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The environment is another area in which developments have taken place. Increased awareness of the causes of climate change is leading to positive action. In Bolivia, it is high on the agenda. President Morales travelled to New York to deliver to the United Nations the results of the World People's Conference on Climate Change held in Cochabamba in April. Mexico, as well as supporting the dialogue on sustainable development, has proposed the creation of a green fund to scale up the amount of resources available for climate change litigation and adaptation activities.
On his visit to the United Kingdom last year, the President of Ecuador, President Correa, spoke here in Parliament about the Yasuni project. In Brazil, as the principal guardian of Amazônica-the lungs of the world-a great deal of activity is taking place. This is another huge area for co-operation on a bilateral basis as well as within the European Union.
Baroness Hooper: Oh dear. I had hoped to talk in a little more detail about energy, education, the issue of visas and the need to review the work of the UK
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In my view, Parliament and parliamentary relations are as important as intergovernmental relations in all this, particularly in regard to the strengthening of democracy, and the role of the Inter-Parliamentary Union has to be encouraged and built on. As the newly elected chairman of the All-Party Group on Latin America, I hope we will see far more inward and outward visits.
This debate underlines the importance of Latin America and Latin American countries. We have got to get our act together, as the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, rightly exhorted us. Let us start that today, not mañana.
Lord Griffiths of Burry Port: My Lords, I am delighted that my noble friend-although he is sitting on other Benches he is still my friend-has brought this issue to our attention and given us this opportunity to debate it. When our newspapers this morning tell us that England must dispose of Argentina and Brazil if they are to lift the world cup, clearly it is a topical and timely debate.
Others have spoken in general terms about the economic aspects of our relationships with Latin America; I want to speak in a more particular way. If it is a long time since Latin America has figured in our debates here, it must be forever since Haiti figured in them. This is a rare opportunity for me to hang some thoughts about Haiti on the back of the debate, with the permission of the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery.
Latin America and the whole world owe far more than they think to poor Haiti. We celebrated recently the abolition of the slave trade 200 years ago, but not much was said about the fact that the slaves in Santa Domingo took their freedom from the mighty French armies by their own efforts under the leadership of Toussaint Louverture. That needs to be lauded as having set the scene and created the atmosphere for later and rather more timid efforts on our part.
However, it is only when the first President of Haiti was approached by Simon Bolivar as part of the drive for independence in Latin America that we see the linkage between Haiti and the great continent beyond it. Simon Bolivar found himself without provisions and called in at Port-au-Prince, where the President at that time, Alexandre Pétion, supplied him with victuals and materiel for the struggle in Venezuela and other places. Bolivar was duly thankful but did not express his thanks practically when, at the Congress of Panama in 1826, which was intended to give some kind of unity to the newly emerging free nations of the Americas, he colluded with the United States of America in excluding the President of Haiti from that congress because he was black. Simon Bolivar therefore has, I am afraid, a bad mark in my book as well as all the obvious good ones.
Then there was a grudging recognition of Haiti's independence-from Denmark, the United Kingdom and eventually France-but with a huge indemnity that Haiti went on repaying until the early part of the 20th century. After that there was recognition, even more grudgingly, from the Vatican in 1860 and from the United States in 1863, but only because the civil war had caused a re-evaluation of the place of black people in society there. Haiti was the first black republic in the world.
For the remainder of the 19th century Haiti endured gun-boats and an assassination of character. The Germans, the British, the French and the Spanish all had their go at poor Haiti and perpetuated its image as a primitive nation. This culminated, of course, with the arrival in July 1915 of the USS "Washington" and the 20-year occupation by the American, black-hating Marines-rednecks-to look after Haiti's affairs, but really to safeguard the approaches to the Panama Canal. So much is owed to Haiti that the deprecatory words which so easily fall off the tongues of all kinds of commentators need to be qualified against the facts of history. The weight of history hangs heavily around the shoulders of those who deprecated a country which got rid of its slaves at a time when the nations around it were anxious to keep theirs, We need to re-evaluate history in the light of those circumstances.
