President Corazon Aquino of the Philippines warned Tuesday that failure to resolve the Third World debt problem fairly will "strangle the life" out of new democracies.
Addressing the annual meeting of the United Nations International Labor Organization, Aquino said relief of poverty and underdevelopment must accompany wider rights and liberties in her own and similar countries."The next liberation must be economic. This includes a fair resolution of the debt problem," said Aquino, who replaced Ferdinand Marcos in a 1986 popular uprising that ended 20 years of authoritarian rule.
"The tightening grip of its austerities threatens to strangle the life out of the new democracies of the Third World, even as it threatens to upset the stability of the international economic order.
"The linkage of debt, development and democracy is undeniable."
Aquino arrived in Geneva Monday on her first visit to Europe - a six-day trip with three days in Switzerland and three days in Rome, ending with an audience with Pope John Paul II.
She meets with Swiss government officials on Wednesday, travelling for the day from Geneva to the capital of Bern, and flies to Rome on Thursday.
Filipino and Swiss officials said the talks would center on economic aid, ways to narrow Manila's trade deficit with Switzerland, which amounted to $340 million over the past 10 years, and the general problem of the Philippines $29 billion foreign debt.
Switzerland announced on Monday that a $42 million credit agreement would be signed Wednesday.
Officials said there would be no official discussion of proceedings in Switzerland regarding Manila's request that Swiss banks disclose and then repatriate an estimated $1 billion in funds stashed by Marcos, his wife and members of their entourage.
Aquino, in her speech to the ILO annual conference, stressed the danger of debt to her own and other Third World countries.
"The burden of debt weighs so heavily on developing nations that it threatens to end all prospect of their recovery and growth and equally threatens to create the anarchy and despotism where human rights are the first victims," she said.