Socialist Destruction Unleashed in Greece

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Early Monday morning, after three days of intense negotiations, the Greek government approved the latest austerity measures demanded by other EU nations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB) by a vote of 199 to 74. In return, they get the latest bailout of $171 billion that nation needs in order to avoid default on March 20th, when a $19.1 billion payment on its debts is due–if EU finance ministers approve the accord when they meet on Feb. 15. Greek Prime Minister, Lucas Papademos, who addressed the nation on Saturday night, had urged the Cabinet to approve the deal, warning of “social explosion, chaos” if it failed.

“We are a breath away from ground zero,” Mr. Papademos said in a televised address to the nation ahead of the critical vote, further noting that the envisioned austerity program will “restore the fiscal stability and global competitiveness of the economy, which will return to growth, probably in the second half of 2013.”

It’s been a tough sell. More than 3,500 people converged on Syntagma Square in Athens Saturday, marking the second day of protests and a general strike. Hundreds of riot police stood guard as a result of clashes that erupted during rallies on Friday, one of which illuminated the almost schizophrenic mindset that has arisen among the Greeks themselves: Greece’s largest police union, representing more than two-thirds of Greek policemen, threatened to issue arrest warrants for officials from Greece’s EU and IMF lenders because of their demands for the next round of austerity measures. “Since you are continuing this destructive policy, we warn you that you cannot make us fight against our brothers. We refuse to stand against our parents, our brothers, our children or any citizen who [protest and demand] a change of policy,” said a letter obtained by Reuters.

After Greece’s Parliament approved the measures, the violence got even worse. In Athens, a crowd estimated at over 100,000 vented their frustration. Rioters destroyed or seriously damaged 93 buildings and least 45 others were burned, including nine listed as national heritage sites. More than 150 stores were looted or smashed. On Monday morning, clouds of tear gas used to disperse the rioters still hung in the air, traffic lights at many major intersections were out after being smashed, and cleanup crews gathered up as much as 40 tons of broken marble and rocks from the streets of the center, while railings, drainage covers and paving stones from sidewalks also suffered extensive damage

Riots spread to the cities of Thessaloniki, Patraas, the islands of Corfu and Crete, and towns in central Greece as well. Marfin bank, the same building where three bank workers died during similar uprisings on May 5, 2010, has been burned to the ground. Two central branches of the National Bank of Greece and Eurobank EFG were also firebombed. More than 170 people were injured, with 106 police needing medical care after being assaulted by gasoline bombs, rocks and other objects hurled at them, while 70 protesters were also hospitalized. 74 people were arrested and an additional 92 were detained.

All of the mayhem has been engendered by the latest austerity measures that call for a 22 percent cut in the minimum wage to $742 per month, $397 million in pension reductions, and the elimination of 150,000 public sector jobs over the next three years. Furthermore, the approval of the measures requires a written commitment from the leaders of Greece’s two main parties, the PanHellenic Socialist Movement and conservative New Democracy party, to fully implement the program, regardless of who wins the general election expected to take place in April. “Greek promises aren’t enough for us anymore,” said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, echoing the demands of the European Union and International Monetary Fund, and underscoring the reality that Greece failed to implement the fiscal and structural reforms that were part of the $145 billion bailout they received in 2010.

The ability to continue down the path of austerity after the April election is critical. It is highly unlikely that public anger will be dissipated by that time, and EU leaders must be assured that, no matter how the people vote, the austerity program will remain on track. That assurance is necessary to complete the other part of the debt deal, a bond swap in which private-sector investors take a 70 percent “haircut” that will reduce Greece’s outstanding debt by $132 billion. The new bonds will have an average interest rate of 3.5 percent for bondholders, along with a warrant linked to Greek growth. German Finance Ministry spokeswoman Marianne Kothe says the bond swap deal must be completed before EU ministers finalize the bailout.

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  • Larry

    If I had some spare cash floating around I'd be seriously considering buying a small Greek island, something like Crete looks good, later this year. A couple of thousand dollars should just about do it.

  • PAthena

    One of the main sources of money for Greece is tourism. Those who engage in the destructive antics in Greece – probably organized by the Communists – are destroying this source of Greek income. All their screeching and rioting will not bring in a drachma (or Euro). Who wants to visit a country where such riots are going on and where the rioters destroy valuable sites?

    • Rifleman

      You're right, but they don't care, they just want their free stuff and easy life. They figure if they just raise enough Cain and destroy enough property someone will give it to them Where it comes from is someone else’s problem.

    • ebonystone

      I'd be surprised if the country's sizeable Moslem minority was not also pretty active in the vandalism and rioting.

  • MałyFelek

    the latest austerity measures demanded by other EU nations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

    ehm,actually,demanded by f.e Germany and France,who are hiding behind the EU.Especially French banks were very eager to lend money for German products.Now,these two nations are trying to socialize their losses-even Poland and Romania have to chip in for that.Or rather, the stupid politicians of these countries do,Czechs and Britons said NO.

