Tuesday, January 26, 2010

[olympiaworkers] Farmers stage "rehearsal of total blockade" in Greece

Libcom.org Jan 26 2010

Farmers have decided to block the "dialogue on farming" inaugurated at the
Presidential Mansion in Athens by the government, and intensify their

The government was hoping that at the last minute the farmers would desert
their blockades and seek refuge from the snow to the warm hug of the
Presidential Mansion (Zappeio) in Athens where the Ministry of Agriculture
has set up a "circus of dialogue" (in the words of the farmers). Yet, at
the time that only a handful of PASOK controlled syndicalists were
engaging in humiliating negotiations in Athens, the farmers, having
disavowed their official reps as "irrelevant", performed an exhibition of
their strength, by staging what they called "a general rehearsal" of total

The "rehearsal" included bringing all national traffic north of Athens to
a standstill, while also cutting off the politically sensitive Bulgarian
border crossings, and even the international railway from Salonica to
Sofia. At several blockades the farmers distributed free products engaging
in dialogue with the immobilised drivers, explaining to them the
difference between the price they get for a liter of milk and the price
the drivers pay for it in the supermarket, an amazing 1200% (a thousand
and two hundred percent ) difference. During the "rehearsal", farmers
blocked not only the main south-north and east-west national highways but
also the majority of side-streets thus causing a near complete standstill.

Nevertheless the government seems reluctant to repress the mobilisations,
with the otherwise hawkish Minister of Public Order declaring that "the
government insists on dialogue". A repression of the late 1990s kind
(tearing the tractor tires and sabotaging of machinery by the special
forces) is almost certain to create long and violent reaction on the
farmers side; a symbolically harmful occasion due to the 100 years
anniversary of the Kileler Uprising which abolished serfdom in Thessaly.
The Uprising is officially celebrated by PASOK (its actually a symbol of
its socialism), and the absence of the PM at the 100th celebrtation in
early March would mark an very visible defeat of PASOK on the front of the
"farming issue".

The next moves of the farmers are expected with interest, as the "circus
of a dialogue" enters its second day on Tuesday. It is expected that today
the farmers will move their tractors on the railway lines connecting
Athens with the North, as well as re-engage in extensive blocking of the
national highway system. The blockade of the port of Igoumenitsa
continues, while farmers from the Messinia made their first move to join
the struggle by driving their tractors to the main square of Kalamata,
blockading the main Agricultural Bank premises of the province. It is
estimated that the farmers' mobilisation is costing the greek state 200
million Euros this far.

Jan 26 2010

Update: The second and final day of the boycotted government talks on
agriculture came to a close with no conclusion. At the moment an estimated
5,000 tractors are blocking the highways of greece north of Athens, while
intercity bus drivers protesting over the Tembi landslide have lined their
buses outside the police headquarters of Salonica and at the entrances of
the city of Larissa, warning of escalating their protest into blockades

On other updates, bourgeois media (Ethnos newspaper) have revealed that
the two British arrested over the burning of the Chania Synagogue are in
fact British soldiers stationed in the near-by NATO base. The two wanted
Americans are marines of the US base in Souda and have sought refuge
there. The US Army has refused to hand them in to the greek authorities.
Regarding the arrested fascists of last weekend, 13 of the total 45 (not
44 as initially believed) have been released. All of them are underage
individuals who claim to be just passing by the place, although their
victims have a different opinion regarding their involvement. The Deport
Racism Movement has decried the political cover offered to the arrested by
LAOS the extreme-right party in parliament. An effort of a LAOS MP (son of
Kostas Plevris, Greece's most notorious Holocaust denier and attache of
the Greek junta to Italy in close cooperation with the failed 1970s coup
and the Piazza Fontana bombing) to hold a public assembly against
immigration in Heraklion Crete yesterday was cancelled due to the large
numbers of demonstrators blocking the entrance to the venue. Tonight there
are calls for antiracist protest marches in all major cities of Greece.

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