Greek unions protest austerity package

A riot police officer is engulfed by petrol bomb flames thrown by protesters in front of the parliament during clashes in Athens, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. Greece’s fragile coalition government faces its toughest test so far when lawmakers vote later Wednesday on new painful austerity measures demanded to keep the country afloat, on the second day of a nationwide general strike. The 13.5 billion euro ($17.3 billion) package is expected to scrape through Parliament, following a hasty one-day debate. But potential defections could severely weaken the conservative-led coalition formed in June with the intention of keeping Greece in the euro. (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis)

ATHENS, Greece, Nov. 7 (UPI) — ATHENS, Greece, Nov. 7 (UPI) — Thousands of Greeks joined protests Wednesday afternoon against a new package of cuts set for a vote in Parliament.

An estimated 70,000 people rallied at the Parliament Building in Syntagma Square in Athens, CNN reported. There were smaller demonstrations elsewhere.Melina Grigoriadou, who works for an export company, said pay cuts and higher taxes have already cost her family about one-third of their income.

“The measures just never stop. Every time, politicians say they are going to be the last measures … they are never the last,” Grigoriadou told CNN at a demonstration in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city. “There is no end in this, there’s no solution. The measures are awful — it’s not austerity, it’s something even worse.”

Unions held a second day of strikes, disrupting public transportation and other services in the country. Some mass transit resumed Wednesday in Athens so protesters could get to Syntagma Square.

The strikes were called as Parliament gets ready to consider a bill that would institute a series of painful social and financial reforms, ekathimerini.com reported. Continue reading

Greece: Classes clash in conflicting views of mining project–environment vs jobs

[News reports on the protest of a gold mining project are remarkably sparse on information.  Who, exactly, are the “leftist protesters”?  Who are the pro-mine miners?  And what capitalists are pressing for this project to be done?  So many questions, such terrible journalism.  —  Frontlines ed.]

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Hundreds of protesters have battled riot police for hours over plans for a gold mine in northern Greece’s Halkidiki peninsula

Protesters, police clash in Greece over gold mine; 4 injured, 21 detained

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
October 21, 2012

THESSALONIKI, Greece — Hundreds of protesters have battled riot police for hours over plans for a gold mine in northern Greece’s Halkidiki peninsula.

Police say one policeman and three protesters were hurt, while 21 protesters have been detained. The protesters have now withdrawn.

This is not the first clash over the gold mine, which has pitted inhabitants of the area against one another.

Owners of tourist lodging, abetted by leftist activists, are fiercely opposed because of environmental reasons, while prospective miners claim the project will create thousands of jobs at an economically difficult time. Supporters of the project staged a counterdemonstration Sunday with banners calling for “no to violence, yes to jobs.”

A multimillion-dollar gold mining project in a nearby area was cancelled a decade ago after similar protests.

Xenophoia Alert: “Anti-immigrant ‘Golden Dawn’ rises in Greece”

The rise of Greece’s Golden Dawn: Ultranationalist party raises fears as it builds a network of public aid reserved only for Greek citizens and is accused of violence against immigrants.

[Xenophobia is a most basic weapon against the working class when the capitalist and imperialist attacks are waged with great and desperate aggression.  The challenge to confront these malevolent movements, to expose their puppetmasters, and to defeat their attacks is a major challenge for the revolutionary proletariat, in Greece and everywhere. — Frontlines ed.]

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By Anthony Faiola, Washington Post,  October 20, 2012

ATHENS — At first glance, the shop on a nondescript street in this chaotic capital looks standard-issue military. Fatigues. Camouflage. Hunting gear. Deeper inside, the political message emerges. Black T-shirts emblazoned with modified swastikas — the symbol of the far-right Golden Dawn party — are on sale. A proudly displayed sticker carries a favorite party slogan: “Get the Stench out of Greece.”

By “stench,” the Golden Dawn — which won its first-ever seats in the Greek Parliament this spring and whose popularity has soared ever since — means immigrants, broadly defined as anyone not of Greek ancestry. In the country at the epicenter of Europe’s debt crisis, and where poverty and unemployment are spiking, the surplus shop doubles as one of the party’s dozens of new “help bureaus.” Hundreds of calls a day come in from desperate families seeking food, clothing and jobs, all of which the Golden Dawn is endeavoring to provide, with one major caveat: for Greeks only.

