USA Network Monthly Grassroots Action

USA Network Monthly Grassroots Action
USA Network Monthly Grassroots Action

Jubilee USA Network Monthly Grassroots Action
October / November 2003
Support Jubilee Debt Cancellation with the World Bank Bonds Boycott!

The monthly grassroots action for October/November is to support the World Bank Bonds Boycott campaign.

The World Bank Bonds Boycott is an international grassroots campaign that is building moral, political, and financial pressure on the World Bank for change. The World Bank raises most of its funds by issuing bonds. Ordinary people, through xxx their pension funds, religious communities, labor unions, churches, municipalities, and universities are exerting pressure for change on the World Bank by adopting resolutions or policies against World Bank bond investment. The campaign calls for 100% debt cancellation for impoverished countries and cancellation of illegitimate debt, an end to the World Bank’s harmful “structural adjustment” policies; and an end to environmentally destructive projects, especially for oil, gas, mining, and dams. Jubilee USA Network has endorsed the campaign and many member groups have also joined.

There are two easy and exciting ways for Jubilee member groups and local organizations to get involved with this month’s action:

1) Ask your religious community, church or other group to pass a World Bank Bonds Boycott resolution

If your group has not yet xvideos adopted a policy against buying World Bank bonds, bring the proposal to support the World Bank Bonds Boycott to your religious community, church, or other institution. You can ask your group to pass a resolution against buying World Bank bonds. It doesn’t matter whether you actually invest in World Bank bonds right now or not – the statement is a powerful moral and political statement as well as a financial pressure tactic to help promote debt cancellation and other changes at the World Bank. 2) Sign-on to a letter to TIAA-CREF, the nation’s largest pension fund, as part of the World Bank Bonds Boycott’s “TIAA-CREF: Take the Next Step Campaign!”

You can participate in this effort by signing on to a letter to TIAA-CREF, the nation’s largest pension fund in support of the World Bank Bonds Boycott. Even if you or someone in your group is not a member of TIAA-CREF, you can ask professors, teachers, or other academic staff in your area to consider signing onto the letter as a way to support Jubilee debt serviporno cancellation. TIAA-CREF’s members are mainly academic staff, professors, and teachers. You can also ask students and student networks in your area to take the letter and information to professors that are sympathetic to issues of social and economic justice.

A copy of an action alert with more of information on the “TIAA-CREF: Take the Next Step Campaign” and instructions on how to sign on to the letter follows below. For more information and background materials on this

World Bank Bonds Boycott Campaign
ACTION ALERT
October/November 2003

Tell TIAA-CREF: Take the Next Step on World Bank Bonds!

Late last year, TIAA-CREF, America’s largest pension fund, sold off all its holdings of World Bank bonds. TIAA-CREF cited financial considerations as the main reason for its decision. Whatever reason TIAA-CREF sold its bonds, this is an important development and victory for those of us working to challenge unjust globalization and to pressure the World Bank for change.
Now, especially if you are a member, TIAA-CREF needs to hear from you again. We are asking you to sign-on to the below letter to TIAA-CREF thanking them for their decision to sell off their World Bank bonds, and to ask TIAA-CREF to take the next step. The next step is to adopt a policy against future investment in World Bank bonds, both in its main fund and its Social Choice Account. This campaign is important because TIAA-CREF is the largest pension fund in the country and what they do is noticed by other large institutional investors as well.

We want to deliver the below letter, with hundreds of signatories from TIAA-CREF members across the country, to TIAA-CREF’s upcoming Annual Meeting, which will take place on November 13, 2003 in New York City. Please act today, and please forward this message widely to listserves and other people you may know that are members. You can sign onto the letter by sending your name, title, affiliation (your organization or educational institution) to TCLetter@econjustice.net .

Letter to TIAA-CREF: Take the Next Step on World Bank Bonds

As members of TIAA-CREF, we want to thank you for TIAA-CREF’s recent decision to sell its holdings of World Bank bonds. We applaud you for your decision both because it is a financially sound decision to make, and because it is a socially responsible move.

We write today to urge you to take the next step. We request that TIAA-CREF adopt a policy against investing in bonds issued by the World Bank (the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or IBRD), and instead invest in bonds that promote social good. We would urge you to adopt such a policy for all TIAA-CREF funds, including the Social Choice Account.

