IMF squeezes Argentina
August 31, 2001 | Page 1
MARTA BONGIORNO stood in a line of 300 women that ran around the block in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. They were answering a newspaper ad for a single job.
"I was laid off five months ago," Marta said. "It was the first time I hadn't worked all my adult life. The crisis is everywhere."
About 11 million Argentinians live below the poverty line, and the country is in the grips of its worst recession since the 1930s. But the global loan sharks at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) want more of the same.
International bankers are panicking that Argentina won't be able to pay back its $140 billion foreign debt, causing an earthquake in the international financial system--just as economies around the world are headed into recession.
So in August, the IMF said it would step in with an $8 billion bailout loan for Argentina.
This isn't an act of generosity. On the contrary, the IMF--and the powerful governments that pull its strings--want to make sure Argentina repays its debt to the bankers. And the loan comes with conditions--that Argentina's government impose even harsher austerity measures.
Consider what the IMF did to Argentina last September. It offered a $26 billion loan--if Argentina agreed to cut government spending and slash wages in the public sector by 12 to 15 percent.
"The economists at the IMF surely know that holding back government spending and snuffing out purchasing power in a contracting economy would be like turning off the engines on an airplane in stall," wrote Gregory Palast, a columnist for Britain's Observer newspaper.
"Little of the bailout money escapes New York, where it lingers to pay interest to U.S. creditors, like Citibank. This disaster was created by IMF policies which transformed a mild recession into a depression and international crisis."
The IMF and its partner in crime, the World Bank, have pursued the same savage policies around the globe--with frighteningly similar results. In Africa, Uganda spends $17 on debt repayments for every $3 that it spends on health care--in a country where one in four children die of preventable disease.
Such policies have meant that money is flowing out of the world's poorest countries--and into the pockets of the world's richest people. Between 1990 and 1997, poor countries paid $77 billion more on debt payments than they got in new loans.
These global loan sharks need to be stopped. Tens of thousands of people will converge on Washington, D.C., in late September to take a stand against the IMF and World Bank at their annual meetings.
These protests can show the bankers and the bosses and their servants in Washington that we've had enough of a system that puts profits first--and imposes misery on people like Marta Bongiorno and millions like her around the world.
Come and add your voice to the growing movement for global justice!