WASHINGTON — December 21 —On Tuesday, several dozen advocates for impoverished country debt cancellation rallied outside of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to demand that the institution keep its promises to the world’s poor. The action took place ahead of the IMF’s Wednesday Board meeting which will finalize details of a debt cancellation deal for 18 countries. Six of these countries - fully one-third of those promised debt cancellation - are now in danger of being denied cancellation by the IMF.
At the event today, advocates compared the IMF to the Grinch who stole Christmas in a street theater, adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Picketing in front of the IMF headquarters, activists chanted, “IMF: Don’t Be A Grinch! Keep Your Promises Today.”
“This summer, world leaders promised full and immediate debt cancellation to some of the world’s most impoverished nations and now the IMF is back-tracking on that commitment. We gathered outside the IMF today to demand that they keep their promises,” said Neil Watkins, National Coordinator of Jubilee USA Network, a network of 70 faith-based, solidarity, and development groups. “Delays to debt cancellation cost lives. When the IMF board meets tomorrow, we hope they will do the right thing, and keep their promise to the world’s poor.”
“All these countries have already run the IMF’s gauntlet of devastating economic conditions,” said Sameer Dossani, Executive Director of the 50 Years Is Enough Network, “Their completion of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC), a program which even the World Bank acknowledges to be a failure, should be more than enough to qualify them for desperately-needed debt cancellation under the G8 plan. The IMF has made noises about requiring further conditions and economic tests – a clear betrayal of the G8’s promise of debt cancellation and yet another in a long string of broken promises to impoverished countries.”
“Despite the fact that these debts were largely illegitimate in the first place, a result of irresponsible lending to despotic regimes and for failed projects, these extremely impoverished nations have been paying the IMF at the expense of desperately needed investment in health, education, and clean water,” said Salih Booker, Executive Director of Africa Action. “Further delays to debt cancellation will cost lives in the six affected countries.”