Press release

The CADTM Africa network condemns the military intervention by France and its allies in Mali

1 February 2013 by CADTM Africa

The dramatic situation denounced in the appeal sent out by the women of Mali must open our eyes to a terrible reality that has been confirmed in other countries in which there is conflict: Violence against women is being misused as a pretext to justify interventions and wars aiming to grab the wealth of those countries.

We unreservedly condemn the violations of human rights by the armed groups that control the northern part of Mali. We stand alongside women and all victims of abuse. We also denounce the military intervention France has been carrying out since 10 January, 2013. The French government is not waging war in northern Mali to defend democracy and guarantee respect for human rights, as is being claimed, but rather to defend its own colonial interests and those of the French multinationals present in Africa in order to exploit the natural resources there (uranium, gold, diamonds, oil, land, water, and so on). France, like the United States in other parts of the world, wants to demonstrate its military capacity to come to the defence of the strategic interests of the major Western powers and their major corporations.

France’s bombing of highly impoverished regions of Mali above all reflects the determination of French imperialism to maintain neo-colonial domination over the wealth of the peoples of Africa in the context of a worldwide crisis of capitalism. It is making use of leading-edge weaponry in order to dissuade China and other powers from indulging their own materialist impulses. Another purpose of the West’s intervention is to prevent the people of Mali from organising themselves and prevent the awakening of their democratic, anti-imperialist, and Pan-Africanist aspirations. France and its allies want to avoid any challenge to the regimes that support the status quo in France’s former African colonies.

Mali is one of the poorest and most exploited countries in the world despite its rich mineral and agricultural resources. Those resources are in the grasp of the multinationals. The people of Mali have been disastrously affected by the neoliberal policies imposed by 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.

, 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.
, 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 European Union and the French government. Those policies have only been made possible by the complicity of the regimes in power. They have prevented Mali from freeing itself from the weight of an external debt that serves as a tool for draining its resources and subjecting the country’s interests to the financial institutions and powers. The debt-relief initiative for Mali, which is one of the 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.
(HIPCs), has prolonged the devastating effects of the indebtedness system, since the parsimoniously granted debt reductions have systematically been accompanied by privatisations and an opening of the country to economic-commercial interests. These measures have subjected small farmers and workers in the cities to international competition to which they are unable to respond. Mali’s women, who bear an enormous burden in keeping the country going, suffer from privations of all types on a daily basis, yet on a daily basis, they resist.

The debt and its repayment continue to serve as the instruments of the impoverishment of populations.

The French State is bombing cities, villages, and infrastructure that are already far too rare in Mali, and reconstructing them will no doubt serve as the pretext to push the country a little further into debt, and increase its submission to the creditors. In fact, the IMF has just announced that it will grant an $18.4 million dollar loan to Mali. This will begin yet another cycle of misfortune for the Malian people if they do not take their destiny into their own hands.

The French government should be devoting the millions of euros its military deployment in Mali is costing it to the social needs of its own people, who are facing austerity measures due to the explosion of its public debt.

The region has experienced a propagation of fundamentalist groups supported and armed by the Western powers, first among them the United States, either directly or via Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Today, the major Western powers do not know how to disentangle themselves from a movement that is not only no longer useful to them, but has escaped from their control and turned against them. Their intervention in Libya aggravated the situation in the region, particularly through the proliferation of weapons. The Western interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq have demonstrated that behind the humanitarian arguments lurk economic, political and military interests. Western intervention and military occupation provide no real solution to human rights problems. In fact, they even tend to aggravate them.

CADTM Africa believes that it is up to the Malian people to solve internal conflicts and rid themselves of groups they consider to be anti-democratic and obscurantist, and who wish to impose their laws by violent means.

The CADTM Africa network:

- condemns the imperialist intervention by France and its allies in Mali, and calls for the immediate cessation of bombing and the withdrawal of French and African troops from Mali;
- expresses its solidarity with the Malian people and their right to freely decide their future;
- calls for the strengthening of solidarity between the Malian and African peoples to resist the forces who are bent on recolonising Mali and the Sahel;
- considers that the ECOWAS, a sub-regional organisation directed by a club of heads of State working in the service of American and European hegemonies, has no legitimacy and no legal power to contract war loans in the name of the sovereign people of Mali;
- urges the Malian people to invoke absence of consent as the legal basis for repudiation of any debt inherited from the foreign intervention;
- calls on the peoples of Northern and Southern Africa, the Maghreb and the Mashriq to unite in opposition to wars.

For the CADTM Africa network, the coordinating group, 29 January, 2013

Translation: “Snake” Arbusto in collaboration with Charles La Via

CADTM Africa

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