News from the debt crisis in Spain and the rise of a global response


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21 de Mar 2013
Krisis? Germany at the centre of economic turbulence
The latest German unemployment figures, the lowest in 20 years, prompt us to consider the attributes of an accumulation model that has allowed the country to so far avoid the worst impact of the crisis.
Isidro López, member of Madrid´s Metropolitan Observatory 
Translated by
Esther Ortiz Vázquez & Juan Martin Rodriguez
Many aspects of the Euro crisis have their roots in deep political changes in the post-unified Germany. The traditional structures of the corporatist capitalism in the Rhineland consisted of both domestic industrial and financial schemes. These schemes, although controlled by the German industrial elite, also incorporated the very-powerful German Fordist unions. However, this establishment no longer exists.
The German industrial capitalists had been trying since the early ´60s to "bypass" the financial-industrial credit networks by seeking finance from the eurodollar markets in London. For these industrial elites, the Fordist social pact allowed them to contain the working class struggle at manageable levels but was also widely seen as an obstacle to maximizing profits.
The key political move was the 2010 Agenda from the Socialdemocracy of Shroder and, look out, the Green Party. Between them they have gone about breaking up these Fordist holdings through fiscal reforms and capital deregulations. The process involves transnational financial institutions pressurising to create "open" financial structures that they are then able to enter, generate profits and exit. These kind of structures diametrically oppose those that connected the network of middle-men and elites with productive territories and economic sectors in a stable and organized manner.
From the destruction of this second type of financial structure come two kinds of interrelated results. On the one hand, a large mass of capital linked to local manufacturing cycles is released, estimated at one billion euros
–approximately the Spanish GDP-, to be invested in financial markets.
Thereby an elite consisting of globalized financial yuppies is born
with a social typology which is quite different to the “Rhineland
capitalist, an industrial captain who takes positions within the
political system. On the other hand, and less well-known, in this
very movement, Germany loses control of its more strategic productive hubs while transnational financial capital, American “hedge funds” in particular, take over 50% of the more important DAX companies (the Spanish IBEX counterpart) imposing a strict income discipline; the so-called “shareholder value”. In brief, if you have to fire 40,000 workers to save your dividend you do it. That is to say, during this process Germany loses control of its higher quality assets as well as its ability to rule over its labor-capital relationship.
The gross amount released during this process will end up in two places. Firstly, it is going to be invested en masse in property market bubbles both in Spain and in the USA, especially in subprime-lending, which is the root cause of the huge banking crisis Germany is currently passing through (currently in stand-by mode). And secondly, it goes towards acceleration of the outsourcing process to Eastern countries, taking advantage of investment channels and exploiting the cheap labour created by the brutal shock-therapy policies carried out by the European Union and the IMF in the 90s. From now on, assisted by the traditional State policy support given by the major unions, a savage assault on the German workforce is going to be launched. Germany is the only OECD country where real wages have been going down for seven consecutive years (2000-07) while its customary productivity has plummeted due to, amongst other things, the establishment of longer working days, at the same salary levels (with union consent), without a corresponding increase in technological power. As was to be expected, the result has been the loss of three million from union membership in a decade. 
The banking crisis alongside the budding social crisis are two good explanations for the strategic alliance forged between Germany and the financial powers which is designed to politically manage the euro crisis in exchange for the opportunity for Germany to fund itself at a low price in the markets. The aftermath is obvious, postponing the banking adjustment and holding back, through public expenditure, the collapse of the colossal fordist German middle-class.
In conclusion, we are not talking about exonerating Germany of blame for its European policies, whose goal have always been to avoid taking charge of any responsibility related to wealth redistribution at a continental level (a level at which they have sought to control the accumulation of capital), but rather the rebuilding of the chain of command imposed by the financial powers to better combat them.
01 de Oct 2012

By Patricia Manrique / Translated by Juan Martín Rodríguez

The institutional violence and the tension being created the security forces of Spain and Morocco in their border region has is on the increase again. Similarly to the sad events of 2005, civil organisations are reporting an escalation in the situation in terms of massive expulsions, an unknown number of injured and two casualties already (a migrant in December of 2011 and a Moroccan soldier in July of 2012). According to Prodein, a non-governmental organization (NGO) from Melilla (Spain), the alarming similarity between these events and those that occurred in 2005 is all too obvious.

