A new short documentary exposes the tragedy of some 15,000 Greek families that believed the Greek government and put their savings into Greek bonds. Running counter to the popular image of Greek citizens as profligate spenders living off of debt, in many cases the bonds amounted to life savings accumulated through decades of hard work in menial jobs. Most of those featured in the documentary scrimped and saved to build up the reserves. They opted to put their money in Greek bonds both out of a sense of patriotism and faith that bonds would be guaranteed.
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“I thought, ‘where could I have had more trust than with the state? Would I have had more faith in the banks?” one interviewee states. Another interviewee talks of his guilt having convinced his daughter to follow his lead and also invest in Greek bonds as he considered them safe.
In total about 15,000 families had invested their money in Greek bonds. These lost about 75% of their value in the March 2012 haircut in a deal struck by then Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos. While the banks that also saw significant losses in the debt restructuring have since been recapitalised, there have been no moves as yet to compensate the small bondholders. This despite Antonis Samaras having pledged to do so in the run up to the 2012 elections.
“The Public Debt Management Authority, issued an announcement with which it invited individual citizens, in brackets, Greek savers, to save – not invest – to save their money in the specific titles,” another bondholder points out.
Up to now, 17 bondholders have committed suicide, the latest only about a week ago.
The bondholders say that they will not give up their campaign to seek compensation and have appealed to the Greek Council of State and to the UN Human Rights Committee.
Yet the toll has already been great. In one heart-breaking example a pensioner in the video says that his wife has suffered severe psychological trauma from the loss and refuses to believe that they have lost their money. Their 80,000 euro savings was the result of decades living in a small one-bedroom apartment with an external bathroom. Another expresses concern for his disabled daughter who will now be left with nothing when he dies.