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Blesa's e-mails: the end of an era

Spain, December 2013: 8,000 leaked e-mails sent from Caja Madrid corporate accounts, regarding the actions of former president, Miguel Blesa, have led to over 100 bankers and politicians facing trial. This is the inside story of Blesa’s e-mails, from those behind the leak. Español. Portugues.

Protesters occupy Caja Madrid bank in Barcelona. Demotix/Lino De Vallier. All rights reserved.

In December 2013, the Spanish media and its citizens learned about the content of around 8000 e-mails sent from Caja Madrid corporate accounts from 2000 - 2009, regarding the actions of Caja Madrid’s former president, Miguel Blesa. This has led so far to over a 100 bankers, politicians from all the main political parties and trade union leaders being brought to trial. The scandal exposed the attempt not only to buy off individual loyalties, but the allegiance of political parties, trade unions, and ultimately the government and the opposition. The e-mails tell us something else as well. We all knew that Spain's was never a 'crisis', it was a scam. Xnet is republishing these e-mails today so that they are available to Spanish and all other concerned citizens, alongside the story of Blesa’s e-mails so far.

It is frustrating to see how this sort of disclosure can be manipulated. So we are going to tell it ourselves. When we say 'we', we do not mean only those who have enabled Blesa's e-mails to come to light or those of us who are driving the Bankia case and watching how new advances are being made every day; we also refer to citizens who have contributed to this story in some way or who have suffered the consequences of these State scams, such as the preferred shares and Bankia's IPO.

This is why we are publishing this material and alongside it, we will write the script for a show that will travel from city to city and from town to town, that will be updated in real time to accompany the progress of the legal enquiry and will receive the input from citizens who have suffered in various ways, in their own skin, the consequences of what is narrated in Blesa's e-mails.

As we have always said, the desire that moves us is the opposite to a political lynching: this idea comes precisely after seeing how Rato was abandoned and subsequently lynched by his own people, in an attempt to support the rotten apple theory, when we well know that what is rotten is the whole basket. That collective tragedy called "crisis" is not the responsibility of one alone, but of all those who have permitted it. The story we want to tell is not the story of Blesa or Rato or any of the other names that appear in the e-mails. It is the story of a plot designed to loot a whole country. 

It is also the story of how citizens, the people involved, activists, crowdfunding supporters, honest and disinterested experts, a few brave public servants, journalists, artists... organised together, succeeding in bringing the truth to light.

What we are going to tell is a true story….

We want to finish the work we began in December 2013, when we first brought Blesa's e-mails to the attention of the public. They contained thousands of corporate emails from the ex-president of the Spanish savings bank Caja Madrid that showed, through such cases as the 'Black' Credit Cards scandal, how the plot to financially ruin Bankia, and its subsequent public bailout in 2012, was hatched. Today, the Xnet press team is opening up direct access to a selection of the original emails for journalists, researchers, those parties affected, and ordinary citizens.

The source behind the original leak revisited us, this time through our Mailbox Against Corruption, providing access to a web domain containing a mass of raw content which is his property.  We've thoroughly filtered the material and made a reduced selection, bearing in mind the journalists’ responsibility to weigh the right to privacy against the rights of citizens to know about the historic events that have determined our lives over the last decade [See publication criteria here].  The resulting format is the most comprehensive possible, so far as information is concerned, and it includes a wide range of unedited material. To facilitate your search, we have presented the material in chronological order and in four thematic folders and we've also included a search option so that anyone can easily navigate through them. 

5 reasons for open access

 All of this has taken months of work that our press team has willingly performed for the following reasons:

1 - These emails are a part of the history of our country, as they narrate how the pit was opened up in the Spanish economy - the "crisis" as it is more cynically known. And, consequently, they should be available to be studied in-depth in an accessible archive. What we have before us are not only human errors and abuses, but also a picture of the obsolete organisational structures that allowed these to happen, and that we, collectively, must eradicate and substitute with others.

The savings banks were 'public'. This means, in the jargon that has prevailed until now without much debate, that they were reserved ‘for the political parties', a function that, in the era of the Indignados', seems both absurd and profoundly outdated. We strongly defend the premise that the word 'public' should, from now on, mean 'belonging to the commons' and that as such, it should be "under citizen observation'. 

2 - These emails, which are made up of internal corporate messages not sent via private email, belong to the citizenry; as citizens, we paid for this with our own money in the most expensive bailout in the history of Spain, the 'nationalisation' of Bankia in 2012.  And so, any of them which are informative or of historical interest must be accessible to everyone.