“There are daily raids between the Moroccan cities of Nador and Oujda since December of 2011. This suggests large scale expulsions from the Algerian border region”, says David Cantero, the General Coordinator in Morocco of the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). This NGO, located in both Nador and Oujda, condemns the fact that violent attacks on Sub-Saharan migrants has more than doubled from 15% in April of 2012 to 34% in July of 2012. “The patients say that their injuries have been caused by the Moroccan security forces”.

Furthermore, the Association Marocaine des Droits de l’Homme (AMDH) condemns the plight of the migrants in their last report. According to the report, “during 2011, the Moroccan police deported Sub-Saharan migrants to the Moroccan-Algerian border in inhumane conditions, ignoring the administrative and judicial requirements”. The AMDH says the situation bears the ominous hallmarks of the “bloody events that occurred in the Ceuta and Melilla areas in august of 2005”.

Unfortunately, the raids and brutality remain key tactics, ensuring the migrants remain defenceless and desperate. Experience indicates that this results in the migrants becoming more reckless and impetuous, causing incidents such as the mass jump of the fence and the ’occupation’ of Tierra island. “Events like these only occur in desperate contexts. These risky attempts to cross the border are the consequence of the intimidating approach of the Moroccan security forces”, says Jose Palazón from Prodein. While not denying the influence of local and international gangs, Palazón emphasizes the responsibility of the respective governments. Regarding the ’occupation’ of Tierra island, he wonders if this might be “tolerated” - or even encouraged – “in order to put pressure on Spain facing the forthcoming ’high-level meeting’ with Morocco.”

Despite these condemnations, the Spanish and Moroccan government representatives seem to have agreed upon their response. They have chosen to evade all responsibility, contrary to international legislation, by blaming the raids and illegal deportations on the gangs. “The mafias should not try to increase their profits from human trafficking”, says Abdelmalik El Barkani, the Government of Melilla’s delegate.

Economic-political interests

The Spanish and the Moroccan government agree not only about immigration but also about other mutual problems. In January, Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish President, and Abdelilah Benkiran, his Moroccan counterpart, arranged the forthcoming ’high-level meeting’, the first one since 2008. It will take place on October 3rd, aiming to define the economic and trading relations between the two nations. Most likely, the talks will be focused on issues such as illegal immigration, drug traffic and the agriculture and fishing agreements with the European Union (EU). According to other analysts, topics concerning Western Sahara self-determination and Ceuta and Melilla might also be on the agenda. Prior to this meeting, the Spanish-Moroccan Parliamentary Forum discussed economic cooperation on renewable energy (Acciona, the Spanish company, is very interested in the Moroccan market) as well as the automobile and the fishing industry.

Meanwhile, the Spanish Interior Minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, travelled to Rabat to “enhance cooperation on immigration”. In other words to ratify the agreement, initiated by his predecessor Pérez Rubalcaba, to create two Spanish-Moroccan police stations located in Tangier and Algeciras. Both Palazón and José Alonso, member of the Human Rights Association of Andalucia, believe the dramatic escalation of the situation in the border region is a consequence of these agreements.

Illegal activity in Tierra Island

On September 4th, under the guise of taking into care women and children, the Spanish government expelled 73 migrants that had occupied Tierra island, located just off the Moroccan coast, and placed them into the hands of the Moroccan Army (who have a history of dumping people in similar circumstances in no man’s land along the border with Algeria). Gadem, the human rights organisation, confirmed that some migrants have already started the return journey. Neither Spain nor Morocco verified the nationality of the migrants nor guaranteed their safety during the mass expulsion which should have been covered under a 1992 agreement regarding the readmission of illegal immigrants to Morocco. The illegality of the action has been condemned by several NGOs such as SOS Racism, Amnesty International, APDH-Andalucia and the Spanish Commission to Refugee Aid who say this action that will be investigated by the Ombudsman and the European Commission.

[This article was originally published in Spanish on September 17th, 2012]

27 de Sep 2012

By María Carrión (Democracy Now!)

Coverage of the anti-austerity protests going on at the Spanish Parliament on September 25th, a massive civil desobedience action "to rescue the Congress from the abduction of the financial markets".

The Spanish protests stemmed from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s plans to unveil further austerity measures on Thursday. According to Carrion, for weeks the government has been unveiling "a series of new measures that affect primarily education and health and salaries and the welfare of Spanish people." Many protestors cited a loss of confidence in elected leaders as another source of discontent. Thousands of civilians surrounded the Parliament, one of whom pleaded with the government to "Bail us out. Don’t cut education. Don’t cut healthcare."

