This qw8 May 2014 video is called Greece in Poverty – No Money, No Jobs, No Hope.
By Millie Slavidou in Greece:
Greece in Crisis: the Human Face
8 July 2015
As the crisis in Greece deepens, the politicians and commentators barter on, their conversation full of big themes, fancy economic terms and self importance. There is often little mention of the ‘ordinary’ Greek people who continue to try to live their lives with dignity. In this piece, writer Millie Slavidou and a resident of Greece, talks about the human cost of austerity.
As I sat down to write about what life is like in Greece through the recession and the crisis, I wondered where to start. Should I begin by mentioning the people who wait until it is dark before venturing out to rummage through the bins, in an attempt to preserve their dignity, hoping that they won’t be spotted by someone they know? Or maybe I should start with the suicides, the 10,000 and more people who lost hope. Everyone knows someone who has been affected – who has lost a family member, a friend, a former colleague. Someone.
I live in northeastern Greece, on the mainland. You might think that this place, far from Athens, Thessaloniki and the large urban areas, would be less hit by the crisis. And indeed, it is true that there are more people here able to grow their own fruit and vegetables or have some space to keep chickens. But by no means all people, of course.
Here, if you walk through what was a thriving town centre just five years ago, you will see the results of the crisis. The empty businesses, closed and shuttered. The shop on the corner that used to be a bakery, selling delicious, freshly baked bread. Now its empty windows and peeling “TO LET” sign add their silent testimony to the toll taken by austerity. Next to it was once a bookshop, further along a former clothes shop. Each one represents a family, now left with no income.
People in other countries wonder why Greece voted NO in the referendum. But they do not see the people who have been left with no hope. Austerity gets worse and worse every year, with no end and no hope in sight. Only higher taxes and more and more measures to be taken, on and on and on, never ending. They do not see the woman who sleeps on her sister’s sofa, as she has nowhere else to go. The extended families all crowding in together to try and make ends meet. The seven people living in a 2 bedroom flat nearby. They do not see children disappearing from their children’s classes, as, one by one, their parents leave in search of greener pastures. They do not see the huge lists of materials handed to parents at the start of term, shopping lists of things we are required to provide for our children’s education, from paper and pens to books for the school library, and in some cases even toilet paper and cleaning products.
Life under austerity hits the most vulnerable in society. Pensions have been slashed, 40% gone. But another group is rarely talked about – people with special needs. Before the crisis, we had some savings. A small amount of money we had managed to put away, to help us out should we need it. But then my son was born with special needs. He required physiotherapy – and it was not covered by the state. We reached into our savings. Then he needed occupational therapy. Again, the state did not provide. Now my son has speech therapy, and there are no more savings left. Some health care professionals have told me that my son really could have benefitted from more occupational therapy, but they do not ask me why he stopped. They know. They understand.
Depression has hit Greece in both senses of the word. The economy is sinking like a stone, and people’s morale is going down with it. But who can afford to seek professional help?
Now the banks are closed. This is not just a matter of ATMs and dispensing ready cash. Yes, of course I can go and wait in a queue at an ATM, however difficult that might be with my children. But I cannot arrange to be paid for work I do and send via the internet to other countries, as other banks are not making international transactions with banks in Greece at this time. So there would be little point in my queueing up, to withdraw from an empty account, while I wait for people to be able to pay me for work I have done. I have not paid the bill sent by my internet provider, as we feel compelled to keep any money for buying food. But this could affect my future ability to work, if they decide to cut off our connection.
To say that we are worried would be a gross understatement
Millie Slavidou is an author of the ‘Insta-Explorer’ children’s books, a writer and translator.
From the Financial Times in Britain:
Greek cleaners swept out of work after Tsipras U-turn
16 July 2015
For Vagelis Alexiou, the socialist revolution led by Alexis Tsipras lasted just 12 wonderful days.
Turfed out of his job as a cleaner in Greece’s ministry of finance two and a half years ago by a cost-cutting government following orders from the country’s creditors, Mr Alexiou was reinstated on July 1 by a decree passed by Mr Tsipras’ ruling leftwing Syriza party.
But the Greek prime minister’s defiance, and Mr Alexiou’s wish to return to his job mopping the floors of the ministry, ended on Monday as Athens capitulated to creditors’ demands for further austerity and economic reform in exchange for a desperately needed €86bn bailout.
“I wish Mr Tsipras had said no to Brussels,” says Mr Alexiou, sitting outside the ministry in central Athens, his hope of being rehired now in tatters. “I hope we can still trust him. He wants to help the workers, the poor people . . . but the creditors will not let him.”
The witch-hunt against former Syriza finance minister Yanis Varoufakis by various right-wing forces has intensified after Greece’s senior state prosecutor, Efterpi Koutzamani, ordered parliament to examine a swathe of complaints against him: here.
In the first article of a series on how the European Union operates, JOHN BOYD looks at the role of the European Commission: here.