The tear gas, plexiglass riot shields and brute force of the Athens police brigades were no use in staving off more than a thousand angry people traveling from Crete to protest against tax hikes last week.
While the austerity street clashes of Greece dropped out of the American consciousness for awhile, it is probably no surprise that farmers engaged in confrontation outside the agriculture ministry regarding austerity measures when police blocked their entry into the building.
Reportedly, farmers there have been historically exempt from taxes but that might be a thing of the past with the Greek austerity chopping block so active. “Tax rates are expected to reach 26%, while pensions are being cut by as much as 22% by 2022,” The Guardian reported.
More than 1,100 stockbreeders and farmers arrived on overnight ferries in the early hours of [last] Wednesday, to protest against increases in tax and social security contributions demanded by the creditors keeping Greece afloat.
Footage showed the farmers, many wearing black bandanas, smashing the windows of riot vans with shepherds’ staffs, setting fire to rubbish bins and hurling rocks and stones.
When the agriculture minister, Evangelos Apostolou, initially refused to meet a 45-member delegation representing protesters, anger peaked. “Dialogue is one thing, thuggery quite another,” the minister said, before attempts at further talks also foundered.
The Guardian adds,
The government is seeking to complete bailout talks over controversial income and spending cuts with visiting inspectors representing Greece’s international creditors. The country is due to make debt repayments of €7bn (£6bn) in July and faces the prospect of default if the bailout review is not completed.
“We have come to ensure the victory of farmers and to have results,” said Yannis Psarakis, a farmer from Kyparissi, outside Crete’s main city of Heraklion. “We want to have them take back everything they have encumbered us with. To us, it seems like the powers that be have looted everything.”
Similar clashes took place in Thessaloniki, where Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, was taunted by protesters and asked if he could “survive on a pension of €400 a month”.
How much longer can Greeks hold out without fatal effects? Two years ago, rural Greeks survived austerity by gardening, bartering and subsisting on very little – but many of them only had a few months left of survival. What happened to them, and what happens now? Other EU member states probably do not want the reminder of Greece’s economic crisis looming too close.
As for the U.S., on top of crazy proposals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership under its various manifestations – we bail out parasites we call Wall St – while Americans go hungry – so that suits can keep playing speculation-roulette and pop derivatives like gum bubbles, tanking the markets like good jolly fun. They produce nothing and have no consequences. Maybe Americans should find their wills again and hold Wall St, Congress and the Federal Reserve banksters responsible for once if they don’t want economic riots to join the other forms of civil unrest here.
Photo credit: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
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