After hours of protest, police in riot gear charged against demonstrators with batons and fired rubber bullets into the crowd. A peaceful crowd of protestors came back on the following day and are planning to demonstrate again next Saturday.

[This article was originally published on Democracy Now!]

20 de Ago 2012

By D. F. (Setmanari La Directa / Translated by Robert Dyas and Susana Macías Pascua

The family of Juan Pablo T., 41 years old, have yet to hear anything concrete about the circumstances of his death. They became aware of his demise 14 days after the event. Up until then they were under the impression he was a missing person. On Monday 30th July, they arrived in Barcelona from Argentina after several days of fruitless searching for their loved one, born 24th July in La Plata, Argentina. They knew that his family had lived for 7 years in Girona. On the 11th July, Juan Pablo entered the police station alive having being detained violently in the street. Today, his parents are here to collect his body. The information available is still very confused and the events may have taken place up to 18 days ago. According to the version of the family, after he was detained, the victim was transferred to the station of the Mossos d’Esquadra (pan-Catalonian police force) in Vista Alegre, Girona. This contrasts with the information received from the Mossos communications department which claims that the detention and subsequent internment of the victim were carried out by the municipal police force in Girona. According to La Directa, the official municipal police version is that Juan Pablo T. was detained in Emili Grahit street after a pursuit. He was accused of stealing a car and transferred to the police station.

Once in the cell, according to the Girona municipal police, Juan Pablo tried to hang himself with his t-shirt, an act apparently recorded by videocameras. The officers tried to revive him while contacting the ambulance service who managed to stabilise him upon their arrival and transfer him to Trueta hospital. The municipal police justify the lack of information given to the family by claiming that “he was alive when he left the station” and that the responsibility of communicating the death lay with the health services or with the judge, under instruction number 4, that records the cause of death. This version was published by Diari de Girona (local newspaper) on 12th July.

A family without information and contradictory reports

Hours after the detention, some friends of Juan Pablo arrived at the station to enquire as to his situation. They were informed that he had been transferred to Trueta hospital having tried to hang himself. One friend went to the hospital where the doctors told him the damage caused by asphyxiation was irreversible and he feared for Juan Pablo’s life. The friend was the only person to have seen him after the arrest and he states that the body of Juan Pablo had multiple wounds and bruises on the head, ribs, arms, neck and generally showed signs of having been beaten.

Juan Pablo T. was admitted in the hospital at 4:32 am on 11th July, in an ambulance coming from the police station. He died on 14th July. An undertaker removed his body the next day at 12:50 pm. The death of the detainee was not mentioned anywhere and his family in Argentina was not informed.

According to the family, the police also neglected to contact the Argentinean diplomacy corps in the Spanish State, to whom they are required to report the arrests of their citizens. The first news received by the Consulate of Argentina in Barcelona was the claim of the family.

Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and Argentinean pro-human rights organizations such as The Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS, in the Spanish abbreviation) or the Coordinating Committee for Human Rights (CDDHH) from the National University of Lanus in Argentina (UNLA) have already communicated their support to the family. In addition, the Committee for Prevention and Criminal Complaint of Torture (CPDT) is also placed at the family’s disposal.

Third death held in custody during 2012

On 1st January, Sergio E.C., aged 34, died in a ICU room of the Hospital of Manresa (Barcelona), where he was admitted after being arrested by the Mossos d’Esquadra on the 30th December. His family reported that he had been assaulted by the police, fact that was denied by Felip Puig, Interior minister of the Generalitat. Only five days later, Idrissa Dialo, a 21-year-old Guinean youth who was imprisoned in the CIE (detention centre for foreigners) of the Zona Franca (Barcelona) –where the National Police Corp holds custody- died due to lack of medical care.

Similar events happened on 31st August 2011 in Manresa, when a local young man, arrested by the Mossos as he was escaping from the police because his papers were not in order, went into a coma whilst being held in police custody in the Hospital of Sant Joan de Deu of Manresa. After several days, Mustafa El Marrachki passed away. The official police version claimed it had been a suicide, but the family always maintained that it is practically impossible for “a person who is arrested, handcuffed and held in police custody in a hospital to attempt suicide without anyone noticing it and intervening”. On 23rd September 2011, half a million people gathered together in Manresa to demand “Truth and Justice”.

[This article was originally published in Catalan on August 22nd, 2012]


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