Open letter to Bundeskanzlerin Merkel

5 November 2012 by José Maria Castro Caldas

Dear Ms. Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel,

Regarding your coming visit to Portugal, I hereby request that you forward the following brief message to your fellow citizens:

  • We are well aware of the fact that in the past decade, your governments told you that you would have to forfeit part of your wages in order to protect your welfare State. They told you, and you believed them, that by forfeiting a little bit of your income you would become “more competitive” and thereby your country would generate enough savings to support your pensions and your children’s future social benefits.
  • We are also well aware of the fact that the past decade was hard on you and that your country became less agreeable and more unequal. We know that the intended goal was achieved. That Germany became “more competitive”, exported more and imported less at lower costs. We know that your country generated large current account surpluses and that those savings were accumulated in your banks.
  • Our economy faced globalization-bred competition - which largely benefited your exporting companies - and thus grew very slowly. But credit provided by your banks, via Portuguese banks, allowed household access to consumer goods, many of which produced by your exporting companies. For a while, this state of play seemed beneficial to everyone.
  • Perhaps you are not aware of this, but in the end, your decade-long effort to make Germany “more competitive” and surplus-generating may swiftly melt into thin air. Because your surpluses are our deficits and our debts are your banks’ assets. Your leaders should know that an economy is a system and that the eurozone economy is no exception to this. When system components seek advantage on the backs of others, disaster ensues for both the system and all components.
  • Perhaps you do not know this, but your leaders have been deceiving you for too long.
    Forgive me, Ms. Merkel, if I come across as excessively bitter. But I am unable to hide this: the spectacle of peoples against peoples is unbearable to me, especially when all of them face a common challenge - a coalition of finance and governments who rule on behalf of the 1%, governments like yours and ours. I remember past tragedies that should be unthinkable and remain in history books. I hope you will agree with me at least on this one point, Ms. Merkel: we must avert a return to that past.

José Maria Castro Caldas

(Translated by Luís Bernardo)



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