Independence DayPosted: March 25, 2012
Day 138-LXIV, Πρέβεζα.
Day 139-LXV, from Πρέβεζα to Βόνιτσα, 17 km.
Vonitsa, March 25
Even though Preveza seems to be a fairly prosperous town, the inhabitants did everything to make us feel at home. In the square there were locals present around the clock to exchange ideas and bring us sweet Greek wine.
On Friday evening we were invited by the Popular Assembly of Preveza – one of the first popular assemblies in Greece to sprout up after the 15th of May last year – to watch a documentary by Naomi Klein on shock therapy and disaster capitalism. After the film there was a little concert with classic rock ballads and Greek music. At the end of it, the two Neapolitans among us didn’t hesitate to take the microphones. They played the partisan song Bella Ciao and a few evergreens of the great Italian poet Fabrizio De André to the enjoyment of the locals.
We were also invited to stay another day in Preveza and take part in a demonstration for independence day.
We only have five days of margin to spend, but this was the first opportunity to do something together with a local movement, and so we accepted.
Today was independence day. We were up early, we folded our tents, and we prepared banners and slogans. The official parade would pass right along the square of our camp.
During the morning a small crowd of local protesters assembled. The entire police force was out for the occasion, even though their numbers didn’t ammount to much, and neither were they provocatively armed or dressed.
When the parade began, police gently forced us aside. We would have wanted to resist more, but the local protesters urged us to be patient.
The parade itself was a disgusting display of child exploitation for nationalist purposes. The entire school youth of the town was dressed up in uniforms and marched by like army batallions, waving flags. From the podium they were applauded by political, military and religious authorities.
Together with the Greek protesters, we made sure that our voices were heard. “Solidarity is the weapon of the people. War against the war of the bosses”, the Greeks chanted. And in the midst of them, our presence gave a touch of colour to the protest.
Near the end we made a move, we hooked up behind the last of the school kids’ batallions to be able to close the parade. Police were determined to block us. We tried to force our way through, but they delayed us long enough for the authorities to quickly leave the podium before we passed by with our peace flags and our slogans calling for revolution.
That was it. In the midst of a ridiculous nationalist piece of theater we made our point. Afterwards we peacefully mixed with the crowds and the schoolkids on the boulevard.
They saw us off, a few hours later, when we crossed the sea in small launches, to continue our march on the southern shore of the inland sea. Initially we planned to take the tunnel, but a local Englishman was happy to play the role of Charon, and bring our march over the waves to the other side.
It was a long long day. After the demonstration we marched a full length leg, be it without gear because one of the Greek comrades we met in Riza helped us out by taking all our stuff on his lorry, through the tunnel, right to today’s destination, Vonitsa.
Vonitsa is a breathtaking little place on the coast of the inland sea. There are Greek flags everywhere along the boulevard and around the national monument when we enter the town.
We take the little square, and we look forward to relax a bit when a police car arrives. None of us is in the mood to talk to them, especially because they are not nice. The two officers give us five minutes to leave or we will be arrested.
Five minutes later we were still there, and police had silently retreated.