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Issue #1584      March 6, 2013

To save what belongs to everyone

Interview with Francisco Molina Martinez

Francisco Molina Martinez is a representative member of IU (United Left) in Zamora Town Hall, Zamora Spain. Zamora has 68,000 inhabitants and it is located 250 kilometres north west of Madrid. He is a mathematics professor, a member of the Spanish Communist Party and IU, an organisation that unites a number of left wing organisations. Currently, he is a Town Councillor of Zamora Town Hall and a Member of Parliament for Zamora

Francisco Molina Martinez.

He tells me that the reason for the two positions is not because of selfishness! It is because you can’t be a Member of Parliament if you are not a Town Hall councillor.

Martinez studied physical sciences and he passed the selection text to lecture in maths. Currently he is a retiree and he has more time for politics which he thinks is his real vocation!

MH: What measures are the government putting into place for the crisis? People on the streets are worried about the fall in their quality of life.

FMM: The Spanish government is applying the measures that are being dictated by the powerful in Europe; the bankers, the big owners of the land, the holders of great fortunes. They are applying measures much in favour of the ones who have the most and this is wrong. The crisis is happening because the money is accumulated at the top with the wealthy ones.

The popular class don’t have enough to survive and this popular class are the ones who must consume enough so the economy does not grind to a halt. Every working class family consumes less than a rich family but because the great majority are the working class these are the ones who move the economy. We need to have progressive tax systems where those who have more should pay more. We should also put a stop to the tax havens and shelters and that money be redirected to the pensioners and unemployed and for health and education. The government is doing the contrary; cutting working class conditions and these measures are producing indignation in a lot of people. The government is wrong and at times it admits to it.

I often give this example to people: “If a doctor gives a sick person the wrong medication soon he will see the patient is not improving but if on top of it they double the dosage the patient will get sicker”. This is what is happening in Spain because of the actions the government is taking.

What are the unions and working class saying about these measures the government is implementing?

The unions when everything was going well were applauding the capitalist system and acknowledging it had some faults, but they fell for their tricks and thought it was the best system in the world. Now they are opening their eyes and they see this society is false. On one side they could do business and on the other side the people were thinking it is the best system, better than other alternatives like socialism or communism.

The unions, when they realised what was happening, got a shock and they realised they needed the workers but the workers at this moment don’t trust the unions because they were allied with the employers and they signed agreements with many reductions in wages and conditions.

Now the unions are working hard to gain the trust of the working class because they need the workers and we are recycling ideas and adopting new measures. We are planning a peaceful revolution like the Arab Spring. We are organising big demonstrations and trying to remove this Popular Party (PP) government so it won’t stay the whole term in power, otherwise it may bury us alive. We are hopeful for a new force with a different program from the one they are imposing on us.

And what are the unions like CCOO and UGT recommending at this time?

Like I was saying before, the unions have to change and now they realise that the most important issue is to save what belongs to everyone. It is important that health remains in public hands, education too and that pensions are guaranteed and their finances are solvent and strong.

During the socialist government of Felipe Gonzalez in the ’90s he started to privatise health. It did not achieve anything. The debt is higher now than then. The unions now are acting in defence of and they are trying to protect and save the welfare of the state

What is the level of unemployment?

The working class has little money to spend, people are not consuming, the unemployed can not consume and in the last Labour Reform Law it allows the employer to sack a worker from one day to the next without payment or compensation.

Currently people are not spending even if they have a job because they are afraid they may lose their jobs and won’t be able to feed their families. In this situation the small business people do not sell and if they do not sell they do not order from factories and the factories are sacking employees and the unemployment rate is growing at a fast rate.

We are over five million at the moment and it will go to six million before the end of the year and of course the youth are the most affected and their rate is higher. Work has to be shared in today’s industrialised world and we should not allow unlimited hours of work for workers.

Is everything being privatised? What is public?

