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Queue for free vegetables in Syntagma

25 January 2012 / 18:01:42  GRReporter
2870 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

Until recently, the most central square in Greece has been known throughout the world as a stage of violent clashes between demonstrators and police, and the meeting place of the Greek discontented. Today, Syntagma has become a market, where customers are shopping free of charge.

From the early hours of today, producers from the region of Thebes began giving passersby 30 tons of  onions, cabbages, carrots, broccoli, potatoes and other agricultural products in order to prove to consumers that they are not affected in practice by the waters of Asopos River that have been polluted with the hazardous hexavalent chromium.

The problem of the farmers of Thebes, however, faded very quickly and an even bigger problem flashed and came to the fore - poverty. Shortly after 8 am, television channels started to broadcast live from Syntagma, which many of the residents of the Greek capital took as a call. The subway station was full of people who were carrying bags with products and some women had even filled their shopping carts.

According to the farmers, at least five thousand people passed through their stands in a few hours. Most of them were unemployed and pensioners, there were foreigners - immigrants, and a smaller number of people who were attracted by the fact that the products were free of charge.

With a bag in hand, Mr. Nikos explained that he receives social pension, which was reduced by 50 euro. "It was 300, now it is 250 euro. I would like to ask those who govern us whether they could scratch a living for a month with this money. And whether they have cut their own incomes by 50 euro at least." He said he happened to be downtown and took the products to make a living for several days.

Some people joked that they had taken the onions to throw them at those who have cut their pensions. Others openly fretted that they were late and failed to "shop," as an old woman, who muttered that she had came in vain and "my back aches."

There were only a few sacks of onions left shortly after 11 am and several young women of Albanian origin were trying to make the farmers give them a kilogram or two. Others shook the empty sacks hoping to find a forgotten onion while the farmers were gathering up their umbrellas and stands.

Farmers told that they had arrived in Athens in the very early morning hours. "As early as 5 am, when the subway opened, people started to take the bags with products we had prepared."

The president of the farmers in Thebes Aristidis Anifandis speaking to GRReporter that their action was an attempt to convince people that their products are completely safe. In his opinion, some of the industries with businesses there made the bad publicity of agricultural produce from the region. "The rumour has spread quickly and as a result, our produce remained unsold. We came here to give the people products for free, to enable them have a sample to take it for analysis if they wish."

Farmers said that they have had the analysis carrried out by the Agricultural University of Athens and the University of Volos, proving that their products are clean. "Analyses were made in the Ministry of Rural Development and Food. They made an official announcement, which was not widely covered by the media. Therefore, we gave out a leaflet today, which contains one of the analyses," said Aristidis Anifandis and added that he and his colleagues can make poor Athenians rejoice again with free vegetables.

Tags: SocietyCrisisFree vegetablesFarmersQueueSyntagma
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