John Pilger – War by Other Means | 20Abr2012 23:07:31

 


A special report by John Pilger

Remember Live Aid in 1985? That symbol of concern and generosity?
Did you know that during that year the hungriest countries in Africa gave twice as much money to us in the developed world as we gave to them.
There was another famine last year, perhaps you’re one of those who took part in red nose day. Did you know that before that day was over the equivalent of all the money that Comic Relief had raised in britain, about 12 million pounds, had come back to the rich countries?

For every day this amount is given by the poorest to the rich as interest payment on loans that most of them never asked for or knew existed. In other words contrary to myth long popular in the west, it’s been the poor of the world who finance the rich, not the other way around. And this film sets out to explain why. (1:36)

It’s also a film about war. A war you don’t see on your television screens on the news. It’s been described as a silent war, instead of soldiers dying there’re children dying. More than half a million in one year according to the UN. That’s more than twice the number of death in the Golf war. Instead of the bombing of bridges there’s a tearing down of forest and other natural resources. The bulldozing of farmland and the running down of schools and hospitals.
In many ways, it’s like a colonial war. The difference is that in this days the people and the resources are controlled, not by viceroys and occupying armies, but by other more sophisticated means of which the principal weapon is debt. (2:25)

There’re no bullets, but it’s a war in which people are dying.

War and debt are exactly the same thing, except for one point which is nobody needs to occupy territory today. 

In the 1980, world bank and IMF and US government and the British government would say to developing countries: “you cut governing spending, you increase exports, you privatise or you won’t get new loans”

Belt tightening it’s what’s called. What you do is you tighten those notches that are the easiest to pull. Those notches that affect children, that affect poor people, that affect people who have no power in a political system. (3:29)
Part of the design of the structural adjustment programs, that’s what this policies are called, is to drive down real wages.

The 1980s have been a lost decade for development, the brunt has been born by the most vulnerable groups, children or mothers with young children.
To understand the debt question one has to understand first that what is taking place today is the greatest transfer of public wealth to private hands in the history of this earth.

The process of coercing most of humanity into debt as means of controlling their resources, their labor and their governments begun almost half a century ago, it was not called colonialism, that was a term made debunked by WWII, there were new hopeful euphemisms, indeed this was the beginning of what president Bush now calls the New World Order. (4:32)

At Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, delegates from 44 allies and associated countries arrive for the opening of the United Nations monetary and financial conference. Invited by president Roosevelt they will work in the seclusion of this White Mountains resort.

Along with the international monetary fund the world bank was setup at the Bretton Woods conference in america in 1944. The bank saying was to finance the reconstruction of europe then to develop the third world. It was decided the headquarters would be in washington and the president would come from the country with the larger shareholding and of course the US is the largest shareholder. The world bank operates on the great secrecy and limited accountability. Every world bank official is granted immunity from legal action anywhere in the world.

Summing up the importance of written words, Mr Vinson says “ours is a mission of peace designed to establish the economic foundations of peace on a bedrock of genuine international cooperation” (5:47)

What this idealism really meant was felt out in the charter they were signing.
To promote private foreign investment by means of guarantees or loans made by private investors.

Mr. Rao would you describe the aims of the world bank as idealistic?
Well, the bank really is a development bank. The main focus of the bank is poverty alleviation, development of countries which are relatively low in income. I guess that’s a pretty idealistic frame of mind, set of objectives. In the same time though the bank is a bank and has to worry about it’s bottom line, it’s standing in the markets and is therefore necessarily a very hard-nosed financial institution as well. (6:37)

The bank has always been deceptive about it’s role in the international economy. It attempts to portrait itself as an institution looking out for the interests, not only poor countries, but for poor people within those countries. That has never been the case. The bank is pushing the interest or promoting the interest of countries in the first world and for an elite sector in the third world. That was truth in the 1970s and it’s particularly truth in the 1980s.

What became known as the debt crisis that gone underway in the 1980s, however it was a minor crisis for the banks compared with the catastrophes facing the peoples of poor countries.

The banks have made a killing in the decade of the 80s. They have been crying all time but, not only the banks, but in fact the public institutions have received a total of over 1.3 trillion dollars. That's 1.3 followed by 12 zeros. And the reward that the debtor countries have received for paying there creditors 1.3 trillion dollars in the last ten years, is to be more than 60% more in debt than they were in 1982. So, if there is no change this can go on forever with the debtor countries remitting an average of 12 billion dollars every month.

