Nooh peh peh
We hope you had a wonderful Holiday and New Year. We wish you abundant blessings in the year 2000 and we look forward to engaging in many fruitful efforts with you in our justice and peace work for Africa.
We're going to pack a lot into this issue of Around Africa. We want to tell you about the October Annual Meeting, report on a recent Angolan peace delegation to Washington, DC and update you on what's happening with our work on the Africa trade bill and the Jubilee 2000/USA campaign. Regarding the J2K/USA campaign, please set aside April 9, 2000 to come to DC for a major Jubilee event. See the notice about it later in this newsletter.
Before getting started, let me give you a final reminder about our new address. If you haven't already changed it in your address books, please note that our office is now located at 3035 Fourth St., NE, Washington, DC 20017. We don't want to miss out on our contact with you!
All the Best,
Larry Goodwin and Ezekiel Pajibo
The AFJN Annual Meeting was eventful in a number of ways. The nearly fifty participants, hailing from the U.S. and Africa, commented on the high energy level and animated discussion among the group. AFJN's outgoing board chair, Sr. Nancy Sylvester, IHM and Fr. Tony Gittins, CSSp, a member of the board, facilitated the meeting to allow for the full participation of everyone present. Ms. Diana L. Hayes, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Georgetown University, opened and closed the assembly with a creative and thought-provoking reflection on the Way of the Cross.
The highlight of the meeting was the keynote address by Fr. Rocco Puopolo, SX, who spoke movingly of his experience in Sierra Leone and its effect on him personally, spiritually and politically. Since returning home, Fr. Rocco has spent an extraordinary amount of time lobbying members of Congress and the administration to promote peaceful solutions in Sierra Leone. He is a tireless advocate of the need for missionaries to use their life experience in Africa to impress on policy makers the full impact of their decisions on people in Africa. He firmly believes that engaging U.S. government officials on justice and peace issues is integral to a missionary's witness and ministry.
AFJN conferred on Fr. Rocco its first annual Africa Faith and Justice Award. Recipients of the award are persons of faith, collaboration and instruments of education and advocacy on behalf of justice for Africa.
Two AFJN members, ……… complimented Fr. Rocco's talk by sharing their own experiences in mission. Their honesty and insights were greatly appreciated by the gathering. ………, representing Sierra Leone's ambassador to the U.S., Mr. James Leigh, spoke with considerable candor of his hopes for the future of his country with special reference to the healing role missionaries can continue to play.
New AFJN Board Members
The other members of AFJN's board are Bro. Philip Armstrong, CSC, Sr. Demetria Smith, MSOLA, Fr. Tony Gittins, CSSp., Sr. Nancy Sylvester, IHM, Fr. Pasquino Panato, MCCJ, Sr. Anne Louise Von Hoene, MMS and Fr. Mike Snyder, MM. While stepping down as board chair, Sr. Nancy Sylvester, IHM remains a member of the board. She was recognized for the wonderful job she did during her tenure as chair.
The officers of AFJN's board are Fr. Seamus Finn, OMI (Chair), Sr. Durstyne Farnan, OP (Vice-Chair) and Fr. Pasquino Panato, MCCJ (Secretary/Treasurer).
The membership approved revisions to AFJN's by-laws subject to adding two provisions agreed upon by the assembly. The meeting also approved two resolutions, both done jointly with the United States Catholic Mission Association (USCMA). One was on world trade and can be found on AFJN's web site under the "What's New" heading. The other was a statement on collaboration between AFJN and USCMA and can be found in this newsletter.
Following AFJN's meeting, many of our members stayed to participate in USCMA's annual conference. This is the second year in a row our organizations have staged their events to coincide with each other and the response on both sides has been quite positive.
As always, the Annual Meeting reinforces AFJN's grassroots nature. We are
enriched by the active involvement of our members and are committed to
increasing that involvement in the New Year. Thanks for being part of us.
