Date: Wed, 7 Oct 98 20:50:58 CDT
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Nicaraguan delegation attends World Bank/IMF meetings
Nicaragua Network Hotline, 5 October 1998
The Nicaraguan government is sending a high-level delegation to Washington this week to participate in the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. The delegation goes with the hope of obtaining a massive reduction in Nicaragua's crippling foreign debt.
According to Secretary of Foreign Cooperation David Robleto, the central issue that the delegation plans to discuss in its meetings is Nicaragua's acceptance into the World Bank's Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative for further debt reduction.
The Aleman administration is eager to have Nicaragua accepted into the HIPC initiative because it is supposed to free up nearly $300 million for the government to spend on social services. However, HIPC is a deeply flawed program which forces Nicaragua to endure an additional three years of savage structural adjustment before becoming eligible for debt reduction. Nicaragua's plight is so desperate that most segments of society support signing up for the plan in the hope that the debt reduction promised will have positive effects.
While the reduction of Nicaragua's unsustainable debt (one of the highest per capita debts in the world) is an important step toward rebuilding the economy, the continued application of structural adjustment policies make it unlikely that the poor will benefit from this debt forgiveness.
As the World Bank and IMF began their meetings, hundreds of activists from around the world (including Nicaragua) gathered in Washington to protest the neoliberal economic policies of the international financial institutions. A demonstration organized by the 50 Years is Enough Network and the Jubilee 2000 campaign met IMF officials as they left their meetings on Sunday, demanding that they "break the chains of debt." Another demonstration will be held in Washington on Tuesday, October 6 at noon outside of the Mariott at Woodley Park. Call 202-783-7400, x220 for more information.