The world's oldest human rights organisation, Anti-Slavery Society has declared debt a contemporary form of slavery. Nowhere is this more vividly demonstrated than here in the Philippines where 44% of the national budget is given to pay interests charges to foreign banks compared to just 3% for health services. Moreover billions of dollars continue to leave this country just to meet the interest on the money borrowed by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in deals that were often secret or fraudulent. (8:56)

There is perhaps no greater example of the burden of debt than one notorious project in the Philippines. It sits on Bataan Peninsula and is potentially as dangerous as Chernobyl. Built less than 60 miles from the city of Manila on 3 earthquake faults near 2 live volcanos, one of which recently erupted, this is the Bataan Nuclear power station. In the Philippines it’s known as the big scam.
The scam, almost certain began here, at the Wack Wack Golf Club in Manila, where Ferdinand Marcos used to play with his cousin and chief Emilio. In 1974 the american company general electric applied to build the  Bataan Nuclear Power Station, but accepted the highest bidder, The Westinghouse company. Moreover the deal would be underwritten by the american government through the import/export bank and a clutcher of private american banks. Everybody would make a buck, except the Philippine people.

By 1977 president Carter stopped the building of nuclear power plants because of their inefficiency and faulty design. But he did nothing to stop the same plants being built in third world countries like the Philippines. Moreover the state department which had to approve Westinghouse export licenses knew the Bataan Power Station was to be built in an earthquake zone but still it was encouraged to go ahead. (10:35)

To make the story even more dubious, the US government enters in. William Casey, later the director of the CIA, then head of export import bank an agency which helps US business overseas, by providing loans and loan guarantees. Casey goes to Manila. Casey comes back recommends to the US government through the export import bank, give an initial loan that opens the gate for all these other banks to came in and give loans. And they start building. Westinghouse at this time does the usual thing, you have delays, you have problems, the price goes up and up and up. First to 1.1 billion finally to 2.2 billion. Some estimate that the final cost to the Philippines will be 2.6 billion dollars. So, you have a 2.6 billion dollars fiasco that will never produce 1 watt of electricity which now the Philippine people will have to repay.

When Marcos was overthrown in 1986 president Aquino declared the Bataan Power Station unsafe and it was closed forever. At the same time, our government began legal action in the US against Westinghouse.
Last year the american judge found ample evidence of bribery. On the day the case was due to be heard in March it was settled out of court. Westinghouse agreed to pay the Philippines 100 million dollars. But remarkably the Aquino government agreed to give Westinghouse 400 million dollars just to make the power station work, regardless of it’s position in an earthquake zone.
And these 400 million dollars will be borrowed from the same american export import bank and it will have to be repaid by Philippine people, most of whom live in poverty. (12:30)
Why should the Philippine people now, haven got rid of the dictator Marcos, repay money that he got from the world bank, much of it which he and his crew pocketed-in.
Well, I don’t know how much of the world bank money he pocketed. There are a lot of procedures...
We know he pocketed quite a bit. Will you agree?
Of the world bank money, I’ll disagree. There are a lot of procedures in place to ensure that the disbursements of world bank moneys are for projects which are well monitored and are against purchases... which are again well monitored.
The world bank and IMF pride him selves of being institutions that are helping deal with the debt crisis, were being used by a third world president actually for it’s own internal economic gain and it was allowing him to continue to serve as commercial bank without getting any trouble continuing to get new loans in, from which again he will take, whatever 1%, 1.5% and continue to enrich himself.
Finally, may I turn to the other slavery, our 26 billion dollar foreign debt. I’ve said that we shall honor it, yet half of our export earnings, 2 billion dollars out of 4 billion dollars, which is all we can earn in the restrictive market of the world, must go to pay just the interest on a debt whose benefit the Philippine people never received.
When Corazon Aquino was swear to power she described the Philippines as a land of broken promises. Her promise to the Philippine people was that they will be the beneficiaries of their civilized uprising against Marcos.
I will vigorously renegotiate, she said, the terms of our foreign debt. But in the end she gave priority to paying of the banks. Poverty now stands at 70% of the population a rise than more than 10% since she came to power.
A big mac is not for the poor. As the debt is paid back at the rate of more than 6 million dollars a day. The rich, like the elites in other debtor nations, increasingly rely on private armies to protect their shopping malls, their homes and theirs interests. (15:18)
According to Amnesty International political killings carried out by the government and government backed forces in violation of the law, have became the most serious human rights problem in the Philippines.
This is Eddie, he’s 32, a bright responsible decent man faced with a clear choice. He can sift thru rubbish picking out bits of glass, tin or plastic in order to make a living, or he can let his family starve. They live in a place known to all Manila as smoky mountain.
The stench and the acid rain are constant here. There are two sounds that dominate, the sound of dump trucks and the children coughing as they descend on the new delivered rubbish like birds waiting for the clod to turn. More than 20 thousand people live on and in the rubbish in smoky mountain. They are the face workers of the modern poverty and their lives a metaphor for the conditions of peoples in many countries whose impoverishment in the 1990s accelerates as the debt of poor nations grows and grows.
The way this people have to live, has much to do with decisions taken far from the poverty and the stench. They’re the products of structural adjustment, a modern jargon term with all fashion meaning. It means an economy reshaped and controlled by outside forces so that the foreign debt can be paid back and foreign investment and export production made attractive by cheap labor. So cheap that these people are forced to scavenge here.
It’s an economy whose unprofitable public services like schools, hospitals and clean running water are expendable. (17:46)
How long do you live here, Eddie?
Almost 13 years.

