Tsipras’ “Betrayal”

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, during an interview with state television. (Alexandros Vlachos / EFE)

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, during an interview with state television. (Alexandros Vlachos / EFE)

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 14 July 2015 — A week ago he was a hero lauded by the official Cuban media, today he is a political corpse many fear to mention. Alexis Tsipras negotiated and lost. Sanity has been imposed over his his initial bravado, and the pact he is about to accept has turned him into a traitor to his own politics. The critical voices within his party are already being heard about the agreement he has closed with the Eurozone, and Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution is keeping an embarrassed silence.

A third rescue, which will be around 86 billion euros, has been approved to pull Greece out of the quagmire. The money will come accompanied by conditions that force the Greek government to raise taxes, cut pensions and engage in privatizations. Far from that intransigent posture of the man who was congratulated by Fidel Castro, “for his brilliant political victory,” in the recent referendum.

Tsipras has accepted what until recently he rejected. All his incendiary nationalistic rhetoric has ended in a pragmatic gesture of compliance. Political greatness? Awareness of defeat? A final grimace of goodwill before heading out the backdoor of power in Greece? It’s hard to know. Most importantly he has chosen not to separate Greece from Europe, to exorcise the demon of the “Grexit,” and in passing has disappointed all those who incited him to lead an entire nation to economic suicide.

The lines in front of the ATMs, the empty shelves, and the growing fear in the population have done more than all the winks of solidarity from other corners of the world that fell on this Greek, though the crisis has not marked his face with a single wrinkle, there is no ‘tic’ of concern. Even at the agreement table, where he spent his last political capital, he has been seen as imperturbable, beautiful, young.

The adversaries of the European Union will accuse him of having sold the country to foreign interests and those who never believed him will look on him with pity while muttering “we told you so.”

Now the diatribe rains down on him. The adversaries of the European Union will accuse him of having sold the country to foreign interests, and those who never believed him will look on him with pity while muttering “we told you so.” There is no way this Greek play where the Syriza party leader is the protagonist ends up as something more than a political tragedy for his party and himself.

Like a sublime statue, Tsipras has ended up trapped in the marble of his verticality; the populism he himself unleashed has devoured him. Some promises meant to charm the voters, when put into practice made the country fall below the point it had reached until now. The pantomime of a referendum was the ultimate gesture of vanity before reneging on his positions.

Tsipras will be diluted in the coming weeks, when the parliaments of the European nations, including Greece, discuss the agreement and approve its implementation. Every step toward getting the rescue and complying with its demands will extinguish this figure that dazzles a part of a nation with his rhetoric.

None of those who applauded his daring will pat him on the back to acknowledge he has chosen for his country and not for himself. For them, Tispras is the uncomfortable reminder of what might have been, the missed opportunity to project, through Greece, their own vendettas.

32 thoughts on “Tsipras’ “Betrayal”

  1. Sandokan: Generally, Government debt as a percent of GDP is used by investors to measure a country ability to make future payments on its debt, thus affecting the country borrowing costs and government bond yields. Cuba Debt to GDP ratio is at 20%…about as good as that of Indonesia…. GDP cannot be entirely devoted to debt repayment — some must be spent on survival, at the minimum, and in general only 5–10% will be devoted to debt repayment, even during episodes such as the Great Depression.

    The World Bank and the IMF hold that “a country can be said to achieve external debt sustainability if it can meet its current and future external debt service obligations in full, without recourse to debt rescheduling or the accumulation of arrears and without compromising growth.” According to these two institutions, external debt sustainability can be obtained by a country “by bringing the net present value (NPV) of external public debt down to about 150 percent of a country’s exports or 250 percent of a country’s revenues.” High external debt is believed to have harmful effects on an economy.
    Exports in Cuba averaged 2949.10 CUC Million from 1990 until 2014, reaching an all time high of 6340.40 CUC Million in 2011 and a record low of 1156.70 CUC Million in 1993.

    Cuba’s debt: 16 Billion (about 40% is held by the public-2012). Therefore, Public debt: 6.4 B
    Average Cuban exports: 2949 Million or 2.949 Billion

    Debt/Exports = 6.4/2.9 X100= 221% (it appears that Cuba’s external debt is not sustainable according to the IMF and World Bank, but, not by much. Not too bad in my opinion for a country that a few years earlier experienced a 40% contraction in GDP)

  2. The worst part of the Castristas getting their hands on more money, borrowed or otherwise, is that the Cuban people gets none of it…

  3. What the Castroit regime really wants are loans and lines of credit guaranteed by the U.S. Treasury Department, since it doesn’t have hard currency to pay the interests on the lines of credit for the importation of merchandise.

