Archive | June 3, 2015

Fifteen Years of Community-Controlled Water in Bolivia*

Fifteen Years of Community-Controlled Water in Bolivia*

By Marina Sitrin

march in Cochabamba during the tenth anniversary of the water wars in 2010 (by Mona Caron).


Marina Sitrin interviews Marcela Olivera, an activist in Bolivia’s Water Wars of 2000, about the victories of the movement and its ongoing legacy today.

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the victory of the communities of Bolivia over private water corporations. Not only did popular power reverse the plan to privatize the water, but the many hundreds of communities surrounding Cochabamba managed to keep their water as a common good, controlled and managed by the community directly and democratically.

The past few decades have witnessed a massive increase in attempts to commodify natural resources across Latin America. Almost all these attempts have been met with powerful community mobilizations and resistance. There have been many victories, but also losses. Successes have taken place, for example, in Argentina with the defeat of Monsanto, three consecutive mining companies in La Rioja and a paper mill on the border with Uruguay.

Other places around the world have also been successful in at least holding back privatizations and mining, such as in Thessaloniki, with the struggle to keep water public and in the Halkidiki region of Greece. In these examples, as in so many others, the struggles are grounded in a particular form of popular power. As with the experience in Cochabamba, it was regular people and communities organized in the streets (not parties, unions or other sectors) using direct action and directly democratic assemblies to make decisions.

Important lessons can and should be learned in our struggles to defend the land and commons from what took place and continues to take place in Bolivia. While the Bolivian struggle is referred to as the Water Wars, this does not reflect all of what took place: it was not only a war over the privatization of resources, but, as will be explained below, it was and remains a struggle to maintain autonomy and self-organization — experiences that in some places go back hundreds of years. Cochabanbinos have not only kicked out private water companies but have been successful in maintaining their ways of organizing and being, while protecting their bienes comunes.

In May 2015, I spoke with Marcela Olivera about these past fifteen years of continuous struggle for autonomy and self-organization of the commons. Marcela has been organizing on water issues, not coincidentally, for fifteen years. We began the conversation revisiting the first days of the Water Wars in Cochabamba in April 2000.


March in Cochabamba against water privatisation in 2000

Marina Sitrin: Can you explain a little bit how you got involved in the issue of defending water and resources?

Marcela Olivera: I first got involved in this issue, like thousands and thousands of Cochabambinos, 15 years ago to defend our water. There was already some organizing happening that I was not really involved in. My first memory of this issue was seeing on television how campesinos, women and kids were being beaten by police on the street and feeling so much rage. So together with my sister we went into the streets — I think this was similar for many thousands of other people and why they first went into the streets.

We did not at first completely identify with the issue — I personally was living with my parents and not paying the bills — but like me many people saw the injustice and went into the streets. It was something that I had never seen before in my life and don’t think I will see again in my lifetime.

You spoke about democracy, and what you are calling real democracy. Can you explain what that looked like in practice?

When we talk about democracy and all these words, sometimes we don’t really see what they truly mean. But I think I witnessed what democracy really is and how it should work, and how we don’t have that type of democracy in our everyday lives. They make us think that electing someone is democracy, but it is not. What I saw during the Water Wars was real democracy, direct democracy — where people come together and make decisions.

It was like my voice mattered. I was not a leader of a union and I did not belong to an organized sector, but my voice mattered. I felt like people were listening to me and I was listening to other people, and then together we would make decisions. Sometimes we did not agree with some things and there were people with different opinions about strategies, but what really mattered was how we made decisions and decided together. We found ways of doing it together. That is what real democracy is.

The people in the street were people just like me — not a part of organizations. The labour movement had pretty much disappeared after the neoliberal model was imposed, so the traditional working class had disappeared, but then we were the working class, people like me — without a sector, mainly working on our own, without a tradition of organizing… but we could meet and find one another and see the other side of people, and then meet with those who were organized like the cocaleros, campesinos and factory workers that were there.

Among us there were no differences, there was no hierarchy due to differences based on if you were from a sector or not. We had a common goal and that is what mattered.

I remember you and others telling the story of La Coordinadora por la Defensa del Agua y la Vida back in 2006. Can you tell it again? I am especially curious since what you are describing is a horizontal and participatory movement, yet people still insisted in seeing the movement as one with a leader?

