Around 7,000 protestors gathered in Greece to make sure Obama knew he wasn’t welcome.
The American president arrived last Tuesday to start his farewell tour of Europe and was greeted with signs saying things like “We don’t need protectors!,” as the crowd chanted “Yankees go home” and “Obama go home!”
The masses gathered a few miles from where Obama and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras were having dinner.
5,000 police officers were at the riot, organized by Communist and Anarchist groups. Authorities were forced to used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd.
It quickly got violent when protestors in motorcycle helmets, gas masks, armed with wooden clubs and petrol bombs tried to break the police barriers.
Rioters at the Athens Polytechnic University complex got particularly aggressive as they ran and threw dozens of petrol bombs at police.
Four were arrested and one women was slightly injured.
Protestors were trying to reach the U.S. embassy in Athens. But, police made sure to block areas that were anywhere close to where Obama was having dinner.
5,000 Communist party supporters in Athens protested peacefully.
1,000 protested in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, where even the U.S. flag was burned.
“(The U.S.) is a state that causes military coups, interventions and imperialist wars from Ukraine to the eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and Latin America,” said Communist party leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas.
“Obama’s visit comes just two days before the country’s main annual anti-American demonstrations, which commemorate the bloody suppression, by military authorities, of the Polytechnic pro-democracy uprising.
The small Popular Unity party, which took part in the main protest Tuesday, described Obama’s visit as “a provocation” due to that timing. Party leader Panayiotis Lafazanis also blamed the U.S. for Greece’s economic woes.
The debt-crippled country depends on international bailout loans, and has been forced by creditors to implement deep income cuts, tax hikes, welfare cuts and economic reforms.
‘American imperialism has not changed,’ Lafazanis said Tuesday. ‘The U.S. presidents and administrations have played — and still play — a leading part in the bailout-linked plundering of our country … and their interventions are drowning our part of the world in blood and creating refugee waves,’” writes the National Post.
Citizens of Greece have quite a bit to be angry about and tensions are certainly running high.
The Eurozone financial crisis wiped out a quarter of the country’s economy. That paired with the migrant crisis, that has caused unemployment rates to be above 25%.
Obama gave a speech referencing this and is in support of debt relief for the country.
“I know this has been a painful and difficult time, especially for Greek workers and families, pensioners and young people. This crisis is not an abstraction, but has had a very concrete and devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across this country,” said Obama, reported the Associated Press.
“I’ve been clear from the beginning of this crisis that in order to make reforms sustainable, the Greek economy needs the space to return to growth and start creating jobs again. We cannot simply look to austerity as a strategy.”
Greek Prime Minister Tsipras has signed a €86billion debt relief package, but has said the country needs debt restructuring before it can come close to recovering.
Editor’s note: Obama’s efforts to improve U.S. stature in the world have done the opposite. He has become a symbol for meddling in others’ affairs and famous for not being able to solve problems. Greece is in deep trouble and they know it. Obama’s visit is just fuel on the fire.