Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Frankfurt erupts in anti-austerity protests


Police station and vehicles set on fire: Opening of new ECB HQ besieged: 

Riots have besieged the German city of Frankfurt as anti-capitalist protesters from all over the Federal Republic  and other countries hit out at austerity and the opening of a new European Central Bank HQ in the city today. Clashes between police and protesters were severe, with an estimated 350 people arrested and many injured. Those protesters detained are being questioned on suspicion of breaching the public peace. There are unconfirmed reports that 88 police officers have been injured, with CNN reporting that 80 of those were injured when an unknown substance was poured on them. Eight were hurt by stone missiles.
Activists operating under the name "Blockupy" set police cars alight and threw stones at police clad in riot gear just hours before the European Central Bank was set to open. The movement is angry at the bank's role in pushing anti-austerity measures in other EU countries such as Greece. Police set up a barbed wire cordon around the new bank in order to prevent protesters accessing the building.

 The Blockupy movement is comprised of protesters not only from Frankfurt but from other cities in Germany and neighbouring European countries. It's estimated that the group is 10,000 strong. A "Blockupy" representative told CNN that the group condemns the violence but, the clashes show that the situation is reaching breaking point. "Blockupy is clearly against violence," she said "It is not what we planned, but it shows people are very angry about the austerity policies." "Our protest is against the ECB, as a member of the troika, that, despite the fact that it is not democratically elected, hinders the work of the Greek government. We want the austerity politics to end," Ulrich Wilken, one of the organisers, said. "We want a loud but peaceful protest," he said.

Blockupy says it represents grass-roots critics of supranational financial institutions including the "troika": the ECB, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund, whose inspectors monitor countries such as Greece and Cyprus that have received international bailouts ( including Ireland up until last year). The ECB is also influential as a provider of finance to the banks of struggling countries and has in recent weeks sanctioned a drip feed of extra emergency finance to Greece's lenders. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis last week criticised ECB policy towards Athens as "asphyxiating", a criticism also made by the protest organisers Initially the movement's intention had been to blockade the bank and disrupt the flow of capitalism. Despite the riots, the bank did open as planned. Austerity is a huge issue across the Eurozone, a region with a stalled economy, high levels of unemployment and a weakening Euro currency.

At the opening ceremony ECB President Mario Draghi addressed the demonstrators in his speech but, said they were missing the point by blaming the ECB;

"European unity is being strained," he said. "People are going through very difficult times. There are some, like many of the protesters outside today, who believe the problem is that Europe is doing too little. "It has always been understood that countries have to be able to stand on their own two feet – that each is responsible for its own policies. The fact that some had to go through a difficult period of adjustment was therefore not a choice that was imposed on them. It was a consequence of their past decisions."

Draghi is a lying neo-liberal scumbag and a trojan horse for Wall Street at the heart of the Brussels Dictatorship, former employee of Goldman Sachs which was one of the instigators and later profiteers of the world financial crisis of 2008 onwards. We in Ireland know well that the main brunt of the EU/IMF austerity program imposed on us since 2009 was achieved by savage cuts in public spending imposed under the EU rule of 3% of GDP limit on government borrowing. This was part of the infamous Lisbon Treaty consolidation of the inhuman neo-liberal dogma in EU financial regulation organised by Draghi himself aided and abetted by IMF chief Christine La Garde and her €7,000 Gucci handbag while children starved on the streets of Athens.


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