On April 16, the House of Representatives voted 285 to 132 to pass the Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt cancellation (HR 2634).
This strong bipartisan legislation urges expanded debt cancellation to impoverished countries that need it to meet millennium development goals and provide much needed clean water, health care without fees, and food to its people.
Just two months ago, President Bush made a historic trip to Africa to review progress of the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) and other development programs in the region.
He observed and praised increased investment health care and education, made possible by MDRI debt cancellation.
Right now, Haiti , the most impoverished country in the western hemisphere, is suffering from a food shortage. Its citizens are literally starving for justice.
The Associated Press reports many Haitians are eating cookies made of dirt to stay alive. And this year, the Haitian government is scheduled to pay $71.7 million to the World Bank and Inter-American Bank to repay money these banks loaned to the Duvalier regime.
An amendment included in the Jubilee Act urges the Bush administration to work to immediately cancel or stop the payments of these debts.
Debt cancellation is an essential element of any real, long-term development progress in Africa and Haiti.
The Jubilee Act should be supported by our senators. The act provides debt cancellation for more poor nations and would help put an end to the kind of irresponsible lending that caused crippling debt burdens in the past.
Paul and Adrienne Kalmes