Preferred Citizens

Back in mid 2010 Spain was hard hit as the banks and savings banks lacked liquid assets due to the fast growing economic crisis in Europe and the United Stares.  To get quick active assets for their economic ratings they targeted retail customers who had money in their savings accounts with a complex financial investment product that had been initially created for large and mid corporate investment companies in the late 90’s.  They told retail customers the product was totally safe, it was meant to keep their savings with no risks and with a higher revenue in interests.  Customers were told that it was an all-win situation and the bank was doing this because they had been good loyal customers.  In most of the cases the targeted people were elderly with life savings that went from 6,000 - to 200,000 euros.  For most of them, a bank director was much the same as a doctor or lawyer, someone to be trusted.  

When the EU ruled that money coming from these financial products would not be counted as company’s liquid assets, the sand castle that had been built, came tumbling down.  Elderly people found out they are not getting interest anymore for their deposits and when they tried to withdraw the money they found they couldn't, that the contracts (some of them 130 pagers long) wouldn't allow it.   In the contracts it states that if the bank does not have any benefits they are not forced to pay interests on those deposits plus and that, that money should remain in the bank as an asset for eternity.  Around 300,000 people were affected for a a total of around 30,000 million euros.

I met “Robbed by the Bank” (ExB in the Catalan acronym) as I was researching the story about people that had their savings “trapped” in the “Preferred Stocks”.  I had earlier contacted another similar group and a Consumer Protection Agency, but I was soon captivated by the energy of this particular group,  whose average age was around 70 years old.  Despite their age they are ready to fight for what has been taken away from them through fraud,  by lying, and in some cases by faking signatures and documentation.  Their energy is amazing and unmatched by others in Spain, which is going through the worst crisis since the civil war.  ExB gathers several times a week for actions at different bank branches and every Tuesday at 6PM sharp in front of the Barcelona Stock Exchange.  One of the movements' leaders, Roque Borrás, who has his elder mother affected,  loudspeaker in hand,  tells the latest news.   All decisions are made in a horizontal fashion and by raising hands. The whole group accounts for a couple hundred people affected by the scam, but usually moves an average of 120.  Bad weather, health issues and age doesn’t always allow all members to come out for weekly meetings, but most can usually make it.   The protest start at Barcelona Stock Exchange building and end at the headquarters of Caixa Catalunya in Via Layetana, a total distance of 4 km which is done in around 2 hours and a half.   During the march they use, whistles, fire crackers, eggs, banners, loudspeakers, bells and their voices, cutting traffic and posting flyers on the banks they encounter along the way. - Enric Catalá

2013 to 2014

The author retains copyright over his work.
Contact him directly here
Visit his website: