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Letter to International Monetary Fund on Debt Moritorium for Caribbean Nations

 

September 20, 2017

Ms. Christine Lagarde
Managing Director
International Monetary Fund
700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20431

Dear Ms. Lagarde:

In light of the damage inflicted by the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) stands in solidarity with the bishops of the Antilles, especially now as they accompany their people on the arduous path of rebuilding their lives after the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma. We echo the concerns expressed by the Most Reverend Gabriel Malzaire, President of the Antilles Episcopal Conference, in a letter sent to you on September 14, 2017, and urge you to implement an immediate moratorium on debt payments to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the next six months (including the option of an extension, if necessary), as well as coming to an agreement with the Caribbean Development Bank to act likewise. We also urge the IMF to call on bilateral creditors to join the moratorium.

USCCB, following the teachings of St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis, has consistently called on leading economic powers to take into account the human rights and development implications that burdensome debt has on the most vulnerable persons and nations. Natural disasters in countries with extremely at-risk economies, like Antigua and Barbuda and others in the Caribbean, can wreak catastrophic and paralyzing impacts on their prospects for further development—including their ability to service their debt responsibly. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church—which offers principles and perspectives to help ground temporal realities and structures in the dignity of the human person—stresses that "the right to development must be taken into account when considering questions related to the debt crisis of many poor countries" (# 450).

Loans are an important tool to propel development in small economies, and, ideally, they should be structured in such ways as to allow for reasonable flexibility in the repayment plans, especially in the event of devastating natural disasters. Such a repayment structure would allow resources to be allocated towards life-saving short and medium term stabilization processes.
We applaud the IMF's willingness to provide the affected region with humanitarian aid and reconstruction, and we thank you for graciously considering our petition. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely yours,

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo
President
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Bishop Oscar Cantú
Chairman
Committee on International Justice and Peace
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops



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