Issue 1, March 2007
About this bulletin
This is a new publication that will come out every two months to summarise recent and forthcoming actions in the illegitimate debt campaign, carried out by activists across the world. It aims to publicise the actions and give opportunities for more people to get involved to challenge illegitimate debts and the structures which lead to them.
The bulletin is produced by CADTM, Eurodad, Jubilee South and Jubilee USA. More details, page 11.
Please circulate widely to people you know who will be interested.
Please send your feedback and input to email@example.com.
The next issue will come out in May. The deadline to submit articles will be 4th May.
85,000 postcards on Kenya debt transparency
In late February 2007, activists in Kenya affiliated with the Catholic Economic Justice network presented to the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, a government watchdog agency, an estimated 85,000 postcards demanding debt cancellation - or, if not forthcoming, repudiation.
The activists put particular emphasis on gaining full access to the national debt register - a listing of loans contracted by the government and the use they have been put to. CEJ reports a recent major success in getting access to part of the register - covering the period up to 2002. Until this development, the register, although technically a public document, had been kept secret.
The intention is to determine what debts are illegitimate - fully 80% are expected to attract that designation. The campaign mounted by CEJ, "Debt is Slavery! Debt is Poverty! Refusing to pay is Justice!" has worked to educate Kenyans and popularize demands for repudiation of illegitimate debt. Pressure will now be mounted on the government to institute accessible monitoring mechanisms for future loans and on elected representatives to push for repudiation.
Contact: www.catholiceconomicjustice.org (background on postcard campaign) and
www.kutokanet.org/network/actions/actions.htm#06debt (recent press releases).
Parliamentarians’ declaration for responsible sovereign lending
A coalition of NGOs in the South and North - AFRODAD, EURODAD, LATINDADD, Jubilee South, Jubilee South (Americas) and Jubilee USA - have cooperated on a "Parliamentarian’s Declaration for Shared Responsibility in Sovereign Lending". The declaration argues that some of the root causes of the debt crisis are irresponsible lending and borrowing practices by both lenders and borrowers and that principles of shared responsibility for illegitimate debt should apply. Its aim is to raise awareness of the issues of illegitimate debt and creditor co-responsibility among MPs and encourage them to raise this issue at national levels via parliamentary audit processes, parliamentary questions, legislative motions or other measures.
It will be launched at the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank annual conference in Cape Town between 15 and 17 March, co-sponsored by several elected representatives who will attend. Organisations and social movements are encouraged to become involved in this initiative and to encourage local elected representatives to sign-on to the statement and take action. There are a number of regional focal points for the African, Latin American, North American, Asian and European regions who will be coordinating signatures and providing more information. They are detailed in the declaration.
A private company is trying to scavenge a huge profit from Zambia. A ’vulture fund’ called Donegal International bought for $3.3 million a debt owed to Romania by Zambia. This claim was originally worth $15 million and the value then rose to $30 million. The vulture fund has sued Zambia for the full amount plus interest and costs -over $55 million! This figure represents more erase at least half if not all the annual gains to Zambia from debt cancellation.
On 15th February, a London court rejected the size of Donegal’s claim, but said that it is entitled to something from Zambia. He ruled that some of the clauses in the agreement that Donegal got Zambia to sign after buying the debt from Romania were "penal", and he rejected these clauses. He also said that some of Donegal International’s witnesses had at times been "dishonest" and that he could not accept all their evidence.
Jubilee campaigns from Zambia, the UK and USA have launched actions to demand that Donegal International drop its lawsuit.
An e-mail campaign action targeting the company plus Gordon Brown can be accessed on Jubilee Debt Campaign’s website: www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/?lid=2893
Philippines Debt Audit Initiative
The Call for a Philippine Congressional (Parliamentary) Debt Audit was given a big boost in September 2004 when the House of Representatives unanimously approved the Joint Resolution on the Congressional Inquiry and Audit of Public Debt and Contingent Liabilities proposed by the Freedom From Debt Coalition together with its members and allies in the parliament. The leadership of the Senate (upper house) proved to be far less cooperative - the Committee on Finance sat on the proposal up to the very last day of the Thirteenth Session of the Philippine Congress last March ------. The shelving of the proposed resolution can partly be explained by the national political crisis surrounding the Presidency that escalated in early 2005 and erupted in widespread calls for President Arroyo’s resignation or ouster and massive resignations from her Cabinet by July 2005. The political turmoil continued throughout 2006, marked by a week long state of emergency in February 2006, and intensification of repression including extra-judicial killings.
