Fires and money

Just two days before the protests that were staged yesterday by the residents of the prefecture of Ileia, in the Peloponnese, who were the victims of both fires and an earthquake, the forest fire at Strofylia, in Achaia, arrived to remind us in the most dramatic way of the ruthlessness of those who want to «develop» a region protected by the Ramsar Convention as well as how these people gain privilege from the state’s lack of organization and willingness to turn a blind eye. The fact that the fire started exactly one day after the end of the forest fire alert season, as well as that it happened in a place that has been overrun by livestock farmers and is being sought by the Megalo Spilaio Monastery, confirms that the guardians of the law are less decisive, systematic and persistent than those who break the law. One may argue that, yes, the state was there in Ileia and Achaia when it needed to be. It was there handing out money during a pre-election period. «We all know how the 3,000-euro emergency aid was given,» said Ileia Prefect Haralambos Kafiras just a few days ago, when commenting on the rallies being planned in his prefecture in protest at stalled plans for a large developmental program that was supposed to have been in place by late October and which has not even been drawn up yet. But do we all know? The people of Ileia certainly know who really deserved the aid (so they could meet their needs at least to some rudimentary extent while the government also patched up its image) and who got it in exchange for political support. The rest of us just have to form our own opinions based on sketchy evidence, haphazard charges and, of course, a knee-jerk skepticism regarding the ruling party. Now, as many brace themselves to spend another winter in prefabricated housing, the state is demanding that the money be returned by those who did not deserve it in the first place. But, when it comes to voting, you can’t change your mind after the ballot is cast.