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Re: A truckload of nonsense
Posted: Thursday, June 16, 2005

By Linda Edwards

"A Truckload of Nonsense": I was heartened to see that one of Britain's premier newspapers, The Guardian, dismissed this for the manure it is. It reminds me of the Structural Adjustments another IMF/World Bank term that made so many people lose jobs in third world countries in the late 1980's. It also resulted in a fire sale of state owned enterprises, and the enrichment of a few smartmen.

Now the loaner countries are getting ready to reap another windfall. Will they demand re-colonization as the price; will the people's traditional lands be held as collateral for their fiscal management policies?

One can cancel debt and do debt counseling, but like the large credit card companies know- there are profits to be made from poor people's needs.

What they should do, if they really wanted to help poorer countries, is to cancel debts outright, as your writer suggested, and use the money the poor countries would have repaid, in building schools, equipping hospitals and making loans to small businesswomen and co-operatives the way that small bank in India does.

The problems of poor countries are threefold- education, food supply and health.

The first world sells them guns and ammunition, to both sides in every conflict, to help them destroy each other. Africa, where most of the debt relief and conflicts occur, have no gun or land mine factories, yet in one country, Angola, a friend of mine states that the road from the airport to Yaounde is lined with people on crutches, begging, in a country rich in diamonds and oil, victims of land mines.

There will be a price to pay for all this.

The governments of South Africa and Nigeria are tackling corruption without any help from the G7. They should first begin to help by turning over the loot of people like Abacha of Nigeria, wherever it is hidden, including Britain and the USA; and fining companies like Halliburton that paid a two million dollar bribe to avoid a $10m tax liability to the government of Nigeria. The net loss to Nigeria was eight million US dollars. You could build many rural health centers with that cash.

If the poor countries of the world were treated fairly, Europe and North America would not have to spend so much money trying to keep people from poor countries out of their pristine places, by passing severe immigration laws, having vigilante patrols on borders, and, one day soon, I fear, erecting electrified fences.

If the G7 or G8 want to pretend to be the seven/eight wise men, they should forbid all arms sales to poor countries. In the PBS documentary Ghosts of Rwanda, there is a picture of a young boy of about eleven holding a brand new rifle, in destroyed Rwanda. Who supplied it? For what purpose other that to continue conflict? What did it cost as compared to a poor man's annual salary?

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