October 9, 2007

Corporate Globalization and Burma/Myanmar

What does the IMF and World Bank have to do with Burma/Myanmar? Some might say, "Nothing. The two groups have closed off all new loans to the regime since 1987." Perhaps, but that doesn't mean they don't still have influence.

In an article entitled "Invisible Hand / Iron Fist: The Role of the IMF in Burma/Myanmar," by Ryan Harvey, the relationships are discussed. The military junta displays a pattern of behavior that points to preparations for receipt of financing from the IMF. That pattern of cutting public programs looks a lot like an IMF austerity plan. The IMF continues to meet and advise the military government.

According to the article, the military government is actively developing a new "reclusive capitol Naypyidaw," for which major capital funds are needed for infrastructure. But it's not just the corrupted international financial institutions. The transnational corporations are also profiting from the authoritarian dictatorship as well, putting the lie to the establishment storyline about benevolent globalization. Beneviolent is more like it.

Ivanhoe Mines, headquartered in Canada, The China National Petroleum Corporation, China’s largest oil company, Total Oil of France, have all been "looking the other way," as they extract wealth from Burma/Myanmar, while literal slave labor is used in the process. It is worth noting that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sat on the Board of Directors at Chevron throughout the construction of the Yadana pipeline that devastated a number of villages.

Harvey's brief article is a must read for anyone interested in globalization or the situation in Burma/Myanmar.

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