Thousands Surround Spanish Parliament in Bid to "Occupy Congress" and Stop Austerity
Continued from previous page
And then, on the other hand, you have the loss in faith—of faith in the institutions. Our finance minister, Luis de Guindos, is the former head of Lehman Brothers in Spain, and he was the head when Lehman Brothers collapsed. You know, the former head of the IMF, Rodrigo Rato, who also was finance minister under the PP, headed Bankia, this banking giant that is now being bailed out to the tune of 23 billion euros. That’s basically almost how much the total of the spending cuts for this year. That is how much Bankia is getting.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And can you say something, Maria—can you say something, Maria, about Rodrigo Rato’s role in the housing crisis, in particular?
MARIA CARRION: Rodrigo Rato came a little bit late into Bankia’s problems, but basically he was asked to handle this banking giant. It was basically several banks rolled into one that became this banking giant called Bankia, and he was asked to, you know, manage it. And what happened was that this banking giant basically had lent a lot of money to building companies that could not pay back their loans. They also—and it also was lending a lot of money to people who, you know, were mortgaging houses, who then could not return the money. So, basically what happened is that Bankia dug itself into a huge financial hole, while at the same time not informing the government, not informing the Bank of Spain, not informing the right institutions. And by the time that Rato quit, Bankia was asking for this huge public bailout. So, he is now being investigated and—by the Spanish National Court for mismanaging this bank.
AMY GOODMAN: Maria Carrion, we were in Spain just after the announcement came down, right at the time that the announcement came down that Rato would be investigated, and we were interviewing the—some of the organizers of the M15 movement, what some call the indignados, the "angry ones." Can you talk about how that movement, similar to the Occupy movement in the United States, is related to the current protests? Is it?
MARIA CARRION: Well, it’s—you know, it’s at the heart of these protests, really. In Spain, we’ve always had very organized unions, and we’ve, you know, always had social movements. But basically, you had protests on—you know, issue-based protests that would bring in hundreds or maybe, you know, occasionally thousands of people to the streets. With the 15M movement, what that has done is that it has brought everybody together. It also has mobilizing strategies that other organizations like the unions did not have, or instruments. And so, they’re able to organize a protest almost overnight. They also have very creative strategies for protesting. So, 15M is key to this.
I think that the identification of financial institutions and their very close relationship with politicians is also key, the fact that not only are we having protests at the Parliament, but we’re also having protests in front of banks or even occupation of bank branches. You see them spontaneously. You even have flamenco groups going in into a banking branch to protest, you know, what—home repossessions and, you know, singing songs and flamenco songs about, you know, the bank’s role in the crisis. So, I think the 15M movement has really brought it together. There’s definitely a before and an after.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Maria Carrion, before we conclude, I wanted to ask you—the protesters who were arrested yesterday are apparently going to be charged with crimes against the state. Can you explain what the implications of that are?