[Laughs] You mean how people thought the Coordinadora was a woman, right? During this period many reforms were implemented and the government named many people in their specific roles, such as the Defensora del Pueblo, so the coalition took a name based on that. They decided on the Coordinadora por la Defensa del Agua y la Vida. To shorten it people simply referred to La Coordinadora — it is feminine in Spanish, and so people would speak of it as if it were a woman.

Many people who were not as deeply involved thought it was a person like the Defensora del Pueblo — also in the media and political cartoons it was shown as a woman. It was always portrayed as a traditional indigenous woman. People would ask, ‘who is this brave woman confronting the police and the government?’ I remember after the struggle how there was an old guy who would come looking for the Coordinadora, and we tried to explain to him that we are all the Coordinadora, that it is not a person but all of us, and then finally they sent a woman to talk to him. Then one time he came back and asked for the Señora Coordinadora del Agua and we all laughed and he got embarrassed and said, ‘oh, sorry, is it a Señorita?’ It was always thought of as a woman fighting for the people.

It is funny because all the spokespeople were men, so it was a sort of contradictory thing, but we have always thought and seen that the struggles are mostly carried out and led by women, if you look at the images and so on, you will see that it was the women who were on the front-lines. Yet men do a lot of the talking… I guess they like to talk — and we like to act.

In the past, you have spoken a lot about the idea of common goods and how you learned about them from the movements. Can you explain how the water supply and distribution is organized? Could you also go a little bit into the differences between commons, public goods and private control?

What was going on was taking place on two levels. First they wanted to take concessions from the water system in Cochabamba and there was also national legislation that would make water a commodity — so the privatization of water and the water system. The people of Bolivia have traditionally managed the water based on the usos y costumbres, where the uses refers to the use of the water and how it is used, and the custumbres refers to the tradition of the use of the water; who has been using it, what the agreements are between the communities for how it is used, and so on. With the Water War, both developments were halted, so the privatization was reversed and the legislation regarding water was changed based on the demands of the people.

Fifteen years later, I do not think the situation has changed too much. We still have to struggle. Right after the Water War, when we recovered the water system, we had this questioning and thinking together among ourselves, and we asked, ‘What do we want? Do we want the water to be controlled in public hands, meaning in the hands of the state, or do we want something different?’ Many times we think only in those terms, whether something is public or private, and we do not think of a third way.

But after the Water War it became visible that the alternative would be let the water be managed by the community itself — that is the third way that we realized already existed and that is possible. And that is what has been happening over the years as we have been trying to make visible how communities are managing their own water supply, not waiting for the state to manage it on their behalf, but the people doing it themselves, managing their own water systems.

All this democracy we saw in the streets is now replicated on a day-to-day basis by these water management systems. Communities organize in assemblies and decide together what they are going to do with the water and how. This is a reality we did not know existed [in 2000], but learned later. Just in the area around Cochabamba there are about 600 or 700 water systems that are self-managed by the communities. That means that 50 percent of the population gets their water this way. Sometimes it’s 500 families and sometimes 50 with different sizes and different internal forms of democracy. Some do everything in common, some do not — each decides on the best way to govern themselves.

I have also learned over these past fifteen years that this sort of thing is taking place all over the world. People are managing their own water and resources and not waiting for the state to do it for them. This same reality exists in Colombia, for example, as well as in Peru and Ecuador. So what we are trying to do is to make visible what is already taking place. No one is looking at how water can be managed; people keep looking to either the public or the private sphere. It is really quite something to see this, how people have been managing their own water and doing so in ways that go beyond what is private, beyond what is public, beyond the market and the state.

What do you think about the recent municipalization of water? Is it similar to the idea of commons?

Something we have been seeing lately is the celebration of the re-municipalization of the water sources. I have seen this in the water movement in general — for example in Paris, Buenos Aires and other parts of the world, where municipalities have taken over the water supply from private sources. In our case it is the opposite: we see this as a sort of privatization of the water source, where the state is trying to intervene in the management of something that we have managed ourselves for so many years — hundreds of years in some cases.

