Apr 07 2009

Iceland Attacked by Economic Hitmen

John Perkins, the author of The Confessions of an Economic Hitman, is currently in Iceland. Perkins is here to be at the premier screening of The Dreamland, a documentary based on Andri Snær Magnason’s book, also titled The Dreamland. Last Sunday, Perkins was interviewed in a political TV show on RÚV (the state television station) where he spoke about the threat of Icelandic resources being sold to foreign corporations and advised Icelandic authorities not to collaborate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Perkins used to work for the U.S. National Security Agency and his job included “to convince poor countries to accept enormous development loans – and to make sure that such projects were contracted to U.S. companies,” as says on the back cover of his book. Perkins states that Iceland is the first ‘developed’ country in the world to be hit by the ‘Economic Hitmen’, referring to the invasion of the aluminium industry in Iceland.

In the TV interview, Perkins spoke about Landsvirkjun’s (Iceland’s national energy company) worsening financial situation and made the connection between that and the possibility of the selling of Icelandic natural resources. He talked about how sad this development is but at the same time should have been easy to see beforehand. Natural resources are the greatest resources of Iceland and big aluminium companies have come here to exploit them. With Landsvirkjun’s losses, Icelanders are not only giving away their resources but as well loosing big amounts of money. The situation will only get worse if IMF gets full control.

Even though Perkins is no specialist, his input into the current discussion about IMF, heavy industry and Iceland’s natural resources, is very important. Saving Iceland and other environmental organizations in Iceland have for years campaigned against the invasion of the aluminium industry in to Iceland, not only because of the environmental consequences but also the economical one as well as the negative effects on the democracy. These warnings have been backed up by economists but were until now been talked down by the government as well as aluminium and energy companies, said to be nothing but pure “political propaganda”.

Yesterday, Perkins gave a talk at the University of Iceland, in a crowded lecture hall. A panel discussion took place after the talk, including the current minister of environment, Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir. She was met with heavy anger, especially because of the secrecy concerning IMF’s demands. People asked why the current left wing government has not already put all information on the table. Halldórsdóttir could not give any proper answers apart from the fact that IMF demands complete secrecy. Only a couple of days after the forming of the current government, Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, the head of Vinstri Grænir (the Left Greens) promised in an interview with the leftist news web page Nei., that the government would make IMF’s demands visible as soon as possible.

It emerged from the panel discussion that the people present overwhelmingly agreed on kicking IMF out of the country. And since the Left Greens don’t seem to be about to take on that task, it will be interesting to see what kind of actions the grassroots here in Iceland will be taking in the nearest future.

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Read also: More Power Plants May Cause More Economic Instability by Jaap Krater.

The interview with John Perkins can be watched here: