Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Jesse Jackson urges Haiti debt relief

Go to Reuters original
PORT-AU-PRINCE, April 29 (Reuters) - U.S. civil rights leader Jesse Jackson called for urgent debt relief for Haiti on Tuesday to ease the burden of a food crisis that sparked violent protests in the impoverished Caribbean nation earlier this month.

Jackson said Haiti owed the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank about $1.5 billion, with debt service payments reaching some $70 million a year.

"We want this debt canceled and the people relieved of its burden," Jackson told a news conference at the presidential palace following a meeting with President Rene Preval.

"That money can be used and invested in roads, schools, bridges, health, houses and education," Jackson said.

He also vowed to help mobilize food assistance for poor Haitians, stung by rising prices and already low living standards in a country where most people survive on less than $2 per day.

Jackson spoke as he wound up a three-day fact-finding visit to Haiti. The visit was prompted by a recent week of riots and looting over food prices in which at least six people were killed.

Prices of Haitian staples such as rice, beans, wheat, flour, corn and cooking oil have at least doubled during the past six months.

The outspoken civil rights leader, who has made several trips to Haiti in the past, said U.S. lawmakers needed to declare "an emergency alert" on behalf of their Caribbean neighbor.


No comments: