The Minister of Social Rights and General Secretary of Podemos, Ione Belarra, has defended this Friday before the State Citizen Council of her party -the highest body of the formation- that the consequences of the “economic crisis” that may arise as a result of the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine are paid for “with the profits of the energy companies that have taken advantage, more than ever during 2021, of the very high gas prices”.
PSOE and United We Can lower the tone of the discrepancies about the war to guarantee the stability of the Government
These consequences, she has said, “cannot fall on the backs of those who do not make ends meet”, for which she will defend before the coalition government with the PSOE, of which she is a part, that Spain deploy a “new social shield and green” that allows “protecting the people”, while accelerating “the deep transformations” that, in his opinion, the country needs. “This is not the time for patches, nor for asking people to postpone their emergencies again, it is time to address problems from their roots,” he added, before the Podemos senior staff. “It is time for us to offer security and certainty again,” he added.
In the first place, Belarra has proposed an “energy emergency plan” that “includes a severe additional cut in the benefits that fell from the sky of the electricity companies and aid checks to Spanish families to pay electricity and gas bills” . The leader of Podemos thus proposes aid of 300 euros so that “19 million Spanish families” can pay for these supplies. It would be a measure “similar” to the one developed in France, “which would cost around 5,700 million euros”. It is, according to her, “something perfectly viable and that would prevent the loss of purchasing power and the reduction of household consumption.”
“This crisis cannot be paid by the people, they have to be paid by the excessive and unjustifiable profits of the electricity companies. We have been paying cheap energy, such as nuclear or hydroelectric, at the price of the most expensive. Or what is the same, pay orange juice at the price of French champagne It is obscene that in the year in which the Spanish men and women paid one of the most expensive electricity and gas bills in decades, the energy companies of the IBEX 35 quadrupled their profits or that the President of Iberdrola, Mr. Sánchez Galán, has raised his salary by 8% and has earned 35,000 euros a day,” he emphasized.
“This time we cannot fail”
Belarra has recalled that “the Government has already tried once to cut the benefits that fell from the sky and the electricity companies found a hole in the regulation to continue earning even more”. “It cannot happen again, this time we cannot fail. We must cut these benefits and disconnect the price of gas from the pricing in the wholesale electricity market, something to which Europe has given us the green light. This would allow us to contain the increases in electricity bills”, he pointed out. Among the measures, Podemos also contemplates “a 10% surcharge on corporate tax for large electricity companies”, which in 2021 “earned four times more” than the previous year. “It is fair, but above all it is the most efficient way at an economic level to manage this crisis,” he settled.
Podemos also demands that the Council of Ministers promote a “social rights pact” because, according to Belarra, the “priority” of the Executive in this crisis “has to be to protect families with ambitious and courageous measures financed with an emergency tax reform “. “The large companies and the great fortunes have not done anything during the COVID 19 crisis to contribute to the public coffers. This time it has to be different. That is why we propose to urgently undertake a tax reform that allows us to shield health and public education and promote a true state care system”, he stressed.
“This government has to support families, all families, with an income for raising children of 100 euros a month and also with conciliation measures that cannot wait any longer, such as the extension of paternity and maternity leave to 6 months. “, has said.
For Belarra it is also “urgent” to end “the delinquency of large corporations that maintain debts after the deadline with SMEs and the self-employed”, for which he proposes that “those who continue with this practice” be “excluded from the distribution of European funds”. “It is essential to establish direct aid to these small and medium-sized companies, so that they can cope with the increase in costs. In addition, the conflict is going to particularly affect our livestock sector, which imports feed from Ukraine. Therefore, we must create support measures for the sector, for example by declaring local feed production projects based on native species as strategic, and at the same time stepping on the accelerator to end external dependence on food,” he emphasized.
Diplomacy, “the most difficult path”
During his speech, Belarra has also highlighted Podemos’s rejection of the shipment of weapons to Ukraine, a position that in recent weeks has confronted the leadership of his party not only with the majority of the Government and the socialist ministers, favorable to that shipment. , but also with his own candidate to lead a confederal political project, the second vice president and Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, or the Minister of Consumption and leader of IU, Alberto Garzón, as well as allies within United We Can like En Comú Podem .
“In these last weeks from Podemos we have once again chosen the most difficult path at a key moment, but I firmly believe that it is the correct path,” he maintained, implying that he understands the controversy generated within the confederal space, which since all parts have been settled. “We have defended diplomatic and peaceful means as the most effective measure to end the war in Ukraine as soon as possible,” he recalled, before “thanking the militants of Podemos, but also that of the United Left, the Communist Party of Spain and Green Alliance” for having defended what is “ethical and fair”. “Although we are criminalized and infantilized for it, we have defended peace at the only time when it is difficult to do so, during the war,” he insisted. “The opposite of war is politics,” he settled.
“It is not a question of whether or not to send weapons to Ukraine,” he added, “it is a matter of determining whether the conflict is resolved through military means,” or whether “everything” is bet on political means. “Sending weapons will not change the correlation of forces in favor of the Ukrainians,” she said. “The EU and Spain should use all their institutional power so that the negotiations have support and bear fruit.”
According to his argument, “many and many democrats” think “that the United Nations or the OSCE still have a much greater margin of action than they are deploying”, for which he has asked himself “why more efforts are not being made there “. “We have many examples of armed conflicts in which strong international involvement has achieved peace agreements,” such as “the one in Colombia, where Norway and Cuba mediated, and where the United Nations played a key role, or El Salvador, where the special representative of the UN Secretary General, Álvaro de Soto, mediated until the peace agreements were reached in 1992”, he pointed out.
Belarra has thus claimed “a strong social and citizen movement that demands peace and not war.” Without it, he has said, “it is very difficult for those who can do something to do it and to really bet on diplomatic channels.” “Let’s remember that wars always have a large arms business behind them, and behind each one of them there are strong economic and geopolitical interests that are hardly confessed. For this reason, from Podemos we want to promote, we are already promoting, a European movement for peace, hand in hand with progressive leaders such as Jean-Luc Melènchon or Jeremy Corbyn”, he stated.
Building bridges “with the other Russia”
What the party is looking for is “a movement” that allows “building bridges with the other Russia, the one that does not accept Putin’s authoritarianism and contempt for human rights.” “A European movement to achieve, as soon as possible, a peaceful and lasting solution for Ukraine. Better today than tomorrow, better tomorrow than the day after. Better with fewer fatalities, with less suffering and with less destruction than with more victims, more suffering and more destruction,” he concluded.
This position also passes, in his opinion, by promoting an asylum policy “to welcome with dignity the refugees who flee from the war in Ukraine, and also from other conflicts and problems that are much more forgotten.” “More and more people are realizing that it is not very coherent that Europe only shudders at the suffering of other Europeans,” he stressed.