Monday, February 13, 2012
GREECE REVOLT - Rioters Burn Buildings as Greek Parliament Votes on Cuts
Rioters set fire to buildings and battled police in downtown Athens as the Greek Parliament prepared to vote on Prime Minister Lucas Papademos’s austerity package to avert the nation’s collapse.
Ten fires were burning in central Athens including buildings housing a Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) cafe, a bank and a movie theater, a fire department spokesman said, speaking on the condition of anonymity in line with official policy. The blazes were near a bank that was set on fire in May 2010, killing three bank employees, during a general strike against Greece’s first bailout package.
“Today at midnight, before markets open, the Greek Parliament must send a message,” Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told lawmakers in Athens today as the final debate on the accord to secure a 130 billion-euro ($171 billion) second aid package got under way. “We must show that Greeks, when they are called on to choose between the bad and the worst, choose the bad to avoid the worst.”
Demonstrators, rallying against austerity measures including job cuts, tore up marble in front of parliament that they hurled with fire-bombs at police guarding the chamber. Officers in riot gear responded with tear-gas and flash grenades. More than 50 officers were injured in the violence, police spokesman Takis Papapetropoulos said by telephone. The Greek Health Ministry said in an e-mailed statement that 54 people had been taken to hospital. Police said 25 rioters had been detained.
‘Athens in Flames’
“We are seeing Athens go up in flames again,” Mayor George Kaminis, said in an interview on ANT1 television. “This must stop. What they are trying to do to Athens is what they are trying to do to the entire country.”
Papademos appealed to Greeks last night to support budget cuts needed to win the aid while leaders of the two biggest parties urged their lawmakers in parliament to pass the austerity bill today or risk financial meltdown.
The vote is tantamount to a vote on whether Greece wants to remain in the euro and is part of a fight to save the country, Venizelos told parliament.
‘Leave the Country’
“The message to the Greek government is they should leave the country, right now,” one protester, Dimitris Fokos, 49, unemployed, said. “They don’t represent the people anymore.”
Police estimated the crowd today at about 15,000, spokesman Papapetropoulos said.
With only weeks remaining before the country faces a 14.5 billion-euro bond payment, George Papandreou and Antonis Samaras, the leaders of the two largest parliamentary parties, urged support for the bill as lawmakers, with an eye on elections as early as April, bristled at measures such as a 22 percent reduction in the minimum wage, smaller pensions and immediate job cuts for as many as 15,000 state workers.
“We are looking the Greek people straight in the eye with full knowledge of our historical responsibility,” Papademos said in a televised address on the eve of the vote. “The social costs that come with these measures are contained in comparison to the economic and social catastrophe that will follow if we don’t adopt them.”
Continue reading - Bloomberg - Rioters Burn Buildings as Greek Parliament Votes on Cuts
MORE GALLERY HERE: Athens, Greece 12/2/12
Raw Video: Greek Rioting Ahead of Austerity Vote
Video: Athens on fire as mass protest turns violent
Burning Banks: More footage of Greek chaos and riots
Cuts & Chaos: Desperation drives Greek clashes
Επεισόδια στο Σύνταγμα 12 Φεβρουαρίου 2012
Παλλαϊκή Συγκέντρωση Σύνταγμα 12/2/2012