You can say you thought by coming to Manila you get work, that’s what everybody in the country side thought at that time.
That’s why I live in the mountain, because if I don’t work all day I don’t have to eat.

This is Eddie’s structurally adjusted neighbourhood which periodically gets bulldozed to make room for more rubbish. In order to eat and feed their family, Eddie and his wife, Teracita, must work at least 12 hours a day to make just over 2 pounds, this pays for 2 basic meals, mostly rice, for them and their 4 children. When Teracita was about to have her baby Grace, Eddie paid for mid-wife by selling wood that was to be the roof of their second room. Every child born on smoky mountain stands a good chance of not living to the age of 5.

Almost 30% of the children here. The problem is diarrhoea and pneumonia and bad nutrition.

30% pneumonia and diarrhoea and bad nutrition.

This is not surprising as they live without clean water and sanitation nor can they afford doctors and clinics as social services are cut back and privatised. (19:12)

If you have no money sometimes the children will die.
So, unless you can buy medicine, it’s quite possible your children will die.
We try to do our best.

That’s a very, very difficult situation.

This is my house. My wife, this is my children and the other two outside.
Hello, what his name?

Eduardo junior.
He’s the only boy.

All around here the one thing that strikes me is the very romantic music playing.
Are you both romantic? The two of you? You’re a romantic people?
Yeah, because we have no 6 children if we aren’t romantic.
Teracita, what happen when your last baby was born?

There was a really bad storm that night and then we were here in the house and I was holding the baby and rocking her and the storm was raging and the other children were squashed here besides us, so the rain wouldn’t get to them. You see get’s flooded here, we never had the money to fix the roof it leaks all the time. I was worried that if they got wet they get sick like my other children who died.
My eldest was 4 years-old when he got sick, he got sick here in this house. I didn’t know what to do, he was living here in this filthy conditions, smoke and everything got really bad diarrhoea and killed him. That time they were demolishing the houses here in 1982 when the demolitions happened. I had a wrangler with a demolition man, I pleaded, “please wait until I buried my child before you demolish my house”. Can you imagine? You have a death body in your house and they want to demolish it. (22:11)

She had worms that came out of her mouth?

So we bring her to the hospital. Because on that time I may walk to the hospital. So when I go to the hospital I saw that my baby was dead already.
We did calculations to show how many children in the Philippines die because of the way the debt crisis is being managed and we calculated how much the health budget had been cut. And on the basis of that, came up with a figure that one Philippine child dies every hour because of the increase in debt services payments.

Debt to most people seems to be a matter for the financial pages, for the banks and the governments but, in fact, debt has been in the past decade the largest new contributing factor to hunger and misery.

The Philippines spends almost half it’s national budget paying just the interest on debt owed to foreign banks. These are homeless children on the streets of Manila, but they could be anywhere in the in-debted world.
Here the problem of homelessness has become so serious that this policy unit does nothing but round up children and try to find institutions that will take them. But they are few and most of the children come back to the streets. Lieutenant Siochi and his man run the unit partly of their own pockets. All of them have the moonlight as taxi drivers and ice-cream vendors but these jobs are increasingly rare.

The national economic development authority estimated that as result of IMF policies, half a million workers will lose their jobs in the Philippines this year. That means more children on the streets.

