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‘Dump the Debt’

Several thousand people, young and old, rallied on the Mall yesterday in support of complete foreign debt cancellation for the world’s poorest countries.

Organized by Jubilee 2000/USA, the event brought together representatives from religious, environmental, labor, and student groups, as well as individuals and families, in support of debt relief. Yesterday’s rally was a lead-in to today’s lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, which will involve supporters meeting members of Congress to push for an additional appropriation of $210 million in debt relief this fiscal year.

Jubilee 2000 organized a full afternoon of speeches, songs, rally cries, culminating in the formation of a human chain around Capitol Hill. Among the speakers on hand were Ann Pettifor, director of Jubilee 2000/UK; Mozambican MP Salome Miape; Honduran Archbishop Oscar Rodriguez; Ricardo Navarro, chair of Friends of the Earth International; AFL-CIO President John Sweeney; and White House Chief Economic Adviser Gene Sperling.

Miape thanked the international community for its efforts to help her country recover from the recent floods it has endured, and called on the community to cancel all debt and help bring a better future for the world’s children.

Sweeney, recently returned from the World Congress of the International Federation of Trade Unions in South Africa, told the crowd, “Together we can build a world where children stretch their minds in schools instead of straining their backs in factories—that world begins with debt relief and debt relief now.” 

Archbishop Rodriguez put the debt campaign in a larger context when he told his audience, “We have hope that we’ll win the battle against debt, but the next necessary battle to win is the battle against poverty—poverty is the true battle.” 

“Your work is helping to put this issue at the forefront of the national agenda,” added White House Advisor Gene Sperling. 

Last Thursday, World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn heralded the leadership role of Jubilee 2000, extending his personal gratitude to the coalition for the enormous contribution it has made to debt relief.

“While we do not agree with every aspect  of how to address this challenge, we salute the coalition for helping to bring  this  critical  issue to the world’s attention,” the Bank’s chief said.

Wolfensohn emphasized the role that public involvement must now play in ensuring that all creditors meet their commitments to finance the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor countries (HIPC) Initiative and in ensuring its swift implementation.

“It is now vital that all creditors  meet  their  commitments to finance the enhanced HIPC Initiative and that we press forward with implementation,” he added.

The HIPC Initiative was launched by the World Bank and the IMF in 1996 as the first comprehensive approach to debt relief in the world’s poorest, most heavily indebted countries. Together with traditional debt cancellation, the HIPC Initiative will eliminate unsustainable debt in more than 30 countries.   

Helpful links: For more on HIPC, visit or





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