Spain: poor get poorer as ruling class squanders millions

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 231 February-March 2013

The Spanish economy is stagnant, and all international reports agree that 2013 will be another year of recession with unemployment set to rise further over the coming months, to 26%. However, the conservative Rajoy government is pushing ahead with its programme based on cuts to social services and handouts to the corrupt banking sector, reaping benefits for themselves from the privatisations they demand. As a result, waves of protests and strikes continue to sweep across Spain, and in the last months these have involved underground workers, rubbish collectors, students, airport staff, university professors, civil servants, hospital staff, lawyers and many others. JUANJO RIVAS reports from Madrid.


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Spain: Resistance and direct action

FRFI 230 December 2012/January 2013

Spain’s economic turmoil continues, throwing into question the EU’s ability to produce a way out of the crisis. The Spanish 2011 deficit has been revised up from 8.9 to 9.4% making it impossible for the government to meet its target of 6.3% of GDP. The EU bailout along with financial help to the banking sector has propelled Spanish public debt to a record 80%, which could reach 90% in 2013, the highest rate for a hundred years. Before the economic crisis struck, the figures showed Spain as having a low debt and a budgetary surplus. But the end of an economic period which had been based on a property bubble and the taking on of the losses of strategic banking entities brought serious problems for the country’s accounts. JUANJO RIVAS reports.


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Spain: resisting austerity and police brutality - Nov 2012

Spain’s economic turmoil continues, throwing seriously into question the EU’s ability to produce a way out of the crisis. The Spanish 2011 deficit has been revised up from 8.9 to 9.4%, due to the state’s funding of private banks, making it impossible for the government to meet its target of 6.3% of GDP. The EU bailout as well as the financial help to the banking sector has propelled Spanish public debt to a historic high, which could reach 90.5% in 2013, the highest rate for a hundred years. Interestingly enough, before the economic crisis struck, the figures showed Spain as having a low debt and budgetary surplus. But the end of an economic period which had been based on a property bubble, and the taking on of the losses of strategic banking entities, brought serious problems for the country’s accounts.


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Spain: Following in the footsteps of Greece

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 229 October/November 2012

On 6 September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Spanish President Mariano Rajoy to discuss the Spanish crisis and issue instructions to her counterpart. On the same day, the European Central Bank (ECB) agreed to buy unlimited debt of any eurozone member which requested financial aid; ECB President Mario Draghi stated that any recipient would be subject to ‘strict conditions’. Four Spanish Autonomous Communities have already requested funds from the central state. It is only a matter of time before Rajoy’s cabinet is forced to request a new bailout. JUANJO RIVAS reports.


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Urgent letter from Spain

Protest in Spain

We are living through dramatic times over here and I feel compelled to write to you, with the hope that you can spread the truth. Thousands of Spaniards, with more each day, seek work in your country and may get involved in discussions with you on the streets about the situation in Spain.


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Spain goes begging to EU: resistance grows

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 228 August/September 2012

On 25 June, the Spanish government officially requested an EU bailout for those banks which are on the verge of bankruptcy. Spain has become the fourth country to ask for a bailout, after Greece, Portugal and Ireland, and will shortly be followed by Cyprus. The EU Commission agreed a €100bn package to preserve Spain’s financial stability, in a deal that includes a right for the European Commission, European Central Bank and European Banking Authority to conduct on-the-spot checks of Spain’ financial institutions. JUANJO RIVAS reports.


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Arrests in Britain as Spain steps up war on Basque nationalists

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 228 August/September 2012

Despite the announcement by the Basque nationalist group ETA in October 2011 that it was ending its armed struggle for independence, there has been no let-up in the Spanish state’s assault on Basque nationalists across Europe. On 13 July, Benat Atorrasagasti Ordonez was arrested in Edinburgh, after living openly in Britain since 2001, ‘in connection with historical crimes’ allegedly committed in France and Spain over ten years ago. Two weeks earlier, Antonio Troitino and Ignacio Leron were arrested during police raids in west London. Troitino had previously served 24 years of a prison sentence in Spain and was released in 2011, following a court ruling that six years he had served on remand should count towards the sentence. Under Spanish law, the maximum sentence is 30 years. He fled to Britain in the face of a sustained media campaign against him in Spain. The Spanish interior ministry then decided he should now serve the six years and issued an arrest warrant.


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Spanish Miners Fight Back

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In the context of a stagnant economy, while a €100 billion bailout has saved Spanish banks from disaster, other sectors are being left to die. The cuts to the Spanish coal mining industry are draconian and have led to a radical reduction of subsidies for companies, investment in infrastructures, projects, safety and educational programmes. Overall, there is an average cut in the sector of 63.2% and a promotion of forced early retirements and redundancies that leave miners with poverty-level pay-outs. Both social democrats and conservatives have pursued these policies for years, causing high unemployment, severe poverty and also growing outrage in the vast areas where the coal industry is located, mainly in the north of the country (León, Asturias, Galicia and Aragón). Some regions are barely able to survive and whole families having been pouring out onto the streets in protest, following the tradition of courageous struggle we’ve seen so many times in Spanish history. In Britain, former miners and trade unionists have set up the Spanish Miners’ Solidarity Committee in Sheffield, supported by fimmaker Ken Loach, to campaign and raise funds for the families of Spanish fellow workers. JUANJO RIVAS reports from Spain.