Where do this children come from? The children that we see on the streets.
Some of them come from the provinces and from low income families here in Manila.

Do they come to Manila with their family?

Yes, yes. And they found that Manila is not the happiness that  they think. Not now. Before they can get easy jobs here. But now no more.
Children were sleeping alone. Have they lost contact with their families?
Their parents have abandon them already because of the hardships. They cannot feed them anymore.

So, they are very vulnerable to drugs?

Some of them.
I notice some of them looked like they have being using drugs.
Yes, that’s truth.
And prostitution?
There’re street girls, as we call them working girl, because they’re already prostitutes. (27:35)

Some of them are sick and hungry, but once we brought them to this non-governmental institution like this center, we brought them there. Those social workers take care of them.

The government is bound trapped. The government has being paying for international debts obtained by the last administration of Marcos.
So, you’re saying is, that’s the pressure on society that the government has to pay so much? The resources are going one way, and has no many money left to do something about the homelessness.

Yes. We are suppose to pay to the IMF, too may debt.

This 15 day-old baby was born on the streets. The parents are teenagers and were themselves street childrens and products of the debt era. The mother was born in the year the World Bank declared the Philippines a special case for development and lend the dictator Marcos more than 4 billion dollars.
During their life time the number of people in poverty as raisin by almost a quarter of the population.

The Philippines is getting worst now. Only God maybe, can save the Philippines.
There’s no reason why this country should be poor.
Yeah, there’s no reason. We are very rich in natural resources; we can stand by our own. (29:44)

This is a country abundant in food. But food does not pay back the debt or encourage foreign investors and so agriculture and a whole way of life has been structurally adjusted. This is the Calabarzon super-project turning food growing land into factories for export production. Funded largely by Japan, it’s the kind of so called reform demanded by the IMF. The new factories will produce new revenue and profits for foreigners, they will also produce new debt for the Philippines.

Calabarzon classifies the kind of development strategy which only brings ruin to the third world, because such strategy is primmest for example on mass development, so called development, massive exploitation of the environment, changes in people way of life, taking land from the people and the persons to be able to convert this into so called industrial zones with the problems of pollution and everything. And usually these development strategies are fuelled by debt, fuelled by foreign investment.

The Calabarzon project will destroy food growing land from which an estimated 8 million people depend. The farmers have been given little or no notice and compensation generally has been meager. In the mean time, many of them will end up on the streets of Manila, homeless. Japanese, American and other foreign owned factories will rise on the prairies and fields. (31:42)

This is the kind of development that must be put to stop, because it’s not development at all. It’s destruction of the environment, it’s impoverishing of the people and it’s pushing the country into a debt trap.

There’s a terrible irony here. While the rich world lectures the poor on the importance of preserving the environment, the IMF and the banks tell the people of Philippines they must export in order to pay off their debt, but all they have is their fragile earth is minerals and forests, so the earth must pay the debt. The mangoes are plunded, the coral reefs torn out so the chunks of it and tropical gold fish can be sold to america. And the destruction of the great rain forest is almost complete.

This is the final result. In 1991 a typhoon left 6000 people dead, 43000 homeless in an area where previously the forest had protected the people from floods and mud slides.

By the year 2000, hardly a tree will be left standing. Forests as big as Denmark have been wiped out, bringing to an end one of richest ecosystems on the planet. The home of thousands of species of plants and animals.

The environment is probably the major victim next to human beings, of the debt crisis. It only because countries are obliged to cash in their resources, they must cut down their forests, they must dig up their minerals, and ruin their land producing cash crops that they can earn enough currency to keep on paying the debt. There is an almost perfect correlation between the top debtors and the top deforesters. It’s a striking correlation.

In the Amazon area, Brazil, in Ghana, in Costa Rica, roads are built, incentives are given to allow the extraction of this resources. Particularly now, with structural adjustment, there’s a program in place in most countries of de-regulation, that is de-regulating control of these industries and also there is not enough money in the budget to oversee these activities. You seen the all sale raping of these environments. (34:36)

At the 1991 conference, the world bank and IMF appeared to be making a special commitment to the environment. What would your response be to that?
The world bank is now saying how green it is, what is not saying is how much it has destroyed thru it’s policies. It’s not enough to put a green tail on a very large monstrous dog which is destroying the environment and that is what debt is doing.

