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Latin American UN Official: BRICS Is the Alternative to the Unresponsive Bretton Woods System

June 1, 2015 (EIRNS)—The BRICS perspective for global development "is an alternative to the Bretton Woods system," said Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary of the UN’s Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), speaking today at a packed event sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based Inter-American Dialogue.

Ms. Barcena, who had just hosted a May 25 ECLAC event in Santiago, Chile at which Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was the keynote speaker, was responding to a question from Executive Intelligence Review, locating Li Keqiang’s nine-day trip to four nations in the region in the context of the BRICS stunning global development paradigm, which has completely eclipsed the Trans-Atlantic system’s destructive policies.

In her own remarks welcoming Li Keqiang to the May 25 Santiago event, Ms. Barcena had stated that "the post-war order that emerged from Bretton Woods no longer reflects the new economic and political realities," particularly relating to developing nations. She pointed to the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank (AIIB) and the BRICS New Development Bank as initiatives which "are a reflection of a new governance which has emerged," adding that "the project known as the New Land [sic—Silk Road Economic Belt] and Maritime Silk Road" is one which "we in the region observe with great interest.... We are witnessing a change of era," she said.

In today’s event, she elaborated further, underscoring that China "has displaced the United States" in Latin America, stepping into "the vacuum" created by the U.S.’s failure to invest productively in the region. As a result of the global economic crisis, the region’s economies have reached "a plateau," Barcena said, and the U.S. economic recovery is "mediocre." Thus, there is great uncertainty in the region, and initiatives such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), offered as a solution, "have many problems."

This is the context in which Li Keqiang’s trip occurred, Ms. Barcena said. Debunking one questioner’s suggestion that China is engaged only in a raw-materials grab reminiscent of 19th-Century British imperialism, she stated firmly that "there is real change" occurring, and that the approach taken by the Chinese Premier during his trip "was totally different from before." China has understood that Latin America and the Caribbean need industrial development, she emphasized.

She reiterated in answer to EIR’s question, that the BRICS, with their new financial institutions, "are the alternative to the Bretton Woods system." The IMF has refused to reform, as developing nations have demanded, and these nations are also seeking alternatives to the hegemony of the dollar, she said. As a region, we are totally dependent on the decisions of the Federal Reserve, and "that should not be the case."

Barcena stressed the importance of China’s establishing a branch of the China Construction Bank in Santiago, to serve as a clearing bank for the renminbi, to facilitate its use regionwide to finance infrastructure and other development projects.