Tag Archives: IMF/World Bank

Greek Elections – and photos of the protests that drove the change

With the Greek election results heralding a massive rejection of the current EU/ECB/IMF austerity plans for that country, and of the two parties that have run Greece for the last two decades, I figured I’d post some photos of the clashes that contributed to this result.

The downside of the election results is a massive surge in popularity for the far-right, anti-immigrant, neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.  The upside is that the dominant parties to emerge from the election are all progressive and leftist.

Back in  February, Greeks battled police in central Athens to protest harsh austerity measures. Parliament members had approved an austerity plan in an effort to get $170 billion in bailout money from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund as part of a deal in which private creditors will take loses of up to 70 percent on the debt they hold.

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For info and background…

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Event: Down with the IMF – DC, Oct 7-10

Some of the Scheduled Events:

Thursday Oct 7th – IMF Teach In – Details at http://imfresistance.org/?p=45

Friday Oct. 8th – March and Rally – Details at http://imfresistance.org/?p=45
Non Violent Direct Action Workshop with Nadine
Anticapitalist Night of Action

Saturday Oct. 9th – Festival of Resistance

For more info: The IMF Resistance Network.

Greece Now and Then, and the Euro Crisis

Another round up of posts, links and ledes on Greece – responses to the bank deaths, some history of Greek protests, and a few items on the crisis with the euro, which is being fueled by the situation in Greece…

Bruce Cockburn, “Call It Democracy” (lyrics)- from the album World of Wonders (1986) – a music attack on the IMF

Greece Now – with particular attention to the bank deaths

Who knew the European Union had so much power over its member states?: “For the time being, the markets have been pacified. For the moment, the riots in Athens have subsided. Only ‘hundreds’ of demonstrators came out over the weekend, fewer than the 50,000 who killed three people during a violent petrol-bomb attack on a bank last week. But this temporary truce in Greece has been bought at a high price—by which I don’t just mean that it was expensive….”

(via Slate Magazine.)

The welfare state’s death spiral: “Washington Post – By Robert J. Samuelson – May. 10 (Opinion) – What we’re seeing in Greece is the death spiral of the welfare state. This isn’t Greece’s problem alone, and that’s why its crisis has rattled global stock markets and threatens economic recovery. Virtually every advanced nation, including the United States, faces the same prospect. Aging populations have been promised huge health and retirement benefits, which countries haven’t fully covered with taxes. The reckoning has arrived in Greece, but it awaits most wealthy societies….”

(via NewsTrust.)

Austerity measures approved in Greece, protests continue: “The new measures have been voted in the Greek Parliament yesterday by a majority of 172 votes out of a total 300, these including the votes of the ruling Socialist Party (PASOK) and the extreme-right party of junta nostalgic creeps, LAOS.

The Conservative party, the Communist Party and the Radical Coalition of the Left voted against the measures. The procedure was not without surprises as 3 PASOK MPs cast a blank vote, leading to their expulsion from the Party. One of them a veteran Socialist politician and Olympic Games champion Mrs Sacorafa is refusing to hand over her seat in Parliament. At the same time the ex-Foreign Affairs Minister, daughter of the ex- PM Konstantinos Mitsotakis, and defeated candidate for the leadership of the Conservatives, Mrs Bakoyanni voted for the measures leading to her immediate expulsion from the Party – a move expected to lead the Conservatives to a major crisis. The demand of the Left for a 180 vote majority for the measures to be passed (a rule applied for constitutional reform) was not accepted by the government….

(via libcom.org.)

The Fair Uprising of 120,000 Demonstrators in Athens, Greece.
From Anarchist Coil.

THE FAIR UPRISING OF 120,000 DEMONSTRATORS, THE RAID AGAINST THE PARLIAMENT BY TENS OF THOUSANDS OF ENRAGED PEOPLE HAD NOTHING AND COULD HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PARA-STATE GANG WHO MURDERED THREE PEOPLE IN A BANK IN STADIOU STR. AND TRIED UNSUCCESSFULLY TO DO THE SAME AT THE BOOKSTORE IANOS

“Oh sky, your mirror image can be seen on the mud also”.

At first, we want to make it clear that our anger is indescribable, for the cowardly para-state gang who is responsible for murdering three people, two women, one pregnant on the fourth month, and a man who worked at Marfin bank at Stadiou Str., as well as for the gang of politicians and journalists who rushed to associate the fair uprising of hundreds of thousands of people in Athens and other cities with this atrocious murder.