Major political players are now absorbed in campaigning for the May 2007 elections. Half of the seats of the Philippine Senate and the entire House of Representatives are up for election, as are all of the Local Government positions. Thus, Philippine debt campaigners efforts on the debt audit are now channelled into preparing to regain momentum and re-engage the parliament when it convenes as the Fourteenth Congress in July 2007. The Joint Resolution for the Debt Audit will have to be re-filed and the fight for its approval will have to start all over again.
Forums with Philippine Parliamentarians
FDC is also linking up with the Senate Economic Planning Office (SEPO) for a series of parliamentarian’s forums on illegitimate debt in time for the opening of the new Congress. A similar initiative is being pursued with the Congressional Planning and Budget Department (CPBD) of the Lower House.
Philippine Video on Illegitimate Debt
FDC is currently developing a video documentary on illegitimate debt cases for dissemination all over the country.
Initiatives of Faith Based Groups
Inspired by the example of Jubilee USA, members of the Freedom from Debt Coalition from various faith communities are in planning stage of a Philippine Sabbath Year Campaign on Debt.
The Philippine network of the global Micah Challenge campaign have also linked up with FDC for its debt campaign and have recently agreed to put a major emphasis on illegitimate debt.
Philippine Illegitimate Debt Cases
The Freedom from Debt Coalition is preparing a new set of case studies of illegitimate debt as part of its national campaign efforts and as contribution to Jubilee South’s regional and global initiatives. Several case studies were published in the 1990s, featuring Marcos-era debts. This new set includes more recent cases of illegitimate debt particularly those contracted from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, and also recent loans of the Arroyo government from the Peoples Republic of China:
Involving the World Bank
US$ 121 million Small Coconut Farms Development Project
US$ 200 million textbook project
Role of WB in the privatization of power and water sectors
JBIC-funded South Reclamation Project in Cebu City
Role of ADB in privatization of power and water sectors
Assessment of Japanese ODA
Chinese loans entered into by the Arroyo administration
Three new loans as stipulated in the RP-China Agreement on Economic Cooperation
Declaration on Debt, World Social Forum in Kenya
In January 61 organisations from around the world signed a declaration at the World Social Forum in Kenya. The full text of the declaration is available below, covering a condemnation of the current debt situation, recommendations for different actors, and pledges of actions by the signatory groups. The groups pledged in particular to mobilise for a week of action from 14-21 October.
“Campaigns, social movements, non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations, faith-based organisations and activists from all around the world have gathered in Nairobi, Kenya for the 2007 World Social Forum. Together, we the undersigned participants of the World Social Forum are determined to achieve an end to debt domination. It is a scandal that the rich world demands hundreds of millions of dollars every day from the South in payment of ‘debts’ that have emerged from that have emerged from the unjust economic relations that impoverish the South and enrich the North.
To read the whole declaration: www.cadtm.org/article.php3?id_article=2408
Jubilee USA loves Liberia: over 10,000 valentines to US Treasury
Jubilee USA Network focused on Liberia’s odious and illegitimate debt in February 2007, working to influence policymakers ahead of the Liberia Partners’ Forum Feb 13-15 in Washington, DC. Jubilee USA supporters around the country mailed in Valentines calling on US Treasury to "Have a Heart, and Cancel Liberia’s Debt!" Jubilee USA used the opportunity to educate policymakers and the public about the odious and illegitimate origins of Liberia’s debt, contracted by the brutal past regimes of Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor. We partnered with Africa Action, Center for Democratic Empowerment (Liberia), Friends of the Earth-US, Institute for Policy Studies, and the International Labor Rights Fund among others.
