06/30/2011versione stampabileprintinvia paginasend

Thanos, a protester in Syntagma Square, explains why austerity measures have been met with violence.

"We're not just fighting for Greece. We're fighting for all of Europe." Thanos is a young Greek protesting the 78 billion euros in cuts approved today by the Greek parliament to avoid bankruptcy. In front of the parliament building, five thousand riot police used tear gas to hold back demonstrators who were attempting to break through security cordons.

What's the latest on the protests in the piazza?
Police violence is at a level we've never seen. I think they gave the police one clear order: don't look anyone in the face. We've never seen an action like this in all the years of protest. From all four corners of Syntagma Square they launched tear gas against the demonstrators. Clearly, their goal was just to get everyone out of here. They were clubbing and beating people. It's like it was a military dictatorship. Pure brutality. A lot of people were wounded and overcome by the gas. But it's not going to be easy to get tens of thousands of people to leave here. I want to say thank you to every one of them, for their fighting spirit and for their courage.

How long is the protest going to last? How long will you stay in Syntagma Square?
I don't know. It's hard to say, but they won't give up. We won't give up. They want to send us home, but we're going to stay even after they've approved the austerity measures. After these demonstrations we'll reorganize, take a breath and call a meeting to decide what to do next.

Why did they decide to turn on Greece? Why did you guys end up losing out-maybe you're just the first in line? What are the political motivations for this choice?
I repeat: this struggle isn't just for us but for all the people of Europe. The oligarchy of bankers, governments, and the wealthy decided what measures needed to be taken to prevent bankruptcy in just one country. But their direction is clear: cut jobs, and in the future no one in the public service sector will be spared. Actually, it's already happening everywhere in Europe. This policy of austerity that's been forced on Greece for two years now shouldn't fall on the heads of the people because we're not the ones who created Greece's debt. It was our irresponsible government, the banks, and the wealthy and they're pushing the economic consequences and sacrifices off onto the lower middle class and workers. This is a European phenomenon.

What's the goal of your demonstrations?
We're fighting for our future, for the future of workers throughout Europe. It's a huge lie to say that the government of Greece doesn't have the resources to pay down the debt. It's not our debt. With the taxes they get from the Greek people they can pay for salaries, public services, healthcare, and education. These austerity measures are going towards the debt generated by loans from European banks. This isn't just happening in Greece, or on the margins of Europe, but everywhere you look. We lost half our salary because of our government's reckless loan decisions. We are against the banks, and against the governments.

Luca Galassi
translated by Gary Cestaro