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Austerity-weary farmers hold protest march in Athens

Austerity-weary farmers hold protest march in Athens
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Some 2,000 Greek farmers protested in Athens on Tuesday over increases to their tax and social security contributions amid the government’s ongoing austerity drive.

They left their tractors at home but distributed farm produce for free, arguing that they can no longer earn a living from the land.

“Things are getting worse all the time,” one demonstrator told Euronews.

“We can no longer sustain our families because everything is going up – taxes, production costs and the VAT on our supplies.

“The key point is that the big monopolies with their massive profits are killing off the small farmers,” another man said.

“We are asking the government to take the new measures back because we can’t survive.”

A young woman told Euronews: “I know first hand as a young person what kind of a future they have in store for me, and the reason I am here today is to gather strength from this struggle.”

Marching through the streets rather than resorting to their traditional tractor blockades,farmers wanted to highlight what they see as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras feeding off their livelihoods in his efforts to satisfy Greece’s international creditors.

One banner showed Tsipras and Agriculture Minister Vangelis Apostolou depicted as black crows with hooked claws, swooping down on a farmer.

Our correspondent in Athens, Stamatis Giannisis, said:

“The farmers’ protests are only one of many headaches for the government, with feelings running high among more and more people whose salaries have fallen and taxes risen in seven years of severe economic austerity.”