October 2014        

Sister Teresa wants out of the euro zone

Tomás Mac Síomóin

Spain now has the most politically active and liberal citizenry in Europe. Public outcry, expressed through huge marches in the main cities, has just forced the government to withdraw its proposed abortion legislation (in effect a regression to the Irish model), which was to replace the existing full freedom-of-choice regime.
      On the heels of this stepping down the minister for justice, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, a fervent anti-abortionist, resigned. Even his colleagues of the conservative and inappropriately named People’s Party (PP), assessing their own future electoral possibilities, distanced themselves from Gallardón’s campaign for a return to the Francoist past.
      A popular outcry organised by well-organised and enthusiastic citizens’ political organisations that operate outside the ambit of the discredited main political parties brought about this victory. These new forces were forged in massive street protests sparked by Troika-inspired austerity measures that led to job precariousness, major pay cuts (pushing a fifth of the population below the poverty level), thousands of evictions, and major cut-backs in all social services.
      Not satisfied with this “pound of flesh,” and in the absence (like Ireland) of real national sovereignty, the Troika calls for yet further cuts in salaries and social welfare. Widespread corruption and favour-trading associated with Spain’s two major political parties, the neo-liberal conservative PP and neo-liberal “socialists” of PSOE, fuel the growing political strength of these new left political forces.
      The limits of street protest were quickly realised by politically aware protesters; establishments react when their own political power is challenged in terms they know, those of electoral politics.
      The biggest new left organisation, Podemos (We Can), founded only last April, is now close to becoming Spain’s second-strongest political force. It is supported by the communist Izquierda Unida (United Left). Other citizens’ organisations with similar democratic ideals, articulating citizens’ concerns, have sprung up all over Spain, putting local political establishments on the defensive.
      The PSOE—whose supporters are leaving it in droves for Podemos—and its mainstream media allies vie with the PP by smearing these new adversaries as “Bolivarian”, Castroist, populist, communist. In fact the PSOE, by announcing its preference for a coalition with the PP rather than participating in some future broad left government, scuttled what is left of its “socialist” credentials. Such a rejection of socialism is not unknown in today’s Ireland.
      In Catalunya, apart from the by now well-established Podemos, citizens founded organisations with names such as Guanyem (Let’s win!) and Procés Constituent (PC). The latter was founded by Sister Teresa Forcades, a qualified and practising medical doctor, a Catalan separatist, and a feminist reprimanded by the Vatican for supporting abortion rights.
      A Benedictine nun in a country where the Catholic Church has sided with fascists and their ideological heirs, the PP, Sister Teresa is one of a new generation of dynamic female leaders of these new left formations. Her Procés Constituent calls on the Spanish government to leave the euro zone, to nationalise all banks, and to free Catalunya.
      Some idea of the spirit of the Procés Constituent, which mirrors that of Podemos and other linked left movements, can be gleaned from a statement calling on supporters to participate in demonstrations for Catalunya’s National Day, the 11th of September:
      “We wish to construct a new country, but not a new country ruled by the principles of greed, fraud and corruption but by solidarity and justice.
      “The struggle for sovereignty is none other than the fight for the people’s liberty. The financial power of Europe does not respect this liberty. We have seen the consequences of this in Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus, and here in Spain.
      “True independence can never exist while we are burdened by a yoke of debt nor in the grip of the Troika, nor yet when subjected to the blackmail of the risk premium and the whims of the ‘markets.’ There is also no real sovereignty without breaking with the corruption and culpable amnesia of the
[post-dictatorship] transition regime, which is built on silencing the victims of the Civil War and forty years of fascist dictatorship, that allowed the old oligarchies to remain in power, a regime against which we must continue to fight until we overthrow it.
      “We invite you to meet in front of the Deutsche Bank, because that bank, both in its national and international guises, is the major culprit of the crisis that our country and many others are suffering over the last six years. We want you to to be there because in recent years the Deutsche and other banks enriched themselves by speculating with the sovereign debt of the Mediterranean countries, using tax havens to evade taxes while at the same time financing the arms industry.
      “The Troika protects financial institutions at the expense of the public finances by imposing austerity plans that cancel the most fundamental rights, such as health and education, social welfare, aid for dependants . . . and so attacks popular sovereignty. We must take to the streets today to make it clear that not only do we want the sovereignty of Catalunya but also to fight against Troika policies that have left our people in the most profound misery . . .”
(Translated from Catalan.)
      Sister Teresa articulates accurately the feelings and demands of the Catalan and Spanish masses. Many Irish Catholics, and otherwise, subject to the same brutal and exploitative Troika regime will readily empathise with her stance.
      Irish convents (and others), please copy!

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