Don’t owe, won’t pay. We are the creditors!

22 December 2004 by Collectif

JUBILEE SOUTH invites you to add your support to this Call, disseminate it, and participate:



V World Social Forum, Porto Alegre, Brazil
January 29, 2005 - 9 to 15 h.

We call on all popular movements and organizations, on indigenous peoples, women and men, youth and older persons, trade unionists and small and medium sized producers, the homeless and the landless, those who are students and those who want for their bread, a job, healthcare or education, in sum, on all persons and all peoples who have a right to another world, to join with us in the struggle against the illegitimate and unjust External Debt, recognizing ourselves rather as the Creditors of an Ecological, Historical, and Social Debt whose repayment we demand.


The External Debt that is claimed of our countries and which we as peoples are repaying, day after day, is not true debt. More often than not, it was contracted in fraudulent or odious circumstances and used for purposes unrelated, or even contrary, to our needs and rights as persons and as peoples.

Notwithstanding its clear illegitimacy and the inhuman cost of its servicing, this Debt which we do not owe has also been repaid, not only once but several times over. The charging of usurious interests rates and commissions, together with the application of inequitable commercial policies, structural adjustments, and privatization policies designed to insure its continued repayment, has converted it furthermore into an Eternal Debt which serves to perpetuate the plundering of our lives and resources and mortgage Mortgage A loan made against property collateral. There are two sorts of mortgages:
1) the most common form where the property that the loan is used to purchase is used as the collateral;
2) a broader use of property to guarantee any loan: it is sufficient that the borrower possesses and engages the property as collateral.
our future. Eduardo Galeano explains it quite simply when he summarizes the situation so eloquently: the more we pay, the more we owe, and the less we have.


Not only are we as peoples not the debtors, but indeed it is we who are the creditors of an enormous debt that has been growing for more than 500 years. We are the creditors of an Ecological, Social, and Historical Debt, for the plunder and disproportionate use of our natural resources and the destruction of our environment; for the violation of our fundamental human rights to employment, a decent wage, housing, land, water, identity, education, and healthcare; for centuries of colonial domination and the genocide which continues to be perpetrated and whose continuity is now projected in the imposition of free trade agreements and militarization.

The real debtors know that in order to subject and dominate another people, it is not only necessary to steal their land, exploit their workers, repress their protests, expropriate their natural resources and allow thousands and thousands of people to die of hunger over centuries, but that it is also necessary to impose a consciousness and a uniform way of thinking, going so far as to disappear those who rebel.

That is why for years, the IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
, the World Bank World Bank
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 189 members in 2017), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

, and the regional development banks have carried out a perverse, manipulative, and killer plan. With the complicity of our governments, transnational corporations, and the mass media, they have been able to insure not only that we continue to repay a Debt that we do not owe but also something else just as cruel and nefarious: they have imposed in our language and in our common sense, the notion that they are the creditors, that it is we who have become indebted, and that therefore we are the debtors and, being honorable peoples, the correct thing to do is repay that debt no matter what it costs.

We thus need to wage an important cultural battle, committing ourselves to unmasking and reversing this dominant discourse as a fundamental step in our emancipation as peoples, not only from the heavy weight of a Debt that is not owed yet has been over-repaid, but also as the subjects and protagonists of our own lives and future. We need to recognize ourselves as the real creditors -the victims of their pillaging and destruction-, acknowledge that they are responsible for the social and environmental crimes committed as a result of that plundering, and assume that the possibility of transforming this reality must be found in the articulation and coordination of our efforts to stop the bloodletting and advance toward the restoration and reparation of the damages.


Over recent years we have achieved greater recognition of the illegitimacy and illegality of the External Debt claimed our the countries of the South, including pronouncements no only by the International Peoples’ Tribunal on Debt - which took place in Porto Alegre during the II WSF - but also diverse official instances nationally and internationally. The struggle for debt repudiation and cancellation has been rekindled and greater attention is being paid to the interrelation between the processes of indebtedness, the policies of structural adjustment Structural Adjustment Economic policies imposed by the IMF in exchange of new loans or the rescheduling of old loans.

