April 15, 2000
Developing nations summit in Cuba supports Washington protesters

                   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 ahead
                   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 "give their
                   full backing and solidarity with the demonstrators."

                   I personally support whatever demonstrations that make the IMF and the World
                   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 an
                   early morning raid on the old warehouse the demonstrators had been using as
                   their headquarters.

                   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 a
                   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 would
                   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 also
                   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 the World
                   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 crushing
                   debt, increased aid and more exports to developed countries.

                   Even before the G-77 summit ended Friday, officials of the World Bank, IMF
                   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 world to
                   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, the gap
                   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.