Violent hooded protestors in the central Athens Syntagma square clashed with peaceful “indignants” on Wednesday, June 15. The proper and dignified “indignants” have protested in the area since May 25. These ongoing protests are a show of dissatisfaction with austerity cuts which the Greek Parliamentarians see as essential.
Sometime after noon, several hundred hooded youths arrived on the grounds of the Greek Parliament building, where peaceful “indignant” protestors have gathered daily. The hooded demonatrators began pummeling police, hurling available projectiles, such as marble bricks and random debris. When the “indignants”, whose presence has been vested in peace, attempted to rid the area of the more violent demonstrators, the indignants themselves were targeted. The indignants prevailed, and by evening the hooded crowd was ousted and the cleanup had begun. Police too were involved; in the course of the melee, about 30 persons, including five police officers were injured and removed to hospitals. Police utilized tear gas, and many in the role of demonstrator were overcome with a shortness of breath, in addition to other injuries. Increasingly violent demonstrations are expected in the days to come.
The goal of the strike that day was to prevent Parliamentary members (MPs) from entering the building of the Greek Parliament. The plan had been to form a human chain around the building. That aim was foiled when police set up barriers at the entrances to the building at Syntagma square. Similar barriers were set up at the Ministry of Finance.
The demonstrations in Athens are a small indication of the resistance to austerity cuts in debt ridden Greece. The cuts are all pervasive; government offices have closed. Trains and ferries are at a standstill. Hospitals are operating with skeleton crews.
Greek officials must make these and more massive cuts in order to avoid defaulting on $40-50 billion dollars of loans. They are working on an extensive bailout program. An unresolved crisis could have a global impact; stock markets around the world are closing on the downside, as Greece teeters toward bankruptcy. Greece owes some $400 billion in bond debt, $123 billion due by 2014. Standards and Poors rates Greece as “triple C” – the lowest in the world. Analysts are concerned that Greece may in fact maintain social programs by defaulting on parts of some loans. European officials are looking for selective default, what they refer to as “restructuring”. Expert Sony Kapoor from Brussels quipped that such restructuring should probably be done quickly, on a weekend. He says that the Greek credit rating is already beyond saving. “Most of the damage has been inflicted.”
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