The hegemonic media line that Greece's new "austerity" government is being staffed by non-ideological "technocrats" is deflated by Mark Ames on the Naked Capitalism blog Nov. 16. Ames documents that in fact this "technocratic" government includes figures from the old-line Greek fascist right, spawn of the military junta that ruled from 1967 to 1974. The post sports a photo of three men walking on a college campus—one armed with a club, another with an axe. The text explains:
Riots broke out in Italy and Greece Nov. 17 as new Italian prime minister Mario Monti won a parliamentary vote of confidence in his new government. The vote was held after Monti announced new "reform" measures to address a financial crisis that he calls a "serious emergency." Student protesters took to the streets in Milan, clashing with riot police as they tried to reach Bocconi University. More than 50,000 took to the streets in Greece to rally against similar austerity measures announced by the parliament-appointed emergency government headed by Lucas Papademos, former governor of the Greek central bank. Riot police fired tear gas during an anti-austerity march in Athens. The Greek protests marked the 38th anniversary of the 1973 uprising at the Athens Polytechnic University against the dictatorship then ruling Greece, which saw many students die but led to the fall of the military regime.
The Basque armed group ETA issued a statement Oct. 20 saying it is ending its 43-year armed campaign for independence and called on Spain and France to open talks. The group made the announcement to Basque daily Gara, which it regularly uses as a mouthpiece. ETA declared a permanent cease-fire in January, but up to now had not renounced armed struggle, a key demand of the Spanish government as a condition for talks.
The Greek parliament approved the new austerity package Oct. 20—after a second day of street fighting in Athens, that saw the death of one protester. The 53-year-old construction worker apparently suffered a heart attack during clashes between riot police, masked youth and members of the Communist-led PAME union. PAME militants formed a human chain to block young protesters from attacking the parliament building. The masked youth attacked unionists and police alike with stones and Molotov cocktails. Greek Communist Party (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga described the attack against the PAME members as "premeditated attempted murder," spurred on by "anarcho-fascist" websites. Footage showed police with their uniforms aflame. Police reportedly fired tear gas at both groups. (Ekathimerini, FT, Oct. 20)
Politicians, historians and others gathered in Paris Oct. 17 to mark the 50th anniversary of a police massacre of Algerian protesters that has become one of the most shameful episodes of modern French history. Although authorities still only acknowledge three deaths, estimates by historians and activists range from 50 to 300—many of the victims beaten and thrown into the river Seine. In an unprecedented move by a French politician, newly named Socialist presidential candidate François Hollande officiated at the rally, and threw a single red rose into the Seine from the bridge at Clichy, the suburb where many of the victims lived. Afterwards he unveiled a plaque engraved with the words: "From this bridge and other bridges in the Paris region, Algerian demonstrators were thrown into the Seine on the 17 October 1961, victims of a blind repression. In their memory."
Greek protesters clashed with police in central Athens after Prime Minister George Papandreou vowed to push through a further round of austerity measures. Reverberations of tear-gas rounds echoed across Syntagma Square as helmeted riot police maintained a protective cordon around the parliament building. Some 70,000 converged on Syntagma at the start of a declared 48-hour general strike. (Bloomberg, SETimes, Oct. 19)
Thousands of protesters returned to Madrid's central square, the Puerta del Sol, Oct. 6, as students, parents and teachers joined in a massive march against education spending cuts by the Spanish capital's provincial government. "Defend public education, make cuts for bankers," read the lead banner, while other slogans included "Yes, there is money, but the bankers have it," "Less vultures and more desks," and "Education is not a waste, it's an investment." Some 85% of the city's students walked out of class for the march. Media accounts of the march's size varied widely, with AFP putting it at 4,000, and El País claiming 68,000.
More than 160 people were arrested in Bulgaria Sept. 27, in a second night of protests against the Balkan country's large Roma minority. The protests were sparked by the hit-and-run killing of a 19-year-old man by an apparent associate of the local self-proclaimed "Gypsy King" Kiril Rashkov in the village of Katunitsa near Plovdiv, but quickly spread to cities and towns throughout the country. (See map.) Protests dwindled the night of the 28th, after Rashkov was arrested. More than 2,000 marched in Sofia at the height of the protests. At least one incident of skinheads attacking a Roma man and his young son was reported, in the town of Blagoevgrad. Residents of Blagoevgrad's Roma neighborhood, hearing of the assault, armed themselves with axes and sticks and attempted to march on the center of the town to confront the protesters, but were blocked by police.