Monthly Archives: February 2008

Delocalization

“Delocalization”: a term used to refer to companies moving factories or other operations from their usual locations to new ones.

People (politicians included) like to complain about companies “delocalizing”, and taking jobs away from their region (be it a town, province, country or a continent). They love to argue that the departing company is only moved by profit and has no sensibility for society and the local community.

However, “delocalization” is actually an illusion built on the illusion that things will not or should not change.

Businesses (whether a local business or a multinational opening a new factory or branch) establish themselves in a particular location, at a particular point in time, when it is in their interest. Likewise, new conditions may drive the business to move to another location.

It is not reasonable to expect companies to stay at a given location. “Delocalization” is not such. “Delocalization” seems to imply an intrinsic requirement for businesses to be attached to a certain place or certain people. This is an unfortunate misconception that needs to be extinguished.

People, politicians and public administrations need to think in the context of an ever changing world, discarding any temptation to rely on well known, local structures. A community or society which attempts to tie businesses down (for example, by imposing fines in case of relocation) will only drive businesses away and will limit job opportunities for itself.

Rather than denouncing “delocalization”, efforts should be directed at making local communities competitive, to face new challenges instead of merely deflecting problems (competition) that are sure to come back.

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Permissive, clumsy, damaging policy

Year 2002: The Spanish Government, with support from the opposition, introduces new legislation to ban political parties which support, in one form or another, terrorism. The new laws were drafted quite clearly with political party Batasuna in mind. This party, linked to criminal band ETA, had representation in the Basque parliament, receiving public funds which ended up supporting ETA’s terrorist activities.

Year 2004: National elections to the Spanish Government: The PSOE (socialist party), until then the opposition party, became the party in power.

Year 2005: Local Basque elections took place. Batasuna, already declared illegal for supporting terrorist activity, could not run in this election. However, a new party, PCTV (EHAK by its Basque name), ran for office, despite it being heir to the people, ideas, and practices of Batasuna, and in fact being a new name for Batasuna (illegal by then). According to the law in effect since 2002, PCTV could have been declared illegal, as Batasuna was. However, the socialists in Government, who had supported in 2002 (while they were the opposition party) the new legislation on political parties, failed to apply the law on PCTV. PCTV obtained 9 seats in parliament: in other words, this ETA side-wing party obtained again public funds, and power in the Basque parliament.

Year 2007: City elections were scheduled all throughout Spain. In the Basque Country, another new Batasuna heir party ran for office: ANV. Again, like in 2005 with PCTV, many voices called for the law of political parties to be applied in full force to keep terrorist-supporting ANV and PCTV from running in the elections. The ruling socialist Government of Spain again did nothing (like in 2005) to prevent the terrorist supporters from gaining access to public money, to administering public funds in city halls, and to accessing personal information from citizens to be potentially used by ETA through their PCTV and ANV brands.

Year 2008: Spain general elections are scheduled for March 2008. The ruling socialist Government now (early 2008) has initiated actions to declare PCTV and ANV illegal, as was done with Batasuna in 2002. The Government claims that now (a few months before General elections), there is evidence of the relation between ETA and PCTV and ANV, because this evidence was not obvious until now.

Nothing could be further from the truth: Evidence of those links was known since long ago. Yesterday, Feb 9, the Supreme Court in Spain, published a court order stating that it would be disproportionate to do as the Government requested (i.e., to suspend ANV activity before declaring it illegal). The Supreme Court argues that the evidence of ANV links with ETA are known since May 2007 or even earlier. Therefore, why has the Government delayed to act against ANV? Why do it now and not earlier? The obscure reasons that drove the Government to act this way are more than likely part of its strategy to negotiate with ETA. In recent months, Prime Minister Rodríguez Zapatero has admitted that in December 2006 he said he would stop contacts with ETA after ETA killed two people in Madrid that month. Prime Minister Rodríguez Zapatero has also admitted now that despite what he said, he continued to meet and negotiate with ETA. Then ETA killed two more people, this time in France. Now it’s useless to listen to anything Rodríguez Zapatero may say. Who knows whether he continues to talk with ETA or not. It’s almost meaningless because the damage is done: Since the socialist party came into power in 2004, ETA has been allowed to return to public institutions through PCTV and ANV, and has grown in strength and support.

The current socialist Government is staging a tough stance on ETA, very convenient in the time of elections to obtain public support (or to avoid losing it). Funny enough, this means the Government acknowledges that most people support policies that ban and defeat ETA, instead of the negotiating and appeasing strategy of PM Rodríguez Zapatero.