Yesterday the BBC aired an investigative report documenting how American “vultures,” such as New York-based Eric Hermann at hedge fund FH International, bought up debt from Liberia for pennies on the dollar and are now forcing Liberia’s impoverished government to pay in full. This is at the same time that Western governments have been erasing this odious debt from years past.
The effect of Hermann’s financial maneuvers earns few applause in Liberia. In that African democracy, diplomat Winston Tubman tells us what he would say to vulture fund operators, “‘Do you know you are causing babies to die all over Liberia?’”
That’s strong language, but in Liberia, we see the effects of the threat of losing over $20 million from this desperately poor nation’s budget. In the village of Demeh, I meet Howa Murvee. During Liberia’s recent civil war, her grandfather was beaten to death in front of her. Every home in the village was destroyed. Now, with money from selling donuts at a rural bus stop, she has raised the $100 need for materials to rebuild her mud-and-thatch home.
[Watch the report below]