International Peace Conference in Euskadi

Friday, October 21, 2011

Who can possibly oppose this conference?

Who can provide any reasons for rejecting it?

After so many years of horror, isolation, desperation and so many victims, the end of the terrorist group may be near, its members and sympathizers being convinced that they will never achieve their objectives by force. The extremely firm and effective work of the police forces, under the decided leadership of the Government, has progressively debilitated ETA’s sinister operational capacity, together with a change in direction on the part of Basque radical nationalist groups.

Everything would appear to indicate that circumstances are now ripe for ETA’s dissolution. The Basque Country, Spain and the whole world would breathe a sigh of satisfaction as another chapter of extreme violence and brutality comes to an end. And everyone could then turn their attention to caring for those who have suffered most directly from the terrorist group’s terrible deeds.

The greatest consolation for the inconsolable victims would be knowing that there will be no more victims, no more irreversible suffering.

An international group of well-known personalities has decided to support the desires of the immense majority of Spaniards.

What ulterior motives lie behind opposition to peace in Euskadi at this time? Electoral fears? The fact that those who consider this event ill-timed are not playing a prominent role?

This can’t be. I can’t believe it. I would rather think that it’s unthinkable.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I remember that in the 1940s, the end of each chapter of Father Astete’s Catechism on “the what” said: “And now, show me how”. And this is exactly what citizens –some more alert, others more distracted; some more active, others mere spectators…– should now demand of those who are soliciting their votes in the upcoming elections.

“Show me how!”

Because it is extremely risky to continue to trust those who at this late date have not announced their electoral programs (perhaps because they have nothing to announce) and continue to claim that they are going to create jobs, since this is totally impossible in the present circumstances in Europe (and the world over).

Because, how are they going to create jobs when the markets’ hounding of the Eurozone, with this colossal speculation fueled by biased rating agencies, forces governments to make all sorts of budget cuts in order to reduce their deficits within an excessively short timeframe?

How are they going to create jobs if, contrary to the situation in the United States and the United Kingdom, they can’t print money and “inject” funds to boost domestic production, innovation and corporate participation? How are they going to create jobs if they are forced to cut thousands of them and to halt public construction projects? How are they going to create jobs if the widespread delocalization of production is not reduced? How are they going to create jobs with the tax havens overflowing, and with runaway tax evasion and the underground economy? How are they going to create jobs if they continue to invest hundreds of millions of euros in military spending via NATO?

“Show me how”…

For example, tell me that they are going to resolutely contribute to a European economic and financial federation, and that they are going to issue Eurobonds, basically intended to promote activity and create jobs.

That they are going to regulate financial flows and firmly prosecute tax fraud and corruption; that they will not tolerate the immorality and shame of those who collect multi-million dollar fees and severance pay in the midst of so much job insecurity; that they will rapidly create Europe’s own, efficient rating agency….

“Show me how”…

Tell me how they are going to create jobs when they eventually take over the government at the national level, when they are presently incapable of creating jobs in the autonomous communities in which they are already in power…

“Show me how”…

Let them show how they intend to break the vicious cycle prompted by having replaced ethical and democratic principles by the “market”; world governance by groups of plutocrats and competence by speculation,… and all of this being particularly aggravated in Spain by the real estate “bubble” that irresponsibly brought a huge number largely undocumented immigrants to our country…

“Show me how…

They intend to overcome the immense incoherence of extreme austerity while increasing the number of workers without adequate incentives.

Mr Cameron, allied with the dollar and with the capacity to manufacture pounds sterling -75,000 million were announced on October 7, 2011 in the UK- is criticizing those in the Eurozone…

Merely a reduction of debt without growth? Europe, take note: President Obama proposes cutting the deficit by raising the taxes levied on wealthiest individuals and large corporations, and by reducing military spending and adjusting public outlays. He underscored that “This is not class warfare, it’s math”. The Republicans rapidly rejected the plan because it “tears down the social order” that they intend to preserve.

In June, 2010, Paul Krugman had already warned that “the deficit hawks have taken over the G-20”. The result can be found in some recent newspaper headlines: “The IMF demands that Greece fire 100,000 more (“ABC”, 20 September); “The IMF Assembly and the G-20 meeting: Resounding rhetoric, zero results” (Joaquín Estefanía, “El País”, 26 September); “Cuts in public spending undermine employment”, and “The Troika asks Athens to eliminate the minimum wage” (“Público”, 5 October)…

And, in addition, there are expressions of good will and purely generic proposals, without indicating how: “The Prince urges efforts to fight the deplorable youth unemployment” (“ABC”, 30 September) and “Rajoy suggests a profound institutional reform as a basis for creating jobs” (“ABC”, 26 September).

Moral and political reasons must prevail over economic ones. “Globalization” is coming to an end. Should we delay implementing the required measures until Germany and the emerging countries, including China, begin to realize that demand is decreasing?

How can we grow while trapped by the adoption of excessive anti-growth measures? The only way out of the crisis is up…

“Show me how”…

Because if specific action plans are not proposed soon, there will be many citizens, many more than one may imagine, who will not allow themselves to be deceived, once again, by empty promises.

Dare to do it!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"They were despised because they could have done so much,
yet dared to do so little "
Albert Camus

-Dare to know

I remember when I went to Oxford in 1966 to work in the Department of Professor Hans A. Krebs, I was impressed that the seal of the County bears the saying from Horace "Sapere aude". Dare to know! Without knowledge, without a true knowledge of reality, we cannot preserve it, protect it or change it when warranted.

Knowledge as an initial requisite... but then it is necessary to use the knowledge acquired appropriately. The essential part of the diagnosis is timely treatment. We have to decide without delay. In our Laboratory for the Detection of Neonatal Neurological Disorders, which cause irreversible brain damage, it was essential to act before the point of no return.

In the book "Tomorrow is Always Too Late" I wrote in 1987: "Risk without knowledge is dangerous, but knowledge without risk is useless".

-In addition to daring to know, it is essential to know how to dare.

In this turbulent and confused era in which we live, which is the consequence of having committed the immense error of replacing democratic principles and ethical values for the laws of the market, it is essential and urgent to change our present course, to cure so many ills, to stop the dramatic worldwide loss of direction and to accelerate the evolution of events in order to prevent the revolution on the horizon.

Dare to do it. Reject the hounding from the great (economic, military, energy, media) powers and make things crystal clear.

Cease to make vain promises and react, especially in Europe, as follows (and merely as an example):

- Immediately restructure NATO, endowing the EU autonomy in security matters, and ceasing to acquire unnecessary and outdated military equipment.

- Fiscal and economic federation, and the emission of Euro Bonds, being careful not to exaggerate attention toward certain “locomotives” that run the risk of losing freight cars and passengers.

- Reasonable postponement of deficit deadlines, regulation of financial flows and the definitive elimination of tax havens.

- Balanced industrial relocalization.

-Incentives for R&D and innovation.

-Immediate return to multilateralism, endowing the United Nations system with the required human, technical and financial resources.

- Restoration of democratic principles and human rights at the center of all levels of government...

Dare to do it. It can be done. Rise up. Let’s not warrant the disdain of the coming generations to whom we owe a less somber future.