3 - Another important reason for publishing Blesa's e-mails is that, since 15M, the Spanish ‘Indignados’ social movement, the citizenry has been teaching the world a lesson, to the effect that history is not written by governments, but it is being written by people who organise and who act.

If it is not, we will continue to see propaganda from the Government and established powers, or more simply disinformation and a lack of accuracy, to make it seem as if corruption were being dismantled by Mariano Rajoy and his accomplices, the heads of the institutions that, in reality, are covering it up (like the Tax Office, the National Securities Market Commission, etc.) or by any other political party in such a campaign mode. 

We must prevent this from happening, by any means necessary, for two fundamental reasons. The first is that it should be obvious that things are not being done well and that these powers will not save us; we have to save ourselves.  The second is that the example of an active citizenry can lead to more citizens acting and to more examples of citizen action because everyone can see that yes, in fact it does produce results. This is why we explain in detail below how Blesa's e-mails and the scandal of the ‘Black’ Credit Cards came to light.  

4 - Knowing how they came to light, it emerges that even the press cannot work alone, as what has been uncovered often comes about as a result of the efforts of individuals or organised groups of citizens.

In this new democratic landscape of organised citizenry, where journalists are citizens and citizens are journalists, the possibility of putting an end to the looting that has taken place under corrupt governments will inevitably arise because information is now flowing that all of us can use; it is no longer the exclusive property of only a few media outlets. It is unavoidable.   

People who seek out information, who uncover it, put it in order and at the disposal of the media or of the courts, those who help spread this information and collate it, those who provide financial support through crowdfunding, the few, yet brave judges and civil servants who fulfil their duties despite the pressure exerted on them... It is thanks to all of them that we are finally, in an exemplary collective effort, putting an end to corruption. 

And this is how it must be, as corruption can only be stopped by proactive, continuous and definitive citizen observation of institutions and parties.  It will never be accomplished spontaneously from the inside.

5 - For all of the reasons above, we can improve the way we use sensitive information to put an end to corruption.  And we urgently need to act by increasing and strengthening our methods, as new gag laws of all types are being put in place in the attempt to prevent us from doing so. Do we want to live in a world where revealing the plot of the 'Black' Credit Cards, along with the complicity of institutions and political parties, is prohibited?  In a world in which institutions and parties sack and pillage the common goods in secret and with impunity?  These laws are trying to accomplish this, among other goals. 

Where all this began

When the source behind Blesa's e-mails contacted us for the first time, we were among the founding members of the X Party and of the 15MpaRato mechanism or device against corruption.  The handling of this material, leading to the second most important banking corruption leak in Spanish history, represented a qualitative leap forward after years of working with citizen information.  

With this experience, we saw that, in many cases, the media - at times due to a lack of resources, at others to a lack of will - could not actively collaborate with the sources, with whistleblowers such as ourselves and with other media outlets; in a relationship that would be truly effective against corruption and not just a mere source of complaint and scandal.

This setback exposed the need to come up with more collaborative ways of acting, and thus more efficient ones.  This was the basis for creating the Mailbox for Citizen Leaks Against Corruption, the Xnet Mailbox in which more than 50 journalists from dozens of media outlets now participate.

Nevertheless, this Mailbox has run into another barrier: the journalists can't perform their daily duties in real-time if they also have to process all of the information that we receive through the citizen Mailbox - almost 60 emails per month, of which 10% are of informational and / or legal use for uncovering corruption. Many citizens trust more in others such as ourselves than in formal institutions and it is necessary to address these needs. 

To overcome this new obstacle, we are creating a news blog in various media outlets simultaneously [http://correosdeblesa.com], which we trust will allow information to get out faster and in a more cooperative way.     

What are Blesa’s e-mails about?

By now, we have come to understand one thing very clearly: this ocean of corruption in which we are immersed is not bottomless. 

In the end, it's always the usual suspects: a significant swathe of the upper echelons of the political parties, of the large unions and of the Spanish Confederation of Employer's Organisations (CEOE), participating in the same types of mafia-esque schemes in which members of the government are the executing agency for whatever the organisation requires and party members are used as a smokescreen. The plan is to stay in power in order to continue pillaging public goods, purchasing political will and buying off the media.  All of those involved in these plots can become immensely wealthy should they wish to do so, but always in exchange for paying back something to the organisation.  This is how it all works.

Blesa's e-mails allow us to see how, within the leadership of the PP, PSOE, IU Madrid, CCOO and the UGT, there are organisations in the shadows that commit crimes in the strictly legal sense of the word. 

