nuclear front. It is evident that the Middle East is the centre of all tensions, a permanent time bomb at the base of Obama’s four pillars. I missed seeing the other two leaders – Medvedev & Hu Jintao – with veto rights at the UN Security Council in said press conference. This is a clear sign that Obama’s wink to Russia has only gone halfway through and China’s approval must wait till after the November bilateral meeting during Obama’s state visit.

Meanwhile this tense situation prevails, scarcely any of the well intended resolutions at the G-20 Pittsburgh summit are worth the paper they are printed on.

There will not only be hard times for placement of 50 M new unemployed all over the world but further risks of armed conflicts East and West of Afghanistan. Whilst the best result of this summit is the decision to grant the G-20 first choice to lead the world in its growth and development, the lack of a convinced single voice to support Obama’s four pillars may well be a wrong point of crossing of the Rubicon at the wrong time.

After all the words at the General Assembly and debates at the G-20 meet, the Pittsburgh assistants have gained a little and lost a lot. They may have missed the best opportunity to show the world how united and decided they are to solve crucial world politics.

The world now faces a new Waterloo.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Madrid


OBAMA STEPS DOWN SEEKING AN ERA OF ENGAGEMENT

September 23, 2009
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“… The time has come to move in a new direction. We must embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interests and mutual respect, and our work must begin now.” With these words, Barrack Obama stepped down from the United States permanent grandstand as world leader to offer an extended hand towards international cooperation to solve world issues.

Obama1


Obama puts up four pillars as fundamental for the world’s future – non-proliferation & disarmament, the promotion of peace & security, the preservation of our planet and a global economy that advances opportunity for all people.

His realistic view and recognition that change in U.S. foreign policy was indispensible to recover international acceptance of American leadership, however, did not include intoning an act of contrition for all that had previously been committed by his predecessor. The world leaders’ applause was their response to Obama’s evident goodwill and intention to work together from hence on.

Nonetheless, after the turn of speeches of the principal speakers these days, the first test of such ‘era of engagement’ has its Waterloo at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh. The two-day meet will have in its agenda a lot more that the economic crisis. Far beyond words, the U.S. needs more than a new financial regulating body to supervise its banks, insurance companies and brokers. The world economic model suffers from an excess of speculation and greed, with an evident lack of ethics in day-to-day business and professional activities. Global markets are here to stay but same does not impede a drastic change of professional and entrepreneur conduct and modus operandi.

So far, the Obama Administration has poured funds to save the American financial institutions. As banks seem to return to profits, one misses a change of attitude in these entities operational manners. Rather, one sees how tendencies are towards a new joy ride. I ask myself – Does free market give them the right to rush into another financial crack and new public funding?

Reviving the United Nations with speeches is well and good. Stepping down from the grandstand will reinforce ties with allies and lead to new negotiations, but none of these will resolve the economic crisis.

The show must go on. Next stop – Pittsburgh. What awaits the worlds there?

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Madrid


SWINE FLU OUTBREAK FAULTY EXCUSE FOR PROTECTIONISM PRACTICES

May 4, 2009
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The crisis seeming insufficient, the outbreak of swine flu cases in Mexico and its rapid spread to the U.S.A., Canada & Europe have presented an opportunity for some countries to use this generally non-deadly pandemic as an excuse to apply trade & tourism restrictions in their own political interests. Mexico has been the hardest hit with tourist flow curtailed both due to local requisites as well as foreign influx to its popular coastal resorts. In company with the U.S.A. and Canada, this southernmost North American country accounts for the outbreak and more than half of the infected patients as well as the few deaths. All three countries have expressed their concern as to possible isolation measures and travel restrictions imposed by other nations across the globe.

porcinos

In Europe, Spain ranks first in number of ill citizens who firstly came into contact with the virus in holiday trips to the Mexican peninsula. Nevertheless, no death has been registered and the first patients have received their quarantine release. In spite of said favourable situation, Russia has just announced it shall impose an immediate ban on all imports of Spanish fresh pork and processed pork products. Spain is Russia’s first supplier of pork products. What seems annoying is that nations seem to ignore WHO indications on the swine flu risks and recommended international posture.

I have often asked myself why we have such organisations set up in the scope of the United Nations if we rarely respect the rulings and recommendations of same. Russia’s posture on Spanish pork may be the first protectionist action taken using the flu outbreak as a mere excuse for politically-oriented trade restrictions. Added to tourist restrictions suffered by Mexico, these actions may end in an extended use of protectionism with unconceivable justifications in order to shape up a close-door defensive policy to hopefully overcome a country’s economic crisis. Are we heading in that direction?

 

Madrid, May 4, 2009


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