  • antileft

    Greece is finished, sorry to say, nothing can save it. In spite of everything said here and everywhere else, nothing can avert its demise and, let it be said frankly, civil war. Which again would be nothing new for it, its history since the Ottoman times has been such. And, what a surprise,apparently the Greeks know almost nothing about the basic ideas of business legislation, done in the EU, they still think they are the unique nation deserving a special treat from everyone. And, I stumbled upon a few minutes of their national basketball derby two days ago, full stands as if the reality of crisis did not exist, everyone was having fun.Maybe some of the looters and arsonists after the game on their main square were the same people? Socialism, communism or any other leftist atheist religion, it inevitably leads to chaos and war. Sad, but logical.The idea of equality and sameness, what a horrible stupidity, a shocking shocking mental blindness!!

    • Serafino

      "The Greeks still think that they are the unique nation deserving a special treat from everyone"… This is a very accurate observation by Antileft. I have experienced this time and again while working with the Greeks abroad and stateside. Yes, while it is not nice to use stereotypes, it must be said though that when seven out of ten repeat the pattern, one can begin to see a trend, and I do see a trend with people of Greek ethnic background. Oftentimes, they project a sense of entitlement stemming from their great ancient past, but nowadays it is also paired with the socialist mentality that further fuels this destructive view of the world. What a shame.

  • Richard N

    The Greeks never really got over their romance with communism, unlike their Eastern European neighbours who were stuck with it for over forty years after World War II and finally threw it away in horror. Thus the continued protests now in Greece against banks, Germans and capitalism. They still don't really get it.

    Three generations of the Papandreou socialists in power? I'de be asking for a return of the monarchy.

  • Steve Chavez

    If you google our COMMUNIST PARTY USA and Greek Communist Party(KKE) you will find several instances where both brag about that the KKE IS LEADING THE PROTESTS AND THAT CPUSA IS IN "SOLIDARITY" WITH THEM AND THEY SAY THAT THE SAME ACTIONS ARE NEEDED HERE. You can also go to the CPUSA.ORG OR PEOPLESWORLD.and put in Greek Communist Party in the search box. I did this just yesterday since I remembered these links a few months ago when rioting began.

    CODE PINK, a front of the CPUSA, had an advertisement for the Sept. 17 DAY OF RAGE and then I revealed this on several websites and IT WAS REMOVED SINCE IT CONTINUED INTO OCCUPY "A LEADERLESS GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT."

    When the "Audacity of Hope" HAMAS FLOTILLA SHIP (USTOGAZA.ORG), ORGANIZED BY MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY USA/LESLIE CAGAN, was stopped IN GREECE, Medea Benjamin of CODE PINK, and many others WENT TO PROTEST IN ATHENS TO BE "IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE GREEK PROTESTS."

    OCCUPY come spring and summer, will ratchet up their anarchy too and the COMMUNIST PARTY USA WILL BE TO BLAME! THEIR FINGERPRINTS ARE ALL OVER THIS MOVEMENT INCLUDING HERE IN ALBUQUERQUE!

  • Brujo Blanco

    Greece demonstrated the end product of a society in which government provides everything. When the government runs out of money the takers turn to violence. In Greece the cops are apparently on the aide of the takers.

  • edbowan

    Greece needs to play its most powerful had. it owes too much for them to allow it to default. It should simply refuse to take on this austerity because it can never repay the debt. it should threaten to default. If that were to happen a lot of very rich people and some very rich countries would become poorer, but Greece counld devalue and stand a chance to make the recovery it desperately needs

    • Rifleman

      You're assuming they'll do like they haven't done yet and are rioting to prevent.

  • Libertyman

    Keep in mind the current state of the American Psyche… If we went on a much needed government austerity program (or just finance what is Constitutional under Article 1 Section 8) – would not the entrenched receivers of public monies do the same in our beloved Republic? The question – have we gone too far also in socialist mandates also to recover?

    I often wonder if we lost our soul.

  • Rifleman

    The gravy train ran out of track and now greek freeloaders are burning the businesses and destroying infrastructure that enabled their long free ride. Support us ‘til you die from it or we’ll attack and destroy you. Socialists are parasites that’ll kill their host.

  • crypticguise

    The Greeks are indeed INSANE. Just "cut them loose". There is no reason to attempt to reason with anarchists and an insane populace. The military should be shooting these rioters in the streets by the hundreds. THAT would quickly bring this outrage to a halt.

    Bring back the military to clamp down on the idiots.

  • maturin20

    Isn’t the soci.alism of the major banking cartel also evil? They did, after all, override democracy and then wail that violence has no place in a democracy, even though this is a democracy of recently replaced IMF figurehead dictators, fake national referendums, and unfree markets. Are to only blame the people who are being ravaged by austerity? Are we going to blame Americans at large when we are ravaged by austerity? Is our anger at being robbed by Europe going to make us “soc.ialists?”