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28 / 06 / 2004
Arcadi Oliveres: “I will vote a definite ‘No’ on the European Constitution because it promotes the arms race”

The Forum’s 141 Questions (50): “Are we discussing peace while financing the war?” Arcadi Oliveres, economist and president of the Justice and Peace Foundation, and Jaime David Fernández Mirabal, former vice-president of the Dominican Republic, have studied the sources of war funding from a geopolitical and economic point of view. Both pointed out the fact that the budgets that countries allocate to the war industry could be used to solve many of the world’s current major problems.

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Jaime David Fernández Mirabal explained his theory on the three “A”s used to justify war and its funding: the Ambition of the powerful; the Apathy of the people who indifferently sit back and watch as problems occur; and, the Ambiguity of the political classes, which translates into a discourse that contradicts their practices and has lead citizens to feel indifferent about politics. Arcadi Oliveres denounced the fact that countries such as Spain annually allocate 202 billion former Spanish pesetas to cooperation projects, whereas the major Spanish companies operating in Argentina, for example make 320 billion peseta profits. “Just a small portion of the budget that countries allocate for funding their armies is capable of solving the problems affecting people throughout the world.”

Fernández Mirabal, former vice-president of the Dominican Republic, stated that “governments have double standards. We are experiencing a crisis of ethics and human values. In practical terms, there is very little difference between political parties in Latin America. Politicians sway between pragmatism and eclecticism.” Mirabal called for citizens to see their participation “as a duty. Citizens claim many rights but often forget that they also have duties. We have to act as responsible citizens.”

Oliveres explained that citizens have resources upon to them to contribute towards making a stance against the arms industry, such as boycotting certain institutions and corporations: “for example, not depositing their saving with the BBVA bank, on whom two arms weapons industry companies depend; nor the Banco Santander, who, through Unión Fenosa, have a stake in the company Soluciona, which builds barracks for the United States army in Iraq”. The World Economics professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona explained, in response to one of the questions from the audience, that “until fairly recently the Caixa was also involved in a world banking consortium which had dealings in the reconstruction of Iraq, but now, after a popular campaign in protest of this involvement, it has backed out”. And he went on to add that “the Caixa is the second most largest shareholder in Deutsche Bank, which has massive interests in the arms industry. It now seams that they are getting rid of the shares in this company”.

In the opinion of Oliveres, “the best thing that can be done to rebalance the world political panorama is not to arm Europe but to disarm the United States”. By way of response to a question from the audience, the president of Justice and Peace categorically affirmed that he will vote a definite ‘no’ on the European constitution because it promotes the arms race”. Oliveres urged for a change in national politics in every country in order to convert the arms industries into civil industries and generate wealth, as was done in China after the Mao Tze Tung regime, according to Oliveres.