Greek workers are staging a day-long general strike in Athens today that has paralyzed the country and lead to increasingly dangerous confrontations with police. Thousands of protesters gathered outside the Parliament in 95-degree heat to demonstrate against a new European bailout deal that would bring more harsh cuts to the nation's budget. Some protesters have thrown Molotov cocktails and rocks at government buildings and police have responded with tear gas, as the situation threatens to spiral out of control. Demonstrators also set fire to a temporary TV broadcast station, though no one was hurt.
The strike was organized by the nation's two biggest unions and involves government workers, teachers, train and ferry operators, air traffic controllers, and even doctors. The government is currently negotiating a new round that budget cuts and taxes that European finance leaders have demanded in exchange for more monetary aid to the struggling country. The current package would cut more than 5 percent of the nation's GDP from the government budget, after but after several previous rounds of aid tied to cuts, citizens aren't willing to accept any more austerity. As a result, the new coalition government that took power in June is under tremendous pressure from both sides and may find itself unable to deliver a deal that anyone is willing to live with.
Spain also saw violent protests on Tuesday as protesters there also fought back against painful austerity cuts.