Central Athens burns as Greek parliament debates austerity
Fires raged in central Athens on Sunday as protesters against the latest Greek austerity deal battled police.
According to Reuters, “The air over Syntagma Square outside parliament was thick with tear gas as riot police fought running battles with youths who smashed marble balustrades and hurled stones and petrol bombs.”
Many businesses were on fire, including a movie theater in a building dating to 1870 and another that was used by the Gestapo during World War II as a torture chamber. Both the sounds of explosions and whiffs of tear gas made their way into parliament.
The deal currently being debated would provide Greece with 130 billion euros to prevent bankruptcy but comes at the cost of a 22% cut in the minimum wage and additional cuts in jobs and pensions, amounting to $4.4 billion in 2012 alone. Government officials claimed that the eventual cost would be far greater if the proposal is not accepted.
“The choice is not between sacrifice and no sacrifices at all, but between sacrifices and unimaginably harsher ones,” Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told parliament.
This video is from CNN, February 12, 2012.