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As a development professional and human-rights advocate, I have some concerns regarding Rick and Kay Warren's PEACE plan in Rwanda. I am impressed with the Warrens' love for God and his church, as well as their desire to see Christ known the world over. Yet this desire and the Warrens' sudden access to vast resources must not be mistaken for expertise when it comes to fighting poverty and injustice in Africa.

African countries have long suffered outside the attention of the church. Direct action is overdue. Africa is a continent full of our brothers and sisters, neighbors, our fellow members of creation. What has transpired in Africa should shame us all. Yet we must understand that the solutions to poverty in Africa do not lie solely within Africa's borders.

Warren uses the ancient proverb, "Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime," to explain his development plan for Rwanda. He wants to help Rwanda "sell its fish." Warren says Rwanda can produce far more fruit than it can actually consume and that exporting Rwanda's agricultural products could be part of the solution to the country's economic troubles.

While this would no doubt provide needed income for a poor country, I wonder if Warren has been able to sit with the leaders of the European Union and the United States to address the injustices of these countries' current agricultural trade policies. Rwanda will not find receptive markets in the consumer powerhouses of the West. Currently, the U.S. and the E.U. provide more than $90 billion in annual subsidies to their domestic agricultural producers in order to protect them against competition from foreign exporters.

These farm subsidies assault the idea of free trade, and the ramifications for countries like Rwanda ...

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February 2006

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