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Debtors' prism.

Who would have thought Argentina's external debt woes would be so inspirational that they would fill two wings of a museum? Simon Pristupin of the Universidad de Buenos Aires did. With a group of colleagues, he created the Museo de la Dueda Externa, the only exhibit in the world on Argentine debt. With a US$17,000 budget, the collection opened in April and was welcoming more than 4,000 visitors a month at press time. * The display was inspired by a book, La deuda externa explicada para todos (Foreign Debt Explained for Everyone), which recounts the story of Argentina's heavy foreign borrowing during the 1970s and later in the 1990s. The museum portrays Argentina's financial saga through 2005, when Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna negotiated a swap with global bondholders to lower the country's S125 billion burden. * The first display shows Argentina's debt history since independence. "The first registered loan dates back to 1824 with a loan from the British bank Baring Brothers. It began a dark chapter, as the loans were mired in corruption," says Gabriela Cassera, a museum guide. * The second hall takes a leap to the 1970s: military dictatorship, foreign borrowing, capital flight, industries going belly up, rising unemployment rates and state assumption of private debts. A section displaying the 1990s projects television images of ex-President Carlos Menem proclaiming the merits of his neoliberal policies. In another section, moveable displays show images of the good life and corruption on one side and poverty on another. * The display concludes by illustrating solutions offered by the International Monetary Fund.
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Title Annotation:RADAR
Author:Babot, Maria Victoria
Publication:Latin Trade
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:3ARGE
Date:Dec 1, 2005
Previous Article:Hat in hand: 1 year ago in Latin Trade.
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