WASHINGTON, April 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Two years ago, the historic Jubilee
2000 campaign gained international attention with the help of rock star Bono
and religious leaders like the Pope and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Jubilee 2000
has become Jubilee USA Network, and this broad coalition of labor, religious
and development organizations continue to push for 100% debt cancellation and
an end to harmful conditions imposed on debt relief.
Much has Been Achieved
The impacts of debt relief have been groundbreaking:
* In Tanzania after initial debt relief efforts and an end to the practice
of charging fees for education, over a million students have enrolled to
get back to school in just three months.
* In Uganda debt relief funds have been directed to education and
elementary school enrollment doubled, from 40% to 90%.
* Mozambique has vaccinated 500,000 children against deadly but
* Honduras will increase public education from 6th grade to 9th grade
Debt relief has become central in the efforts to end poverty and fight
HIV/AIDS. After years of intensive educational efforts, the general public,
ecumenical leaders, the US Congress and the Bush Administration are making
debt relief a priority. The heightened profile even resulted in a major
about-face in World Bank policy last fall, when the bank acknowledged that
indeed, as critics had contended, Bank and Fund policies were preventing poor
people from accessing primary school education and vital health care services.
Clearly, the Jubilee movement has played a vital role in actualizing what
politicians and economists initially considered an unrealistic and
controversial ask for definitive debt cancellation.
Much Remains to be Done
Despite great progress, much remains to be done:
* Only 26 countries have qualified for debt relief so far. Many very poor
countries are excluded like Haiti, Bangladesh and Nigeria.
* For these 26 countries, debt service will be only reduced by 1/3.
"When 19 of the 26 countries that have received debt relief continue to
pay more on debt than health care for their citizens, we clearly need to do
more to resolve the international debt crisis," said Marie Clarke, National
Coordinator for Jubilee USA Network.
Jubilee USA opposes harmful conditions imposed by the World Bank and IMF
before countries can receive debt relief. Conditions include requiring
countries to sell off their water supplies, privatize utilities, phase out
social services or charge impoverished citizens unaffordable fees for health
and education. Jubilee USA Network calls for immediate 100% debt cancellation
without unreasonable conditions. A World Bank report released yesterday
underscores the difficulties countries are having meeting the conditions now
in place, resulting in fewer than expected countries qualifying for full
Momentum to Go Farther on Debt Builds -- This week's events:
* Jubilee USA welcomes movement in the US Congress to introduce
legislation seeking to deepen multilateral debt cancellation. Jubilee
USA recognizes this step as acknowledgement that the debt crisis is far
from over and applauds efforts by Senators Biden and Santorum and Reps.
Smith and LaFalce to address the need for deeper debt cancellation. We
are also pleased to hear that the legislation will take into account the
toll of HIV/AIDS in many of these indebted countries as a reason for the
need for definitive debt cancellation.
* While World Bank and IMF meetings are underway this weekend, Jubilee USA
members will sponsor "Ring-In Freedom from Debt" events on
April 20-21st. Churches and Jubilee groups across the country will
participate from NY, DC, OH, MI, CO, NM and WA. The bell ringing is in
celebration of what debt relief is achieving and to call on the World
Bank and IMF, as they meet this weekend, to commit to 100% cancellation.
* This week a delegation from Jubilee South, an organization of campaigns
from around the world working on debt cancellation, is in DC, bringing
first-hand testimonies of debt cancellation efforts in Tanzania, Uganda,
Argentina, Nicaragua and elsewhere. Jubilee South hosted the final
sentencing session of the International People's Tribunal on Debt this
morning in Washington DC. The tribunal began in Porto Alegre, Brazil at
the World Social Forum where the IMF, World Bank and other creditors
were found guilty crimes relating to international debt.
* Mara Vanderslice of Jubilee USA Network spoke at a press conference
yesterday at the AFL-CIO headquarters hosted by a broad coalition of
labor, environmental and religious NGOs releasing a report on
"Responsible Reforms of the World Bank." Among other things, the need
for deeper and broader debt cancellation was highlighted in the report,
which asks for Congressional funds for the World Bank to be conditioned
on reforms that protect the poor, women and the environment. View the
report at http://www.bicusa.org.