In the use of everyday language, the view on the issue of foreign debt has been manipulated. In this way, words and concepts have been and are used to induce and deceive, favouring and favouring a sweetened view, with psychological and cultural subjugation, which produced and still produces a real semantic colonisation of people and peoples on the subject.

by Miguel Julio Rodríguez Villafañe

The managers of public opinion have taught and continue to teach didactically, by all means, that foreign debts should always be “honoured”, without questioning whether they are legitimate, unworthy, odious or irritating. The inducement to “honour” was deliberately chosen, as it implies the conceptualisation that debts in themselves deserve to be “extolled or their merit should be highly valued”. These attitudes are dispensed only to Gods to be honoured, i.e., to something superior to oneself, to whom one does not speak on equal terms, always presupposing a reverential respect for the one to be honoured. In short, we are forced to look up, since we are not supposed to be on the same level. In this way, we are prepared not to demand rights and responsibilities from the supposed creditors, because nothing is demanded of the Gods, least of all rights. They are only praised and held accountable for the duties that have been done and are begged for forgiveness for what the superior being can understand as not having been fulfilled. This attitude of submission was used as the basis for conditioning the discussion on Argentina’s foreign debts. With the aggravating factor that this allowed, each time debts were negotiated, more rights to be given up and duties to be increased. The latter, making us believe that we were being granted benefits that we should be grateful for.

The “external lenders” are never mentioned, they are referred to as “external creditors”, which means that we are always assumed to be “debtors” in the face of any claim from them, regardless of whether we are really owed what is being demanded of us. This last point is fundamental to resolve, since in many cases, payments are sought for supposed debts of illegitimate, usurious origin and the product of various situations in which the so-called creditors would actually be debtors, because what is being sought has already been paid more than once or should not be paid because it is illegitimate, undue or illegitimate.

Furthermore, when the national budget is discussed, the items earmarked for health and education are treated as “expenditure on health and education”, while the provisions for the payment of interest on foreign debts are referred to as “debt service” payments. They make it clear that the former are expenditures, as a burden, yet they are an “investment”, but the payment of interest on foreign debts is presented as a “service”. Note that some of the meanings of the word “service”, according to the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy, are the “Action and effect of serving”; or “Favour done to someone” or the “Set of servants or servants”. It is hard to think that we should “serve a heavy and unjust debt” and even less to understand that this is the product of a “favour” done to us. Worse than that, although with a dose of reality, we are transformed into “servants or servants of it”. These are the new semantic enslavements assumed without reflection.

At the same time, when dealing with the outflow of money from the country to the so-called “tax havens”, this sweetened word is used, when the real name is “tax haven”. These havens in banks are presented with the sensation of a saintly environment without sin, when they mainly deal with the laundering of illicit profits and hiding, in general, the money of the powerful, corrupt, criminals, evaders, mafiosi, etc. These banks commit the “crime of concealment by receiving”.

The names of the “alleged creditors are never determined, they are always anonymous”. It is essential to demand a census of creditors.

Similarly, when real blows are dealt to democratic systems, for example by overvaluing the dollar, it is presented as something produced by “the market”, without making it explicit who the market is, when this can perfectly well be determined.

Also behind these financial actions are hidden investment funds, many of them so-called “vulture funds”. It is never stated who they are, but they bring countries to their knees in the face of unworthy demands.

Moreover, many of the organisations that condition nations do not even have a legal structure, as is the case with the so-called “Paris Club”. In reality, it is neither a club, nor a body, nor a legal entity as such, since it is an informal group of creditors, which takes upon itself the function of coordinating ways of payment and renegotiation of foreign debts of the countries held as debtors with the lending institutions.

It is also taught that a country becomes “risky” if it does not comply, without conditions, with what it is required to pay by the lenders. From this concept, we have been degraded and degraded as a society and the temperature of our self-esteem is made to depend only on the so-called “country risk” index. This index, which is prominently reported in the media on a daily basis, is set by banks such as JP Morgan-Chase and Goldman Sachs, both of which have been fined heavily in the USA for providing improper information to their clients.

Likewise, we are led to believe that the greatest burden on society is the cost of labour, so there is pressure for “labour flexibilisation” as a way of attracting capital to invest and create jobs. This reasoning is deceitful, undignified, undue and at the same time suicidal, when on the other hand, “free trade” is demanded, so that products from areas of the planet with slave labour are allowed to enter, which makes it impossible to think of a real productive reactivation, due to the unfair competition that this implies.

In addition to this, the “social security amounts” to be paid are blamed for the budgetary imbalances, because it is said that the country’s old people are long-lived. Unacceptable reasoning.

For their part, the essential investments in the most “vulnerable (the poor, the disabled, the unemployed, etc.)” are contemptuously referred to as “populist policies”, supposedly demagogic, items that are cruelly reduced in order to allocate more money to the payment of supposed debts.

It is necessary to reflect on and reformulate the misleading words and concepts and to educate about the problem.

(*) Miguel Julio Rodríguez Villafañe is a constitutional lawyer and opinion journalist.