CMUNNY or should I say C-MONEY?
You can never go wrong spending a few days in the financial capital, especially if you are with the Clark Model United Nations (MUN) team. By coming out with 5 awards at the Columbia MUN Conference in New York (CMUNNY), Clark has proven yet again that we compete at the highest level (see my previous post). The experienced delegates, Yohan Senarath, Doga Bilgin and myself, secured three honourable mentions, while the newcomers, Corie Welch and Mariale Poleo, were able to win two verbal mentions. Moreover, each of the 8 members in our delegation showed dedication and commitment not only to win an award but also to push themselves mentally during the competition. Though the four days also included a few fancy meals and social events, I shall dedicate this post to the conference itself which took the bulk of the time in and outside committee sessions.
1975, the Ethiopian Derg
For this crisis-style conference, I was put me into the Ethiopian cabinet of 1975 also known as the Derg. This military junta, which was known to crush revolts and implement socialist policies after coming to power in the early 70s, is best characterized as a bunch of power hungry military commanders (army, navy and air force) pushing individual interests above all else. Though my character in the Derg was a Navy Captain by the name of Zeleke Bogale, he was better known for his business acumen and was popular for striking economic deals with other nations, particularly related to trade. Given that I am an economics major, I was truly blessed with this assignation.
Fun fact: Ethiopia is now landlocked and has no navy, as Eritrea, which was a province of Ethiopia under UN mandate in the first 9/10th of the last century, is now independent, i.e. Eritrea now holds two of the the ex-ports of Ethiopia.
My issues were not merely related to trade or the economy of the country, but also the rebelling Eritreans. Since the sea ports were in Eritrea, specifically Assab and Massawa, it was important that the Derg crushed any insurgencies from the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) in order to maintain access to the sea and the Horn of Africa. But, I, as a cunning and corrupt captain, took a different path which used trade and the EPLF to boost my own self-interests.
Initially, I worked with the Derg to create a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the port city of Assab. The infrastructure financing was supported by World Bank loans, and in return, a set amount of profits from the SEZ was directed towards repaying the debt over a 20-year time period. The SEZ was used to boost the Ethiopian manufacturing and mining industry which was close to nothing in the beginning of 1975.
As a capitalist, I changed history and made sure that the Derg aligned with the US, instead of what really happened: aligning with the USSR. Though this took a lot of persuasion and several directives, the majority in the end agreed that the US was better for our long-term economic and military prosperity. The socialist land reforms were repealed, and tax policy was made progressive.
From the special economic zone and all other trade imports into the country, I embezzled and took a commission of 15% which was transferred to a personal bank account in the Cayman Islands. This money was later used to hire a private mercenary group to take care of my dirty work.
Towards the end of the third day, I secretly supported the EPLF in their efforts to overthrow the Derg. In return for my financial and mercenary support, I asked to be promoted to navy commander and Trade Minister, and guaranteed a safe home in Eritrea– all this was given upon the condition that Eritrea conducts a successful rebellion and becomes recognized as a sovereign state by the International Community and the UN. Thus, inside the Derg cabinet, I would advocate for a peaceful resolution with the Eritreans. And, whenever the Derg decided to take aggressive military action, I would secretly tip the Eritreans and warn them to be cautious. As a result, the EPLF was always a step ahead of all Derg’s military actions.
In the end, the Derg did fall with several members of the cabinet killed in combat with the Eritreans or internal warfare over power. I, however, managed to sneak out with the support of my mercenary group and received asylum in Eritrea for my kind support.