From 2006 to 2008, Duran took out 68 commercial and personal loans from 39 banks in Spain. He farmed the money out to social activists, funding speaking tours against capitalism and TV cameras for a media network. “I saw that on one side, these social movements were building alternatives but that they lacked resources and communication capacities,” he said.
Duran was arrested in Spain in 2009, on charges brought against him by six of the 39 banks that had lent him money. He spent two months in prison before being bailed for €50,000bail. In February last year, facing up to eight years in prison, he decided to flee rather than stand trial. “I don’t see legitimacy in a judicial system based on authority, because I don’t recognise its authority,” he said.
His actions, he said, were at the vanguard of a worldwide debate on the economic crisis. The timing pushed the anti-capitalist movement into the light, just as many Spaniards were seeking alternatives to a system that had wreaked havoc on their lives.
While the same actions would probably be better understood in today’s Spain, he said that they would not be needed. The anti-capitalist movement has grown from a fringe movement to one supported by thousands of Spaniards, he said, evidenced by the 70 or so social currencies in use across the country and widely supported movements such as the indignados.
Success has helped the movement become self-sufficient. “We now have the capacity to generate resources,” said Duran, adding somewhat ironically that this was exactly what banks issue credit for – “to advance and generate a situation that allows you to be independent”.Duran is widening his focus to include Spain’s justice system, by promoting restorative justice. “The people in Spain who believe that banks don’t work, they think that I don’t owe anything. I’ve already done my work,” he said.