There was then, of course, puppet government after the occupation. The creation of an intellectual black hole was bound eventually to be filled by a dictator who looked something like Papa Doc Duvalier, and in the end resembled him exactly. I went to Haiti and lived there in the time that he was the dictator. I met him a couple of times and he died a month later. I do not think there was a causal relationship.
After the Duvalier dynasty in the 1980s-Baby Doc had gone in 1986-at a time of great turmoil when Haitians were looking for some kind of accountable government, what happened? The IMF came in and insisted on an economic package that eventually crippled and stifled the new revolution at birth. It was so irresponsible.
After a meeting in Chile, in Santiago in 1991, all the Foreign Ministers and Heads of Government of the Americas came together to promise themselves that if there were military government in any of their territories thereafter they would all rally round the cause and win back the lost independence. Three months later, a junta displaced the democratically elected President of Haiti and for three years and two months he was in exile in the United States. What did the Latin American continent do? Nothing. The Organisation of American States appointed an envoy, who came and went-leaving a carbon footprint the size of 40 football pitches-and nothing was done. Proximity talks in New York eventually secured some kind of future for Haiti but meant the end, effectively, of accountable government with the departure of President Aristide and the rebellion that came thereafter.
I rehearse these facts to secure on the record of the British Parliament the nature and the extent of the indebtedness of the rest of the world to the trail-blazing activities of Haiti. I hope that does not get either a
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I was in Haiti in February, just two or three weeks after the earthquake there. It was as bad as the news media showed it to be. People whom I had taught had been killed; the whole population of the university was decimated. I talked to survivors and people who were dreadfully mutilated. To know where to begin to reconstruct or to develop a future for Haiti in the light and the aftermath of that disaster is very difficult for the imagination.
But what did I find? In earthquake-stricken Port-au-Prince, I found that the lights worked and the electricity was 24 hours a day. I thought, "That was never the case on my previous visit. What on earth has happened?". I found that the Government of President Chavez, much reviled by many in Venezuela, had seen to it that a power station and cheap oil was ensuring that the Haitian capital had its electricity. It had survived the earthquake and was still supplying its energy as appropriate to those properties that were not destroyed. Then, I was on air myself, being interviewed about Haiti and my impressions of it after the earthquake in a studio with people from Médecins Sans Frontières. We all admire them; they get there first and they like to tell us they get there first. But there were hundreds of Cuban doctors there before them who never got interviewed anywhere. That those two countries-Cuba and Venezuela, which do not count for much in the eyes of many commentators-should practically have reversed Simon Bolivar's denial of the Haitian president all those years ago seemed to me to be an extraordinarily wonderful and generous thing.
I am delighted to say that a man whom I introduced to Haiti and provided with a network of friends is now taking it much further himself. One of London's finest architects, a specialist in urban regeneration, is taking on responsibility for much of the reconstruction of Port-au-Prince. Seriously good things are happening there: an expo is about to take place in the next couple of months, from which tenders will be invited to provide model communities and rehouse displaced people around the capital of Port-au-Prince. He himself, our London architect John McAslan-I am proud to mention his name and honour it here in this assembly-has approached the private sector to gain the necessary funds to rebuild the marketplace in downtown Port-au-Prince. He has started not with the presidential palace but with the place where everybody goes to get their supplies. It is wonderful thing. We hope that, by December or January, that will be up and functioning, and all that trading will take place again. So there are signs of hope.
What do I want Her Majesty's Government to take note of as I mention Haiti in this way? Her Majesty's Government, whatever party is in power, are not known to take much heed of what happens in Haiti, but I shall offer my five-pennyworth. It is that Haiti should figure a little in the councils of our Government, and that we should see in Haiti an opportunity to do something that might have practical and beneficial outcomes. I go further and say that if we cannot crack
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I am very glad to ride on the back of the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, and give my five-pennyworth of hurrahs for Haiti, and hope that perhaps it will figure a little in our thinking in the future.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, I join others who have expressed thanks to the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, for once again leading us in a debate on Latin America, a subject which has been seriously neglected over the past few years. I also join those who have congratulated the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, on a notable and informed maiden speech. I look forward very much to hearing him again.
