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BBC World Service

A broken social contract, horse meat eating: Welcome to Spain’s ‘financial genocide’

Pascale Harter Oct 30, 2013
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BBC World Service

A broken social contract, horse meat eating: Welcome to Spain’s ‘financial genocide’

Pascale Harter Oct 30, 2013
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Spain’s very fragile economy has just limped out of recession after two years — but just barely. The country’s National Statistics Institute detected a .01 percent growth during the third quarter. But that wouldn’t tell the whole story of one of Europe’s top five economies — 13th in the world overall just behind Australia. 

Ask someone on the street whether Spain feels like it’s emerging from recession, and chances are their opinion might differ from the National Statistics Institute. With a whopping 26 percent of the country’s workforce out of a job, it “feels like the social contract is broken,” says the BBC’s Pascale Harter in Barcelona.

“You’re talking about young couples who have now spent their savings, left the home that they bought — and I’m talking about, here, handing the keys to the bank, but still having to pay the debt, because they’re aren’t the same bankruptcy walkaway laws in Spain that there are in America,” Harter says.

In fact, a grim new term has emerged to characterize the malaise that the recession has put over the country.

“What they call it, here, the campaign, is financial genocide,” Harter says. “They say that a whole swath of society is discouraged from getting a job and earning any money, because any money that they do get they’ll have to pay towards a home that they no longer own. And so these young families have to move in with their parents, so the grandparents are using their pensions often to pay the debts of their children.”

Things have gotten so bad for the Spanish people, Harter says, that when a scandal emerged earlier this year that should have provoked outrage, the response was instead much more peculiar.

“The Spaniards — who celebrate their food — when the horse meat scandal erupted, instead of there being a scandal, people said, ‘Oh, yes, it’s much cheaper.’ And lots of programs were on television about how to cook with horse meat.”

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