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Who Owes Whom?
Maker: Judith Bloomgardener; Community Printers; Resource Center for Nonviolence
Date Made: 1983
Place Made: United States: California, Santa Cruz
Measurements: 43 cm x 56 cm; 16 15/16 in x 22 1/16 in
Main Subject: Imperialism; Corporations; Poverty
Materials: paper (fiber product)
Who Owes Whom? Who Owes Whom? For most of us raised in the U.S., Northism, the unquestioned acceptance of a way of life based on Northern domination of the South, is a deeply ingrained habit of mind. While the financial pages of our newspapers frequently carry stories on the debt crisis from the point of view of our banks, what do they say about its effects on the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the Third World, the debt is the single most important issue of the 1980's. To pay or not to pay is an issue of life or death. To them, the debt crisis represents the most acute manifestation of the systematic exploitation by the North that has been going on for the past 500 years. The debts were contracted in the 1970's by Third World governments, mainly U.S.-supported military dictatorships, at the urging of U.S.-based transnational banks seeking profitable investments. Almost all the money was used to benefit the elite; virtually none of it was used to benefit the poor majorities. Fluctuating interest rates tied to U.S. financial policies skyrocketed in the Reagan years when high interest was used to offset corporate tax cuts and to pay for the U.S. arms budget. By 1982, dozens of Third World countries owed more, in interest alone, than their total export income. Moreover, as a result of the export-oriented policies promoted by "aid" and corporate investment, they found themselves in a desperate situation. They no longer produced what they needed for survival, i.e., food for domestic consumption. They were obliged to accept the "austerity" conditions imposed by the U.S.-controlled International Monetary Fund as a requirement for new loans. "Austerity" has meant that the people must produce more and more for export while themselves eating less and less. Who should pay the debt? The people who had neither voice in decision-making nor benefit from the loans? Or the wealthy and powerful who made the decisions and reaped the benefits? We offer this South-North map as a symbol of the pressing demand for justice, everyday more urgent. The cruel domination of South by North cannot and must not continue. To become involved, or for more information, write: Who Owes Whom? Resource Center for Nonviolence, 515 Broadway, Santa Cruz, CA 95060; (408) 423-1626
Acquisition Number: 1994-062
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