Welcome to the World Bank and IMF conference in Bangkok. The aim of the conference is and I quote “to find ways of eradicating poverty all over the world”. The last of their contradictions. You see most of the delegates are bankers, now this is not to suggest that bankers don’t care about poor people, it’s just that somethings are hard to explain, such as why officials of the world bank spend in their pursuit of solution for the poor, an estimated 45 million dollars a year, flying first class, staying in five stars hotels. And why at this conference chefs have been flowing special from paris to a country where children still die from bad nutrition and why they need to be shadowed for more doctors than most people in south east asia see in a life time. Fortunately, the people who can best advise them, on how to eradicate poverty are just across the road.

However the bankers can’t see them because a wall was put up to hide the poor people during the conference. The people responded by painting the wall in bright colors in order to attract attention. No doubt worries that delegates might spot the odd poor person, the government than had buses parked in front of the wall.

Most of these people are street traders but in the build-up for the conference, hundreds of vendors were almost literally swept from the streets of Bangkok. So here they sit with their empty carts, hidden from few, unable to earn a living until a conference discussing poverty moves on. (37:01)

For years, one of the landmarks of Bangkok as you drove in from the airport was community of people living beside these railway tracks. 500 families lived here. A few weeks before the world bank conference began everything was bulldozed, homes a kindergarden, a makeshift school.

When it was known the world bank meeting was gonna be held here they were advised that they had to leave. There was a quote in the newspaper, and the english translation of which was on official said they were an eye-saw. Now that word went around, people don’t forget that word, so lot of people said no we are not an eye-saw, these are homes of poor workers. But unfortunately was regarded as such. They’re very scrappy looking homes and there was some kind of thinking at the time they should be shied up. And either you build around them or move them away and that’s what happened.

So, the bankers, the delegates at the conference wouldn’t see them, is that?
I think that was the idea, yes.

They weren’t rehoused, they have built their homes 500 yards further down the line, where they couldn’t been seen from the road.

An added effect for many of them was unemployment, because in the move they couldn’t turn up for work and lost their jobs. One of the reasons the world bank and IMF choose Bangkok for their conference was that they regard Thailand as an economic model for other countries to follow. (38:50)

This conference seems to us to be, what used to be called a media event, to others looks like a binge. It’s difficult for some people standing back to understand what this conference has to do with helping people who are needy, who are poor.

Well, I’m been here almost a week and I spend most of my time in meetings. Meetings with government officials, we had meetings we various committees to discuss policies and I don’t come away with the perspective that you have at all. This meeting has provided ministers and governors from all our members to come and exchange views on how they see the world economy evolving and the needs of developing countries. I think the thing that has stood out in this annual meeting of the IMF and the world bank, and that is a pretty strong consensus on what kind of policies work and what kind of policies do not work. I have a sense, I see a sense, hear a sense of optimism about that here. That do not exist in the early 1980s. I feel that you’re reflecting experiences and events of a period in the past and that much has happened particularly in the recent years in many countries where they have been able to achieve some success in there economic reforms. (40:34)

I don’t agree. It’s now 1991, debt is still a major problem for countries like the Philippines and perhaps 70 other third world countries who are still in the debt trap. From the point of view of the banks, the debt crisis it’s already over because their covered by loan lost reserves. From the point a view of multilateral the debt crisis is over because there has not be any interruption in payments to them. They accepted their conditionality they accepted their terms and they have made sure that they will be paid continuously. So from their point of view the debt crisis is over, because they are safe, the multilateral are safe, the commercial banks are safe, the bail outer countries are safe, but the people of the third world are not safe because they continue to pay a debt.

Debt was crucial to the pressure exerted by the US in building the so called coalition against Saddam Hussein. The golf war was said to be the dawn of a new age for the UN. A New World Order in action. In fact, the US was able to tailor the UN security council to his war plans by using debt in the international banks.
Egypt was told that if joined the coalition 14 billion dollars will be wiped out of it’s national debt. And Iran reported Reuters was rewarded for it’s support of the US with it’s first loan from the world bank since 1979 Islamic revolution. The day before the ground attack the bank approved a loan to Iran of 250 million dollars and China received the first world bank loan since the Tiananmen Square massacre, just one week after the Chinese foreign minister met president Bush at the White House.

Outside the bank, Syria was promised a billion dollar arms deal broked by Washington and a further opportunity was arranged with president Bush. An international terrorist but suddenly an old friend.

