Greece and Portugal: hundreds of thousand of workers and youth on the streets against the imperialist war

Thursday morning (March 20) once the general public heard that the imperialist war against Iraq had broken out, tens of thousands of school students left the schools spontaneously and marched from every district of Athens to Sindagma (Constitution) Square. At the same time thousands of university students left their faculties and together with thousands of other people they flooded to the square and then a huge demonstration marched to the American Embassy, which is about three kilometres to the North East of the town.

The demonstration was amazing both in terms of its size and in terms of the high level of militancy, of the school students in particular. The same thing was repeated in every town across the country, and with the same militant mood.

In the afternoon of the same day the two general Workers’ Confederations, ΓΕΣΕΕ (GSEE) and ΑΔΕΔΥ (ADEDI) had called a picket in front of the American Embassy. Three to four thousand workers and students turned up again. What was particularly striking was how open the people on the demonstration were to Marxist ideas. We sold a large number of the Greek translation of the In Defence of Marxism ‘Manifesto against the war’, as well as many copies of the Sosialistiki Ekfrasi, our Marxist journal.

On Friday, March 21, there was a three-hour general strike against the war, called again by the GSEE and ADEDI and a rally was organised together with the Greek Social Forum and the rest. The demo was much bigger even than the huge February 15 march, with something between 350 and 400 thousand present. Again the participation of the school students was very big and very militant. A very big demo was also held in Thessaloniki with some tens of thousands of participants. The same was repeated again in many other towns. In these exceptional demonstrations, unfortunately the role of the KKE (Greek Communist Party) was disgraceful. As they have done on several other occasions they organised a separate rally in Ethnikis Antistasis square (National Resistance square) splitting the movement. Although at the end they did join the march to the American embassy.

In this huge demonstration the mood was fantastic. Everybody, especially the youth were giving the impression that they were ready to do anything to stop the war. Undoubtedly these are the first stages of very important changes in the consciousness of the youth and the workers in general which will be reflected in the coming period in a more radical way. Again, we saw how the workers and youth have a great thirst for radical and Marxist ideas. This was shown by another successful sale of our journal and our antiwar material.

The following day, Saturday March 22 another demo was held. And again the KKE split the movement. The main demo was organised in Syntagma square and the other in front of the university by the KKE. This time the participation was not so big (which was somehow expected). Nevertheless there were still more than 20 thousand people on the march to the American Embassy.

On the political front, although the government has declared its opposition to the war, in practise they have offered the American forces several facilities through the American military bases in Greece. One of these bases, which is located in Souda on the island of Crete, is of big importance for the Americans both for their fleet and their aircraft. It is a very important link in their supply network for their forces in Iraq.

The overwhelming majority of the population (95%) is against the war and therefore the government is in a very difficult position. The KKE in particular is demanding that the government stop its collaboration with the Americans and close the base in Souda. We believe this to be a correct slogan, although it should be connected with other important slogans that the Marxist tendency is raising such as the withdrawal of Greece from NATO and a drastic cut in the budget on military expenditure.

The Editorial Board of Sosialistiki Ekfrasi,

Athens, Greece,

March 25, 2003

100,000 march in Lisbon against the war

"Zé Manel, Zé Manel, Quem te paga é a Shell!" This was the major battle cry the masses shouted last Saturday - translated the slogan claims the Prime Minister was on Shell's pay book. There is a crushing feeling that this is an imperialist war to control oil and to impose American superiority on the rest of the world.

Once again, thousands of ordinary working class people took to the streets to protest againsts this criminal war. We were 100,000 in Lisbon and 15,000 in Oporto - not to mention smaller demonstrations all over the country. This protest was not against the war alone, because there is also a feeling of resentment against the government's “neo-liberal” policies. Plus: the Portuguese government has played a dreadful part in this war - it was in Portugal (the Azores) that the war meeting between Bush, Blair and Aznar took place and the Portuguese govenment is one of the most enthusiastic supporters of this war.

Our fight will continue. As long as the imperialist aggression against the Iraqi people continues so will the protest against it. There is an undeniable will to mobilize among the working class and youth against this war. We've seen the biggest demonstrations for the last 20 years in this country. The fighting spirit must not be allowed to cool down. The next step is obvious: a general strike - stop working to stop the war!

Rui Faustino,

Lisbon, March 25, 2003.