In these photos, we see just some of the “several thousand people in Paris who marched in solidarity with Greece”  on Thursday, July 2nd, one of the many marches held in France and throughout Europe during this crucial politically-charged week during which Greece became the first developed country to default to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and leading up to the proposed referendum on Sunday July 5th. This historical referendum will give the people a direct vote in accepting, or not, more austerity measures (more pension cuts and tax hikes) in order to receive a third Troika (IMF, ECB, EC) bailout. Prime minister Alexis Tsipras is convinced that with the democratic voice of the people, which he is hopeful will proclaim a loud “No”, he will be able to negotiate a more humane deal with the country’s lenders. On the other hand, the European bureaucratic community hasn’t hesitated to condemn the “irresponsibility” of Tsipras’ government and has put on the pressure for a “yes” vote. Despite this condemnation, the IMF has finally announced (also on Thursday July 2nd 2015)  that Greece needed debt relief. An announcement that  comes just 3 days before the referendum and after 5 years of poverty-making austerity.

On home turf, and despite the need for unity, the country has been split into camps : The “Yes” camp, the “No” camp, and the  “No”, “No” camp. (No to Troika proposition and No to the government’s counter-proposal). Despite warring factions, queues at ATM machines know no political partiality. Banks have been closed to all but pensioners since Monday June 29th (the older generation of Greeks usually do not have bank cards and need the assistance of tellers), and ATM withdrawals for the rest of the population are limited to a ration of 60 euros a day, a measure put into place after a massive run on deposits. Today, about 135 billion euros remain in Greece’s banks, down from 139 billion in May. An atmosphere of fear and insecurity reigns.

Greece has long been dealing with the noxious side effects of an unbalanced world system of credit and sovereign debt, and the world-wide economic crisis has been particularly hard on Greece, which seems to have joined the ranks of the underdogs of the globalized economy. The country is certainly in need of structural reforms, but at what cost? Is it always the people who bear the brunt of systemic injustices? Can we compare the current Greek bailout situation to the form of global governance promoted by the IMF and other international institutions, which do in fact bail out nations in need, but under stringent conditions : extreme austerity with depleted social services, resulting in a blow to the real economy, massive unemployment and impoverishment, but always with benefits for foreign investors – access to local markets and control of local resources? This has been the case in many so-called developing nations across Latin America, Asia, Africa, and now it has arrived in Europe’s southern states. Will this paradigm spread even further? Is the Greek people’s fate our world’s future?  And, finally, can we take our destiny into our own hands?

Greeks and Greek supporters seem to be marching against all odds, but they do not march alone:

Avec les Grecs…

With the Greeks…

Μαζί με τους ‘Ελληνες…

Joseph Stiglitz : http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/29/joseph-stiglitz-how-i-would-vote-in-the-greek-referendum

Paul Krugman : http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/06/27/europes-moment-of-truth/

Jeffrey D. Sachs, UN special advisor and author of The End of Poverty : I recommend that the Greek people give a resounding “No” to the creditors in the referendum on their demands this weekend.

Amartya Sen :  http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/06/amartya-sen-economic-consequences-austerity