Angolan Peace Delegation Visits Washington
A three person delegation representing various sectors of Angolan civil society visited Washington, D.C. on December 1-2, 1999 to inform U.S. government officials, church organizations, human rights, refugee and relief organizations about the deteriorating situation in Angola. The delegation was led by Benjamin Castelo, Director of Church Action in Angola (CAA), a coalition of non-governmental and church groups which focuses on development issues. Mr. Castelo also serves as the Chairperson of the Angolan National Jubilee Campaign. Rev. Gaspar Joao Domingos, General Secretary of the Council of Christian Churches of Angola, was another member of the group. He is an ordained Methodist minister and served on staff with the his denomination's Council of Justice, Peace and Reconciliation. He is a founding member of Group for Reconciliation and Peace (GARP) which issued the Manifesto for Peace last July. The third delegate was Jose Sebastiao Manuel, a Dominican Brother and Director of MOSAIKO, an NGO dedicated to the promotion of human rights and civic education. MOSAIKO is affiliated with the Department of Justice and Peace of the Angolan Catholic Episcopal Conference. Allan Cain, a Canadian who has worked in Angola for fifteen years, accompanied the delegation.
While in Washington, the delegation met with Dr. Susan Rice, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Gayle Smith, the National Security Council Director for Africa and Ambassador Paul Hare, former U.S. Special Envoy to Angola. Members of the delegation also met with congressional aides and relief, refugee, human rights and various church-related organizations.
In their meeting with Dr. Rice, the delegation stated that the U.S. Government needed to be unequivocal about the need for peace in Angola. According to them, this can come about by public statements concerning the need to enforce sanctions against the armed Angolan opposition known as UNITA. They also called for pressure on countries deemed to be sympathetic to UNITA including Togo and Burkina Faso. Given the dire humanitarian crisis in the country, the visitors called for increased humanitarian assistance in order to prevent starvation. According to them, about 2 million Angolans have been displaced since the renewed fighting which began in December.
Dr. Rice expressed delight in meeting with the delegation and asserted that the United States was fully cooperating with Ambassador Robert Fowler, the United Nations Special Envoy on Angola, in calling for the implementation of U.N. sanctions imposed on UNITA. According to Dr. Rice, the U.S. believes that the renewed fighting in Angola is purely the handiwork of the UNITA leader, Jonas Savimbi. She affirmed that Angola continues to be a U.S. priority and that the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations was visiting Angola even as she was meeting with the delegation. Thomas Pickering, Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs, also expects to visit Angola shortly. Dr. Rice maintained that the United States is working closely with its allies, including Great Britain, to ensure that peace comes to Angola in the shortest possible time.
For AFJN and the other NGOs in the Advocacy Network for Africa (ADNA) who helped arrange their trip to Washington, DC, the Angolan delegation represented a sign of genuine hope and courage. They are evidence of a burgeoning peace movement growing among ordinary women and men, churches and development organizations. The majority of Angola's people want peace and are mobilizing to press all sides in the conflict to stop the war. The U.S. government must fully support their efforts.
AFJN played a lead role within ADNA in organizing the Angolan delegation's visit to Washington, DC.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which passed the House last July, also passed the Senate shortly before Congress finished its 1999 session. The two versions of the bill differ and must be reconciled by a conference committee made up of House and Senate members. This is expected to happen early in the new year. Upon completion of the committee's work, the reconciled version of the bill will go back to the House and Senate for a final vote prior to being signed into law by the president.
AFJN, which has especially opposed the House version of AGOA, is an active member of the Africa Trade Policy Working Group (ATPWG), a coalition of faith based organizations which has consistently sought to amend the bill. The coalition identifies provisions relating to eligibility requirements, textiles and debt cancellation as key differences between the bills that need to be addressed by the conference committee.
The eligibility requirements lay out the conditions under which the U.S. would grant some preferential trade access to Africa. AFJN has strongly opposed the House eligibility requirements because they would force an unrestricted market-based system on African countries. Such a model, exemplified by the structural adjustment programs imposed by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, benefit foreign creditors and investors and multinational corporations but have increased poverty, unemployment and income inequality throughout sub-Saharan Africa. In the House version of AGOA, the eligibility requirements would accord foreign investors the same rights as nationals. They would also oblige African countries to accept Western notions of intellectual property rights. The recent World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle clearly demonstrated that Africans hold a very different view of intellectual property rights than does the U.S., especially in their concerns over protecting agriculture and the environment and providing affordable medicine to their populations. AFJN and the ATPWG prefer the less onerous eligibility requirements in the Senate bill. While less than ideal, they do not contain the House's rigid market-based demands.
