Just when you thought it was getting better (or so you would believe if you listened to the mainstream media's punditry) Greece faces what ekathimerini reports is a "situation worse than in 2012." From well-known Belgian beer to electronics equipment, the first occurrences of shortages in imported goods and raw materials have arisen as a result of Greek enterprises’ inability to pay with cash in advance.
Hundreds of people jostled for free vegetables handed out by farmers in a symbolic protest earlier on Wednesday, trampling one man and prompting an outcry over the growing desperation created by economic crisis.
Images of people struggling to seize bags of tomatoes and leeks thrown from a truck dominated television, triggering a bout of soul-searching over the new depths of poverty in the debt-laden country.
“These images make me angry. Angry for a proud people who have no food to eat, who can’t afford to keep warm, who can’t make ends meet,” said Kostas Barkas, a lawmaker from the leftist Syriza party.
Other lawmakers from across the political spectrum decried the images “of people on the brink of despair” and the sense of “sadness for a proud people who have ended up like this“.
People have seen their living standards crumble as the country faces its sixth year of recession that has driven unemployment to record highs.
The free food handout in Athens began peacefully as hundreds of Greeks lined up in advance outside the agriculture ministry, where protesting farmers laid out tables piled high with produce, giving away 50 metric tonnes (55.11 tons) of produce in under two hours.
Tensions flared when the stalls ran out of produce and dozens of people – some carrying small children – rushed to a truck and shoved each other out of the way in the competition for what was left.
One man was treated for injuries after being trampled when he fell to the ground in the commotion.
“I never imagined that I would end up here,” said Panagiota Petropoulos, 65, who struggles to get by on her 530-euro monthly pension while paying 300 euros in rent.
“I can’t afford anything, not even at the fruit market. Everything is expensive, prices of everything are going up while our income is going down and there are no jobs.”
* * *
* * *
But now there are actual shortages due to no payments (as ekathimerini reports,)
The first occurrences of shortages in imported goods and raw materials have arisen as a result of Greek enterprises’ inability to pay with cash in advance for the entire cost of the commodities they import, and the situation is even worse than in 2012.
Market professionals have told Kathimerini that there are already some problems in the cases of mechanical equipment and electronic appliances, while in the food and drinks sector there are shortages in certain premium products such as a well-known Belgian beer.
Difficulties have also been noted in imports of chemical commodities, both end products and raw materials, which is hampering the production of fertilizers and pesticides.
Even reliable clients have been hit with the same demands from foreign suppliers, while the phenomenon is creating a chain reaction across other sectors as well.
“A number of tourism companies wanted to renew their equipment ahead of the new season but now face a serious problem,” Ioannis Papageorgakis, the president of the Athens Association of Commercial representatives and Distributors (SEADA), told Kathimerini.
* * *
Of course the new radical left-wing government will have a solution... simply deciding what is 'fair' and what is not 'fair' food and beverage for Greeks to eat (or drink).
But Greece is not Venezuela... yet.