World churches end assembly with call to ease debts of Latin America - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
February 23, 2006

World churches end assembly with call to ease debts of Latin America

-23/02/06

The 9th assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has ended with an appeal for the international community to ease the debt burden of Latin American nations.

The statement emerged from the final session of its 10-day global assembly.

It was the first WCC assembly to be held in Latin America.

The WCC called the foreign debt obligation across Latin America "illegitimate and immoral".

Loans often date back to military or authoritarian regimes.

The WCC urged creditor nations and international financial institutions to consider reducing or waiving the debts.

"The need to continue to pay the service of the debt has prevented the implementation of effective social policies in most of the countries, seriously affecting education, health and work conditions," the statement said.

The WCC also urged members to oppose using military force to fight terrorism and said that U.S.-led campaigns threatened to undermine international law and human rights standards.

The statement called for more projects with Muslim leaders and others to denounce terrorism and serve as "an early warning system" against religious radicalism.

The group also encouraged democratic trends in Latin America that have "raised hope" of reforms, but noted that political corruption was widespread across the region.

Several speakers at the conference have lauded Bolivian President Evo Morales, who took office in January as his country's first Indian president.

Some Latin American nations have benefited in recent years from fiscal reforms, rebounding economies and accords with creditors.

In December, Brazil paid off its full 15.5 billion US dollar debt, the largest payment ever made by a member country to the International Monetary Fund. Brazil also was clearing its 2.6 billion US dollar debt to the Paris Club, a group of wealthy creditor nations.

Spain last year reached an agreement with Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador to exchange debt for investments in education programs. Spain is expected to sign a similar pact this year with Bolivia, Peru and Guatemala.

World churches end assembly with call to ease debts of Latin America

-23/02/06

The 9th assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has ended with an appeal for the international community to ease the debt burden of Latin American nations.

The statement emerged from the final session of its 10-day global assembly.

It was the first WCC assembly to be held in Latin America.

The WCC called the foreign debt obligation across Latin America "illegitimate and immoral".

Loans often date back to military or authoritarian regimes.

The WCC urged creditor nations and international financial institutions to consider reducing or waiving the debts.

"The need to continue to pay the service of the debt has prevented the implementation of effective social policies in most of the countries, seriously affecting education, health and work conditions," the statement said.

The WCC also urged members to oppose using military force to fight terrorism and said that U.S.-led campaigns threatened to undermine international law and human rights standards.

The statement called for more projects with Muslim leaders and others to denounce terrorism and serve as "an early warning system" against religious radicalism.

The group also encouraged democratic trends in Latin America that have "raised hope" of reforms, but noted that political corruption was widespread across the region.

Several speakers at the conference have lauded Bolivian President Evo Morales, who took office in January as his country's first Indian president.

Some Latin American nations have benefited in recent years from fiscal reforms, rebounding economies and accords with creditors.

In December, Brazil paid off its full 15.5 billion US dollar debt, the largest payment ever made by a member country to the International Monetary Fund. Brazil also was clearing its 2.6 billion US dollar debt to the Paris Club, a group of wealthy creditor nations.

Spain last year reached an agreement with Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador to exchange debt for investments in education programs. Spain is expected to sign a similar pact this year with Bolivia, Peru and Guatemala.

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