So while the municipalization of water is something that might be celebrated in the North, it has a different meaning here. It might not mean the moving of resources to the private sector but it still takes the decision-making out of our hands, which then leads us to believe that this is no longer just about water — it is about something else.

Water is an issue around which we can convene many other aspects of our lives. The water commissions in Cochabamba, for example, talk about many other things related to the community as a whole: how people are doing, whether someone needs support or help, how we can help a family if someone in the community has died, and so on. This is a place where people organize many aspects of their social lives — it is something else.


Related Topics:

Bolivia: Morales Third Term Breaks the Mould of Control by Wealthy Settlers*

Bolivia Bans Partnerships with Multinationals*

The Enduring Hunt for Personal Value*

The Yin and Yang of Water*

Crime against Humanity: Providing Clean Water in Africa*

A Petition of 15,000 against Water Tax Hikes Ignored by Irish Officials*

Water as a Weapon in Baltimore*

Fracking Companies Free to Use 70 Million Gallons Of Clean Water in the Midst of U.S. Record Drought*

The Privatization of Water*

A Small Town Fights Back When Nestlé Tries to Sell Them Their Own Water*

Wearing a Diamond Crown, but Speaking about a System that Only Serves the Elite*

Wearing a Diamond Crown, but Speaking about a System that Only Serves the Elite*

Last week the Conservative government’s plans were officially rolled out, rubber stamped, by way of the Queen‘s customary speech, following the formation of David Cameron‘s government.

Thousands of people are expected to attend numerous protests in the capital on Saturday to demonstrate against further planned cuts to welfare and the scrapping of the Human Rights Act.

The sobering reality of David Cameron’s plan only feels compounded, like a slap in the face, by the surreal and insane spectacle, of watching the actual head of state (the Queen), articulate the other so-called head of state’s (the prime minister) pre-election promises, which are to be continued for another five years. Five more years of cuts and slashes to public services that is, with ever increasing powers of surveillance for the state and its agencies. Great news!

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth delivers her speech to the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster, during the State Opening of Parliament, in London, Britain, May 27, 2015. 

A relatively low number of the UK electorate turned out at the general election a few weeks back, still securing the Conservatives a majority. Low voter turnout, producing the first Conservative led majority for some 20 odd years – no wonder the Conservatives do not want electoral reform – and this is the backdrop the Queen’s latest address.

The Queen’s speech, the policies evoked in it, and all the hype surrounding the lead up to it, absolutely reflect the distance between the ruling elite and ordinary people.

The Queen sitting amid jewels and relics, stolen and pillaged from civilisations and lands far from our shores, outlining the government’s plan to further marginalize the poor and clamp down on freedom, is a bitter pill to swallow. It’s a bizarre and cruel twist, however, to see the symbolic head of an empire, historically and to the present day, carrying out the same function as ever, manufacturing consent for the sake of control. It’s almost as if after all these years, the silly ceremonies and pomp are still all that’s needed to keep the masses in their place before an advancing police state with more and more powers. The ones subjected to the function of the monarchy (fittingly called subjects) often seem the least aware of its function, believing they are being patriotic and loyal to their country by worshipping the royal family when in reality they are simply consenting to be ruled, consenting to be governed.

People submit to the already existing order, whipped up and fuelled by a toxic brand of nationalism, convinced of an ever present existential enemy, the source of all the problems in society-the ‘others’ syndrome. Blame foreigners, blame Muslims, benefit fraudsters, the ‘urban’ underclass, for society’s ills- anyone in fact, except those doing the looting at the top, a narrative to which the MSM at least, wilfully complies.

Rather than observing royal ceremonies as part of the problem, an archaic hangover to a nonetheless very real empire, people swear allegiance to a power structure that is indifferent to their own lives in Britain, and which continues to leave a trail of destruction around the world.

When we think about the legacy of the British Empire and the role of the monarchy, perhaps Thomas Jefferson was right: “Dissent is the greatest form of patriotism.”

Anyone who really cares about Britain and the people that live here should be trying to break away from a power base which oppresses its people. Many think the success of the SNP at the general election, is an indication of changing weathers, suggesting that perhaps the union itself will not last another decade. Many Scots have expressed a clear desire to break with the empire. How long before the feeling spreads among English natives?

