America Magazine features Eric LeCompte on Jubilee USA's debt relief work amid the pandemic, complementing Pope Francis' strong calls for debt relief and protection of the vulnerable during this crisis. Read an excerpt below and click here for the full story.
Pope Francis warns us: Covid-19 is not the only global crisis we’re facing right now
Eric LeCompte could not have asked for a more timely and effective celebrity endorsement of the work of the Jubilee USA Network to confront—yet again—a bubbling-under debt crisis that threatens a staggering impact on the world’s most vulnerable people. “We’re approaching the greatest wave of debt crises and debt restructurings the world has ever seen,” he said in an interview with America. “Fifty-six percent of all countries in the world are either [already in] debt crisis or on the verge of debt crisis,” he said, “so it’s an incredibly significant issue, and it’s become more significant because of the coronavirus pandemic.” Nations in Africa have been particularly hard hit, with 14 countries vulnerable to default and nine others in default or on the verge of default.
Decades of progress against extreme poverty is currently at risk, Mr. LeCompte said. A sobering report from the World Bank warned in October that 150 million people could be moving back into extreme poverty this year. “Because of the debt trap and the pandemic, we’re facing the worst losses in development in the last 50 years,” Mr. LeCompte said.
The Group of 20, a policy-making forum of the world’s largest 20 economies, and the I.M.F. have created an emergency process to respond to the crisis for the 73 “very poorest countries in the world”—Zambia, Chad and Ethiopia have already appealed for relief under this emergency debt relief process—but that emergency response still leaves out a substantial number of nations facing overwhelming debt, Mr. LeCompte said.
Then as now, the stakes could not be higher. “Debt means death” was Mr. LeCompte’s blunt summary of the implications of the crises, which have forced low-income states to disburse “more in debt payments than…all of their health care, education and social services combined.”
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