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Tanja Nijmeijer

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Alexandra Nariño (Tanja Nijmeijer) is an international combatant from The Netherlands and member of the Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP
Wednesday, 27 April 2016 00:00

The money from the FARC: smokescreen?

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The Panama Papers were a shock therapy which lasted only half a second. It was like when the wind lifts the skirt of a girl on the street. Embarrased, she puts her hands on her lap to lower it and then squints, with burning cheeks, around her: Who saw it?

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Who saw it? There was no need for the scandal around Mossack Fonseca to vanish that quickly. It revealed once again that corruption has always been both a consequence and a fundamental pillar of capitalism. It showed that corruption and fraud are not a problem of "some countries", usually from the third world, as it had been portrayed for a long time, but rather a systemic problem involving much of the world elite.

And it produces victims. Tax evasion at a large as the Panama Papers creates inequality with millions of victims worldwide, mostly in poor countries, but also in European countries ordinary people are affected. No budget for education, for health, for culture, tax increases, cutbacks on expenses ... Well, it turns out that the money does exist; only that it’s found in a Sesame temple across the ocean, tax free!

But we don’t feel like we were victims of corruption. We see the elites usurping wealth and the poor eating misery, and it gives us a vague feeling that something is not right. We protest against it, but it’s still an abstract crime committed by some Mr. X. There's a reason why they are called white collar crimes: they are clean, invisible, coldly calculated.

The former director of the National Taxes and Customs Directorate (DIAN), Juan Ricardo Ortega, estimated in an interview with Caracol Radio that Colombia's elites have hidden 100 billion dollars in tax havens; 600 thousand facade companies created in Panama to evade taxes and about 800 thousand Colombians appear in the Panama Papers.

100 billion dollars are more than a quarter of Colombia's GDP, which is 378.4 billion dollars. A quarter of GDP in tax havens!

Therefore, it is not a minor scandal. Much less if we consider that Colombia -as expressed by economist Thomas Piketty recently at the Externado University of Colombia- is one of the most unequal countries of the world, "far beyond what can be justifiable in a society".

Tax evaders are stealing the budget for health, education, peace plans, infrastructure plans and drinking water. To justify themselves, they hide behind the law, equating "legal" with "ethical", protected by governments around the world, because it are also politicians, their families and their social circles who benefit from this deal. Hence the picture is completed.
One would think that taxes on 100 billion dollars could contribute significantly to the construction of the New Colombia of the post agreements. All that is needed to address this phenomenon of tax havens is ... political will. To cover up the fact that political will is nonexistent, a smokescreen must be invented.

That's the reason why the suspicion of money possession by the FARC, which according to The Economist has never been proven despite numerous investigations by various agencies – confirmed even by the President –, turns out to be far more serious than the millionaire tax evasion by the elites.

Also read: Colombia’s elite hiding more than a quarter of country’s GDP in fiscal paradises

Last modified on Thursday, 28 April 2016 12:05
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