Our hearts break.
We all know people who fell to this plague. Many of us and the people we love struggle with the economic impacts of the virus.
And yet as Easter and Passover people, as people of the Spring, as believers in the Jubilee Promise, we rise. Amidst our sorrow, we sow and build.
It's only the bottom of the first inning in dealing with this global health and economic crisis - and we are winning. We need everyone's help through the 9th inning. The stakes of playing ball have never been higher - the outcome determines how many of us will survive.
In this letter to our team of friends, partners and world leaders, we share what we won, what we've done together, where we are going and what we need you to do.
What we won.
After launching our campaigns to lift the vulnerable and protect all of us from financial crisis in mid-March, we moved the G7, G20, IMF, World Bank, White House and Congress to take action specifically on our Jubilee USA campaign goals.
- On Friday, the leadership of the World Bank announced, for the first time in its history, that developing "Middle Income Countries" need debt relief too. Welcome news for our partners in the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia and Africa. It's why from the beginning, all of Jubilee USA's coronavirus campaigns went beyond just the world's poorest economies.
- Also on Friday, our efforts secured strong fought commitments from the World Bank and IMF to jointly work on expanding debt relief for all countries that need it as the crisis deepens.
- This week the debt of the 25 poorest countries saw 6 months of debt cancelled and 77 of the world's poorest countries saw debt collection stop for 6 months, interest free, to bolster their health system freeing up more that $25 billion dollars to bolster health care. $4.5 billion of Somalia's debt was cancelled too! Thanks to our work together - these were huge wins and are essential for many of these countries who have either zero or up to 50 critical care unit beds per country. More than 70% of those who live in extreme poverty on our planet call these countries home.
- We won support from world leaders to move forward protections to help many of us as we battle a financial crisis that rivals the Great Depression.
- Amazingly, as we've pushed hard for all debt holders to be brought to the table to relieve debt, the White House, G20, IMF and World Bank agreed! For the first time, this week, all debt holders: banks, private, public, other commercial lenders are all being called to the debt relief table and processes are beginning. Jubilee USA has worked for this moment for more than 20 years.
- The IMF agreed to our March proposal to increase aid, relief, resources, and below market-rate lending for all countries - developed and developing - so they can pass stimulus packages to protect workers, increase social safety nets and bolster health services in the face of the coronavirus. It's unprecedented - half of the world's countries already requested emergency financing from the IMF.
- The IMF, World Bank and G20 committed to some of the global financial crisis protection and transparency initiatives we proposed to the head of the IMF on March 23rd. In order to build a more resilient post-pandemic world, our anti-corruption and tax evasion proposals are seeing the light of day.
- The Fund's special debt relief trust that we helped create for Haiti's debt relief after the 2010 earthquake, then expanded for the 2014/2015 Ebola epidemic (benefiting Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia) was expanded again last week after weeks of your petitions and letters. Now 29 countries can see debt cancelled.
- Since early February, tens of thousands of newspapers featured our Jubilee USA efforts and coronavirus campaigns. Over the last three weeks alone, daily, thousands of newspapers and tv/radio shows featured Jubilee USA Network's thoughts, analysis and campaigns.
The All Stars, Hall of Famers, came to the field. A solid "spring training" and what we ALL did together.
Over the last few weeks, 165 world leaders, Pope Francis, 200 global partner organizations, the largest US faith institutions, the International Chamber of Congress, the International Trade Union Confederation and the world's largest labor unions joined the calls we launched in March for debt relief, lifting the poor, increasing global healthcare and protecting all of us from financial crisis. Our Jubilee Republican and Democratic champions joined our efforts.
In the first week of February, I went to Rome to join a special event with Pope Francis, the leader of the IMF, 12 Finance Ministers, the World Bank, Martin Guzman, Joseph Stiglitz and Jeff Sachs to talk about Jubilee economics. The Papal Academy of Social Sciences brought us together and we began talking about being prepared for a financial crisis that could be spurred by the coronavirus.
