MEETING WITH MEMBERS OF GERMAN PARLIAMENT – Madrid October 11th , 2012

[Castellano]

The crisis that we are experiencing with such virulence in Spain did not arrive unannounced.
 
Broad sectors of civil society warned of it in advance. Since 2006, many thousands of citizens have gone out into the streets to shout something that was vox populi by then:

“WE’RE NOT GOING TO HAVE A HOUSE IN OUR FUCKING LIVES””. [1] (perdón por la expresión).

For almost two years, there were massive protests. Civil society organisations produced dozens of reports and recommendations to put a stop to the property bubble.. [2]

“2006 – 2007: every three months tens of thousands of people protest all over Spain showing yellow balloons symbolizing the housing bubble” (in the picture: Sept. 30th, 2006, Barcelona – 25000 people)


And what happened? Nothing.

From 2006 to 2008, while civil society was decrying the property bubble on a mass scale, the government turned a deaf ear in favour of its own corrupt interests. The political class amassed decision-making posts in the country’s major banks, and the legislation was gradually modified to favour these interests. Which is why this crisis was expected. It has come as no surprise to citizens.

Neither the current government nor the opposition – which was just as deeply involved in actively governing during the years of property greed – have learn the lesson: listen to citizens.

The recommendations of international organisations such as the UN and official reports recommending more social returns and balanced production have also been useless. [3]

The political class has allowed wealth to be squandered without judgement or common sense. The big speculators have doubled their wealth without reinvesting it in productive capital, in the real economy.

The levels of political corruption and tax evasion among the very wealthy in Spain is among the highest in Europe: 23% of tax fraud compared to an average of 13% in the EU, with 72% of this being perpetrated by big companies and people with great fortunes.a href=”#anc_4″>[4]

As at 2012, 30 of the 35 IBEX35 companies operate in tax havens. In 2007, at the start of the crisis, the figure was “only” 18. [5]
I’ll give you an example. In one Regional Parliament in Spain – the Autonomous Community of Valencia – after years of complaints and criminal proceedings for corruption, 10 of the 55 Members of Parliament from the most voted party in the current term (which is governing with an absolute majority), are currently accused in cases of corruption. 10 out of 55. And all of them conserve their certificates of election. Just think, if the 10 of them joined forces they would be the third strongest force in parliament. [6]

They’ve made you think that this is a country of lazy people who prefer not to work hard. They lied to you. [7]

We appreciate the fact that you, on the other hand, do consider us interlocutors. Because civil society has worked hard and come up with solutions. We are here today as members of the ‘15MpaRato Civic Platform‘ and we also identify as members of what is known as “the 15M movement”, but we don’t represent any group. We simply consider ourselves citizens. Further still, we are simply people. Europeans, but above all, people.

The political class has inherited the despotic forms that have no place in fully democratic States. As you’ve seen, we’re trying to change this. If we manage to do it, it will benefit everybody. Including yourselves.

You have given us this opportunity to talk to you, and we want to take advantage of it by suggesting we start working right away. Your decision to listen means that you realise where the answer might come from, and that it won’t come from destroying the people who live in a country, leaving them without schools, without hospitals, without work, without a future.
 

Although it is legitimate for you to want to protect your country’s investments in Spain, we hope that you will understand that enforcing torturous cutbacks to a people who have struggled to avoid the bubble that caused this situation on one hand, and injecting money secured and managed without transparency by our political class and our banks on the other, is not the way to achieve this aim.
 
We want to briefly explain this scenario in a little more depth.

1 – In spite of attempts to guarantee it through MoUs and the MEDe, the money lent to Spain now does not have a guaranteed return. Everything will end up being sucked into the black hole of banks, which, as you know, is infinitely greater than the current accounts suggest.
 
2 – On the other hand, there is the great swindle perpetrated on Bankia shareholders, for which 15MpaRato (among other prosecutors) has sued the 32 senior officials of Bankia before the National Court,a href=”#anc_8″>[8], and the great fraud of the preferential shares [9] endorsed by both the PSOE and the PP governments, has produced innumerable reports that will require incalculable compensation pay-outs, and will also put the returns on your investments at risk. In the case of the preferentials, courts have started to find against financial entities. [10]

And there will be more. Many more. It was fraud.