Structural Adjustments policies were enforced in the early 1980 to qualify countries for new loans or for debt rescheduling by the IMF and the World Bank. The requested kind of adjustment aims at ensuring that the country can again service its external debt. Structural adjustment usually combines the following elements : devaluation of the national currency (in order to bring down the prices of exported goods and attract strong currencies), rise in interest rates (in order to attract international capital), reduction of public expenditure (’streamlining’ of public services staff, reduction of budgets devoted to education and the health sector, etc.), massive privatisations, reduction of public subsidies to some companies or products, freezing of salaries (to avoid inflation as a consequence of deflation). These SAPs have not only substantially contributed to higher and higher levels of indebtedness in the affected countries ; they have simultaneously led to higher prices (because of a high VAT rate and of the free market prices) and to a dramatic fall in the income of local populations (as a consequence of rising unemployment and of the dismantling of public services, among other factors).

and conditionalities of the international financial institutions, the privatizations and financial and commercial liberalization promoted by the WTO WTO
World Trade Organisation
The WTO, founded on 1st January 1995, replaced the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). The main innovation is that the WTO enjoys the status of an international organization. Its role is to ensure that no member States adopt any kind of protectionism whatsoever, in order to accelerate the liberalization global trading and to facilitate the strategies of the multinationals. It has an international court (the Dispute Settlement Body) which judges any alleged violations of its founding text drawn up in Marrakesh.

, the FTAA and other free trade accords, the agreements with the European Union, etc., and growing impoverishment and inequality, social exclusion and violence, and increasingly militarized responses to existing conflicts.

In order to continue to advance however, we think it is necessary to generate new ways of coming together and developing new strategies of struggle. The SOUTH PEOPLES’ ASSEMBLY OF CREDITORS OF THE ECOLOGICAL, HISTORICAL, AND SOCIAL DEBT is a step in that direction. The idea emerged during the I Americas Social Forum, held in Quito, Ecuador, in July 2004, and the Assembly is proposed as a point of gathering and convergence among different sectors and popular struggles each of which, on the basis of its own experience, can begin to recognize the illegitimacy and non-existence of the External Debt claimed of our countries and the union of our demands and strategies as the real Creditors of a Social, Ecological, and Historical Debt. Whether we are struggling in defense of water or seeds, jobs or education, gender equality of cultural diversity, TOGETHER OUR STRUGGLE IS STRONGER.


The Assembly will bring together representatives of all those sectors and movements directly affected by the continued payment of the illegitimate External Debt, in order to offer concrete testimony of the consequences they suffer and the strategies of struggle they are advancing as a result. In the process we will seek to recognize ourselves as the Creditors of the companies who have enriched themselves on the basis of private credits which were later assumed by our governments as public debt, of the governments of the countries who became rich on the basis of the plunder of our wealth and resources, fraud, and corruption, of the international financial institutions, the transnational corporations, and all who are responsible for the violation of our rights as persons and as peoples.

During the Assembly we will be able to interchange and debate proposals that point toward advancing global mobilization and resistance in the face of both national and international policies of indebtedness and continued payment, as well as toward the restoration and compensation of the SOCIAL, HISTORICAL, AND ECOLOGICAL DEBT. The Assembly will seek to promote convergences and the articulation of more integral strategies that enable us to project and design together, new methods and plans of actions.

The South Peoples’ Assembly of Creditors of the Social, Ecological, and Historical Debt should also be a moment for affirming ourselves as the protagonists of our own future, a real celebration of our multiple identities, our diversity, our rights, and our struggles. We thus call on all the movements and organizations to contribute to the building of the Assembly in this spirit, insuring that each presence and testimony fully incorporates the appropriate cultural dimensions which can help all of us to GLOBALIZE HOPE, GLOBALIZING THE RESISTANCE AND JOINING TOGETHER IN THE BUILDING OF THE NEW WORLD THAT WE ALL NEED.




Information, suggestions, and confirmations of co-conveners:
Jubilee South / Americas
Piedras 730
1070 Buenos Aires, Argentina
Telefax (54-11) 43071867
jubileosur at

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