But the truth cannot be erased. An angry river of protesters surrounded the Parliament and for hours and hours attempted to invade during a ferocious battle with the forces of repression….

(via Anarchist news dot org.)

In critical and suffocating times: “The Ta Paida Tis Galarias (The Children of The Gallery) group report on the recent demonstrations in Athens against austerity measures, including the events leading to the tragic deaths of three bank workers and its implications for the movement of opposition.

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Greece – More Ledes and Links

Everybody gets so much information all day long
that they lose their common sense.
~ Gertrude Stein

Another round up of recent headlines, ledes, blog posts and soundbites from around the internet on the situation in Greece…

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Crisis in Greece – with Statement on Bank Deaths

Everybody gets so much information all day long
that they lose their common sense.
~ Gertrude Stein

Another roundup of news articles and blog posts on the situation in Greece, with particular attention to the deaths in the bank fire… Obviously, there’s a vast amount of material out there, far more than I could ever repost/link to here. I’m trying to select significant articles from mainstream, but not too bad news sources along with useful inputs from left perspectives – but basically what you are getting is what I read that I found helpful, enlightening, provocative or enraging.

Greek Protests Claim First Fatalities – Slide Show
Demonstrations against tough new austerity measures in Greece claimed their first fatalities with three people reported to have died inside a bank building set ablaze by protesters. Protesters marched in Athens on Wednesday.

(via NYTimes.com.)

Debt crisis: The EU is waterboarding Greece | Poul Nyrup Rasmussen: “The austerity measures forced on to the Greeks are not only unfair, they set a bad precedent for the rest of Europe

On the day of the eurozone leaders’ meeting in Brussels, it is essential that we look at what is really going on in the European Union. The Conservative majority in the EU has again lost sight of the big picture. Its punishment of Greece is like the nation-state equivalent of waterboarding….”

(via Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.)

Greek Lawmakers Pass Austerity Plan: “The crucial vote stirred immediate concerns about unrest among the thousands of protesters massed in Athens.”
(via NYT > Home Page.)

It’s Not About Greece Anymore: “The Greek rescue package announced last weekend is far from enough to stabilize the euro zone, two economists write.”
(via NYT > Home Page.)

Greece Riots as Seen on Twitter, YouTube: “As riots explode in Greece, pictures and videos are flying around the social web, shared from news sources and folks on the ground. The images and videos we’re seeing are nothing short of otherworldly and terrifying. Riot police don gas masks, violent protesters take over the streets, gun shots ring out and open flames burn in the streets.

Readers should be aware that some folks may find the content below, particularly video content, shocking, disturbing or offensive. Please keep this in mind when you decide whether or not to watch these videos.”

(via Mashable!.)

“The management of the bank strictly barred the employees from leaving today … while they also forced the employees to lock up the doors” – Statements on the deaths in Athens: “Following the deaths of three workers in a fire at a bank in central Athens yesterday, we reproduce for reference the statements of a worker at the Marfin bank on the incident, and the communiques of the bank workers’ union OTOE and the Skaramanga squat in Athens. The bank workers union struck today in response to the deaths, blaming the goverment and employers for the fatalities.

The statement of an employee of the Marfin bank on the deaths:

Quote:
‘I feel an obligation toward my co-workers who have so unjustly died today to speak out and to say some objective truths. I am sending this message to all media outlets. Anyone who still bares some consciousness should publish it. The rest can continue to play the government’s game.” more

(via libcom.org.)

State terror in Exarcheia: “In an orgy of collective punishment the Greek police unleashed a brutal attack on Exarcheia, after the end of yesterday’s protest march, destroying shops and social centres, evacuating a squat at gunpoint and brutalising the locals.

The police brutality seen on the streets of Exarcheia last evening after the end of the general strike protest march in Athens has been unprecedented and casts serious doubts on the nature of the present regime in Greece which is casting away its democratic veil to expose itself as what it really is: the continuation of the colonel’s junta.”

(via libcom.org.)

What do we honestly have to say about Wednesday’s events?: “What do the events of Wednesday (5/5) honestly mean for the anarchist/anti-authoritarian movement? How do we stand in the face of the deaths of these three people – regardless of who caused them? Where do we stand as humans and as people in struggle? Us, who do not accept that there are such things as “isolated incidents” (of police or state brutality) and who point the finger, on a daily basis, at the violence exercised by the state and the capitalist system. Us, who have the courage to call things by their name; us who expose those who torture migrants in police stations or those who play around with our lives from inside glamorous offices and TV studios. So, what do we have to say now?

(via After the Greek Riots › Irregular updates and articles on the situation in Greece, in English.)

