Observatory on disarmament, arms trade, armed conflict and culture of peace
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Speeches at the Santander Bank shareholders meeting 2012

Written by Centre Delàs on . Posted in Indústria i comerç d'armes

Alejandro Pozo's speech at the Santander Bank shareholders meeting of 2012 about arms investments of this bank.

Good morning Mr. President, members of the Board of Directors, ladies and gentlemen shareholders. My name is Alejandro Pozo Marín, member of the Delàs Study Centre for Peace of Justícia i Pau. I speak to you on behalf of the campaign “Banco Santander without arms”, promoted by SETEM, the ODG and the organisation to which I belong. I also speak on behalf of dozens of shareholders who have delegated their representation in this assembly to the campaign “Banco Santander without arms” through 220,000 shares.

The objective of my speech is to make you aware of the gravity of the arms investments that Santander continues to make, despite trying to give the image of a socially responsible bank. We believe that this is a matter that interests you especially, due to the impact that your relations with the arms industry and war could have on your corporate reputation, and as a consequence, on your profit and loss accounts. But most of all, a matter that should be important to you, at least to some of you, for the destruction and suffering that it produces in people.

We have stated before this assembly in other years that Santander is not at all a responsible bank but rather a leader in its relation with the military industry. However, we haven’t seen the slightest concern, not from you, Mr. President, nor from you, ladies and gentlemen shareholders. You must know that we are more and more often the ones who think that not everything can be used to get rich and many of your current and potential clients, and even some shareholders, share our opinion.

Firstly, we want you to know the bad position in which Santander finds itself in the report of the international campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons, which was just published a few weeks ago. In it, the investments of the companies that manufacture nuclear weapons since 2008 were compiled. We would like to remind you that nuclear weapons are meaningless and only produce fear and the threat of the potential to destroy the world many times over. Nuclear weaponry exists due to political and financial will, because we pay them with the public budgets and because banks like Santander aid companies that produce them to continue with such barbarity.

Santander collaborates decisively in nuclear proliferation. Over the last two years it has given loans worth 872.7 million dollars to Boeing, EADS, Finmeccanica, General Dynamics, Honeywell International, Rolls-Royce, Safran and Thales, the largest manufacturers of nuclear weaponry in the world. It has also helped them financially, issuing bonds and shares of 216.7 million dollars.

Furthermore, Mr. President, your bank helped, through the issuing of credit, probably the most terrible Spanish arms company, Expal, belonging to the group Maxam, manufacturer of explosives and dedicated to the production and sale of the horrific antipersonnel mines and cluster bombs, until they were forbidden to do so by law. In Spain, because I don’t believe that you can guarantee to us here that Maxam doesn’t produce or export them in other countries.

Mr. Emilio Botín, your useless involvement with the weakest people on the planet is not beyond our reach. We have asked you to cease your activities promoting armed violence and you have avoided the issue, year after year, in order to avoid accepting responsibility.

Tell me Mr. Botín, are you going to keep ignoring the fact that your bank finances arms? If you know (and now, if you have listened to me, you won’t be able to deny that you know), do you mean to continue obtaining and sharing each year among your shareholders economic benefits and succulent dividends stained with blood?

What are the methods that Santander is going to take to be a responsible company regarding the violence, death and suffering that arms produce? Maybe you are going to tell us that the bank will stop financing illegal arms? Is that it? Maybe not even that? I might guess what your reply will be, if there will even be one; you will tell us that Santander doesn’t finance nuclear weapons, antipersonnel mines o cluster bombs but without showing our telling us where the error is in the public reports. Or maybe you will also tell us that you’re on it, trying to improve the bank, that you are leaders in these questions. That is to say, what you tell us every year, even though we know that all this death and suffering doesn’t really matter to you.

Mr. Botín your position of power might allow you to do whatever you want in many regards but when we speak about people’s fundamental rights, when it’s a matter of life or death, you cannot put your economic interests first.

Thank you for your attention

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Centre d'Estudis per la Pau JM Delàs

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