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heavily on Honduras is not an 'obsession' but a 'necessity' for such a poor
country, Archbishop Oscar Rodriguez of Tegucigalpa said in response to
recent statements by the director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF),
Michel Camdessus. Camdessus told Hondurans they should not be obsessed by
the debt but by the future, in the aftermath of hurricane 'Mitch.'
After acknowledging that the visit by the IMF director and by the president
of the Inter-American Bank for Development (IBD), Enrique Iglesias, showed
clearly "that they are not indifferent and that it is simply a case of
finding the best way to alleviate the debt;" the Archbishop, who is also
president of the Episcopal Conference for Latin American (CELAM), stated
that "the request for cancellation of the debt is not an obsession but a
need of the country."
The cancellation of the debt will allow Honduras "to allocate funds for
development. What should really be of concern is that all the help received
go to the development of the country, and not to a few, as has always been
the case, who take advantage of the poverty of the people and of loans to
develop their own concerns to the exclusion of the vast majority."
The removal of the debt is practical and should be considered because the
peoples of Central America need it, but also because--as financial organs
insist -- the negotiations should be public, efficient and transparent.
The Archbishop cited the example of five countries which have cancelled
their existing debts with Central America and commented, "These are new
attitudes, which we never saw in the past."
Rodriguez made reference to a letter from the president of the World Bank
expressing solidarity with Honduras, the hope that the problems will be
overcome, and the promise of assistance for reconstruction.
Honduras' foreign debt amounts to some four billion dollars and represents
more than 200% of the value of exports and 98% of the Gross Domestic
Product. Moreover, in order to service the debt, Honduras pays 50% of its
earnings on all exports.