3 – The political proposals put forward by political groups so far are intended to perpetuate the same model that has been criticised for so many years. Reducing tax rates for big capital and increasing the precariousness of the rest of the population. Two examples are the upcoming reform of the Rental Act and recent health care and education reforms.

And here is another, quite graphic example. With the recent education cut-backs, it is more expensive to eat in the dining room of a primary school in Madrid than the cafeteria of the Regional Parliament. A school student pays more than a member of parliament. And that’s not all, if the student decides to take food from home, he or she has to pay a small fee to use the facilities – a new feature introduced this year. Again, this fee is higher than the price that a politician pays to eat lunch at the Parliament’s cafeteria. That’s right, the fee for ‘using’ the facilities. 3.80 euros per day. And of course, many of the grants to help disadvantaged students to eat at schools have been cut back. Families can’t deal with this, they simply can’t. [11]

It may not be necessary, but we want to remind you what can happen when a ruined and humiliated people are constantly trampled on, what this can lead to if there are great excesses. You know this only too well.
 
After World War I, your country’s debt was not cancelled. This turned out to be a fatal mistake for the whole of Europe. It wasn’t the same in World War II, and the consequences were very different. It’s important for us to learn from history.
 
We’re not saying that Germany should pay the bill for the Spanish crisis (we will pay it ourselves, if we are allowed to work and to change our society.)
And this is not intended to be emotional blackmail either. But allow me to mention the 1953 London Debt Agreement.

“Twenty countries affected by the war decided to pardon more than 50% of the external debt of defeated Germany, and extended the terms for decades. What was exceptional about this agreement was the fact that the debt repayment was dependent on economic growth and surplus in the trade balance. In addition, credit on generous terms was approved for the State and the private sector. Thanks to this, Germany managed to become integrated into the world’s economy and participate in global economic governance bodies. It was not an act of generosity, it was an intelligent decision that took into account the democratic degradation that Germany suffered after the economic decline in the early thirties, partly due to the enormous pay-outs of the Versailles Treaty after World War I, where it was forced to repay all its debt.

It’s striking that the last compensation payment from Germany to the United Kingdom for damages during World War I took place in 2010. The countries that agreed to pardon part of its debt include EU Member States that are now threatened by the European austerity plans being imposed at present.” [12]

If our people are not allowed to get back on their feet with the dignity they deserve, to change our politicians if we choose to do so, and to recreate jobs, if we do not stop stifling the population and small and medium business with cutbacks so that they cannot create wealth, real economy and quality of life, the whole of Europe will be dragged down.

This is something that you already know.
 
This is why we are asking for your help. Our government doesn’t listen to us.
We hope that you will.
 
Don’t ask for more cut-backs for ordinary people. Cut back those responsible for the crisis and the big speculators they have created.
 
Help us to go after those responsible for corruption and waste, to recover the money they have stolen, and make them pay those affected with their assets. Help us to make them obey the law, basically.
Ayúdennos a perseguir a los responsables de la corrupción y del despilfarro, recuperando el dinero sustraído y haciendo que paguen a los afectados con sus patrimonios. A cumplir la ley, vaya.

Help us to make controlled settlements of banks such as Bankia, which have proved to be enormous black holes managed irresponsibly, for political interests rather than their business capacity. And help us to do this prioritising the customers of the banks. Not just because it’s fair – which is the best reason – but also because a Europe of slaves and poverty will bring about your downfall too.

The MoU is a system that destroys bankruptcy rights and hinders the recovery of savings. This error is immoral and an attack on the principles of capitalism, on the risk-profit relationship, and will end up harming the entire system. [13]

Help us to set up a system of control in the ‘sound’ or wound-up banks so that credit can begin to flow once more to families and entrepreneurs, instead of the money continuing to disappear in bonuses for the executives who have caused the disaster in the first place.
 
The political class that has caused this crash now shelters behind total opacity. Proof of this is that Spain does not have any type of Transparency Legislation. And the worst thing is that the Legislation that is currently being prepared to hide this shameful fact is nothing but clumsy whitewash. [14]

If we had transparency, corruption and deficits like Bankia’s would not have been possible. Help us to demand Transparency Legislation that is worthy of the name, much like the Legislation that you have in your country.
 
In short, we ask you to listen to us and to be prepared to work with us to change the current state of things for the better.
 
