From “adjusters” to “adjusted”

Friday, July 15, 2011

For decades the world’s most prosperous countries replaced aid with loans granted in draconian conditions, known as “structural adjustments”.

In effect, to receive those loans the recipient countries had to fulfill three requisites: privatization, reduction of staff, and the building of infrastructures (which in these “developing” nations were built by the lending countries).

On several occasions I expressed to UNESCO members States my total disagreement with such demands that benefited the donors more than the borrowers.

The “reduction” in public employees was applied above all to teachers and professors!

In 1969 when I was rector of the University of Granada and Spain was still an “underdeveloped” country, I was requested to receive a significant World Bank loan for vocational training in eastern Andalusia.

Knowing all of the demands that the loan recipients had to meet at the onset of negotiations, and without entering into details, I must say that after two years I decided to expel from my office a numerous delegation from the World Bank that had come for a third time to Granada from Washington to continue to “work on” the different stages in the process. The humiliation to which we were constantly subjected by the Bank’s bureaucracy was totally inadmissible. Given the reasons I expressed, the minister at that time –Mr. José Luis Villar Palasí- supported my decision.

But now the tables have turned and the countries that just a few years ago imposed “adjustments” upon developing countries are now being “adjusted” and must make multiple budget cuts, privatize, and reduce the number and salaries of their public staff…

And if we look closely we can see that the powers behind the structural adjustments are the same ones that are now imposing adjustments on formerly rich countries and are manipulating the rating agencies to their liking.

From “adjusters” to “adjusted”. We have to better learn our lesson quickly. And take action.