Rights Under Attack
. . . about Chaos,
Reason, and Hope
'Blue-eyed bankers' prompt G20 divide
(Gaby Hinsliff, The Observer, 29 March 2009)
The struggle of the world's poorest to survive a crisis minted by the richest is shooting up the agenda of this week's G20 summit in London, the largest gathering of world leaders here for 46 years. And Lord Malloch Brown, the Foreign Office minister, fears the economic storm buffeting a fragile continent may have violent consequences. . . . "If you look at the Democratic Republic of Congo, 200,000 miners have lost their jobs: in Katanga [the mining province] it is living hand to mouth with a few days' worth of foreign exchange, waiting to get an IMF loan," he said. . . . "The effort to integrate rebels in the national army, all that peacebuilding, is being incredibly affected by the fact they can't afford to pay the army. There have been four coups in Africa in the past 12 months, not all of them solely as a consequence of this, but I have a sense of a creeping tide of instability coming back. . . . "This is not to belittle people here losing their homes and their jobs, but in Africa I heard Bob Zellick, chairman of the World Bank, say that 400,000-500,000 infant deaths could occur as a result. People are dropping back into poverty, with a real risk to life." . . . The attack last week by Brazil's president, Luis da Silva, on "white blue-eyed bankers" revealed a new anger among some of the world's most populous countries at being dragged into a mess not of their making - and a determination to hold the west to account. . . . India's prime minister will use the summit to challenge what it says is creeping protectionism costing Asian jobs. China will exact more influence over the IMF in return for bailing it out. Chile's Michele Bachelet used a joint appearance with Brown to stress how, unlike Britain, her country saved vast revenues "during the good times" - which it is now having to spend. . . . Even George Soros, the currency speculator and major Africa donor, yesterday warned that the G20 must insulate developing countries "against a calamity that is not of their making". . . . So will a new world order emerge from this clash of nations? . . . But the predominant mood swirling around this summit remains one of anger, from the corridors of power to the streets of London where protesters threaten to hang effigies of bankers from the lampposts. . . . "There are 20 of them and they are in a room for maybe 10 hours. So they've got 30 minutes each, in effect," says Tony Dolphin, chief economist at the IPPR, a think tank. "Even if there were only six issues, that's five minutes per person per issue: what can they say in that time?"
posted by Lorenzo 11:03 PM