Thank you.

15MpaRato

[1] Protest Poster from V de Vivienda, 2006
http://www.sindominio.net/v/bcn/wp-content/uploads/2006/09/cartel_castellano_puta1.jpg

Protests Photo Gallery. 20 Minutos, July 2006
http://www.20minutos.es/galeria/1288/0/12/

[2] Recompilation of studies, documents and papers from the web of Vivienda Digna, 2012http://www.viviendadigna.org/?documentos.php

Recompilation of studies, documents and papers from the web of V de Vivienda, 2006
http://web.archive.org/web/20061013073240/http://www.sindominio.net/v/bcn/?page_id=5

http://web.archive.org/web/20070711141446/http://madrid.vdevivienda.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=24&Itemid=94

[3] Crisis and mortgagors: actions and protests of the Ombudsman, January 2012http://www.defensordelpueblo.es/es/Documentacion/Publicaciones/monografico/Documentacion/Crisis_Hipotecas_2012.pdf

Special UNO Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, August 2012
http://direitoamoradia.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/A-67-286-SP.pdf

[4] GESTHA Paper, Sindicato de Técnicos del Ministerio de Hacienda, December 2011
http://www.gestha.es/?seccion=actualidad&num=221

[5] Nine of every ten IBEX 35 companies work in a Tax Haven. Diario económico Cinco Días, February 2012
http://www.cincodias.com/articulo/empresas/empresas-ibex-35-operan-paraisos-fiscales/20120209cdscdsemp_14/

[6] Blasco, charged with six crimes Diario El Pais, October 2012
http://ccaa.elpais.com/ccaa/2012/10/02/valencia/1349174299_605002.html

The charged Congressmen of the Popular Party would be the third political force in Valencia. Diario Digital El Boletín, October 2012
http://www.elboletin.com/index.php?noticia=61

[7] Who’s working most and who’s the most productive in Europe? El Blog Salmón, diciembre 2011
http://www.elblogsalmon.com/economia/quien-trabaja-mas-en-europa-y-cual-es-el-pais-mas-productivo

Germany, the European country with most paid holydays, Yahoo Finanzas, August 2012
http://es.finance.yahoo.com/blogs/finyahoofinanzases/alemania-pais-europeo-mas-dias-vacaciones-pagadas-151226499.html

[8] Legal Campaign. 15MPaRato’s website, 2012
https://15mparato.wordpress.com/campana-legal/

[9]The crime with the preferents shares. Diario La Opinión de Málaga, June 2012
http://www.laopiniondemalaga.es/opinion/2012/06/23/estafas-bancarias-preferentes/514804.html

[10] Novagalicia Banco, lost trial over preferent shares. Finanzas.com, July 2012
http://www.finanzas.com/noticias/mercados/20120715/primera-sentencia-condenatoria-novagalicia-1459801.html

[11] Anteproyecto de Ley de Medidas de Flexibilización y Fomento del Mercado de Alquiler de Viviendas, Ministerio de Fomento, agosto 2012
http://www.lamoncloa.gob.es/NR/rdonlyres/EEF65741-3DAB-40E5-B7D6-D9C4553CEFBA/211345/AlquilerViviendas.pdf

Bringing your own food to the school is more expensive than eating at Madrid´s Assembly cafeteria. Diario Digital Eldiadio.es, octubre 2012
http://www.eldiario.es/sociedad/Comer-tartera-cole-menu-diputados_0_53894809.html

Children taking food to the schools will have to pay 3 euros a day. Diario digital LaVoz.es, August 2012 
http://www.lavozdigital.es/cadiz/v/20120803/sociedad/ninos-catalanes-lleven-tupper-20120803.html

[12] Post about London’s Treaty, Blog http://migsinbrussels.wordpress.com/, February 2012
http://migsinbrussels.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/la-leccion-historica-que-alemania-no-quiere-recordar/

In today’s debt crisis, Germany is the US of 1931. Diario The Guardian, noviembre 2011
http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2011/nov/24/debt-crisis-germany-1931

[13] 15MPaRato’s website, 2012
https://15mparato.wordpress.com/a-toda-troika-le-llega-su-15m/

[14] Press note about Transparency Law. Access Info Europe, July 2011
http://cos.as/3qp

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