“Real Despair” Sweeps Through Greece as Severe Austerity Measures Demanded by E.U.-IMF Cripple Nation (2)

Greece continues to face political turmoil over a sovereign debt crisis that has embroiled the country for almost two years. On Monday, the Greek government said it would hold new elections in the face of massive demonstrations against a new austerity package that was approved on Sunday in exchange for a European Union-International Monetary Fund bailout. Under the austerity deal, Greece will fire 15,000 public sector workers this year and 150,000 by 2015. The minimum wage will be reduced by 22 percent, and pension plans will be be cut. As lawmakers voted, 100,000 people protested outside the Parliament building in Athens. Some protesters engaged in rioting, looting and setting fire to dozens of stores and buildings. Some 160 people were detained, and dozens were treated for injuries. To discuss the latest in Greece, we’re joined by Maria Margaronis, London correspondent for The Nation magazine. She was in Greece last week covering the economic crisis there. Margaronis says Greece faces an “impossible choice” “either to default on its loans by March, when it owes a massive loan payment, or to accept this desperate austerity program, which will further sink the economy… The Greek people have really had enough of this. People are exhausted and desperate. On the street in Athens, there’s a sense of everything breaking down.”

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