The three pillars of society to improve people’s wellbeing, health, education and pensions, they are not privatised yet because the unions are putting up a fight, but there is a danger in that they want to privatise the education system. There was a small sector of private education and it was always spoilt and promoted, boosted and defended by the PP and PSOE [parties]. But we still have a public education system of quality, prestige, solvency and reliability.

With health the PP tried to divert lots of operations to private clinics with the excuse that the public hospitals could not meet all the demands placed on them. This is the first step to dismantling the public system and making it private, the same as with the pensions. They want to reduce the pensions to minimum, unliveable levels so if people want to have money at their retirement they are promoting a system of private funds for pensioners. The same for health and education but what usually happened, those private funds are usually a fraud, usually they go bankrupt and it is the taxpayers, society, who at the end the pays! The PSOE tried to privatise the lottery system “El Godo” but no one came forward. The companies were bankrupt. They will privatise everything they can to make money.

And the GST, is it going to go higher?

The GST [goods and services tax] is an unjust tax as it is an indirect tax in the pyramid society. The number of rich people are less than the working class and a rich person consumes more than a working class one, but because it is larger the working class consumes more and if the GST goes up they are charging the working class. In Spain the GST was at 18%, now is going to go up to 21%.

But the worst is that like in other countries there was a reduced GST for certain consumer goods like books, medications, nappies etc. It was only 4%, now it is going up to 18% or 21% and this increase is not going to help. If a family everyday has less money and everything is more expensive, if before they couldn’t afford things, now they will have even less ability to consume. This will lead to a collapse of the economic system. This is the last hit to the working class, the increase in the GST of all consumer goods. There are no exemptions or exclusions; all consumer goods now carry a GST.

What is going to happen to the people who pay no taxes and where do they hide their money?

If there is less consumption, there is less revenue taken and so the revenue is less and less. The other way to reduce the deficit and to increase the revenue is to reduce expenditure. Like what are we doing in the Afghanistan war? We can save expenditure there. What are we doing feeding the Catholic Church, we can save there; what are we doing keeping up the royal family, we can save there.

There are many other areas of money wasting; especially nothing is done to protect the average citizen.

Our theory in IU is that the taxes have to increase progressively. People who earn more should pay more. Now the super rich only pay 50 percent but in the past in the crisis in 1929 they paid much more in the USA. According to our research in IU the black money that currently is in circulation is astronomical and it could save the crisis of all European nations. Spain has 500€ billion [in the black economy], more than any other European country.

There are two types of money that don’t pay taxes; one is the black money and the other is the hidden money in tax havens.

The president Mariano Rajoy has put in place an amnesty for anyone with black money to come forward and they will only pay 10 percent penalty to legalise the money and with this amnesty they won’t be charged legally. Recently they released the figures and only a few people have come forward.

When selling a unit or apartment and they did not charge the GST when they should, that money was not declared. A lot of the black money comes from the mafia, selling drugs, illegal arms trade, prostitution.

The tax inspectors are telling their managers “We need to catch the big fish and also we need more inspectors and to act in cooperation with the police because of the larger illegal amount of money we are talking about”.

When the capitalist crisis started, the affluent classes were better prepared to benefit themselves from the crisis and we see now that the sacrifices are made by the working classes of Greece or Spain.

Here in Spain, they always have ruled us, the political parties that supported the right wing in politics and the big fortunes, they always made the laws to suit themselves.

We need to pay taxes so the society in which we live has good services and good ways of communication, a well harmonised society. It does not happen in Spain.

What is the IU program for the province of Zamora?

IU was formed in 1983 and the same persons in the group have been meeting continuously every week and we analyse everything that is happening. This has given us a political culture and developed very important knowledge about the issues that affect people.

We are always in the streets demonstrating with the people, fighting for their rights. This has given us a high profile at a local level and in the last elections as a provincial capital – there are 52 provinces in Spain – we obtained in Zamora the largest percentage of votes per province capital for the IU. There were other cities in Spain but not capitals of provinces that obtained more IU representatives.

* Maria is a CPA member. She travelled throughout Spain for three months last year.   

Next article – The global water grab

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