The CADTM in the Global Day of Action of the WSF 2008.

11 February 2008 by CADTM

From January 19 to 26, 2008, the social movements, active in the WSF process assembled in their respective countries for a visible local action as an alternative to the financial globalization. An alternative to World Economic Forum of Davos – a big neoliberal mess - where a small group of rich unilaterally decide the future of the planet.

February 6, 2008.

The CADTM as well as its international network, which is in every day struggle to ensure the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of 1948, could not and neither wished to miss this major event. Hence, in a number of countries, the issues raised made by members of the international network are as under:

Belgium: In the heart of the capital of Europe at the stock exchange, symbol of the dictatorship of capital, 500 people assembled in a collective action on Saturday afternoon, i.e. January 26th, with a slogan “The stock-exchange Stock-exchange
The market place where securities (stocks, bonds and shares), previously issued on the primary financial market, are bought and sold. The stock-market, thus composed of dealers in second-hand transferable securities, is also known as the secondary market.
or the Human Life”. Later, a demonstration in support of 100 illegal immigrants on hunger strike, marched towards the building where the hunger strike was on. The next Tuesday, a SLAM party organised by the Thomas Sankara Group/CADTM, on the theme “Another world is possible/Another Liege also” witnessed a gathering of more than a hundred persons.

Benin: On Friday, January 26, 2008, CADD (member of the CADTM international network) mobilized against the Beninese public debt in front of the ministry of Finance and Economy.

Congo Brazzaville: SOLIDAIRES-CADTM Pointe-Noire organised on 25th and 26th debates around the theme of debt with Clotaire KOUSSOUMANA and Jean Victor LEMVO as speakers. The debates followed with a meeting with three parliamentarians about debt audit.

France: CADTM Grenoble group participated with its own stall (with displays, stands, activities, presentations….) against the logic of war, on Saturday, January 19, in the centre of the city. At Lyon, a gathering took place with forums, debates and campaign stalls.

Guinea Conakry: The citizens’ coalition for the alternatives against debt and development and in defence of the fundamental interests of Guinea (CADIF-Guinea) as well as a number of other social organisations mobilised against the public debt demanding the enactment of the Declaration made at the CADTM West African regional seminar, held at Abidjan from December 19 to 22, 2007.

India: VAK-CADTM participated in a float parade at Mumbai on January 26 focussing on issues of agrarian distress, urban crisis, textile workers’ crises, etc. while on January 24 at Kerala, in the south of the country, Eric Toussaint and Denise Commane (CADTM Belgium) participated in a meeting on “Impact of globalisation on the peasants and the poor” and on January 26, at a union meeting of the fisher folks close to the capital of Kerala Trivandram.

Ivory Coast: On January 25, FNDP made a campaign for mobilisation and sensitisation for the issues “Citizens’ audit for a total & unconditional cancellation of the debt” & “Stakes of the WSF” while on January 26, it organised a press conference to present the gains of the Abidjan Seminar of December (see Les Autres Voix de la Planète n°37)

Mali: CAD Mali in a popular conference dealt with Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) had a turnout of 50 persons.

Morocco: the activists of ATTAC/CADTM Morocco participated from January 25 to 27 at the Global Day of Action and the Moroccan Social Forum mobilisation which had assembled more than 1,400 people. Victor Nzuzi of CADTM, D R Congo and Solange Koné of FNDP-CADTM, Ivory Coast as well as delegates from RAID-CADTM of Tunisia spoke on this occasion.

Mauritania: CS/ASCM for the cancellation of Debt/ Mauritania organised two awareness meetings and various banners that the activists prepared on this issue were displayed at major crossings of the capital.

