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Posts Tagged ‘preveza’

Cast of Characters

In Greece, March to Athens on 28 March 2012 at 19:29

Ruben in Preveza, all photos by comrade Diego

 

Dear people,

Comrade Diego has been shooting some great pictures lately. I publish a small selection dating from Mesopotamo to Preveza. Check out more photos in the gallery of his blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Independence Day

In Greece, March to Athens on 25 March 2012 at 20:01
March to Athens
Day 138-LXIV, Πρέβεζα.
Day 139-LXV, from Πρέβεζα to Βόνιτσα, 17 km.
Vonitsa, March 25

Dear people,

Even though Preveza seems to be a fairly prosperous town, the inhabitants did everything to make us feel at home. In the square there were locals present around the clock to exchange ideas and bring us sweet Greek wine.

On Friday evening we were invited by the Popular Assembly of Preveza – one of the first popular assemblies in Greece to sprout up after the 15th of May last year – to watch a documentary by Naomi Klein on shock therapy and disaster capitalism. After the film there was a little concert with classic rock ballads and Greek music. At the end of it, the two Neapolitans among us didn’t hesitate to take the microphones. They played the partisan song Bella Ciao and a few evergreens of the great Italian poet Fabrizio De André to the enjoyment of the locals.

We were also invited to stay another day in Preveza and take part in a demonstration for independence day.

We only have five days of margin to spend, but this was the first opportunity to do something together with a local movement, and so we accepted.

Today was independence day. We were up early, we folded our tents, and we prepared banners and slogans. The official parade would pass right along the square of our camp.

Cleaning the square

"The future is not what it used to be"

During the morning a small crowd of local protesters assembled. The entire police force was out for the occasion, even though their numbers didn’t ammount to much, and neither were they provocatively armed or dressed.

When the parade began, police gently forced us aside. We would have wanted to resist more, but the local protesters urged us to be patient.

"Revolution"

The parade itself was a disgusting display of child exploitation for nationalist purposes. The entire school youth of the town was dressed up in uniforms and marched by like army batallions, waving flags. From the podium they were applauded by political, military and religious authorities.

Together with the Greek protesters, we made sure that our voices were heard. “Solidarity is the weapon of the people. War against the war of the bosses”, the Greeks chanted. And in the midst of them, our presence gave a touch of colour to the protest.

Comrade Bobò infiltrated between the bigwigs

Near the end we made a move, we hooked up behind the last of the school kids’ batallions to be able to close the parade. Police were determined to block us. We tried to force our way through, but they delayed us long enough for the authorities to quickly leave the podium before we passed by with our peace flags and our slogans calling for revolution.

Closing the parade

Comrade Milton making friends with the police

That was it. In the midst of a ridiculous nationalist piece of theater we made our point. Afterwards we peacefully mixed with the crowds and the schoolkids on the boulevard.

They saw us off, a few hours later, when we crossed the sea in small launches, to continue our march on the southern shore of the inland sea. Initially we planned to take the tunnel, but a local Englishman was happy to play the role of Charon, and bring our march over the waves to the other side.

Bringing the shopping cart to the other shore

Stuff on lorry

It was a long long day. After the demonstration we marched a full length leg, be it without gear because one of the Greek comrades we met in Riza helped us out by taking all our stuff on his lorry, through the tunnel, right to today’s destination, Vonitsa.

Vonitsa is a breathtaking little place on the coast of the inland sea. There are Greek flags everywhere along the boulevard and around the national monument when we enter the town.

We take the little square, and we look forward to relax a bit when a police car arrives. None of us is in the mood to talk to them, especially because they are not nice. The two officers give us five minutes to leave or we will be arrested.

Five minutes later we were still there, and police had silently retreated.

Marching on...

On the square in Vonitsa

My tent in Vonitsa

Witch Hunt

In Greece, March to Athens on 23 March 2012 at 13:44

March to Athens

Day 137-LXIII, Πρέβεζα.

Street Art in Kanali. Photo: comrade Diego.

Preveza, March 23

Dear people,

After the decline of the ancient town of Nicopolis, Preveza was founded in the middle ages on the tip of this peninsula. The town has been under the dominion of the Turks and the Venetians for most of its history.

