For four years now, in Iceland --that frosty island part of Europe in the middle
of the North Atlantic with a population of barely 300,000 inhabitants--
interesting and new things have been happening that do not get corporate western
media coverage. This confirms the unrelenting manipulation humankind is subject
to due to the control the superpower and its associated oligarchies exert on the
In Iceland there has not been a social revolution, but something almost as
serious for the upper financial hierarchy has taken place: a revolution against
the tyranny of capitalist banks in a globalized world whose roots inevitably
lead to Wall Street.
Thanks to its geothermal power plants, Iceland enjoys great energy independence,
but the country has very few additional resources. Its economy, 40% dependant on
fish exports, is very vulnerable. Just like many other European countries, it
increasingly accumulated debts with speculating banks so that the country could
live above its real possibilities in the neoliberal financial system promoted by
the United States which the real economy is now calling to order.
Four years ago, to cope with the effects of a devastating crisis, its government
nationalized the main banks in the country. In retaliation, London froze all the
assets of 300,000 British customers and 910 million Euros invested in Icelandic
banks by UK local administrations and public entities. The island had to use
3,700 million Euros of public money to reimburse these customers.
With a bank debt equivalent to several times its Gross National Product (GNP),
Iceland's currency collapsed, its stock market suspended activities and the
country went bankrupt.
Massive protests in front of the Parliament building in Reykjavik, the Icelandic
capital, forced early elections in 2009 and the resignation of the conservative
prime minister and all of his administration.
A draft resolution, widely discussed in Parliament, was meant to burden all the
citizens of the island with the reimbursement of the 3,500 million Euros to
British and Danish banks through monthly payments over the coming 15 years.
Icelanders returned to the streets demanding a referendum to pass such a law.
The president acquiesced and did not ratify the law even when the draft had 44
of the 66 possible parliamentary votes. The referendum was called and the NO to
the payment of the debt got 93% of the votes.
After this victory of the Icelandic peaceful revolution, the IMF froze all
economic aid to Iceland until the issues of the payment of the debt were solved.
The government ordered an investigation to determine the responsibility for the
crisis and the arrests of bankers and high executives began. Interpol issued
orders of capture and all the involved bankers left the country.
In this context, an assembly was elected to draw up a new constitution that
would include the new lessons learned from the crisis. This would replace the
existing one. To draft it, 25 citizens with no political affiliation, in
representation of the sovereign population, were chosen from 522 proposed
This Constitutional Assembly has been working since February 2011 on a Draft
Magna Carta from recommendations with the consensus of different assemblies held
all over the country. It will then need the approval of the present parliament
and of the new parliament after the coming legislative elections.
The economic recovery experienced by the island after being freed from the
parasitic burden of the bank debt is seen by the European capitalist cupolas as
a dangerous example for "sluggish" countries like Greece and Ireland. Most of
all because the recent successes Iceland has been achieving have led many
economists to consider it was the collapse of the banks that contributed the
most to this progress.
With the crisis resolved through not paying the debt, the Icelandic economy not
only did not collapse, but will close year 2011 with a 2.1% growth and a 1.5% in
year 2012, a figure that triples that of the countries in the Euro zone
A great part of this growth is based on production increases, mainly in tourism
and the fishing industry. This is in contrast with the image displayed by other
European economies in stalemate or decline.
Iceland has shown that by recovering its sovereignty, justice and dignity came
The corrupt politicians and bankers have been prosecuted. To reaffirm its
independence, Iceland last fall became the first European country to recognize
Palestine as an independent nation; something that no country under the yoke of
the international capitalist banking system has been able to do.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
* Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana. He was Cuba's ambassador to Romania, general director of the Prensa Latina agency; vice president of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television; founder and national director of the Technological Information System (TIPS) of the United Nations Program for Development in Cuba, and secretary of the Cuban Movement for the Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples.
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