Wealthy short on compassion
EVERY DEATH through starvation in Ethiopia should weigh like a nightmare on the bankers and capitalists who meet in Washington this week. Everyone has seen the shocking pictures of famine-stricken children. In countries like Britain people with very little have responded with very much. They have given donations as they did during a similar famine 16 years ago.
By contrast, those with fabulous wealth plan to rake in even more. Last year Western bankers sucked 60 million out of Ethiopia, which was already one of the poorest countries in the world. The bankers and Western governments said it did not qualify for debt relief because it did not put through a Structural Adjustment Programme which meant cuts and privatisation. In Britain Clare Short, the misnamed development secretary, knew about the arms sales and the millions of pounds sucked out of Ethiopia. She knew the famine was beginning to spread. But nevertheless last week she decided to CUT the already miserable aid budget to Ethiopia.
She claimed this was because the country was at war with neighbouring Eritrea. But New Labour, like every other Western government, was happy to provide the loans to arms companies to sell arms to both sides in that war.