Sunday, May 01, 2005

Argentina's "Museum of Foreign Debt"

Every nation that has been invaded, occupied and devastated, has created some sort of monument/museum to preserve the memory of that invasion and occupation, for the posterity.

In the present days, the rules of war have changed, and the invasions and genocide come in the form of economic recovery packages (or as IMF/WB would put it: "Structural Adjustment Programmes") and foreign debt. And therefore, it was appropriate that Argentina should inaugurate the Museum on Foreign Debt.

This news item reports

Foreign Debt Museum Opens Its Doors
By Mary Milliken
Fri Apr 29, 5:40 AM ET

"Three years after staging the largest debt default in modern history, Argentina on Thursday opened what may be the first Museum of Foreign Debt to teach people the perils of borrowing abroad...

.... In one corner, a pink, doll-size play kitchen represents the recipes of the International Monetary Fund, which Argentines blame for encouraging the heavy borrowing in the 1990s that led to the catastrophic economic collapse in late 2001.

"We chose a play kitchen because we are always so innocent and believe in magic recipes from abroad," said museum designer Eduardo Lopez. "Look, we open the freezer and the oven and there is no food."

But the museum in the University of Buenos Aires economics department doesn't dwell only on this latest debt crisis: It goes back to Argentina's first default in the early 1800s and gives a detailed account of the last 30 years when the country's foreign debt woes snowballed.

Visitors can delve into a spongy "black hole" -- the place where all that borrowed money ended up.

"I liked best the black hole with everything the debt swallowed -- education, families, jobs," said Fabian Jader, 34, an opening night visitor. "I feel anger and pity for the people, but above all helplessness."

Argentina's economy has recovered at a healthy clip in the last two years and the country is on the cusp of ending its default of some $100 billion (52.3 billion pounds) in foreign debt.

But 40 percent of the population in the once-wealthy nation still lives below the poverty line, many of them in the crime-ridden industrial rust belt around Buenos Aires.

"People know absolutely nothing about how we accumulated all this debt, they only know about the misery they have seen lately," said museum director Simon Pristupin, who dreamed up the idea in 2001 and struggled to convince sceptics...."


Anonymous said...

Its a naive question i guess but its important for me to understand...pls help me clarify...The policy makers, economists all the big shots who decide on the behalf of their country must have been taking all this into account. If yes, then how do they accept to bind themselves to these "pseudo" chains of slavery?

Madhukar said...

That's an important question!... my understanding is that political ideology (often actually "the flavour of the day") must be playing an important role in political-economic decision making.

Anonymous said...

uh i agree!

Anonymous said...

According to me it’s a very tremendous question. I just understand that Political principles ought to be playing an in political-economic decision making.