Greeks Tell Their Story: What Really Happened?
Are all Europeans lazy welfare queens? Is that the reason Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, France and England are all going through similar economic crises? What is the role of Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and a wide range of other banks in this turmoil? How about the infamous austerity measures?
The video that is attached to this article was obtained by the Progressive Press, exclusively to provide another version of the events from the Greek people’s point of view. It contains interviews with Greek Economists and other social scientists. Greeks decided to tell their story.
Before you watch it, let’s recap what was reported or omitted on the mainstream media about Greece’s problems.
In 2001, Greece paid Goldman Sachs about $300 million in fees in return for its help in quietly borrowing billions of dollars for military, government and private spending, from a variety of lending institutions. These funds were partly used to award government contracts to private companies, purchase military equipment, and lent to private sector financial institutions to offer loans for mortgages.
GS also helped the Greek government hide these transactions from public view with some creative accounting, by showing the transaction as a currency trade, rather than a loan. That helped Greece meet the European Union’s deficit rules for member entrance, while continuing to spend beyond its means. Alas, the country was accepted to enter the union.
In late 2009, Papandreu government appointed a new director at the national statistical authority, Andreas Georgiou, to do more adjustments to the debt to GDP ratio of the country. Former members of the statistical authority like expert Prof. Zoi Georganta and some colleagues were alarmed by the way Georgiou made the adjustments on the debt and came forth to bring awareness to it.
Georgiou is currently under investigation for “breach of faith against the state” for his role in calculating Greece’s deficit and debt, but according to our source, he feels protected by the IMF, the E.U. and the Eurostat, because as a former IMF deputy division chief for statistics, he still has connections and membership to IMF.
By late 2009, Prime Minister George Papandreou was forced to reveal the size of the nation’s deficit, because the country’s debts were so large that they actually exceeded the size of the nation’s entire economy. It was no longer possible to hide.
This revelation has caused massive panic among the investors who held Greece’s bonds, causing the interest rates of the debt to multiply.
In spring, 2010, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decided to bailout Greece by disbursing 110 billion Euros (the equivalent of $163 billion) to the country. Unfortunately, Greece required a second bailout in mid-2011, this time worth about $157 billion.
When these measures failed and the IMF and EU refused to give more loans to the country, after protests by the other EU countries, Greece and its creditors agreed to a debt restructuring on March 9, 2012. This was another bailout under the name of restructuring.
Bailouts were provided under the conditions of massive cuts to social services and less government spending. This in turn caused the country to plunge into mass unemployment, leading to riots and social unrest. The country’s economy was in such a free-fall that, in a single year, absolute poverty has doubled.
Revelations of the Lagarde list, a spreadsheet containing roughly 2,000 wealthy Greek tax evaders with undeclared accounts at Swiss HSBC bank’s Geneva branch in October 2010, was another blow to already unstable country. Pervasive tax fraud is estimated at 20 billion €/yr (approximately $26 billion a year), about 1,800 €/yr ($2,400) for every Greek man, woman and child.
The list was named after former French finance minister and current IMF head Christine Lagarde. She passed the list on to Greek officials to help them crack down on tax evasion. However, the Greek authorities who received the list decided to hide it from the public until the journalist Kostas Vaxevanis found and published it in his magazine Hot Doc, two years later.
Greeks were further outraged by the list and by the Greek government’s failure to launch an investigation. This caused more violent street protests and demonstrations.
Alexandros Kastrinakis, our source for the video, and a Greek historian and researcher, currently working on his Doctorate on Modern Greek history, says “What is at stake here is an organized plan to privatize public and national land-resources of the whole European Union or at least the South and the periphery, and concentrate the middle class’s wealth and propriety in the hands of a few….. Yet I am not sure we have seen the whole plan yet.”
Currently, the country’s unemployment rate is at a record 27 percent and nearly a third of the population is in poverty. The country’s suicide rate has soared since 2009. In 2012 alone, more than 2,500 people have taken their own lives, and attempted suicides are also on the rise, especially among the elderly who lost their retirement pensions during the crisis, trying desperately to hold on to their remaining dignity.
Now watch the video and tell us what you think.
Image Credit: Paco Serinelli