Video: Vulture Funds' Absurd Assaults on the Global Poor

By Hayley Hathaway 5-19-2010

Do secondary debt markets, hedge funds, and offshore banking make you want to dance? Probably not. But I hope Jubilee USA Network's video "Stop the Vulture Culture: The Real Life Story of Vulture Funds" will. Vulture funds buy poor countries' defaulted debt for pennies on the dollar, then sue for huge profits -- the original amount of the debt plus sky-high interest and legal fees -- once the country gets new resources thanks to debt cancellation.

Vulture fund profiteering is completely immoral, but currently totally legal. Instead of getting overwhelmed by this cruel reality, we decided to show vulture funds for what they are: ridiculous and absurd.

Watch the video here:

International debt cancellation should mean more resources for vital education, health care, and infrastructure, not more money in the pockets of wealthy scavengers. This past fall, Liberia fell under two vultures' attack and was ordered to pay them $20 million from a debt dating back to 1978. In 2006, Zambia was forced to pay a Vulture Fund $15 million, over 60% of Zambia's debt cancellation savings that year.

Our video describes the most recent vulture activity occurring right under our noses in Washington, D.C., against the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As the DRC struggles to free itself from the legacies of colonialism, brutal dictators, civil war, and destructive poverty, international debt cancellation through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative offers some relief. Yet vulture funds have swooped in to profit off of this internationally accepted debt cancellation agreement. They are using U.S. courts to sue the DRC for a decades-old loan taken out under Mobutu, the notorious dictator. Now the vulture fund FG Hemisphere has gone so far as attempting to seize the DRC's embassy in Washington, D.C.

Around the country and the world, citizens are mobilizing to stop these vulture funds from preying on the world's poorest. Recently, the UK became the first-ever government to establish a law protecting poor countries against Vulture Funds profiteering. In the U.S. House of Representatives, the Stop VULTURE Funds Act (HR 2932) would limit the profits that a vulture could make, reducing the incentive to sue. Please click here to send a message to your U.S. Representative to support the bill.

And help us educate our communities on these shady Vulture Funds by sharing the video with your friends today.

Hayley Hathaway is communications and development coordinator for the Jubilee USA Network.

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