Steve Chiotakis: Police and demonstrators are clashing on the streets of Athens today, with law enforcement firing tear gas to break up tens of thousands of protestors who are outside the parliament. There’s a strike today — of doctors, tax collectors, even bakers — protesting more big pay and pension cuts being debated by the Greek government.
One of those protestors on the streets of Athens right now is Theodora Oikonomides. And she joins us now from central Athens. Hi Theodora.
Theodora Oikonomides: Hello.
Chiotakis: Why are you protesting today?
Oikonomides: I’m protesting today because the government is about to push through parliament a new package of austerity measures, and to me, these austerity measures are the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It has been very painful for Greek society — much more painful than what you would normally hear.
For me personally, it has meant first of all that I’ve been unemployed for a year and a half — even though I’m a very educated and qualified person — because there are no jobs. But futher than that, what this means to me is that I am watching Greek society fall apart.
Chiotakis: What’s the alternative for the Greek government if they have to cut to appease the European bailout fund?
Oikonomides: As I see it, the Greek government does not answer to the rest of Europe, or the International Monetary Fund. The Greek government answers to the Greek people, because without us these people would not be a government.
So the alternative for them is to reject austerity, to explain to the European Union that the Greek society cannot take more austerity without a full-blown social explosion; that they need to find a structural solution to the problems of the euro, because this crisis is not only a crisis for Greece. Greece is a symptom of a crisis which is linked to the structural problems of the euro.
Chiotakis: Theodora Oikonomides, thank you so much for your time.
Oikonomides: Thank you for having me.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.