Saturday, July 4, 2015

Sadly, Greek life on eerie hold -- to put it mildly!

View from Ioanna's front porch
Currently visiting the beautiful village of Neohori, Halkidhikis. On the one hand it's business as usual -- with a panigyri in progress nearby along with other normal happenings and flawlessly cheerful hospitality wherever I go. On the other, there is a giant elephant in the room.

Life here in Greece is on eerie hold in anticipation of a referendum on whether Greeks would accept the last EU offer for continued financial aid coupled with increased austerity measures. Greece refused to sign unless such a deal included debt reduction. Indeed, an IMF report 2 days ago has now affirmed the government's insistence all along that without debt reduction, the economy is not sustainable -- so why torture the public more just to follow a policy that has only created a growing humanitarian crisis?

It seemed logical and clear a week ago: OXI means no more of the same and NAI means hit us again harder after 5 years of taking our medicine with no end in sight. Unfortunately, the Greek public has now been inundated with fear-mongering rhetoric (think Fox news on steroids!) and numbing banking controls ‎that have recast the  vote into Europe/Eurozone NO or YES, when that has NEVER been the intent or goal.

And to make matters much more dangerous, European creditors have been openly campaigning against the OXI vote in hopes of bringing down a democratically-elected government they disagee with, but which came into power last January because Greeks said we can't take this any more.  As far as I'm concerned, such blatant interference is TOTALLY unacceptable regardless of anyone's political leanings. 

Lines at Naousa ATM
Greek politicians not in power and who previously went along to get along, are‎ furiously doing everything they can to undermine the government and confuse the public. Polls show that the vote is too close to call, when just a week ago people said who would be stupid enough to vote for more pension cuts (already at almost 40 percent) and more taxes on food and medicines? After waiting at ATM lines to get their daily Euro allotments and being unable to pay the rent or make other necessary purchases, Greeks now think a YES vote will mean all will return to normal -- conveniently forgetting that some of them in the public and private sectors have not been paid for months in a stagnating economy that did not just get that way under the present government, no matter how you slice it.

It's pretty scary to think no one really knows what will happen no matter how the vote turns out. Rumors and accusations abound. Prime Minister Tsipras goes on TV daily to urge people to remain calm, hold their heads high, and vote OXI for the ‎betterment of their country in the name of democracy. Demonstrations pro and con grow larger, dotted with foreign celebrities. Meanwhile people are scampering to get back to wherever they are registered in order to vote -- when they are not waiting at ATM machines under threat of further hardship, having difficulty trusting anything they hear. I'm afraid to turn on the TV, hoping this will al go away if I don't.

"Whatever happens, we will manage somehow like we always have" is a typical response by regular people trying to disguise growing anxiety and anger over a situation that has now become inexplicable as well as unfathomable. 

Sadly, Greek life is indeed on eerie hold-- to put it mildly!

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.

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