Ayinde O. Chase
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Athens, Greece (AHN) – Much of Greece has come to halt as the second 24-hour national strike in as many weeks gets underway. Police clashed with youths in the country’s capital as thousands of people took to the streets in protest over government cuts.
The strike means ships, planes, and trains won’t be running. Additionally schools, government offices and courtrooms will all be quiet. The strike also means that many hospitals in the country won’t be able to offer their full range of services.
People are furious with the Papandreou government over its measures to stem the country’s rising public debt and the government’s austerity plan. Protesters are incensed particularly over the government’s plans to freeze public wages, raise the retirement age and increase taxes to solve the debt crisis.
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People are also upset over what they interpret as the Greek prime minister being a puppet for the European Commission. Some critics of the EU feel that if Brussels was monitoring the situation more it could have done something to curb the nation’s deb, which is spiraling out of control.
Members of the EU, along with the International Monetary Fund, are in the country reviewing Greece’s financials in an attempt to get the country out of debt. Their assessment of the government’s austerity program doesn’t wait for protests to end. On Monday, the credit ratings of Greece’s four largest banks were downgraded.
During a particularly violent clash in Athens on Wednesday, a group of 20 youths separated from marching protesters and began throwing Molotov cocktails and other heavy objects at police. Riot police responded by firing tear gas against the protesters.
Full story here.