The citizen accusation by @15MpaRato provides us with a legal course of action for this project. Uncovering corruption is not enough; we must incarcerate the guilty and put an end to impunity as well.

With these emails, we have demonstrated the existence of corruption conspiracies such as the 'Black’ Credit Cards or the preferred shares scandal, but we can also reconstruct how this country has been plundered for the last decade and by whom.

The emails tell us something else as well. We all knew that it was never a crisis, it was a scam. Now we also know that the scam was poorly planned: it is a mirror image of our simple and, sadly, incompetent governing class. 

Today we wish to finish what we have started with Blesa's e-mails, so that this example can be the starting signal for an extensive and truly effective machinery for the exchange and cooperation between sources, whistleblowers, citizen groups, networked investigative journalism outlets and truly democratic institutions.   

If you don't want others to benefit from collective efforts in order to effect change, then you must be a protagonist.  Always remember that ordinary citizens have done this already #laciudadanialohizo (the citizens did it).  Happy reading. 

How the “Black” credit cards came to light

This story is not well known and the time to tell it has come.

The X Party's Citizen's Anti-Corruption Commission received an email from an anonymous source that claimed to have "... a large amount of important information ... which painted a clear picture of institutional corruption in Spain...". They quickly put this source in touch with journalists at elDiario.es and, two days later, with journalists from El Mundo

More than two years ago, many of Xnet's members participated in the creation of the X Party, a pioneering project to bring citizen pressure to the only places where it had yet to arrive, three years after 15M: political parties and institutions.  Xnet is also part of the nucleus that has been there from the beginning of the 15MpaRato allegations, and which has opened and pushed the Bankia Case forward.  This is where Blesa's e-mails have been of vital importance in exposing the preferred shares scandal and a new case has been opened to investigate the "Black" credit cards.

All of these projects were anonymous from the beginning but, for the last year and a half, have been out in the open to avoid manipulation. These cases are "catalysts", which, for us, are mechanisms whose participants work to direct the optimum citizen participation towards well-defined objectives. In the case of Blesa's e-mails, we did not confine ourselves to acting as a conduit to bring these emails to the press: neither ElDiario.es nor El Mundo were able to open the material up and they asked for our help. We provided the assistance of various specialised journalists who, after five days without rest, helped the outlets access the material and identified the first storylines. 

All of this work was done voluntarily.  The only thing that we asked for was to include a formula that recognised the work of the citizens whenever a story relating to Blesa's e-mails was released.   

At the same time, InfoLibre had also received some of these emails and performed an in-depth investigation of them. InfoLibre was the first to publish information about Blesa's e-mails, bringing their contents and revelatory information about corruption in the highest places to the public eye.

None of this happened by coincidence, or at the behest of those in power or by magic.  It happened because the sources, the citizen volunteers and professional journalists, none of whom would have been able to do it alone, all worked together. It is pointless to blame a judge or any other individual. There are no lone heroes or villains; only citizens exercising their collective responsibility to uncover what has happened in our history.  

On March 6, 2015, we received another message in Xnet's Mailbox for Leaks with the following message: 

"I'm happy to see that you use GlobaLeaks [a tool to maintain the anonymity of sources].  I think there is more juice to be squeezed from Blesa's Emails.  I'll leave it here http://correosdeblesa.com]".  And soon after, another one with the access code for sorting them out. 

Since that day, we have been sifting through the material and putting it in order (see publication criteria below.)

If we want to avoid making the same mistakes, if we don't want to continue trusting promises, old and new, we can cooperate, share and assume responsibilities in a distributed fashion. Every day there are more and more citizens who don't want to be treated as simple consumers of politics and information.  This is the legacy that was forged in the 15M, and it is our future.

What criteria do we use for selecting which of Blesa’s e-mails we publish?

We have omitted emails (or parts of the overall text, in some cases) that we do not consider to be of historical, legal and/or of public interest, and thus fall outside the motivation for this publication.

To highlight this, "OMITIDO - OMITTED - TEXTO OMITIDO - TEXT OMITTED - NOMBRE/S OMITIDOS - NAMES OMITTED" appears in some emails.

We have filtered the material making a reduced selection.  If any errors happen to have escaped our notice, please let us know and we will correct them immediately.

The original sources are also available for any investigative journalists who require them, provided that they respect the same criteria as we do for protecting sources and people not directly linked to political or economic responsibilities. 

The original material we received contains 7,237 emails = 6,569 + 669 (SPAM) with 932 attachments.  After the initial revision, we are publishing 443 emails and only a few of the attachments.

