What goes up comes down, but the landing can be brutal. Less than a decade after Greece joined Europe’s common currency club, staged successful Olympics and entered the wonderful world of high consumption fueled by cheap credit, it was on the verge of bankruptcy.
As the economy imploded, the cost of an international bailout soon became painfully clear to all. Unemployment hit peacetime records, incomes plummeted, taxes soared. Successive governments floundered amid a rising tide of popular resentment initially channeled into huge protests, vandalism and epic clashes with police guarding parliament.
But the first elation of the street demonstrations ebbed after three people died in a torched bank and protest fatigue set in. For many, hope revived when a new government was elected on promises to heal all the wounds of austerity. Instead, things got much worse: a developing bank run forced restrictions on cash withdrawals, a eurozone exit loomed large and the government signed a new bailout deal – contingent on further austerity.
Greece now looks finally on the path to a certain normality, though far from the heady days of pre-crisis affluence.
These pictures tell a tale of these troubled years from many viewpoints. Hopefully, this mosaic of fire and violence, protest and suffering, perseverance and hope will fuse into an ideogram representing an entire period, and not just be seen as the sum of its parts. Time passes, life goes on.