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AFTER THE G8: WHAT NOW FOR ERADICATING POVERTY?

By Danny Schechter  Posted by Rob Kall (about the submitter)     Permalink
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New York, July 9: "What Now?" was all the little sign with a question
mark said. It was lost in a sea of much bigger banners with demands
for economic justice for Africa. Only one marcher clutched it in a
crowd of over 200,000 rallying to Make Poverty History in Edinburgh,
Scotland, just down the road from where the G8 leaders were to meet
later the next week.


"What Now?' is an even more urgent question now that that meeting is
over with concerns about terrorism explosively interrupting the summit
debating how the rich world could help the poor. England's Tony Blair
insisted that the original agenda would be pursued despite the
bombings of three London underground trains and a bus by an unknown
and possibly home-grown terrorist group.

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The outcome of the G8 summit for Africa was pictured as a major
victory, an outcome that rocker Bono and Live 8 organizer Bob Geldof
applauded.


Said Sir Bob: "I wouldn't say this is the end of extreme poverty, but
it is the beginning of the end." Nigerian President Olusegun
Obasanjo, head of the African Union called the summit a success and
said African issues were being tackled "realistically."


Africa must respond by promoting good governance, democracy, human
rights and tackle corruption, he told BBC.


It sounded real good and just what western governments want to hear
even from the president of one of the most corrupt countries in
Africa. Objectively, their promise was nothing to sneeze at: $50
billion pledged to help ease African poverty over the next five years
along with debt relief for18 countries. Sounds good--but is it?

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If the outcome was so great why then why were the organizations behind
the campaign, the people who know and care the most about African
poverty, so bummed out? This is not a question most of the media
explored in a culture where perception trumps reality and spindoctors
have proven much more impactful than witchdoctors.


The G8 patted itself on the back Much of the media like the world
leaders moved on, but Africa's needs have not


African journalists who also know more than most western reporters
about their own countries were frustrated because they couldn't even
question their own leaders at the summit. "Was this some kind of a
hoax?" asked a Nigerian who works for Sky TV. "If we do not have a
chance to talk to them then it will be the mother of all let-downs."


Kenyan journalist John Kamau wrote, "The African story must be given
to those who can report it from within and without. We need
desperately to know their perspective on the connection between
terrorism, poverty, democracy and rule of law."


The anti-poverty campaigns expressed deep disappointment and disgust
because while more aid is being pledged, it is far less than what all
the experts insist is needed. The UN Millenium goal for Africa demands
$50 billion a year; The G8 pledged $10B.


BBC explains: "Campaigners say, the
modest increases to be delivered by 2010 will be too little too
late ....Thanks to pressure from Germany and France, it looks like Gordon
Brown 's International Finance Facility may be financed through air
ticket taxes rather than aid budgets."


A lack of progress on trade and climate control issues was widely
condemned. Activist Peter Hardstaff said, "The G8 's approach on trade
seems to be 'Ask not what we can do for the poor, but what the poor
can do for us '. "

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Concluded the World Development Movement: "A historic breakthrough
was promised, instead we saw a tiny step. The deals on debt and aid
fall way short of what is needed to achieve global poverty reduction
targets and on trade it 's business as usual as the G8 attempt to
bulldoze more liberalization out of the poor. These tiny sums of money
are nothing more than a sticking plaster over the deep wounds the G8
are inflicting by forcing failed economic policies such as
privatization, free trade and corporate deregulation, on Africa."


Writing in the Guardian, George Monbiot revealed how the US and
multi-national corporations shaped the outcome from the shadows in
lobbying that much of the press missed:


"Multinational corporations, they argue, are not the cause of Africa's
problems, but the solution. From now on, they will be responsible for
the relief of poverty.

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