Kings and Queens sound like something from fairy-tales, medieval times, and it’s amusing to think of Britain modelling itself as a democratic model to aspire to, when an unelected head of state with a diamond encrusted hat sitting on a gold thrown still wields ultimate power. “The Queen’s role nowadays, is just symbolic,” people say. But let’s make no mistake about it, the royal family play a very precise and pivotal role in maintaining order: order for them means power and wealth remain in the hands of a privileged few. This role while symbolic is also practical too.

Sure, we’re used to seeing news packages bleating on about royal babies, or BBC packages following James Hewitt’s son, Prince Harry, during his 2nd ‘tour’ of Afghanistan, depicting him as a hero, irrespective of the fact that you can almost guarantee Harry saw no danger. Of course, these media stunts play a part in maintaining the hierarchy, with the help of the Royal’s official mouthpiece the BBC. But they also peddle an insipid form of nationalism, which is always needed to ensure and persuade poor young people sign up for illegal wars abroad.

But the Queen’s power is by no means simply theoretical, and has been exercised in the past when governments have been in danger of stepping out of line. The role of the MSM at least, exists to bolster the image of the establishment- the royal family and political oligarch-both at home and abroad.

And what of the Queen’s speech?

What of the so-called tradition?

Does it really matter?

These people are no different from us. If anything they are relics of a past age whose power and significance is diminishing. In some ways the ceremonial theatrics, the grand posturing, our dear old jewel-laden Queen addressing the poor from on high, tells us more than David Cameron’s predictable policies ever could. The ruling class continue to rule over the poor and disenfranchised, tricking them by stuffing the tired old ‘glory to the empire’ mantra down their throats – no great shocker there you might think.

Queen Elizabeth II has confirmed our freedoms will be eroded, and that the welfare state will be shrunk. She’ll rattle off more of the same at her always warmly received Christmas speech. But the reaction by the majority of the people tells us more than any comment piece could. Demonstrations took place in the immediate aftermath of the Queen’s address in central London. Thousands were involved. UKIP MP Douglas Carswell was set upon and needed police to protect him from a public lynching.

People are tired, desperate, and many literally hungry. In 2015, it’s a disgrace that Britain or any other so-called developed nation have such things as food banks, and it’s a scourge on our country that we even have homelessness, many or most of them ex-military, who once fought for the idea of ‘Queen and country’ but who have been hung out to dry by the same system they thought they were fighting for.

Cameron wasn’t kidding with his one nation theme. It is one nation, just not for us. The rotten political establishment is at one with the unelected power structure that presides over us. The minute people begin to let go of this charade we can begin a process of really critiquing power in an honest way. Until then the outcome of elections and speeches by the Queen make little difference to the lives of ordinary people: the government always wins.


Related Topics:

U.K. Fingerprinted over a Million Pupils in Schools without Parental Consent*

A U.K. Revolt against ‘exam factory’ Schooling*

Big Bank Food Speculation: U.K. Blocks Move to End Rising Prices*

U.K.s Chancellor Gives Power to take from Personal Bank Accounts*

Elite Powerbrokers Behind Sweeping Censorship in U.K.*

U.K. Cyber Brigade Serves to Spread Lies on Social Networks*

Genetic Testing or U.K. Population Surveillance*

Third of British Population on States Big Brother Facial Recognition Database*

British Royals Cash in on Hard-up Families*

Prince Charles Accused of Bullying so He Could Mine Under Villager’s Homes*

U.K. Three Parents Babies Violates Human Dignity*

British Children as Young as 3 Referred for Transgender Treatment*

Why is the Legalization of Gay Marriage so Important to the Queen?*

Another Law Passed to Prevent Any Paedophile Connection to British Royalty*

Fears of a British Policed State Rising Midst the Elite Paedophile Scourge*

U.K. Free School to Close for Allowing God into the Curriculum*

U.K. Setting Children up for Failure*

U.K.Arms Maker Enters the Corporate Education Industry*

Election Leaflet Illustrates the State of British Education*

UK Schools Are Making Muslim Children Take ‘Counter Extremism’ Tests*

Now the Queen Can Go Back to Ruling Britain and 15 Other Nations*

U.K. Elections Rigged!?*

The List of Israel’s Agents within British Politics*

A Day after the U.K. Elections Protestors Marched on Westminster*

The British Empire aka NWO alive and Kicking!?*

How the British Empire aka New World Order Sowed Seeds of Destruction towards Islam*

