Activist Fought The Banks… Was Dragged Away By Police… Now Mayor of Barcelona, Kicking Banker A**

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Imagine for a second what would have happened in America if a simple Occupy Wall Street protester was elected as mayor in say… New York… or Washington, D.C.

Banker prosecutions, increased banker regulations, maybe banks which own empty houses would even be fined in order to force them to rent them out at the “market” rate to solve the current homeless situation…. The link between the halls of power and corporate corruption would instantly severed.

Well, imagine no more; a member of an activist movement has been elected as mayor… of Barcelona. Alas, America is once again playing catch-up.

The lady’s name is Ada Colau, and she was elected to the mayoral office in the capital city of Catalonia- an autonomous region in Spain which has been trying its darnest (and almost succeeding) at declaring independence.

She had co-founed an anti-eviction group caled Platform for People Affected by Mortgages, and is a member of the indignados or 15-m movement, an anti-austerity movement in Spain which had occupied town squares in Spain.

She has already made quite the impression, swearing that she will fine banks which own empty houses, stop people from being evicted, expand the provision of public housing, provide a 670 dollar monthly minimum wage, make utility companies lower their prices and <gasp> reduce HER OWN salary as mayor. I like her already.

Veteran journalist Amy Goodman had a word with her recently, here are a few notable bits of transcript which highlight just how similar Spain’s situation is to America’s:

 

ADA COLAU: [translated]:… We’ve had a form of government where the political elites had a cozy relationship with the economic elites who have ruined the economy of the country, and the ultimate representation of this was the behavior of the financial institutions, of the banks. They’ve defrauded thousands and thousands of people with abusive mortgages. They’ve evicted thousands of families, and they’ve ruined the country’s economy. And this has happened because of the cozy relationship between the political and economic elites.

In the face of this situation, where there have been losses of billions of euros, that have caused social cutbacks in areas as basic as healthcare and education, it’s caused, for example, in a city that’s rich like Barcelona, a city where there’s a lot of money and a lot of resources, the inequality has shot up. That means there are people that are getting more and more rich; at the same time, more people are getting poorer. So the middle class is disappearing…

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AMY GOODMAN: Ada Colau, two years ago you testified at a Spanish parliamentary hearing on Spain’s foreclosure crisis. On the panel, you spoke right after a representative of Spain’s banking industry. You famously turned to the banker and said, quote, “This man is a criminal and should be treated like one.” 

ADA COLAU: [translated] We have been negotiating for four years with the banks, with the public administration, with the courts, and therefore we know exactly what we’re talking about. And this leads me to question the voices of supposed experts, who precisely are the ones being given too much credit—pardon the irony—such as the representatives of financial institutions. We just had an example. I would say at the very least it was paradoxical, to use a euphemism, if not outright cynical, for the representative of financial institutions who just spoke, telling us that the Spanish legislation was great. To say that, when people are taking their own lives because of this criminal law, I assure you—I assure you that I did not throw a shoe at this man, because I believed it was important to be here now to tell you what I’m telling you. But this man is a criminal. And you should treat him as such. He is not an expert. The representatives of financial institutions have caused this problem. They are the very same people who caused the problem which has ruined the whole economy of this country. And you are treating these people as experts…

….The evictions and the interest rates have literally destroyed the lives of thousands of families. By “destroyed the lives,” I mean they’ve caused depression, diseases, even suicides.
The only thing I did was describe what I knew and what I had been living on the front lines for many years. When I encountered this banker who denied the reality and said there were no problems in Spain, when there were thousands of families in a dire situation, the least I could do was to denounce these lies and talk to them about what was happening in reality…

…In Spain, you have the paradox that while the corrupt politicians see the statute of limitations for their crimes lapse, and they make off without going to jail, the families who got into debt for something as basic as accessing housing become indebted forever, because it is impossible to forgive this debt…

the positive aspect of this was the birth of an exemplary people’s movement, which has succeeded in stopping thousands of evictions. That forced the banks to negotiate. And it showed that if our institutions did not resolve this problem, it was because our institutions were accomplices in this fraud

…You cannot leave something as important as economic policy and money, which has a social function, in the hands of speculation and private interests…

..banks, on the other hand, which have lied, defrauded and destroyed thousands of families, are forgiven for, for example, breaking the European consumer protection regulations…

…Throughout human history, it has happened this way. In order to defend rights and to win rights, many times it has been necessary to disobey unjust laws. Of course, now, as future mayor of Barcelona, I hope the police are going to be at the service of human rights, and not of the banks

 

The situation in Spain is basically a mirror image to the US’s. Why then, has Occupy not gained the traction needed to take over political office?

Well, why not?


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4 COMMENTS

  1. When in the world will we wake up as a whole people and take a stand just like this one woman did and now look at how the bankers are running scared? If only America was less afraid of change and more worried about the common everyday person, than maybe we could keep up with the real power of the people. But, I know it’s not possible anymore since American citizens have their heads shoved so far up their own asses that we will never do what needs to be done and the elite will always control us until we are all dead. I for one am ready to do what Ada Colau has done in every way but, I can’t do it alone.

  2. We need more people like her in the US, UK and other European countries. She is a role-model that can be used to smash the power these greedy governments “THINK” they have because we let them think so.

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