Niger: RDD in alliance with the Citizens’ Alternative Space Group carried out a debate on Alternative Radio on the issue of debt and the HIPCs (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Heavily Indebted Poor Countries
In 1996 the IMF and the World Bank launched an initiative aimed at reducing the debt burden for some 41 heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC), whose total debts amount to about 10% of the Third World Debt. The list includes 33 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The idea at the back of the initiative is as follows: a country on the HIPC list can start an SAP programme of twice three years. At the end of the first stage (first three years) IMF experts assess the ’sustainability’ of the country’s debt (from medium term projections of the country’s balance of payments and of the net present value (NPV) of debt to exports ratio.
If the country’s debt is considered “unsustainable”, it is eligible for a second stage of reforms at the end of which its debt is made ’sustainable’ (that it it is given the financial means necessary to pay back the amounts due). Three years after the beginning of the initiative, only four countries had been deemed eligible for a very slight debt relief (Uganda, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, and Mozambique). Confronted with such poor results and with the Jubilee 2000 campaign (which brought in a petition with over 17 million signatures to the G7 meeting in Cologne in June 1999), the G7 (group of 7 most industrialised countries) and international financial institutions launched an enhanced initiative: “sustainability” criteria have been revised (for instance the value of the debt must only amount to 150% of export revenues instead of 200-250% as was the case before), the second stage in the reforms is not fixed any more: an assiduous pupil can anticipate and be granted debt relief earlier, and thirdly some interim relief can be granted after the first three years of reform.

Simultaneously the IMF and the World Bank change their vocabulary : their loans, which so far had been called, “enhanced structural adjustment facilities” (ESAF), are now called “Growth and Poverty Reduction Facilities” (GPRF) while “Structural Adjustment Policies” are now called “Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper”. This paper is drafted by the country requesting assistance with the help of the IMF and the World Bank and the participation of representatives from the civil society.
This enhanced initiative has been largely publicised: the international media announced a 90%, even a 100% cancellation after the Euro-African summit in Cairo (April 2000). Yet on closer examination the HIPC initiative turns out to be yet another delusive manoeuvre which suggests but in no way implements a cancellation of the debt.

List of the 42 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries: Angola, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoro Islands, Congo, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Vietnam, Zambia.

Pakistan: A Global Week of Action took place. The specific political issues of Pakistan were the central theme of a seminar held by Labour education Foundation.

Democractic Republic of Congo: debates and conferences took place on the financial embezzlement by Mobutu, odious debt Odious Debt According to the doctrine, for a debt to be odious it must meet two conditions:
1) It must have been contracted against the interests of the Nation, or against the interests of the People, or against the interests of the State.
2) Creditors cannot prove they they were unaware of how the borrowed money would be used.

We must underline that according to the doctrine of odious debt, the nature of the borrowing regime or government does not signify, since what matters is what the debt is used for. If a democratic government gets into debt against the interests of its population, the contracted debt can be called odious if it also meets the second condition. Consequently, contrary to a misleading version of the doctrine, odious debt is not only about dictatorial regimes.

(See Éric Toussaint, The Doctrine of Odious Debt : from Alexander Sack to the CADTM).

The father of the odious debt doctrine, Alexander Nahum Sack, clearly says that odious debts can be contracted by any regular government. Sack considers that a debt that is regularly incurred by a regular government can be branded as odious if the two above-mentioned conditions are met.
He adds, “once these two points are established, the burden of proof that the funds were used for the general or special needs of the State and were not of an odious character, would be upon the creditors.”

Sack defines a regular government as follows: “By a regular government is to be understood the supreme power that effectively exists within the limits of a given territory. Whether that government be monarchical (absolute or limited) or republican; whether it functions by “the grace of God” or “the will of the people”; whether it express “the will of the people” or not, of all the people or only of some; whether it be legally established or not, etc., none of that is relevant to the problem we are concerned with.”

So clearly for Sack, all regular governments, whether despotic or democratic, in one guise or another, can incur odious debts.
(with the students of Kilwa School) and the further plunder of natural resources.

Togo: On Friday, January 25, a conference on the citizen’s audit of debt was held at the West African Social Forum (WASF). On January 26, a rally for the WSF Global Day of Action focussed on the theme “Attack the Debt”. An interview on The Togolese television channel on the EPA took place on 20th. WASF closed on the 27th with a march for peace and against the EPA.

This list of activities of the network is not exhaustive. The significant fact is that beyond these activities, the network has facilitated during the week, a global mobilisation. The week has helped us to strengthen the foundations for a more just and harmonious future. We see January 26 as a symbolic day, the final aim of which is a struggle against an economic recklessness. We hope that, taking all this into account, it’s the engagement of a larger population which is the key to solving a lot of questions for a better world for all.

In order to look at all the actions of this week feel free to visit the website of WSF. You can as well, post your own reports, articles and audiovisual materials:

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