Ditch The Debt
Patrick Harrington        

Jubilee 2000 is an international movement campaigning for a one-off cancellation of the unpayable debts that are wrecking the lives of people in developing countries. We in Third Way and in particular the ecological section Mother Earth have always campaigned against the debt system both at home and abroad. We understand the injustice of this system.

International loans are negotiated in secret between local elites and powerful creditors like the IMF and the World Bank. Ordinary folk have had very little say in the matter. Billions of dollars were given to the likes of Marcos, Ceacescu, Idi Amin and the Apartheid regime of South Africa. Yet it is ordinary people who suffer the burden caused by the interest repayments. About 20% of GNP of sub-Saharan Africa is currently being used for debt relief. This is four times what is spent on health care there.

There is something quite sickening about asking ordinary people here to send charitable donations to help developing nations whilst bankers extract money from them. Yet this is the reality.

Debt is being used as a means of exerting influence over nations. When countries get into debt they are forced to turn to the IMF which offers further loans on stiff conditions known as Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs). They intervene in the management of economies, undermining the sovereignty of indebted nations and establishing a form of neo-Colonialism. Loans are also often made to promote arms sales. 95% of the debts owed to Britain by the poorest countries are owed to the Department of Trade and Industry's Export Guarantee Department as inducements to buy British exports (disproportionately arms).

Jubilee 2000 began in 1996. It is based on the scriptural idea of the Jubilee Year: periodically every 7x7 years debts are forgiven and slaves set free and "liberty is proclaimed throughout the land". Jubillee is a time to apply self-righting mechanisms for restoring balance to society. Jubillee 2000 is now organised in over 40 countries worldwide.

Action Get in touch with Jubillee 2000 and lend a hand. They're at: PO Box 100, London, SE1 7RT E-mail: mail@jubilee2000uk.org Website