Debt Week goes global
Global hunger and the growing impact of climate change are dramatic illustrations of the persistent problem of debt. In this sense, the Week of Action placed special attention on the following demands: Food and financial sovereignty and climate and economic justice.
Many debts have accumulated from loans used to implement harmful projects and policies that have led to the current food, climate and credit crises. Many argue that these are illegitimate and should not be paid. More than 200 global, continental and national networks, organisations and social movements from Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and Europe joined the Call of Action demanding the immediate unconditional cancellation of illegitimate debts and an end to the conditionalities imposed by the IMF, World Bank and Regional Development Banks. They also call for the payment of the ecological debts owed to the South.
- In Jakarta, Indonesia, social movements demonstrated in front of the World Bank office against the Bank's role in climate change related projects, where loans are made for climate change mitigation.
- In India, a Peoples Rally demanded the cancellation of all debts in more then 20 cities.
- In the Philippines, a Peoples Rally Against Debt, IFIs and privatisation was held.
- In more then 35 districts of Bangladesh, discussions, seminars and workshops were held on topics such as climate change, trade and development finance, food, climate, debt and the international finance institutions.
- In Latin America, several networks launched a statement on alternative mechanisms of financing for development and proposals such as the South Bank and the withdrawal from the International Centre for Investment Dispute Settlement (ICSID) of the World Bank Group, as carried out by the Bolivian Government.
- In Buenos Aires, an open radio program and street demonstrations for the 'Day of Action for Food Sovereignty and the Struggle Against the Debt' was carried out.
- In Cuba, various groups joined the Call and organised an event on foreign debt and the financial crisis.
- In Colombia, activities were held throughout the week, such as 'Debates on debt illegitimacy and the impact on the human rights of women' and a cultural demonstration against debt and for the right to water, health, education and a healthy environment in the city of Bogotá.
- In Campesino, organisations of Paraguay prepared various events on "Social and ecological debts" and a 'Tribunal against the IFIs' in the cities of Itapua and Encarnación.
Many screenings of documentaries which deal with the debt issue along with open debates were carried out in many cities around the world such as the film 'An end to poverty?' of Philippe Diaz which was shown in multiple locations in 5 continents including London. 'The Congo-China contract, the IMF and the World Bank and the reimbursement conditions' was the issue of a televised public debate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In Togo a special radio program was held in tribute to Thomas Sankara (ex-president of Burkina Faso who called for debt cancellation and repudiation just before being assassinated) and other leaders for global change, while a conference-debate ''China and its role in Africa´s debt situation' was held in Niger.
More then 40 activities in churches and communities were organised in the United States, while in Madrid the Week of Action began with a bicycle ride against debt from the main square.
The Week of Global Action Against Debt and the IFIs coincided with various special dates such as: October 12 - Continental Day of Resistance Against Colonialism and Neoliberalism (in the Americas), October 15 - Anniversary of the death of Thomas Sankara, October 16 - Day of Action for Food Sovereignty and Octoberr 17 - Global Day of Action against Poverty.
To see a complete list of the activities that were participated in around the globe during the week check out :http://www.debtweek.org/www.debtweek.org(in English, Spanish, and French).
Here in the UK, Jubilee Debt Campaign participated in the Week of Global Action Against Debt and International Financial Institutions, by organising both an ‘End Poverty Now' Campaigners' Forum and an initial UK screening of the film ‘The End of Poverty?', directed by Phillippe Diaz (see http://www.theendofpoverty.com/).
In addition, a new email action calling on the UK to support a fair and transparent sovereign debt resolution mechanism at the Financing for Development conferences in Doha. Please check out this new e-mail initiative (www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/doha) and take action.
There were many great events around the UK. One volunteer, Linda Manning, pushed forward the campaign to drop illegitimate debt within in her own community. At her church, St Mary-without-the-Walls, Handbridge, a family event was organised around the issue of dropping illegitimate debt in which congregants were encouraged to participate in a homemade snail race. One of the entries was later brought out into the community to attract attention and initiate a dialogue around the issue of debt.