By Pete Papaherakles
Iceland is showing the world what real independence from the bankers means. The Nordic island has become the first country to criminally charge a world leader as a result of the 2008 economic crisis. Former Prime Minister Geir Haarde, 73, was found guilty of “failing to adequately inform other Icelandic officials of events that led up to the 2008 financial crisis” according to an April 23 New York Times article.
As part of Haarde’s final verdict, two of the original six charges were dropped and the other three were cleared. These included “gross neglect of duty” and “ failure to reduce the size of the banking system,” charges that were more serious and could have put him behind bars for years.
Haarde, who served as Iceland’s prime minister from June 2006 to February 2009, will not actually have to serve any jail time but the trial was indicative of Iceland’s re-establishment of its sovereignty after defaulting on the bankers. As many as 90 bankers and politicians are expected to be brought to trial this year for crimes related to the targeted debt crisis Iceland faced.
Iceland was the only European country that dared to default on the bankers. In February 2011 Iceland’s President Olafur R. Grimsson refused to sign a $5 billion bailout bill and told the bankers he was going to put the bill to a referendum. Although 44 of the 63 members of Parliament had passed the bill, Grimsson said he was responding to a popular demand for a plebiscite after more than 42,000 of Iceland’s 318,000 inhabitants signed a petition asking him to block it.
Icelanders absorbed some of the costs itself but forced foreign investors to take the biggest hit. Not deterred by horror stories about an “unthinkable economic demise” that have prevented countries like Greece and Portugal from defaulting, Iceland has proved that default was the best thing it could have done. As a result, not only has the economy not collapsed since last year, but its gross domestic product is expected to increase by 2.6% this year. Much of that growth is based on increased production, mainly in tourism and the fishing industry. In contrast, most other European economies are either stagnant or in decline. Even the Times article admitted that many economists say Iceland’s recovery was aided by the collapse of the banks.
Iceland’s recovery is a shining example for countries like Greece, Ireland and Spain to follow. History has proven that countries experience growth once they get out from under the parasitic burden of debt to the bankers. National Socialist Germany from 1933-39 is a perfect example.
Real wealth is measured in terms of growth in agriculture, manufacturing and services. Greece and Spain have more than half of their highly energetic youth unemployed, producing nothing. In the U.S. 55,000 factories have shut down in the last decade.
Iceland has shown that with regained sovereignty comes justice and dignity. Corrupt politicians and bankers can be brought to trial.
Further asserting its independence, Iceland was the first country, last fall, to recognize Palestine as an independent nation, a move no country under the yoke of the international bankers has had the guts to do.
Peter Papaherakles, a U.S. citizen since 1986, was born in Greece. He is AFP’s outreach director. If you would like to see AFP speakers at your rally, contact Pete at 202-544-5977.