Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spanish riots

 Ah yes, the IMF riots—the logical and expected outcome of the sort of "structural adjustments" those insane people cook up at the behest of finance capitalism.  This, remember, is not new.  These lovely people have been causing crippling human misery around the world more or less continuously since  I first started following their actions in 1982.

So now they have turned their guns on Spain.  And the Spanish people are having none of it.  I have no idea why they have responded more violently than say, the Irish or the Estonians, but I think part might be that since the IMF has been clobbering Latin America for over 30 years, much of the really good anti-IMF writing has been done in Spanish.

We can only wish the Spaniards well.  Someone must ultimately stand up to the thieves that run the international financial organizations.  Might as well happen on the Iberian Peninsula.  But no, I have no intention of joining a new Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

The Spanish public won't accept a financial coup d'etat

Spain's government is right to fear the public reaction to this new round of suffering mandated by the financial markets
Katharine Ainger, Tuesday 25 September 2012

The attempt by the Spanish "Occupy" movement, the indignados, to surround the Congress in Madrid has been compared by the secretary general of the ruling rightwing People's party (PP) to an attempted coup.

Spanish democracy may indeed be in peril, but the danger is not in the streets. According to the Financial Times, the EU has been in secret talks with the economy minister Luis de Guindos to implement further austerity measures in advance of Spain requesting a full bailout. On Thursday the government will announce structural reforms and additional spending reductions, on top of the already huge cutbacks in health and education.

Pre-empting the bailout conditions means the government is able to retain the illusion of sovereignty.

In reality, Spain is on the brink of insolvency and under huge pressure to accept a rescue package. In return, the eurozone's fourth largest economy will have to surrender sovereign and financial control to the IMF, the European commission, and the European Central Bank.

If talk of a financial coup d'etat sounds far-fetched, consider this statement from a recent Goldman Sachs report: "The more the Spanish administration indulges domestic political interests … the more explicit conditionality is likely to be demanded." That's banker-speak for, "We can do this the easy way, or the hard way."

Meanwhile, in his heroic denials that a bailout is even necessary, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy increasingly resembles Saddam Hussein's information minister continuing to insist the Americans were fleeing and killing themselves by the hundreds at the city's gates, even as Baghdad was falling. Rajoy's strategy of denial has form. In June he insisted Spanish banks would not need to be bailed out, two weeks before they were. This paternalistic, old-fashioned attempt to mould public opinion in the face of reality seems to indicate that, as many local commentators have observed, the Spanish administration is operating "as if it didn't know the internet existed".

Maintaining the illusion of sovereignty is important, because Rajoy does not want to go down in history as the author of Spain's humiliation. There is an infamous picture of Indonesia's President Suharto signing away economic control in 1998, as the head of the IMF looms over him, arms folded, smiling. Rajoy is desperate to avoid such a scene, all too aware that the governments of Greece, Portugal and Ireland fell after being forced to ask for bailouts that imposed further austerity on their populations.

The PP also wants to avoid asking for a rescue package before crucial elections in Galicia and the Basque country on 21 October. But if Rajoy further delays in asking for a rescue, he could suffer the same fate as Berlusconi, removed from power last year and replaced by a an ex-Goldman Sachs technocrat after a run-in with the European Central Bank.

The main problem for Rajoy is that what Goldman Sachs calls "indulging domestic political interests" the rest of us call "democracy". more
You know banksters, the problem of mass unemployment is that you wind up with millions of angry people with little to lose—with skills and too much free time.  Once they figure out who the bad guys are...

‘NO’! Thousands flood Madrid in second day of anti-cuts demos

27 September, 2012

Thousands of Spaniards have returned to Madrid’s Plaza de Neptune to protest the latest, highly contentious wave of austerity measures, following a violent police crackdown on Tuesday.

For the second day running, thousands of demonstrators led by the so-called indignados, or outraged, descended on the square – some 100 meters from Spain’s Congress building. Many in the crowd chanted "government, resign!" while hoisting up placards bearing the slogan “No” in opposition to the country's austerity program.

There was a tense standoff between demonstrators and police, who have formed a security cordon around the square. Police eventually yielded, as the protesters poured onto the square amidst jubilant cheers.

Pamphlets have been circulating through the crowd imploring those present not to repeat Tuesdays’s mistakes. The tract implores those present not to provoke the police, giving them a pretext to cripple the event, and has recommended a sit in protest.

Minor scuffles have periodically broken out between protesters, though in each case they quickly were resolved without police intervention.

The demonstrators are calling for new elections, saying the proposal of deeper budget cuts proves the ruling Popular Party has lost its legitimacy by failing to keep its promises.

The Bank of Spain said Wednesday that the country, where one in four faces unemployment, is in the grips of a deep depression.

Evictions have also skyrocketed across Spain as thousands have failed to repay bank loans. Many protesters were particularly enraged that the government was making cuts to health, education and public sector salaries while pumping funds into the country's ailing banking sector to keep it afloat.

Clashes erupted Tuesday between protesters and police, who used batons and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

The violent protest led to 38 arrests and 64 injuries, including eight police officers. The growing tensions come as the government is preparing a new round of austerity measures in its draft budget for 2013 on Thursday. (more with many pictures)

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