We live in troubled times. This type of particularly conflictive and uncertain periods are not usually the result of chance. They are usually the result of a series of imbalances that have been perpetuated and entrenched over time.
Those of us fortunate enough to live in developed countries have grown up in an environment with a certain legal, economic and political security. We have been able to overcome moments of fragility, we have joined forces and found ways to continue protecting our fundamental rights. It is hard for us to imagine an environment different from the one we are used to. We take it for granted that this must be so. When we look up and see countries with high crime rates, high poverty rates and almost no legal frameworks, we believe that this is something that can only happen to others.
Like the myth of the cave, the shadows become our reality and only an extraordinary event can bring us out of the darkness and into the true light of the sun.
History has shown us time and time again that extreme situations eventually come to pass, even if we have our heads buried in the ground.
It is in these moments that we begin to understand concepts that may have seemed absurd or unnecessary before. And the fact is that each of us lives in our own bubble, isolated and certainly biased by what, in a limited way we are able to see around us.
It is in moments of extreme need, when it has fully touched us, that we begin to realize that we are suffering violations of our individual rights, often justified under the protection of a superior reason.
PAST AND PRESENT
We experienced it in the previous economic crisis with the bank rescue under the slogan ‘too big to fail’ where all citizens (men, women and children) ended up contributing financially to save a group of private and public entities from bankruptcy with the prerogative of the general interest.
The health crisis generated by the pandemic has been another clear example. Under the mantle of common interest we have been able to observe how certain political decisions have made their criteria prevail to impose actions that violate our most fundamental rights. The health pass would be one of them.
A striking case has been the Canadian government, which exercised its institutional power to authorize the freezing of bank accounts of citizens who disagreed with the measures adopted during the pandemic and wanted to demonstrate freely. Collective fundraising platforms through which those affected were receiving economic aid from all corners of the planet were also intervened.
Recently the Spanish government commented that “pandemics, climate change, cyber-attacks or financial crises are all complex, often interconnected risks and threats that can trigger cascading crises”. This introduction served as a pretext to justify the new Preliminary Draft Bill amending Law 36/2015, of 28 September, on National Security, in which among other vicissitudes, specifies in its Article V that “When the nature of the situation of interest to National Security makes it necessary, the competent authorities following the guidelines of the National Security Council or the functional authority may proceed to the temporary requisition of all types of assets, as well as the temporary intervention or occupation of those that are necessary and, where appropriate, the suspension of activities. Those who as a consequence of these actions suffer damages to their goods and services, shall have the right to be compensated in accordance with the provisions of the laws.”
With war conflicts the economic and political distortions existing in the world have become more evident in the last few weeks.
Following the sanctions, Russia has seen how the European Union has excluded different Russian banks from the SWIFT system (the system that allows transfers and financial operations to be channelled through the corresponding institutions), greatly complicating their operations. The bank Sberbank, mostly controlled by the Russian Federation, with offices in Germany, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, suffered a bank corralito after the massive withdrawal of its clients who saw how overnight they lost access to their savings and current accounts. Balances will be protected up to €100,000 per account. Above those amounts customers could lose all their money. We will see how this situation evolves in the coming weeks.
A runaway inflation that is already affecting the most developed countries, a global supply crisis, a health situation still weakened by the pandemic, a world debt at record highs and the uncertainty of the war in Ukraine with its possible consequences, suggest that we are facing this extreme situation that we mentioned.
It is time to come out of the cave and see the sunlight, it is time to be responsible for our actions, to stop looking sideways and start preparing the tools (social and economic) that allow us to face the uncertainties that are to come in the best way.
Hansa Mehta of India (standing) changed the phrase “All men are born free and equal” to “All human beings are born free and equal”. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.