Protesters Take Over Greek Finance Ministry

Posted June 3rd, 2011 at 5:20 am (UTC-5)
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Protesters in Athens have blockaded the Greek Finance Ministry, the scene of the government’s negotiations with international lenders on its latest financial rescue.

About 200 protesters from the communist-affiliated PAME union blocked the entrance to the ministry at dawn Friday. They hung a five-story-tall banner calling for a general strike to protest the government’s newest austerity plan aimed at cutting spending and trimming Greece’s burgeoning debt.

Greece has been negotiating with officials from the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank to receive a $17 billion segment of last year’s $159 billion bailout. Greek newspapers report an announcement on the outcome of the talks will be made later Friday.

But Greece is also seeking new funding in order to pay its bills. In exchange, the international lenders are pressing Athens to impose more austerity measures and speed up the sale of government-owned assets to help cut Athens’ debt.

As Greece has struggled to rein in its spending, investors have charged the government increasingly higher interest rates on its loans. Numerous financial experts say the government could default on its debts.

Credit-rating companies have repeatedly cut Greece’s credit standing. On Friday, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the ratings for eight Greek banks following a cut earlier in the week in the country’s rating.