Merkel should feel very nervous — she’s turned herself into the most hated woman in Europe. The funny thing is, even the IMf (the FREAKING IMF!!!) calls for government stimulus instead of the extreme austerity demanded by Merkel, and warn of another global slowdown as the result of spending cuts:
POLICE have fired tear gas to disperse protesters attempting to storm a barricade near parliament as tens of thousands of Greeks massed in Athens in a show of anger against German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Vilified for Greece’s punishing spending cuts, Mrs Merkel, the leader of Europe’s paymaster, is on her first visit to the eurozone’s most indebted nation since the debt crisis erupted almost three years ago.
As she met Greek Prime Minister Antonio Samaras, demonstrators gathered just a few blocks away, some brandishing banners reading “You are not welcome, Imperialisten Raus” (Imperialists out)” or “No to the Fourth Reich”.
Two Nazi flags were draped on the steel fence near parliament and set on fire. Sporadic violence also broke out, with small gangs of masked youths throwing bottles at riot police.
Thousands of police were out on the streets and key parts of central Athens were closed off to create a large security zone for Mrs Merkel’s meetings with Mr Samaras and President Carolos Papoulias.
Police said about 25,000 protesters had already streamed on to the central Syntagma Square, which lies outside the lockdown zone.
Merkel is a highly divisive figure and Greeks are understandably angry over her visit:
Three years of grinding austerity in exchange for foreign funding to pay back banks and meet expenses has seen Greece’s gross domestic product shrink 25 percent. Unemployment is now at 50 percent for young people and 24 percent overall. A series of governments has dramatically cut spending without improving the functioning of the state, resulting in cuts to essential services like hospitals.
“In three years they have destroyed a nation,” said Maria Choussakou, 59, a former high school ancient Greek teacher who said she had been forced into early retirement. “We were middle class, now we’re impoverished,” she added.
At the news conference, Ms. Merkel, looking tense, acknowledged the pain Greece was facing after massive spending cuts. But she encouraged the country to continue on its path of structural reforms. “Much has been achieved, much has been demanded of the Greek people, she said. “I am deeply convinced that it’s going to be worthwhile,” she added.
Worthwhile to pay off the banks while people pick through garbage looking for food? What a strange world these people live in.