Odious Debts


Friends and colleagues have been exceptionally generous in helping me finish this book. Margaret Barber deserves special thanks for her painstaking research, and for her good cheer throughout. I am also especially grateful to Susan Fitzmaurice for her artistic judgment and for her commitment to the complicated task of producing this book. Both made an otherwise stressful job a joy.

To those who shaped this book with their thoughtful comments on the manuscript and their advice along the way, I am particularly indebted: Elizabeth Brubaker, Gawin Chutima, Marcus Colchester, Chad Dobson, Philip M. Fearnside, Dipak Gyawali, Mary Hallward, Peggy Hallward, Alex Kisin, Larry Lohmann, Juliette Majot, Richard Owens, Magda Renner, and Gráinne Ryder.

Several people did research on my behalf, relentlessly pursuing all manner of sources: Asheesh Advani, John Mihevc, Geoffrey Patridge, and Ann Stewart. Others provided research material in other ways. I owe thanks to Ana Banachowicz for researching and translating material on Sicartsa, to Jessica Campbell for explaining scientific matters and for 11th-hour translating, to Olga Martinez for translating legal documents, to Kole Shettima for explaining traditional Nigerian lending systems to me, to Sheila Malcolmson and Tom Adams for clarifying many questions about electric utilities and nuclear power, and to Adam White for reviewing economic arguments and for being on computer call. I am also grateful to Professor Jim Boyce, to Leonor Briones of the Freedom From Debt Coalition in the Philippines, to John Cavanagh and Robin Broad, and to Peter Bosshard from the Bern Group for keeping me up to date on the campaign to recover the Marcos money and the legal challenge with respect to the Bataan nuclear reactor. Brazilian colleagues at Friends of the Earth – Brazil, Instituto Apoio Judicial Popular, Programa Regional De Trabajo Popular, and Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Sociais e Econômicas (IBASE) were also the source of much inspiration.

I am especially thankful to lawyers Richard Owens, Sandy Walker, and legal scholar Dotse Tsikata for patiently explaining legal first principles to me, and for challenging everything I wrote.

Kathy Kehoe’s editing and proofreading of endnotes, and Rick Archbold’s and Joel Brody’s publishing advice, have been extremely helpful. I am also grateful to Miguel Cea for technical production and design of the book.

I consider myself lucky to have had editor Norman Houghton apply his skills to several drafts of Odious Debts, and for being the ultimate and ever-reliable source on editing matters. Thanks go too to Janet Case for her valuable comments and careful editing of the final draft.

The overwhelming evidence of the damage done by past loans to the Third World made this book a necessity. The irrepressible communication between Third World citizens’ rights groups and their counterparts in the lending countries made it possible. To my Third World colleagues, who have been generous in spirit and patient in explaining their part of the world to me, I owe my thanks. Many of them have risked a great deal in their pursuit of peace, order, and good government;to them I also owe my profound respect.

And finally, I will always be thankful to my husband, Lawrence Solomon, without whose encouragement, companionship, and spirit this book would certainly not have been finished, and perhaps never started.

Responsibility for the analysis, opinions, and any mistakes that occur is mine alone.

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