The image of a crying Greek pensioner is quickly becoming an iconic representation of the Mediterranean nation’s debt crisis, revealing the suffering of ordinary citizens as events unfold beyond their control.
The retiree in the picture is Giorgos Chatzifotiadis, according to Yahoo News. He had set out on Friday in Greece’s second city of Thessaloniki in hopes of collecting his wife’s pension of 120 euros ($133). Chatzifotiadis was turned down at three banks, and when he was denied at a fourth, he was overwhelmed with emotion, and broke down crying outside.
— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) July 4, 2015
Chatzifotiadis said that he collapsed in tears because he cannot stand to see Greece in its current state of distress.
“That’s why I feel so beaten, more than for my own personal problems,” he noted. “…I see my fellow citizens begging for a few cents to buy bread. I see more and more suicides. I am a sensitive person. I cannot stand to see my country in this situation. Europe and Greece have made mistakes. We must find a solution.”
— enikos_en (@enikos_en) July 3, 2015
Like many other Greeks from the country’s northern reaches, Chatzifotiadis and his wife lived for a time in Germany, where he worked in a coal mine and then a foundry. His wife’s pension comes from Germany, a nation that many in Greece blame for much of the current crisis. As the Inquisitr has previously reported, Germany has taken a hardline stance in dealing with Greece, demanding harsher austerity measures in return for a fresh round of international aid.
— Pedro da Costa (@pdacosta) July 4, 2015
On Monday, the Greek government implemented capital controls in an effort to stem the flow of cash from the banking system. On Wednesday, some branches were allowed to reopen so that Greek retirees who do not possess a bank card could withdraw their pension payments.
Like many others in Greece, Chatzifotiadis feels that he has little ability to change the situation his country now faces. As the ABC reports, Greece will hold a referendum on whether to accept the conditions of an international bailout, yet the elderly pensioner does not know if he will be able to vote on Sunday. The nearest polling station is some 80 kilometers from his home, and Chatzifotiadis has no money to get there.
Though European leaders have warned that a “no” vote in the referendum would be tantamount to a negative vote on the Eurozone, the image of Chatzifotiadis crying outside the bank sums up the despair that many Greek pensioners feel in the wake of the crisis.
[Image: Sakis Mitrolidis via the ABC]