Clashes break out in Athens during strike

ATHENS — A general strike disrupted services across Greece and riots erupted once more outside Parliament Tuesday as demonstrators protested more taxes and spending cuts essential for the country to receive critical bailout funds that will prevent a potentially disastrous default.

Demonstrators run away from tear gas during a demonstration in Athens on Tuesday. A general strike disrupted services across Greece and riots erupted once more outside Parliament Tuesday as demonstrators protested more taxes and spending cuts essential for the country to receive critical bailout funds that will prevent a potentially disastrous default. Banner in Greek reads 'Democracy Now' and in Spanish at left: 'It (the law before parliament) will not pass'.

Demonstrators run away from tear gas during a demonstration in Athens on Tuesday. A general strike disrupted services across Greece and riots erupted once more outside Parliament Tuesday as demonstrators protested more taxes and spending cuts essential for the country to receive critical bailout funds that will prevent a potentially disastrous default. Banner in Greek reads 'Democracy Now' and in Spanish at left: 'It (the law before parliament) will not pass'.

ATHENS — A general strike disrupted services across Greece and riots erupted once more outside Parliament Tuesday as demonstrators protested more taxes and spending cuts essential for the country to receive critical bailout funds that will prevent a potentially disastrous default.

Inside Parliament, lawmakers debated new austerity measures which must be passed this week if Greece’s international creditors are to release the next C12 billion batch of the country’s C110 billion bailout — and prevent a default that could drag down European banks and shake the European and world economy.

But the measures, which include spending cuts and tax hikes on even those on minimum wages, have caused widespread outrage.

Unions embarked on a two-day general strike Tuesday, halting nearly all public transport, forcing airlines to reschedule or cancel dozens of flights and bringing public services to a standstill.

A peaceful protest by about 20,000 people quickly degenerated into violence, with riot police firing volleys of tear gas and stun grenades to keep back hooded youths pelting them with thousands of chunks of ripped up paving stones and marble chipped from building facades and steps.

Greece is no stranger to violent demonstrations or strikes, and they are not expected to derail the parliamentary votes on Wednesday and Thursday — but they have added to an atmosphere of deep dissatisfaction.

Even some deputies within Prime Minister George Papandreou’s governing Socialists have voiced dissatisfaction with the measures, with two of them indicating they might not vote in favour. However, the Socialists hold a five-seat majority in the 300-member Parliament, and the bills should muster the simple majority of 151 votes to pass.

European officials have also been pressuring Greece’s the main conservative opposition party to back the austerity bill, but so far their urgings have failed to convince conservative party leader Antonis Samaras.

“I trust that the Greek political leaders are fully aware of the responsibility that lies on their shoulders to avoid default,” European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said.

In addition to seeking the next batch of bailout funds, Greece looks like it will need another financial rescue. Papandreou has said a second bailout would be roughly the same size as the first and hopefully on better terms.

But the austerity imposed in order to get the funds have led to frequent strikes and demonstrations. Police said 18 people were detained during Tuesday’s riots, with five of them later arrested. At least 21 policemen were injured.

Rioters set fire to giant parasols at an outdoor cafe, using some to form barricades, and smashed windows of a McDonald’s outlet and other snack shops. Snack vendors scattered, leaving half-grilled sausages lying in the street among broken glass and smashed flower pots. Staff at upscale hotels handed out surgical masks to tourists and helped them with rolling luggage past the rioting, over ground strewn with rubble.

Youths set fire to a satellite truck parked near parliament, which rolled downhill into a kiosk whose freezer exploded. Hooded youths ducked behind the burning truck to help themselves to ice-cream cones.

“The situation that the workers are going through is tragic and we are near poverty levels,” said Spyros Linardopoulos, a protester with the PAME union blockading the port of Piraeus earlier in the day. “The government has declared war and to this war we will answer back with war.”

An ongoing strike by electricity company workers kept up rolling blackouts across Greece. Not far from the violent protest, cafes and ice cream vendors popular with tourists used portable generators to keep the power on.

Many Greeks insist they should not be forced to pay for a crisis they believe politicians are responsible for.

“We don’t owe any money, it’s the others who stole it,” said 69-year-old demonstrator Antonis Vrahas. “We’re resisting for a better society for the sake of our children and grandchildren.”

Even with the new austerity measures and a second bailout, many investors still think Greece is heading for some sort of default because its overall C340 billion debt burden is too great.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Advocate file photo).
RDC wins two national awards for environmental initiatives

Clean50 and LEED awards were received for innovative, green projects

Collaborators on the multi-generational planning at Diamond Willow Estates subdivision, just off of Hwy. 752, met at a showhome to go over their work. (From left to right) Realtor Lynn MacDonald, SAIT architecture students, Kenna Wessner and Chungha Kim, co-developer Anita Bauer and sustainability consultant Brit Wacher. (Photo contributed)
Multi-generation housing an option in county subdivision

Lots now available in new Clearwater County subdivision

Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak with 10 or more active cases. ( File photo by Advocate Staff)
COVID-19 impacting Red Deer schools

Education minister says 99.6 per cent of students and staff remain in school in Alberta

Sylvan Lake product Carter Graf is having a strong second season at North Carolina State University representing the Wolfpack in NCAA Div. 1 men’s golf. (Photo courtesy of NC State Athletics)
Sylvan Lake’s Carter Graf finding success in second season at NC State

Carter Graf and the North Carolina State Wolfpack have been scorching hot… Continue reading

DynaLife is hiring more staff to bring waiting times for blood tests down in Red Deer. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma, File)
DynaLIFE is hiring more staff in Red Deer to reduce wait times

Wait times for appointment will be further reduced

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

A Quebec Superior Court justice is set to issue a ruling Tuesday on the constitutionality of the province’s secularism law, known as Bill 21. People hold up signs during a demonstration against Bill 21 in Montreal, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Quebec court upholds most of province’s secularism law, exempts English school boards

MONTREAL — Quebec’s secularism law is largely legal, a Superior Court judge… Continue reading

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks during a press conference at the legislature in Victoria, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. The British Columbia government is providing a few more details about travel restrictions aimed at limiting movement around the province to slow the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Periodic roadblocks but no individual stops planned for B.C.’s COVID-19 travel rules

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government is looking at using periodic roadblocks… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is joined virtually by Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland as they talk online to a group of front-line pharmacists from across the country to discuss the ongoing vaccination efforts in the fight against COVID‑19, from the Prime Ministers office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Provinces balk at Liberals’ child-care budget pledge as funding negotiations loom

OTTAWA — Multiple provincial governments are questioning the Liberals’ promise of a… Continue reading

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Trudeau, Freeland seeking AstraZeneca shots as they become age-eligible with others

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland… Continue reading

The Rogers Logo is photographed on a Toronto office on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
Rogers says wireless service fully restored but questions remain after massive outage

A massive countrywide wireless outage that left millions of Rogers Communications Inc.… Continue reading

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

The controversial Super League is materializing after Madrid and 11 other clubs announced its creation on Sunday. (File photo by BLACK PRESS)
Super League a ‘longtime dream’ for Madrid president Pérez

League created because coronavirus pandemic left clubs in a dire financial situation

San Jose Sharks centre Patrick Marleau (12) skates during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, in San Jose, Calif., Monday, March 29, 2021. Marleau is skating in his 1,757th game. Only one other player in NHL history has hit that mark. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Tony Avelar
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s record for most NHL games played

Marleau was set to suit up for the 1,768th time Monday

Most Read