Debt cancellation ?

The supposed brazillian « forgiveness » of debts of African countries

18 juin 2013 par Rodrigo Vieira de Ávila

On May 25, 2013, has been widely reported that Brazil will “forgive” or renegotiate a debt of $ 900 million dollars of 12 African countries (Congo-Brazzaville, Tanzania, Zambia, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe, Sudan and Guinea Bissau).

In Brazil, the Constitution requires that the Senate authorize these operations. So, President of the Republic Dima Rousseff send to Senate nine “Presidential Messages”, which details the conditions of several of these renegotiations.
As show messages, such debts refer mainly to export credits, that is, Brazil financed these countries to buy Brazilian companies products and services. Moreover, many of these messages points out that these renegotiations serve, in fact, to allow « the re-start of payments to Brazil and, thus, the settlement of the financial relationship between the countries, opening up new possibilities for the development of economic and commercial relations between both. » [1]

Therefore, it is not just a « forgiveness », but a process of “re-start” of debt of these countries with the Brazil to buy more brazillian products and services.

In a recent report, the BBC [2] showed the consequences of performance of Brazilian companies in such countries :

« However, the brazillian demand for natural resources is also the target of criticism, particularly with regard to the performance of brazillian enterprises on Africa.
In an article about the Brazil-Africa relations published in January, the Office of Think Africa Press says that the growing Brazilian companies in Africa can contaminate the « brand » of the country in the region. « Private Agents with different agendas are becoming increasingly visible, and there is a risk that this harms the political project of Brazil to portray as a partner who always prioritizes mutual benefit in a spirit of cooperation and equality », says the text.
One of the main examples occurred last month, when hundreds of people in Mozambique have blocked access to a coal mine of Vale (a brazilian company). The Group was formed by workers who said that not have received any compensation that had agreed with the company after they were relocated with the beginning of the operations of the mine.
Human Rights Watch, a NGO that defends human rights, states that they were relocated to arid lands, where they can’t produce, and are suffering from lack of food. Vale and the Mozambican Government promised improvement for workers.
The company also faces resistance in Guinea, where it obtained license to explore iron ore reserve. In July, residents occupied a company camp, accusing it of breaches agreement for the hiring of employees of local ethnic groups. Six protesters were killed by Government soldiers in action Action
Valeur mobilière émise par une société par actions. Ce titre représente une fraction du capital social. Il donne au titulaire (l’actionnaire) le droit notamment de recevoir une part des bénéfices distribués (le dividende) et de participer aux assemblées générales.
, according to local politicians, had the backing of the company.
The company denies any involvement in what happened in Guinea and says seek to improve the housing conditions of families displaced by its operations in Mozambique.
Already in Angola, who faces problems is another brazillian company, the construction company Odebrecht. The activists have criticized for keeping business with local politicians. The company denies illegalities. »

Therefore, this supposed « forgiveness » of the debts of African countries with the Brazil should be viewed with caution by the social movements of all these countries, because it may mean, in fact, an extension of the exploitation of natural resources in Africa.