Greedy foreign banks keep Africans poor, enslaved
The Tacoma News Tribune:By LES TAHA; Aug. 22, 04

  There is some big news out there that you probably haven't heard. A foreign army has invaded Africa. It has conquered, colonized and enslaved the people, and now it's looting the entire continent of its resources.
  Yes, the brutal colonialism of the past has returned with a vengeance, but this time the invading marauders aren't using rifles, gunpowder and tanks to subjugate the people. Their new weapons of choice are laptops, briefcases, "loans" and contracts.
  This army of extremely crafty soldiers entered Africa hiding inside of a three-headed Trojan Horse called The International Monetary Fund, The World Bank and The World Trade Organization.
  These groups portrayed themselves as being a friend to Africa. They said that they were only there to help these poor countries get back on their feet by giving them loans, investment capital and free-trade agreements.
  But once they got inside, Africa found out the hard way what their real agenda was, which was to enrich the international financial institutions and multinational corporations at the expense of the African people.
  This isn't a theory; this is a fact. Over the last 20 years or so, the African people have plunged deeper into misery as their living standards steadily fell. At the same time, the wealth of the international financial institutions and multinational corporations working inside Africa has steadily increased.
  Using a variety of strong-arm tactics, the Trojan Horse was able to put the African countries into a stranglehold by imposing neo-liberal, laissez-faire type economics on them. This type of economics works very well at making rich people richer and keeping everyone else poor, and they knew that. They've imposed policies that intentionally kept the African people poor, ignorant and hungry.
  They've imposed the privatization of education, which means only the wealthy can afford any education at all.
  They've crippled their capacity to produce their own food for themselves with so-called "free trade" agreements.
  They've turned countries into virtual privately owned sweatshops by making them export economies that must compete in no-holds-barred "competition" with other sweatshops/countries. The result is that wages and prices are driven down to the point where the countries are practically giving away their labor and resources.
  They've strangled these nations with mountains of debt at high interest rates. In some countries, as much as 40 percent of their national budgets are used just to pay the interest on their debt. The people are essentially slaves of the foreign banks.
  State industries, resources and public utilities such as water, nat-ural gas, oil and mining are "sold" to  multinational corporations in exchange for "debt forgiveness" or "bailout loans." In a nutshell, the natural wealth of countries is practically being given away to foreign multinational corporations.
  So the big question is: Did the IMF, World Bank and WTO do all of this intentionally, or is it, as some suggest, just a series of mistakes and blunders?
  Put it like this: If you had a business partner and for the last 25 years he made mistake after mistake, but found all his "mistakes" made him much richer and made you poorer, wouldn't you at some point leap to the wild conclusion that this had been his plan all along?
  It's not a far-fetched "conspiracy theory" to think that these very powerful groups have conspired to take control of Africa's resources. It's actually a very common occurrence throughout human history.
  Nearly the entire continent of Africa and most of the Middle East and Asia were colonized by European powers as recently as the late 1950s and early 1960s. They were there to take local resources at the expense of the people. Was that a conspiracy theory or a fact?
  There have been thousands of wars fought throughout history, and practically all of them were fights about dominance and resources: one group trying to take the resources of another.
  Plotting, planning, scheming, lying to get resources - that's human history in a nutshell. So when did this type of behavior end?
  Well, it didn't end. People are still plotting, planning, scheming and fighting over resources. Africa is rich in resources. What would really be out of the ordinary is if people were not trying to take them.
  Globalization is a topic that is way too big to completely cover in a column, but there have been lots of excellent books written on the topic. One that I would highly recommend is "Globalization and its Discontents" by Joseph Stiglitz, a winner of the Nobel Prize in economics, the former economic adviser to President Bill Clinton and the whistle-blowing former president of the World Bank.
  Another excellent book is "The Globalization of Poverty" by Michel Chossudovsky, a professor of economics at the University of Ottawa.

Les Taha writes once a month as a guest columnist for the Perspectives page. He can be contacted at