By the last week of February, Jubilee USA was meeting with world leaders, influencers and Finance Ministers. Jubilee USA leadership and our partners and faith communities started preparing. We began our first petition drives and organizing across our 700 faith communities. We expanded the Jubilee USA team with seasoned players and volunteers. I saw friends who we last saw on the field 20 years ago come back and arrive for "spring training."
After weeks of work, research and preparation, on the morning of March 23rd, Jubilee's leadership sent a 3-page letter detailing a global economic plan to protect the poor and all of us from financial crisis. Reverend Steve Herder, Celeste Drake, Rabbi Matthew Cutler, Reverend Aniedi Okure and I wrote the IMF Head, Kristalina Georgieva, laying out a 4-point plan to protect all of us - all of us in the North and South, in developing and in developed countries. It is this March letter that laid out our coronavirus campaigns which resulted in our current victories and now directs our next year of work as we keep on moving forward through the 9th inning. It is this letter that not only lays out a plan to save lives, but ensure we are all protected from financial crisis and that our world emerges with more resilience in a post-pandemic world.
Simultaneously, our petition drives began across the United States and faith communities from California to Texas to South Carolina to Utah began mobilizing and acting with petitions and our national sign-on letter.
On April 1st, Jubilee USA revealed that the IMF had $140 billion in gold reserves. Our analysis showed the world where some resources are available to mitigate the global financial crisis.
Two weeks ago the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jubilee USA Network wrote to President Trump about suspending debt payments and moving forward a process for debt cancellation for developing countries. The US Treasury and the White House are now championing these pieces of our Jubilee plan and because of this, we won debt cancellation for 25 countries and the collection of debts stopped for 77.
Then our friends at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development called for a trillion dollars of debt to be cancelled. A week and a half ago, groups representing "Jubilee" organizations around the world wrote the heads of the Fund and the World Bank to press broader aid and debt relief efforts. The letter was sent from the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development, the European Network on Debt and Development, Jubilee UK, Jubilee Germany, the Latin American Network on Debt and Development and Rights, Oxfam International, the French Catholic La Plateforme Française Dette & Développement, the Society for International Development and Jubilee USA Network.
On Easter Sunday, Pope Francis made a powerful call for debt payment suspension, a process for debt cancellation and a call for universal income. Jubilee USA is so grateful for its 25 year partnership with the Holy See (Vatican) and for the amazing leadership of Reverend Augusto Zampini and Cardinal Turkson who lead efforts to confront the coronavirus. Zampini and Turkson both joined Jubilee USA's virtual web event for our members, partners and supporters. We appreciate the long-term inspiration of Jubilee USA 20th anniversary award winner, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi from the Holy See.
Early last week we sent our letter from more than 80 faith groups and partners to the G20, White House and the IMF. These amazing groups organized by Jubilee USA endorsed our 4-point plan. The signers include: The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Jubilee USA Network, American Friends Service Committee, Church World Service, Buddhist Association of the United States, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Synagogues, Churches and Muslim groups from Virginia to Montana to Nebraska to Oregon. The largest labor union in the United States, the AFL-CIO, and Oxfam joined our Jubilee USA letter.
Beyond the world leaders we've worked so closely with to make these victories possible, a critical part of our Jubilee movement have been many journalists who have worked around the clock for the last month - writing, digging deep and highlighting our campaigns for our survival in every corner of the world.
Then over the last few weeks, our national webinars also featured our partners from Puerto Rico like Archbishop Gonzalez and Reverend Martinez, leaders from the AFL-CIO like Damon Silvers and Cathy Feingold and global Jubilee partners such as Patricia Miranda, Jean Saldanha and Iolanda Fresnillo.
Then last week we were all surprised by an amazing action from Shut Down DC. It wasn't April fools - but they fooled all of us with a spoof IMF website saying all of the developing world's debt was cancelled. This happened on the 20th anniversary of our 50,000 person strong IMF and World Bank protests, a powerful Holy Week that forged bonds for many of us. This action raised the importance of the need for all world leaders to act.