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Fightback in Spain grows: ‘the movement will itself become the future’

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 227 June/July 2012

In France and Italy, voices are being raised against harsh ‘adjustment programmes’ imposed by the EU; the Greek people look poised to reject them altogether. But the Portuguese and Spanish governments are setting a fine example of budgetary discipline and obediently slashing public spending, rapidly exacerbating poverty and inequality. But as the attacks increase, so does the resistance. The Spanish movement born on 15 May last year (15M) has celebrated its anniversary by once again occupying streets and squares across the country. JUANJO RIVAS reports from Spain.


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Spain: Austerity plans face growing resistance

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 226 April/May 2012

In February, the 2012 growth forecast for the Spanish economy was revised down from 2.3% to a decline of 1.7%. Immediate negotiations started with the European authorities, given the impossibility of meeting Spain’s commitment to reducing the deficit from 8.5% to 4.4% this year. The new agreement with Brussels sets the figure at a difficult to achieve 5.3%, requiring 35 billion euros of cuts. The government of Mariano Rajoy wants to prove its commitment to European capitalism, at whatever cost to the Spanish people. JUANJO RIVAS reports from Spain.


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Spain: corruption and social struggle

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 225 February/March 2012

Mariano Rajoy - Prime Minister of Spain

On 21 December 2011 Mariano Rajoy was sworn in as the new Spanish President. The success of his conservative Popular Party exposed the decay of the social democratic Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party and their worn-out popularity. It took no more than nine days for Rajoy’s government to raise taxes, although during his election campaign he repeatedly stated that he was determined not to do so. From the start of his presidency, Rajoy made it very clear that he would impose the austerity policies demanded by France and Germany. Yet despite this, the IMF predicts a new recession in 2012. JJ RIVAS reports.


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Spain: On the march against austerity

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 224 December 2011/January 2012

On 20 November, exactly 36 years after the death of the fascist General Franco, the conservative People’s Party (PP) won a landslide victory in the Spanish general election. This was expected: there was massive disaffection with the previous Socialist Party (PSOE) government because of the austerity measures it adopted in the face of Spain’s economic crisis. Throughout the electoral campaign, the PP and its leader Mariano Rajoy were intentionally vague about what they intended to do that would be different; however, Rajoy has said that the key to recovery is ‘increasing trust and confidence’, reducing public debt via cuts in social expenditure and ‘fulfilling demands from the EU’. Juanjo Rivas reports.


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Spain: revolt of the outraged

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 221 June/July 2011

‘My voice is broken, body exhausted but heart full of hope. After long years of frustration, collective dreams are on the march...How to begin to describe the Syrian man who couldn’t continue on the mic and burst into tears when thousands shouted ‘Long live the struggle of the Syrian people’?...Or the Colombian brothers agitating and embraced by us, the extraordinary moment as thousands raised their arms in a silence full of wrath, the unemployed sobbing and explaining how they can’t afford dental assistance? This is the closest thing to May 1968 I could have ever imagined. You can sense solidarity and anger in the air.’


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Spain Workers pay for the crisis

FRFI 215 June /July 2010

On 12 May Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced a package of economic measures aimed at reducing the country’s deficit. This will involve severe cuts in social spending, pay and benefits – something Zapatero had for months declared himself unwilling to do. He also announced the imminent reform of the labour market. This

U-turn follows pressure from the EU and Washington, desperate to prevent the ‘Greek situation’ from spreading and dragging the euro down.

The mass media praised this ‘brave’ move that will save the state €5 billion  in 2010 and €10 billion in 2011. The civil servants whose wages will be slashed by an average 5%, retired pensioners whose income will be frozen, or those with disabled relatives no longer entitled to benefits, have a very different perspective. The social democratic PSOE government has once again revealed its true colours: protecting the bosses and making the poor pay for a crisis that others caused.


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Spanish people oppose war, terrorism and lies

FRFI 178 April / May 2004

March has been a month of death, grief, rage, social unrest and political punishment in Spain. On 11 March, exactly 911 days after the 11 September 2001 attacks in New York, 12 bombs went off in Madrid, leaving 202 people dead and 1,500 injured. The effect on the population has been a reinvigoration of disgust at the war on Iraq, which was opposed by 90% of Spaniards. There was also immense anger at the government’s handling of the crisis, which took place just three days before the general elections. The authoritarianism and blatant lies told by Aznar’s People’s Party (PP) led to them being voted out and to the completely unexpected victory of the social democratic Labour Party (PSOE), who won almost three million more votes than in 2000.

Despite its name, the PP is a bourgeois right-wing party. Most of its leading members have economic, ideological and family ties to the national-Catholic dictatorship of General Franco. Eight years of conservative government have deepened the process of total privatisation begun by the social democrats in the early 1990s. The remains of the public sector have been dismantled; there has been speculation on the housing market and regressive tax reforms. Two Basque newspapers have been closed down and the Basque party Batasuna banned. There have been cuts in social expenditure, protest has been criminalised and the rate of growth has been sustained by poverty pay at home and aggressive economic interventionism abroad.


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