WASHINGTON - September 21 - Dozens of students, people of faith, and community organizers from the Washington, DC area held a picket and rally at the US Treasury Department today, and called on the Bush administration to work within the G-7 to announce a commitment to 100% multilateral debt cancellation for poor nations at the upcoming October 1st G-7 Finance Ministers meeting in Washington.
The action was held ten days before this critical meeting and the Annual Meetings of the IMF/World Bank. Jubilee USA Network is very encouraged by reports in the Washington Post and elsewhere that US Treasury apparently supports full multilateral debt cancellation for 30 countries. Participants urged Treasury to continue to push its proposal forward, while calling on the administration to extend cancellation to all impoverished countries, and without harmful conditions. President Bush addressed efforts to cancel impoverished country debt in his address to the United Nations this morning, though he did not announce a new policy during this session.
"We are counting down to freedom from debt," said Marie Clarke, National Coordinator of Jubilee USA Network, at the event today. "Each day 8,000 people die due to HIV/AIDS while impoverished nations pay billions in illegitimate debt payments to wealthy institutions like the IMF and World Bank. We are encouraged by US Treasury's apparent support for full multilateral debt cancellation, but time is running out. We need action, not more words, on October 1st when G-7 Finance Ministers meet."
Several letters calling on the Bush administration to support full debt cancellation for impoverished nations from Members of Congress, the US Catholic Conference of Bishops, and nearly 150 health professionals were announced or released at the event. The letters are available upon request.
The letter from 32 Members of the US Congress, called on the administration to "take the opportunity presented by the October World Bank and IMF meetings to advocate the complete cancellation of the debt of all severely indebted poor countries..." The letter continued, "We believe cancellation of all multilateral debt is affordable, particularly if we look at some further revaluation of IMF gold holdings - but the world can hardly afford not to cancel these debts." A letter from Senators in support of full debt cancellation was sent to the administration ten days ago. The letters are available upon request.
The event is part of Jubilee USA Network's "Countdown to Freedom from Debt campaign" to pressure the US government to support 100% debt cancellation for impoverished nations. In the past six months, Jubilee and its more than 70 Network member organizations have sent more than 600 faxes to US Treasury, delivered 11, 000 cards to the World Bank and IMF, delivered a letter from more 250 prominent religious leaders to the G7, worked to introduce bi-partisan legislation into the US Congress (the JUBILEE Act), and organized call-in days that have tied up the lines at the White House - all calling on the Bush administration to support 100% debt cancellation. In the coming weeks, Jubilee USA will continue to raise the pressure on the Bush administration and the G7 to support full debt cancellation. Jubilee USA will also organize an action on October 1 at the G7 Finance Ministers meeting in Washington.