1998 NCC News Archives
NCC LEADERS ASK PRESIDENT CLINTON TO FORGIVE DEBT AND TO PROTECT CENTRAL AMERICAN NATIONALS IN WAKE OF HURRICANE MITCH
NEW YORK, Dec. 1 ---- In a letter signed by the General Secretary and 13 other representatives from the National Council of Churches (NCCs) 35 member communions, church leaders ask President Clinton to cancel debt owed by Latin American countries affected by Hurricane Mitch and to give "temporary protected status" to nationals from those countries.
The Nov. 24 letter commends the Clinton Administration for its continuing response and assistance to the region in the wake of devastating Hurricane Mitch, but urges "additional measures which we feel are essential to relieve the great burden which these countries face as they seek to rebuild." The Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, NCC General Secretary, signed the letter along with leaders from 13 Protestant and Orthodox communions.
The church leaders encourage President Clinton to enact measures including to "follow the example announced by France . . . and write off all of the aid and development debt owed by Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala."
Besides granting the cancellation of debts, the Clinton Administration is also asked "to grant an eighteen month temporary protected status for Central American nationals from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua currently in the United States." The letter explains, "This status was created precisely to respond to crises like the one Central America is now facing, where countries are temporarily unable to handle the return of its nationals."
The full text of the letter, including the 14 signatories, follows.
-November 24, 1998
President William J. Clinton
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As representatives of the 35 member communions of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., we write to commend your administration for its continuing response to the devastation facing Central America in the wake of Hurricane Mitch. The additional assistance which first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton announced in Tegulcigalpa is a welcome supplement to the assistance which we know has already been sent to this region. We write today to urge additional measures which we feel are essential to relieve the great burden which these countries face as they seek to rebuild.
We are gratified that the United States has joined other nations in acknowledging the burden of the foreign debt owed by these countries. The NCCC just unanimously passed the enclosed resolution regarding debt cancellation at its annual General Assembly last week. Your decision to grant a two-year moratorium on bilateral debt payments for Nicaragua and Honduras, while seeking to encourage the same of multilateral lending institutions, is a welcome first-step. We now urge that you move to follow the example announced by France -- who has also extended to Guatemala and El Salvador this relief -- and write off all of the aid and development debt owed by Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. It is predicted that it will take years for these countries to restore their destroyed economies. Diverting funds to debt payments from the critical tasks of restoring infrastructures and rebuilding schools and clinics will only serve to magnify and extend the human cost inflicted by this disaster. To ask that these countries maintain their structural adjustment policies and continue to repay their debt while trying to recover from such devastation is to pour salt into the wounds of these nations.
Besides granting a cancellation of debts owed by these nations, we also ask that your Administration act immediately to grant an eighteen month "temporary protected status" for Central American nationals from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua currently in the United States. This status was created precisely to respond to crises like the one Central America is now facing, where countries are temporarily unable to handle the return of its nationals. There are already countless numbers of homeless in these countries, and many of them have lost their means of employment as well. Allowing these nationals a temporary extension of their stay in the United States will protect them from a similar fate while helping to alleviate the suffering in the region.
Again, we commend the steps which you have taken already and the concern which you have shown in the wake of this disaster. We thank you for the consideration of our concerns regarding the specific issues of the debt burden and temporary protected status.
|Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell
National Council of the Churches of
Christ in the U.S.A.
Rev. McKinley Young
Office of Ecumenical and Urban Affairs
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Rev. Dr. Daniel E. Weiss
American Baptist Churches, U.S.A.
Rev. Metropolitan Philip Saliba
Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian
Bishop Nathaniel Linsey
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Rev. Judy Mills Reimer
Church of the Brethren
|Rev. H. George Anderson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in
Rev. Dr. J. Ralph Shotwell
Interim Executive Director
International Council of Community
Rev. R. Burke Johnson
Moravian Church-Northern Province
Most Blessed Metropolitan Theodosius
Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan
of all America and Canada, Primate
Orthodox Church in America
Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson
Reformed Church in America
Bishop William Boyd Grove
United Methodist Church
cc: Hillary Rodham Clinton
Sec. Treasury Robert Rubin
Lawrence Sommers, Treasury Department
Attorney General Janet Reno
Dorris Meisner, INS
Brain Atwood, USAID
Select Members of Congress
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