To fulfill its promise of a Greece for Greeks alone, the party appears willing to go to great lengths. Its supporters — in some instances with the alleged cooperation of police — stand accused of unleashing a rash of violence since the party rose to national office, including the stabbings and beatings of immigrants, ransacking an immigrant community center, smashing market stalls and breaking the windows of immigrant-owned shops. Continue reading

As government, creditors near deal on further austerity, Greek unions hold new general strike

A man eats a meal from a soup kitchen organized by the Church of Greece in Athens, on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012, which has been designated International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Greece is in the throes of an economic depression that has seen the economy shrink by a fifth over the past five years, while unemployment is at 25 percent, the highest in decades. The crisis has caused a major rise in homelessness, while the number of people depending on soup kitchens for sustenance has rocketed. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

NICHOLAS PAPHITIS,  Associated Press, October 18, 2012

ATHENS, Greece — Labor unions in recession-hobbled Greece are holding another general strike against a new harsh austerity program, as European leaders beset by a deep debt crisis and economic stagnation gather for a summit meeting in Brussels.

Thursday’s strike is set to close down public services and severely hamper most forms of transport — with even taxi drivers joining in for nine hours — while shopkeepers in Athens and other cities are planning to shut down for the day. It is the second general strike in less than a month.

Unions are organizing two separate marches in central Athens. Demonstrators’ ire will focus on the new belt-tightening for 2013-14, demanded by bailout creditors to release a desperately needed new rescue loan payment.

The city has seen hundreds of anti-austerity protests — many violent — over the past three years, since Greece revealed it had been misreporting key deficit figures and sank into an economic gloom so deep it has been likened to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The country is clinging to solvency with the help of two massive international bailouts worth a total €240 billion ($315 billion). To secure them, it committed to drastic spending cuts, tax hikes and reforms, aimed to cure years of profligate government spending.

But while significantly reducing budget deficits, the measures accelerated a recession that after five years is closer to a depression. By the end of next year, the economy is expected to have shrunk by about a quarter from 2008 levels. And with one in four workers out of a job, Greece has the worst unemployment rate in the 27-nation European Union.

“In general, we’re going from bad to worse,” said 85-year-old pensioner Giorgos Ierodimos. “Salaries are being reduced, pensions are being reduced, everything is getting more expensive, from food to health care to hospitals, medicines, everything. So how will people live? How will we live?” Continue reading

Germany’s Merkel arrives to protests in Greece

October 9, 2012
[Protesters gather Oct. 9, 2012, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes her first visit to Greece since the eurozone crisis began here three years ago. / Lefteris Pitarakis, AP]
by Nikolia Apostolou and Louise Osborne, Special for USA TODAY

ATHENS — Tens of thousands of protesters greeted German Chancellor Angela Merkel here Tuesday when she arrived for a meeting with Greece’s prime minister.

Demonstrators expressed anger that the Greek government must cut spending further to qualify for European aid and avoid national bankruptcy. But Merkel said after her meeting that Greece will rise from its current debt crisis with the help of Germany.

“I did not come here as a teacher giving grades,” Merkel said.

“I am convinced that although it’s tough, this path will pay off for Greece,” she said, drawing parallels to the difficulty of reforms in East Germany when it reunified with West Germany after the collapse of the Soviet Union. “Germany will be a good partner and friend along the way.”

Demonstrators marched on Syntagma Square in spite of a ban on gathering there and tried to push through barricades to voice anger at Merkel, whom they accuse of unfairly forcing Greece to slash government jobs and benefits to keep the European Union intact.

Some demonstrators threw stones and bottles. Police fired tear gas to hold them back, but violent flare-ups were isolated. Continue reading

Police clash with protesting shipyard workers in Greece

PHOTO: Protesting farmers use tractors to block the entrance of the Iraklio International Airport, Crete, Greece on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. The Cretan farmers, protesting pension cuts expected under new Greek austerity measures, attempted to block access to the airport, using tractors and other farm vehicles. Police used tear gas against the protesters who had gathered from across the island. (AP  Photo/Bastian Parschau)

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, October 04, 2012

ATHENS, Greece — Greek police clashed with shipyard workers protesting pay arrears Thursday after they broke into the Defense Ministry grounds, while hundreds of farmers on tractors tried to invade the country’s second-busiest airport on Crete during an anti-austerity protest.

