U2’s Bono is pressing on with his two-year-long battle for Third World debt relief, and he hopes to convince the White House and the American people to join the crusade, he said Friday.
During a press conference sponsored by the anti-poverty organization Results, Bono said he hopes to appear with former South African president Nelson Mandela on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to discuss the cause, which he described as essential to easing the devastating impact of AIDS on Africa’s poorest nations.
The campaign to convince the world’s richest countries to forgive all of the debt owed them by some of the world’s poorest countries — originally known as Jubilee 2000 — has so far succeeded in convincing the U.S. and other nations to forgive some debt from 22 out of 41 targeted countries.
U.S. Congressman Spencer Bachus, a Republican from Alabama who supports debt relief, credited Bono’s extensive lobbying for much of the movement’s success.
“Bono really breathed life into this whole movement. I can literally say, and I’m convinced, that had he not been involved there would be millions of children that would be dead in those countries today,” Bachus said at the press conference. “As a result of debt relief there are millions of children that are attending schools today, there are millions of children that receive vaccinations.”
But Bono said he feels his efforts — which have included a meeting with the Pope (see “Bono, Bob Geldof, Others Appeal To Pope For Debt-Dropping Support” ), lobbying sessions with members of Congress and a speech to United Nations representatives — have so far been a failure.
“There is a scandal in that one of the widest movements for any issue like this since the anti-Apartheid movement feels let down — they feel after all their campaigning they haven’t achieved the results they’re looking for,” he said.
Bono, who has met with members of President George W. Bush’s administration, said he has “an informed feeling” that Bush might make significant progress toward 100 percent debt relief. In a presidential debate last year, Bush said he supported debt forgiveness.
Meanwhile, Bono said, he and Live Aid founder Bob Geldof — who also participated in the conference — will ponder how to best reach out to the American people. “We’re going to get to the heartland in some way on this,” Bono said.
The rocker spoke Friday from California during a day off from his band’s Elevation 2001 Tour, which hits Phoenix on Saturday.