During her golden age, Venice ruled over the long string of Dalmatian and Greek islands, that goes all the way from the Adriatic to Cyprus, passing by the Ionian and the Aegean seas. Preveza was one of her commercial outposts when the republic was liquidated by Napoleon during his first Italian campaign.

After Bonaparte made his peace with the Austrians, the town came under the rule of the French. It was occupied by a small garrison of grenadiers, and the revolutionary ideas they brought with them were well received by the local population.

While Napoleon himself was busy ‘harvesting glory’ in Egypt and Palestine, the garrison of Preveza was attacked by the Albanian warlord Ali Pasha.

Ali Pasha ruled over a semi-independent Ottoman satrapy that included most of modern day Albania, Macedonia, and northern Greece. He held court in the inland city of Ioannina, and he was famous for his cruelty.

When he took Preveza, he massacred the French and a large part of the population that had sympathised with them. Many Greeks managed to flee to the hills. They were promised to be spared if they returned. But when they did, the promise was forgotten and Ali Pasha had them slaughtered anyway. Together with the French revolutionary ideas, it would inspire the nationalists to rise up against the Turks two decades later.

Today you don’t find much that reminds you of the past here in Preveza. It’s a modern town that lives from tourism, a town that has sold its soul to the big brands and the banks.

It’s one of the things I noticed during this first week in Greece. In the villages we passed, we hardly found any historical centres like we did in Italy. Most of the buildings are of recent construction, and those who aren’t have been thoroughly polished to look like new.

There are other things. For one, I haven’t seen any visible traces of misery yet. Nothing like the scenes we witnessed in the townships of Naples. If I hadn’t heard the stories or the numbers, I’d say that this part of Greece is a wealthy western style nation.

For two, there’s the discrepancy between the theory and the practice of the law.
Like everywhere in Europe, it’s obligatory to wear a helmet on a scooter. But here, like in many places in the south of Italy, hardly anyone does. They risk big fines, but the police close an eye on them.

The same goes for smoking in bars. In every bar you will find the usual signs that prohibit smoking. There are no ashtrays on the tables. But when you light up a cigarette, they will bring you one without saying a word. The fact is that many people smoke in Greece. When the European laws were implemented, the police have tried to enforce them. But when the officers entered a bar where dozens of people were smoking, they were simply kicked out and didn’t return.

On the other hand the Greek police are fanatical in the persecution of cannabis users.
Ever since we arrived, an informal Weed commission has been active to find the necessary substances for a recreational smoke. In Italy or in Spain, despite crazy legislation, it’s no problem at all. But here it is. People are absolutely terrified to be caught with even the smallest quantity of cannabis. And police are always on the look out to find some.

Yesterday evening many local youngsters joined our group, they brought wine and beer. Some of them brought a bit of grass, and while they were rolling with the utmost prudence they explained the situation.

There is no shortage of good weed here in Greece. With all the wild mountains, you can imagine that harvests are rich every time the season comes around. And indeed, most of the Greeks smoke pot, so they say, but they don’t dare to carry it around.
If you get caught with half a gram, you will be taken to court. You will be fined half a month’s wage, and apart from that you will be forced to hire a lawyer which will cost you double the amount of the fine.

So it’s not just a case of applying the law. “It goes much deeper than that. It’s big business.”

The majority of cases brought before Greek judges have to do with small ‘infringements’ like the possession of grass. For the state it’s the perfect excuse for oppression. They cannot arrest or enjail people for their opinions, so they resort to the phantomatical ‘war on drugs’ to intimidate citizens and violate their privacy, knowing well that most people – police included – enjoy their occasional joint.

The prohibition of hemp is completely illegitimate. It’s a plant that has benefited the human race for thousands of years. It has served to produce high quality clothes, paper, ropes, sails, oil and hundreds of other useful products. It could be the backbone of a sustainable economy. During the 1930s it was outlawed mainly to make way for synthetic products based on petroleum. The whole ‘drug’ story was only a pretext. As a side effect, it allowed authorities to criminalise large parts of the population, especially the ethnic minorities, and to create an immense business around products that would hardly have a monetary value in a real free market economy.

Anyone who speaks of human rights and personal liberty can only be in favour of cannabis re-legalisation. Otherwise he or she is a lurid hypocrite. A plant, being a gift of nature, can never be outlawed. Growing and possessing any herbal substance is more than a human right. It’s a natural right, as self-evident as they get.

