Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt
CADTM

Press release

CADTM supports the general strike of the Guinean people and denounces the repression orchestrated by the illegitimate power of Lansana Conte

CADTM supports the general strike of the Guinean people and denounces the repression orchestrated by the illegitimate power of Lansana Conte.

On Monday 12 February 2007, the general strike calling for the departure of Guinean president Lansana Conte was resumed and met with ferocious repression. Eleven people were killed, bringing the total to over one hundred since the beginning of the year.

It would seem that the army is no longer totally loyal to the failing regime and some of the crack regiments are bringing their support to the popular insurrection. The capital is paralyzed by barricades and the principal roads are blocked.

For CADTM, the Guinean people has long been deprived of its rightful wealth (in particularly the very large reserves of bauxite), by multinational foreign companies and a clan close to the ruling power which enriches itself by illegal and illegitimate means. Guinean citizens are entirely within their rights to demand explanations from those who have been getting rich at the expense of the people.
Guinea was the first French West African colony to achieve independence in 1958 when Sékou Touré issued his famous ’non’ to General De Gaulle. Subsequently, popular sovereignty was quickly confiscated to the advantage of an elite. For CADTM, the general strike is the means by which the Guinean people can legitimately press for a return to popular and non-negotiable sovereignty.

The first period of strikes forced Conte to accept the nomination of a Prime Minister. However the choice of Prime Minister was a profound disappointment for the people. Eugene Camara is a close accomplice of Conte and his appointment is a betrayal of popular demand.

For the moment, the regime has decided on the use of force to conserve the little power it has left. According to ’Human Rights Watch’, Conte, who is seriously ill, may have recruited ex-Liberian rebels as mercenaries. He has just decreed a ’state of siege’ that gives him full powers in total disregard of democratic principles.

CADTM says that Lansana Conte should immediately resign as president.

Finally, CADTM calls for a government that is ready to respect the will of the Guinean people and break free of the structural adjustment 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).
plans dictated by the IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for globalised capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments that are going bankrupt.

As for the World Bank the votes resulting in decisions are based on the amount paid as contribution by each member states. 85% of the votes are required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,35% of the votes can paralyse any decision).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,75%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and Britain (4,29%).
The other 177 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.

http://imf.org
, the World Bank World Bank
WB
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 180 members in 1997), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

http://worldbank.org
and the elites of the industrialized countries.

Translated by Mike Krolikowski and Judith Harris.

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