Campaign Demands End to Devastating World Bank Policies

Contact:

Neil Watkins (202) 299-0020

Soren Ambrose (202) 544-935

WASHINGTON -- As activists target the spring meetings of the IMF/World
Bank with demands for 100% debt cancellation, the World Bank Bonds Boycott
marks its one-year anniversary with an announcement that 25 institutions
throughout the U.S. including city governments, trade unions, churches and
investment firms have committed not to buy World Bank bonds. Resolutions
are pending at more than twenty additional institutions.

Six new entities including the City of Takoma Park, MD, Harrington
Investments, L.L. Blake and Associates, United University Professions (an
AFT affiliate with 24,000 members), the San Francisco Central Labor
Council, and the New York Province of the Marianist Brothers and
Priests -- have committed not to buy World Bank bonds in just the past
seven weeks.

Bertha Caceres Flores, a member of the Executive Committee of the Council
of Indigenous Peoples in Honduras, said, "Everyone knows of Honduras'
problems from Hurricane Mitch. But we are experiencing a permanent
hurricane, much more destructive than Mitch, which is the policies of the
World Bank and IMF. The destruction comes from the globalization of
poverty, due to the World Bank and IMF putting all the riches of our land
--human and natural-- at the disposition of multinational corporations."

The campaign, modeled on the anti-Apartheid movement, is hitting the Bank
at its Achilles' heel: its public image and its financing. The Bank is
becoming increasingly concerned about the growing campaign. For example,
high-level World Bank staff were recently dispatched to one city which is
moving toward passage of the boycott, to lobby against passage of the
resolution.

The new institutions announced today join a growing list of institutions
that have committed not to invest in World Bank bonds, including the city
governments of San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley; the Communications
Workers of America; the United Electrical Radio, and Machine Workers of
America; and ten socially responsible investment firms, including Calvert
Group.

"The World Bank is trying to paint itself as an institution that promotes
social welfare. But the reality is that the Bank continues to push
policies like user fees on health care, privatization of essential services
like water provision, and policies that suppress workers' abilities to
organize and raise their standard of living," said Neil Watkins, the
campaign's coordinator. "We are using the boycott to demand an end to the
Bank's policies which place corporate rights over human rights. At the
same time, the boycott is supporting the poor peoples movements around the
world who have said 'enough is enough'."

The demands of the boycott campaign are an end to World Bank structural
adjustment programs and similar harmful lending practices, as well as 100%
cancellation of debts owed to the World Bank without use of citizens' tax
dollars.

AMP Section Name:World Financial Institutions
  • 194 World Financial Institutions

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