El dilema de la deuda de África

El éxito que el Presidente de los EEUU, George W. Bush, y su enviado especial, el ex Secretario de Estado James Baker, consiguieron al gestionar que la deuda externa de Irak fuera cancelada o reprogramada demuestra lo que se puede hacer cuando la acción del gobierno está respaldada por una voluntad política. El contraste con las deudas de África no puede ser más claro. Hace sólo tres años, el Jubileo 2000 hizo noticia cuando grupos de la sociedad civil, estrellas de rock y unos cuantos ministros de finanzas, como el británico Gordon Brown, hicieron presión para que se cancelara la deuda africana. El Presidente Bush, en gran parte, tuvo éxito en su cruzada; el Jubileo 2000 logró principalmente promesas vacías.

Por supuesto, ambas campañas se encontraron con diferentes obstáculos y tuvieron distintas bases de apoyo. La misión de Baker disfrutaba del respaldo ilimitado de unos Estados Unidos enfrentados al gigantesco costo de reconstruir Irak; el Jubileo 2000 solo tenía el apoyo de la opinión pública mundial. Los lucrativos contratos para la reconstrucción de Irak dieron a Estados Unidos una posición ventajosa desde la cual obligar a sus aliados a someterse; el Jubileo 2000 no tenía medios de persuasión tan poderosos.

Finalmente, Baker apelaba a los aliados tradicionales de Estados Unidos en Europa y el Oriente Próximo, que precisan de la amistad estadounidense en muchas áreas. La campaña para perdonar la deuda de África, por otra parte, estaba centrada en la agobiante carga de lo adeudado por los países africanos al FMI y al Banco Mundial, que sólo tenían que preocuparse por el dinero. Con todo, las protestas callejeras de la campaña del Jubileo dieron inicio a un saludable debate acerca de los programas de préstamos del FMI y el Banco Mundial.

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