Isn’t it appalling how Greece’s politicians can come right out and admit they prioritized huge cruise companies above the lives of ordinary citizens, and no one even questions them? Well, except me, perhaps. From the island vaccination program put in place by officials to the misleading public relations campaigning to obscure the real situtaion, it’s just sad to watch the Greeks steamrolled by their own leadership. The corporate interests have people here over a barrel, and nobody seems willing to step up.
And then I run across a statement by Ioannis Plakiotakis, Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy admitting the Greek government made tourism hot spots, especially cruise destinations, the priority above all else. No, I am not joking. Here’s how the New Democracy minister put it when bragging about how 40 cruise ships will be cruising Greek waters this summer:
“Thanks to our national blue freedom vaccination program which prioritizes tourism destinations and cruise hotspots, we are optimistic that this year will be substantially better than the previous.”
And no, these people are not idiots. They know full well that Greeks either don’t care or they are powerless to do anything about whatever Draconian bullshit decision-makers in Athens come up with. And of course, Pierfrancesco Vago, CLIA Global Chairman and Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises, and his TUI colleague Wybcke Meier are singing like a holy chorus, the praises of the puppet government that does their bidding.
The so-called “Blue Freedom” strategy put in place by the Greeks saw much-needed vaccines diverted to tiny island communities first, and later bigger destinations like Corfu and Santorini, so that the government could claim all the residents were COVID free for tourism’s reboot. While officials claimed the island vaccination plan was put in place for logistic reasons, the real reason comes out now via the maritime situation. Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis told a Washington Post reporter I know, they the plan was an expediency/efficiency issue a month ago.
I had hoped that decision-makers in Athens would have taken the opportunity COVID presented to stand up to the corporate vampires sucking the lifeblood out of destinations like Crete. Instead, they seem locked into parrot mode only chiming away at how wonderful their record is. And in this, the cruise bosses beat the drum loudly as well. Meanwhile, here in Heraklion today, the shops are closed and the streets are empty except for a few locals drinking coffee.
I did see a group of four foreign travelers not wearing their masks buying some juice from a street vendor though. I guess cruise passengers would not cause shop owners to open up anyhow, since cabins on cruise ships don’t afford much space for souvenirs. And the buffets? Well, tavernas on popular cruise islands serve filled up with schnitzels passengers, a snack here and there. Oh, and by the way, Crete is not one of the islands prioritized for full vaccination. Many at-risk people have died here since the coronavirus pandemic hit over a year ago.
Watching it all happen, from my desk here in Crete’s capital, I cannot help but be angry over the trade value of human lives. The island vaccination debacle is one thing, but the PR campaigning to obscure the truth of the matter is horrendous. And meanwhile, TUI shares have plummeted, and the company just sold off its 49 percent stake in Spain’s RIU Hotels to co-owner RIU Group in a deal giving the joint venture an enterprise value of €1.5 billion. The giant company will net a bit over half a billion € according to the news.
Thankfully, I am not totally alone in my angst over the situation. A Greek-American Dr. George Pavlakis has been warning of the potential for disaster in Greece’s quick rollout of the new season for some time now. A Kethimerini story cites him saying, “We have between 50 and 80 deaths every day. A busload of people is being sacrificed every day,” as the government seeks to bring in tourists. Pavlakis is a senior investigator and head of the Human Retrovirus Section at the American National Cancer Institute.
As for my Facebook friends, business associates in the tourism business, and the general public here in Greece, not a single person seems to care whether or not TUI and other corporate giants buy up the whole of Greece and exterminate the population. Unless of course, you mention the individual. Money, the lack of business, and the dire economic situation have everyone I meet ready to panic. I was with my best friend yesterday, and he could not even carry on a conversation for answering his phone and pecking away at booking data on his computer. Not even the most caring, honest, and diligent business owner in Greece gives a damn about whether or not the government traded human lives for tourism bucks. And this proves that the corporate interests own almost everything in Greece anyhow, I am sad to say.
Finally, I only make the report you are reading in an effort to be consistent and to continue to be a consumer advocate for true sustainability. What’s happening right now in Greece, will probably end five or ten years from now in an environmental debacle, once the Draculas of big business and investment take over what’s left. I just pray that we do not see a war or tsunami waves anytime soon, lest the real carelessness of Athens puts us all under. If the public cares less for this island vaccination skullduggery, I hold out little hope for Greek tradition and a truly sustainable future.
More later, as the catastrophe unfolds. I almost cannot wait for the next bald-faced lie to be revealed.