There are compelling financial and social reasons for adopting a policy against World Bank bond investment. First, from a financial perspective, there are a number of risk factors associated with World Bank bond investment. A growing number of World Bank borrowers –including, in November 2002, Argentina – are defaulting on payments to the institution, or may be forced to do so in the future. Moreover, many World Bank loans are poorly monitored and are not sustainable, which may increase risks of non-payment. Finally, a growing campaign which urges investors not to purchase the bonds, the World Bank Bonds Boycott campaign, is increasing risks associated with holding the bonds and seeks to lower the Bank’s “AAA” rating.

Second, World Bank bonds are not socially responsible investments. The World Bank lacks democracy and transparency in its operations: voting power in the institution is heavily skewed in favor of rich countries, and its Board meetings held in secret. The World Bank’s lending in recent years has been increasingly oriented towards so-called “adjustment” loans which allow the Bank to avoid environmental and social safeguard policies in place for its project lending. As members of TIAA-CREF, education is a strong priority for us. Many of the World Bank’s loans for education have come with requirements that user fees be charged on students and that teacher salaries be cut. Finally, the World Bank’s refusal to cancel illegitimate and unpayable debts owed to it by impoverished countries means that dozens of countries around the world must make unconscionable payments to the World Bank while their education and health systems collapse.

We support a statement of policy from TIAA-CREF against investment in World Bank bonds. Such a statement would reduce the risks to TIAA-CREF participants that are associated with holding World Bank bonds, and it would send a strong message for change to the World Bank.

Thank you for considering our request, and we look forward to receiving your response.

Sincerely,
(Initial signers)

Patrick Bond, Professor, University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg) and Visiting Professor, York University (Toronto)
Salih Booker, Executive Director, Africa Action, Washington, DC
Dennis Brutus, Professor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh
Tim Canova, Professor of Law, University of New Mexico School of Law
Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington, DC
Emira Woods, Co-Director, Foreign Policy in Focus, Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, DC
Iris Marion Young, Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

World Bank Bonds Boycott

World Bank Bonds Boycott
World Bank Bonds Boycott

Take Action for Global Economic Justice in Your Faith Community:
Join the World Bank Bonds Boycott

What is the World Bank Bonds Boycott?

The World Bank Bonds Boycott is a growing campaign in which people of faith, students, union members and taxpayers are putting political and financial pressure on the World Bank for change, and also building the global justice movement. It is modeled after the South African anti-apartheid divestment movement.

What is wrong with the World Bank?

The World Bank is one of the most powerful financial institutions in the world. People in the global South (or the so-called “Third World”) struggle every day with harmful structural adjustment programs imposed upon them by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Among other things, these programs require governments to increase porno fees for health care and sell off public water utilities to profit-seeking multinationals, putting clean water out of reach for the people who need it most. Moreover, because governments of impoverished countries have to prioritize debt repayments to the World Bank and IMF over social needs, poor people go without education, AIDS prevention and treatment, and clean water. The UN has estimated that 19,000 children die every day from preventable diseases because of the debt burden – and much of the debt is owed to these institutions.

How does the campaign work?

The World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) raises roughly $20 billion on the bond market every year. Investors, including parishes, religious communities, and dioceses; city and state government pension funds; universities; mutual fund investors; and union pension funds are among the buyers of World Bank bonds. Through the World Bank Bonds Boycott, people of faith, taxpayers, working people, and students build political pressure to end harmful World Bank policies, by getting their churches, religious communities, municipalities, etc. to commit not to buy World Bank bonds in the future.

Who has already adopted the boycott?

A growing number of religious communities are joining the campaign in the U.S., such as the School Sisters of Notre Dame Cooperative Investment Fund, the Sisters of the Holy Cross, the Sisters of Saint Francis of Tiffin (Ohio), the Sisters of Loretto and the Marianist Brothers and Priests/New York Province. Pax Christi USA and the Jubilee USA Network have endorsed the campaign. The Unitarian Universalist General Assembly adopted the boycott at their annual meeting in late June.

The cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Takoma Park, and Boulder have passed resolutions against buying World Bank bonds. More than a dozen unions, including the American Federation of Government Employees, the Communications Workers of America, the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have adopted the boycott. Moreover, ten of the largest socially responsible investment firms have pledged not to buy World Bank bonds. Dozens of resolutions are currently pending in city councils, unions, religious communities, and on campuses across the country.

