Direct Action fund appeal: Centuries of exploitation
By Jon Lamb
The horrendous January 12 earthquake in Haiti has attracted a world-wide response to deal with one of the worst disasters in modern times. In addition to the catastrophic loss-of-life, the impact of the earthquake has literally re-shaped many of Haiti’s cities and towns, uprooting hundreds of thousands who may never return to the places where they once lived. On January 21, in a grotesquely miserly act, the World Bank announced that it would waive payments on Haiti’s debt to the World Bank of $38 million for five years.
Non-government organisations and solidarity groups are now campaigning for Haiti’s debts to be wiped completely. “Expecting Haiti to repay millions of dollars as the country struggles to overcome one of the worst natural disasters in recent memory would be both cruel and unnecessary” stated Oxfam international executive director Jeremy Hobbs. But this is a disaster much more than one solely of natural causes. It rests sharply upon the centuries of colonial and imperialist exploitation and domination that has plagued Haiti, an experience it shares in common with most of the “developing” world.
Haiti is grouped by the World Bank along with 40 other countries into a category called Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC). These are a group of countries that are deemed permissible to receive some form of debt relief because they are unable to service their high foreign debt. Some 29 HIPC states are in Sub-Saharan Africa. To be considered an HIPC, a country needs to have a debt-to-exports ratio of 200-250% or a debt-to-government revenues ratio in excess of 280%. Haiti at time of the earthquake had a foreign debt of US$984 million.
Haiti’s experience typifies the reality of the capitalist world order, with a handful of rich and powerful imperialist states draining resources and wealth from the mass of exploited, underdeveloped nations — a brutal world order enforced through war and occupation and the stranglehold of the imperialist controlled international financial institutions.
Direct Action is committed to helping build the movement to replace this barbarous system with one based on working-class solidarity. Direct Action needs your help to keep the printing press rolling and the production of the paper. Please consider making a donation to the DA fund appeal and help us reach our $35,000 target by the end of this year. So far, we have received $14,777. You can make a donation by sending a cheque or money order to Direct Action, Suite 72, 65 Myrtle Street, Chippendale, NSW 2008.