TV interview with Hugo Salinas Price
Hugo Salinas Price
This is a shorthand version of Sergio Sarmiento’s program “The Interview” aired on T.V. Azteca - Mexican national television - on November 28, 2001. Mr. Sarmiento’s guest was Hugo Salinas Price.
To our knowledge, no other national T.V. chain in the world has aired a T.V. interview as outspoken and direct as this one, regarding world fiat money and the world’s present dire straits.
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Sergio Sarmiento (SS): Hello friends, how are you? Welcome to “The Interview”. Today, we have with us Hugo Salinas Price, one of the strongest advocates for silver within our country.
For many years, Mexico has suffered due to a weakness in its currency; we Mexicans have suffered devaluations, the deterioration of the value of our money. In recent times, we have also had people advocating, as an ideal solution to this deterioration, that we line up with the United States and adopt the dollar as our currency, as a currency with an international character.
Don Hugo Salinas Price opposes this solution, but he thinks that Mexico does actually need to have more solid monetary foundations, and he thinks that the way to achieve this is through the adoption of silver as money, perhaps not necessarily as the only money acceptable in this country, but as a money that will make the savings of Mexicans as valuable as they used to be.
Don Hugo Salinas Price, thanks for being with us here at “The Interview”.
Hugo Salinas Price (HSP): Thanks for inviting me.
SS: You have been fighting a long time, don Hugo, in favor of giving silver its place, fighting for Mexicans’ recognition of the virtues of silver; but, why silver? Why don’t you look for some other type of solid money, why not the dollar, for example? Why don’t we adopt the dollar?
HSP: God forbid dollarization! It would be the end of our nationality. Look, I’ll put it differently; we know very well that biodiversity is a good thing, that we must preserve species, that we must preserve species from extinction. Well, for the same reason we must avoid the extinction of nationalities, because they are what gives flavor and human quality to this world. And if we become the same as Americans, and part of their culture, through dollarization, the world will have lost something very valuable: Mexican culture.
And we shall have been the great losers; being a Mexican will shrink to listening to mariachis or going to see the Folkloric Ballet. That is nothing compared to everything that Mexico is. Mexico is something much greater. And if we accept dollarization, we are accepting together with it American customs, and we are absorbed by American culture, which leaves a great deal to be desired in comparison with our own. And not only that, the dollar is actually a subterfuge to expropriate the whole world, because the dollar is nothing more than a piece of paper.
SS: The dollar is nothing more than a paper, but our own money is also a paper. What is wrong with paper money?
HSP: Well, there are many things wrong with it, but in the first place, the dollar is a paper that is issued by the Americans, the American banking system, and we do not issue dollars, as the Argentinians have just discovered, who were ruined because they thought that they could use the dollar as their money; but since they do not manufacture it, when there is a crisis somewhere else, the Americans have left them hanging in thin air, because the Americans have the monoply of manufacturing the dollar. And since we cannot manufacture the dollar, when they manufacture it they come here and buy up everything they wish, through “privatization” for instance.
And that is the process through which we are losing our country, we are gradually losing our country, and the only defense is a money issued by ourselves, that will have its own intrinsic value and not depend upon another country.
SS: There was a time when the Mexican peso was issued in silver, during the time of Porfirio Díaz, for example (1872-1911).
HSP: Of course, the 19th Century was the zenith of the gold standard and unfortunately, it was then the manipulation began, because the world powers demonetized silver; because they wanted international transactions to be paid in gold and not in silver, something that caused severe damage to all Latin America.
SS: Our Mexican peso was accepted all over the world.
HSP: Even in China, where we had a very good market for our coinage, excellent, and over centuries; but when the United States "“liberated” the Philippines, that was the end of our commerce with them, and the United States introduced their American Dollar and our export of coined silver came to an end.
SS: Mexico has utilized paper money more or less overtly since the beginning of the 20th Century; the Bank of Mexico itself was founded in the 1920’s. What has been the result of this use of paper money by Mexico?
