India Rising over FDI

Buenos Aires       Through the magic of Google Talk and Skype (not to mention my trusty Nextel, which is too pricey to use for other than emergencies), I can talk to our offices regularly from our new Buenos Aires headquarters without it costing a dime.  Add to that the additional fact that the Treo cell at least gets incoming calls here, just as the Nextel does, and that the blackberry works, and the main difference becomes language and weather (winter here!). 

Perhaps this is a long way of saying that there are some interesting things happening around the world!  Assessing the progress in India continues to be encouraging.  There were three meeting in as many recent weeks, two in Delhi and one in Malund, outside of Mumbai, which seem to demonstrate that the grassroots movement of the campaign is moving into the right gear.  Attendance ran in the range 100-200 at each event and the traders are becoming a formidable ally in this effort.  Give a double-click and take a look at the updates and pictures on our website for some great new reports that will let you share this work as its happening.

While I’m at it, Wal-Mart seems to still be going ballistic over its defeat in Chicago.  The pressure is on non-stop and they wisely have pushed Target into the fray to take the point.  Yesterday, Target threatened to not open two stores. 

What is it about “pay up or shut up!” that these outfits don’t understand?

August 4, 2006

The Confederation of All Indian Traders (CAIT) national conference at which a National Coordinating Committee to Oppose FDI in Retail was formed.

Still Marching

Buenos Aires      We heard the noise and all walked out on the balcony of one of the newest ACORN offices in the world in Buenos Aires, where Ercilia Sahores, ACORN’s Latin American Director, and three other organizers have spent the first month of ACORN Argentina laying the groundwork for our first community organizations in La Boca and La Barracas.   From the 10th floor we could follow the noise of the march as it came up Medrano and turned on our corner towards the capital, Casa Rosada. 

There were no flags or signs.  There was no quick pace or music.  There were no colorful vests heralding the pride and purpose of the marchers, which I found so moving in the days of the piquetaros.  There were several hundred retirees still marching for the restoration of their pensions almost five years after the economic crises in this country, which capsized the social structure in Argentina.  The economy is much improved now and business is happy with the political stability achieved under President Nelson Kirchner, who dealt toughly with both his international creditors and the social movements that had sprung up to meet the crises.  Unfortunately, in the same way that the President restructured and walked away from the debts with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, he has also not restored the draconian cutbacks in social services that his predecessor had implemented in the meltdown.

Regional economies are also improved.  The fiercely nationalist Argentine staff for ACORN groused about all of the Chilean businesses that were increasingly moving into Argentina and the dominance of the LAN Chile national airline of more and more of the travel around South America, and therefore the increasing price of everything.  The exchange is still three pesos to the dollar, so prices are relatively cheap and remaining constant to the devaluation which was one to one before the crises.  More and more English is heard on the street in some chic areas near downtown as foreigners pick up bargains in real estate, which though rising here, seem like bargains back to wherever they called home. 

Last night we pulled Steve Kest, ACORN’s Executive Director, out of his vacation for a meeting in the colorful Cafe Tortoni with his daughter, Anna, and later were joined by Cate Poe for dinner.  He mentioned an old buddy from his high school days that had recently bought a condo in Buenos Aires to retire when the time came, once again proving the rumor with factual antidote.

It may be one world, but it’s a rough one!

August 3, 2006

View of the march from the new Buenos Aries ACORN office