Women reject foreclosure, austerity, debt


On Friday March 21, Linda Tirelli, an attorney defending homeowners from foreclosure, and Kevin Whelan, of Home Defenders League in Minneapolis, were interviewed on Democracy Now about recent revelations concerning Wells Fargo’s shady dealings in foreclosures.

A recent internal Department of Justice document disclosed that the DOJ deemed mortgage fraud as low and often no priority. Its claims of success were wildly overstated, and its claims of concern were flat out false.

At the same time, a recently revealed Wells Fargo internal document, issued just one week after the allegedly historical national mortgage settlement, shows that Wells Fargo instructed its lawyers to fabricate documents that would lead to homeowners’ foreclosure on homeowners. This program targeted primarily people of color and the most vulnerable.

At one point in the Democracy Now interview, Juan Gonzalez asked Kevin Whelan, “Can you put this in a national context of the mortgage crisis? Here we are now, six years into the home mortgage crisis that crashed the entire economy.”

Lenders’ mortgage fraud did far more than produce a mortgage crisis. By means of a manufactured crisis, the neoliberal approach of crashing economies increased and expanded the financial grip on civil society. Austerity measures led to the foreclosure of entire countries like Greece, and especially the foreclosure of women. Women’s organizations in Europe have demanded to a clear assessment of the impact and logic of austerity measures.

Wells Fargo lawyers fabricated false documents in order to plunge the most vulnerable into dependency and debt.  Entire, vibrant communities were thrust into poverty and desperation. Likewise, austerity measures were fabricated to form false promises to resolve a “crisis” that have hurt women first and foremost and have also moved many into destitution.

Across Europe, women have been marching against the austerity measures and crying loudly that precariousness is not their societal projects.

Since 2012, Femmes d’Europe en route contre la dette et l’austerité  (European Women in route against the debt and austerity) have organized events to denounce the privatization of public services. And they are still demonstrating. Health care, reproductive care and women’s health have been particularly viciously targeted. These various forms of privatizations are being felt heavily by women in Great Britain, Hungary, Greece and elsewhere. Moreover, the failed US model of private health care is being pushed in places where the public system was efficient and better served its purpose.

Women against Austerity have not received the attention that they should for the same reasons the subprime crisis and the criminal manipulations of the financial sectors in the United States have been underplayed. The illegitimacy of the foreclosures and the austerity measures are the expression of the same ascending power of debt: “Debt constitutes the most deterritorialized and the most general power relation through which the neoliberal power bloc institutes its class struggle.” And, I would add, its gender struggle! The struggle continues!


(Photo Credit: CADTM)

About Brigitte Marti

Brigitte Marti is an organizer researcher who has worked on reproductive rights and women's health initiatives in France and in the European Union and on women prisoners' issues in the United States. She is a member of Women Included, a new transnational feminist collective, that is part of the Women 7, a coalition that advocates for the inclusion of women's rights in the G7.