Greece at the Brink of the Abyss

Everybody gets so much information all day long
that they lose their common sense.
~ Gertrude Stein

A roundup of news articles and blog posts on the situation in Greece…

Lots of attention to the protests, but also an increasing sense that the bailout so far approved will not be enough for Greece, and that the financial problems may yet extend to other countries in the eurozone. Meanwhile, it is still difficult to find serious, indepth discussions of the austerity measures from the perspective of the average Greek.

A story has also been circulating that the country’s financial problems could be substantially ameliorated by getting tax evaders to pony up their fair share – such as 1000s of swimming pool owners in Athens. But other articles dispute the value of this as a solution.

Regarding the protests, there are the usual responses in the news media – some decrying the violence of anarchists and young people, others dismissing the protests as insignificant. But when the protesters are farmers, civil servants and school teachers, it is clear that this is not just a case of student radicals always ready to leap to the barricades, that something significant is indeed going on. Particularly when the President of the country describes it as “at the brink of the abyss.” But his abyss might be your threshold, a path to a different future.

Hopefully, we will soon see articles from more mainstream but progressive news outlets gaining traction with stories about what is really going on – both with the protests, and with the attempts to rescue the Greek economy. In the meantime…

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“The biggest international bailout ever” – more on Greece

Everybody gets so much information all day long
that they lose their common sense.
~ Gertrude Stein

A round up of recent headlines, ledes and soundbites from around the internet on the economic bailout of Greece, austerity measures that are being suggested, and social fallout…

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Website of the Week: Resistanbul – YOU ARE INVITED TO THE BONFIRE OF RESISTANCE!

Spokesmen and bureaucrats of multinational capitalist corporations will be in Istanbul, Turkey on 6 – 7 October for the 2009 Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund where they will have decisions to destroy the lives of billions of people.

No doubt, this will be another meeting to save the benefits of capitalist rulers, they will discuss economic packages, reconstructions and austerity politics and constitutional accordance conditions, which only adds another ring to the exploitation chain for the future of the poor and the planet we live on.

First-hand experiences in Argentina, Jamaica, Nigeria, Kenya and elsewhere have long proved that the World Band and IMF policies have no benefits other than indigence and exploitation. IMF and the World Bank, the leading architects of global capitalism, are the primary instruments of the banishment of the poor from their habitat and their homes by urban gentrification politics, commercialization and monopolization of water resources by selling it out to a few international corporations, the condemnation of the local farmers to global capitalist corporations with neo-liberal agriculture policies, and adding new rings to the chains of workers by implementing new employment legislations.

13.000 criminals and possibly even more patrolling forces to protect them will be walking amongst us on those days. Those days will be probably like hell. Police searches, id controls, blocking streets, fencings and so on.

Come on; let’s show them what hell is! Our bonfire will be their nightmare!

We call for a week of global resistance and actions against IMF and WB between 1-8 October. In Istanbul we are planning to organize workshops, exhibitions, movie screenings, conversations and activities against IMF and World Bank. Accommodation for those coming from other cities and abroad will be arranged. If you want to participate in the preparations and the process of mobilization please contact us at direnistanbul@gmail.com

via YOU ARE INVITED TO THE BONFIRE OF RESISTANCE! « Resistanbul – YOU ARE INVITED TO THE BONFIRE OF RESISTANCE!.

Greece – More on the Situation There, and the IMF

The situation with Greece’s economic condition seems to be rapidly worsening, and there are increasing fears that the crisis will spread, not just to the other troubled economies of Southern Europe, but to the rest of the region, and to the euro, and even outside the eurozone to the UK.

Some are comparing the situation to the panic that gripped the financial sector, particularly in the USA, after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in late 2008.

And fears about the impact of austerity measures – and protests – are spreading.

Below are some selections from recent news reports…

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Greece – Too Big to Fail?

Paul Krugman – Learning From Greece: “The debt crisis in Greece is approaching the point of no return. As prospects for a rescue plan seem to be fading, largely thanks to German obduracy, nervous investors have driven interest rates on Greek government bonds sky-high, sharply raising the country’s borrowing costs. This will push Greece even deeper into debt, further undermining confidence. At this point it’s hard to see how the nation can escape from this death spiral into default.
(via NYTimes.com.)

Greece activates €45bn loans: “Papandreou’s move was immediately welcomed by markets across Europe where stocks marked a sharp rise after weeks of uncertainty. The premium on Greek 10-year bonds fell 60 basis points to 8.2% on the news and the euro strengthened slightly against the dollar and the pound.
But the Greek government’s request is likely to also lead to calls for further austerity measures, demands that will almost certainly worsen public unrest in Greece.”
(via guardian.co.uk.)

