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Grazie, Baby

By C. Bottomley

At the rate he's going, U2 singer Bono is likely to be up for a Nobel Peace Prize by the end of the year. Following a meeting with Bono and a Jubilee 2000 delegation in Rome, Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema agreed to put Third World debt cancellation back on his country's agenda. The Jubilee 2000 group is aiming for the cancellation of all unpayable debt by the end of the year 2000.

"What we convinced him to do was not to miss the opportunity of the goodwill, the interest of the general public," Bono said. So far, Bono's efforts on behalf of the organization have seen results in the United States, Great Britain and Canada, who have all agreed to reconsider their positions regarding Third World debt.

D'Alema's commitment to debt relief included reviving legislation aimed at forgiving the debt of 18 poor nations, with at least as many more countries to be made eligible for debt cancellation. His decision came after meeting last Wednesday with Bono, Jubilee 2000 coalition director Ann Pettifor and the Italian rapper - yes there are such things - Lorenzo Jovanotti.

Ann Pettifor said of the Prime Minister's decision, "Mr. D'Alema is listening to Jubilee 2000, to the Pope, to the Italian people, and to the millions of supporters around the world that have called for urgent action to be taken on debt cancellation in this Jubilee year, the start of a new millennium. If Italy were to carry through these promises this year, Mr. D'Alema and the Italian Parliament would be giving a wonderful gift to the Pope - and to the millions of suffering people in the poorest countries that would benefit."

Bono was in Italy to appear at the six-day San Remo music festival, where he was joined by The Edge. On Saturday he thanked both D'Alema and the Pope for supporting his Jubilee 2000 endeavor before leading the festival's grand finale. Speaking in perfect Italian, he said, "To the Pope - thank you; to Mr. D'Alema - thank you for your promise."

Bono also asked Italy's opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi not to stop the legislation."Mr. Berlusconi, please help Mr. D'Alema to help the Jubilee," he said. "This is not politics but people's lives."

The San Remo festival, which was broadcast on television to over 17 million Italians, had become a soapbox for several musicians to appeal to D'Alema to listen to Bono. Italian entertainer Fabio Fazio said at the beginning of the festival that the Jubilee 2000 was part of "the commitment that the music world has shown for years towards important social issues, from Live Aid on."

Jovanotti also said from the stage, "I would like to use the microphone and the television, to ask you from here to make a huge sign ... Cancel the debt! One billion people on the planet live on less than a dollar a day ... Their poverty is not a choice but their only reality." His impromptu rap became a discussion in Italy as politicians were quick to condemn what they saw as Jovanotti's opportunism.

© 2000 VH1

Back to San Remo 2000 overview


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