Sunday, February 17, 2008


Walking through the Plaza de España in Madrid yesterday afternoon, I came across a demonstration of people affected by the massive fraud that has been perpetrated by a couple of investment companies (Forum and AFINSA) specialising in stamps. It’s actually one of the first issues that I blogged about here on South of Watford. The strange thing about yesterday’s demonstration is that it wasn’t immediately clear it was about the stamp fraud at all, as the whole event seemed to be aimed at the government and at Prime Minister Zapatero in particular. At the front of the march were people handing out small leaflets claiming that the Partido Popular (PP) was going to compensate all of those affected by the scandal, and the chants of those behind the main banner were a straight copy of those used on so many of the PP inspired anti-government marches we have seen in Madrid in the last couple of years. The placards being waved were also almost entirely aimed at the government.

Given all of this, it is perhaps useful to clarify what has actually happened here. A couple of private investment companies appear to have defrauded thousands of their investors, something which is a crime and which will hopefully lead to the perpetrators being punished. These companies were operating under a regulatory framework put in place by the last government (run by the PP) and it seems quite likely that a large part of the fraud took place under that administration. Now clearly a large number of those affected seem to believe that the current government should compensate them for what has happened, a point of view which is understandable but arguable; as it amounts to the government guaranteeing all private investments. Frankly, I don’t believe that the PP will repay all of the money that these people have lost, and even if it is true it still is not an excuse for their cause to be turned into yet another thinly disguised PP anti-government protest. The current government is not responsible for their situation, and the original fraud they justifiably complained about has now been converted into a political fraud. Those affected almost certainly encompass people of all political opinions; sadly they are poorly represented by those who have hijacked their cause.

No comments: