One alternative TV producer does not blame the Spanish people for the situation they are facing. He claims the noxious state of social and human rights are the result of a massive economic fraud perpetrated by transnational banks and the EU.

For eight years, 1996 to 2004, when the conservative party, PP, rose to power, our leaders endlessly repeated that famous slogan: “Spain is going well.” Clumsy socialist president Zapatero went further, bragging that Spain was in the “Champion League” of the world’s economy. Far from being champions, we have been victims of a huge fraud of economic policies designed specifically to transfer labour value to capital value, i.e. transferring the work of ordinary people into wealth for richer sectors of the population. Wages are frozen and the rich have fled to tax havens like the SICA.

The rich have stolen public monetary policy from us. We entered the euro zone agreeing to a European Central Bank in the image and likeness of the Bundesbank, that is, without a fiscal policy or a common treasury, all with the sole aim of keeping a tight rein on inflation. However, a mandate to combat social problems resulting from the union never existed. Industry was dismantled in Spain because it was unable to compete with Germany.

Although it may seem that Spanish people have lived above their means, it’s important to understand that loans, easy to access due to sleezy financial industry practices, were multiplied either for durable goods purchases such as houses or cars, or through extensions of credit cards debt. If a dual-earner household family receives a call from its bank telling them that they have all the credit they need, is that not an economic opportunity to be leveraged on their behalf? Additionally, no one is decrying the slew of new multinationals including Telefónica, Endesa, Repso, etc. who have incarnated from the privatization of formerly government functions. This is part of the global neoliberal agenda, which has afflicted average citizens from the US to Bangladesh.

Since 2001 the banks had access to the Frankfurt Interbank Market and its inexhaustible source of resources. They also borrowed beyond their means to invest in all types of businesses, especially those related to speculative real estate. Banks re-zoned land and generated huge gains for themselves and their foreign lenders, large developers, municipalities (property taxes), autonomous communities (property transfer tax and stamp duty) and the state (VAT and tax societies). Don’t forget the corruption and profits that were taken by those who intermediated, signed and authorized re-zoning.

The debt we must now repay was stolen and offered to us deceptively in the first place. They must pay for their excesses and irresponsibility. Politicians should be forced to demand the truth from banks and multinationals. Iceland showed us the way. We must hold public hearings, try them and put them in jail. Economics should be a system in service of human beings, not the other way around.

The stereotype of Spanish society is that it is conformist, Roman Catholic and party-crazed. The fact is that I know a lot of honest, hardworking people here and we don’t go out dressed like bullfighters or start dancing when we hear clapping hands. What is certain, is that Spain recently emerged from a tough 40 year dictatorship and the fears left by that reign remain. The ruling oligarchy and the Church still hold social and economic power that hinders natural development of society. But there are many young people who are in the streets and in the squares of Spain demanding their role because they have lost fear of and respect for a political system that does not represent them.

The youth is the future of Spain. It will take an entire generation rebelling against the current situation and demanding accountability from those who have caused these problems. For better or worse, the world has changed and the youth have no choice but to live in it. We will have to decide which “other” world we want.

We will overcome the crisis at the expense of those who govern us and the powerful who govern them. Life always find a way.

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  • Anna

    Today, we urgently need the critiques and RE-THINKING of a set of premises which became almost a religious belief in the wisdom of the (somehow variable) commitment to market freedoms, “constitutional” rights of individuals and increasingly of MULTINATIONALS, and a VERY highly limited re-distribution of social resources to achieve shared ends. It is all the more important TODAY, because the need for greater cooperation on shared problems the solutions to which are illusive (given neo-liberal premises) – like state bankruptcy, or corporate irresponsibility of an international scale – looms ever larger!.. Very interesting (…despairing? promising??!) that this concise-precise and sharp article is issued by your platform, and not by a leading EU think-tank or newspaper… Thanks for the article!