I’m sure that future post-revolutionary generations will look back at the ‘war on drugs’ with the same horrified wonder with which we look back on the witch hunts of early modern times.

Yours truly in Mesopotamo near the Gates of Hell. Photo: Diego.

 

Check out more of Diego’s pictures in the gallery of his blog

City of Victory

In Greece, March to Athens on 22 March 2012 at 18:25
March to Athens
Day 135-LXI, from Ρηζά to Κανάλι, 12 km.
Day 136-LXII, from Κανάλι to Πρέβεζα, 17 km.

Acampada Preveza

Preveza, March 22

Dear people,

Act one of our march through Greece has been completed. After a week we have arrived in Preveza, the first place that can qualify as a town, for Greek standards.

The geographical position of Preveza is extraordinary. It’s built on the tip of a peninsula at the entrance of a large internal sea. To boost expectations I have been spreading myths about the place in these last few days. By now people believe that this is one of those towns which are known as ‘the Venice of the South’.

You should be warned, I’m notorious for spreading bull shit. I once tried to make people believe with a straight face that Venice was also known as the ‘Dordrecht of the Adriatic’. Unfortunately, the myth didn’t stick.

Looking out over the battlefield of Actium

But seriously, we have experienced our first troubles with police these days.

Police here are like the cossacks during Napoleon’s retreat from Russia. They only attack isolated units. Yesterday, on the road to the modern seaside resort of Kanali, two of our comrades got stopped and had to undergo molesting interrogations and searches. One of them was forced to undress right next to the national road.

Arrival on the square in Kanali

In the evening a group of us gathered in one of the hip pubs of Kanali to discuss the case and form the Strategy working group. It seems that according to European directives we have a list rights in dealing with police, of which we should be well aware. Things like the right to a translator, the right to film the procedure, the right not to be forced to undergo humiliating searches, especially in open space etc.

I tried to find all these things black on white on the internet, but I felt like the character of Kafka who seeks access to the law. In other words, I didn’t find anything.

One of the things we decided was to march as a group today. We chose two reunification points on the route to make sure we would enter Preveza all together.

Before we went I rallied the troops.

“Comrades, the offense suffered by comrade Chino cries for bitter revenge!”

All words, of course. The revenge had already been consumed by Chino’s pet rat who had bitten the officer who had searched him.

Our first reunification stop was planned near the ruins of the ancient Roman town of Nicopolis.

On the road to Preveza

 

Reunification stop

 

It was appropriate enough. Nicopolis means ‘town of victory’. It was founded by Octavian to celebrate his victory over Marc Anthony in the sea battle of Actium, where the last remnants of the Roman Republic came to sink.

Octavian was the adopted son of Caesar. When Caesar was  murdered in 44 BC, Octavian allied with Marc Anthony to hunt down the conspirators. They succeeded, but afterwards the two became deadly enemies. Marc Anthony was seduced by Cleopatra, queen of Egypt and former mistress of Caesar, and the senate feared that she would use him to gain power over Rome.

Octavian and Anthony clashed here, right off the coast of modern day Preveza. Anthony’s fleet got defeated. He and Cleopatra finally committed suicide and Octavian would go on to become the first emperor of Rome, under the name of ‘Augustus’.

Ruins of Nicopoli

We march on over the paths of history. We enter Preveza, and we are mentally prepared for a confrontation with police.

It turns out there is nothing to be alarmed about. On the square along the seaside we find the same two cossacks that had molested our comrades the day before. When they see us arrive in group the bastards were most amiable. They don’t ask for ID or anything, they praise our effort with a smile, and they soon drive off.

All the better. We celebrate our arrival in town by a collective plunge into the harbour.

Arrival in the square in Preveza

 

Plunge into the harbour

In the last few days our march has had to cope with reduced rations, but she keeps going stronger. One of the former marchers has returned, and another one has joined us, both of them are from Spain.

There are still no Greeks coming along with us. Comrade Marianne hasn’t returned, as some of us had hoped. And maybe it’s better this way, because having to depend on her for our communications would likely cause new frictions in the group. Still we’re doing fine, for the moment. We communicate anyway, especially with the youth. And I’m confident that other Greeks will join our march, sooner or later.