The noble Lord mentioned the huge economies having to be made in British embassies, a subject taken up also by the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper. The previous Government's FCO change programme was said to be focused on the modest ambition of changing the world, but, to do that, the aim was to have more of its resources abroad. Latin American countries suffered a round of cuts several years ago, when we closed the embassies in Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. How does the current number of staff in the region as a whole compare with that in, let us say, 1997, when the previous Government came into office? When President Zelaya of Honduras was ousted in a coup a year ago, the Foreign Office Minister, Chris Bryant, had to issue statements through our embassy in Costa Rica, which must have lessened their impact in the country where the coup occurred. Does the Minister have an opinion on the reinstatement of Honduras as a member of the OAS, which was proposed by Hillary Clinton at its meeting a fortnight ago? We cannot have as direct a knowledge of the events in Honduras as we would have had if an embassy had been there.
Our ability to monitor drug trafficking through central America, referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, must also be impaired by the reduction of our presence. Only last week, members of a gang who had been convicted in Bogota were reported to have been smuggling 30 tonnes of cocaine a month through Honduras and Costa Rica. But when my honourable friend Jeremy Browne was asked last week about staff levels at embassies for the three years 2010-13, he said that we would have to wait until the Comprehensive Spending Review, which is not expected until six months after the start of the period to which it relates. Surely we are entitled to know whether budgets for embassy staff in the region are, at worst, going to be maintained at their present levels. I hope that the Minister will comment on that in his winding-up.
When Chris Bryant visited Colombia last September, he spoke about the harm being done to the people by cocaine production, with 8,000 hectares of rainforest destroyed in the previous year, the widespread threat of kidnapping by the drug gangs, and innocent members of the public being maimed or killed by landmines. He pointed to the success of Colombia's shared responsibility scheme-to which the UK is a substantial contributor-in
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In Peru, it is a different story, with the UNODC reporting, as has been mentioned already, that production of coca and cocaine are on the rise. The Government have made some effort to eradicate the business to keep in Washington's good books, but the main areas of production are in remote valleys on the eastern side of the Andes, in some of which the writ of state institutions and the rule of law do not operate. In those areas, Sendero Luminoso calls the shots, in spite of recent successes against individual SL leaders. There is also some collaboration between SL and the Colombian terrorist organisation FARC, according to the Brazilian federal police. Would not Peru benefit from an international effort such as the shared responsibility scheme, and are there not any Andean regional measures to combat the narcotics industry that could be usefully supported?
But this is equally true for other countries of the region. Colombia at least invites the UN Special Procedures to visit and reports quarterly on what is being done to comply with the recommendations of the UN's recent universal periodic review of Colombia. Here again, a wider regional approach would be welcome. Colombia is the only country in Latin America covered in the FCO's human rights report. The reader might be unaware that the human rights problems cited-vulnerability of human rights defenders and civil society groups; impunity; internal displacement; and extrajudicial killings-are common also to Peru, for instance.
The FCO report mentions the UN rapporteur's commendation of all the initiatives taken by Colombia on the health and education of indigenous people, but also the massacres of the Awa people in February and August 2009. Also in Peru, 33 people were killed in the Bagua incident in June 2009; the leader of the indigenous people fled to Nicaragua, where he was granted asylum, after being accused of responsibility for the clash. The special rapporteur visited Peru after the event and made a number of recommendations, including the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry to clarify the events of 5 June and the following days. Could Mr Anaya be asked to review the progress made in complying with his recommendations, 12 months on? As a signatory of ILO Convention 169 and a supporter of the UN Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous People, enacting the ley de consultaand agreeing a process of implementation with representatives of indigenous people would go a long way toward fulfilling those obligations.
The ley de consultadoes not give indigenous peoples the right of veto over exploitation of natural resources on their lands, but the ILO has asked Peru to suspend both exploitation and exploration affecting peoples covered by the convention until their participation in consultation on the processes is ensured, in accordance with Articles 6, 7 and 15 of the convention. Yet the
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In their response to the JCHR report Any of Our Business on 10 February this year, the Government said that they continued to encourage the wider use of tools such as the OECD guidelines, so I would be grateful if the Minister could say what advice they have given or would give to companies thinking of bidding in this auction, and whether they will encourage other member states of the OECD to follow their example.
