16 February 2007
The French president, speaking at the Africa-France summit currently being held in Cannes, once again showed a particularly inappropriate lyricism. A choice declaration was: “I love Africa, its territories, its people, its cultures”, followed by: “I have confidence in Africa’s future because I am convinced that a new Africa is rising”.
Beyond the polite courtesies of this official event, CADTM wishes to remind the world that this summit brings together French and African leaders who together are trampling the rights of the African people and sharing the spoils of the African continent.
CADTM says: To present the current international situation in terms of North-South relationships, as the name of the summit suggests, is an imposture: The true cleavage opposes those who benefit from the dominant economic model and the victims of its violence.
Leaders of the most industrialized countries, including Jacques Chirac, are the promoters of a system that imposes the total opening of southern markets, drastic reductions in social spending and massive privatization programmes. In league with local elites who take their commissions, it exposes their unprotected economies to the appetites of the great multinational corporations. The debt, which CADTM firmly combats, is the vector.
While the African people live in poverty (1 African out of 2 have to live on less than 2 dollars a day, and more than 200 million people go hungry), a minority - in the South as well as in the North - grow scandalously rich by the shameful plundering of African riches. It is this minority which is represented in Cannes while the African people were not invited.
For CADTM, Jacques Chirac’s avowed “love” of Africa is a misnomer. The economic measures he has defended for decades are the cause of the drama being lived out by hundreds of millions of Africans, mortally wounded by the debt, corruption and poverty.
CADTM calls for the definitive abolition of structural adjustment
Economic policies imposed by the IMF in exchange of new loans or the rescheduling of old loans.
Structural Adjustments policies were enforced in the early 1980 to qualify countries for new loans or for debt rescheduling by the IMF and the World Bank. The requested kind of adjustment aims at ensuring that the country can again service its external debt. Structural adjustment usually combines the following elements : devaluation of the national currency (in order to bring down the prices of exported goods and attract strong currencies), rise in interest rates (in order to attract international capital), reduction of public expenditure (’streamlining’ of public services staff, reduction of budgets devoted to education and the health sector, etc.), massive privatisations, reduction of public subsidies to some companies or products, freezing of salaries (to avoid inflation as a consequence of deflation). These SAPs have not only substantially contributed to higher and higher levels of indebtedness in the affected countries ; they have simultaneously led to higher prices (because of a high VAT rate and of the free market prices) and to a dramatic fall in the income of local populations (as a consequence of rising unemployment and of the dismantling of public services, among other factors). policies imposed through the debt, and the creation of another economic structure, capable of really integrating social and environmental obligations. Only then will it be possible to say that a new Africa is rising - free from all its current gravediggers, including Jacques Chirac and the other leaders present at Cannes.
Translated by Mike Krolikowski and Judith Harris.