For more than a year the country has been headed into a suffocating regime of a new occupation. The first act of this regime was to demolish every concept of legality and impose a savage program of plunder of working people. The Greek people stands bewildered as every day it hears announcements of ever harsher anti-social measures that overturn family and personal planning, trampling underfoot rights and gains acquired over decades of struggle, violently thrusting people into poverty, unemployment and misery.
Day after day the working people are losing more of their basic guarantees for a minimally decent life. Small and medium business is being wiped out. With no other prospect than a continual worsening of the situation.
All this is taking place amidst a global economic crisis that is unique in terms of its breadth, depth and destructive consequences: a crisis which, when it was transformed into a debt crisis, hit Greece as the weak link in the chain, along with a number of other peripheral countries of the EU. The suffering that our people is experiencing, the loss of sovereignty, the dissolution and the destruction, are the products of an international mechanism of exploitation spearheaded by an entirely parasitical fiscal system at the European and global level.
Greek working people, pensioners, professionals, farmers, small and medium business people, are not just being required to pay off a debt that has been so designed that the more you pay the larger it gets. They are also being called upon to accept the official mortgaging and selling off of the country by the EU and the IMF. This is what the government and the official political system is promising the Greek people. They try to hide the fact that the key prerequisite for the “support packages” is not just the greater “sacrifices” that the popular strata are expected to accept. What is really at stake is the country’s sovereignty. Under the tutelage of the IMF and the EU, Greek working people face the prospect not just of losing their jobs, pensions and rights but also losing their country.
The very possibility of the country’s survival has been openly questioned by the leaders of the Eurozone and the markets. The country will have to accept being carved up, at least economically, into regions, relinquishing its economic rights over the islands, ceding sovereignty of the Aegean. The entire country has been turned into a site for a real estate auction, to be sold off, acre by acre. Greece has already become a state on probation, divided into semi-autonomous regions readily susceptible to privatization and annexation by neighbouring states, statelets and protectorates according to the interests of the masters of the Eurozone and the USA.
The United People’s Front (EPAM) is being established to organize the resistance and reinforce the popular struggle against the occupation regime. Τhe turning point for its establishment was the magnificent resistance mounted by the people in gatherings lasting more than a month in the public squares of virtually all the cities and towns of Greece, first and foremost in Syntagma Square in Athens. These spontaneous and continuous demonstrations of a very large proportion of the Greek people transformed the persistent protest struggle that had been waged primarily by workers, with mobilizations and strikes throughout the preceding year, into a struggle for the overturn of the existing power structures and the dominant political system as such. From the moment that a great proportion of the Greek people had come down into the streets with unprecedented determination and persistence not only against individual policies and measures but also against the official regime, no matter how the latter could be conceivable, then the question that was posed in practice from the outset was what the next step should be. How the people could win the confrontation it has initiated with the authorities.
The EPAM came into existence to answer this question. Its struggle aims, first and foremost, at the liberation, both national and social. Its objective is to reclaim the country from the encroaching tyranny and to defend the interests of the great majority of the people, that is workers, farmers, small and medium business people, and above all the younger generation, so that it can have a future in this country.
The EPAM is determined to make a decisive contribution to uniting the people, above and beyond party lines and ideological (or other) divisions. The people and the country are in grave danger. Only by creating a great social and political front of the entire people for the country’s rescue will we be able to deviate from the one-way-street leading to oppressive destruction, plunder and over-indebtedness.
A united and determined people has no need to fear anything or anybody. It cannot be stopped by any threat or any counterblow coming from the markets or the powerful. Whenever the people has decided to unite and claim its rights, there has been no power that could stop it, no adversity that the people could not overcome.
This popular unity must be, and can be, constructed on the following central demands that make possible a total overturn of the regime of occupation, expropriation and vassalage, because they function as a point of departure for the democratic rebirth of the country on the basis of popular interests.
