Jubilee South Declaration - Second Global Assembly in Havana, Cuba

9 October 2005 by Jubilee South

Havana, Cuba, September 28, 2005.

1. With the presence of representatives from 39 countries, Jubilee South held its Second Global Assembly in Havana, Cuba, from September 25 to 28, 2005.

2. We recalled the historic meetings that took place in 1985 in Havana that helped to generate greater global consciousness about the real nature of the debt problem as well as to strengthen the struggle of resistance against the payment of an enslaving debt. President Fidel Castro echoed then what had been widely sustained by the diversity of participants when he declared that the debt claimed of the countries of the South had already been paid many times over, had no moral, political or legal standing, and should in any case not be paid.

3. Twenty years later, Jubilee South is here to assert the fact that we -the peoples of the South - are the real creditors of a massive ecological, moral, social, financial, and historical debt. It is a debt that has accumulated over the last few centuries during the long history of colonization; a debt that continues to accrue today through the continued plunder and exploitation of our resources, our peoples, our labor, and our economies, and through the ongoing wars against peoples struggling for their basic rights, for national liberation, and against occupation. The continued collection and payment of the so-called debt entails the systematic violation of human rights, often including imprisonment, death, disappearance, and exile. We reiterate the total and absolute nullity of the debt claimed of our countries, for being illegitimate and unjust and undermining popular sovereignty and our right to determine our own future.

4. Six years have passed since our founding assembly in South Africa. In this second Assembly in Havana, we reviewed the considerable growth and consolidation of our unique South-based network and movement for overcoming debt domination and securing the recognition and restitution of the historical, social, financial, and ecological debt that the North owes the South. We came together to further those gains, evaluate new possibilities, and prepare our plan of action.

5. In these past years we have witnessed a dramatic escalation of neoliberal terrorism, taking also the form of imperial aggression including the invasion and occupation of sovereign nations and the escalation of militarization in many parts of the world. At the same time, however, there has been a growth in the number and scale of movements resisting war and the spread of neoliberal corporate globalization.

6. Jubilee South is proud to be part of the global resistance, playing a strategic role in the anti-globalization movement and the constitution of the World Social Forum process. We note that the issue of debt continues to be prominent in the agenda of the movements around the globe, and that it is increasingly recognized as a human rights issue, linked to the processes of trade liberalization and militarization that are part of the same neoliberal practices.

7. The strength of the movement and its demands has even forced the so-called creditors to engage with the debt issue, but in fundamentally flawed and grossly inadequate ways. A recent example is the debt cancellation proposal of the governments of the G8 G8 Group composed of the most powerful countries of the planet: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA, with Russia a full member since June 2002. Their heads of state meet annually, usually in June or July. — the countries most enriched by the fraudulent mechanisms of the debt - offering to cancel a minuscule quantity of debt claimed of a handful of countries with collateral Collateral Transferable assets or a guarantee serving as security against the repayment of a loan, should the borrower default. conditionalities that signify the maintenance of the same system of domination. These initiatives are a clear manifestation of the depth of the current debt crisis as well as a confirmation of the flawed nature of so-called debt relief, reduction, and swap, offered by the purported lenders.

8. We draw attention to the fact that those initiatives entail a danger of cooptation of the formal mechanisms of advocacy as well as of our governments, which refuse to acknowledge and reveal the hypocrisy of the G8 and their misnamed “international” instruments such as the International Monetary Fund 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.

. Initiatives such as HIPC 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.
and sovereign debt Sovereign debt Government debts or debts guaranteed by the government. swaps must be denounced as deceitful mechanisms that deepen and perpetuate new mechanisms for maintaining external and internal debts.

9. Jubilee South reaffirms the role and mandate adopted at our founding Assembly, to demand and work for the repudiation and total and unconditional cancellation of debts claimed from all countries of the South, and the recognition and restitution of the social, financial, ecological, and moral debt that the North owes to the South.

10. We pledge to broaden and deepen our movements, to challenge and overcome our weaknesses, to ensure the active presence and participation of Jubilee South in the campaigns and movements against imperialist globalization in all its manifestations, including wars against sovereign peoples, free trade agreements, privatization policies, military bases, and environmental destruction.

11. We will also continue to vigorously expose the involvement of South governments in perpetuating the debt problem, placing at great risk and even surrendering the resources of our peoples. We pledge to redouble our efforts to force changes in South government policies that should lead to the repudiation of debts claimed from our countries. We view the realization of debt audits as fundamental steps in that regard.

12. We will build upon our gains of the past years, strengthening Jubilee South as a movement that gives force and voice to the oppressed and exploited people the world over, struggling to defend their cultures threatened as well by debt and capitalist globalization. We will remain firmly rooted in regional and national movements and people’s organizations, enhancing our own South-based capacities for analysis, building consensus and articulating positions on debt and related issues. We will strengthen our efforts to develop global solidarity in the struggle against debt, as we call on the peoples of the North to continue and enhance their support for an end to debt domination.

13. We will be an active participant in efforts to develop and articulate peoples’ alternatives to the neoliberal global order and to war. In this light Jubilee South pledges its support for the sovereignty of the people of Cuba and the end of the cruel and illegal blockade spearheaded by the United States government.

14. We draw energy from the holding of this Assembly in Havana, Cuba -a symbol and inspiration to all those fighting the oppressive neoliberal order. As we stand in solidarity with Cuba, we also want to express our gratitude for its generous collaboration with our meeting and our cause, faithful to the spirit and example of Ernesto Che Guevara, a living presence in our global struggle and alliance against imperialism.


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