Who launched the World Bank Bonds Boycott campaign?

The World Bank Bonds Boycott was launched in April 2000 by representatives of economic and environmental justice groups from over 35 countries in the global South and the United States. Some of the main co-initiators of the World Bank Bonds Boycott include Jubilee coalitions in Haiti, Ecuador, and South Africa. Jubilee South has since also endorsed the campaign. The campaign is directed by an International Coordinating Committee with representatives from 11 countries.

What are the campaign’s demands of the World Bank?

The World Bank Bonds boycott has three demands of the World Bank: 100% debt cancellation for impoverished countries from the World Bank’s own resources; an end to “structural adjustment” policies such as the imposition of user fees on health care and education, increasing rates on poor people to access clean drinking water, and labor law changes that undermine unions; and an end to lending for oil, gas, mining and dams. The boycott is educating students, people of faith, union members, and others across the US and around the world about the impacts of World Bank policies and projects. By generating discussion and action in local communities about the policies of the World Bank, the campaign also builds political support for efforts to achieve World Bank reforms through parliamentary or Congressional action.

What impact is the boycott having on the World Bank?

The boycott is already helping to promote reforms within the Bank. For example, World Bank staff has referenced the boycott as a reason to quickly develop a more “green” procurement policy. Moreover, the World Bank recently had high-level staff lobby members of the Boulder, Colorado city council against the passage of a resolution that would get the city to commit not to invest in World Bank bonds in the future. This generated a rich debate in Boulder and compelled the World Bank to defend its policies in a very public city council debate that was widely reported in Boulder media.

Would the boycott affect the Bank’s current lending?

The boycott is primarily an educational and organizing tool. For the foreseeable future, it is unlikely that the boycott will affect the Bank’s ability to borrow on private capital markets, because this borrowing is backed by informal guarantees from the G-7 governments. In addition, the Bank’s ability to borrow does not affect the Bank’s concessional lending arm, the International Development Association (IDA), which lends at very low interest rates to poor countries that don’t already have access to private capital markets, because this lending is entirely financed by contributions from G-7 member governments.

What can I do get involved or get more information?

Work with your parish, religious community, or diocese to pass a resolution or adopt a policy against buying World Bank bonds.

Organizing packets which include background materials on the campaign and copies of resolutions passed by other religious communities and other municipalities and institutions are available from the World Bank Bonds Boycott campaign office. To receive an organizing packet, contact us at (202) 393-6665, by e-mail at bankboycott@econjustice.net or write to World Bank Bonds Boycott, c/o Center for Economic Justice, 733 15th Street NW, Suite 928, Washington, DC 20005.
Sign An Unhappy Birthday Card to the IMF/World Bank:
It’s No Time for A Party! It’s Time to Drop the Debt

2004 is the 60th Birthday of the IMF/World Bank. We at Jubilee believe that it’s no time for a party to celebrate the IMF/World Bank. The institutions have left many harmful legacies over the past 60 years, but perhaps none so debilitating from the perspective of human development and justice as the DEBT. Today Africa pays $15 billion annually to the IMF, World Bank, and rich countries — more than it gets in aid or new loans.

You can:

Print some unhappy birthday cards to get signed in your community, church, or campus. If you are willing to collect signatures and then return them to us, Click here and then print the page. Make photocopies. Use colored paper. Print one-sided and fold in quarters, or print both sides and cut. Then be sure to mail them to us by April 14th so that we can release them at our April 21st Unhappy Birthday Party…

Sign an unhappy birthday card right now on our website! Click this link to sign now. We’ll print our your name, city, state, and country on a birthday card and deliver it to the World Bank on April 21st.
Please note that we are no longer accepting orders for hard copies of the unhappy birthday cards. We had an incredible response — we mailed out over 20,000 cards, but we are directing folks to sign cards electronically at this time. Thanks for all your support, and for your understanding.

Whether you received some of the cards from us, or made them yourself, be sure to mail them to us by April 14th at this address:

Jubilee USA Network

Grassroots Monthly Action

Grassroots Monthly Action
Grassroots Monthly Action

April 2004 Grassroots Monthly Action
Write a Letter to the Editor or Op-Ed on Debt!

