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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 January 2005

Tsunami disaster

Cancel the debt

Change the system

THE TERRIBLE effects of the tsunami in the Indian Ocean have forced the world's richest nations, the G8, to agree to suspend debt repayments from the worst hit countries. But it is the governments of those rich countries and the profit system they defend, who are responsible for those debts in the first place.

Alison Hill

Debt is one of the biggest scandals in the world today. People living in many countries, not just the poorest, have little or no access to the basics of life like education or health care because of a spiral of debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and others, often dating back to the 1970s.

Why, for example, should the Indonesian tsunami victims pay for the huge debts of the former US-backed Suharto dictatorship? During his decades-long rule General Suharto spent billions buying military equipment from Britain and the US which was used to repress Indonesians.

Loan sharks

Like all victims of loan sharks, most of the poorest countries internationally have paid back in interest more than they originally borrowed. Nigeria, for example borrowed $5 billion, has paid back $16 billion and still owes $16 billion on the same debt.

This appalling situation and the rising anger from the working class about it, has stung the leaders of the major world powers to make noises about action on debt.

But previous deals to provide more aid or debt 'relief' have come with a sting in the tail. Neo-liberal 'reforms' like forced privatisation, opening up of the economy to foreign companies and cuts in social provision are usually the price the poorest have to pay.

Debts must be cancelled completely

So just suspending the debt repayments is not enough. The debts must be cancelled completely - not just for Asia but for all the world's poor countries.

The leaders of the word's richest countries have completely failed to provide any long term solution to the problem of world poverty. In fact, ordinary people shame those leaders with their generosity, every time there is a famine or another disaster.

But people do not contribute just out of sympathy, they are showing basic solidarity with their fellow human beings. Politicians are mostly concerned with their own power, position, prestige and the profits of the big companies.

The 'World' bank might as well be called the 'bank of the US President and all his allies'. On the basis of democratic workers' control of the world's economies, a real world bank would be able to distribute resources where they are needed, not on the basis of who can pay for them.

The Socialist Party campaigns for an end to the profit system which has proved incapable of ensuring even the basic necessities of life for the majority of the world's population. We support the struggle of workers and poor peasants worldwide against the profit system which is impoverishing them.

In Britain we argue for the formation of a new, mass workers' party which can campaign on these issues and provide an alternative to New Labour's big business policies.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 15 January 2005:

Tsunami disaster: cancel the debt

Tsunami disaster: It's business as usual for the politicians

Tsunami disaster: Will the West's aid ever arrive?

Action needed on global warming

Sri Lanka after the tsunami - opportunities and tensions

End the occupation of Iraq

Protest against the occupation of Iraq

Racist police beat up Palestinian student

A workers' leader on a worker's wage

An eventful year for a Socialist councillor

Blunkett: a study in opportunism

Coventry single status 'deal' - but same rip-off

Dirty profits hit hospitals

Vera Drake


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