Greece has been gripped by a severe financial crisis since late 2009, and waves of spending cuts and tax hikes have led to frequent strikes and demonstrations. The nation’s 3-month-old coalition government is currently preparing a major new austerity package demanded by rescue creditors.

[Protesting farmers use tractors to block the entrance of the Iraklio International Airport, Crete, Greece on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. The Cretan farmers, protesting pension cuts expected under new Greek austerity measures, attempted to block access to the airport, using tractors and other farm vehicles. Police used tear gas against the protesters who had gathered from across the island. (AP Photo/Bastian Parschau)] Continue reading

Reuters: “Thousands of Greeks protest against new round of austerity cuts”

By John Kolesidis and Vassilis Triandafyllou, Reuters

Protesters from the communist-affiliated trade union PAME shout slogans during a rally in the city of Thessaloniki in northern Greece September 8, 2012. REUTERS-John KolesidisTHESSALONIKI, Greece | Sat Sep 8, 2012

(Reuters) – Thousands of Greeks marched at an annual fair in Greece’s second-biggest city on Saturday to protest against a new round of wage and pension cuts demanded by international lenders in exchange for aid to stave off bankruptcy.

The demonstration by about 15,000 trade unionists and leftists was the first major protest against a nearly 12-billion-euro austerity package being readied by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to appease EU and IMF inspectors who arrived in Athens on Friday to review Greece’s reform progress.

A few protesters burned European Union flags while others threw watermelons and peaches in support of struggling farmers, but the largely peaceful protests otherwise passed off without incident as 3,500 policemen looked on. Continue reading

Athens, Greece: Racist police operation in the city center

[The world-wide economic crisis has brought extreme repression and mass suffering to every region. Often, mass unemployment is coupled with intensified exploitation in slave-like conditions of migrants, who also face attacks by racist, xenophobic gangs.  The following statement, from the Communist Party of Greece (Marxist-Leninist), speaks to the recent attacks on migrants in Athens, Greece.  It is posted here in an unofficial English translation. — Frontlines ed.]

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from  Αντίσταση στις γειτονιές  (Neighborhood Resistance website), August 6, 2012

The recent anti-immigrant operation to remove migrants revealed the racist crimes of the government.

By order of the Prime Minister Samaras, police entered homes, stopped and seized all immigrants of color. According to figures given, Saturday, August 4 of the 4900 arrests made, the arrests of 1130 were charged with “illegal residence” in the country.

Minister Dendias arrogantly explained the pogrom as a measure to safeguard the human rights of migrants. On the other hand it is a clear intention of the government to distract the masses from the real cause of their problems, as reflected in his speech in parliament in which Dendias characterizes the immigrant as the ‘biggest problem of the economy.” He promotes nationalist delusions of the baptism of the Golden Dawn, claiming that immigrants and immigrant invaders “challenge national well-being” — which if not addressed “threatens the complete deterioration of society”!

The brutality against immigrants complements the profile of unpopular government so far has shown clearly that the policy towards the people when he fights against real enemies, they will be enforcing the “legitimacy” of terrorism and repression. Migrant workers as any worker, generate wealth and jobs. Migrants are not “a drain or danger” but instead contribute to the economy. Which they need to cruelly exploit — and now condemn as most “dangerous” for the country. But, in fact, it is capital and imperialism that endangers the people and the country.

It is the duty of all leftists, democrats and all conscious workers of the country to condemn the racist pogroms and atrocities against immigrants, the most oppressed part of the working class. And simultaneously expose the bourgeoisie as the real enemies of the people and workers.

Crisis breeds xenophobia in Greece as nationalists gain clout


Jul 11, 2012 by RussiaToday

Greece is in turmoil. Violent clashes have shaken the city of Agrinio in the west. Supporters of the far-right Golden Dawn party fought with anarchists, leaving cars and shop windows smashed, and one person injured. Golden Dawn’s influence is rising. It gained around 7 per cent of the vote in the recent general election. RT’s Jacob Greaves takes a look at xenophobia in today’s Greece.

