Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Skype Conference with Witness for Peace in Nicaragua

by:  Caitlin Albright

Two weeks and four days?
Can that possibly be correct?

This project is finally starting to feel like a reality to me now that my time and focus is not being pulled in a hundred different directions as it was during the semester. On Wednesday, Team Nicaragua had a Skype conference with Brooke, our Witness For Peace representative. With dogs barking in the background, a tiny, brightly colored office, and the reminder of hot weather, this whole experience began to feel tangible. As we sat in our meeting room, bundled up in hats and scarves, we exchanged introductions and stared blankly at Brooke who asked us to recall what we had learned about the International Monetary Fund.

This has been a complicated subject, as most of us didn't have any knowledge of the IMF before this delegation. We are learning about how the IMF was formed, how it is structured, what its function is, and why it is criticized. The IMF was formally organized in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in 1945 and has maintained a strong influence on the global economy since its creation. I am certainly no expert on the subject and still need someone to give me the Disney version of everything we've discussed, but I am learning a great deal about why things are the way they are.

For instance, the amount of power a country has in the IMF is determined by how much money they contribute. What does that mean? The United States continues to stay on top, therefore, IMF policies are basically US policies. The wealthiest nations have the most power because they can afford to and developing nations have little say in global economic policies. Additionally, when developing nations receive a loan from the IMF, that loan typically comes with an unreasonable interest rate that the developing country won't be able to pay back. This gives the illusion that the IMF is helping struggling nations by giving them loans, however, developing nations are really just remaining in debt while the distribution of power is where it's always been.

All of this information, though complex, is crucial to understanding global economic disparities and fighting poverty, improving education, and helping developing nations become more stable. During our time in Nicaragua, we will be meeting with many people who work hard to bring about these kinds of sustainable change in their communities. Of course, more education and information lead to even more questions. We all hope you continue to read our blog and learn with us throughout this project. We welcome your questions and support as we take on this challenge and hope you stick with us in the coming weeks.

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