Chaos in Athens: Greece takes austerity protests to new level

Greece protestDemonstrators and police clashed in Athens Wednesday, with tens of thousands gathering to protest in front of the Greek parliament. Demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails, while police used water cannons, tear gas and batons to disperse the crowd.

A bus stop and kiosk were set on fire, according to RT correspondent Peter Oliver, who was at the scene. A deluge of water was used to douse the flames.

At least 100,000 protesters are estimated to be gathered in front of the Parliament building.

“Protesters are fighting a running battle… It’s an Athens urban warzone… I can barely see,” Oliver said.

“There are huge flash bangs near Syntagma Square. Protesters are chanting for bread and freedom – they’re accusing Greece of being a dictatorship,” he continued.

Police tried to move demonstrators away from banks near the square.

A protestor kicks away a gas canister during clashes with riot police during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.(Reuters / Stringer)
A protestor kicks away a gas canister during clashes with riot police during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.

The clashes came ahead of a Parliament vote on new austerity measures demanded by the EU in exchange for further bailout funds.

Opposition MPs forced a voting delay on the matter Wednesday.

The demonstration was the latest in a string of weeklong nationwide protests that shut down most public transport, schools, banks and government offices.

The new measures would amount to some €13.5 billion in cuts to Greece’s national budget by 2016.

Once the vote takes place, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is expected to narrowly win the support required to pass the new austerity package. Samaras’ 176-member conservative-liberal coalition needs to gather 151 votes out of 300 in Parliament for passage.

The second day of the nationwide strike, which is expected to last for the rest of the week, has seen most of the country brought to a standstill. Hospitals are working with skeleton crews, while media broadcasts and publications were halted until further notice after journalists joined the strikers.

Brussels demands a new draft of budget cuts in order for Greece to qualify for another loan – totaling more than €31 billion ($39.63 billion) – from the ‘Troika,’ which consists of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The new bailout was put on hold after Greece failed to reach earlier fiscal commitments. The Greek Parliament remains divided over the issue, with the Democratic Left Party, which comprises one third of the governing coalition refusing to back the measures, pledging to vote ‘present’ instead of ‘no.’

The measures stipulate a two-year increase in the Greek retirement age to 67, and several tax hikes. The new package also includes provisions making it easier to fire civil servants, which has provoked the ire of public workers amid a current unemployment rate of over 25 per cent.

The vote represents a crucial test for Samaras’ government, as a ‘yes’ vote would ensure more cash for Athens to pay off its debts later this month, despite the multibillion-euro new debt taken on. A ‘no’ vote could shatter Samaras’ fragile coalition.

A protestor throws a molotov cocktail at riot police during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.(Reuters / Stringer)
A protestor throws a molotov cocktail at riot police during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.

More cuts, more protests

Anti-austerity demonstrations in Greece have frequently turned violent, leading to clashes between police and disgruntled youths.

On Tuesday, crowds numbered as high as 35,000 in Athens as Greeks marched to condemn the government for sparing the nation’s wealthy while saddling the poor with austerity.

Earlier, Samaras said that this round of budget cuts would be the last to affect wages and pensions. However, Panagiotis Sotiris, a lecturer at the University of the Aegean, thinks there’s more budgetary pain ahead.

“Every austerity package in the last two and a half years was supposed to be the last one. So it won’t be the last one this time. We are going to see more of this,” Sotiris told RT. “In just two days of discussion, the Parliament is going to pass a huge law. We are very far from democratic procedure. This is a set of measures, which are actually dictated by the Troika.”

The government also needs to clear another hurdle on Sunday: The passage of the 2013 budget, which will require gaining the support of the Democratic Left.

Protestors gesture in front of a riot police water cannon during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.(Reuters / Stringer)
Protestors gesture in front of a riot police water cannon during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.

A protestor throws a molotov cocktail at riot police during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.(Reuters / Stringer)
A protestor throws a molotov cocktail at riot police during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.

A protestor throws a molotov cocktail at riot police during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.(Reuters / John Kolesidis)
A protestor throws a molotov cocktail at riot police during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.

A protestor kicks away a gas canister during clashes with riot police during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.(Reuters / John Kolesidis)
A protestor kicks away a gas canister during clashes with riot police during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.

Protestors gather in front of the parliament in Syntagma square during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.(Reuters / John Kolesidis)
Protestors gather in front of the parliament in Syntagma square during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.

Protestors carry flags of Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain as they gather in front of the parliament in Syntagma square during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.(Reuters / Yannis Behrakis)
Protestors carry flags of Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain as they gather in front of the parliament in Syntagma square during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.

A protestor holds a banner reading "Traitor (Greece′s Prime Minister Antonis) Samaras get out" in front of the parliament in Syntagma square during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.(Reuters / John Kolesidis)
A protestor holds a banner reading “Traitor (Greece’s Prime Minister Antonis) Samaras get out” in front of the parliament in Syntagma square during a 48-hour strike by the two major Greek workers unions in central Athens.

Source: http://rt.com/news/greece-austerity-bill-protests-144/

4 comments

  1. Remember all the propaganda by the filthy european federalists in Brussels ? This federalist scum had promised that a USA of Europe would insure economic growth stability and prosperity. Federalists in any country or part of the world always works for fascists called globalist banksters. So does the UN and Washington by the way. They are the enemies of humanity today. Anything related with federalism is manure. Poor Greece.

  2. Greece looks like Argentina during 2001/2002.
    Here is the plan for Nation/States by BigFinance:
    BigFinance made big bets. In 2008 their bets went bad. Two courses of action were possible. 1) the makers of the bad bets could cover their bad bets. 2)Governments/Taxpayers could rescue BigFinance covering the bad bets at full value. 2) was selected.
    Fast forward to 2012. Governments are in financial trouble due to covering BigFinance bad bets. Two courses of action are possible: 1) impose austerity on taxpayers/citizens and sell off public assets and treasures to BigFinance. 2) default on debts to BigFinance.
    1) is being selected. BigFinance gets REAL value assets now instead of fiat monies. What a DEAL for BigFinance. They win!!
    Greek protesters understand this subconsciously and are rebelling. Bully for them.
    The alternative is more slavery to BigFinance.

  3. Looks like a death spiral to me . Greek people better get active and put their minds to solving this but it wont be the easy fix of outside help from IMF or ECB it will be from the likes of syriza. jonkirby2012.wordpress.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>