    These credits will not be paid and the American taxpayers will be the losers, the ones to pick up the debt, as it happens at the present time with the taxpayers of many countries. By 2014 the Castroit regime’s foreign debt amounted to $35 billion with The Paris Club, 35 billion with Russia, 10 billion with China, 25 billion with Venezuela, 3.5 billion with Japan and another 8.5 billion with other countries, for a total staggering debt of $117 billion.

  4. If you take the time to read the country names on the flags in the cartoon, you can see how the United States truly view the Cubans and Puerto Ricans….like some kind of primitive people…

  5. Cuba’s directed economy should set as a target of ” Free Economy” below Global average. This is a necessity for national security reasons.

  6. So the Castros don’t only steal from the Cuban people, but from anyone everywhere who will give them money…

  7. A GLOBAL VIEW OF ECONOMIES – Raul Castro’s reforms plus the present trajectory of Cuba’s economy is going in the right direction….

  8. Humberto: There is a difference between a criminal who steals to increase his own wealth and money and one who does it because he is fighting for independence from an Empire. If you want to bring up criminals, how about the Cuban Exile who blew up a commercial airline full of women and children a few years ago….

  9. Paris Club: Cuba Remains 2nd Most Indebted Nation

    at 10:12 AM Wednesday, June 25, 2014

    The Paris Club, a group composed of the world’s 19 largest creditor nations, has released its annual list of outstanding claims (debtors).

    These claims are held either by The Paris Club member States directly, or through their appropriate institutions (especially export credit or official development aid agencies) on behalf of the member States.

    Cuba owes $35.193 billion, which makes it The Paris Club’s 2nd most indebted nation.
    This represents a $5 billion increase from 2011.

    That same year, Indonesia was the largest debtor with $40.679 billion owed. Yet, this year, Indonesia’s debt has decreased to $29.297 billion.

    This year’s most indebted nation is Greece, which owes $70.305 billion.


    There is probably no one with a greater interest than Victor M. Gerena in the talks underway between the U.S. and Cuba about re-establishing diplomatic relations.

    In 1983, he and other members of a group of Puerto Rican nationalists — a group armed, advised and financed by the Cuban government — stole $7 million from a West Hartford armored car depot in what was then the biggest cash robbery in U.S. history.

    The Cubans sneaked Gerena into Mexico City. They stashed him in a safe house, lightened the color of his hair and gave him a phony diplomatic identity. Eventually, they put him and much of the money on a plane to Havana, where Gerena disappeared into the shadowy community of murderers, bombers, robbers and hijackers Cuba has sheltered from prosecution in the U.S and other countries since the 1960s.

  11. Puerto Rico
    half the population in Puerto Rico live in poverty. I guess Democracy, Liberty, “Free Market”, Human Rights and Free Speech is not the answer to hunger and scarcity….

    Creditors argue that changing the bankruptcy laws is unfair

    Some Republicans — as well as some of the creditors holding Puerto Rican debt — are opposed to letting Puerto Rican entities declare bankruptcy, period. They argue that Americans bought Puerto Rican bonds with the understanding that those bonds wouldn’t be touched by bankruptcy — so their money was essentially guaranteed.

    If PREPA (Puerto Rican Utilities), for example, were allowed to declare bankruptcy, it wouldn’t be able to walk away from its debts entirely. But it would start a court process to determine when, how, and how much those debts will be paid back. Most likely, the creditors will end up having to take back less money than Puerto Rico owe — which, for reasons surpassing understanding, is called a “haircut.”

  13. Omar,

    I don’t hate the Cuban fascist dictators.

    They hate me. They hate anybody who speaks the truth.

    You have everything upside down, like usual.

    Fascists (the Castros and their henchmen) are like rabid dogs. Hating them is a waste of time and energy. They’ll keep barking and biting innocent human beings.

    If you don’t put them down they’ll keep on killing.

  14. Neutral Observer: Your hate for the Cuban Revolutionaries constantly cloud your mind from seeing the exploitation and intervention of the Western powers over other nations. It is impossible to create an inclusive World if we continue with the apartheid system of economics the World operates under today. The vision of creating a more inclusive European Community cannot be achieved without dealing with the inequality problem that exist internally and between members of the European Union. The 2009 Great Recession revealed to the Europeans how a unified currency, “free markets” and treaties are overlooked by nationalism and sovereignty when serious scarcity issues arise.

  15. Tsipras has to live in the real world, where deadbeats eventually run out of suckers to lend them money.

    There was never a lender too small for Castro to stiff. Castro has never repaid a loan. As long as he gave the USA the finger, all the fascist dictators gave him money.

