July 16, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) It is well known that Greece has been on the verge of economic collapse since it missed a debt payment to the IMF at the end of June. Banks were forced to shut down, account holders were limited to withdrawals of $70 a day from ATMs, and foreign money transfers were blocked.
In a recent turn of events, ministers of Greece’s parliament voted Wednesday morning to pursue austerity measures, in return receiving 100 billion euros in bailouts. The bill passed overwhelmingly—229-64—despite 36 defections from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ ruling Syriza party. After the bill’s passage, thousands of protesters and rioters took to the streets of Central Athens, sparking violence and police confrontations.
This bailout deal was backed by many opposition parties, including the former right-wing party, New Democracy, as well as the Syriza’s coalition partners, the conservative Independent Greeks. Many of them were frightened at the implications of Greece leaving the Eurozone, and with few options, forced to accept the compromise put forward. The bill was wholeheartedly rejected by the MPs from the hardline Left Platform faction within Syriza. Tsipras’ understood beforehand he would likely have to yield to demands in conflict with the anti-austerity platform his left-wing party Syriza originally ran upon.
“The options I had during the 17-hour hard negotiations were specific: One was to accept an agreement with which I largely disagree, or a disorderly default,” he said.
The outrage exhibited by much of Greece’s impoverished population highlights the fact that this economic life-line is not free. In return, Greece will have to increase taxes on a majority of its population, impose major reductions in pensions, and decimate many existing state subsidies.
This deal is controversial because it will exacerbate the conditions of the 6.3 million Greeks threatened by extreme poverty, as well as the staggering 26.5% unemployment rate that exceeds all other European nations.
After the decision was made, protests and violence broke out in central Athens and outside the parliament building. Over 12,000 citizens protesting austerity—many armed with molotov cocktails—clashed with police, who fought back with tear gas. Ilias Sorias, a 62-year-old cardiologist at the protest, stated,
“People are going to pay one way or another: either by being forced from the eurozone or through the implementation of these barbaric measures.”
The citizens of Greece now face a major loss. The reaction within the country by pseudo-leftist politicians, whose reassuring words are now proven to be opportunistic rhetoric, is unprecedented. How is it that a government that claimed to be left-wing—even socialist—is now supporting draconian policies that will destroy the working class more than ever? In order for the citizens of Greece to move forward after this bill is imposed, they must holistically understand all of the factors responsible and demand justice from the banks that made the destructive decisions in the first place.
Syriza is now acting towards the working class the same way the Democratic party in America acts. It is, just like the Democratic party, unwilling to offset the economic oppression of the financial elites. It lacks the courage or strength to mobilize the masses against those who have deprived them of their sustenance.
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