U.K. 3,000 Lightening Bolts in Two Hours!*

Oil Drives U.S. and U.K. Airstrikes in Iraq*

Being Driven Insane, Mentally Ill Children Kept in U.K. Prisons*

U.K.: Can you Cut Public Spending to 1930s Level with 2014-18 Cost of Living?*

U.K.-based Israeli-owned Drone Factory Faced Forced Shutdown*

American Civil War: When Russia Blocked British-led Intervention against the Union

The Butcher of Bahrain is British*

British Empire Spending Increases with Oil and Gas Discovery in Falkland Islands*

Royal Babylon

Between the State of the City of London and the Crown*

Note the Nurses Masonic Belt!

Israeli Corporal Imprisoned for Publicly Saying the Occupation of Gaza Corrupts Israel*

Israeli Corporal Imprisoned for Publicly Saying the Occupation of Gaza Corrupts Israel*

By Alexander Reed Kelly

Israeli Cpl. Shachar Berrin was sentenced to a week in prison on the charge of participating “in a political meeting, while in uniform, in the presence of the media.” The army’s history of punishing soldiers’ public statements suggests that what he said, “not just the public venue, is what upset someone influential.”

Gershom Gorenberg writes at The American Prospect that the charge was inaccurate:

He was in uniform, and TV cameras were recording. But it wasn’t a political meeting. And judging from circumstances, the real reasons for his quick trial and sentence were the presence of right-wing activists and what he said about serving in the West Bank in daily interaction with Palestinians.

When soldiers, when we, are conditioned and persuaded on a daily basis to subjugate and humiliate people… I think that seeps in,” he said,

“and I think that when the soldiers go home, when they go inside Israel… they bring that back with them.”

Berrin made his remarks after one of the debaters present cited a U.N. report, based on polling data that rates Israel as the 11th-happiest country in the world. When a microphone was passed to the audience, Berrin said:

“I propose that what makes a country good isn’t whether a country is happy or not; it’s the ethics and morality of a country.” He then spoke about what occupation duty does to soldiers and gave examples of what he’d seen.

Gorenberg writes that the debater who cited the poll “went into talk-show rage mode”:

“I think the guy is lying,” he said, as he shouted down [the host]. Someone there reported the incident to the army. The fact that Shachar was wearing a skullcap as well as a uniform may have amplified that anonymous person’s anger: The [political] right assumes that Orthodox Jews are all on their side, and the local media, comfortable with cliches, usually protects that assumption. Shachar created cognitive dissonance, which can produce fury.

The Israeli army’s application of the policy that landed Berrin in jail is evidently inconsistent. Last summer his brother informed an army ombudsman that a soldier had posted on Facebook a photo showing a box of bullets labeled, “A gift for Ramadan.” A bullet on top bore the name “Haniyeh,” which refers to Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas regime in Gaza. The ombudsman replied that the proper authorities had been informed, but the picture is still up.

“It would have been reasonable to conclude that the army isn’t quick to restrict public political statements by soldiers,” Gorenberg writes.

“It seems that what Shachar said, not just the public venue, is what upset someone influential. It can’t be that Facebook is less public; Facebook is Israeli politicians’ favourite means of broadcasting their words.”

The capacity for many Israelis to forget about the occupation and the Palestinians worsens the country’s troubles. This forgetting has been aided by a revision of military policy that has changed the composition of the armed forces.

“For most of Israel’s history,” Gorenberg writes, reservists told the public about what happened on the battlefield and in the barracks:

The army had a small core of full-time soldiers. But most men in Israel served in the reserves into their 50s, each year spending a month or more in uniform and subject to emergency call-ups. When they saw how the army managed things, they could compare it to how other organizations are managed, and when they saw Arab kids, they sometimes thought of their own children. Then they took off their uniforms and were civilians again.

