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slovakia & uruguay & paraguay: connecting resistance in europe and latin america

The corporate agenda to liberalise trade is global and powerful, as are the international financial institutions (IFIs) which aid and abet it.


FoE Slovakia exchange to Latin AmericaTo confront this agenda, international cooperation between FoEI network groups is vital. In March 2006, Ivan Lesay of FoE Slovakia travelled to Uruguay and Paraguay to learn how groups there tackle the threats posed by IFIs.

what happened: First, Ivan attended a workshop on “Investor/State Dispute Settlement Mechanisms” organized by FoEI in conjunction with FoE Uruguay, in Montevideo. Next, he took part in a FoEI campaign meeting on Corporates, IFIs and Trade, then attended a course titled “Constructing Capacities for the Sustainability of the Rio de la Plata Basin ” organised by FoE Paraguay for campaigners from five Latin American countries.

what we learned: The workshop made it clear to Ivan that not only IFIs, but also trade relations are biased in favour of big states and corporations, fostering economic globalisation. Bolivian and Costa Rican speakers demonstrated how organisations such as the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (which regulates trade) and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, work in favour of big business. 

What’s more, says Ivan, “I managed to talk to many people and see the context of their fights at home. Despite the different environment, I noticed that, though in different ways, we do a lot of common work …”

The course organised by FoE Paraguay revealed the realities facing the Rio de la Plata Basin region. Ivan’s own contribution, a presentation (in Spanish) on the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Latin America, was well received. Spending time learning more about FoE Paraguay’s IFI campaigns also revealed those campaigners’ eagerness to monitor European investments in Paraguay and Latin America.

Ivan was inspired by the different style of campaigning he encountered. "It is much about going out to talk to and work with communities; it is much more grassroots-based, based on authentic needs and it is a lot more political, engaged and enthusiastic,” said Ivan, “FoE Paraguay is an extremely developed and experienced organisation that exactly knows where it goes, what it wants .. I would with no hesitation call it a model for the work of any enviro-social group.”


Ivan says that, now, “when I work on some things, I think of how my Paraguayan comrades would comment on it. I think this is one of the most valuable things that I have brought home from my exchange.”


what next: Ivan and FoE Paraguay staff agreed to prepare a joint paper for the EIB about infrastructure integration projects in South America. They also brainstormed about a possible cross-regional course on international finance issues shared by both Latin America’s Rio de la Plata Basin and Central and Eastern Europe’s Danube basin.

with thanks to our funders: the dutch ministry of foreign affairs

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