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Angela Merkel Arrives In Greece To A Very Cold Welcome



ATHENS - German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Greece this morning to a welcome of police, protestors and armored cars, as well as a “wave of hatred,” reported German newsmagazine Stern, which also called Greece a Pleitestaat, or “broke” country.

The Greek government imposed a ban on rallies in Athens today and blocked off large sections of the capital to ensure Merkel’s safety, reported Athens News, which also said that 7000 police were on duty in the central city.

Merkel is hugely unpopular in Greece because Germany, the healthiest economy in the euro zone, is the main source for bailing out Greece, which is sinking under the weight of a huge public debt, caused in part by a lack of fiscal responsibility.

In return, the Germans are demanding that Greece clean up its act before more help is given; in essence, that it become like Germany.

But Germany, too, is in danger if the Greeks fail, as all euro zone countries are tied to the common currency. German taxpayers are incensed at what they see as Greek laxity.

In Greece there has been a culture of both tax avoidance and government aid, and government functionaries were paid far better than in Germany. The deep cuts in government have affected pensions, hospitals, schoolteachers and almost everyone in Greece. But they are not enough, the Germans and the European Bank have said.

All this is background for a fraught confrontation between Merkel and Greek leaders, who have been tossing around the hot potato of fiscal austerity.

Merkel wants to show her approval of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who has been in office only since June.

No one wants to be the one to tell the Greek population that drastic cuts must be made immediately. The euro zone authorities have set the Greeks a deadline of October 18 for announcing the cuts if they are to receive the money they must have to keep Greece afloat; the country is bankrupt.

Political chiefs of several other parties have refused to meet with Merkel. Popular television host Giorgos Trangas has called Greece a “German occupation zone” under the “Fourth Reich,” and told Das Bild that Merkel was behaving like a “second Hitler” in demanding sacrifices from the Greek population.

The Greek Internet news site Zougla showed a series of unflattering photos of Merkel with the headline “Persona Non Grata.”

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Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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