The Nation or the Debt: the only Creditor is the People!

The 2015 budget--presented by the Executive to the Congress and thus far approved by the Chamber of Deputies--clearly displays an accelerated growth in the amount of resources earmarked for interest payments on the debt, and an increase of the public debt itself.  

Even without including any payments to the so-called "vultures" or other "holdouts", the 2015 Budget reduces funds for social and labor policies, while raising (to sums equivalent to one "Bicentenary Hospital" per day) what it plans to pay to service an illegitimate and illegal debt.  At the same time, the government rushes to approve nefarious laws such as the Hydrocarbons Law, the Seed Law, and the new Civil and Commercial Code, and makes secret deals such as those with Chevron and with China: scandalous handovers of the patrimony and natural commons of the Argentine people, waiving jurisdiction and sovereignty for a mere promise of short-term liquidity needed to make debt payments, and for the certainty of greater debt and worse conditionalities in the medium and long term.  

We, the Assembly for the Suspension of Payments and Investigation of the Debt and for the Defense of National Patrimony and Public Goods (herein the Assembly), reject these policies of austerity and surrender of public goods, and denounce the illegality of continuing to service a debt that according to legal decision is fraudulent and arbitrary.  Instead of worrying over how to impose on the Argentine people the condition of "serial payer" of that which it doesn't owe, we demand that Congress and the government suspend all debt payments until its legitimacy and legality have been established.   

We demand likewise the immediate and effective activation of the Permanent Bicameral Commission for the Investigation of the Origin, Management and Payment of the Nation's External Debt, created by Law 26,984 a month ago already.  When this law was still under debate, we pointed out the flagrant violation of our human and peoples’ rights of the hypocritically named "Sovereign Payment Law".  Among other flaws, it first declares the payment of a debt that has been condemned in Argentine courts to be in the "public interest".  It goes on to establish new forms of payment and only then does it create a parliamentary Commission with the declared intent of investigating the irregularities that very debt might have.  

It seems clear that neither the Congress (with only a few honorable exceptions) nor the government have any intention of fully investigating the debt that they so eagerly strive to pay.  Especially considering that it is the same Congress, and the same government, that since 2000, like their predecessors, have systematically refused to investigate the debt, disobeying and ignoring for more than 14 years Judge Ballestero’s decision, still in full force and never appealed, in the celebrated Olmos Case. Similarly, they have allowed the judicial Power a level of inaction and omission just as grave as the eccentric decisions of the much-criticized New York judge.  Vultures nest abroad as well as at home, like trained mice. 

Nevertheless, the decision to create a Parliamentary Investigative Commission, even if only to placate the crowd, amounts to a recognition on the part of political power of the impossibility of continuing to deny and cover up the illegitimacy and illegality of the debt; it is not possible to keep fooling all the people all the time, on matters so evident and central to the defense of the nation, the recovery of our sovereignty, the fulfillment of human rights, and the protection of the environment.  

For these reasons, as Assembly we demand not only the immediate and effective activation of the Commission, but also that it be granted sufficient power, resources, and personnel to finally establish the Truth about the system of public indebtedness, consolidate public Memory of the debt’s history, and achieve Justice.  

Truth, Memory, and Justice already form part of the political culture and common sense of our people with regard to state terrorism during the last dictatorship.  Truth, Memory, and Justice must also be established with respect to the country´s economic submission via debt and the pillaging of public goods, the other side of the same dictatorial terrorism.  The Parliamentary Investigative Commission should undertake its work in this perspective.

The starting point for the Commission’s investigation should be the over 477 illegalities already proven in Judge Ballestero’s July 2000 decision in the Olmos Case, together with the proof accumulated in the numerous subsequent Argentine judicial investigations. 

Given their interrelatedness and indivisibility, the Commission must also necessarily include in its investigation the totality of the public debt: internal as well as external debt; federal debt as well as that of provincial and municipal levels; the actual debt of the State as well as contingent debt. 
Likewise, a broad and integral definition should be applied to the concept of "irregularities" that has been posed:  different legal perspectives and fields should be consulted – including national, regional, international, human rights, labor, environmental, and indigenous law among others - as well as criteria of illegitimacy that have been consolidated from a standpoint of ethics, peoples daily life, and the experience accumulated over past decades, in particular among South movements, in seeking to overcome the colonial yolk of the debt-system. 

We denounce as inadmissible and in violation of citizens' basic right to information, the confidentiality clause incorporated into the text of Law 26,984.  We demand full transparency and publicity of all the Investigative Commission`s actions and the penal and civil indictment of those responsible for generating, paying, and collecting payment on an illegitimate debt.  

We demand as essential, social and citizen participation in the Commission’s investigation and the elaboration of its conclusions.  For its own legitimacy and the necessary strength of its results, the Commission should seek out, receive, and listen to the testimonies and contributions of diverse sectors of the population and regions of the country whose rights have been violated by the system of indebtedness: among others, working people, the unemployed, retirees and pensioners, women, native peoples, peasant farmers, young people, those who are homeless or without access to decent housing, communities affected by mega-mining operations, giant dams, agro-business, fracking, over-fishing, rural and urban real estate speculation, and other mega-projects directly connected to the system of indebtedness and plunder.  We emphasize that it is the welfare of these people - the only legitimate creditors of the social, ecological, economic, historical, and democratic debts - that must provide the normative framework and conceptual and methodological focus of the Investigative Commission now created by the Congress, and it should be its principal objective.  

As Assembly, we commit ourselves to contribute to the work of the Parliamentary Investigative Commission, sharing the results of years of investigation, analysis, denunciation, and mobilization, spurred in reaction to the tremendous costs that the public debt continues to generate for the Argentine people, its patrimony and natural commons.  

We also commit ourselves to monitoring the work of the Commission, reserving the right to adopt pertinent strategies in order to avoid the manipulation or wasting of this historic opportunity.  And we commit ourselves to continue multiplying our call to the Argentine people, the only true creditor, to debate widely the causes, consequences, and alternatives to this veritable system of domination and perpetual looting, and to mobilize ourselves for non-payment of that which we don't owe, for sanctioning those responsible for the crimes and violations committed by the debt system and the restitution and reparation of all that we have been unduly obligated to pay.





-Buenos Aires, October 14, 2014