Greece Financial Crisis: Tensions rise, 3 killed during protests
The financial crisis in Greece resulted in violent anti-government protests, with three dead after a fire was set during the riot.
MSNBC reported, "We have found three dead people in the building that is on fire," the fire department said in a statement.
Protesters threw paving stones at police as police tried to stop them from approaching Greece’s parliament using tear gas.
Greece in financial trouble
The Greek government has put a plan in action, drafting a new bill in an effort to save their country from financial ruin.
Their plan includes increasing consumer taxes, slashing spending, cutting salaries and pensions for civil servants. All in an effort to secure a vital three-year loan package from European partners and the International Monetary Fund.
MSNBC reported that IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn warned that the crisis could spread to other countries despite the rescue package's efforts to contain it.
"Everyone must remain extremely vigilant," to this risk, Strauss-Kahn said in an interview published in French newspaper Le Parisien Wednesday.
He said Greek anger at the harsh spending cuts was understandable but that without these measures, the situation would be “infinitely more serious.”
There is outrage among people being most affected because they feel they have to pay for what they see as politicians’ mismanagement of the country’s economy.
The Prime Minister had announced cuts in salaries and pensions for civil servants and another round of consumer tax increases Sunday, saying it was in an effort to pull his country away from the brink of default.
While thousands took to the streets and protested, others went on a 24-hour strike, grounding all flights to and from Greece, shutting down ports, schools and government services and left hospitals working with emergency medical staff. Ancient cites were closed and journalists walked off their jobs, suspending television and radio news broadcasts.
The draft bill will be discussed at committee level in Parliament Wednesday afternoon and will be voted on Thursday, despite the strike. The bill is expected to pass easily.
"We'll be on the streets every day, every day! You never win unless you fight," said 76-year-old Constantinos Doganis, who gets 345 euro a month from his farming pension fund.
"It's our fault too, all the mistakes made by politicians over 30 years, all the people who cheat on their taxes," he said. "But they are behaving like buzzards — the Germans borrow money at 3 percent and then lend it to us for 5. Why?"
Low-income Greeks will suffer most from the measures that aim to save 30 billion euro ($40 billion), the country’s current budget deficit, through 2012.
"These people are losing their rights, they are losing their future," said Yiannis Panagopoulos, head of GSEE, one of the two largest union organizations. "The country cannot surrender without a fight."
Loans will be extended to Greece by 15 other countries that hold the Euro with an interest rate of 5 percent which is higher than they face themselves. However, it’s far lower than the 10 percent rate that Greece faces on the international market.
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