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THE GLOBAL POLITICAL ECONOMY: WHAT ABOUT CULTURE?

THE GLOBAL POLITICAL ECONOMY: WHAT ABOUT CULTURE?

In the context of the actual system, we have analysed the effect of its dynamics in small domestic economies and producers, like in the Colombian case, and groups living in extreme poverty, like in the case of Brazil. By now, we understand that development is not only measured by the economic performance of a country. We understand that when measuring development topics such as education, equality and many other affect directly the standard of living of any population. When analysing any country, one must then remember than a nation state is not only about the performance of their government (the state itself) but the performance of the nation as a diverse community that works together and coexist among each other in harmony. Under this logic, one could argue that culture, values and customs that all nations possess need to be as preserved and nurtured as their economy and institutions are or attempt to be. This is important for many reasons. A strong, spread out and constant sense of nationalism among a population brings infinite benefits. First of all, maintains a country together and looking onto the same direction which will avoid divisions and eventually the fragmentation of the country. At the same time, allows the country to work together above their differences and reduces the possibility of, for instance, civil wars of rebellions against the government in power. In cases where countries are highly diverse and possess different religious and ethnic groups culture needs to be even more nurtured as conflict might arise easier.

When countries have been through severe processes of colonisation, like in the case of Colombia and Brazil, and the miscegenation process gave these countries an extensive range of minorities and different ethnic groups this lack of cultural development is easier to spot. In the images above, we can observe how indigenous groups in both Brazil and Colombia protest against their lands being taken for the construction of big venues or the extraction of resources. They argue that their rights are being violated and that governments give little or no protection to these Brazilian and Colombian citizens that are as important as the rest of the society.
The economic opening that both countries have been through the past 30 or 40 years following the dynamics of a more capitalistic and westernised world have been affecting these minorities greatly. When land and soil are not regarded anymore as they used to among these groups, a place on earth given to us a gift and with spiritual value, and begins to be seen an everlasting font of resources these values get lost and these minorities are excluded immediately. As mentioned before, this only creates fragmentation, exclusion, dissatisfaction and rage among these groups that at some point leads violence as the only option; this is one of the main reasons why most of the guerrillas arose in South and Latin America. One then understands that nowadays dynamics do not give priority to these kind of issues and nor do governments. So, any measures that are taken towards development will only keep on affecting them unless their voice is heard and their citizen rights are more respected and protected. This will not only improve the sense on Nationalism and unity but will help tackle the problem of inequality and distribution of wealth.

Ana Maria Franco.
Middlesex University, London.

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BRAZIL FORECAST: INEQUALITY THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.

BRAZIL FORECAST: INEQUALITY THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.

Weeks away from the World Cup and not too far from the Olympics, whoever is lucky enough to be attending one of these events will obviously be expecting enthusiastic and everlasting carnivals, beautiful and joyful dancers, a lovely weather and a city ready to receive only around 500,000 football fans. Let me update you, this was yesterday April 22nd in Rio de Janeiro: ( See pictures above).

Rio de Janeiro, probably the most widely known Brazilian city and expected to receive thousands of visitors from all around the world in less than two months exactly the Brazilian reality. Rio de Janeiro is a city full of tourists throughout the whole year, advertised for its carnivals, warmness and lovely landscapes. At the same time, is plagued with “slums” which cannot ever be compared to its meaning in the UK. “Slums” in Rio de Janeiro mean a “community” or a bunch full of half-destroyed houses, prostitution, drug trafficking, criminal bands, murders and do not even bother asking how many schools or medical care centres are there, because they are none. Around half an hour away from these places one could find big stadiums being built, roads being repaired and cleaned for the upcoming tourists and one can only wonder: HOW IS THAT? There is money for stadiums and roads but not to feed Brazilians? Of course, the well-known argument that we remember from the London Olympics comes out of the mouths of Brazilian politicians too: Tourists will bring money to local businesses, tourism improve the economy etc … Now, for starters, we must understand that people living in these slums are not educated nor owners of any sort of businesses (apart from maybe a drug one) or even speak English. Furthermore, is you were a tourist I will strongly advice you NOT TO go there under any circumstances. From this, and much more, we can already understand that this will not bring any sort of benefit to Brazilians and probably will even end up harming tourists.
Having understood this, when this reality is translated to the Global Political Economy the true meaning of “development” arises. Brazil is regarded as a rapidly developing country, with its GDP growing fast and an economy that is open and ready for business and investment; a country known for its “social approach” since Lula’s government and a country that has been able to use its soft power effectively and its amazing resources to overcome times of crisis. However, under my eyes, this is just a bad attempt to develop rapidly, to increase numbers on a screen, and attempt to be just another western state. The reality is Brazil is far from development. Brazil is a country ever year more unequal, more unfair. A country that prefers to invest in a World Cup rather than on its people; the only capital a country truly owns. At the end, losers are Brazilians but let me say, not every Brazilian. Not the Brazilians that are able to speak several languages and travel around the world, or Brazilians living in the centre of Rio enjoying how their roads get even better. The true losers are Brazilians in the slums, Brazilians that do not speak a word of English, Brazilians forgotten and pushed outside the city, Brazilian that regard from above (slums are mostly built on the top of hills and mountains) how the city “develops” and they don’t with a confusion background mixed with the sound of the joy of carnivals and the pull of a trigger.

