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(Photo by Etienne Delorieux on Unsplash)
COVID-19 poses a mortal threat to Amazonian indigenous peoples. The cases of the disease and death in the region are surging and there is the expectation that those numbers are likely to explode in the coming weeks. Now is the time to take action to prevent more deaths.
In solidarity, Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) has expressed deep concern about the impending threat of COVID-19 in their ancestral territories and communities and issued a statement. Among the demands, indigenous peoples are calling for an Amazon-wide moratorium on all extractive activity on their territories.
Read the full statement here.
Visit Amazon Watch’s website to learn more.
As the world’s major trade blocs and financial institutions convene over the next few days to deal with the growing coronavirus crisis, many of the largest religious institutions are urging them to protect the world’s poor by providing debt relief and additional resources.
In recent days, OMI JPIC joined 80 national religious institutions, congregations and partners in a letter organized by Jubilee USA Network to confront the coronavirus crisis. The letter was delivered to the White House, G20 and IMF.
Signers of the letter join calls from Pope Francis, the US Catholic Bishops and 165 world leaders encouraging additional resources, aid and debt relief to ensure all countries can withstand the crisis.
On a positive front, earlier this week the International Monetary Fund approved $500 million to cancel six months of debt payments for 25 of the world’s most impoverished countries: Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Togo and Yemen.
While applauding this move, Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network is pushing for an expansion of this list to include more countries where people live in extreme poverty.
Also reacting to this week’s events, Fr. Séamus Finn, OMI, Missionary Oblates JPIC director remarked, “the chains of financial indebtedness have imprisoned millions around the world for too many years. We need to continue to press on this critical issue which we have dodged consistently over the decades.” “This crisis may be providing us with ‘no other choice’ scenario as we recognize that we are all in this together,” he adds.
The Missionary Oblates were founders of Jubilee USA and have been active members over the years.
Read more about Jubilee USA Network’s recent actions by visiting their website.
IMF Coronavirus Action: Protect Vulnerable, Prevent Financial Crisis
The coronavirus impacts all of us.
My family and all of us at Jubilee USA are holding you and our world in prayer. Please keep us and our vital mission in your thoughts and prayers as well.
As the coronavirus takes lives, impacts the markets, affects health care and drives a potential global financial crisis – will you sign our urgent IMF petition to cancel debt and expand aid to bolster healthcare for countries affected by Covid-19?
When you sign our petition, you urge actions that can protect all of us from financial crisis, lift the vulnerable and ensure our world emerges to be more resilient in the face of this pandemic.
Because of our work together, we created global processes to bolster healthcare in the developing world when disaster strikes and deathly diseases spread. Ten years ago, when earthquakes decimated Haiti, we moved the International Monetary Fund to create a process to relieve Haiti’s debt and strengthen Haiti’s health and education systems. In 2014, as the Ebola epidemic devastated Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, we successfully transformed that IMF process. The Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust created innovative healthcare grants, debt relief and hundreds of millions of dollars to fight Ebola and put better clinics in place.
Yesterday the head of the IMF told the G20 she wanted to raise the capacity of this catastrophe relief process that can help poor countries wrestling with the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus.
This is very welcome news.
Now we need your help to ensure that more countries can access this and other IMF processes that deliver aid, cancel debt and help our world mitigate the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus. Our petition calls for debt payments to stop while countries battle the coronavirus and its economic impacts.
And yesterday – the President of the World Bank encouraged the G20 to stop debt payments for very poor countries.
African Finance Ministers called for suspension of debt payments to free up $44 billion to fight Covid-19. Ecuador’s Congress also demanded its government stop paying debt.
On Monday, the leadership of Jubilee USA wrote the head of the IMF and urged:
- Bolstering healthcare in developing countries affected by Covid-19 by increasing debt relief and aid through the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust and other expanded processes
- Mobilizing additional financing resources to support all countries impacted by the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus
- Enhancing debt restructuring, issuing debt payment moratoriums and creating expedient debt reprofiling processes for countries impacted by the coronavirus
- Advising countries to emerge from the crisis with more resilience by encouraging policies and agreements to increase protections for the vulnerable, instill greater public budget transparency, implement financial crisis and market protections, promote responsible lending and borrowing and curb corruption and tax evasion
Jubilee USA’s executive committee, Reverend Steve Herder, Celeste Drake, Rabbi Matthew Cutler, Reverend Aniedi Okure and myself noted in our letter to the head of the IMF:
“Economic forecasts warn that a possible financial crisis or depression, spurred by the coronavirus, could be worse than the 2008 financial crisis. Nearly 100 million people, mostly women and children, were pushed into extreme poverty and 22 million jobs were lost worldwide in the 2008 crisis. The International Labor Organization says the numbers of jobs lost could surpass 50 million as a result of a new, deeper financial crisis… A well-designed, globally-coordinated response from the international community can go a long way to prevent and mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis and move us towards a recovery path.”
Please join us now and urge International Monetary Fund action.
In the coming days and weeks, Jubilee USA will offer more analysis and recommendations for US and international decision makers. More than ever, we are counting on you to take action and join our campaigns.
With our voices joined together, we can recover from this moment and build a more resilient global community.
By Fr. Salvador González, OMI
Fr. Salvador González, OMI
Oblate Fr. Fernando Velazquez, OMI, is an Oblate from the US Province studying in Rome on his doctoral degree in Missiology. Together with the whole community of the General House in Rome, Fr. Fernando is experiencing first-hand the consequences of the Corvid-19 virus. Fr. Fernando and I have been friends since 1994. I got to know him when I was in the pre-novitiate program in Tijuana, and Fernando was a young man who would visit the house of formation as part of the affiliate group we had in Mexicali, B.C. Upon hearing of the drastic measures put in place by the Italian government that included home confinement, I called Fr. Fernando on Wednesday March 11, 2020, to see how he was doing and I want to share some of our conversation with you all.
Fr. Fernando Velazquez, OMI
The Corvid-19 virus has quickly changed the way we live here in the United States but the measures are not yet as stringent as they are in Italy. In the city of Rome and all of Italy, residents are confined to their homes. Residents are only allowed to leave to get food from grocery stores or medicine from pharmacies. Checkpoints are placed throughout the city to make sure residents follow the instructions. Police are present to verify that people on the street are only visiting authorized places. Fr. Fernando tells me that the closest police check point for their neighborhood is at the famous small chapel of the Madonna del Riposo, which is well known to any visitor to the General House.
Read the full article on OMIUSA’s website.
Read the full letter here.
Here is an excerpt from the letter. OMI JPIC is among signers.
The Coronavirus outbreak, or COVID-19, has shaken countries around the world and threatens a recession. Uncertainty grows as communities are struggling to respond. We applaud Congress for working in a bipartisan manner to quickly pass the initial response packages. We also know they are insufficient. We come from a variety of faith perspectives, but our moral principles and scriptural teachings all affirm that we must prioritize individuals most in need and enable all people to live with dignity and the opportunity to flourish.
As you develop yet a third legislative package responding to the Coronavirus outbreak, we call on you again to prioritize the needs of people who are economically at risk and their families. We have a sacred and moral obligation to ensure adequate resources reach those who do not have the financial ability to weather this crisis. Love of neighbor and care for those in poverty must be the hallmark of Congressional efforts to stem this health emergency and any related economic downturn.
Read the full letter here.
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