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Globalization and Human Rights. LSJ/SIS 322: Human Rights in Latin America Spring 2009. Juan Luis Guerra, “El Costo de la Vida” “The Cost of Living”. The cost of living Is rising again The peso’s dropping, so far down you can’t even see it And you can’t eat beans

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globalization and human rights

Globalization and Human Rights

LSJ/SIS 322: Human Rights in Latin America

Spring 2009

juan luis guerra el costo de la vida the cost of living
Juan Luis Guerra, “El Costo de la Vida”“The Cost of Living”

The cost of living

Is rising again

The peso’s dropping, so far down you can’t even see it

And you can’t eat beans

Nor a pound of rice, or a quarter of coffee

Nobody cares what you think

Could it be because here we don’t speak English?

El costo de la vida sube otra vez

el peso que baja, ya ni se ve

y las habichuelas no se pueden comer

ni una libra de arroz, ni una cuarta de café

a nadie le importa qué piensa usted

será porque aquí no hablamos inglés

juan luis guerra el costo de la vida the cost of living1
Juan Luis Guerra, “El Costo de la Vida”“The Cost of Living”

Ah, ah, it’s true

Do you understand? Do you, do you?

And the price of gas is up again

The peso’s fallen so far, you can’t even see it anymore

And democracy can’t grow

If corruption has it in check

Nobody cares what you think

Could it be because here we don’t speak French?

Ah, ah es verdad

do you understand? Do you, do you?

Y la gasolina sube otra vez

el peso que baja, ya ni se ve

y la democracia no puede crecer

si la corrupción juega ajedrez

a nadie le importa qué piensa usted

será porque aquí no hablamos francés

juan luis guerra el costo de la vida the cost of living2
Juan Luis Guerra, “El Costo de la Vida”“The Cost of Living”

Ah, ah vous parlez?

Ah, ah non, Monsieur

Eh!

We’re just a pinprick of a country

Between the sea and the sky

Five hundred years later

A burning race,

Black, White, and Taína (indigenous)

But who discovered whom?

Ah, ah vous parlez?

ah, ah non, Monsieur

¡Eh!...

Somos un agujero

en medio del mar y el cielo

quinientos años después

una raza encendida

negra, blanca y taína

¿pero quién descubrió a quién?

slide5

Ay, the cost of living

you see, going up, you see

The peso’s going down

you see, can’t even see it anymore

And medicine?

you see, it’s going backwards

Here there isn’t even a cure for a callous on your foot

Ay, ki-iki-iki, eh, ya ves, ay ki-iki-é

And now unemployment,

it bit me too

No one cares, no

Eh, you see, it’s that we don’t speak English

Mitsubishi doesn’t care

neither does Chevrolet

Ay, the cost of living

eh, ya ves, pa’rriba tú ves

y el peso que baja

eh, ya ves, pobre ni se ve

y la medicina

eh, ya ves, camina al revés

aquí no se cura

eh, ya ves, ni un callo en el pie

Ay, ki-iki-iki, eh, ya ves, ay ki-iki-é

y ahora el desempleo

me mordió también

a nadie le importa, no

eh, ya ves, pues no hablamos inglés

ni a la Mitsubishi

ni a la Chevrolet

slide6

Corruption’s on the rise

You see, on the rise

And the peso is falling

So far down you can’t even see it anymore

And crime

Yeah, you see, it caught me this time

Here there isn’t even a cure

For a callous on your foot

Ay, ki-iki-iki, eh, ya ves, ay ki-iki-é

And now unemployment,

it bit me too

No one cares, no

It’s that we don’t speak English

Mitsubishi doesn’t care

neither does Chevrolet

La corrupción pa’rriba

eh, ya ves, pa’rriba tú ves

y el peso que baja

eh, ya, pobre ni se ve

y la delincuencia

eh, ya, me pilló esta vez

aquí no se cura

ni un callo en el pie

Ay, ki-iki-iki eh, ya ves, ay ki-iki-é

y ahora el desempleo

me mordió también

a nadie le importa, no

pues no hablamos inglés

ni a la Mitsubishi

ni a la Chevrolet

slide7

The recession’s on the rise

You see, on the rise

And the peso is falling

So far down you can’t even see it anymore

And medicine

Is going backward

Here there’s not even a cure

For a callous on your foot.

Ay, ki-iki-iki eh, ya ves, ay ki-iki-é

And unemployment,

it bit me too

No one cares, no

It’s that we don’t speak English

Mitsubishi doesn’t care

neither does Chevrolet

La recesión pa-arriba

eh, ya, pa-rriba tú ves

y el peso que baja

eh, ya, pobre ni se ve

y la medicina

Camina al reves

Aquí no se cura

Ni un callo en el pie

Ay, ki-iki-iki eh, ya ves, ay ki-iki-é

Y el desempleo

me mordió también

a nadie le importa, no

pues no hablamos inglés

ni a la Mitsubishi

ni a la Chevrolet

globalization and human rights1
Globalization and human rights

Widespread perception in Latin America that globalization’s rules biased in favor of Northern governments and corporations

But does a strong tide lift all boats?

globalization and human rights2
Globalization and human rights

Is globalization good or bad for human rights?

(Neo) Liberal position: global economic and political integration good for HR:

  • Will reduce global inequalities (Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat)
  • Will enable more civil society leverage over abusive states

Alter-globalization position: global integration merely reiterates existing hierarchies of exploitation

  • Comparative advantage/ race to the bottom
  • Weakens states’ ability to promote human rights
  • Enables corporate actors to cut ties to states

Ultimately, “good” or “bad” not the right question

globalization and human rights3
Globalization and human rights

Debates about globalization: challenge for human rights advocates

  • Extremely polarized debate
  • Human rights movement staked its early legitimacy on being politically neutral
  • As understanding of rights broaden, this “apolitical” stance called into question

“Free thinkers” article: AI broadens its mandate

  • Is there a danger to taking on economic structures?
shifting understandings of human rights
Shifting understandings of human rights
  • Past adversary: “secret” practices of states
    • responsibility not in question
    • Abuses not defended
    • challenge was relaying information
    • globalization (info. flows) was a boon, enabling transnational advocacy
  • Present adversary: structures of unclear accountability
    • How do we hold resource-poor states responsible for failure to enforce social/economic rights?
    • How do we hold resource-poor states responsible for abuses by private actors upon whom they depend?
    • Corporate actors=new target, but mechanisms to hold states accountable much better developed
corporate accountability
Corporate accountability
  • “Hard law” offers limited tools
  • “Soft law” includes voluntary codes and initiatives, consumer awareness campaigns, certification schemes
    • Downsides:
      • Fox tending the henhouse
      • Whose information is credible?
      • Vast power differences
    • Upsides:
      • Codes of conduct are useful, but require action by NGOs, consumers to hold them to codes (Rodriguez-Garavito 2006)
corporate accountability1
Corporate accountability
  • Use of market-based campaigning raises new concerns for human rights
    • Role of critic? Product promoter?
    • Independence
    • Credibility of information
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