Neil Watkins, National Coordinator of the Jubilee USA Network, a group that seeks debt pardon for poor nations, reacted to the conclusion of the annual meetings of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Brazil:
"Bolivian leader Evo Morales and other Latin American leaders and civil society groups raised strong calls for debt cancellation for impoverished nations in the IDB meetings. But the meeting ended without concrete action.
"While we welcome the creation of a committee at the IDB to discuss concrete proposals to move forward this important discussion, this must lead to debt cancellation delivered in weeks, rather than months or years.
"It is time for US and Latin American governments who own the IDB to move from words to action; debt payments are costing lives across the continent.
"We reiterate our call today for the immediate debt cancellation for impoverished countries in Latin America and the Caribbean where debt is odious or impedes human development and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
"As a first step towards this goal we call on the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to immediately and without further conditions, cancel the debts held by Bolivia, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua to the IDB.
"With the debate over immigration now raging in the United States, it is important to note that crushing debts and unjust economic policies are key underlying policies that lead people to seek livelihoods in the United States.
"Definitive cancellation of Latin American debts and an end to unjust economic policies would help to relieve immigration pressures and create more social equity throughout the region, benefiting us all."
Jubilee USA Network is the US arm of the international movement working for debt cancellation for impoverished nations. Jubilee USA is a network of 75 religious denominations and faith-based groups, labor groups, environmental organizations, and community and advocacy groups working for freedom from debt and economic justice for countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.