At the end of this month, on April 24-25, the IMF and World Bank will meet in Washington for their spring meetings. This event, together with other stories in the news, provides an excellent “hook” to get letters to the editor and/or op-eds published in your local newspaper or online publication about debt! Writing a letter to the editor is easy, and letters are an effective tool to reach people in your community as well as decision-makers with our message. Read on for tips on how to write a letter, sample letters and talking points on various topics, and other helpful information. Be sure to send a copy of your letter to the Jubilee USA office if you get published!

Please find below:
(1) tips on how to write effective letters and op-eds; and
(2) “hooks” you can use to respond to current news items with a letter about debt, the IMF, and World Bank. This section also includes talking points and sample letter formats that you can use or adapt into your own words.

1. Tips on Writing Effective Letters and Op-Eds

a. Tips on Writing Effective Letters to the Editor

Writing a letter to the editor is the easiest and most effective way to get your own words into the media. The letters section is one of most read sections of the newspaper. some guidelines:

· Submit a SHORT letter – best to keep it in the range of 150-200 words.
· Sometimes who you are makes a difference as to whether your letter is printed, and other times it is the number of letters on an issue. An especially moving letter may have a higher chance of getting printed.
· You always want to reference a previously published article. Reference can be loose or specific. Always respond to a story that ran in the paper. With a letter to the editor, you are not creating news, but responding to it and offering your own views and insights, and you are continuing discussion of the issue in the news article. The article you respond to can be about IMF/WB, Haiti, Argentina, and of the above listed topics and/or the economy at large.
· You can write letters to the editor not just to correct errors but also to amplify something the reporter said or to bring in whole new concepts and pieces they don’t mention.
· It is always good to start your letter on a positive note. You could start with: “Thanks for the interesting, provocative article on XXX.” Then transition into the point you want to make. But keep it positive – don’t slay the reporter.
· Decide what the main point is that you want to make, and focus on it. Remember, after the introduction where you reference the article and identify yourself, you only have 100-120 words to make your point.
· Be personal when you can. Who you are makes a difference. Say what congregation you attend or what group you are a member of.
· Be timely – try to write your letter 1-2 days after seeing the article. Remark on a very recent story.
· Keep your letter really simple and short.
· Proofreading is key – check your work before sending it in.
· Be sure to sign your name, give your address/phone number, as many papers want to call you before printing the letter.
· Above all, don’t get discouraged!! The more letters to the editor they get on a topic, even if they don’t run your story now, will make them more likely to run one in the future!
· You don’t have to be a brilliant writer to publish a letter. You have equal voice as a subscriber.
· Don’t forget: if you get published, send your letter to Jubilee USA, and to your Member of Congress – LTEs are a great tool to get your members’ attention on an issue.
· Also, there is an equivalent to LTEs in the world of electronic media. Radios have lines for feedback. TV stations have feedback lines too. Call in and leave feedback on stories you hear or see on radio/TV.

b. Tips on Writing an Effective Op-ED

· Op-eds are slightly different and more involved than a LTE.
· In general an op-ed is 500-700 words in length, though it varies by publication.
· In an op ed, you want to be timely, but also be the voice of reason. You can tell your personal story if it relates to your editorial viewpoint.
· Avoid cliches and jargon — Be as clear as possible.
· A lot of times editors want someone with a special name, but sometimes just being a changemaker is good.
· Avoid passive voice. Give insight and show your expertise.
· Pick one outlet and give it to them, don’t put it out broadly. Newspapers like to have exclusive rights to op-eds; so start with one paper, get a yes/no, then move on to another rather than sending it to many all at once.
· A good process: E-mail the op-ed, and then phone the editor to follow up. Mornings are better than afternoons to make calls to reporters/editors.
· Also, you can ghostwrite an article, ask someone with a bigger name, like a religious leader or community leader to sign it and submit it.
· As for timing, it is best to try to place op-eds when the issue you are addressing has legs or salience. Best to pitch op-eds in advance of an event. If people want to try to get something in by April 24-25 IMF/World Bank meeting, try to get in at least a week to 10 days out.

Jubilee has a more detailed fact sheet on working with the media, which offers additional hints on writing letters and op-eds.

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2. “Hooks” You Can Use: Responding to Current News Articles

When writing a letter to the editor, it is best to respond directly to an article which appeared in the newspaper. As there are few articles directly about the issue of debt cancellation for impoverished nations, it is most effective to look for articles about related issues and make the connection back to debt and IMF/World Bank policies.