For more information, see www.jubileeusa.org or contact Neil Watkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Jubilee law for US Congress
One of Jubilee USA’s key advocacy strategies in 2007, is to work for passage of debt legislation in US Congress. This legislation, the JUBILEE Act, would direct the US Treasury to cancel the debts of 67 impoverished countries without harmful economic conditions. The legislation includes a provision to audit past lending by the international financial institutions to impoverished countries with demonstrably odious or illegitimate debts such as Indonesia and Haiti.
For more information, see www.jubileeusa.org or contact Neil Watkins at email@example.com
Anti Debt Coalition rally against IMF in Jakarta
In early February NGOs staged a rally against the IMF in Jakarta. Tens of non-governmental organization (NGO) members grouped in the Anti-Neocolonialism and new imperialism movement staged a rally in front of the Merdeka Palace. The rally against new debts and for a debt write-off took place during a meeting between International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Rodrigo Rato and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The group consisted of several NGOs including the Anti-debt Coalition, WALHI (Indonesian Environmental Forum), the Indonesian Farmer Union Federation, Anti-Imperialism University Student Committee, and the Alliance of Struggling Workers. The protesters throw rotten tomatoes at a picture of Rato. The protestors waved banners reading: "Cancel regulations ordered by IMF", "Go Back Rato", "Say No To IMF (International Mafia Fund), and "Go to Hell IMF". In their written statement, the NGOs also asked the write-off of the government’s old debts and opposed any new debts. They asked the government not to be used for the IMF’s purposes. The IMF faces declining income due to accelerated debt payments by several countries. "The government must give priority to the sovereignty and independency of the national economy," the statement said. They also urged the Indonesian government to cancel its membership in the IMF and to start thinking of dissolving the institution. Following the meeting Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Boediono said that the Indonesian government would no longer ask for a new loan from IMF as Indonesia’s balance of payment was in sound condition.
INFID’s work on Indonesia’s illegitimate debt
As in many countries in the South, Indonesia is suffering under a huge debt burden. Most of the debts were made during the era of former President Soeharto. The public debt now amounts to 1,314 trillion Rupiah (US$ 143 billion). The Indonesian Government had to allocate quite a substantial amount from the government’s budget to service this debt - around Rp70 trillion annually - more than what it is allocated to social services such as health, education, housing, public safety and the environment. The debt repayment has prevented the Government to reduce poverty in Indonesia.
We believe most of Indonesia’s debt to be illegitimate, particularly debts made by the Soeharto regime which was incurred without the consent of nor for the benefit of the people, and therefore the Indonesian people must not be sacrificed to pay the debt. In this regard, INFID is currently undertaking a study on Indonesia’s illegitimate debt. Since mid February 2007, we have been collecting various studies and papers from other NGOs, experts and academics on the subject of illegitimate debt, on the concept and definitions, to help us to understand more about the concept and theory, and in identifying which type or category of debt that we can work on. We will develop this report, and make it as a handbook for debt activists and parliament members in Indonesia.
Inspired by the actions taken by the Norwegian government of cancelling the illegitimate debts owed by five countries last year in 2006, also by the researches from the Joint NGO Report on illegitimate debt claims of the G7, we will soon carry out another study that will be focusing on a certain project, such as the recent study by Erlassjahr.de on Germany’s illegitimate debt of warships to Indonesia. Furthermore, we are collaborating with other organizations like Afrodad and Jubilee South to do the study of illegitimate debt, for joint campaign. We hope these studies can further help us and others in the campaign of illegitimate debt.
Audit of Australian loans to Indonesia, Philippines
Jubilee Australia will this year begin an audit of Australia’s bilateral lending. The audit will concentrate initially on Australia’s loans to Indonesia and the Philippines, however there is scope to extend the study to all countries to which Australia has lent. The focus of the audit will be export credit loans, as, at least until the billion dollar Tsunami package to Indonesia, export credit lending made up 95% of debt claims made by Australia. Australia’s Export Credit Agency is called EFIC (Export Finance Insurance Corporation) and in previous years it has been uncooperative in releasing information about deals to which it has been party. It is hoped that this audit will enable EFIC’s books to be open to the public for the first time to make Australia’s past lending transparent. We hope to work closely with our Indonesian and Filippino colleagues in sharing and discovering information that will be relevant to all our campaigns.
