Eyewitness report from Athens
We had a very big demonstration of around 50,000 in Athens today. This was despite the unions only calling a three-hour strike.
They should have called at least a 24-hour strike to mobilise people. A three-hour stoppage, given the kind of struggles we’ve had in Greece in the previous period, is a joke, not an attempt to give Merkel a serious message.
Secondly, central Athens was cut off from public transport, it was impossible to go to the centre other than by foot.
A ’red zone’ was created, where there could be no rallies, meetings or demonstrations.
The demonstrators’ message to Merkel was that this crisis cannot continue anymore, that the Greek people feel that they’re under some kind of occupation, and that this has to stop. The central slogans were "Merkel out", "Troika out".
It’s the first time since this crisis started that any significant EU official has visited Greece. Greece has been blamed by the EU for everything.
This represents a certain change; an attempt to support the Samaras government. This government faces a real problem.
Society is thoroughly opposed to its policies. On top of that they want to add almost £12 billion of new cuts.
The government has been negotiating for weeks and they don’t agree among themselves, or with the Troika.
So Samaras invited Merkel with the idea she would provide support and aid his propaganda that ’Europe and Germany will assist us’, and we’ll be out of the crisis and not out of the EU and not out of the eurozone.
On the front of our paper and on the leaflets we distributed Xekinima calls for an all-out general strike and a wave of occupations to bring the government down and kick the Troika out.
This we link to the need to coordinate the struggles with the rest of southern Europe, particularly Spain and Portugal.
We’re putting forward the alternative of a government of the left in the service of the working class and the people.
This essentially implies Syriza, which is the biggest force on the left, has the main responsibility.
Among the Athens demonstrators: Alexis Tsipras, leader of Syriza, and Bernd Riexinger, one of the joint chairs of Die LINKE (Left party) in Germany
Of course it has to be a government with socialist policies. If we have a left government that doesn’t attempt to follow socialist policies but tries to manage the crisis of the capitalist system, it will be a disaster for the left and for the working class movement.