On the other hand, the Senate textile provisions mandate the use of U.S. cloth, yarn and thread in the production of "African" products in order to make them eligible for duty-free entry to this country. AFJN and the ATPWG prefer the House language on textiles. While they don't offer significant benefits to Africa (besides, global quotas and duties on textiles will be phased out by 2005, thereby rendering any textile advantages short-lived), they are less restrictive than the Senate version.
Regarding debt cancellation, neither the House nor Senate version contains substantive provisions to lift Africa's crushing debt burden. The Senate version does include "sense of Congress" (hortatory) language affirming the need to address the issue but does not go beyond that. AFJN's position is that no trade policy can ultimately lead to sustainable and equitable development without debt cancellation.
At the time of this writing, the House conferees have not been named. The Senate conferees are Sen. William Roth (R-DE), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Trent Lott (R-MS), Jesse Helms (R-NC), Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), Max Baucus (D-MT) and Joseph Biden (D-DE). If you are a constituent of any of these senators, write to them immediately urging them NOT to support either the House version of the eligibility requirements or the Senate textile provisions relating to the use of U.S. cloth, yarn and thread.
For more information, you can also consult the Washington Office on Africa
website at http://www.woaafrica.org. This article was adapted by AFJN with
permission from Kathy McNeely, Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns.
Our two organizations serve constituencies that overlap to a great degree and share in common a deep commitment to mission. We are both grounded in a Catholic theology of mission and in Catholic social justice principles. We both wrestle with the new realities of globalization and its impact on our mandates, members and member organizations. Both organizations must deal with conservative budgets and staff levels that restrict the scope of our work. Given these common links, we feel that sharing certain resources between AFJN and USCMA mutually serves to strengthen our witness and effectiveness.
We are clear that in exploring collaboration, we will respect and safeguard the distinct identities of each of our organizations.
We support AFJN and USCMA staff to collaborate in ways that meet specific material and functional needs. The national offices of both organizations are now located next to each other in St. Paul=s College. Some AFJN/USCMA resources and work space areas are being shared, such as a photocopier, task room and library. Staff have shared the cost of designing a membership database system compatible with each organization. They are considering ways to mutually link and reinforce each others= web sites and share subscription costs for publications they both use.
We intend to continue investigating other ways in which our two organizations can work together more closely.
We welcome and would invite the interest of other Catholic social justice
organizations in joining us to find ways to be better stewards of our limited
resources so as to fortify our common endeavor for mission, advocacy and the
reign of God.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, foreign aid has been shrinking nearly everywhere. The Cold War motivation for aid is gone. The industrial nations have been insisting that ATrade, not Aid@ is the key to development for poor nations of the world. Poor countries, it is argued, must be integrated into the global trading system under the regulation of the World Trade Organization [WTO]. Some nations have prospered through trade; others have seen the gains of decades of hard work wiped out by premature liberalization of capital markets which made them vulnerable to international financial speculation. Still others have slipped deeper into poverty and marginalization.
The WTO is currently the only institution of global governance capable of overturning local and national laws and imposing penalties on member nations in service of its goals of extending free markets around the world and into every dimension of life touched by trade. Its regulations are primarily shaped by the wealthy industrial nations in the service of their trade agenda. The economic future of the peoples of the planet is being fashioned under its auspices. The market values and principles guiding these developments do not reflect the Gospel values and principles, laid out in Catholic social thought, that are at the heart of our mission vocation and commitment.
The Church=s missionary network links us in bonds of faith, hope and love with our brothers and sisters in every nation and culture. Missioners from U.S. religious and lay mission-sending institutes work among many of the people forced to live in poverty worldwide. They are seeing firsthand the impact on those in poverty of the opening of Afree markets@ [trade liberalization], the cutting back of government social programs and the privatization of industries and services. They are watching the spreading domination of rich and important local cultures by a consumer-driven global market culture.
Be it resolved that . . .
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