The vote of the non-permanent members of the security council was critical, minutes after Yemen voted against the resolution to go to war, a senior American diplomat was instructed to tell the Yemen ambassador that was the most expensive no vote they ever cast. Meaning that the 70 million dollars in America aid to one of the poorest countries in the world would be stopped. (43:18)
The use of debt in bribing a coalition was nothing new. Manipulation of the world bank was documented in the early 1980’s in a secret US treasure report. The US, says the report:

“... we are capable and willing to pursue important policy objectives in the banks by exercising the financial and political leverage at our disposal.

In other words, the US is able to impose it’s will on the world bank.

Britain’s influence on the international banks it’s small compared with the US. But British high street banks are deeply involved in third world debt. In one year, 1990, poor countries transferred more than 6 billion pounds net to British banks. On top of this, the banks were allowed tax relief on making provision for so called darkful loans. From 1987 to 1990, this tax relief amounted to 1.6 billion pounds. The equivalent of 10 times what the British public gives in charitable donations to the third world.

We invited all high street banks to be interviewed about this, all of them refused. So we asked the bankers association to explain it and they say that was not unusual as an old business debt, they said, the taxes relief would have to be paid back when the principal loan was paid back. In the meantime the banks can keep the taxes relief and still demand interests payments. And this constant demand is truth also at the IMF and World Bank. (45:00)

Clearly, one is not repaying money that one has not borrowed in the first place. So whatever is now being repaid, was in fact, dispensed the other way some years earlier and what you’re observing in fact is first of all, the interests, that is payable on borrowings which, i think any person with a mortgage will ready recognize. You’re observing a lot of rescheduling of this payments. All of the several in-debt countries that your are concerned about have in fact reschedule and postpone their payments very significantly to many of their creditors and what you’re observing also is the payment of interest on the moneys that are in their use.

In 1991, prime-minister John Major announced that the British government would wipe-out the debt to certain African countries but just it was important but accounts for only 1% of world wide debt. To end the tyranny of debt all together and to fight poverty there has to be radically new thinking. The only solution for most poor countries is that their debt is written off completely at the very least their loan repayments are channeled back into genuine development that puts food growing, health and education before so called economic growth. The banks are not solely to blame for the debt and poverty, but is not possible for them to look after the interests of the rich world and the poor world at the same time.

The world bank and IMF should be abolish and replaced by a real development agency that is non-profit making, and entirely free of political strings and can help nations develop on their terms, meeting their needs.

In Britain, in the 1990s, the third world and the ravages of debt had come home as the richest got richer and poor poorer. No other country in Europe as seen such a dramatic rise in poverty. One in 5 British children now lives in poverty. Off course, during the 1980s, a large number of people appeared to be doing well by living of debt. They had jobs, and small businesses, but now jobs have been lost and businesses are going bankrupted, and 18000 homes being repossessed a year, many of these people are now joining the homeless and as in the third world poverty kills, says Professor Peter Townsend, a world authority, that is not a political or social comment, he said, but a scientific fact. (48:00)

The debt crisis started in 1982, and if it goes on for another 10 years, think of all those 18 year-olds that will not have known anything their entire lives but austerity, and those kids are extraordinarily frustrated and extraordinarily angry.

The human consequences of debt have been a largely unwritten story and if you miss the chance when a child is 1 or 5 or 10 to provide the basic nutrition, the early education, a home with love and care, there will be consequences when that child is an adult and I fear we will see those consequences and have to live with them 20, 30, 40 years from now.

Given that most countries do have enough resources to provide for their people, why should they have to tolerate a system that forces parents to watch their children die slowly, like the children of Eddy and Teracita, in the Philippines. Indeed, why should the burden of debt fall to those least responsible for it?
At the other end of the scale, why should British high street banks get tax relief of more than a billion pounds just in case loans are not paid back. That amount of money would immunize 400 million children against preventable diseases.

Above all, why should the lives of ordinary people be controlled by a few, who are themselves unaccountable and who’s decisions and judgements are dictated by a belief that economics is meant not to serve people but a some kind of holy rit requiring regularly offerings, feeding blood sacrifices to a God called a bottom line.

The debt of all poor countries counts for less than 5% of the loans of commercial banks. If the debt was cancelled unconditionally the banks would hardly know the difference. If it’s not cancelled the scene shown in this film will endure and people may take it no more and perhaps the debt war will no longer be silent. Is that the kind of world we are to give those children who reach the 21st century?

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