Origin, Object, Method
Upon therecommendation of the Instituto de Investigaciones Economicas from the Univesidad Nacional Autónoma de México(UNAM Mexico, director Professor Alicia Girón), this Institute togetherwith the ISMEA (Paris, director Gérard de Bernis)has decided to create the Euro-Latin-American Research Network on EconomicDevelopment Studies Celso Furtado.
held at the ISMEA in Paris from 16 to 21 March 1998. It brought togetherrepresentatives
from the Instituto de InvestigacionesEconomicas of the UNAM (its
director Professor Alicia Giron and ProfessorMaria Eugenia Correa from
the EconomicsFaculty), several economics professors from the Universidad
AutónomaMetropolitana Iztapalapa (Juan Castaingts,Arturo Guillén,
Gregorio Vidal), professors from Brazil (TheotonioDos Santos) as well as
a group of professors
in economicsfrom French universities (Gérard de Bernis, Héctor Guillén,Gérard Kebabdjian, Christian Palloix, Pierre Salama,Stéphanie Treillet), Spanish (Antonio Garrido), Italian (LeonardoAsta, Antonio Roa) and Portuguese universities (LisetteMedeina, Antonio Romao). All were unaminous in considering that, facedwith the relative paralysis in global thinking on questionsconcerning development theory, it should be necessary to build up a networkdevoted to research on
developmentin Latin-American countries.
In theearly 1960s, the problematics of under-development was oriented aroundthree major ideas:
1. theopposition, on the one hand, between a rich capitalist centre, dominantand imperialist, absorbing the surplus generated in theless developed countries, and a poor, exploited and dominated periphery,on the other;
between two arguments, one being a linear hypothesis of under-development(that
of Rostow, which predominatedin a majority of Anglo-Saxon universities)
which saw it as a sort of backwardnesswith respect to growth, and
the heterodoxtheory of under-development according to which under-development
was theresult of an obstruction due to the natureof the relations
between developed capitalist countries and the peripheralones (the «centre-periphery
relation» was definedas early as the 1950s by the economists
of the CEPAL, and in particularby Furtado and Prebisch):the analyses of
CEPAL,of Perroux and the theory of dependance do not exclude the analyses ofMarx, Schumpeter, or even Keynes as concernsthe active role of money and insisted more heavily on development thanon pure growth (Perroux). They were to be reinforcedby the structuralist and evolutionist, theories;
3. theopposition between two strategies, that of imitating the Western modelof development, seeking to integrated the less developedcountries to an ever greater degree into the international division oflabour, and that of a possible rupture to be achievedthrough an alternative model of development, based essentially on activepolicies of industrialisation and derived fromthe examples of Mexico in the fifties and Brazil, prior to the "coup d´état".
that time, the situation has changed profoundly. That entity which around1975
could still be designated as the Third Worldhas broken up and
been divided against itself under the pressureof the development in oil
prices and above all due to the «debtcrisis» which has
made rivals out of all of the Third World countries,to the point that each
has been obliged to sell in accordancewith the continual drop in
the buying power of their exports. The groupof socialist countires, which
had been ableto help at least a part of the Third World to progress,
has in the literalsense been destroyed, with a disastrous effect on
the situationof some of the developing countries (India, for example). The processusof liberalisation, in turn, has modified the systemof relative prices, ruining the perspectives of industrialisation and profoundlydestructuring the rural societies. The result has beenmassive phenomena of emigration from the poorest regions, at a time whenthe developed countries, themselves touchedby a serious crisis in their economies, reject offering hospitality tothe migrants. The mass of liquidities, due to the structuraldeficits of the United States, to the public debts of the most highly developedcountries and to the enormous mass of clairnsresulting from indebtedness in the Third World - i.e. disequilibria inthe real economy the it did not attempt to resolve fromwithin and that were thus supported by the financial system, itself unableto handle this problem other than in terms of its own propermarket logic has led to such an tremendous evolution in the financial marketsthat the movements of capital are in positionto destroy the long-year results of development efforts accomplished bypeoples under the leadership of strong and
voluntaristState authorities (Mexico, countries of East Asia).
the debate on under-developement have thus radically changed; moreover,debates
on development have in fact tendeddisappear and economists are presently
more concerned with the financialmarkets than with development. In certain
countries,we can easily hear: «Why be interested in Africa? What
advantagecan be gained there, excepting cheap natural resources,which
we need increasingly less of». In the developed countries,university
programmes in economics devote little attentionto problems of development.
It is urgent to react to these tendencies.And this has therefores lead
us to create the
The RED represents a group of institutes in economics (both European and Latin-American),whose objetive it is to organise the permanentexchange of information, analyses and proposals on the social, economicand political evolution of Latin America,without isolating this region from the rest of the world.
The RED seeks to be a forum of intellectual liberty, where pluralism will be athome. This liberty should enable each of us to expresshimself with serenity, without feeling the need to recreate the slightestconditions of orthodoxy, nor that to resort to the mostordinary, and often quite inadapted, terms of language.
One ofthe network's methodological principles will be the refusal to isolatethe different elemetns of economic, social and political reality. The exchange of ideas is indispensable in order to understandthe dialectics which characterise North - South relations in an adequate manner - these terms are ambiguous, since they presume that there is a sort of geographic determinismat work, while « under-developed » too is ambiguous, «developing countries » hypocritical, whereas « Third World» implies a unity of the countries concerned, a unity which indeedno longer exists - along with the interferences, dialecticalas well, within the financial system, banks and the monetary system andthe real economy, as well as the relations betweenthe price system and the problem of migrations, etc.
It wouldbe impossible to treat these points without taking into consideration the global development of capitalism, with all its contradicitons. It is comprehensible that the United States can point to a number of positive developments in its economy, seeingas how it can pay its debts in its own currency, yet there would be nocontradiciton in admitting that to require this from othercountries may be an way of limiting deflationist tendencies. However, thereis no reason for developing an extaordinary militaryforce, on the one hand, to control other countries and impose on them particularrules in the interest of a single world power,while, on the other, the extraordinary present-day concentration is generatingmany problems on the level of managing a globalworld. In addition to these problems, in many parts of the world thereare a number of quite complex phenomena: massunemployment with its suite of consequences (poverty, exclusion, etc.),corruption in all its forms which eliminates all normsand values, the peoples, internal conflicts in many nations, pollution- that of the rich (with the incredible idea of rights to polluteand of a market of rights) and that, even more serious, of poor countries(lack of water, forests, etc.), the risk of a breakdownin their self-sufficiency with regards to foodstruffs, drugs as a substitutefor potatoes, the prices of the two productsbeing such that drugs assure peasants a living and not potatoes, the developmentof the most serious infectious diseases(tuberculosis, Aids, malaria, the Chagas illness) due to reductions inState budgets, etc. etc.
The RED has the obligation - and it is a scientific obligation - not to isolate,in facts, their political from the economic aspects. Thusdoing, we revive the need to discuss political events more intensivelyin order to open up new perspectives for the peopleswhich suffer under the consequences of these major problems. It shouldnot be deemed extra-scientific to speak of economic politics. Political science exists, while economics has always been termed political economy. In our way of thinking, it is not economy as an abstraction that is scientific but the mode of analysiswhich takes into account the different aspects and determinants of social reality. Indeed, the exchanges within the RED will be unable to assure scientific analysis, should they undertake to isolate the economic aspects from the political and economic realities determining them.