“We’ll go tomorrow, will you come?” Anna, 50, tells me on the phone. “We definitely must do something” tells me Maria, 45. “We won’t let lose until they go” tells me my cousin, 40. All middle-class Greeks that “want to do something” tomorrow, Sunday. That is, go downtown, outside the Parliament and raise their voices against the new Memorandum of Understanding. A voting that will start in the afternoon. The mass protest scheduled for 5 pm is expected to be the biggest ever since the anti-austerity demonstrations started in May 2010.
“I will join the protest to show Greece and Europe that these measures bring nothing” says Yianna, 42. “Wages decreases can not bring development, they serve only the employers’ interests. Wages decreases mean less revenues for the insurance funds, less taxes, rising of undeclared employment. These measures bring nothing!”
“What’s the purpose of it? Where’s the end of austerity measures? They said that new will come next June,” says Maria with a trembling voice. She has calculated that her savings will hold her over water for 3 more months. She is without a job for more than a year.
Despite the government propaganda “Memorandum or Disorderly Bankruptcy”, I hear more and more people, saying that “the return to Drachma and a bankruptcy” is the solution to today’s economic misery.
“Let us go bankrupt, our debt will be eliminated, we’ll recover after a couple of years,” says Anna. When I tell her that in such a case her husband will get a pension of maximum 100 Euro, if at all, she asks me “For how long?” I tell her I don’t know exactly and I suggest “for a period of six months?”. After a moment of silence, she asks me “What are we protesting against?”
I hear her husband shouting from the living room. “We protest that there is no present for us and future for our children, with these corrupt politicians seeking only to be on the safe side. They and their friends.” Costas grabs the phone and explains against what he will protest on Sunday “Tax evasion? That’s the joke of the century. They ‘cut the fingers’ of those not issuing a receipt, but the big tax evaders are out of prison. They owe the state billions, they get caught, and go free.. I heard the state got only €150,000 from all those in handcuffs.”
Then he tells me the story of a friends’ daughter who got a job at a recently opened cafe-bar: four hours, twice a week. Earnings? 5 euro per hour, 20 euro per day, without insurance. The inspectors from the finance ministry ‘caught’ her during a control. No insurance? The bar owner was fined with 500 euro, the young woman lost the job. She is 26 years old, studied economics and has a post-university degree. She has been looking for a job, any job, since two years.
“Bribes? All cleared!” Costas continues like a waterfall. “Politicians go free due to time limitation status. Everything is tailored for them, the people can just die.”
“What they [politicians] do with our country is dangerous, dangerous” tells me an angry taxi driver, while I hope he won’t lose control of the car and his frustration turns dangerous for both of us as he drives in rather high speed through a main avenue in Athens. “They do not care about us, the people, who knows that interests they serve…” He says that he had suffered revenue losses of -40 percent in the last year. He says, he will definitely join the protest on Sunday, because he hardly manage to feed his children anymore. Protest and vote them down, that’s all he can do to express his anger.
My cousin and his two years younger brother will go and demonstrate on Sunday. Together with their wives and children. ” No to austerity, no to new measures, no to corruption and these politicians. They should all go away!” says Markos adding “I won’t go away [from Parliament] until the helicopter comes to take them away!” Markos is a computer engineer working at a multinational company.
On Saturday night PM Lucas Papademos addressed the nation via a televised message. On the impact of a disorderly bankrupcty on people’s lives. He said more or less what he told the cabinet ministers on Friday evening. However he added “Should Greece disorderly default… the people’s savings will be in danger“. Will this short but powerful sentence scare Sunday’s protesters? Maybe only those who have savings. The rest has nothing to lose anyway.