Greece: Riot Police Raid Hellenic Halyvourgias Steel Mill

By , opednews.com, July 21, 2012

Greek riot police guard the entrance of the Halyvourgia steelworks factory during a protest, in Aspropyrgos, west of Athens, on Friday

After a heroic nine-month strike that effectively shut down the Hellenic Halyvourgias Steel Mill in Aspropyrgos, the fascist regime in Athens decided it was time to attack the steel mill strikers.

At 5:30am on Friday, 20 July, public prosecutors and rioting police raided the plant, wielding chemical weapons and their trademark brutality, against the strikers. The police evicted ALL of the steelworkers who have been on strike for 9 months, forcing them out of the building. Six people were detained and later arrested. Several casualties have also been reported.

As it stand now, the municipal police are guarding the factory for a private company!

According to a report by ekathimerini:

The police intervention reportedly came at the behest of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday night after talks between Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis, unionists and the Halyvourgia management broke down. According to sources, Samaras stressed the importance of upholding the law and protecting citizens’ right to work, as well as to strike. “The right to work is sacred and the government will do everything to protect it,” Samaras is quoted as saying. Continue reading

CPG (M-L): “The situation in Greece”

Statement of Communist Party of Greece (Marxist-Leninist):

“For Greece it is now clear that the revolutionary breakthrough of the working class and the people is irrevocably connected with the overthrow of imperialist dependence. Therefore we must exit the EU and NATO, oust the foreign bases, and break every military, political and economic bond with imperialism. The productive-economic problems of the country and foremost the debt issue cannot be seen or solved outside or before the revolutionary overthrow. It can only be seen as a whole.”

The situation in Greece

The people and the working class of Greece struggle for the overthrow of imperialist brutality and subjugation.

The situation in Greece is critical both for the people and the working class. Because of the imperialist dependence of the country, its position in the EU and the Eurozone, its military-political dependence in NATO and its military-political role as a NATO-US springboard, the social and political developments in Greece cannot be seen apart from the developments in SE Mediterranean, the M. East., N. Africa, the Balkans and the quarrels inside the EU.

All contradictions and geo-political aims of the imperialist powers in the region, along with the special but critical issue of the future of the EU, are influencing all developments in our country, having in their background the world crisis. That is the reason that Greece is in the first page of the Media something that is proportionately greater than that of other countries similar to Greece (Portugal, Ireland).

The troika mechanism and its real targets

Starting after the October 2009 elections and the troika (IMF-EU-ECB) “salvation mechanism” of May 2010 there is in motion a rapidly escalating antipopular and antilabor policy that flattens all economic-labor-social rights of the people. The imperialist powers of the EU, mainly Germany and France, aided by the strong presence of the US through the IMF, and with the pretext of the great foreign debt imposed a deeper subjugation that takes the form of a protectorate.

This mechanism gives shark loans in 3-month installments in order to pay back a portion of the huge interests. This leads to greater debt. (In 2009 the debt was 120% of GDP and now approaches 160%). But the greatest imperialist profit is not the huge amounts of money that accumulate through this loan shark imposition. The main return that they take from the country is its total destruction of any productive base, the imposition of a medieval regime as far as the labor, social, economic and political rights of the people are concerned, and the sell-out and plunder of every resource and infrastructure this country has. Continue reading

Greece, Israel, Cyprus eye gas export — Israel seeks Cyprus base to guard gas zone

The Associated Press, Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2012

GASSING UP: Energy Ministers from Greece, Israel and Cyprus promised Wednesday to increase cooperation to exploit natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean, but warned that large-scale exports could take a decade.

GREECE ROLE: Greece, whose economy has been ravaged by a financial crisis, hopes to eventually start its own gas production and act as a transit point for supplies from Israel and Cyprus.

U.S. ON BOARD: The U.S. welcomed Mediterranean gas finds as a source of diversified energy supply for Europe, a senior U.S. envoy said, urging countries in the region to set aside their long-standing rivalries and do business.

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[Frontlines note:  For more background, see this February news report on plans for an Israeli military base on Cyprus.]