Activities during the Asian Development Bank Annual Meeting, May 2007
The Jubilee South - APMDD (Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development) is organizing various activities on the occasion of the Asian Development Bank Annual General Meeting (ADB-AGM) this coming May 2007 in Kyoto Japan. Two of planned events will be on Illegitimate Debt:
1. A Public Forum on Illegitimate Debt, which will focus on illegitimate cases involving the ADB as well as the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. Japan is the largest contributor to the ADB and its bilateral debt claims from Asian countries comprise one of the largest in the region. Date is on May 5
2. A Round Table Discussion on Illegitimate Debt, which is intended to be one of the “inside” events at the ADB-AGM. It is envisioned as a discussion/debate with ADB officials on the concept of illegitimate debt and ADB involvement in actual cases. Tentative Date is May 6
Other JS APMDD activities for the ADB AGM are: Forums and Roundtable Discussions on Water Privatization and Power Privatization.
JS APMDD is inviting other interested organizations to co-organize these initiatives.
For further information on these and other ADB-AGM related activities, please contact JS APMDD c/o firstname.lastname@example.org
Kyrgyz Protesters Target World Bank Debt Scheme
Representatives of some youth and human rights groups protested in front of the parliament building in Bishkek, capital city, on 23 January against joining to the HIPC initiative. They promised they would offer their own plan of debt relief without HIPC. Minister of Economy and Finances Akylbek Japarov angrily responded on 26 January during a round table discussion that some NGOs were "financed by foreign funds to do their campaign", this caused storms of laughter as the audience reminded him that since his appointment in September 2005 his ministry received about $ 250 million of foreign aid - both loans and grants, which only aggravated the debt situation.
It became known in January that outgoing prime minister Felix Kulov revoked his signature under the official letter (sent on 28 December 2006) to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, in which Kulov had taken personal responsibility for participation in HIPC. Kulov said that he did not want his name to be associated with HIPC initiative. This is going to create difficulties for a new cabinet because growing opposition to HIPC is spreading while ministers will have to begin a new round of persuasions.
HIPC continues to spark significant irritation in various layers of Kyrgyz society. There were two popular movements in December 2006 that included "anti-HIPC" in their names. In January 2007 yet another anti-HIPC group announced the launch of a new movement called "For the Salvation of Kyrgyzstan". These anti-HIPC movements have declared they are thinking about various options should the Kyrgyz government choose to continue proposing HIPC as the only economic strategy. These include court challenges, a return to mass public protests, and acts of civil disobedience.
The birth of a South Asian debt network
At the time of their independence, most South Asian countries were already impoverished with their resources depleted due to colonial plunder. Then came heavy borrowings with Structural Adjustment Programmes, imposed conditionalities involving a rapid integration into the world economic systems with an active collaboration of the ruling elite of these countries. The policies pursued by this class state that bilateral and multi-lateral aid are vital for the economic growth of these countries and that there is no alternative.
Neo-liberal economic growth has further deepened the dependency on foreign aid with debt-servicing severely limiting the capacity to mitigate the negative social impact. The uncertainty of wages and job insecurity; increased public debt, cuts in social spending have further burdened people. A large amount of loans have been contracted to expand and diversify the export base often at the expense of local food production. Given unfair trade practices the exports have little impact on the levels of poverty. People suffer untold hardships so their countries can pay back the rich creditors.
It is in this backdrop that the preparatory meeting of CADTM, South Asia shall be held to advance the campaign and struggle against debt, WB, ADB, IMF and other financial institutions. The convention will be held from 12-16 May at Vagamon, Kerala with activists and researchers from across India and South Asia.
International VIP Statement on Illegitimate Debt
Plateforme Dette et Développment in France is coordinating an international "VIP" statement on illegitimate debt. The statement outlines how much developing country debt is a result of reckless, negligent and politically motivated lending and that creditors can indeed face old mistakes with truth and justice as demonstrated by the actions of Norway in 2006. It aims to secure the sign-on from individuals with international standing around the globe in order to exert greater pressure on governments in relation to the issue. Sign-ons so far include:
Mgr Portella Mbuyu Louis,
Revd. David Deeks,
Rabbi Danny Rich,
Michel Warschawski, and;
Federico Mayor Zaragoza.