HSP: Well, as a great generalization, the consequence has been the loss of our nationality, that is something that...
SS: With paper money – even with the peso?
HSP: Intellectuals tend not to make the connection between money, the importance of real money, and the defense of human values and the values held by Mexicans, Mexican culture - which is cracking under the influence of bad money, and there is definitely a connection between the two things.
SS: What is the benefit to a given saver, for example, who might want at this moment to start saving in silver? Is it not a way to paralyze his money? How does he benefit, or what are the advantages and the disadvantages?
HSP: I have spoken with individuals who have had their money in the stock market, and I remember once I remarked to a good friend, “Say, the stock market really plunged today!” and he turned pale because he had put everything he had into stocks. That’s not good; for certain individuals that is a way of life, but for the average Mexican and for the average human being, we need something much simpler as a place to park what he has left over – what he has left over after having worked, produced and spent to maintain his life, his home.
There must be a place available to park what he has left over. And the best way to do this, through thousands of years, has been through the accumulation of quantities of precious metals, which can easily be liquidated for the purchase of things in an emergency. And that is what I recommend, because I think that precious metals bring great peace of mind.
SS: Why peace of mind? There is also a psychological peace of mind that comes down from time beyond reckoning, precisely when precious metals, gold and silver, were used to preserve value.
HSP: Well, let me show you. Look, I have here a coin, it’s a tetradrachm coined by King Mithradates the Great, King of Pontus, about one hundred years before Christ, more or less, say about 80 B.C.
SS: We are talking about some 2,100 years.
HSP: 2,100 years. And here we have a coin, the one-ounce “Libertad”, coined in 1999. Well, in two thousand years, in 3,999 – or how many? Yes, in the year 4,000, there will our little ounce be; someone will own it. Some ounces will be lost, some will be melted down, but some will be in existence, and they will be in the hands of people who will be hoarding them in 2,000 years.
SS: Will its value be preserved in some way?
HSP: Of course. Well, in the case of the Mithradates coin, the value is enormously greater, because it is a rare object, and antique. But of course the value of the coin, as a store of value, allows one to store up labor in a coin, most certainly.
SS: We are told that in recent times, silver has lost some of its shine; that it no longer performs as strongly as it used to.
HSP: That is true. Look, it is so important....the price is actually terribly cheap, this is an opportunity! Please! We presently have silver in the whole Elektra chain. It is fully stocked.
SS: That is to say coins, one can go to Elektra to buy coins.
HSP: Coins, they are there so that the public may purchase them, and today, this one-ounce pure silver coin costs only $55 pesos; Mr. Sarmiento, I can’t get a haircut for $55 pesos! And nevertheless, here is this perfectly beautiful coin for $55 pesos, absolutely a giveaway. I want Mexicans to go to our stores and sack them, to force the Bank of Mexico to coin more ounces.
SS: These coins that Elektra is selling – they are issued by the Central Bank, aren’t they?
HSP: They are legal tender coins, in accordance with our Monetary Law, but they can be tendered in a limited manner. However, they are officially Mexican money, they are money and produced by the Mexican Mint under the direction of the Bank of Mexico.
SS: Don Hugo, why did you take up this crusade? Actually you had no need to do that and nevertheless, you have been trying, for many years, to convince people of the virtues of silver. It seems like a vocation. Where does this enthusiasm for silver come from?
HSP: Well, I don’t know where vocations come from, but I have had an interest in monetary affairs all my life. And I don’t know why that is, but that is destiny, and monetary affairs really interest me; this subject has always interested me, and I have been watching the world’s degeneration - I have been observing it since I was in my 20’s. Without understanding really, exactly, what was going on. It has been only recently that I have understood that it is absolutely necessary to re-introduce silver. And one thing I have given up on, is the attempt to reform the present monetary system.
SS: You have given up on that?
SS: Because you used to point out its problems – do you still do that?
