Worldwide solidarity with Greece as
EU finance ministers try to squeeze workers harder
Published Feb 24, 2012 8:30 PM
It wasn’t enough. The draconian cuts the Greek Parliament accepted Feb. 19, amounting to about 7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, weren’t enough for the bloodsucking European bankers. The European ruling class wants to gouge even more out of the living standards of Greek workers, while protecting the wealth of the big ship owners, the bankers and speculators.
The European Central Bank, whose charter forbids it from lending directly to the countries that make up the eurozone, instead lends to private banks at 1 percent; they in turn lend money to Greece, Portugal, Spain and other distressed European countries at much higher rates. This bailout will mean billions in profits to the banks, hedge funds and other speculators who bought Greek bonds at deep discounts.
If Greece defaults and leaves the eurozone, which is possible, the banks might not make as much profit, but insurance and loan guarantees will keep their “haircut” from getting too short.
Greece has become a laboratory for austerity
The cuts will bring the minimum wage to about 500 euros (approximately $650) a month. Wages were already low after five years of recession, but prices were high because monopolies rigged the economy. Pensions have been cut and cut again.
Unemployment is over 20 percent overall in Greece, and near 50 percent for youth. Health care, education and other social services have been devastated. Some people who still work haven’t been paid for months. Thirty percent of all Greeks currently are living below the poverty level.
Popular reaction to these conditions can be summed up by the slogan: “No one left alone in the crisis.” Social solidarity networks have been set up -- sometimes with the help of municipalities -- to help people survive. People help each other with work gathering food for poor families, homeless people and even strikers. Time banks, where people exchange services, have been created.
One vital action of these popular solidarity networks has been to keep the electricity on for people unable to pay their bills. They can’t pay because the government added a new, sky-high real estate tax to electricity bills.
A call went out to make Feb. 18, “We are all Greeks” Day, a day of international solidarity. It was enthusiastically picked up in France, where people had been going into the Greek Embassy and Greek consulate and asking to become Greek citizens out of solidarity with their sisters and brothers in Greece. (Greek Reporter, Feb. 18)
The Feb. 18 demonstration in Paris was organized by the Association of Greek Students and Workers and endorsed by the French Communist Party (PCF); the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA); a major trade union confederation, Solidaire; and other left parties and social justice and progressive groups. The demonstration in Marseilles was organized by the Party of the Left. Marseilles is where the European Confederation of Unions is planning to hold an all-Europe demonstration on Feb. 29.
There were also demonstrations at other cities scattered throughout France on Feb. 18.
There were protests in seven cities in Germany. Some of the signs requested, in English, “Don’t blame us for our government.” This is in reference to the German government’s pretext that its harsh pro-austerity policies arose through pressure from the German public, rather than the pressure from Germany’s big bankers.
There were also demonstrations in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Sweden, Finland, England, Scotland, northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Portugal, Iceland and Tunisia -- all at 2 p.m. on Feb. 18, as requested. The demonstration in New York at Zuccotti Park was set for the evening.
From the YouTube and Facebook postings, none of the demonstrations were massive, but they consciously aimed at breaking down the divisions that the European bourgeoisie are trying to inflame and utilize to ram austerity down the throats of the working class throughout Europe. Many demonstrations were consciously anti-imperialist and against bankers’ greed.
As one comment on a YouTube posting put it, “I’m Greek. It happened today that I was informed about that ‘wave’ of solidarity to Greece and I hope it will become a tsunami. Thank you for your support. I thought we were alone.” n
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