There could be one other way to leverage our efforts on human rights in both Peru and Colombia. If the draft EU trade agreement with those two countries is what is called a "mixed" agreement and not purely commercial, it would have to include a human rights clause. The noble Lords, Lord Grenfell and Lord Hunt of Wirral, both asked for assurances on this matter when the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, asked a Question about the agreement in January. Can my noble friend assure us that this Government will insist that the agreement contains clauses on both human rights and environmental protection?
Finally, Peru's national human rights plan comes to the end of its five-year mandate this coming December and the president of the national council on human rights, CNDH, has asked the international community for assistance in carrying out an evaluation of the initiative. In the meanwhile, the Ministry of Economy and Finance has announced a cut of 70 per cent in the CNDH budget. I would be grateful if the Government could consider this with our EU partners, with a view to making up the deficiency. There are hundreds of cases of human rights abuse arising from the internal armed conflicts between 1980 and 2000, and there continue to be hundreds of cases still of social conflict-no fewer than 255 being reported by the ombudsman in May alone. Peru can ill afford to cut back on human rights, and I hope that it will be one of our concerns, and that of the European Union, to raise that higher in our priorities.
Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: My Lords, first, I add my words of warm welcome to my noble friend Lord Liddle. As many other noble Lords have said, he has enormous experience, knowledge and understanding, which he clearly showed in his very impressive speech today. I have known my noble friend for many years and in many lives, in British politics and in the European Union when I sat in the European Parliament. I certainly
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To state the obvious: Latin America is a continent, as others have intimated. This excellent debate, instigated by the indefatigable and noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, has again made clear that the variety of developments and interests which we have tried to cover is limitless. Indeed, it would be unwise for anyone to try to cover the spectrum. I will therefore limit my remarks to considering some of the salient and most recent developments in Latin America. One of those has been the interest and commitment shown by the Obama Administration in that continent. On her latest-indeed, her seventh-visit to Latin America as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said:
"If I told you 10 years ago that the leaders of the United States and Europe would be taking some well deserved advice on economic management from some of our Latin American counterparts, many people would not have believed me. But today, many of the region's governments have navigated steadily and responsibly through the global economic crisis and are on their way to recovery".
The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, referred particularly to the importance that we should attach to building a really strong relationship with Brazil. Time magazine recently named Lula da Silva as one of the world's 100 most influential people. By 2050, Brazil will be the world's fourth largest economy-and that will bring with it enormous diplomatic clout.
In the past 20 years, Latin America has gone through extensive political, economic and social change, but simultaneously with that social change taking place, as we have seen, the centre of global gravity has steadily moved to the east and the south. Now we know that we cannot ignore the power and influence of the emerging economies of Latin America-or, of course, emerging economies in other parts of the world. As others have alluded to, the continent contains a mix of ideologies. There is both market orthodoxy and a subscription to what many leaders would choose to call 21st-century socialism, but because of that situation it is not possible to make generalisations about the economic success or otherwise of countries in Latin America. The reality is that of the 15 most unequal countries in the world, 10 are in Latin America. The continent has endured two centuries of deeply entrenched inequality, which is of course not easy to change.
It is a continent which has been defined, too, by its commodities. It has a huge number of valuable commodities: gold and silver, coffee, copper, coal-and now oil, the black gold. In the past 10 years, the important changes that we have seen and the improvements in economic performance are directly related to the income generated by those commodities. Latin America exports many of those commodities to the European Union-again, many noble Lords have described that situation-but the European Union is the biggest investor in the region, with Spanish corporations leading the field.
The EU is also Latin America's second largest trading partner after the United States. However, not many noble Lords have described China's involvement in Latin America, which would be appropriate as it is fast catching up on issues of trade. Many European companies participate in banking and privatised services such as electricity and gas, as well as in mining and other export sectors. Negotiations with Mercosur have been referred to. This has stalled over a number of years for many of the reasons described by noble Lords, but the other reason given is the pending Doha decision, which it is felt prevents any progress being made.
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