We’ve all thought about global problems like poverty, HIV/AIDS, genocide, famine, and we’ve all wondered what on earth we could possibly do to help. Well, fellow bloggers, let’s just see what we can do about a truly vile and reprehensible practice called vulture funds. Like vultures circling the dying, huge corporations and conglomerates buy up the debt of a third world or otherwise economically struggling country at a fraction of its worth, only to turn around and sue that country for the full amount plus interest.
Sound like good business sense to you? Hmmmm. Maybe. If you are capable of looking at this from a strictly detached and business-minded perspective. Because what it really means, in the real world, is that already poor and struggling nations don’t have the promise of debt relief, rather they have to pay back many times over the debt they believed themselves to be relieved of. And we all know where huge sums of money come from in countries, including our own . . . schools and hospitals, among other vital aspects of a nation’s infrastructure. People literally die because of this practice; they don’t receive medicine they need or medical care that’s no longer and may never again be available. So it’s not exactly good business sense if it means that the already impoverished and suffering are being exploited so the rich can get richer. Money for quality of life . . . for life itself.
The most recent case of this happened in Zambia, where Donegal International sued Zambia for $42 million. Keep in mind that Donegal International itself paid only $4 million for Zambia’s debt, and the judge is expected to award Donegal “only” $10 to $20 million rather than the forty-two they asked for. So that’s a real victory for Zambia, right? Um. Hardly. Zambian assets, according to the linked BBC article, are frozen. Can you imagine? Do you have any idea how absolutely outraged and boiling over I am at all this? And my very favorite comment in the whole article is from the spokesman for Donegal International who says he has “no comment” and that the debt is not his debt. Well, then, clearly not of any import at all, right? Wash hands. Move on.
Or not. Instead of just shrugging and washing our hands, why don’t we actually DO something out here in blogland? Why don’t we follow, as I am in this blog, the lead of Simon and Kerry and get the word out, their blogs have still more information than I’ve written here; at the very least sign petitions? If you’re English, Simon has the Number 10 links for you to sign, and otherwise, check with Kerry, who’s created a petition at ipetition: both of these petition links are provided below, as well.
There has to be other things we can do . . . sit on your behind, and do something; for once that makes sense! Email your U. S. House of Representatives, email your U. S. Senator (if you’re not in the U. S., google your government officials, but if you’re in England, see Simon’s page for relevant links).
Has anyone even heard of this outside of blogland? Why not? Why are we being inundated with “news” (so-called) of Anna Nicole Smith’s death, burial, etc., but we don’t hear about this very sick and immoral and ten kinds of wrong practice that is essentially kicking countries and peoples when they are down and then holding them down to ensure they never get up again? So don’t stop at your government officials; contact your local media, email CNN’s “news tips” or 60 Minutes or whatever media outlet you believe should be covering this travesty.
You don’t have to leave the couch or your chair to make a difference, a real difference in real people’s lives. Vulture funds MUST be stopped, and here at last, is our opportunity to do something good and decent rather than just blogging about it.
Sign a petition NOW:
British citizens (and I think people living in the UK, as well): http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/vulturedebt/
For an entertaining “primer” on vulture funds (a blog): http://sanfrancisco.tribe.net/listing/Your-Vulture-Fund-Primer-has-arrived-an…
A link to many articles and further information on vulture funds in general and the Zambia case in particular (courtesy of my friend Michael): http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Global_Secrets_Lies/Vulture_Funds.html
A must read on vulture funds and Zambia, includes detailed notes: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/applications/blogs/pressoffice/2007/02/vulture_fund_m…
Another blog about vulture funds (courtesy of Simon, see comments below): http://no-dictator-needed.blogspot.com/2007/02/vulture-funds-and-robbing-of-p… And the source of the article this blog contains: http://www.suntimes.com/news/jackson/263601,CST-EDT-jesse20.article
Link to Greg Palast, the BBC investigative reporter whose fifteen minute segment on Newsnight is discussed and available on vid here: http://www.gregpalast.com/vulture-fund-threat-to-third-world/
For a transcript of the aforementioned television segment (you’ll need to scroll down the page to get to it): http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/02/15/1528209
More from Greg Palast regarding Amnesty International (courtesy of Rii, see comments below): http://www.gregpalast.com/amnesty-loses-face/
For an article about vulture funds exploitation of Argentin
For an article abou
t vulture funds exploitation of Peru: http://www.greenleft.org.au/2000/426/22461
In defense of vulture funds (blogs): http://www.felixsalmon.com/000667.html and (courtesy of Simon, see comments below) http://teawithft.blogspot.com/2007/02/vulture-funds.html
Vulture funds and oil companies article (a response to the felixsalmon blog above): http://www.salon.com/tech/htww/2007/02/27/vulture_funds_2/index.html?source=rss