January 5, 2010 is a historical day for Icelanders.
The Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson had a tough decision to make, and difficult choices to make. To listen to the 23% of the nation that signed a petition calling on him to put the state guarantee for 5.4 billion dollars to be paid to the British and Dutch governments to a national referendum. Or to ignore the nation and sign the bill for the government, after the bill had been passed through the parliament with a narrow vote on December 30, 2009 after months of acrimonious debate, tainted with secrecy and dishonesty on the part of the government. Every day throughout the debate, new information would emerge and documents would leak to local media or wikileaks. Yesterday, the people of Iceland finally had a chance to have something to say about their fate, because if the state guarantee is accepted it will mean that Iceland will become like a third world country, spending its GDP largely on paying interest on foreign debt. Last summer, a bill for a state guarantee was passed that had a significant meaning not only for Iceland, but also for other nations around the world facing the same problems of private debt being forced on taxpayers. The bill included a reasonable and fair way of handling the interest and the debt: Icelanders would pay, but only a certain percentage of their GDP, and if there were to be another financial black hole, they would not pay during that time. Thus it comes as no surprise that the Dutch and British governments reacted so swiftly with a condemnation of Iceland’s citizens for having the audacity to think they have the right to exercise their democratic rights in deciding for themselves what is in the best economic interests of their nation.
Let’s also put this debt into perspective: 320.000 people live in Iceland, each and every person on the island, including children and the elderly, the disabled and the poor, would have to pay around $30,000 under the bill. The danger if Icelanders will accept this enormous burden is that the entire welfare system would simply collapse with no money to run it. On January 5th the Icelandic president had the courage, backed up by his nation, to place the interest of the people before that of the banks.
Of course there has been an incredible spin by the government controlled media, attacking the nation and the president for this simple and fair demand. The UK and Dutch media were also full of misleading news, saying the nation had demanded not to pay, and that we would become isolated and there were even suggestions that the British navy should flex its muscles against this nation which has no military. As if the terrorist act they imposed on us was not enough during the darkest hour of our crises to bring us further down!
The spin is failing because people around the world are finally starting to hear our side of the story, and other suppressed nations have perhaps seen this as a sign that they can also rise up against the corpocracy in our world where those with the money have as a rule always won. Let’s hope the nation will not been coaxed into fear of isolation and let’s hope the people of the world will join in this experiment of letting the interest of the peoples rise above the interests of banks, corporations, and international bullies such as the IMF. We need your support. I will soon issue a comprehensive report on the entire Icesave saga.
Love and rage from Iceland Birgitta Jónsdóttir Party group chairman for The Movement in the Icelandic Parliament