    Unlike Greeks, Cubans are used to no food and no toilet paper and have no vote or say in the government.

    Castro can live in his fantasy world as long as he likes.

  16. I like what Yoani is doing. The world is so interconnected now that there are parallells to be seen all over the place.
    Greece needs to kick the commies out of the govt and send a real David to stand up to the Eurocrats. The good news is that the IMF – the traditional baddie in this context – says that the last deal isn’t sustainable. No-BS Ms Lagarde needs to be present and threaten to knock heads together, because this game is being played on overtime…

    the actual debt crisis, are European demands for continued Greek austerity. The question is challenging because austerity both is clearly germane to how Greece runs its economy and also strikes at the heart of matters of self-government in the political realm. Election contests are very often (indeed, some would say always) fought over such matters as taxes and spending. Thus, for the rest of Europe to tell Greece to raise taxes and cut pensions and other spending is both an economic and a political demand.

    But of course that will almost always be the case where sovereign debt is at issue. Hence, to my mind, the issue is whether the ECB et al are going beyond the incidentally political into the gratuitously political in their demands. And the answer here appears to be no. Europe does not say, that as the price of a bailout, Greece must revise its formula for representation in the Greek parliament or change the appearance of its national flag.

    One way to see the point would be to imagine a reversal. Suppose that Greece was having difficulty repaying its debts but that a conservative Right Wing Greek government was stubbornly persisting in austerity policies. Now imagine that a Keynesian IMF offered Greece a bailout but only on the condition that Greece abandon austerity in favor of fiscal stimulus and low interest rates (bankrolled externally). I very much doubt that the people who are currently (rightly) critical of Europe’s approach to Greece would say that such externally-mandated Keynesianism was anti-democratic.

    Accordingly, I conclude that European demands for more austerity from Greece are “merely” stupid, cruel, and counterproductive, but not contrary to principles of democracy. They are demands that fall in line with unsustainable capitalism and are a threat to Greek sovereignty because the austerity demands act as the “invisible hand” of foreign corporatism and political demands from Germany in the European Union. Fidel Castro’s letter to the Greek Premier congratulating him on his patriotism does not loose its intent because the Greek government has to “bite the bullet” and accept the terms of the foreign creditors. This was the only decision for the Greek government to take. The consequences would have being more of the same pain for the Greek People. This is like Cuba having no choice but to accept the Platt Amendment at the turn of the 20th Century and going along with U.S. intervention in Cuban political and economic affairs.

  18. Democracy at Work in Greece:
    Legislative Elections 2015
    Center Right -New Democracy Party: 27.81% or 1,718,815 citizens voted for them.
    Left Wing Coalition of the Radical Left- 36.34% or 2,246,064 citizens voted for them.

    European Elections 2014
    Center Right- 22.7%
    Left Wing Coalition of Radical Left- 26.57%

    14 Jan 2014 – Greece posts a primary budget surplus of 1.5% of GDP for the 2013 financial year[59] (€691 million).
    30 March 2014 – The Greek parliament passes a new multi-bill which is needed for Greece to receive its next bailout payment. Nikitas Kaklamanis, a member of parliament, is expelled from the government for abstaining from the vote on one of the bill’s two articles, leaving the government with an even smaller majority.
    10 April 2014 – Greece returns to financial markets with the issue of €3 billion Eurobonds at a yield below 6%.
    18 May 2014 – Local elections are held.
    23 May 2014 – Greece’s credit rating is upgraded by Fitch from B− to B.
    25 May 2014 – Syriza wins the European Parliament election.
    9 June 2014 – The cabinet is reshuffled. Gikas Hardouvelis assumes the position of finance minister.
    8 December 2014 – Parliament begins attempts to elect a new president to replace outgoing Karolos Papoulias, whose five-year presidential term was due to end in February. The next day the Athens Stock Exchange falls 12.78%, its largest single-day decline since 1989.
    29 December 2014 – The government’s candidate for the president (a largely ceremonial role), Stavros Dimas, fails to win majority support from parliament, and the government falls. This leads to snap parliamentary elections, which are set to be held on 25 January 2015.

