Bono on Campaign Trail to Cancel Global Debts
In September Bono joined forces again with activists from Jubilee 2000, the global coalition campaigning to cancel the unpayable debts of the worlds poorest countries. New York, Washington, Prague.... U2.com asked Jamie Drummond of Jubilee 2000 to keep us a diary.
4th/5th/6th7th September. New York
When the J2K team fly into JFK its sticky-hot and we go straight to the impressive but crumbling United Nations building on 44th Street to commence negotiations. Weve broken the world record for the number of petitions - about 21.2 million from over 160 countries. Heres the plan: Bono, Ann Pettifor and President Obasanjo of Nigeria will hand in the petitions to Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the UN. Maybe we can create one of those media moments. Security is tight and we are not a country and Bono is not a king or queen. But the chief security officer at the NYPD is a BIG U2 FAN. And Kofi Annan really wants to meet. The biggest ever gathering of world leaders has to hear the biggest ever petition, the voice of we the peoples. The Secretary General can give us 5 minutes on the 7th at 12.15. Will Bono be able to fit that in before meeting Larry to present an award to Rage Against the Machine at the MTV Video Music Awards? We're on. Tony Blairs people are on the line. He wants to meet. Could we make 1.15 on the 7th ? OK, if the hand in goes smoothly and Bono gets in CNN, Sky, Fox and Reuters interviews in the space of 15 minutes. He troops through these and Tony greets him warmly. Mission accomplished. Taking their cue from us, leaders from many countries agree on the importance of debt cancellation - but the UN has not got the power to cancel the debts. Thats up to the Group of 7 rich nations (G7), led by the United States. And the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Word Bank.
20th/21st September. Washington
We have to persuade the Americans to live up to their promise to cancel debts they are owed. Congress wont buy it. Many key blockers are Irish-American Republicans. Can Bono get his way with them ? He meets Mitch McConnell; Sonny Callaghan; and Jesse Helms, an old cold warrior held personally responsible by many for the dwindling of American overseas aid.
They talk about the needs of children in Africa and Helms weeps for the children. Bono reckons we will get the money from Congress, but it may still be slog.
25/6th September. Prague.
The IMF and World Bank annual meetings. At Jubilee 2000 we dont like James Wolfensohn, head of the World Bank, too much, but Bono reminds us that Wolfe is a cellist. Maybe they can play the same tune. We meet with Paul Martin, Canadian Finance Minister, Larry Summers, American Treasury Secretary and Horst Kohler, new head of the IMF. As a German and a banker he should know that Germany had massive debt cancellation after the second world war. He benefitted from that as a child. He seems to have forgotten his history and wont let the poorest in Africa have the same chance he had. These people make me angry, but Bono keeps it calm. Out on the streets of Prague people are also angry. At Jubilee 2000 we like to talk and reason, not throw stones. More debt needs to be cancelled,
fast, right now, before the end of this Jubilee year.
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