Protests continue in Greece after lawmakers approved a new round of sweeping austerity measures amidst a general strike that has brought tens of thousands into the streets.
Riot police have fired volleys of tear gas, smoke bombs and stun grenades in a bid to clear the masses of Greek protesters surrounding the parliament in Athens.
The chaotic standoff began Tuesday when police stormed the adjacent Syntagma Square, where demonstrators have camped for over a month. Democracy Now! producers Aaron Maté and Hany Massoud were there just as the unrest broke out and spoke to many of the demonstrators who refused to leave the square.
"They sell our country," said one protester. "They sell our national dignity ... they have signed away ... our constitution!" Another person said, "We need the solidarity of working class people and youth from around the globe. The only way to stop the cuts, the attacks and austerity packages is by struggling, this includes everything, strikes, demonstrations, occupations of squares and uniting the different movements from around the world."
The Greek parliament approved the $40 billion package of spending cuts, tax increases and privatizations as a condition for a massive bailout to avert the Eurozone's first default. Without a new plan in place, the European Union and International Monetary Fund said they would withhold 12 billion euros of loans which Greece needs to repay debts due in mid-July.
However, many economists predict the vote will worsen the recession in Greece.
"There's going to be a default right up the road, so they could default now and they could refuse to accept these conditions," says Mark Weisbrot, an economist and the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, on Democracy Now! today. "They may be better off for that, especially, if the result of what is going to play out is years of recession and high unemployment."