These central demands can be summarized as follows:
1. Non-recognition of the public debt, on the basis of an international law permitting a sovereign state to refuse to pay all illegal, usurious and unauthorized debt that leads a people and a country to bankruptcy. This means immediate – here and now – stop payment to the lenders, to freeze the death toll that has been imposed on the country and the people by the international usurers and speculators.
This is the only way the country can be saved from the disaster as well as workers and their incomes, their jobs, their pensions and their rights can be safeguarded. It is the only way that there can be any prospect for the young, the farmers, the professionals, the small and medium businesses. It is the only way the country can avoid the bankruptcy and the destruction that have already been organized by the government, the EU and the IMF.
Non-recognition of debt means that we do not recognize any demand that would enable the creditors to expropriate, to confiscate, to plunder. It means that we stop paying money on loans already paid off twice and three times. It means that we unilaterally cancel all the debts that are the product of fraud and speculation at the expense of the country and its people. It means that we refuse, finally, to give our life blood for payments on loans dating from the 19th century, but which the markets and our great “partners” have forced us to pay until the present day. It means quite simply that we stop paying ransom money to international and local usurers.
The Greek people must move towards non-recognition of the debt, not out of any intention to harm anyone or to “pocket” what they might owe to creditors. They must do this in order to readjust debtor-creditor relations favourably towards their country and to definitively avert formal bankruptcy. They must do this because there is no other way for them to stand strong, to rescue the country from markets and their predators, to ensure survival and freedom from corrupt governance. It is clear that no dispute is likely to arise with respect to demands for repayment of loans contracted in good faith and which have indeed been applied towards the country’s development. This readjustment will be on the basis of reciprocal benefit to all, especially if related to moneys of small account-holders and social security funds, which in any case do not exceed 15% of the current public debt. It is worthwhile bearing in mind that no demand will be seen as valid if it undermines the integrity of the country, mortgaging its future or placing it to hostage status. If someone must pay, that someone will certainly not be Greece and its people.
2. The entire structure of agreements, commitments, interventions and austerity measures taken or imposed since the time of the first mnimonio (the memorandum of understanding attached to the bailout money, rather than the bailout per se) must be dismantled immediately, so as to allow the country to regain its internal legal status quo and to assert against IMF, EU and the ECB, its state sovereignty, which was ceded in such a disgraceful and treacherous way by the entire economic and political establishment– the government being on the top. With every act and action of the peoples’ movement, we have to caution local and foreign key players, investors and market speculators: “The people will take back whatever you have plundered or intend to plunder in the near future. Your investment in the disintegration and expropriation of this country will cost you dearly”.
3. Reframing of Greece’s relations with the EU, starting with the exit from the Eurozone and the adoption of a national currency that will express the dynamic of a new economic course for the country in the interests of the people. Our demise lies in our subordination to the euro and not in our exit from the euro. Our country will cease being prey to intimidation, extortion and global speculative attacks, it will cease being a commodity, only if it regains sovereignty over its currency and its economy.
Our return to a national currency is not a cure-all, but a necessary starting point for redirection. This will not only ensure the requisite redistribution of wealth towards the necessitous but also the immediate firm reinforcement of household revenues, which is the only strategy capable of moving the economy out of the recession.
It will allow the nationalization of the major banks, starting with the Bank of Greece, with the intention of securing control of the economy, the rehabilitation of credit policies, striking at financial quackery and monitoring capital movements. Only in this way can we protect the household savings from being whittled away by the current usurious banking system.
It will allow the state to emerge as the basic lever of the country’s economic and social development, starting with nationalization of the old public corporations, infrastructures and services that have been privatized. A state that must cease to be the fief of the parasitical economic and political oligarchy that is today governing the country. It is only in this way that the private initiative of small and medium business can be freed from domination by trusts, cartels, local and foreign market monopolies.
It will allow us to secure the necessary investments for productive reconstruction of the country, which will not be based on speculative investors, whether foreign or local, or on state-supported entrepreneurs and monopolies, but on the needs and on the income of working people, on the dynamic and the initiative of the country’s living productive forces.