Israel seeks Cyprus base to guard gas zone — Israel is reported to be seeking to deploy fighter aircraft in Cyprus, its partner in developing a natural gas bonanza under the eastern Mediterranean, to protect these vital energy resources. Continue reading

The people and the working class of Greece struggle for the overthrow of imperialist brutality and subjugation

Communist Party of Greece (marxist-leninist)

The situation in Greece

The situation in Greece is critical both for the people and the working class. Because of the imperialist dependence of the country, its position in the EU and the Eurozone, its military-political dependence in NATO and its military-political role as a NATO-US springboard, the social and political developments in Greece cannot be seen apart from the developments in SE Mediterranean, the M. East., N. Africa, the Balkans and the quarrels inside the EU.

All contradictions and geo-political aims of the imperialist powers in the region, along with the special but critical issue of the future of the EU, are influencing all developments in our country, having in their background the world crisis. That is the reason that Greece is in the first page of the Media something that is proportionately greater than that of other countries similar to Greece (Portugal, Ireland).

The troika mechanism and its real targets

Starting after the October 2009 elections and the troika (IMF-EU-ECB) “salvation mechanism” of May 2010 there is in motion a rapidly escalating antipopular and antilabor policy that flattens all economic-labor-social rights of the people. The imperialist powers of the EU, mainly Germany and France, aided by the strong presence of the US through the IMF, and with the pretext of the great foreign debt imposed a deeper subjugation that takes the form of a protectorate.

This mechanism gives shark loans in 3-month installments in order to pay back a portion of the huge interests. This leads to greater debt. (In 2009 the debt was 120% of GDP and now approaches 160%). But the greatest imperialist profit is not the huge amounts of money that accumulate through this loan shark imposition. The main return that they take from the country is its total destruction of any productive base, the imposition of a medieval regime as far as the labor, social, economic and political rights of the people are concerned, and the sell-out and plunder of every resource and infrastructure this country has. Continue reading

Greece: as politicians trash wages, pensions, jobs, people chant “get out, thieves!”

Greece approves spending cuts as protesters riot

The legislation features about $4 billion in severe budget trims, including 15,000 job reductions this year alone. Furious crowds chant outside Parliament, and several Athens buildings are set on fire

by Anthee Carassava, Los Angeles Times–Reporting from Athens, February 13, 2012

As thousands of protesters took to the streets and violence ripped through central Athens, Greece’s Parliament approved yet another round of punishing spending cuts to secure international rescue funds and ease fears of a calamitous financial collapse, potentially perilous for global markets and Europe‘s single currency.

The legislation, featuring about $4 billion in severe budget trims including steep wage and pension cuts as well as 15,000 job reductions this year alone, was backed by 199 lawmakers of the 300-member Parliament. Five abstained, 22 were absent and 74 lawmakers — including socialist and conservative supporters of the coalition government — voted against the bill that capped a ferocious 11-hour debate ending early Monday.

Throughout the marathon discussion, thousands of Greeks opposed to the austerity package descended on the sprawling grounds of Parliament shouting, “Get out!” and “Thieves!” The crowd swelled into the tens of thousands and their chants echoed across the capital — even renowned music composer Mikis Theodorakis showed up — as mobs of youths clashed with police and set fires to at least 34 buildings. Continue reading

Greek anger boils over as country faces bankruptcy

Several people have been arrested in Athens amid a two-day strike over austerity measures. Msnbc.com’s Dara Brown reports.

ATHENS — Black-masked protesters threw Molotov cocktails, stones and bottles and police fired teargas during clashes in central Athens Friday, as striking Greek workers denounced a new wave of austerity Friday as an imposition too far by Europe and the International Monetary Fund.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told the nation it faced a stark choice between sacrifices inside the euro area and bigger sacrifices outside it.

The clashes in central Athens came at the start of a 48-hour general strike against planned pay and job cuts.

The Guardian newspaper reported that “running battles” broke out between protesters and police, with clashes in Syntagma Square.

‘Resist!’
Some protesters compared Greece’s plight, facing bankruptcy unless it accedes to the demands of international lenders, to its seven years under military dictatorship.

People in the Syntagma sang songs from the struggle in the 1960s and 1970 against a junta of colonels boomed out over loudspeakers.

“Do not bow your heads! Resist!” they chanted. “No to layoffs! No to salary cuts! No to pension cuts!” Continue reading