For more information or to become involved, contact Nayla Ajaltouni: email@example.com
Nicaragua: solidarity in the face of IMF attempts to collect illegitimate debts.
Nicaraguan social organizations have been mobilizing for several months in opposition to the signing of a new agreement with the IMF (see: www.cc.org.ni ). As the IMF negotiations intensified in early March, Jubilee South/Americas released a communiqué reiterating its solidarity with the protests of the Nicaraguan movements and highlighting its concern that the IMF is pressing the government for “reforms” geared to insure repayment of both the external and internal public debts claimed of that country and which have been clearly shown to be illegitimate. JS/A denounces the IMF demands and the consequences that its pretended reforms would have for the Nicaraguan people. Furthermore, it calls on the Ortega government to reject the IMF’s proposals as contrary to the peoples’ interests and to call on Nicaraguan citizens to rally behind dignified and transparent positions that are coherent with the nation’s sovereign and sustainable development. JS/A also expressed its support for the demands of Nicaraguan organizations for a moratorium on payment of the illegitimate external and internal public debts and a comprehensive and participatory audit of the same.
Contact: Center for International Studies (Nicaragua), Alejandro Bendaña, firstname.lastname@example.org
The full text of the communiqué is available at:
On March 24, Argentina will commemorate the 31st anniversary of the last military coup. As part of the week of action leading up to that date, a number of organizations and personalities will redouble their pressure on the Argentine Congress to debate the bill they presented last year, to declare null and void the debt contracted by the military dictatorship. The bill makes reference to the illegitimacy of that debt and its consequences for the lives of millions of persons. It also refers to the responsibility of the IFIs in relation to the crimes against humanity committed. The call for annulment is also based on Federal Judge Ballester’s ruling in what is known as the “Olmos Case. This sentence handed down in 2000, substantiated the illegality and illegitimacy of the process of indebtedness and ordered the National Congress to establish political responsibility for the irregularities. The Argentine Congress has thus far refused to initiate such an investigation however, and so the citizen’s bill aims not only to achieve the declaration of nullity but also to approve a comprehensive and participatory audit of the ongoing consequences of that illegitimate debt.
Contact: Gladys Jarazo, Diálogo 2000 (Argentina) email@example.com
Ecuador-Brazil: Brazilian Organizations Congratulate Ecuadorian President For Denouncing The Illegitimacy Of The Debt
Scarcely a week after his inauguration as president of Ecuador, members of Jubilee South Brazil and other social organizations met with Rafael Correa in Rio de Janeiro to support his public acknowledgement of the illegitimacy of the debt and to exchange ideas on related policy initiatives. Ecuadoran Finance Minister Ricardo Patino also participated in the conversations. Among the issues discussed, the Brazilian emphasized the importance of deepening the official audit of the debts being claimed of Ecuador and strengthening the articulation of similar policies with other governments in the region. President Correa, for his part, emphasized the importance of creating international legal mechanisms capable of sanctioning illegitimate and illegal debt.
Contact: Sandra Quintela, PACS/Jubileo Sur Brasil, firstname.lastname@example.org
Latin American Council of Churches Calls to Strengthen Struggle to Cancel Illegitimate and Odious Debt
Between February 19 and 25th, 2007, the Latin American Council of Churches held its V Assembly in Buenos Aires, Argentina, under the theme “The Grace of God justifies us, God’s spirit frees us to live”. Jubilee South/Americas, together with the Program of Advocacy on Illegitimate External Debt of the Lutheran World Federation, participated in the workshop organized by the Program on Faith, Economy, and Society, denouncing the human and ethical cost of the external debt and sharing information and plans with regard to the alternatives of justice that are being built in the region and globally. The Final Declaration of the Assembly, among other priorities, makes a call to “...deepen commitments toward the cancellation of the illegitimate and odious debt of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.”
The full text of the Final Declaration is available at www.clai.org.ec/vasamblea.htm
The debt of the DRC and the five programmes of the Head of the State.
