Argentine Bishop Assails Government Economic Policy

Creditors Take Precedence Over Common Folk, He Contends

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ALTO VALLE DEL RIO NEGRO, Argentina, JULY 24, 2001 ( Argentina is too concerned about satisfying foreign creditors and not enough about the people who suffer the most from the country´s economic problems, says a bishop.

In an interview Sunday on Continental Radio of Buenos Aires, Bishop José Pedro Pozzi of Alto Valle del Rio Negro said: «In our economy, it would seem that everything is done in connection with being able to pay the external debt, of satisfying foreign creditors, without thinking of those who are in the country, who are the ones who suffer the consequences.»

Bishop Pozzi referred to the debt as a «heavy burden that oppresses us,» and said that the government is bothered that «the Church is constantly reminding» people of this. Yet, he contended, there are no signs that what the Church advocates it being heard or implemented.

«Sadly, if carried into practice, it is done in such a distant way that the people do not see any improvement,» the bishop said. «On the contrary, everything that happens to them is increasingly painful and harder to bear.»

It is not for the bishops to resolve the situation, «because we are not experts in this matter,» Bishop Pozzi said.

But he criticized the government´s rhetoric, which goes along with the need for change, although nothing happens in practice that would hurt «those who have more» and «the political class.»

«This is what hurts us,» he added, «because people are increasingly losing faith in their leaders and in the country.»

The Argentine bishop added that the political leaders «prefer to remain silent because every time they open their mouth, the country´s risk increases. And we are going to reach a point where no one will put a peso, or invest, here.»

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