Greece on fire as protesters decry government’s decision on austerity measures

The Takeaway

Greek leaders over the weekend voted to approve a new round of austerity measures, moving it a step closer to its next European bailout but also igniting a series of violent protests in the streets of Greek cities.

Many Greeks say they feel like they’ve been betrayed — both by their own leaders as well as the other members of the European Union.

Chris Morris, a BBC reporter who was in Athens Sunday as the clashes unfolded, said plumes of smoke were billowing across central Athens as buildings burned from Sunday’s violence. Many people have been wounded.

“It’s a familiar site here now, running battles right outside Parliament in this age of the eurozone crisis,” he said.

`Members of parliament, while passing the measures, decried them as an example of Europe asking too much, too quickly. And there are signs that Europe will ask for even more cuts in the coming months.

“Plenty of questions remain,” Morris said. “Will austerity laws actually be implemented? Quite unlikely.”

Evangelos Stephanou, who participated in the Athens demonstrations Sunday, said the measures are not supported by the people — “as you saw last night in Athens.”

“Everyone has reduced wages, but that’s not exactly the point,” he said. “It’s more general. Decisions are made not for the people. Just for someone who makes more money. That’s all about it.”

Jobs and wages are being cut and reduced — but Stephanou said the real issue is these actions are against democracy.

“If you saw the voting process, whoever votes against their party gets thrown out of their party,” Stephanou said.

Stephanou’s upset that the people are being asked to bear the burden of reducing the nation’s debt. It’s not the country’s wages that are bankrupting the country, he said, but rather the loans the government has received from banks.

Many Greeks, he said, would prefer to get out of the eurozone and make their own way.

“I think it would be tough in the beginning, but the agreements they make are not just now, they’re for the future as well,” he said.

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