Then from Monday through Friday night - we saw Jubilee USA victory after victory every day.
Bono from U2 and partners from the ONE Campaign fought with us to gain Treasury and G20 support for countries to access global financial reserve funds to fight the coronavirus and protect all of us from a global financial crisis. This is a fight we still need to win and this brings us to the second inning.
Where we are going. Top of the second. Some of our best homerun batters just finished warm-ups.
The 4-point plan we laid out in March now directs our intensive campaigns for the next 6 months to two years.
Our plan means that every campaign we win triggers the next campaign and the next phase of action begins.
Here's where we are going the next few weeks and months:
- We must push forward, urgently, the G20 and the IMF to access the global financial reserve, also known as the special drawing rights or SDRs. BBC America, BBC World News and BBC World Business did a special Jubilee USA 5 minute segment that included our work on this financial reserve. (See the link below)
- At the US Congress, right now we need to be sure that the next stimulus package includes aid and bringing more jobs to Puerto Rico as the island wrestles with the coronavirus, earthquakes, hurricane recovery and the ongoing debt crisis.
- Congress needs to authorize any Treasury and White House plans that need debt relief authorization in the next stimulus package. We must prepare Congress for IMF gold sales authorization. We need the new stimulus package to stop debt collectors from taking stimulus checks. We must be sure that student debt relief is expanded and that food assistance is increased from Nebraska to Puerto Rico.
- We need to move forward and activate debt relief, aid and financing processes for all developed and developing countries that need it.
- While debt was cancelled for the 25 poorest countries and 77 countries won't pay debt or interest for 6 months, we now need to build the process for debt relief expansion. Just like bankruptcy, we are in a standstill, and now we need the process to trigger an evaluation of debt and cut and cancel debt where needed. Moving the White House, G7, G20 and IMF on these issues is critical and we need you and your organization to sign our petition and letter. (Listen to the BBC link below)
- We need to move forward more market and financial crisis protections to protect all us as we face a crisis as big as the Great Depression.
- At the New York Assembly, Senate and Governor's office our efforts to improve debt restructuring in New York law must move forward to bring the world's private creditors to the table and stop predatory "vulture funds" from exploiting poor countries wrestling with the coronavirus.
- Our campaigns must build a more resilient world. Now is the time for us to tackle corruption and global tax evasion.
- Urgently, we must be sure that the World Trade Organization and trade pacts ensure that any country and population who needs life-saving medicines and health services will receive them expeditiously.
We are all in this ball game. Next Steps.
Pray - Jubilee USA put together vital prayer resources from many traditions as well as original interfaith prayers. Use them every day here.
Listen to this special 5-minute BBC segment on the next phase of our campaigns on global crisis protections, debt, SDRs and Jubilee USA's coronavirus campaigns. Listen to our 5 minute interview between minute 1:00 and minute 6:04, here.
Watch our Jubilee USA Easter Passover message here and watch this beautiful 2 minute message with our global partners here.
Act - Sign and spread our petition on our 4-point action plan. Have your faith community, union or organization immediately sign our 4-point action letter to the White House, G20 and IMF.
Donate - For a very limited time, we have $25,000 in matching funds. Please make a matching donation and have that gift doubled for our coronavirus campaigns. All $1200.00 "stimulus" checks that are donated will be tripled!
Read our March letter to the IMF here that details our campaign goals. Read our April 1st letter on our campaigns and gold sales here. Check out our website for our new coronavirus report and vital updates.
Dear friends and partners, we are so grateful for you as we begin the second inning together.
Please keep Jubilee USA in your prayers. As I pray for you, please pray for me. Please pray and keep in your thoughts our Jubilee USA coronavirus campaign team: Kate Zeller, Nancy Alexander, Aldo Caliari, Aleja Hertzler-McCain and Cullen Trobec.