From Grenada to Saint Lucia, religious leaders are calling for processes to provide debt relief in the face of natural disasters. "As Churches in the Caribbean we have witnessed the grief and despair of our people last September, and we are not prepared to enter the next hurricane season without at least being able to tell them that our authorities shall be able to use scarce resources for immediate relief and mid-term reconstruction rather than debt service," explained a statement signed by major religious leaders from the Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist, Methodist, Anglican and Episcopal Churches.
“When our island nations discuss debt, it is not just about economics but about our very existence. We borrow, often for capital development, but one major disaster can reverse all capital gains we made, and so with our economic, health and educational infrastructure in shambles, we still have to repay the money we owe," noted Reverend Dr. R. Osbert James who leads the Presbyterian Church in Grenada and currently leads Jubilee Caribbean. "This results in our being in an unending cycle of dependence, under-development and indebtedness."
The faith leaders called for action from government leaders, the International Monetary Fund and Caribbean development institutions. The statement released on March 14th was signed and endorsed by 22 leaders.
"Across the Caribbean, we still see immense suffering from the hurricanes that landed last year," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte who endorsed the statement. "Islands that are struggling to recover after natural disasters and meet basic needs of their people should not be making debt payments."