CADTM Lubumbashi recently held a conference on the debt, a necessary issue to resolve before initiating the work programmes of the Head of the State. In front of an audience made up professors of university, teachers of the secondary, pupils, representatives of organizations of Lubumbashi civil society, CADTM Lubumbashi presented the five programmes envisaged by the Head of the State of DRC These are in the areas of agriculture, employment, education, road infrastructure and health. The lecturers pointed out that even if it is important to prioritise agriculture, it is necessary to start with the repudiation of the debt.
Contact: CADTM LUBUMBASHI email@example.com
Health, debt, structural adjustment and globalisation: what’s at stake?
CADTM organized on 3-4 March a training on "Debt-Health-Structural Adjustment-Globalization". This aimed to sensitize the medical profession and the public to the challenges to ensure a right to health for all. We saw that health cannot be simply defined as "absence of disease" but rather as a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being. The WHO has defined it thus since 1948. These conditions cannot be met without satisfying basic needs which are: primary healthcare, basic education, family planning and reproductive health, food, access to drinking water and to decent housing. These fundamental needs are deeply threatened by debt repayments, Structural Adjustment imposed by the International Monetary International Monetary Fund and World Bank and by several agreements of the World Trade Organization.
CADTM will organize on March 31, a training on this topic. It will cover the evolution of the rules concerning the investments, rules which undermine international human rights law. The complicity of violation of the human rights of the financial institutions by the World Bank will be exposed. A case study on the plundering of the investors in Republic of Congo will be presented.
The Observatory on Debt and Globalisation (ODG) is producing a study on the illegitimate bilateral debt of Spain in three countries: Ecuador, Mauritania and Angola. The objective is to show the irresponsibility of the Spanish government in fomenting the illegitimate indebtedness of the countries of the South.
We will study in particular loans linked to the purchase of arms, projects with negative environmental impacts and social, and cases of corruption and fraud. This study will be made throughout 2007 in different phases.
Contact: Iolanda Fresnillo firstname.lastname@example.org
Barcelona workshop and seminar on illegitimate debt
In June the Observatory on Debt and Globalisation is organizing a workshop and a seminar in Barcelona on illegitimate debt cancellation and repudiation. They will bring together Spanish parliamentarians and members of civil society groups from North and South to debate if there are real possibilities for the recognition and cancellation and repudiation of illegitimate debts, and how to pursue this. The workshop will try to influence the policy and practice of Spanish politicians. The seminar is open to any person interested in the matter, with the objective to open to the debate on illegitimacy of the debt with the Catalan and Spanish mass media. The most probable dates are the 15 June for the workshop and 16 June for the seminar.
Contact : Dani Goic. Dani.email@example.com
The "Who Owes Whom?" campaign
The Observatory on Debt and Globalisation is working on the "Who Owes Whom?" campaign with 50 other Spanish organizations and networks. On 17 and 18 of March the campaign will organize the 4th state encounter in Asturias to discuss forthcoming joint actions. These will in particular focus on the G8 and the week of global action against the Debt in October. The main thrusts of the campaign are illegitimate debt, ecological and social debt, and links between debt and the impacts of the Spanish transnational companies.
On March 8, International Women’s Day, Jubilee South/Americas launched a Call for Solidarity with Haitian Women in the face of the situation of violence that affects them both physically and mentally as a result of the presence of a military occupation and the very real consequences of continued payment of an illegitimate debt. Through the Call, women from all over the world demand the withdrawal of the troops of the UN Stabilization Mission (Minustah) and the full and unconditional cancellation of the debt claimed of Haiti. The women also commit themselves to “accompany alternatives of justice that would enable what has been plundered to be restored and compensation made, showing that women are the principal creditors of an enormous financial, social, cultural, and gender equity debt that has been and continues now to accumulate through a long history of patriarchal colonialism and capitalist exploitation”. The solidarity campaign with the struggle of the Haitian people also calls on people and organizations to join in the Global Day of Solidarity with Haiti, on March 29.