HSP: No, I don’t point out its problems; I say it is dying, and there is no point in trying to reform it, because our monetary system, and the whole world’s – not only Mexico – basically the monetary system that exists in the world, it is cancerous and beyond repair; let us say that if you extirpate the cancer, by introducing a new currency, solid, true money of gold or silver, or both together, or pure gold, the system dies; therefore we cannot carry out such a reform.
SS: Why does the system die if a metal standard is re-introduced and why did the great powers eliminate the metallic standard that existed in one or another form up until the 20th Century?
HSP: You are posing various questions. Why does the system die? Because this system that we have had for 50 years or more – well, perhaps 50 years ago we might have extirpated the cancer, but no longer, because we have built a productive structure in the world, of relations between nations and productive structures, that require a constant production of additional credit. Additional credit means additional debt, because what is debt for one, is credit for another. So that those who call for more credit are really calling for more debt; to owe more -to get more credit one has to owe more.
All has been built on the basis of an expansion of credit out of nothing - papers. These bills you see here, all of them, were the product of expansion of credit. Look: all these are bills from different countries of the world that have issued credit, credit, credit. And governments give them to people as if they were real money; and people, since they are given these papers and have nothing else, well, they accept them, and so they take papers as money.
And what does that mean? That huge enterprises have been built, and the moment they are deprived of this artificial fountain of life, they collapse. And we are now seeing bankruptcies in Europe, for example Sabena, and Swiss Air - another, and another and another, here they come, bankruptcies will come as soon as credit is restricted. So the whole world demands more credit - loosen up again!
SS: To maintain the debt that was previously incurred.
HSP: To maintain the debt, to keep the edifice of debt from collapsing, something that happened to us in 94-95.
So, it is not possible to reform the monetary system because everything collapses. All we can do, and that is what I am trying to do for Mexicans, is for them to get their hands on something that will survive when the whole building burns up; because the whole building is going to burn up.
SS: The precious metals will not burn?
HSP: They will be with us; he who has some will be able to buy bread, and he will be able to start building again. Humanity is not coming to an end, but we are going to go through a very difficult time, which is inevitable, I don’t know when. But the policy today, is: let’s patch up the system today, so we don’t die today; we’ll die tomorrow, because it’s better to die tomorrow than to die today.
SS: Why were the metallic standards eliminated? In the case of gold, it was 1971.
HSP: Ah, well, that’s very simple – because with paper, those in power can carry out all the projects they please.
SS: Their pet projects?
HSP: And they win public support, for the public doesn’t know what is going on; and the public pays for it all, but momentarily the government that hands out bills becomes very popular. So that’s why gold was abandoned, because you cannot manufacture gold, nor silver, they must be extracted from mines.
SS: So we have been living these last decades in an artificial expansion of the economy, based on something which does not exist?
HSP: Absolutely. It has been truly amazing, the degree to which people can been taken down the road of paper. And there are today many millionaires, many, who think they are very wealthy, and yet don’t have to their name more than papers which are going to become completely useless come tomorrow; for they don’t believe what is coming, but I assure you it will come to pass.
SS: Sometimes I get the impression, Don Hugo, that besides your arguments of a technical nature, of a monetary nature, you have a special liking, a special love for coins. You showed me a few moments ago, during the break, some coins you have in this box.
HSP: Well, look. Just take a look at what real money is. How can I not like it, sir? Compare the two things (old paper bills and bright silver): there you have it. Which do you like best? I’d like to have a poll taken amongst our viewers: What do you prefer as money? What would you like best to have? What would you rather have your savings in? In this type of thing, paper money from all over the world, now worthless? For a government can decree in an instant, that the bills have no further value. This is what I have had left over during trips abroad during many years, worthless bills. Here is a present day peso bill - it is still worth something. And here, in this box, we have some real money. I don’t think it is possible for anyone to say, that he prefers these (bills) to that (silver coins) which is eternal.
