Preferred citizens

Ciutadans Preferents from Enric Català on Vimeo.

Back in mid 2010 Banks and “Cajas de Ahorros” in Spain were lacking liquid assets due to the fast growing economic crisis in Europe and USA, and hitting Spain hard. To get quick active assets for their economic ratings they targeted retail customers who had money in their savings accounts with a complex financial investment product that had been initially created for large and mid corporate investment companies since late 90’s.
They told retail customers the product was totally safe, it was meant to keep their savings with no risks and with a higher revenue in interests (it was an all-win situation and the bank was doing this because they had been good loyal customers). In most of the cases the targeted people were elderly with a amount of live savings money from 6,000€ - to 60,000 in average. Gaining their trust through their live long branch director, who for most of them was a trustable figure such as a doctor or a lawyer.
When the EU legislates that money coming from this financial products would not be counted as company’s liquid assets, all this sand castle falls apart. Old people find out they are not getting interests anymore for their deposits and when they try to recover the money they find out that the contracts (some of them 130 pagers long) states that if the bank does not have any benefits they are not forced to pay interests on those deposits plus that money remains in the bank as an asset for eternity. Around 300,000 people affected and 30,000 milion euros are the numbers surrounding the scandal.

I I met “Estafats per la Banca” (ExB) as I was doing research about people that had their savings “trapped” in the “Preferred Stocks” affair. I had earlier contacted another similar group and a Consumer Protection Agency, but I was soon captivated by the energy I was noticing in this group of people whose average age was around 70 years old. Despite their age they are ready to fight (and fighting) for what they think has been taken away from them in a fraudulent way by lying and in some cases counterfitting signatures and documentation. Energy that as a citizen of a country that is going through the worst recession since Civil War I find is lacking in younger generations, and basically the gross of the population.
Some other things that cought my eye from this group of people is that although this is something bad that has happened to them, it has given them wings to fight for a cause, they suddenly found out something to fight and live for, and you can tell many of them have rejuvenated with this, plus they have found a new socialization circle, it is interesting to see how the energy flows when they march together.
ExB can gather several times a week in isolated actions in banks branches but every Tuesday at 6PM sharp in front of the Stock market building in Barcelona is the steady weekly meeting. The person taking the lead (Roque Borrás who has his elder mother affected) loudspeaker in hand tells the latest news in how the different contacts, moves and meetings are going along, if anything needs to be decided a members vote quickly takes place “hands-raised”. The whole group accounts around a couple of hundred people affected by the scam, but usually moves an average of 120, weather, health related conditions and age doesn’t always allow its members to join the weekly meeting, but most can usually make it.
The demonstration takes starts at Barcelona Stock market building and end at “Catalunya Bank” HQ building in Via Layetana a total distance of 4 km which is done in around 2 hours and a half. During the march they use, whistles, fire crackers, eggs, banners, loudspeakers, bells and their voices, cutting traffic and posting panflets in the banks branches that they encounter along the way.

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February 1st 2013, Barcleona - posting panflets

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