The same worn out ineffective policies that have done nothing to help Greece come out of the dire situation it has been for years have found more support at the highest levels of the Greek government. Congress in that country had the guts to adopt more of the same hunger causing measures that took Greece from being in a bad recession to a complete and open economic depression.
The Greek government managed to give new impetus to the austerity policies demanded by the EU and the International Monetary Fund but that were again rejected on the streets and partially in Parliament, where the new austerity measures were approved with a very small majority. For Greece, however, this late awakening by some of its congressional leaders, may be too little, too late.
On Wednesday the Greek Parliament approved the latest round of austerity measures with 153 votes in favor, 128 against and 18 abstentions. One congressman was absent during the voting.
The so-called coalition government led by banker accomplice and Prime Minister Andonis Samaras, gained control of 175 of the 300 seats in Congress which facilitated the approval of the measures, despite the last-minute challenges issued by some opposition leaders.
The new austerity package includes, among other goodies, the dismissal of about 25,000 government employees by the end of 2013, reduced pensions and health co-payment.
“We voted to remain within Europe or return to the drachma, international isolation, social insurrection and civil war,” Samaras said in Parliament during the debate period previous to the approval of the list of demands written by bankers in Brussels.
“Some of the measures included in the bill that we voted today should have been adopted years ago. Others, such as wage and pension cuts are unfair and that is something we should not hide,” confessed Samaras. During the debate, which was hoarse and thick with shouts and interruptions, the opposition branded the new austerity package as “unconstitutional” in both its content and the procedure for approval.
As in many other countries, the artificial sense of emergency, gave Congress little or no time to actually read the 279 pages of the proposal that did not get to Parliament until late Monday. The same has been done in countries like the United States, when George W. Bush and the American Congress approved the TARP legislation and when they decided to bailout banks and General Motors.
Congressman Dimitris Papadimulis, warned after the vote that the new measures “will hurt seriously the Greek society and the economy” and called on the population to “prevent it” fighting against a government which he said had experienced significant losses. The rejection of the new austerity measures, both before and after the approval was clearly felt on the streets of Athens, as people participated of a general strike of 48 hours.
Before the vote was taken, anywhere between 100,000 and 200,000 people showed up to Syntagma Square, just outside Congress to demand the rejection of the legislation. Although the protests remained largely peaceful, the approval of more austerity resulted in riots between protesters and police. The disturbances spread along the avenues and squares nearby, where protesters resorted to burning garbage containers and destroy barricades placed along the streets.
Police actions against the protesters rendered at least 70 people arrested. Most of the Greeks who tried to put some pressure on Congress to reject the new austerity policies remained outside Parliament premises while they shouted and demanded that their voice be heard. As in all other occasions, the Greek leadership did exactly the opposite; they listened to the bankers and not their people.
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Contributed by Luis Miranda of The Real Agenda.
Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 16 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Luis obtained his Journalism degree from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, where he graduated in Mass Media Communication in 1998. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Among his most distinguished interviews are: Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres and James Hansen from NASA Space Goddard Institute.