By Pantelis Boukalas
If Greeks are portrayed as the symbol of evil, a postmodern 666, in political fantasy novel that is going down so well among the media, the bankers and the troika, then the Portuguese, the Spanish, the Irish are being cast as the good guys of Europe.
The European establishment and leadership has painted a picture of the leaders of these countries as studious pupils who listen to their teachers and always hand in their homework on time, properly and neatly done. The way they are portrayed is exactly the opposite of the image assigned to the Greeks (though not to their susceptible and suggestible leaders). We are cast as incorrigible loafers lying under the Greek sun, doing a slow and half-baked job of everything. Other than members of Europe’s South, we are unreliable slobs and we remain in their eyes a part of the “backward” Balkans – something that we are constantly and increasingly reminded of.
Unfortunately, neither Portugal, nor Spain or Ireland managed to avoid the problems and repercussions that were supposed to be the fate only of the “undisciplined” Greeks. Unemployment is soaring in all three countries like it is here. Their young people are also being forced to look for jobs away from home, abroad. There too the policies of too much austerity have eaten away at the welfare state and social services. In all three countries the public sentiment is also very much against the policy line of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in regard to the eurozone. There too the people hold one public protest rally after another, as though they have been infected by the “Greek germ.” And most unfortunately, suicides are also on the rise, most recently in Spain following the evictions of tens of thousands of people after the crash of the property market.
Nothing separates the PIGS being sent to the slaughter in Europe. In fact, because they share the same problems and the same despots, they ought to coordinate their struggles. They should come together to form a common front where their governments have failed. Because among the PIGS, some, like the Greek government, have aligned themselves with Germany, and others, like the Spanish government, insist that they will “never end up like Greece.”
A suggestion was made in Portugal to cover statues, monuments and homes in the capital with black material as an artistic way of protesting Merkel’s visit. Had this been proposed in Greece, it would have been condemned as populist and primitive. But when the very skies of Europe’s South have turned black like the souls of the people it covers, then maybe the shrouds are simply unnecessary.