Providence divests from companies with ties to Sudan

Providence, R.I., became the first American city to divest from companies tied to the Sudanese government on Thursday.

The Providence City Council voted unanimously to join the growing number of states and universities taking a financial stand against the genocide in Darfur, the Associated Press reported Friday.

The only investment that will be immediately affected by the city’s move is an $800,000 share in Alcatel SA, a French telecommunications company.

Lauren Jacobson ’08, a co-coordinator for the campus group Students Taking Action Now: Darfur, said she thinks the divestment movement is gaining strength as it spreads to the municipal level.

“It’s really exciting to see any city or institution taking part in the divestment movement from Sudan,” she said. “Each announcement of divestment makes every other action of divestment more significant, because it becomes an actual movement and a broader statement to the government of Sudan.”

Jacobson said her group — which has urged the University to continue taking action to alleviate the ongoing genocide in Darfur — is trying to spur New Haven officials to take similar action, but Elm City officials are still investigating whether the city has any relevant holdings. In any case, Jacobson said, she would like to see citywide legislation on the matter.

“Any resolution we would pass would prevent any future movements to invest in Sudan, and it would be a powerful statement from the city,” she said.

On Thursday, the board of the California State Teacher’s Retirement System voted to dump $14 million invested in five companies doing business in Sudan. The decision followed a similar vote by the University of California Board of Regents in March.

In February, Yale announced it will exclude seven companies tied to Sudan from its portfolio. Harvard, Brown and Stanford universities, Amherst and Dartmouth colleges, and the states of Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon have made similar pledges.

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