    25 January 2015 – The Greek legislative election is held. Syriza wins a historic victory.
    26 January 2015 – Syriza and the Independent Greeks join to form a new coalition government. Alexis Tsipras is sworn in as the new Prime Minister.[90] Yanis Varoufakis becomes the new finance minister.
    20 February 2015 – The Eurogroup brokers an agreement between Greece and the eurozone for a four-month loan extension.
    4 June 2015 – Greece asks the IMF to postpone the installment due on the 5 June until the end of the month.
    27 June 2015 – Prime Minister Tsipras announces a referendum on a bailout agreement, to be held on 5 July 2015.
    28 June 2015 – The Greek parliament approves the referendum, with 178 votes for and 120 against. Tsipras announces that Greek banks will remain closed for a while; he also announces the imposition of capital controls (€60/day withdrawal limit; most foreign transfers banned).
    30 June 2015 – Greece misses a payment on an IMF loan and falls into arrears. (Missed payments to the IMF are not considered formal defaults by the major credit rating agencies.)
    1–3 July 2015 – 1,000 bank branches open to allow pensioners to withdraw €120 for the week. The move was made to accommodate the many pensioners who lack a bank card.
    5 July 2015 – The Greek bailout referendum is held. Over 61% vote against the proposed measures by the Juncker Commission, the ECB and the IMF.
    6 July 2015 – Finance minister Varoufakis resigns and is replaced by Euclid Tsakalotos. Greece extends its bank holiday and capital controls through 8 July.
    11 July 2015 – The Greek parliament approves the government proposal about bailout plan. 251 MPs vote for the proposal but 17 MPs of government coalition do not support.
    13 July 2015 – Greece and Europeans creditors strike deal for 86 billion euros bailout over three years, though it must be approved by the parliament

  20. Background on the Greek Crisis
    Greece joined the European Communities (subsequently subsumed by the European Union) on 1 January 1981, ushering in a period of sustained growth. Widespread investments in industrial enterprises and heavy infrastructure, as well as funds from the European Union and growing revenues from tourism, shipping and a fast-growing service sector raised the country’s standard of living to unprecedented levels. The country adopted the Euro in 2001 and over the next 7 years the country’s GDP per capita nearly tripled, from $12,400 in 2001 to $31,700 in 2008.[1] The Greek government, encouraged by the European Commission, European Central Bank, private banking institutions and the Greek business community also took out loans to pay Greek and foreign infrastructure companies for a wide variety of infrastructure projects such as those related to the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens.[2] As the Financial crisis of 2007–08 began to affect Greece’s economy, the country’s GDP fell by nearly 20% from 2008 to 2010 and the government’s capacity to repay its creditors was drastically reduced.

  21. @Norman Kwallek
    You won’t see the posts on Puerto Rico crisis here, unfortunately.
    This blog is written by an American heart (with Cuban passport) to defend American interests.
    And talking about Greece helps to obfuscate Puerto Rico.

  22. It is so cheap and easy to yell against Tsipras.
    He is only a few month in office.
    Where were those “independent writers” where the Greek Prime Ministers before Tsipras accumulated that huge debts?
    Where were those “independent writers” where the US taxpayers had do save the banks in the biggest financial crisis in history?

    Yoani serves the imperialism very well.
    If you ruin your country but follow the fiscal dictate of the financial institutions – you are OK as long as you pay the interest.
    If you refuse to pay you are a traitor to the banks… and to Generacion Y, of course.

  23. I’ve been following your essays for a few years, your blog gets sent to my e-mail account. I am a student of Latin culture. The treatment of Puerto Rico’s looming default is going to be interesting. See you in the stacks.

  24. Hi Adge, new here too I think, welcome!
    Getting rid of “Mr Game Over” Finmin was only symbolic. They still didn’t arrive after 5 years…

  25. Hi Norm, new here I think, welcome!
    It’s not just Germany – Remember that Merkel navigated the Russian currency crisis beautifuly last year? – but Finland and North European racism. Europe is a multi-trillion EUR economy, it can afford the carrot. However, Greece needs to clean up its act too…

  26. I live in the US so I have no dog in the fight other than a strong EU is a better world policeman than a weak EU. What happened in Greece was a loss of sovereignty for Greece and far more importantly a loss of sovereignty for ALL of the European States that belong to the EU. A stride toward real Federalism in the EU is not a bad thing in my eyes. It is far better to join the states of Europe together by means of a carrot rather than a stick. Germany waved its stick around but retrained itself in the end and bought the agreement rather than cut Greece lose from the EU. It paid Greece 83 billion to stay home in the family. But, you say it was a loan and they have to pay it back. It was just a kick of the can down the road, Greece will never pay back 10% of what they owe. Greece lied and cheated to get into the Euro Zone, being in the Euro is good for Greece-Greece won. It may not look like it today, midsummer of 2015 but midsummer of 2025 we will be looking back at this moment as a long stride toward European Federalism..

  27. Too many missed opportunitiesmissed over the last six months. He was betrayed as much by his sidekick who alienated the whole of europe with his clever retoric.

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