There are a number of topics that are currently in the news (or that will be later this month) that provide effective hooks to talk about debt and IMF/World Bank policies. Some of these include stories about Iraq, Argentina, or Haiti; about HIV/AIDS; about the April spring meetings of the IMF/World Bank itself; about the current selection process for a new IMF Managing Director. Follow this link to see talking points and sample language you can use to respond to articles on these subjects. Though these are some of the main topics in the news with easy links to debt you don’t have to limit yourself to this list. Be creative! Make up your own links to debt – just get those letters in!

Jubilee USA Network

Jubilee USA Network
Jubilee USA Network

The Free Trade Area of the Americas: Miami Round
A reflection by Morrigan Phillips, Jubilee Fellow
The reality of “FTAA-Lite”

In various papers around the country on November 20th, 2003 were headlines announcing that the negotiations around the Free Trade Area of the Americas had ended early. Neither the headlines nor the articles that accompanied them told the real story. The US trade representative and the Brazilian trade minister did an incredible job spinning the real conclusions of the Miami round of FTAA negotiations to cover up their failure, and our victory as trade justice advocates.

The agreement that emerged out of one day of talks is a shell of a document. Being dubbed “FTAA-Lite,” it is a basic compromise between the US and other countries, mostly Brazil to keep talking. “FTAA-Lite offers countries the option to opt-out of any provisions of the FTAA they feel disinclined to take part in. This creates a buffet style FTAA, which is a far cry from the US backed “all or nothing “FTAA. The nine working groups that make up the FTAA negotiations were never discussed. Services, Investment, agriculture, subsidies, and intellectual property rights are among the most contentious of the working groups. Within these working groups are the most important issues to free trade campaigners. The failure of Miami leaves the most important issues unresolved such as water privatization and agricultural subsidies.

The next round of negotiation will be in Puebla, Mexico in February of 2004. The trade negotiating committee will meet, as will the nine working groups. It is in Puebla that the heart of the FTAA will begin to be hashed out. If the US is able to fracture the growing solidarity between the Andean nations of South America then the FTAA will most likely plunk forward.

The social justice movement can celebrate some victory from Miami. It was pressure in the streets of the US and the streets of South America as well as a strong civil society presence in the halls of parliament that forced the US to accept the opt-out agreement. This pressure must continue to keep the FTAA from becoming a reality.

Ultimately, the failure in Miami is on par with the failure of the September WTO meetings in Cancun Mexico, an agreement to keep talking. The difference this time was Brazil and the US wanted to save some face. Brazil shouldered much of the blame for the collapse of the WTO meetings in Cancun and the US was demonized by much of the world for being too aggressive. Neither country wanted to repeat the aftermath of Cancun. So the masters of spin created an agreement and fed it to the press; where unless you read deeply between the lines barely told the real story. The FTAA is derailed. A popular movement for fair trade is gaining ground. As 2004 approaches the FTAA must continue be a part of our agenda. Through the FTAA, and without true trade justice, impoverished and indebted countries will only fall deeper into debt, and those countries that have received interim relief will see the benefits washed away as they return to deeper indebtedness.

The social justice movement still has work to do!

We always have work to do! Miami was one of the most militarized protests in memory. Those of us who were in Miami can speak to the horrific show of force by the Miami police department. We have some serious concerns that must be addressed regarding the militarization of protest space. $8.5 million for funding the “security” in Miami came from the $87 billion Iraq spending bill. Jubilee USA Network Council Partner the AFL-CIO is calling for an independent investigation into the police brutality. The United Steel Workers of America are calling for an investigation into the use of funds from the Iraq budget to fund the police in Miami, and Amnesty International is calling for an investigation into human rights abuses that occurred while protesters were in police custody. This all raises some important issues for the social justice movement in the US. What do we do to counter the ever-increasing police presence and demonization of our movement? We have been seeing growing police presence at our IMF and World Bank peaceful demonstrations and prayer vigils. Even if you were not in Miami, if there is a scheduled public de-brief in your area on what happened in Miami please attend. If there is not an event in your area is having a continuous virtual dialogue on what Miami means for our movement. Everyone is encouraged to become engaged in the dialogue, as we need to protect our ability to speak out in prayerful and peaceful ways about the injustices in our world.