In the 1990s, many of the poorest countries in the world were paying more on debt payments than they were paying for education and healthcare in their countries. Children were dying of starvation and malnutrition while developing world governments paid the principal of loans multiple times over.
Inspired by scripture and universal faith traditions, Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious groups called for tackling the structural causes of poverty and canceling the debt of poor countries around the world. They formed the group that would ultimately become Jubilee USA. Instead of paying debt, resources should go to reducing poverty and providing healthcare and education for those most in need, they argued.
Pope John Paul ll encouraged all people of faith to reflect on the true scriptural meaning of Jubilee during the Church’s Jubilee 2000 celebration. Religious groups believe the Jubilee themes in scriptures are at their core designed to prevent poverty and inequality.
Jubilee USA as a coalition of religious, development and advocacy groups has won more than $130 billion in debt relief for the world’s poorest economies. Because of the global agreements Jubilee won, that $130 billion is invested in schools, hospitals and other social infrastructure. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, 54 million kids have gone to school who never would have seen the inside of a classroom.
In recent years, Jubilee USA won debt relief in Haiti and the three Ebola-impacted West African countries, super bankruptcy legislation for Puerto Rico, three international agreements to promote responsible lending and stop predatory lending, two victories to keep student loan interest rates low, G7 and G20 agreements to curb tax evasion and corruption and promoted trade agreements that help end poverty.
To this day, across the United States and around our world, Jubilee USA works on debt, tax, trade and transparency policies that help end poverty. When we address these issues, we impact millions of people living in poverty in the United States and across our world. From resolving Puerto Rico’s financial crisis to corporate transparency to student debt, Jubilee USA wins solutions that impact our lives and our global community. Jubilee USA builds an economy that serves, protects and promotes participation of the most vulnerable.