News Release

G8 Agenda on Africa: “Public Relations”?

Today, President Bush made a public statement about the annual G8 summit which will be held in Scotland from July 6-8. He said with regards to malaria in Africa: “We believe that every life matters and every person counts.” The Live 8 concert is on July 2. The G8 Alternatives Summit in Scotland is on July 3.

The following analysts are available for interviews:

ROXANNE LAWSON
Lawson is associate coordinator of the Africa Program Peace Building Unit for the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker organization). Lawson said today: “Since we are in Philadelphia — where the U.S. leg of The Live 8 concert [on Saturday] will be — and our campaign, Life Over Debt, is focused on African debt cancellation, we are helping organize educational activities which begin tonight. The recent G8 debt cancellation deal has several shortcomings from a justice standpoint. Only 14 African countries are included on the list — 34 more African countries should be included by our assessment. The criteria for debt cancellation are misguided. They compel countries to cut services, like healthcare and education, that people really need to balance budgets. Additionally, most of the aid that Bush and others talk about will never actually get to where it is needed. Of the aid that does reach the continent, about 75 cents on every dollar comes back to the country of origin. Of that aid, virtually the only thing that is assured from the U.S. is money for the military.”
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DAVID MILLER
Miller is professor of sociology at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, 35 miles from Gleneagles where the G8 will be meeting. He is co-editor of the recently released book “Arguments Against G8.” He said today: “At the top of the public Gleneagles agenda are issues where the G8 leaders think they can be seen to be serious about tackling global problems. Africa and climate change will dominate the discussion. On both issues there are some differences between the G8 but none of the leaders are proposing to seriously challenge climate change or to help Africa. In fact, as the Blair Commission for Africa report exemplifies, they are united in demanding that Africa opens up to western multinationals and in insisting that only market-based solution to climate change are acceptable.”

Miller continued: “Meanwhile, the G8 meet amidst great uncertainty and instability in global politics. The economic model favored by all the G8 leaders of neoliberalism is under growing threat across the world. Iraq burns, Iran has elected a new leader committed to challenging neoliberalism, Bolivia has toppled its government, unrest brews in the former Soviet republics. … On July 3, the biggest political meeting Scotland has ever seen will take place in Edinburgh. The G8 Alternatives Summit will be the real battleground of the Gleneagles summit; the battle of ideas.”
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G8 alternatives

ANN-LOUISE COLGAN
MARIE CLARKE BRILL
Ann-Louise Colgan, director of policy analysis and communications at Africa Action, said today: “The Bush administration’s Africa policy is more noteworthy for its ‘public relations’ efforts than for any benefit to the African continent. None of the claims and promises of new funding for Africa from the White House have fully materialized, and the president’s G8 agenda falls far short of a bold commitment to supporting African efforts to fight poverty and promote development. … The recent debt deal for 14 African countries leaves the majority of the continent waiting on ‘debt row’ for future debt cancellation. All African countries need full access to their own resources now if they are to succeed in the fight against poverty and HIV/AIDS. The G8 should expand the recent debt deal to include all African countries, and should cut the harmful conditions attached to this deal, when they meet next week.”

Marie Clarke Brill, director of public education and mobilization at Africa Action, said: “Bush’s new plans on malaria and education are nothing more than a mirage. The president makes promises based on future funding projections, which he cannot guarantee, and instead of a bold commitment to combating malaria and other deadly challenges, this new plan — which includes only three countries — makes a farce of this so-called compassionate gesture.”
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DEBAYANI KAR
NEIL WATKINS
Kar is the communications coordinator of the Jubilee USA Network, while Watkins is the national coordinator. Watkins said today: “As President Bush prepares to leave for the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, Jubilee USA Network announced today that more than 10,000 people of faith and conscience all over the country wrote to President Bush and Treasury Secretary Snow to enact 100 percent cancellation of debt to all multilateral creditors for all impoverished countries without harmful economic conditions. Jubilee USA will deliver these letters to administration officials on Thursday.”

Watkins added: “While the debt agreement reached at the G8 Finance Ministers meeting cancels 100 percent of 18 impoverished countries’ debts to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and African Development Bank, it excludes other impoverished nations and debt to other significant creditors. … The G8 must expand its agreement to include all impoverished countries, not just those classified as Heavily Indebted Poor Countries, and debt cancellation must come without subjecting these countries to devastating economic conditions.”

Watkins further noted: “While we are encouraged by the Paris Club’s agreement in principle to cancel 67 percent of Nigeria’s odious and illegitimate debt burden, we are concerned about the IMF’s involvement in the deal and insist that 100 percent of Nigeria’s debt be cancelled.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167