As many college students can attest, including myself, debt is difficult burden. My student loan bills will be in the neighborhood of $600 a month with no guarantee of a job. The people reading this letter probably have their own debts – credit cards, loans and mortgages. These sorts of financial obligations mean that I can’t afford health insurance. Financially, I don’t know how I could survive a broken bone or serious illness, and I’m sure there are other Americans with the same kinds of problems.
Now look at the plight of Haiti, a nation that faces many more difficult burdens on an international scale. As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti’s lack of infrastructure and acute poverty make what would have been a horrendous natural disaster even worse. In other words, Haiti also can’t afford that broken bone.
While the world has come together in an outpouring of support, their road to recovery will be a long and arduous one. To help Haiti not only in the short-term but also in the long term, the world should forgive Haiti’s international debt, which totals $1 billion. To put it in perspective, the International Monetary Fund estimates that Haiti’s gross domestic product is about $6.9 billion – Haiti is in debt for about 13 percent of its income. And the World Bank estimates that recovering from the earthquake will cost Haiti 15 percent of its GDP! Under that kind of pressure, it’s absurd to think that Haiti will not only recover from this natural disaster and also someday become a productive member of a global economy.
We need to make sure that this devastated nation has every available chance to recover and secure a better future. The United States has already forgiven the debt Haiti owes us directly. But institutions that the U.S. has major influence with, like the International Monetary Fund, still have not forgiven Haiti’s debt. Many Americans can understand the burden of overwhelming debt as individuals. It is time for us to encourage the institutions that have not forgiven the nation of Haiti’s debt to do so.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has the power to convince these institutions to do the right thing. As a ONE member, I ask that Secretary Geithner use his influence to persuade international lending institutions and countries to drop Haiti’s debt once and for all.
Temple ONE Campus Leader