End debt for Third World countries

Published4/12/2008 4:32 PM

This is an open letter to U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam.

Neil was in the band and orchestra and Mark was a towne crier. Our paths diverged since graduating as Grens, but now, we're both singing from the same sheet of music, joining our voices in a campaign to cancel Third World debt.


The Jubilee Act (H.R. 2634) calls for the full cancellation of 67 countries' debts -- without harmful conditions -- claimed by multinational organizations such as the World Bank and IMF.

Why should you vote to pass the Jubilee Act? Because debt is odious and onerous.

Debt is unjust. Take Haiti. Haiti is saddled with an estimated $1.4 billion debt, most of it contracted from the Duvalier dictatorship or the unelected military regimes that followed.

Debt kills. Passing H.R. 2634 would almost double funds to public health, a very badly understaffed and underfunded sector. Haiti's scheduled debt service reaches $78.7 million in fiscal year 2009.

Life expectancy in Haiti is 53 years, 23 percent of children under 5 are chronically malnourished and one in eight die, 6 percent of the adult population is infected with HIV, and there are only 25 doctors, 11 nurses, and one dentist per 100,000 people.

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What do these numbers mean? Days before Mark's last visit to Haiti, Mark's friend died. Imanne was a public health educator and leader in her Protestant church. Imanne died because of an illness, diabetes, that we've been successfully treating for generations in the U.S. Imanne was 42.

Imanne did not have to die, and she certainly isn't alone. Please help by freeing re-sources for basic services. Please pass H.R. 2634.

Mark Schuller

Elk Grove High School, Class of '92

Neil Watkins, National Coordinator of Jubilee USA

Elk Grove High School, Class of '94

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