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panelists at the Feb. 6, 2015, forum on Greece

Greek Forum Update by Iannis Delatolas

February 26, 2015

Out of the Euro and into the Streets

If one thing has become clear since the deal between Brussels and Syriza, it is the impossibility of the Syriza position of negotiating to roll back austerity measures within the Eurozone.

Everyone knows that the Greek Debt is not repayable. Yet what we are seeing now is a political struggle, one in which the bankers are wining this far. It is the continuation of austerity, and using the economic crisis to continue implementing austerity.
The current agreement cancels Syriza’s program. It continues the austerity imposed by the memoranda. It is very problematic that the agreement allows for the policies of Syriza to be monitored and reviewed by the “institutions” aka Troika. Any attempt to roll back austerity will be met with the objection of the bankers as those will “negatively” impact the “targets” set by the Eurozone. Or as the German Finance minister said, Greece will not see a dime until it meets it’s “responsibilities” to the Eurozone.

At the same time we see retreats on other fronts. Only a few days ago the riot police was deployed twice in two key situations. 

In Skouries, Chalkidiki. There a demonstration against gold mining by a Canadian company was stopped by the riot police while it attempted to march to the mine. This movement had given tremendous support to Syriza before the election. This turning of the state forces against the movement is ominous.  And should be seen as an alarming development of substantial symbolism of what could be in store for the future if the left does not gain the upper hand. This attack on the demonstration was followed yesterday by the announcement by the minister of the Environment that mining will continue.

A reversal of Syriza’s pledges to close down the mine.

At the Amygdaleza concentration camp. A death by a young man in his early 20’s due to lack of healthcare, was followed by a suicide of another immigrant only days later. The conditions at the camp are atrocious. These are crude containers that have been “converted” to human storage boxes, with no protection from the elements, inedible food, and all the inhumanity that goes with internment of thousands of innocent individuals, who were swept up at the racist police sweeps a few years ago, or caught crossing the border, escaping either destruction brought on by imperialist wars, or economic hardship. An uprising erupted last week after these two deaths. The riot police was deployed inside the camp to contain the insurgents.  Days later about 300 demonstrators, Syriza youth supporters and others, outside the camp were pepper sprayed and attacked for no good reason. It is important here to note that the minister of the interior who is in charge of the Police is a Syriza MP, who visited the camps and expressed his outrage at the inhuman conditions the day before the attack on the protestors. Instead of closing the camps and freeing the immigrants inside, now there is talk of “reviewing” of each “file.” This in essence means that the camps will not close. When and under what conditions is unclear. The immigrant population in Greece has been at the forefront of the antifascist struggle. And the demand of the antiracist and antifascist movements is to shut down the camps and free the immigrants with legalization for all immediately. 

The workers at ERT have yet to be rehired. They were a beacon and the channel of the movement since they were illegally fired in 2013. This is another promise by Syriza that has not been met yet. And instead of rehiring all fired workers there is talk of hiring back only some. If and when this happens is unclear.

I am bringing these three examples up for the following reason. It is not simply a matter of Syriza not having been in office long enough to deliver. I believe this is a mistaken and misleading view. We anticapitalists inside and outside Syriza keep repeating the importance of the returns of the movements. That the best ally of Syriza is the working class, the impoverished strata and the indignados. These examples above point to a troubling attempt by the Syriza leadership to distance itself from the movements, and need to be seen in the context of these retreats that have been made in the face of the deal with Brussels.

It is the challenge of all anticapitalists, inside and outside Syriza, to find common ground and unite to bring back the masses into the political and economic battles. And in so doing to raise the need for Greece to leave the Euro, nationalize the banks and large enterprises and put the economy under workers control. These next four months need to be used in that direction. Not in the direction of another historic compromise. There is no doubt that the Greek people are up for this fight. Now it is a question of leadership and clear perspective. Out of the Euro and into the streets.        

Iannis Delatolas, an art photographer, a founding member of AKNY, and a supporter of Antarsya-MARS and of the International Socialist Tendency. He has been involved in the antifascist solidarity movement with Greece and in struggles for LGBTQ rights, abortion rights, anti-war, and other social justice causes.

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