Friday, July 14, 2006

Hari on Peru's Rubbish Tip Children

Just thought I would draw your attention, if you haven't already seen it, to Johann Hari's excellent article on Peruvian child labour and poverty. Something happened to him when he went to Venezuela, not long ago - a change for the better.

"The IMF brags about Peru's spurting economic growth, and on paper five per cent year-on-year looks good. But like all neo-liberal growth, it has gone to those already rich. It has not "trickled down" to communities like this, who are - if anything - getting poorer. It has built up in a great reservoir at the top of Peruvian society.

This warning was the drum-beat of the Peruvian presidential election last month. In the left corner, Ollanta Humala talked of Chavez-style redistribution of wealth, hoping to spread the democratic revolution of Hugo and Evo to Peru. This stirred the great shanty cities into the polling booths. But in the right corner, Alan Garcia had a more pro-US message, tied to the implicit warning that people who stand up to the IMF get crucified by it. He had more cash, the support of the press, and, in the end, scored a narrow victory.

Robles is a wise, lined man, who has worked a lifetime against the imposition of neo-liberalism on his country. He is too polite to point out that the IMF - and the right-wing ideology it forces down the throat of the world's poor - is supported by my own Government. The British people, through Sport Relief, are trying to put right the damage caused by our own global financial institutions. It is a rescue plan from ourselves."

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