Enric Duran has become a mythical anti-capitalist hero, known internationally as the modern-day Robin Hood of banks, after reportedly swindling nearly $700,000 from Spanish banks and handing out the money to people and groups seeking to affect social change.
Between 2006 and 2008 Duran — who is a former table-tennis coach from Catalonia — said he took out 68 loans from 39 banks across Spain with no intent of ever paying them back. Instead, he gave the money to anti-capitalist activists, and according to his website, to support public services such as “housing cooperatives, self-managed primary health care centers, and free education.”
Duran’s activities got him arrested in 2009 by Spanish authorities for two months. After posting bail Duran refused to show up for his trial, where he would likely receive up to 8 years in prison, but instead he chose to flee Spain. He has spent the past 14 months in hiding and is currently living as a fugitive, and his current location is unknown.
Duran discusses how to expropriate money to banks.
In an interview with The Guardian this week, Duran explained how he managed to scam the banks by issuing dozens of both commercial and personal loan requests, all of which were false. He was able to receive a large amount of the loans by reportedly applying under the name of a fake television company that he created, he told the newspaper.
Duran said he did it all to challenge the current system of banking and credit, which he sees as fundamentally unjust.
"I saw that on one side, these social movements were building alternatives but that they lacked resources and communication capacities," he told The Guardian. "Meanwhile, our reliance on perpetual growth was creating a system that created money out of nothing."
In the midst of the austerity and economic crisis that has gripped Spain and much of Europe, Duran has emerged as an outspoken critic of capitalism and advocate for an alternative economic system. As a result, he has gained a loyal following.
Duran is involved with Coopertiva Integral Catalana (CIC), an organization that seeks to find alternatives to capitalism in Spain through “protecting the self-management from the effect of the bank and the state.” CIC is one of many anti-capitalist organizations that have sprung up in recent years in response to the global economic crisis.
“When I started to plan the action to expropriate the banks (in 2005), I already had the primary objective of promoting the creation of a social alternative based on cooperation and self-management,” Duran said in an interview with CIC. “I was very clear that my disobedient action would serve to draw strength, in every sense of the word, to create something, much like what CIC is nowadays.”
“I knew this crisis was coming,” Duran said from prison in a 2009 interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais. “Capitalism is worldwide and the resources are finite… We must invent a financial system that does not create money out of nothing.”
According to CBC, Duran "maintains selective contact," and has said that he may return to Catalonia, but that is "contingent on a variety of factors."
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Image via Flickr