Reservists set off the political upheaval after the 1973 Yom Kippur War that drove Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan from power. They knew the full cost of Meir and Dayan’s complacency and hubris before the war. In 1978, 300 reserve officers and soldiers signed a letter to Prime Minister Menachem Begin demanding that he agree to give up land to reach peace with Egypt. That letter gave birth to the Peace Now movement. Political scientist Yagil Levy argues that when the first Palestinian uprising erupted in 1987, Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Shomron insisted that the solution was political, not military, in part to reduce dissatisfaction among reservists. That stance paved the way, Levy writes, to the Oslo Accords.

But since the 1990s, the role of the reserves has shrunk. Fewer Israelis do reserve duty; they serve fewer days and are discharged at an earlier age. They’re less needed: A growing population provides more draftees for full-time service, while a more technological army depends less on brute numbers.

The existence of fewer citizen-soldiers means that fewer Israelis know first- or secondhand what the army is doing. The change “has made it possible for more Israelis to treat the occupation as if it were in another universe.”

Ironically, Gorenberg writes, the army’s “hasty” response gave Berrin and his message the media attention his detractors would rather he not get.


Related Topics:

Charlie Chaplin’s Final Speech in the Great Dictator*

US And Israeli Pressured Nigeria To Sell Out Palestine At U.N.*

A Zionist Hating Jew*

Former Israeli Soldier Echoes the ISIS-Zionist Threat*

On Trial in Canada for Speaking against Zionist Crimes*

Israel Ordered to Pay Iran $1.1 Billion*

Evidence Immaterial: Netanyahu’s wants to be Added to the Bush-Blair Club of War Criminals*

A Wounded ISIL Fighter Meets his Benefactor, Netanyahu in Golan Heights*

Who is Netanyahu?*

Lawmakers Boycott Netanyahu Speech*

Israel: 30,000 in Anti-Netanyahu Rally*

Five Easy Steps towards Israeli Presidency*

Israel Admits Aiding CIA’s al-Qaeda in Syria*

Illuminati, Nazis & The Illegal State of Israel

Israel, Organized Crime, White Slavery, and the Sex Trade*

Israeli-Zionist Investigative Journalist Ties Netanyahu to Charlie Hebdo Massacre*

One Country that does not Cheat: Netanyahu said He fears Iran will Honour Nuclear Deal*

Israel Uses Child Slave Labour to Plant and Harvest its Agriculture*

Woman Who Led Palestinian Bid for ICC Membership Arrested 24hrs of Succeeding*

The List of Israel’s Agents within British Politics*

School Kitchen Manager Fired for Feeding Hungry Students Free*

School Kitchen Manager Fired for Feeding Hungry Students Free*

By Roisin O’Connor

A kitchen manager claims she was fired from a school in Colorado for giving free lunches to students who could not afford to pay for them.

Della Curry, 35, supervised food preparation at Dakota Valley Elementary School in Aurora, Colorado, but says she was let go because she gave food to students.

The married mother of two was interviewed by CBS Denver, where she said she would see students who were often not signed up for free lunch programmes “crying” because they didn’t have enough money for food.

To qualify for a free lunch, a family of four in Colorado requires an income of around $31,000, while students can qualify for a reduced lunch if their family’s income is below $45,000.

Curry claimed the students she helped did not meet the requirements for either programme, and that she had paid for some of their meals out of her own pocket.

Under federal law, students who fail to qualify receive a single slice of cheese in a hamburger bun and a small carton of milk, but Curry said this was “not sufficient”.

In a Facebook post made on 29 May, Curry wrote:

“I was let go today from my position as a kitchen manager for Cherry Creek School District. I was fired for giving food to children that did not have money.

“While I know that what I did was legally wrong, I do not feel bad about it and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I will never understand how the ‘best’ country in the world considers a cheese sandwich to be adequate nutrition for a child.”

Curry added that she would “never understand how one of the richest countries in the world cannot find provide lunch for its children”.

In a statement released to local media, Cherry Creek School district said it had followed policy in firing Curry. It also said that it was not legally obligated to provide food to children who had “forgotten” their lunch money.

“According to our practice, we provide hot meals to students the first three times they forget their lunch money and charge their parents’ accounts. The fourth time, we provide a cheese sandwich and milk,” the statement read.