SS: ....to say that paper is preferred to silver. But, silver sometimes goes down in price. Doesn’t this mean a loss for those who buy silver to preserve value?
HSP: Yes, silver is being manipulated.
HSP: Silver is being manipulated. This is a difficult theme, for the validity of data on production and consumption of silver is disputed; but one thing we know, silver will never be worth zero, and paper money does fall to zero value. Silver may go down momentarily, but there is always the possibility that it will recover its value. And I believe that in the not distant future, silver will be worth a great deal more than it is worth now.
That’s only my opinion, but I think silver is extremely cheap, and now is when Mexicans should stock up and convert their savings into silver, because now, they can get it at extremely low prices. Tomorrow it may be worth ten times as much, easily. The price is being suppressed right now, by operations on the Commodity Exchange in New York City. That is my opinion.
SS: Some time ago, you had proposed - when I interviewed you the first time, with regard to your first book, “La Plata, el Camino para México” (“Silver, the Road for Mexico”) - you mentioned that there was a technical possibility that one might make deposits in silver in a bank and have silver credits. How does that work?
HSP: It will take some time for us to arrive at that, because it would be necessary for the price of silver to rise a great deal before deposits could be made into banks.
You see, a deposit in a bank – because most people don’t understand – a deposit in a bank is a loan to a bank. When you make a deposit to your account in a bank, you are lending the bank money. And what is the bank going to do with the money you are lending it? Well, it’s going to lend it to another party who needs a loan. And if the price of the underlying contract of ounces of silver goes up, then the debtor cannot pay.
That’s why we must wait until we have the right conditions before we can build a credit system based on silver.
SS: Don Hugo, don’t you sometimes think that you are preaching in the desert, that paper money has entrenched itself to such a degree, or the idea that we must dollarize the Latin American economies, that it seems no one is paying attention to those who call for a return to precious metals as a basis for value and savings?
HSP: Well, don Sergio, human beings tend to act like rabbits. Yes, the hunter goes out and fires and kills a rabbit; they all disappear and they hide for 20 minutes. But when 22 minutes have gone by, they have gotten over their fright and they come out to munch the grass. And the hunter gets another one. That’s the way we humans are: we get a terrible scare, Oh! Oh! Oh! but four or five years go by and we have forgotten the fright. But another moment of terror will come; just wait for the next scare, people will be recalling what I said.
And I should say that people are listening, because Elektra is selling a lot of silver, and each person that buys an ounce is voting for it and recognizing its truth, and has heard the message, and says: “I want this and I want more”, and they come back to buy more and more. And in places that nobody hears of, here in the Capital of Mexico. Have you ever been in Altamirano?
SS: No, never.
HSP: Sometime in Acayucan?
HSP: Well, people in those places are buying a lot of silver.
SS: And what do people do with the silver, they make a treasure of it?
HSP: They save it. What have people done throughout history? They save their coins, that’s why we have this one from 2,100 years ago. Somebody saved it, and a series of people saved it very carefully.
SS: So then, you are satisfied with the work you are doing to promote the use of silver in our country?
HSP: I am deeply satisfied, and I still have some cards up my sleeve, and I’m working - but I won’t talk of that just now; very good things for Mexico and for Mexican mining.
SS: We are used to the idea of buying gold and silver in banks, but – in a commercial enterprise such as Elektra?
HSP: That is a step for which we are very grateful to the Bank of Mexico, that it has been willing to enter into a deal of this sort with a commercial enterprise; it’s the first time it does such a thing and demonstrates, this is a demonstration of their good will and their interest in placing silver in the hands of Mexicans as a means of savings; it is a precedent which makes Elektra proud, and we are very happy to carry out this work.
SS: Don Hugo Salinas Price, defender and promoter of the use of silver as money, I want to thank you for being with us again on “The Interview”.
HSP: Thank you for your invitation.
SS: And you, our viewer friend, who make this program possible, I thank you too. That’s all for today, but don’t forget, we’ll meet next time.