They will be published in four folders, in chronological order and with a search tool so that anyone who is interested or who needs information for their research can easily find it by simply typing in a word (in Spanish), like, for example, "black" (from "Black" Credit Cards), "preferred shares", etc.

The vast majority of the emails that are here have already been published, while others have not.  We have also omitted some emails that had previously been published that did not meet the editorial criteria outlined here.  

Due to the fact that we do not have the resources to thoroughly cover every topic, we have passed in bulk some of the specific themes to interested, specialised journalists who will perform this task.  For that reason, topics such as arms negotiations or the Iberia Airlines situation will not appear. 

Apart from what has been mentioned above, here we will, in general terms, explain which types of emails and content have NOT been included from the original source: 

- Emails of a personal, family or private business nature, as well as emails of a routine nature (such as purchases from department stores, shops or taxidermy companies).  However, we'd like to note once again that the emails published here were not sent or received from private, personal email accounts, but from corporate ones.

- Emails that mention journalists as they perform their duties.

- Emails that mention workers and clerks performing their duties. 

- Emails that are insulting or personal and that lack informative content; we've also omitted emails that talk behind people's backs (as happens from time to time in any group of humans), provided that they are not relevant to understanding historical facts or do not reinforce useful legal facts.

- We've omitted reports on clients that are not relevant to the context.

- We've omitted allusions to people whose responsibility in institutions or public-private enterprise is unknown, or in criminal acts that have not yet been made public.

- We've omitted allusions to nepotism (spouses, children, other family members and relatives of friends).  Although they are striking, we've decided to omit them out of respect for the privacy of the individuals involved, even if they clearly bear witness to situations of ethically dubious favouritism.

- We've omitted the names of companies that are not relevant to understanding the context.

- We've omitted the names of those who are irrelevant to the case.

- We've omitted personal information that has not been published to date.

- We've omitted almost all of the attachments because we lack the resources.  In this case, as with the other omitted sections, we'd like to remind you that the original material is at the disposal of specialised journalists and citizen groups that can accredit their research into the topics they are hoping to access, provided that there are guarantees that the handling of the sensitive information will be done in such a way as to protect sources and information of a private and intimate nature.

- We've omitted irrelevant emails not included in any of the previous cases.

- We've omitted bulletins from foundations and the press, which are in the public domain.

- We've omitted references to corporate speeches, as they are already public.

- We've omitted numerous road radar warnings as well as office in-jokes drawings and cartoons.

- We've also saved some emails for our own protection that bring nothing new to what has already been published, even if they serve to reinforce the facts.  We have done so in case any of the parties implicated in the plots revealed here try to make them, or us, disappear under a barrage of legal complaint.

We'd like to repeat that the criteria for selecting these emails was that they included information that is of interest either historically, legally or to the public. We ask for your understanding for not having been as exhaustive as we would have liked to. That said, we hope that the enormous amount of work that has gone into filtering the information helps to continue shedding light on a dark and important part of the history of our country.    

----------------------------------------------------

The Xnet Mailbox

Technopolitics and networked citizen action

This is Xnet's news blog. Here you will find some of the information that citizens have securely and anonymously provided through our Mailbox for Leaks Against Corruption.  You will also find our reflections and those of people and groups for whom we have a lot of respect.    

In these times of legally imposed charges for online content aggregators, through which obsolete media outlets compete to keep others from spreading information, many others prefer to cooperate.  For this reason, we are opening this collaborative space for open source journalism. The entries in this blog will be published simultaneously, here and in other digital media under a creative commons licence CC 4.0 SA BY. Thanks in advance for sharing. 

This blog is available to any media who wish to include it on their websites under the same conditions as other media outlets are doing. 

Xnet (ex-EXGAE) is a group of activists who have worked since 2008 in different fields relating to online democracy and the creation of mechanisms for organised citizen participation and to constrain seats of power and institutions.  We defend a free and neutral Internet; the free circulation of culture, knowledge and information; citizen journalism and the right to know, to report and to be informed; the legal, technical and communications struggle against corruption and technopolitics, understood as the practice of networking and taking action for empowerment, for justice and for social transformation.  

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About the author

Xnet (ex-EXGAE) is a group of activists who have worked since 2008 in different fields relating to online democracy, the fight against corruption and the creation of mechanisms for organised citizen participation and to constrain seats of power and institutions.  We defend a free and neutral Internet; the free circulation of culture, knowledge and information; citizen journalism and the right to know, to report and to be informed; the legal, technical and communications struggle against corruption and technopolitics, understood as the practice of networking and taking action for empowerment, for justice and for social transformation.

 

 


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