Finally, after more than 10 years since its last incorporation (South Africa), the BRICS group has agreed on the entry of six new members as of 1 January 2024: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Iran and Argentina. In the case of our country, let us hope that this will be ratified by those who take office at the end of this year since, among the three presidential candidates with possibilities of coming to power, the two who represent the right and the ultra-right have stated that they would reject this membership, given their total ideological alignment with the USA and their systematic opposition to everything the current government does.
As we know, the BRICS have a growing weight in the world, with almost half of the world’s population, more than a third of the world’s GDP, and enormous potential due to their energy reserves, food production and raw materials in general. But also because of their geopolitical importance, they are becoming a strong counterweight to the G7, which until a few years ago hegemonised global decisions with the USA at the head, and perhaps this is the most interesting aspect of this group of countries, which are, by the way, quite heterogeneous. They are not nations with ideological affinities, and each of them could be questioned on some aspect, be it their form of government or their international policies or their economic interests, just as many US and European policies could also be questioned; but the conception of multilateralism and international cooperation seems to be more genuine in the BRICS than what resulted from the multilateral organisations that emerged after the Second World War, where behind the screen of a formal multilateralism, the real hegemony of the US and the Global North was concealed.
We have repeatedly spoken of the uselessness of the UN in fulfilling each of the objectives for which it was created, starting with that of maintaining peace in the world. We have often spoken of the international financial organisations which, instead of supporting countries in their development, defend the interests of private banks and take political decisions aligned with the interests of the USA, which, in addition to imposing the dollar as the international currency, has reserved the right to veto all IMF decisions.
In this context we could say that the BRICS, which are not a homogeneous bloc but rather a space of convergence linked to the Global South, today represent a rebellion against the hegemony of the USA and its partners, a rebellion against the financial monopoly of the Wall Street-London axis, a rebellion against the forced use of the dollar for international trade, and perhaps the hope for a future mechanism of democratic global governance that can provide an effective response to global problems. No one can say for sure that this will work in the way they aspire to, but what is certain is that the diversity of nations provides a more favourable starting point for generating a new multilateralism, not hegemonised by a particular power.
In this context, the BRICS represent an interesting alternative for Argentina, both in terms of opening up markets, investing in development projects, and financing itself without being prey to the Vulture Funds or hostage to the IMF. And above all, it means for Argentina the possibility of participating in a space of cooperation that contrasts with the hypocritical authoritarianism of the US and its satellites. And we speak of hypocrisy, because the financial problems that Argentina has today, and the consequent inflationary process, originate in the enormous debt that the neoliberal government of Macri took on with the IMF, who, having assumed power in a country that was practically debt-free, in four years doubled unemployment and took on an astronomical debt to finance capital flight, and the IMF was complicit in granting the largest loan in its history for the sole purpose of achieving Macri’s re-election, which in any case he did not achieve. That was the legacy of neoliberalism, and as if that wasn’t enough, then came the pandemic, the war and the drought; but for the hypocritical look of the USA, the IMF and the US and European media opinion makers, Argentina’s problems are the fault of “South American populism”, they must be dealt with severely, and the solution would be the return of neoliberalism.
In contrast to this hostile and hypocritical attitude, Argentina was able to alleviate its finances, at least for a time, with the help of some swaps from China, and was able to count on the efforts of a supportive Lula who, in addition to promoting bilateral trade without using dollar reserves, was, together with China, the main promoter of Argentina’s entry into the BRICS. So, it is not an ideological problem, but simply a matter of being able to participate in a space of greater collaboration, greater solidarity and less blackmail, less impositions. And that is what the more than 30 countries of the Global South that want to join the BRICS are also seeking.
From another point of view, Argentina’s entry could mean an important contribution in the BRICS ambit, not only in the economic dimension, given its potential for raw materials and technological development in some areas, but also in the social and cultural dimension. And in this sense, being a space that is taking shape and evolving with the entry of new countries, it will be important to incorporate into the BRICS the social look, the preoccupation with inequality, the real commitment to care for the environment and the non-violent resolution of conflicts. And perhaps in the future, the entry of new Latin American countries, with a less warmongering history than other regions, could mean a contribution to the genesis of a global collaborator governance that replaces the UN and finally achieves peace among nations.
The latter may sound utopian, but it is not a bad thing to put it on the horizon in order to mobilise towards it, and in any case, Argentina’s entry into the BRICS is an important step.