Report Baltic states and the crisis (2)

Latvia, from boom to bust

With the highest unemployment rate in the EU, the capitalist boom years for Latvia have gone, and many of its citizens are hankering for the grey certitudes of life under communism, reports The Independent.

Published on 19 April 2010 at 12:08

The capitalist pig has returned to Riga. Rosy-cheeked, fat and a briefcase full of workers’ cash clasped between its trotters, he stares out greedily from a placard opposite the Latvian parliament on the capital’s main boulevard. Next to the hoarding, unemployed men in balaclavas and worn anoraks huddle around a fire.

As little as two years ago, any public display of such anti-capitalist, communist-style cliches would have been considered madness in Latvia: after shedding the Soviet yoke nearly two decades ago, the country enjoyed an unprecedented economic boom But the party is now long over.

Latvians like 33-year-old Gints Berneckis have lost their faith in the Western economic model. In common with thousands of others in Latvia, where unemployment is now running at 23 per cent, he was made redundant from his job as a computer salesman last year. “Yes, the capitalist pigs are back and they are walking off with our money and the government is handing it to them,” he scoffed.

He has been camped out with fellow demonstrators braving Latvia’s worst winter in decades in a small tent city in front of the national parliament since the beginning of the year “Everything is being cut. Social security, education, pensions – and people are leaving en masse,” he said. Read full article in The Independent

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