• Finalizado
    FINAL
    2015-09-12
    Argentina 71
    Venezuela 76
  • Finalizado
    BRONCE
    2015-09-12
    Mexico 86
    Canada 87
  • Finalizado
    SEMIFINAL
    2015-09-11
    Argentina 78
    Mexico 70
  • Finalizado
    SEMIFINAL
    2015-09-11
    Canada 78
    Venezuela 79
  • Finalizado
    Ronda 2
    2015-09-09
    Mexico 95
    Argentina 83
  • Finalizado
    Ronda 2
    2015-09-09
    Uruguay 69
    Puerto Rico 80
  • Finalizado
    Ronda 2
    2015-09-09
    Dominicana 103
    Canada 120
  • Finalizado
    Ronda 2
    2015-09-09
    Panama 62
    Venezuela 75
  • Finalizado
    Ronda 2
    2015-09-08
    Mexico 73
    Canada 94
  • Finalizado
    Ronda 2
    2015-09-08
    Panama 71
    Puerto Rico 78
  • Finalizado
    Ronda 2
    2015-09-08
    Venezuela 75
    Uruguay 77
  • Finalizado
    Ronda 2
    2015-09-08
    Argentina 92
    Dominicana 84

The dark side of the Cotonou Agreement

In the Experts Column we have Omer Freixa, historian, expert in African studies, that brought us a deep analysis about the nature of the Cotonou Agreement and its impact on basketball.
Colonialism strangled Africa for about eight decades and has left a peculiar negative mark, along with a history of underdevelopment that, until recently a truism, it was constantly repeating without great arguments its inability to go through it. If we add to this the hard legacy produced by four centuries of what was called the Great Atlantic Trade, where some 10 million Africans survived the ocean travel while going to the Americas as slaves (along with much more millions who didn't survive), the footprint of that underdevelopment is indisputably longstanding.

All those historical, so harmful processes, lead us to think that Africans have left little room to negotiate and participate in their own history. Moreover, the feeling of inferiority does not end with decolonization from 1960 onwards. Although that time was auspicious around massive independence, shortly later, the 80s showed economic mishaps, the beginning of neo-liberalism and analysts referring to it as the "lost decade". It was the era of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) that generated so much misery, not only in Africa.

While Africa is not, as erroneously assumed the collective imagination, a 'country' destined to chaos, poverty and political violence, many of the regulatory framework in which those countries move, are conditioned by more powerful actors. Some years ago SAPs were reissued. In this regard, the new version came in the form of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) that show how the European Union (EU) converts the privileged trade regime between European markets and its former colonies (not only including African nations, but also the Caribbean and Pacific ones) into free trade areas that do not discriminate the rest of the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This body, by itself, subdues the former "Third World" by requiring former colonies, for instance, to open free trade areas with their former "metropolis", in exchange for technical and financial assistance.

In this always hegemonic framework of relations between North and South, European countries have freedom of initiative to choose which African bloc to build relationships, curtailing cooperation within Africa. Announcing the turn of the decade, in 1980 was signed the Lagos Plan of Action, which proved in practice to be a European strategy to shield the weak points of their economies in order not to be attacked by foreign competition, although it promised a solid development strategy for Africans. So despite the undersigned, a year later the plan was destroyed and every African actor received funding separately within the liberal model that was born around the Washington Consensus.

Under that framework, the proceedings in Cotonou, Benin, held in June 2000, led to the signing of a cooperation agreement between the EU and 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific (the former colonial territories) in what is hereinafter called Cotonou Model. The agreement, signed in that city in the former French colony, replaced the Lomé Convention expired that year, following revisions. However, it wasn't a true cooperation and development treaty for the ACP (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific) bloc, but rather a form of makeup continuation of that submission.

In global rounds each of the last signatories, all of them with low decisional and power capacity, were pressured to sign on all subjects, replacing the Lomé and Yaoundé Conventions, which until 1995 forged preferential agreements between the EU and partner countries in a more level playing field, at least with unrestricted access to European markets by African states, but ultimately this model proved a failure. Ultimately, Europe replaced them with a colonial-style system of Euro-African trade in which only benefitted her and its partners, whereas in the African side the patronage, clientelism and corruption increased, through the forms of retribution and partial financial aid, if they can be called well. The Cotonou agreement, to govern until 2020, is not too far from the latter.

Despite its many flaws as the nature of the agreement aims more at trade issues, cooperation and development, including poverty reduction, despite its scope has an impact on the sports world. The basketball goes some way benefited. For years it began to speak about the "cotonou status", the nationals from ACP states, subject to the terms of the agreement, not listed as foreigners but as community in the ranks of European teams since agreement tends to integration in the labor market of people in the ACP bloc. But, for the European supporters, Africa and other former colonies are treated more like a distant object: they usually don't understand why non-white players can not be understood as a part of a settled team in Europe and enlist as Europeans. Instead, the Agreement is the legal explanation to be known and it allows to conceive that these players are not being considered illegal for more than common sense and the typical bias do think, repeatedly, otherwise. Especially when it comes to non-EU reaching exercise unskilled jobs and, least, perform such a prestigious occupation in professional sports.

Moreover, given a Europe that expels population and is practically indifferent to the illegal immigration process from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East that, during 2014, has had over 3,000 deaths in several shipwrecks in the Mediterranean. The picture is even more complicated because, from November, Italian operation Mare Nostrum was terminated, replacing it with another that virtually closes and shields the borders of the EU. Then, and at least Cotonou, provides a different integration channel (but too marginal considering the very small number of native players in the European leagues, facing the widespread contempt for the worker of the former overseas colonies), and although many racist voices unfortunately report that it is a sham because, in their opinion, blacks should never be considered as EU players and have passports as such, white players began to appear as ACP nationals by bribing an African dictator and being granted a passport in a few hours from some African nation unknown to them.

As much as racism is mitigated in some way, and the option of watching them playing in the European leagues, non-community players that pass for community players, Cotonou failures are the perfect evidence of the hegemony of historical inequalities in the North-South relationship. Abuse in the appearance of "white Cotonous" to glimpse the weakness of the poorest states, for the crumbs, give rise to irregularities described as falsifying a passport at the request of the federations of the Old World, hampering local talent in this wave of express passports that has, for example, American players of Irish origin who are citizens of the distal Guinea Bissau. Examples of other whiter-than-milk skinned players with passports from African countries abound. If these ballers could hardly locate the country of their second nationality on a map, it's too much to ask. This always happens with Africa, ignorance or indifference, except when some kind of interest is put into betrayal, such as improving the terms in a sports recruitment, and of course, not only in basketball. In short, a biased reality with very few beneficiaries, against a majority that barely survives, or perishes on the road.
Omer Freixa (@omerfreixa)

Lecturas: 322 - 2015-04-06