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News ::
Cambridge City Council Urged to Stop Buying WB Bonds
09 Apr 2001
Boston-based Bankbusters is pressuring Cambridge City Council to promise to never purchase WB bonds again.
When the April 16, 2000 protests against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. brought global attention to those supranational institutions’ predatory economic practices, they also galvanized people to act on a local basis.  Now, in Cambridge, as well as many other cities around the world, activists are working to keep municipal governments from investing in bonds issued by the World Bank.
The Cambridge Bond Boycott has brought together local groups including BankBusters, Eviction Free Zone, and the American Friends Service Committee, with overtures being made to various groups in the labor, environmental, immigrant, religious and women’s communities.  According to Basav Sen, an organizer of the boycott, the campaign has these goals:
- Building a grassroots coalition of community groups;
- Circulating a petition among Cambridge residents asking the Cambridge city council to refrain from investing in World Bank bonds in the future;
- Attracting media attention, including publishing a jointly-written opinion article  in the Cambridge Chronicle and the Tab;
- Offering public education forums and other means of generating visibility;
- Getting the city council to hold a public hearing on the issue, and having large numbers of both affiliated and unaffiliated members of the public give testimony.
Sen noted that this movement is not meant to require the city government to divest itself of bonds it may already own, but strictly to prevent future transactions.  He noted that in the United States, the cities of San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland have already passed boycott resolutions.
While the boycott campaign was officially launched during the April 2000 protests, Sen said, it was “based on conversations that had been going on for a few years.”  The global boycott movement is powered by a coalition of social groups, particularly in South Africa, India, the Netherlands and the US.  Sen said that these groups keep in solidarity through monthly conference calls with domestic groups, and every few months with groups from other countries.
Sen said that if the campaign in Cambridge is successful, the coalition’s next goal would be to encourage unions to pass their own boycott resolutions.  “Of course, these are purely symbolic, because the purse strings are controlled by the international,” he said.  “But if enough locals pass a resolution, that sends a clear message to the international.” 
And with union locals on board, “we might set our sights on the city of Boston.”
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