• Forbidden sea

    Since the beginning of the twentieth century, Elefsina has been massively industrialized. Its factories and shipyards have attracted people to the area in pursuit of labor. As a consequence of industrial activity, the sea and the town's surroundings have been heavily polluted.

    Today, many of the businesses that operate in the area are facing financial problems and their future --along with the future of their employees-- remains uncertain.

    The people of Elefsina give their own testimony of the town's history, its beauty and its wounds, and bear witness to its environmental demise. Elefsina is a town located about 18 km. northwest from the center of Athens. It has been well known since ancient times as the site of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Perhaps the most sacred religious ritual in ancient Greece, this mystical rite of passage celebrated the death and rebirth of nature as the coming and going of the seasons, and connected it with the myth of goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone.

  • Battlefield

    Until the 60s, it used to be one of the most beautiful areas in the center of Athens. Today, Agios Panteleimonas Square, with the commanding Orthodox Church, has turned into an unofficial war zone among certain Greeks and the rapidly increasing immigrant population, and a neighborhood of poverty and violence.

    During the 90s, many legal and illegal immigrants flocked to this area in search of cheap accommodation. As the years passed and the number of immigrants kept increasing, with many of them sleeping around the square or squatting abandoned houses, the Greeks got wary of their presence and conflict began.

    In 2008, certain residents of the area, with the support of extreme right-wing groups resolved that, if the state was reluctant to do something, they would act themselves. Citizen patrols appeared, using violence to repel the immigrants. The message sent to the foreigners was sharp and clear: they were not wanted.

    In the past 2 years, the once only sporadic incidents against immigrants gradually became more frequent and more violent; the streets around the square are no longer safe for dark-skinned people.

    Hatred has become deeply rooted, and the opposing sides are trapped in a gridlock with no common ground.

  • Crash

    Being the first eurozone country to ever undertake a massive bailout loan from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to avoid defaulting on its debts, Greece is feeling the pinch.

    Asked to cut public spending and stamp out corruption, Greece found itself struggling to meet the conditions of its creditors. As measures became tougher so did people's questions on who is to blame for the financial crisis. Has the welfare state been too generous? Are Greeks simply lazy and inefficient? Is corruption at the root of it all? Were the Athens 2004 Olympics a financial folly? And, finally, should Greece follow IMF and EU guidelines and accept the rescue loan, or leave the Euro altogether?

    Two things are certain. From a financial viewpoint the transition is a painful one and it will take at least a few years before any of the benefits begin to show. But that is a few years too many to those who have seen their pensions and salaries cut as a result of the bailout and who are left struggling to make ends meet.

    From a political point of view, the Greeks have lost all trust in their politicians as a result of the crisis, accusing them, often indiscriminately, of having filled their pockets with public money, received bribes and avoided taxes.

    Corruption appears endemic in the country at all levels, and Greeks have been known to be resilient to change. Yet this new test of endurance could come at a high cost: How much of the country's youth will leave the in search of better prospects? Where will Greeks find themselves when the crisis is over?

  • Westbound

    The geographic position of Greece, at the south- eastern edge of Europe, right above North Africa and surrounded by the Mediterranean, makes it a natural gateway to Europe for people that try to cross over from a number of different countries in search of a better future. Other European countries describe Greece as "the gate of illegal immigration to Europe".

    According to the Ministry of Citizen Protection, the number of immigrants that have crossed into Greece has reached the number of 128.000 in 2010. Most of them enter through the border of Evros, in northern Greece, and also from the islands opposite Turkey.

    The Greek State claims that the number of immigrants entering the country is no longer sustainable and that the problems caused by overpopulation, especially in urban centers such as Athens, where many immigrants settle, need to be addressed. For these reasons, the Greek State has announced its intention to build a fence across the border of Evros which, along with the presence of FRONTEX border security, will allegedly prevent great numbers of immigrants from entering the country.

    While European legislation for the identification of the State responsible for the applications of those who seek asylum has become tighter since the implementation of the Dublin II regulation, the humane treatment of people that have often suffered the ordeal of deracination is becoming an ever-growing challenge for Greece and immigrants alike.

  • Media Wars

    Information is the soul of justice" (J.J. Mayer)

    This is the motto of Greece's most important journalist association. But has it ever been proven true? The media have very often been identified with financial interests and political power, shaping the public opinion in favor of the State and private interests.

    Many media companies and their owners are involved in other spheres of the economy, disregarding the notion of independent and unbiased journalism. Although there have been isolated efforts by reporters to resist this regime, the current crisis unveils the collapse of the once "superpowers" of the media, not only due to the financial crisis, but mainly because of their controversial mode of operation during the last decades.

    The account of the past two years includes massive dismissals, cut-backs in salaries and benefits, as high as 30% in some cases, as well as the suspension of the operation of many magazines and newspapers.