Vive Le Canada

Latin American Economists Discuss Alternatives To Free-Market Model
Date: Monday, November 13 2006
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Published on Saturday, November 11, 2006 by the lnter Press Service

by Daniela Estrada

SANTIAGO, Chile - Some 90 left-leaning Latin American economists are meeting in the Chilean capital to discuss ways to build "a society with neither exploited nor exploiters" and construct bridges between academia and social movements.

The Thursday through Saturday gathering is the first "Latin America in Movement: Building Alternatives to Neoliberalism" colloquium, organized by the Latin American Society of Political Economy and Critical Thinking (SEPLA).

SEPLA, which was created in October 2005 by 245 economists from 14 Latin American countries as well as Britain, France, Spain and the United States, now has more than 500 members.

At the opening of the three-day gathering, economist Antonio Elías, a member of the Network of Leftist Economists of Uruguay, said the Chilean-based SEPLA is "a social organization made up of academics whose aim is to design a proposal of change for Latin America," in conjunction with social movements in each country.

"We must struggle hard against neoliberalism, economic orthodoxy and all forms of imperialism. There has to be awareness that alternative policies, if they are correctly formulated, will not lead to chaos, as those who defend continuity want to make people believe," the SEPLA economists state in their manifesto.

"To the contrary, these policies are capable of reducing unemployment and poverty, while creating mechanisms that can defend our countries from parasite rentiers and unbridled speculation which periodically tip our economies into a deeper and deeper pit, requiring increasingly greater sacrifices," says the document.

The meeting of economists from 14 countries is taking place in the private University of Arts and Communication (Arcis), and includes presentations by 90 speakers on issues like public policies, health, education, the labour market, capital flows, the growing strength of social movements and food security.

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