Ana Maria Franco
Middlesex University, London.

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The untouchable right to childhood

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This is one of my favorite thought provoking artworks by Erik Ravelo and Daniel Ferreira’s called Los Intocables (The Untouchables) which illustrates the exploitation of children and the abuse of their rights. From left to right, a priest represents the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal, a pedophile tourist represents child sex tourism, a soldier represents children damaged by war, a doctor represents organ trafficking, a hooded adult carrying a weapon represents school shooting and violence, and Ronald Mc Donald represents childhood obesity and excess consumerism. Children are crucified to their abusers who have their backs turned in a neglectful and disregarding manner.

I am using controversial art works to portray children as the losers of the globalised world. These pictures shine the light on a number of sensitive and degrading child rights violations, not just reserved for the developing world but applicable to the developed world as well. To write about each and explain how it is linked to globalisation would result in a fairly long post, so I will briefly focus on two or three.
Stating the obvious, child sex tourism violates children’s most basic and fundamental rights and affects millions of children in the world. Places like Thailand, Cambodia and India have become sex havens for pedophile tourists originating mainly from Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. The sexual exploitation of children has become a global phenomenon and is made easier through globalisation. Globalisation has also contributed greatly in creating organised pedophile and human traffik networks whether for sexual purposes or other organized crime.
There have been cases of theft of children’s organs in Spain, Mexico, Palestine, Haiti and more recently, Syria. The vulnerable categories of persons include migrants, homeless, and children. Many poor, orphaned or abandoned children are kidnapped and sold to an organ theft mafia. Similarly to the other organised crimes mentioned above, globalisation made the whole process of organ theft relatively easier. Another similarity is in the way advantage taken of desperate situations of vulnerable children and their families by offering money in return. Even though there are child protection policies and international laws in place, most of these activities happen through different stages with different people involved, making the process a complicated one.
It is safe to say with childhood obesity doubling in the past 30 that it has also become a worldwide problem that is connected to globalisation. A new study based in the UAE reveals that one in three children is either overweight or obese and at risk of early health risks such as diabetes and hypertension. About 40 million children under the age of 5 are overweight around the world. Similar to the US, about 30 per cent of children are overweight in the UK. Children make good consumers and are heavily targeted by MNCs through commercials. Even though parents might be well aware of the quality of the food their children are consuming, the children’s food market is huge and negatively influences children’s diets. No one wants to take responsibility, when fingers are pointed at the food industry and MNCs; they bring up the argument of consumer choice.

Children are sacred and full of potential, but they are also vulnerable, defenseless and depend on adults for protection. In this globalised world, some adults tend to betray that trust by turning children into profit making commodities or turning them into consumers from which they can profit, even at the expense of their well being. This heavy artwork carries a powerful tagline we can all agree on ‘the right to childhood should be untouchable.’

Balqis Hindash (M00385581 MDX Dubai Campus)

http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/Doc/XrefViewPDF.asp?FileID=19535&Language=EN
http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/health/one-child-in-three-is-overweight-or-obese-uae-study-shows
http://www.ungift.org/knowledgehub/en/about/trafficking-for-organ-trade.html

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Forced Child Labor and Cocoa Production in West Africa

Forced Child Labor and Cocoa Production in West Africa

Around the world there are about 5 million and a half children exploited in cocoa farms. About one third of the cocoa in circulation worldwide comes from Ivory Coast and 20% of the production from Ghana while Nigeria, Cameroon, Indonesia, Brazil and Ecuador produce the rest. In West Africa, cocoa is mainly grown to export and cocoa farmers hardly can live selling cocoa beans, so children are exploited in order to keep the cocoa price competitive considering that chocolate industry demand cheap cocoa.
Children working in cocoa farms live in poverty and start working at a very young age, which can vary from 5 to 17 years old. Some children are sold by their fathers and mothers to traffickers or to the farm owners, while others are kidnapped by traffickers and then sold to farmers. Once in the cocoa farms, children will not be able to see their parents and siblings for years or even forever.
Those young farmers are forced to do hard work that involves the worst forms of exploitation. The cultivation of cocoa provides, in fact, that small workers climb trees with machetes to drop the fruit from which it subsequently extracting the seeds of the cocoa. This is not, however, the only dangerous and strenuous activity that involves the use of a plantation. Children often have to use pesticides, carry heavy loads, burn the leaves, clear the ground, drying cocoa beans.
Children working in cocoa farms are definitely the losers in global political economy because working in such hard conditions hinter their physical and mental development as well as deprives them from their childhood and deny them the right to have an education. In the majority of the cases these children will become illiterate adults and will remain in extreme poverty, because they lack the possibility to grow in their social and professional life.

http://www.fafo.no/pub/rapp/522/522.pdf

Francesca Urso
Dubai Campus