Let’s cooperate so that everyone gets where others already are, except some are already there.

Topics such as inequality, poverty, overpopulation are widely discussed and attempted to be solved but if we just knew the problem lies on trying to homogenise a world that is not similar nor meant or ever even capable of being equal and that everything that is built on those bases will go wrong things will probably take a different course. In the context of the current global system and its dynamics, one could argue that the urge of developing countries to make use of existing tools in order to someday achieve what they see other countries have already achieved is only logical; one can even translate this issue to humanity itself. However, if we understood that the world system where countries co-exist is as diverse as our own humanity is, we will then realise than same policies will never work in the same way they do somewhere else and that “cooperation” should then start by the fully comprehension of the issues of other nations and what it truly needs to be done in each particular case rather than just exporting- or attempting to- whatever worked in certain occasion. This only leads us to comprehend that in the context of an agreement between two countries, for instance, this one does not necessarily need to be equal ( in the sense of: you get one apple and I get one in return) but understanding, empathetic, or any other of those amazing human qualities we all possess.

Having said this, an excuse me if my human approach appears rare these days, one could find an infinite number of examples happening or that have happened over history where what have just been said can be applied. In this occasion, Colombian farmers and small-scale producers only keep on losing since a free trade agreement have been signed with the United States in 2006. In this video, in particularly, the lack of understanding (or maybe interest) is evident. One of their main arguments is the lack of subsidies they receive from the Colombian argument; reality that is different for farmers in the Unites States. As Colombian farmers don’t get subsidised what they are able to produce is limited and takes longer and what is actually produced needs to be sold so cheap to compete with the new American companies with free-pass entering the country that profit ends up in lost. Moreover, and probably one of the most obvious-yet not tackled- issues is the fact that Colombia suffers from the consequences of a Civil war that has been, and still, devastates the country in every way imagined. There are many other points that could be brought up in this matter: farmers being forced to use genetically modified seeds coming from the United States instead of using their own ones, the monopoly created by big Colombian companies by representing 70% of the total Colombian exports, the lack of support from the Government in the improvement of farmer’s conditions not only money-wise but by providing security from Guerrillas crime and lack of an effective registration system where lands will forever belong to farmers and cannot be easily taken by subversive groups, etc… None of these problems is owned by The United States.

Not to extended this any further-probably driven by the Colombian inside me – I would to state conclude by making clear the unfair position countries like Colombia, and therefore its farmers, possess in the outgoing Global system. As we haven’t learn to co-exist in the Global system in an equal but diverse way, any measures will only keep on working in the countries that they were meant to work on and the periphery will remain endlessly trying to tackle their own problems probably even misunderstood by their government itself. This is clear, my only wonder now, then, is whether our actual Global system will work if countries like Colombia supported their farmers and agreements could be made more “equal” or “fair” and for the pure sake of cooperation and mutual benefit.


Ana Maria Franco

Middlesex University, London.




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