Yesterday saw the obscene consequences of the corrupt financial and political elite’s insatiable greed, as a 77-year-old Greek man publicly committed suicide outside Parliament in Athens. The man, named locally as Dimitris Christoulas, reportedly pulled out a handgun and shot himself in the head during rush hour, having shouted “I’m leaving because I don’t want to pass on my debts.”
A note found on Mr Christoulas’s body explicitly confirmed that his suicide was a desperate response to the life of poverty he faced, due to EU- and IMF-imposed “austerity measures” that had caused his standard of living to plummet. Following a career as a pharmacist he said that the Greek government had “nullified any chance of my survival which was based on a decent salary that for 35 years I alone (without state support) paid for”, and that “I see no other solution than a decent ending before I start looking in the garbage to feed myself”.
He went on to compare the current Greek government to the collaborationist administration that ruled when the Nazis invaded and occupied the country during the second world war.
Mr Christoulas’s suicide is the most public expression of despair to date, by a population who are seeing their living standards drop massively due to cuts and “readjustments” demanded by international financiers.
Pensions and benefits have been cut by up to 25%, salaries and public services slashed, whilst taxes have been raised and unemployment is high, as the Greek people are made to suffer for debts incurred following years of complicity between corrupt officials and global loan sharks like the IMF.
Diseases including HIV and malaria have reportedly risen sharply in Greece due to the collapse of the economy, and police data suggests the suicide rate has increased by 20% in the last two years. In Italy, one of many countries being similarly looted by the financial elite, there has also been a wave of suicides, with a 59-year old reportedly killing himself yesterday due to his business failing.
That we are seeing hardship and unrest in many countries is unsurprising, considering that deprivation and “the IMF riot” are written into the very plans of the global financial elite. In 2001 investigative reporter Greg Palast, using confidential documents and interviews with former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz, revealed how institutions like the IMF and World Bank operate. They have a four point plan to enable them to take over the economies of sovereign nations.
The first step involves the privatization of a nation’s industries, with which corrupt politicians are often all too keenly complicit, due to the lucrative commissions on offer.
The second step is “capital market liberalization”, when speculative foreign investment capital flows into the country in real estate and currency, but can as rapidly be withdrawn at the first sign of trouble. Then, “to seduce speculators into returning a nation’s own capital funds, the IMF demands these nations raise interest rates to 30%, 50% and 80%”, which has the effect of slashing property values and industrial production, and draining national treasuries.
The IMF then implements step three: “market-based pricing”, effectively raising the price of food, water, gas and other essential commodities. As reported by Palast:
This leads, predictably, to Step-Three-and-a-Half: what Stiglitz calls ‘the IMF riot’. The IMF riot is painfully predictable. When a nation is, ‘down and out, [the IMF] squeezes the last drop of blood out of them. They turn up the heat until, finally, the whole cauldron blows up,’…You’d almost believe the riot was expected. And it is. What Stiglitz did not know is that Newsnight obtained several documents from inside the World Bank. In one, last year’s Interim Country Assistance Strategy for Ecuador, the Bank several times suggests – with cold accuracy – that the plans could be expected to spark ‘social unrest’.
Such riots cause a flight of capital and government bankruptcy, meaning the country’s remaining assets can be picked off at absurdly cheap prices by foreign investors; there are always “lots of losers but the clear winners seem to be the western banks and US Treasury”.
Step four is WTO-, IMF- and World Bank-dictated “free trade”, where global corporations move in to monopolize the newly opened markets.
Stiglitz explained how the IMF’s restructural “assistance” resulted in Africa’s income dropping by 23%, with Botswana being the only country to avoid such a fate because they told the IMF “to go packing”. Whether Greece and other massively indebted countries will do the same remains to be seen, though as Greek politicians are currently grovelling for bailout packages from the EU and IMF (as if further debt could ever improve the country’s situation), the future for the working people and middle class of Greece looks bleak.
The “IMF riot”: coming soon to a town near you.
This article first appeared at Resistance Radio.
Brit Dee runs an independent online radio station called Resistance Radio, which broadcasts daily news, views and analysis challenging the lies of our corrupt political and financial leaders, and the controlled corporate media, at http://www.resistradio.com.