4. The first act of atonement to Greek society for the lawlessness of those in government will be when the natural and legal persons (parties and business networks) implicated throughout the preceding period in the dissipation of public monies and public property are put in the dock. This is not a proposal for erecting gallows in Constitution Square, or for filling the prisons with good-for-nothing traitors. It is for doing something better: immediate confiscation on behalf of the public of all the property of such natural and legal persons as have been involved in this misappropriation of public funds and in the high treason that has been committed against the people and against the public through imposition of this regime of occupation and expropriation. As for the culprits: they can be assigned socially beneficial work, cleaning and tending public places, maintaining infrastructures, etc. The first concern of the movement must therefore be… not to round them up and expel them, but to apprehend them before they escape, to show them how the people in practice punish high treason and how they themselves can be of some use to society as a whole, perhaps for the first time in their lives.
5. The country cannot be saved with the people kept “on the back burner”, with all-party coalition governments or corporatized non-party governments. The way out of the crisis is through more, not less, democracy, and democracy that goes deeper. It requires a populace in the centre of the political stage, not a population of passive spectators of events, and victims. It requires a new form of political power with the people as its focus, not a corrupt system of governmental absolutism. It requires that democracy be achieved on an authentic basis of popular sovereignty and national independence. This can be accomplished through thoroughgoing institutional change, the re-founding of the political system as a whole, through election of a Constituent Assembly with broadened authentic representation of the people itself, for the sole purpose of drawing up and voting a new democratic Constitution. Only in this way will it be possible for the people to become master in its own house, to establish a system of government based on popular representation, with a binding mandate, continuous control from below, the power of recall and limited terms of office. Only in this way will it be possible to be rid of the restrictions that come with vassal status, so that the country and the people can be open at long last to all the currents of international life, to take advantage of potentials and opportunities through the seeking out of new bases of support, new contacts and relationships, with all the peoples of Europe and the world, without coerced alliances, impositions, monopolistic dependence.
The struggle with which working people, farmers, small and medium businesses, professionals, young people, are now summoned to become engaged is not just a question of personal survival. Nobody can escape just by looking after himself, doing his job, for as long as he still has one. Nobody can be saved today unless he fights to save the whole country. There is no other choice. We no longer have the luxury of being able to say “first let’s see what is going to happen, and then we’ll talk about it”. Either the working people and all of the population will take matters into their own hands, embarking on actions to save the country, or we condemn ourselves – and even more the next generations – quite probably to the direst period in modern Greek history.
The Greek people are not alone in this struggle. At their side are other peoples of the southern part of the Eurozone, in the EU and internationally who are being hit by equivalent policies of banditry. The duty of dispensing with the regime of debt bondage, starting with our own country, is something the Greek people owes not only to itself but to all the peoples who find themselves in the power of the same international band of thieves. Each step towards liberation in Greece, each timely blow against the occupation regime will inspire other struggling peoples, heightening morale and strengthening resolve. The national and social liberation of Greece will trigger a generalized spring of the peoples in Europe, which no species of reaction will be able to hold back.
The United People’s Front is pledged to contribute with all the power at its disposal to every authentic popular movement against today’s regime, irrespective of where it originates and who is leading it. It undertakes to play an active and decisive role in every movement of resistance and to help it in its task of awakening and organizing the population, in every neighbourhood and every workplace, with the aim of achieving national and social liberation. The UPF(or EPAM) is open to every democratic, patriotic activist eager to struggle for the same purpose, without asking for any “certificate of social conscience”, genuflections before self-designated authorities, self-appointed leaders, dignitaries and/or concealed or overt party mechanisms. By its nature the EPAM is a transitional socio-political alliance of broad popular forces whose central objective is to achieve its basic objectives and demands. In its ranks there are no dividing lines of party or ideological origins between its members, nor is there any recognition of organized groupings or blocks. This corresponds to the unity that must be constructed in the ranks of the people itself against the common enemy. As an alliance it is temporary because with the achievement of its central objectives the EPAM will pass irrevocably into history.