Related Topics:

This Edible Park Feeds 200,000 Hungry People Every Month*

93k UK Children Go Hungry*

Student Ignores the Illegality of Feeding the Hungry and Saves 200,000 Meals*

Starving British children are looking for food in rubbish bins

Robin Williams Raised 50,000K for a Food Bank and Nobody Knew*

One Hospital Uses Organic Food as Medicine*

The Depletion of your Nutritional Food Content is Intentional*

Blind Obsession = $22 Billion to Fight ISIS Minus $8.7 Billion in Food Stamps*

The British Cafe that has Fed 10,000 People, using 20 Tonnes of Unwanted Food*

Big Bank Food Speculation: U.K. Blocks Move to End Rising Prices*

Michigan Farmers Markets—Helping Families and Local Businesses through Food Stamps*

EU Gives Countries Two Months to Adopt New Banking Rules*

EU Gives Countries Two Months to Adopt New Banking Rules*

Bail-Ins Coming

– 11 countries face legal action if bail-in rules are not enacted within two months
– Bail-in legislation aims at removing state responsibility when banks collapse
– Rules place burden on creditors – among whom depositors are counted
– Austria guarantee in April abolished bank deposit
– “Bail-in regimes” coming globally

The European Commission has ordered 11 EU countries to enact the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) within two months or be hauled before the EU Court of Justice, according to a report from Reuters on Friday.

The news was not covered in other media despite the important risks and ramifications for depositors and savers throughout the EU and indeed internationally.

The article “EU regulators tell 11 countries to adopt bank bail-in rules” reported how 11 countries are under pressure from the EC and had yet “to fall in line”. The countries were Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, France and Italy.

France and Italy are two countries who are regarded as having particularly fragile banking systems.

The rules, known as the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD), ostensibly aim to shield taxpayers from the fall out of another banking crisis. Should such a crisis erupt governments will not be obliged to prop up the banks. At any rate most countries are far too deeply indebted to play such a role.

Instead, the burden is being placed on the creditors. As Reuters put it:

The rules seek to shield taxpayers from having to bail out troubled lenders, forcing creditors and shareholders to contribute to the rescue in a process known as “bail-in”.

However, if recent events in Austria are anything to go by, creditors now also include depositors of banks. In April, Austria enacted legislation which removed government liability for all bank deposits.

Until then, the state would protect deposits of ordinary people and companies up to a value of €100,000. In its place a bank deposit insurance fund is being set up. This fund appears inadequate to protect savers’ deposits in the event of any kind of bank failure. We covered the story in more detail here.

Each country will enact its own version of the BRRD. How vulnerable savers are in specific countries is difficult to tell at this time. The drive towards a cashless economy which has accelerated in recent months makes deposit holders and savers ever more vulnerable.

This bail-in legislation which is being driven by the BIS through the Bank of England, ECB, Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) appears designed to protect banks by allowing them to confiscate deposits to prop them up rather than the noble stated objective – “to shield taxpayers”.

Those who hold deposits in our banks are also taxpayers and have already paid tax in order to earn the money that is on deposit.

Allowing for the confiscation of deposits is a retrograde step and may be the last straw for an already enfeebled western banking system. It will also be very deflationary as a primary source of capital and demand – from companies and consumers – is confiscated.

Cyprus was devastated by bail-ins and has shown little sign of recovery.

Central banks claim to be attempting to avert deflation with QE and negative interest rates and not simply bailing out and aiding overly indebted banks.

However, the bail-in of deposits would again place the interests of banks over those of taxpayers and depositors. It would be very deflationary and could be the tipping point which pushes economies into a recession and depression.

However, the key insight from Cyprus and the coming move from bail-out regimes to bail-in regimes, is that a precedent has now been created in terms of deposit confiscation. Therefore, simply having deposits in a bank is no longer the safest way to save, protect capital and conservatively grow wealth.

Conservative wealth management, asset diversification and wealth preservation will again become important and gold will again have an important role to play in order to protect, preserve and grow wealth in the coming bail-in era.

Must-read Guides:
Protecting Your Savings In The Coming Bail-In Era
From Bail-Outs To Bail-Ins: Risks and Ramifications –  Includes 60 Safest Banks In the World


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