HAVANA (AP) -- After a summit pushing for a bigger share of the world's
wealth, developing nations threw their support Saturday behind protesters
massing in Washington to demand reform in the world financial system.
The so-called Group of 77 summit of developing nations closed in Havana
of opening sessions Sunday of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank
in Washington that a loose coalition of protesters have vowed to disrupt.
Nigeria's Arthur Mbanefo, G-77 president, said the gathering's leaders
full backing and solidarity with the demonstrators."
I personally support whatever demonstrations that make the IMF and the
Bank think positively about our problems," he said.
The protesters, operating under the umbrella group Mobilization for Global
Justice, say the world financial system has left millions destitute in developing
countries. Last December, mass protests in Seattle resulted in the cancellation of
the opening session of the World Trade Organization.
Washington police tried to prevent a replay of the violence Saturday, staging
early morning raid on the old warehouse the demonstrators had been using as
The G-77, founded in 1964 as a U.N. lobbying group, has expanded to include
133 nations. The leaders used their first summit to transform the group into what
could become a significant international voice for the developing world, creating
a structure to pressure richer countries to consider the interests of the poor.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said Saturday the G-77 would send
high-level delegation to present the group's proposals at a July summit of
industrialized nations in Japan, known as the Group of 7.
Obasanjo's information minister, Jerry Gana, said from now on, the G-77
insist on sitting in on each G-7 meeting.
Noting that the Havana proposals call for cooperation with wealthy nations,
Obasanjo said "I think the north should be happy but you never can be sure."
During the three-day Havana summit, which ended Friday, the G-77 leaders
insisted on equal footing at the IMF, World Bank and the U.N. Security Council.
They urged the United Nations to take a stronger economic role and use the
group to negotiate with wealthy countries.
"Many countries have rejected the results of the policy initiatives of
Bank and the IMF," said Mbanefo, arguing that their insistence on austerity and
privatization programs in poor nations had damaged the "economies they were
supposed to correct."
Resolutions adopted at the summit demanded relief of the Third World's
debt, increased aid and more exports to developed countries.
Even before the G-77 summit ended Friday, officials of the World Bank,
and the Clinton administration defended free trade as an anti-poverty strategy.
Globalization is "the only way we are going to raise people around the
the same level as people in industrialized countries," IMF acting director Stanley
Fischer said last week.
Yet the World Bank on Thursday reported that as rich countries advance,
between rich and poor is not improving. Some 1.2 billion people tried to exist on
less than $1 a day in 1998 -- a figure essentially unchanged over the past decade.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.