The full text of the Call is available in English, Spanish and Creole, at http://jubileosuramericas.blogspot.com
CONTACTS: Gender Area, Jubilee South/Americas firstname.lastname@example.org and/or Solidarity Campaign with Haiti, email@example.com . In Haiti, PAPDA, www.papda.org , firstname.lastname@example.org and SOFA, Carole Pierre Paul Jacob, email@example.com
Brazil - Training and mobilization for an official debt Audit
During its recent national coordination meeting, the Jubilee South/Brazil network reaffirmed its decision to accentuate its program of local and state-wide training activities together with the edition of information and didactic material exploring the relationship between Debt-National Budget, External and Internal Debt, and Debt-Social Security, in support of the calendar of mobilization and lobbying. The network will continue the semi-annual edition of the Bulletin on Debt and Audits, material that is produced by the Citizen Audit Coordination of JS/Brazil, which will be complemented in the course of the year with various training seminars. During the week of March 19, JS/Brazil will participate with talks and workshops in the Plenary meeting of the Popular Assemblies, part of the “The Brazil that we want” process, and also in the conference of local leaders of the Cry of the Excluded. Another important focus for this year is the Campaign for the Renationalisation of the Valley of Río Doce, wherein the interrelation between the illegitimate external debt and the privatization and denationalization of natural resources and essential human rights, and the sharp increase in the internal debt is highlighted.
Contact: Red Jubileu Sul, firstname.lastname@example.org o email@example.com, www.jubileubrasil.org.br and Auditoría Cidade, www.auditoriacidade.org.br
Brazil - Haiti: 10 Day Tour Galvanizes Campaign for Debt Cancellation and Troop Withdrawal
Between March 1 and 10, the Jubilee South/Brazil network together with PAPDA-Haiti, organized a tour in more than 10 cities of Brazil with the presence of Didier Dominique, union organizer of Batay Ouvriye, and Raquel Beauvoir, anthropologist and university professor. According to first reports, the highly successful tour made it possible to expand exponentially, the dissemination and debate on the current situation in Haiti and the reasons behind the presence of Brazilian military there. In the capital city, Brasilia, the Haitians were also able to meet with Federal officials in the Secretariats on Women, and on Race and Human Rights, as well as members of the Congressional Committee on Foreign Affairs. The call for the immediate and unconditional cancellation of the debt claimed of Haiti by the IDB, and the no-inclusion of Haiti in the HIPC program, were among the issues highlighted during the tour. The immediate follow-up to the tour will be a renewed round of informational activities and mobilization on March 29, as part of the Global Day of Solidarity with Haiti.
Skeletons in the Cupboard: Illegitimate Debt Claims of the G7
A new joint NGO report reveals illegitimate debt claims of the G7 governments. The report highlights irresponsible lending by G7 governments to Indonesia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Argentina, the Philippines, and Congo-Brazzaville. The money was lent to buy political allegiance, or to help rich country companies do business abroad in non-viable projects. Examples are:
the export of old East German warships to Indonesia,
the export of unneeded Italian dam turbines to Ecuador
the establishment of a Japanese aluminium smelter in Indonesia, and;
selling vastly overpriced British consultancy services to Kenya.
Each case-study argues that these debts are illegitimate and should be investigated immediately via public and impartial audit processes. The report urges the G7 to follow Norway’s bold lead and accept shared responsibility for the debts. The report argues that these debts should not be paid because creditors bear a large part of the responsibility for having extended loans irresponsibly and negligently.
Full report and further information: www.eurodad.org/articles/default.aspx?id=760
Interview on the Ecuadorean Special External Debt Audit Commission
The Commission created to investigate the Ecuadorean external debt has presented its final report. An interview with Hugo Arias, of Jubileo 2000 Red Guayaquil and Commission member is available. Arias states: "the contribution of the investigation lies in casting light on new evidence, not so much on specific facts but above all on the historic process of indebtedness, understood as the capture of the State and its institutions by domestic and foreign financial groups and by the governments of developed nations, in order to loot its resources and change the legal framework of the State of law so as to reduce it to a minimal State".
Debt audit manual now available
If, for the creditors, the Third World debt can seem like a real gold mine, for the people living in the Third World, it feels more like a straight jacket. However the debt is a very entangled story and often very questionable. What has happened to the money of this loan? Under what conditions was this loan contracted? What share has been misappropriated? What crimes have been committed with this money?