With Greece facing austerity measures imposed by the international financial system the like of which haven’t really been seen before in Western Europe, we can expect to see the “public unrest” (read, “riots,” massive anger in the streets, police brutality, bombs) to dwarf that of the past year. Greek radical militancy has a long, proud and aggressive history and militants there will react with understandable fury to the social impact of the anticipated austerity measures. It looks like it may be a long, hot summer on the Mediterranean.

Update on the tensions and continued social crisis in Greece
“Greece is going to hell, it is going to hell and I am glad it is so that we can comeback and start things from the beginning” These were the last words of an anarchist comrade in Greece as we spoke about events that have taken place in recent weeks because of the austerity measures introduced by the Government to tackle Greece’s enormous debt.

Greece’s Premier has likened the Greek economic situation to that of a country in “wartime”, in which he announced that the public must come together in order to “survive”.

Although this wartime reference was used as a metaphor, Papandreou might only too soon find his Government locked in a state of war with the working classes.
(via Freedom Press.)

Austerity measures, IMF and World Bank-imposed policies, and structural adjustment programs have met with increasingly levels of resistance over the years, particularly in developing countries that have been most subject to these “measures.” But in recent years, as part of the broader alter-globalization movement, there have been more and more protests against the IMF and World Bank in the developed nations of the North as well:

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Since the first announcement that Greece would accept the €45b bailout, more information has come out about the anticipated role of the IMF, Europe’s anxiety about a financial failure in Greece leading to further failures in Portugal and elsewhere, uncertainty about German support for a measure that is unpopular with the public, and the response elsewhere in Europe and in the global financial community. And the situation – or at least the assessment – has worsened, with Greece now looking like it will need substantially more than the initially proposed €45b:

IMF chief Strauss-Kahn tries to ease Greece fears: “Inevitably, the prospect of IMF involvement in the Greek rescue has some people worried. The reputation is for painful cuts in public spending, which are unwelcome in their own right and seen by some critics as likely to aggravate an economic downturn.” [emphasis added]
(Via BBC News.)

Greek bailout ‘not limited to €45bn’: “The bill to bail out the stricken Greek economy could mushroom, after world leaders admitted that the €45bn (£39bn) already pledged was just the start.
The country’s finance minister, George Papaconstantinou, said that bailout talks at the weekend with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European partners had gone well, and he was confident Greece would secure the necessary aid by May to finance its crippling public debt without any problem.”
….
“Over the weekend, French and German leaders turned the screws on Greece, insisting that the €45bn international bailout would not go ahead without further austerity measures to slash the country’s ballooning budget deficit.
Lagarde also warned that contributors to the eurozone’s first rescue package would pull the plug if Greece did not honour the terms. She promised to hold Greece accountable for ‘unsuitable economic policies‘.” [emphasis added]
(Via guardian.co.uk.)

Merkel keeps Greece in suspense over rescue: “The German Chancellor was forced yesterday to issue an emergency statement promising aid to Greece — but her words failed to quell bond market speculation that Berlin might not support the eurozone’s €30 billion rescue package.
(via Times Online.)

It’s important to be clear about what these austerity measures and unsuitable economic policies really are. If past experience is anything to go by they will be a major curtailment of social welfare programs – health, education and welfare – combined with an unprecedented opening up of the country to exploitation by multinational corporations. In the past, the IMF and World Bank have acted like Viking raiders – raping, looting and pillaging.

Some Background

One of the better known instances of this kind of assaults, and of the popular resistance to such imposed economic measures, is what took place in Bolivia in the late 1990s:

The Politics of Water in Bolivia: “Etched deeply into the granite walls just inside the entrance of the World Bank headquarters in Washington are the words, “Our dream, a world free of poverty.” Earlier this month in Bolivia, the citizens of South America’s poorest country sent the bank a message once again that the poor aren’t too keen on the part of that dream that involves handing their water over to foreign corporations.
On January 10 the citizens of El Alto took to the streets en masse to demand that their water system, privatized in 1997 under World Bank pressure, be returned to public hands.”
(via The Nation.)

Some Reading

Along with the more general global financial crisis of which it is a part, the situation in Greece is fairly complex, and the role of the IMF and its bailout activities – and their often devastating effects – are similar difficult to make sense of with the limited information given in news coverage. Here are a few resources to consult to begin making sense of these issues and events.