Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Seeking Cancellation of Haiti's Debt

The Jubilee USA Network is encouraging U.S. citizens to contact their congressional representatives about supporting a House resolution that would immediately cancel Haiti's debt.
The Haiti debt cancellation resolution (H.Res. 241) urges the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and other international financial institutions to completely cancel Haiti's debt without delays.

Last year, Haiti was added to the World Bank and IMF's list of heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) eligible for debt cancellation, just after the election of new president Rene Preval. But under the harmful economic conditions of the World Bank and IMF's debt relief program, Haiti will not see this relief until 2009 at the earliest ­by which time the country will have paid $138 million in debt service to these institutions. This is money robbed from children drinking contaminated water and growing older without learning how to read because of inadequate resources for education, health care, or other social sector spending. H.Res. 241, which was introduced March 13 by Representative Maxine Waters along with Republican Spencer Bachus, Donald Payne, Luis Gutierrez, and Carolyn Maloney, among others, will urge the World Bank, IMF, and IDB to immediately and completely cancel Haiti's debt.

Haiti's debt is both unpayable and unjust. Nearly half of the country's $1.3 billion debt was accrued under the Duvalier family dictatorship and used to finance the Duvaliers' lavish lifestyle and support their brutal, 29-year rule. The Haitian people continue to pay interest on these loans of a clearly odious nature. This is money that could be used to invest in health care or education in a country where almost a quarter of children under five are chronically malnourished and only 35% of students are able to complete primary school. From 2007-2009, Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, is projected to pay $138 million in debt service. To put this number in perspective, this is more than double the amount Haiti spent in FY2001 on education, health, roads, the environment, and water and urban infrastructure combined. Immediate cancellation of Haiti's debt would allow the country to stop paying interest on odious debts and free up much needed resources for the country to invest in health and education.

You can help Haiti achieve immediate debt cancellation without delays or strings attached by calling your representative and asking them to co-sponsor the Haiti debt cancellation resolution in the House (H.Res. 241). To co-sponsor the resolution, the Member's staff should call Kathleen Sengstock in Representative Maxine Waters' office at (202) 225-2201 - Representative Waters helped introduce this resolution to Congress along with six other Members. If your Representative has already co-sponsored the resolution, please call to thank them. This resolution garnered 65 co-sponsors in the last session of Congress, and we want to ensure it passes this year.

To find contact information for your representative, click here. To find out whether your Representative has co-sponsored this resolution, click here. See the phone script below for use when calling your congressional representative.

For more information visit Jubilee USA or theInstitute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.

Phone Script to call your Member to cancel Haiti's debt
My name is XXX and I support debt cancellation to release resources to fight poverty in Haiti. I am calling to encourage Representative XXX to co-sponsor H.Res. 241 which would immediately cancel Haiti's debt.

Haiti is the most impoverished country in the Western hemisphere. Close to one in four children are chronically malnourished. There are only 2 doctors for every 10,000 people. Haiti needs debt cancellation to pay for social services like education, hospitals, and medicines.

The Haiti debt cancellation resolution urges the World Bank, IMF, and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to completely cancel Haiti's debt without delays. To co-sponsor H.Res. 241 please contact Kathleen Sengstock in Representative Maxine Waters' office at (202) 225-2201.

Thank you for your time!
The effort to cancel Haiti's debt is an important initiative that citizens of other countries are encouraged to support as well. For an example of how this is being done in the Bahamas, click here.



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