Spain

LogoPACD

Spanish Citizen Debt Audit Platform (PACD): www.auditoriaciudadana.net

Citizen Municipal Observatories (CMOs): www.ocmunicipal.net

Contact: auditciudadana[at]gmail.com / info[at]ocmunicipal.net

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuditoriaCiudadanaDeuda

Twitter: @AuditCiudadana

In Spain, as in other countries in the European periphery, we are witnessing how the so-called debt crisis is used to justify austerity and adjustment policies that destroy the social and labour rights won with the efforts and struggle of generations. With impunity, essential public services such as education, health and social services are cut and privatized. Citizens watch helplessly how their retirement age is delayed, their living conditions worsen, pensions freeze and labour rights are cut.

We are in crisis and there is no other solution to recover than to cut and continue cutting. The reason for such austerity, as the dominant discourse says, is the high level of indebtedness of the Spanish state (same as the other countries of the “second league” in the euro zone). Our recent amendment to the Constitution, approved on August 30th, 2011, states in its Article 135.3 that debt payment is a priority and also prohibits its negotiation or repudiation. Thus, our tax money will not go primarily to our social services but to pay the debt. A debt that we were never aware of, a debt we are unable to decide on.

Having all this in mind, we ask ourselves: How come this economic system called Debtocracy has been imposed? What knowledge do we have of our state budgets? What knowledge do we have of the ECB loans? What does a bank bailout mean? What role did the international crisis and the housing bubble play?

Given this economic, social and democratic fraud, a group of citizens have decided to organise throughout the country in order to answer these questions and determine the origin of this scam called Debt. In what conditions was it subscribed, what has been financed by it, who is benefiting, is it legitimate and should we pay it?

We have the right to know, to understand the details of the process that led us to this situation. This initiative has, among other objectives, the need to recover our democratic and sovereign power to be able to decide what to do with the debt and with our future, without the interference of financial markets, the European Commission, the ECB or the IMF.

Who are we?

Since October 2011, in various cities of the state, a process to develop a Citizen Debt Audit started in Spain. The 15M/Indignados citizens’ assemblies in different cities in Spain, along with other networks and social organizations or individuals, are participating in a process to define: what kind of audit we want, what debts are to be audited, who should participate in this process and with what objectives.

From March 2012, the Citizen Debt Audit Platform (PACD) “We don’t owe, we won’t pay!” was constituted. There are currently different local action groups in many cities and villages around the country (and growing)!

What do we want?

We understand that there is more than enough evidence of illegitimacy in the generation of a debt that the Spanish government, together with the EU and the regional and local governments, are using to justify the implementation of austerity measures.

Therefore, we demand the right to know; to know all the details of the process that led us to this situation. To achieve this we propose to conduct a Citizen Debt Audit that will allow us to demonstrate the illegitimacy of this debt and have more strength to demand the non-payment of it.

The citizen movement that constitutes the PACD, is born with these general objectives:

  1. Promote a Change in the Economic and Social Model (denouncing a debt mechanism that lays the foundations of the global economic system and generates deep injustice).
  2. Recover the sovereignty of the people through learning spaces and participatory democracy methodologies, giving society an empowerment tool with which to fight for transparency, democracy and social justice.
  3. Non-payment of the illegitimate debt and denounce those guilty, demanding responsibilities.

Why?

The Citizen Audit is a tool, a mechanism (or process) to critically analyse debt policies conducted by the authorities of a country and the impact of them on the population. Not only financial data analysis applies, but a broader and deeper analysis ranging from cuts in the fundamental rights of citizens, the environment or the lack of transparency, to the right of control that citizens have over those who govern and, therefore, participate actively in public affairs.

Parallel to state debt audit research, other sectorial audits are being conducted (health, education, environment, gender, electric industry…) or of different scope (local, municipal), making it more relevant to work in collaboration with other movements and join forces, resources and efforts. Every citizen movement is a first-hand source of information on the major impacts that austerity measures, caused by debt, cause in their respective areas.

To conduct a citizen debt audit is to examine and evaluate the processes that have originated such debt, not only in order to determine the fairness and reliability of accounting data but also if they are legal, legitimate and transparent, and if they have caused harm to the population based on the legal, accounting, financial, environmental and social standards in the State.

This post is also available in: French, Spanish