A debt audit allows us to answer these and other questions. We can begin to clarify the past, to untangle the web of debt, thread by thread. It allows us to reconstruct the sequence of events which have led to the present deadlock. And it enables us to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.
This guide is a tool for such efforts for popular education. It results from a joint initiative of CETIM and CADTM, with the support of the American Association of Jurists and the South Centre. It was written on the basis of two seminars that brought together debt experts and activists. EURODAD, Emmaus International, Jubilee South, COTMEC, Attac Uruguay and Auditoria Cidade da Divida (Brazil) joined this initiative. These organisations hope that debt audits can begin as soon as possible in various countries.
On internet, in PDF version at www.cadtm.org/IMG/pdf/CETIM_Angl.pdf
Joint letter on Liberia’s debt
CEDE, AFRODAD and EURODAD wrote in February to European Executive Directors of the Bank and Fund to urge them to come to a swift solution on Liberia’s crippling debt burden. It argues that the IMF and other lenders - should take the hit for "bad loans" on their books, many of which never served the country’s interests in the first place.
Full letter: www.eurodad.org/articles/default.aspx?id=761
Christian Aid assesses repudiation option
Christian Aid has produced a paper arguing that it may well be in poorer people’s interests for their governments to repudiate debt. So far, debates about debt repudiation as a genuine, moral and positive option for debtor countries have been dominated by threats from creditors. Countries that have chosen in the past to repudiate or default on all or part of their debt have sometimes been ‘punished’ by creditors and potential future financiers. They have found that their financing, especially concessional financing, has been cut off; diplomatic relations have turned frosty; and assets held abroad have even been seized. Countries considering non-payment are warned by creditors that they will be ostracised from the global financial market, but such costs of repudiation have been exaggerated. In reality, private investment arrives when it can reasonably expect a decent return. Investors are not very interested in ‘punishing’ countries. And although it is real, the threat of becoming politically ostracised is less dangerous in a world where rich countries face electoral pressure if they are seen to be acting against the interests of poor countries.
Full report : www.eurodad.org/articles/default.aspx?id=763
Who benefits from Congolese riches? Pre-audit study on Congolese debts
The Democratic Republic of Congo constitutes a paradox: a vast country with enormous quantities of valuable raw materials, but a population among the poorest on the planet. An old Belgian colony, the DRC was never really independent. Western powers actively supported the Mobutu dictatorship. The country was plunged into debt by "white elephant" projects which never profited the Congolese population. Mobutu diverted a lot of money. Congolese people continue to repay a debt which is mainly odious. This is why Congolese social movements, supported by Northern ones, are pressing the government to repudiate this debt. The citizens’ audit will make it possible to know the destination of the loans authorized to the DRC, the money that was stolen, etc. It will justify the cancellation of the debt and require the reinstatement of misappropriated assets into democratically controlled development funds. Lastly, the audit will be used as a basis for reparations of the damage due to the unrestrained exploitation of raw materials through unconscionable deals signed with multinational companies. CADTM Belgium is carrying out a study that will provide Congolese citizens a solid basis for the audit which they themselves will carry out.
About this bulletin
The bulletin is an initiative of the International Facilitation Team on illegitimate debt that was established in Nairobi in January 2007. It comprises Jubilee South, CADTM, Jubilee USA and Eurodad which are helping ensure implementation of the objectives and actions from the September 2005 Global Debt Assembly in Havana, and subsequent planning meetings. Debt groups and movements have agreed to call for the immediate cancellation of illegitimate, unjust and unpayable debt of the South without externally imposed conditions. The agreed priority actions to achieve this are:
generating official recognition of the issue of illegitimate debt;
raising the profile of illegitimate debt issue among social movements, CSOs and the general public;
conducting debt audits, and;
developing definitions, perspectives, analytical tools, advocacy instruments on illegitimate debt and alternative/responsible financing.
This bulletin digests recent and planned actions from around the world. It complements existing lists and newsletters by containing only extremely short and action-oriented articles, with links or e-m addresses for follow-up. Coming out every 2 months it will help busy people in the campaign and in related campaigns who want to keep track of and join in with our work. It is available in English, French and Spanish.
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