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Spain

The sad future of Ana Patricia Botín 

Juan Torres López

All biographical notes on the new chair of Banco Santander agree on virtually the same thing: the person who has succeeded Emilio Botín in the same fashion that one inherits a crown is extraordinarily qualified, very intelligent, highly educated and knows perfectly the business of the financial institution over which she will preside.

It is also noted that she is extremely powerful. Even before becoming chair of the board of Santander, a BBC survey considered her the third most powerful woman in the United Kingdom, after the Queen and the Minister of Interior. Now, running the bank, she is recognized as the most powerful woman in Spain and global banking.

She is undoubtedly a brilliant woman, who has had it all at her fingertips but has certainly worked long hours and made much personal effort. No doubts she can do or get everything she wants. But she seems to have a sad future ahead of her.

You have reached the very centre of power from where you could deploy all kinds of influence to help ease serious social problems, but all she proposes, as she told the first shareholders’ meeting she presided, is to follow in the footsteps of his father, continuing to make the bank more and more money.

Her future is bleak, as chair of a powerful institution, because it is sad to become a mere expression of the “animal spirits” that Keynes said drive the behaviour that sustains capitalism. Because it is a sad life that dehumanizes itself to respond soley to profit, to respond exclusively to the boast of the infamous Spanish banker Juan March: “To us, what we like is to make money, not to have it.”

It is sad that in this world as damaged as the one in which we live today, so intelligent, so well educated and so powerful people look for nothing else than to earn their bank more and more money, without mentioning about how they will earn it, without worrying about how they are going to achieve a healthier balance sheet.

Who don’t care whether to earn more money they use tax havens and circumvent tax laws and regulations, who set up shadow banks, who deceive customers, who need to be continuously dodging justice (albeit by way of buying politicians and judges to hide what is behind the business). Who, instead of considering the money that you have as the essential blood which can run a productive economy and use it best, use it as an end in itself, that is, make the sole purpose of the bank to have more money each day to keep earning more every moment, and only this.

Who, to become richer every day have us believe that they promote knowledge and its dissemination, taking into the payroll dozens of rectors and academics, while at the same time preventing the circulation of books if they are critical or reveal the shame that lies behind banks today, as they did, among others, with Josep Manuel Novoa’s El Poder o El botín de Botín, which shows in detail the origins of the wealth and power of these well-heeled bankers, what it is used for or what procedures were used, for example, to make the financial hole in Banesto and then take it over at a bargain price.

The new chair of Santander has made it clear. There is no room for sentiment. Not a word about the thousands of people who lost their homes at the hands of banks, the unemployed or those who have less and less income so that people like her can accumulate. Not a second to any concern other than to fatten the wallet. The influence, power, intelligence, know-how, experience of everything that happened, the frustration, disappointment and losses of thousands of customers and the millions of people suffering from the crisis banks have caused mean nothing to her because, as she stated, she simply proposes to follow “the path of success” of her father. Nothing more to others, but nothing less for bankers.

Analyses that were performed this summer seem to have shown, even if they tried to disguise it, that the Bank of Santander’s accounts are not completely robust. The simple desire to make money does not provide financial security or solvency and top executives have had to resort to accounting tricks to avoid the danger of not failing the stress tests designed to unearth capital shortfalls.

For a bank it is a problem if there’s not enough capital. But for humanity is a tragedy that the real power is in the hands of someone who acts as if she lacks a heart or feelings.

El Publico

Translation by Revolting Europe

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope

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