World Bank President Barber B. Conable said Thursday on the final day of the annual International Monetary Fund-World Bank meeting that the lending institutions were not to blame for world poverty.
Riot police fought with about 1,000 demonstrators late Wednesday and early Thursday, detaining 131 people, in the fifth night of violent protests against the three-day meeting.Demonstrators broke windows in banks, shops and set two cars on fire to protest IMF-World Bank policies, which they blame for poverty in the Third World.
"I do not believe they should blame us that poverty exists in the world," Conable told reporters before the closing ceremony of the summit of 15,000 bankers and government officials from 151 nations.
"I believe poverty would be worse if we were not there," the former U.S. congressman said.
The Third World, burdened by a $1.2 trillion debt, also attacked industrial nations in plenary meetings Wednesday at the International Congress Center in West Berlin for linking new loans to economic reforms.
Delegates said industrial nation protectionism, high interest rates, inflation, shortcomings in IMF-World Bank reform programs and the U.S. trade deficit prevented developing nations from getting out of their debt crisis.
The attacks came primarily from Latin America, where most of the middle-income debtor nations are, and from Africa, home to the poorest countries.