Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
November 26, 2001
Don't talk, protest!
Church groups among those saying World Bank won't listen
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA — Groups opposed to World Bank policies - including Church-based organizations - say dialogue with the financial institution does nothing to alleviate poverty in under-developed countries.
Representatives of non-governmental organizations from five countries said at a news conference on the eve of meetings in Ottawa of G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors Nov. 16 that thousands of groups around the world have been involved in dialogues with the bank to no avail.
John Mihevc, chair of the Halifax Initiative, a Canadian coalition for global economic recovery, noted that the World Bank in September called on groups it said were "concerned about poor people in developing countries," to shift from protests to dialogue.
But Mihevc, who is also a coordinator with the Canadian church coalition, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, said, "Overwhelmingly, our experience has been that the bank has both failed in its policy prescriptions and in living up to its commitments."
The World Bank is promoting the idea that its policies are fighting poverty and alienation, added Steve Hellinger of Washington, president of The Development Gap, a major critic of U.S. and multilateral aid and trade policy.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," he said. "Its policies are creating instability, poverty and alienation."
"We shouldn't fool ourselves and think the bank is going to change its policies" through dialogue, Hellinger said. "The only two languages that the World Bank understands are high profile protests and coverage in the media that damages its reputation and shows people what the bank is really doing."
Alejandro Bendana, former secretary general of the Nicaraguan foreign ministry under the Sandinista government, accused the central banks of "institutional terrorism."
"If we're on the streets tomorrow, it's because we want to tell this 'northern alliance,' meeting behind cages, that they have no right to pursue policies which entail terror on a daily basis for women and children in countries such as Nicaragua," said Bendana.
Decisions about poverty reduction are being made in Washington, have to be approved by the banks' boards and if they're "too radical or outside the framework of macro-economic fundamentalism, of the Talibanism in the World Bank, then they're not admitted," he said.
The Philippines is one of the "showcases of the failure of and damaging effects of World Bank policies," said Lidy Nacpil, of the Philippines, co-founder of Jubilee South.
"The real function of these policies is to ensure that we continue to service the external debt of our country at the expense of basic social services, equity and the environment," she said.
It is also to ensure "greater freedom for foreign capital, trans-national corporations and our own elite."
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