The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Fires in Greece:
Criminal Cutbacks

Aug 6, 2018

The following article is translated from Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

The fires which ravaged the east coast of Greece’s Attica region caused at least 93 deaths in July, with 25 people missing, dozens more injured, and much ruin.

Europe’s current heat wave plus powerful winds early on might have contributed to the fires’ destructiveness. So could unregulated construction without permits. But these don’t fully explain the tragedy.

A representative of the Greek Firefighters’ Federation told the press that budget cuts by a number of administrations caused almost one third of their firefighting vehicles to be out of commission. Over 250 are too old and rundown to salvage and over 250 more need parts they can’t afford.

Greece had very destructive fires in 2009, and 77 people died in fires in 2007. Firefighting units are understaffed and lack planes and helicopters. This policy is the fruit of both right-wing and left-wing governments in recent years. Cuts have increased in ferocity since the outbreak of the economic crisis in 2008 and when bankers ordered austerity.

In other words, even if these fires were fueled by the weather and other factors, the extent of the damage is mostly the result of budget cuts pushed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank, and the European Union, all serving the big banks.